Thursday, April 23, 2015

In Response To The Teaching That Sexual Sin Is Accepted By God

Recently I have been coming across some terrible and wrong teaching from people who call themselves Christians. But these are people who want Jesus while holding on to their sin. These are the sort who dismiss parts of the Bible by pointing out some of the lesser laws as an excuse to dismiss the important stuff. I am sure you have come across the two types of material argument to excuse the acceptance of homosexuality.

What we are failing to understand is that Jesus is the complete and perfect revelation of our God. In him all the law was made complete. Our example is found in him. His words are what we live. We do not need to search for anything outside of him. So, in order to find the truth I look to Jesus and found he told us plainly what is important:

"Don’t you know that everything that goes into the mouth enters the stomach and goes out into the sewer? But what goes out of the mouth comes from the heart. And that’s what contaminates a person in God’s sight. Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adultery, sexual sins, thefts, false testimonies, and insults. These contaminate a person in God’s sight." (Matthew 15:17-20)

Jesus fulfilled the whole law and made it possible for our hearts and minds to be transformed. We have been made into a new creation, like Jesus. Our bodies will be transformed when it is time but for now it has been made possible for us to understand the will of the Father and to live a life pleasing to him. And here Jesus tells us what the priority is in the Kingdom.

All sexual sin is wrong because it comes from a contaminated heart. Jesus defined the only acceptable relationship for sex, the relationship for which it was created:

“Haven’t you read that at the beginning the creator made them male and female?  And God said, ‘Because of this a man should leave his father and mother and be joined together with his wife, and the two will be one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh." (Matthew 5:4-6)

If we truly know Jesus and have laid down our life to him we know this to be true. But if we are seeking a philosophy and claim to know Jesus while fiercely holding onto our sin, we have not honestly encountered him and made a decision for him. If we search hard enough we are going to find some demonic spirit preaching whatever our itching ears want to hear, but if we are a true seekers then we will gladly lay it all down for him.

It doesn't matter if we are talking about homosexuality, fornication or adultery, they all come from a sin bound heart. Jesus came to set us free from this not to make us more comfortable in it. He came to give us the power to repent, to turn away from those things that do not please God, and we do exactly that because we love him. True love produces obedience. Sin produces rebellion.

Remember that Jesus said that the way is narrow and not many will make it. Remember that he said if we want to be his disciples we have to first of all deny ourselves. Deny our flesh desires. Deny our opinions. Deny everything about our former life so that we can be dressed in the clothing of the Kingdom, his righteousness.

We can lie to ourselves. We can be self-delusional. We can continue to be lovers of self and proclaim to the darkness that we are Christians but the fruit of our heart does not lie. You cannot have the sinful pleasures of this fallen world and Jesus Christ. It just doesn't work that way.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I Was Dying But I Decided To Live, part 2

Yesterday I was telling you of how I was dying but decided to live. I left my story with the paramedics taking me out of my home, paralyzed and fighting to stay alive. Needless to say, we made it to the hospital in what felt like seconds. I was not allowed to close my eyes, but I had no intention to do so. I knew it was given to me to live.

When they wheeled me through the double doors of the emergency entrance they hit a large button on the wall so that an alarm with a big flashing blue light started going off. People came running and before I knew it I was in the trauma room with things being plugged into me.

It seemed like a very busy time for everyone but for me it was a time of peace and great joy: Jesus was in that room with me.

The doctors were talking gravely. They kept testing the ability of my right side to move, which it could not. The resident neurologist came in, with the neurologist on the phone. They started talking to me about a drug that might give me a tiny bit of mobility back but 2% of people die from it and another 6% have bleeding of the brain. Nice. I would not be able to hold a pencil but I should be able to move my arm, somewhat.

Then they were wheeling me off for an MRI. All the time I was thanking Jesus for his presence and assurance. There was no further thought of death; I was going to live and I was going to be healed.

They took the MRI which was a weird experience. They wanted me to fold my hands on the center of my body but I told them I couldn't move my right arm. They told me to hold it with my left. But when I touched my right arm I almost vomited because it felt like touching someone else's dead arm. It was cold and I could not feel me being touched by my left hand.

When they were done the resident neurologist came bursting through the door. She tried to get the technicians to wheel me back to the trauma center but they said they would call someone. Her words to them were "This patient does not have time to wait", and she started wheeling me down the corridor herself.

I am very thankful that an orderly came along because I am not sure I would have survived her driving.

As we flew down the corridor something strange started to happen, I began to feel my fingers on my right side. In fact, I was able to move them slightly. If it were possible, my joy increased as the Lord manifested himself in my healing.

They put me back in the trauma room while the resident neurologist looked at the scans in the corner of the room. I couldn't see but I could hear her stating what would become a common word for her that morning: "Impossible. This is impossible." She was on the phone again telling the neurologist that nothing was showing up on the MRI scan. I heard the word "impossible" several more times.

That's when I turned to the attending doctor and told him I could move my arm. He asked me to show him so I did. I couldn't move it much but I did manage to lift my arm a bit. He had a surprised look on his face when he said, "You shouldn't be able to do that". He turned to the resident neurologist and told her I was getting sensation back. The "impossible" word was spoken again and she told me to show her. I lifted it, a little more now.

The attending doctor and neurologist had a conversation concerning the merits of the drug they wanted to administer. It was already out of the package and being prepared to be administered. The attending doctor was saying he did not think they should give it to me but the neurologist was explaining that the window of opportunity was closing. The attending doctor suggested that they should have me stand to see if I could walk. She answered that it wouldn't matter and promptly left to talk with the neurologist on the phone.

I liked the attending doctor. As soon as the resident neurologist was gone he turned to another doctor and said, "Let's get him up". I was able to put weight on my leg but I had to drag it to walk. I guess even this was impossible because as the resident neurologist entered the room she said as much.

They helped me back onto the stretcher and decided not to give me the drug. They were absolutely convinced that I had experienced a stroke but they could not understand my recovery. They decided to wheel me into the observation area and monitor me for a while before making any further decisions. What a busy place the observation area was with a full platoon of nurses. I was impressed.

I was doing much better now. My speaking was almost back to normal and much of my sensation and movement had returned. I was weak and very tired but I was completely healed and restored. What an amazing God we serve.

It was here that I was able to spend a few minutes with my wife, then my oldest daughter, Niki (who burst into tears when she saw me and made me cry too), and then my oldest son, Ian, who drove the others to the hospital. What a joy it was to see them and to assure them everything was okay.

At one point the attending doctor from the trauma room, who was no longer attending, came wondering through the observation area. He suddenly stopped at the end of my stretcher and, without saying a word, indicated he want me to lift my arm. When I complied, showing I had fully recovered, he broke out into a huge grin, gave me a thumbs up and, I swear, went skipping out of the room.

By noon they decided to release me but gave me all kinds of reasons why they needed to do follow up and to study my case. I left the hospital with a limp, completely exhausted but so thankful that the Lord heard the desire of my heart and gave me more time on this earth so that I could support my wife and continue to be an influence in my children's lives. In the days that followed, he restored me to perfect health, with no limp, no after effect and filled with a love and appreciation for his presence.

What a joy knowing what it will be like in that moment of departure from this place. No pain. No fear, No regrets. No unfinished business. Only the overwhelming presence of the Lord, his joy and his peace and a great desire to worship.

Praise the Lord, oh my soul! Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I Was Dying But I Decided to Live

I almost died two weeks ago but I made a choice to live.

I've been wanting to tell my story for a while but there hasn't been much time so I am attempting to tell it today.

Two weeks ago I woke on a Monday morning. It started like any other morning as the alarm went off and I turned to my phone to read my Bible before getting out of bed. But as I was reading, the screen suddenly changed. It confused me at first until I noticed my thumb was touching the screen. But I couldn't feel it touching the screen. Then the screen changed again.

I figured my arm had gone to sleep so I switched the phone to my left hand but as I did my right arm fell by my side, lifeless. I could not move it. I couldn't even feel it. Then a wave of strangeness washed over me and I knew I was in trouble. I didn't know what was wrong but I knew it was something terrible.

I nudged my wife and told her I was feeling strange. She rolled over and looked at me. She quickly sprung up and said "Something is wrong with your face." Fear and panic was all over hers. I realized that I couldn't feel the right side of my face and talking suddenly took a great deal of effort. Everything suddenly seemed to go into slow motion and took on an alien feeling. It all looked and felt unfamiliar. That's when my brain turned to mush and my thinking became muddled.

I managed to get out the words, "Call 9-1-1".

I couldn't believe the words that were coming out of my mouth. Did I really need help? Yes I did. Panic started to grip me.

I turned to get out of bed and promptly fell into my nightstand and slid onto the floor. Where I fell is where I stayed. I couldn't move, even though I could tell it was awkward and painful I could not will my body to get into a more comfortable position. Not only couldn't I will my body to move, I didn't care to move.

As my wife was talking to the 9-1-1 operator a strange realization hit me: I was dying. In that instant I was overwhelmed by the presence of Jesus. Words describe it have yet to be invented. To describe it poorly, my whole being was flooded by peace and joy. I started to sing, if that is what it could be called with half my mouth paralyzed. I was overwhelmed with a desire to proclaim the name of Jesus and to tell him I loved him. I just kept saying over and over again, "I love you Jesus" because he was right there holding me.

I didn't see him. There was no bright light or tunnel. There was only the comforting presence of my Lord, pushing away all fear, worry, concern and anxiety. There was only peace, joy, and gladness.

As this was happening I was also telling my wife how much I loved her and that it was okay. I told her that I was going now and that I wanted to say good-bye to my children. Things were beginning to fade and the presence of Jesus grew stronger. This life was fading away, the world was behind me, there wasn't any desire in me but to go. I wanted to go. I was longing to go. Everything of this earth was passing away, my mind and heart were filled only with a desire for Jesus.

I turned to my wife to say a final good-bye and to again express my love, but I was struck by what I saw. It was her tears that caused me to turn away from what I was feeling and desiring, to realize her situation. Her reality began to penetrate the peace and joy that enveloped me. Suddenly I felt selfish as images of what she would be left with came flooding into my mind. My heart welled up with love, compassion and concern for this woman who I loved so dearly. I saw the children, the store, the finances, her loneliness and I knew I couldn't leave her like that.

Something changed. I had a desire to stay. I asked to stay. I fought against my own will in order to stay. And I told my wife as much as she continued dealing with the 9-1-1 operator. I started telling her "I'm fighting. I'm fighting." Unfortunately, due to the paralysis of my face what came out was "I'm farting," but somehow she understood. I refused to close my eyes and I started thanking Jesus for my life.

The Scripture that kept going through my head and heart was:

"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me." (Philippians 1:20-26)

By the time the paramedics arrived my brain was functioning as if I was drunk. I was enveloped by peace and joy due to the presence of the Lord but I knew I wasn't going to die. I knew I had a choice and I made it for the sake of my wife. Oh, I wanted to go. I wanted to enter into rest. I was more than content to leave the burdens of this world behind but for the sake of my wife I decided to stay and the Lord honoured the desire of my heart.

The paramedics and fire fighters managed to pick me up off the floor and strap me into a chair to get me down the stairs. I was frustrated I couldn't help them, having no strength in the functioning part of my body. I remember apologizing that I weighed so much ( I am a tall man) but they politely ignored me. As they wheeled me out of the bedroom my daughter Jennifer looked on with great concern. I tried my best to convey to her that I loved her and that everything was going to be okay. But there was no waiting now. Those paramedics thought they had 3 hours to save my life, they had no idea what the Lord was already doing. The power of our God was about to manifest.

Wait until you read what miracle happened next. Part two.