Is Homosexuality a Sin?

Is Homosexuality a Sin?

To understand the basis of this question is to understand the answer.

To do this, first we need to set aside “sin” – all of it, no matter what it is or what category society or religion may place it within.  Next, we must ask ourselves, who is God?  Do I recognize myself for who I am, a created being, and Him as my Creator?  Do I recognize that I am not God?

Anyone who is not afraid to answer these questions truthfully will come to the realization that we ARE created beings, and we are NOT God nor can we ever become God.  Without that realization, the question of sin, any sin, will for you remain subjective.

Why? Because sin is anything that separates us from our Savior and Creator, Jesus Christ, who is defined as love, light, and all that is good. If I refuse to recognize Jesus for who He is, then I will never see sin for what it is, and am doomed to continue to be a slave to it.

Anyone who does not see Christ first for who He is will never fully be willing to align with biblical principles, no matter what they are.  They may be willing to follow Him to a certain point, as far as it agrees with their current philosophy and ever changing culture, or as long as it is a benefit to them personally.  The first sign of conflict will bring about a point of decision where they must choose the approval of man verses the approval of God.  If they do not truly see Christ, they will yield to the approval of man every time.

Who is Christ the Messiah?  He is Jesus!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome (or understood) it.”  John 1:1-5 NIV

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:16-17 NIV

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:12 NASB

“He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND Lord OF LORDS.”  Revelation 19:13-16 NASB

The choice is yours.  Discovering who He is, this is the first step in understanding what He has created you for, and is the only way you will discover and fulfill your purpose and destiny.

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”  Ephesians‬ ‭1:17-21‬ ‭NASB‬‬

How Great Your Love Is!

My Triune God,

You are my heart and my soul.  So magnificent!  If I were to turn You like a jewel in my hand, every direction is marvelous and unparalleled, highly prized and most precious!  Every facet is dazzling and different, each unique like a snowflake!  I could gaze for a lifetime and not even begin to see Your majesty unfold in its fullest.

You are HOLY!  What will I do the first time I stand before You without this veil of flesh between us?  Like Isaiah, fall on my knees and cry how undone I am!  My heart might fail within me!  But I long to run into Your arms, like a daughter to her daddy, like a bride to her husband and lover, like a friend overjoyed!

Who am I that You should take notice of me?  That You should wait these thousands of years for my soul to have the opportunity to know You?  Who am I, that you should count the hairs on my head, or ordain all my days and establish my footing?  Gladly will I seek to know you – every part of You, and continue to discover all the facets within facets!

I am amazed at the multi-dimensions of Your word, and how knowing ahead of time the choices I would make in this free will You have given me, have intertwined my path with the paths of those before me, those around me, and those yet to come.  All to weave a tapestry that reflects Your glory and majesty in us!  Great I AM, it is YOU I worship and chose to serve!  Gladly I surrender my life to Your loving care and comfort.  Then sings my soul, how great Your love is!  How great Your love is!

Grounded and Centered

What brings a lover to the door where his or her beloved dwells?  Longing, desire, a desperatness to be with them and know them more. The great Triune God, almighty maker of the universe, He who created you and me, He is the lover of your soul! He desires you to know Him, fellowship with Him, and fall in love with Him as well.  Christianity is not about a cause, it is about a person!  A.W. Tozer once said to have found God and yet still pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love.  Why?  Because the object of our worship is the great I AM!  I challenge you to never become so casual in your relationship with Him that you forget who it is that you call Lord!

“Who has scooped up the ocean in his two hands, or measured the sky between his thumb and little finger? Who has put all the earth’s dirt in one of his baskets, weighed each mountain and hill?  Who could ever have told GOD what to do or taught him his business?  What expert would he have gone to for advice, what school would he attend to learn justice? What god do you suppose might have taught him what he knows, showed him how things work?  So who even comes close to being like God?  To whom or what can you compare him?” Isaiah 40:12-14, 18

An important step in your relationship with Christ is to spend time with Him daily so that you may become grounded and centered in Him, and that the seeds of faith planted within you can grow and be strengthened.

Make this willful choice, and consecrate a time to spend with Him. Find a place of solitude where you can approach the throne without distraction in a desire to fellowship with your Creator. You will know the place because your spirit will feel Him waiting there for you each day. Purpose to meet with Him there.

As you journey down this path, you will discover many helpful tools along the way.  Here are three basic elements to use as guidelines in getting started:

  • Worship. “Worship is telling God who He is, not because He needs to know, but because we need to remind ourselves of His true character” – Bev DeSalvo (Return to Joy).  Listen, and purpose to quiet yourself and your thoughts before Him. The process of reflecting on who He is helps to pull our thoughts away from all the distractions of who we are and what’s happening around us.  There are many ways to do this.  Here are a few suggestions:
    • Find a song that moves your heart and reflects who He is.
    • Journal – write letters to God, create your own personal book of Psalms!
    • Tell Him who He is out loud, proclaim it!
  • Prayer. “The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer” – Oswald Chambers.
    Prayer is not a one-way street, it is conversation, communication! Six aspects of a balanced prayer life (INSTE Discipleship 1):

    • Praise – Adore Him for who He is!
    • Thanksgiving – Worship Him for what He has done!
    • Confession – removing obstacles between you and God
    • Petition – Asking God to supply your personal needs
    • Supplication – the idea of urgent, fervent, continuous prayer that the Kingdom of God be established in all the issues we bring before Him (seeking resolution according to the will of God)
    • Intercession – invoking the blessings of God on behalf of others
  • Scripture reading/study. When you read, consider the following (from Dallas Willard, Hearing God):
    • Listen with the ear of your heart for a word or phrase that shimmers or stands out to you
    • Where do you find yourself in that passage, who or what do you most identify with?
    • Reflect. Read the passage again slowly. Why do you think that word or phrase stood out to you? How does it feel to be the person or thing you most identified with? What draws you? How does that make you feel about God?
    • How does what you’ve heard from this passage connect with your life today?
    • What do you need to know or do?
    • Talk with God about the passage you read and what came to you. Do as you are led

A reminder of the key to withstanding the storms of life…

“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” Luke‬ 6:46-49

If you want your heart to remain pliable, fertile, then take what He pours into you and act upon it. Be obedient to what He is saying.

Other favorites from Oswald Chambers:
• Our ordinary views of prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer as a means for getting something for ourselves; the Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.
• “Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do; He reveals to you Who He is.”
• “An average view of the Christian life is that it means deliverance from trouble. It means deliverance in trouble, which is very different… God does not give us overcoming life; He gives us life as we overcome… The strain is the strength… Are you asking God to give you life and liberty and joy? He cannot, unless you will accept the strain.”
• We must never put our dreams of success as God’s purpose for us… His purpose is that I depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed, that is the end of the purpose for God… It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God.

An Invitation

April 16 is Easter Sunday.

The Creator of this universe and all that is within it, Jesus Messiah, invites you to come. Meet the ONE, the Great I AM! The things of this earth stand next to Him like a candle next to the sun.

When you close your eyes and ask Him which believer in Christ He has brought into your life for the purpose of introducing you to Him, who comes to mind? Seek that person out. Where will they attend church on Easter Sunday? Might you go with them?

You have many questions, and yet deep within you know nothing you have tried so far has ever filled that void you have in your heart, that longing to know who you are and why you are here on this earth, to understand what purpose you have been created to fulfill.

The Holy Spirit of God is the only One who can reveal that to you. He is willing. Are you?

John 3:16 says for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  Not someday when you die, but life that starts here, now.

You may have heard and perhaps even have been offended by someone you know who attends church and talks about sins, thinking maybe that sin is relevant. Here’s the truth: Sin is anything that separates you from God Himself, from His love, and the ability to experience it. And sin is always a choice.

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭1:8-9‬.

For the one who confesses and believes, the truth then becomes that nothing – neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is taken from Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬.

The hallmark of Christianity is a restored relationship with the Creator of the universe and the lover of our souls, the Most High God, a living, breathing God not created by human hands, who then sheds His love in our hearts that spills over to others. Speak to Him, He is listening.

Surviving Wisdom (Leopards and Spots)

Did you ever wonder, when the scriptures tell us that God will give wisdom generously to anyone who asks, why He doesn’t just pour it on in the moment?  One minute you’re asking for it and the next minute you have it?  It sure would be grand to go through life without making any mistakes, wouldn’t it?

I was pretty much a willful idiot when I was younger! I say that in humor, but I really did make one bad decision after another, and was a perfect picture of the kind of person the book of James in the bible references in the first parts of chapters one and three.  I’m relatively certain that if I ever ran for public office, the media would have no shortage of material. There are many moments in my life where the thought of them makes me cringe, and I am so grateful the internet was not yet a part of everyday life!

As I began to have a closer walk with God, however, I remember being intrigued by anyone who was “learned”, knowledgeable, experienced, or accomplished at a very young age.  Alexander the Great, for example, was said to have conquered the majority of the known world by the time he was 29.  He was undefeated in battle and is widely considered one of history’s most successful military commanders, becoming the measure against which military leaders compared themselves.  Me, well, I was still trying to figure out exactly who I was when I was 29. Thinking of all the time and years wasted that could have been spent getting to know Christ more intimately, advancing the Kingdom through willful obedience, makes me sad.

If I was responsible for capturing the history of my life, I would be sure to focus in on the moments of brilliance instead, highlighting only those things that might make someone reading my life story centuries from now wish they could have accomplished so much in so short a time as well.  But the truth is, I am no different than many bible characters we read about.  God has a way of laying everything out for all the world to see, the good with the bad, the brilliance with the dull, the boastful with the embarrassing.

There are, in fact, many people who, if you were to ask them if they believe I would ever accomplish much for God, might say they would be surprised if I ever accomplished anything.  After all, a tiger can’t change its stripes, a leopard can’t change its spots, and how do I dare even call myself a Christian? It is true that we do not have the power in and of ourselves to ever change ourselves.  So, in a sense, those people are right about me.   I am who I am and I will never change that.

But by the grace of God my story does not end there, for I am confident that He who began a good work in me will Himself complete it (from Philippians 1:6)! Why? Because I am in Christ, and therefore I am a new creation; old things passed away, and all has become new (from 2 Corinthians 5:17).  It is the presence, purity, and power of Christ in me that gives me a whole new spiritual DNA.

Why is it important for history (HIS story) to reflect the bad parts of our life as well as the good?

“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might” Ephesians 1:17-19

It is through the bad, through our weakness that we discover that the good parts are only by the power and grace of God.  When people see me in the process of my maturity, the more I become one with Christ, the more they will see Him instead.  Apart from Christ, I have sufficiently demonstrated I am nothing (John 15:5)!  But in Christ, my weakness amplifies His power!

“”But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.””  2 Corinthians 12:9 (NET).

I like to use Peter as an illustration of this. In the 22nd chapter of Luke, right before Peter was about to make the willful choice to deny Jesus, we find Jesus praying for Peter:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32

An interesting side note, we all know that the name “Peter” means rock, but did you know the name “Simon” means “listen”?  I can just picture Jesus looking straight at Peter, maybe even pointing towards him, and saying “Listen, listen! Satan keeps asking permission to knock you off your feet, and you will allow it, but know this – I AM interceding on your behalf so that your faith doesn’t fail, and I know you won’t stay down for long.  When you get up, remember, I have a purpose and a plan to transparently display My power through your weakness, so that by it you can infuse hope to your brothers, and all those who come after, clearly illuminating the path to Me.  Remember, Peter, upon this rock I will build my church. Got it?”

Got it!

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom… (Psalms 111:10). If you think about it, when we go through trials as James mentions (and we all do), and we ask for wisdom, in essence we are asking for enlightenment in our ability to understand how utterly dark and sinful, how devoid of hope we are apart from Him.  Godly wisdom is the revelation of who we truly are so that we can more fully understand who HE truly is, and have complete confidence and trust in His plan and sovereignty over our lives.  Isaiah had this kind of revelation, and his reaction was “WOE to me”, which in the original text has an implication that Isaiah believed he was a dead man because he knew he was an impure man standing before a pure and holy God.  But God imparted purity to Isaiah, and he was, like Peter, immediately commissioned.

If God were to pour out that revelation of wisdom on you liberally, could you survive it?  How would that impact you going forward?  Could you dare walk away the same?  Only the Creator of the leopard can change the leopard’s spots. Are you willing?

 

 

Satan’s Deception

Have you ever stopped to reflect more about the tree of knowledge? It was actually called the tree of knowledge of good and evil. What does that mean, exactly?

Not too long ago I was listening to a teaching by one of my favorite men of God, Dudley Hall, titled “Grace is Hard”. What he mentioned in that brief teaching goes hand in hand with other jewels I had gleaned from a few other sources, such as Rick Joyner’s book titled “There were Two Trees in the Garden”, as well as a wonderful animation clip titled “Holiness”that was created by The Bible Project team. I believe a combination of highlights from these are worth sharing, as it really helps to put ideas surrounding grace, holiness, and purity into perspective!

So Dudley was telling us that grace is hard because we are descendants of Adam & Eve, and because they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they caused every one of us to eat from this tree! The seed of doubt planted by Satan was simple: You can be like God, knowing good and evil. You wouldn’t need God then because you would know how to guide your own life, making your own choices.

What happened in the garden as a result is that life became all about being good. Because we have all eaten of that tree, we all make the assumption that what pleases God is good, and what displeases Him is bad. Because we can’t measure our thoughts, we measured our actions instead. Those actions are based on behavior, identifying what is good verses what is bad. We think a person can be good by simply eliminating evil, and we assume God loves us more if we measure more for good on the scale than we do bad.

This is why part of what is going on in our culture and society today seems so bizarre, because over the last decade or so the acceptable standard of measure identifying good and evil has been completely turned on its head. Now people are calling bad what used to be known as good, and vise-verse, and when the measuring stick is redefined, it confuses us immensely. We become directionless, scattered, and left with a feeling of hopelessness.

But here is something critical that we don’t often think about, which I believe was brought out well in Rick Joyner’s book about Two Trees, and that is that the root for both good and evil are part of the same tree! This is why Jesus mocked the Pharisees when he told them that based on the way they were living life, if your right eye offends you, then cut it out! In the same manner, if your right hand offends, cut it off! But the point He was making was, when all is said and done and you’ve cut off all offending parts, you still have not eliminated evil.

So how is it then that Jesus is able to step outside of this trap of believing that good and evil are separate? He never ate from that tree! Remember, there are two trees in the garden. Jesus represents the tree of LIFE, not the tree of knowledge of good and evil!

Satan would love nothing better than to turn upside down how we weigh evil and good. If both are rooted in the same tree, you may be wondering what difference it might make at that point. It is because one thing he knows for certain is that God the Father is Holy, and thus cannot allow sin in His presence. Satan knows that sin has been clearly defined as evil, and has up until now built his deception around getting us to believe all we needed to be was the opposite If he is successful at getting us to redefine sin as good, then he thinks he has a chance once again of being successful at keeping us from experiencing the presence and love of God. Before, black was black and white was white, and identifying sin was as easy as identifying evil. But with sin no longer being so clearly defined, we can once again be deceived into thinking we are pure enough. Satan’s goal is the same, that we will discover our need for a savior and the key to life too late, and he would then have the victory.

So if both good and evil are rooted in the same tree and we know then that good alone can never eliminate evil, how does Jesus solve the problem of a Holy Father who cannot allow sin into His presence? That is where I believe the animated clip titled Holiness by the Bible Project team really comes into play well. This team does such a great job at explaining what Holiness is, and why God is unable to allow sin into His presence. It is because He knows that His presence crushes, destroys, and obliterates sin. Because of His love for us and His deep desire that we should know Him and experience His love, He does this for our own protection, because He knows as long as we have sin in our lives, we would not survive His presence.

This is why it was so critical for priests in the Old Testament to purify themselves before they entered the Holy of Holies, because the presence of God was there waiting for them. If they were impure, they could die. The Old Testament does a wonderful job at helping us to really grasp the concept of clean and unclean. If we touch anything that is unclean, we become unclean ourselves. The unclean defiles the clean, causing the pure to become impure.

Twice we see something different taking place within the Old Testament, however. The first is with Isaiah, when in his vision, he recognizes himself as impure. “Woe to me” he says (or as one translation puts it “mourn for me”), because he knows he is standing in the presence of God. An angel comes then and touches his lips with a burning hot coal, and guess what happens? Rather than Isaiah’s uncleanness transferring to the coal, the purity from the coal is transferred to Isaiah instead! Another time, the prophet Ezekiel has a vision of himself standing at the temple, and he sees water coming out from it. The water turns into a river that flows into the Dead Sea. But instead of the Dead Sea swallowing up the river, the life-giving river transforms the Dead Sea instead!

The visions of these two prophets gives us hope because then, several hundred years later, we see those visions come to reality through the life of Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ ministry, we see Him touching the sinners, the sick and unclean. But because Jesus is holy, instead of the person he touches making him unclean, we see how He is able to transfer His purity over to the unclean person instead, and they are healed.

This is the curve ball that Satan hates. He knows Jesus represents the tree of Life, and all that is holy and pure. As Dudley Hall so adequately puts it, through Christ we have been purified so that we can be reconciled to God the Father. Through relationship with Jesus, we can be free to enjoy! Free to enjoy work, take care of the garden, enjoy fellowship with Him, and all those wonderful things He had created for Adam and Eve to experience. In that process it may be that people will take notice and say about you “that’s a really good person”! But you didn’t set out to be a good person, you set out to be reconciled to God the Father through Jesus Christ, and restored back to what God intended, which was to enjoy HIM. As a result, somewhere along that line, you started to do good works.

The next time you catch yourself thinking “I don’t measure up, I could never be good enough”, or possibly the opposite “Define evil, I measure up just fine!”, think about the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Then remember the other tree in the garden, the tree of Life. Ask yourself, what tree is your statement rooted within? Jesus wants to restore you to relationship with God the Father, and through His death on the cross offers us His purity so that we can become reconciled, and stand in the presence of Holy God! What tree will you choose to be rooted in?