Sexual Struggles and the Church

What Believers Must Remember

In a world where our sexuality is a focal point, it’s not surprising that understanding sexual struggles (and sometimes resulting sin) can be problematic.  It shouldn’t really be surprising — the Church and culture speak different languages.  The key is understanding why and how to humbly move forward in grace and truth.

Sexuality and the Church

One of the biggest problems within the Church is that we may not fully understand the difference between temptation (or struggle) and sin.  On the other hand, we seem to be quite good at categorizing our struggles. For example, any sexual struggle is said to be a bigger issue than any other struggle. There even seems to be bigger and lesser struggles within sexual struggles.

Paul made a point to speak of the significance of sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:18), but that significance isn’t really about being lesser or greater, rather how sacred our bodies are. The Church in Corinth clearly didn’t understand that significance.

In order to understand and respond to sexual struggles, we have to understand some fundamental concepts.  Here are five things the Church must remember:

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Hope in the Ashes

A forest fire threatened Fort McMurray and has now heavily impacted the city. What hope can there be in destruction? Where is God when so much has been lost? As spectators from afar, we often wait for God to act – send rain and change the wind direction. But God has equipped all of us to respond.

hope

God’s hope is found when we move into action.

My parents’ home was close to a forest fire three years ago, and anxiety naturally rose to the surface. It’s amazing though, how the things that mattered the most became my main concern. I didn’t think about their house or car, family pictures, or even my childhood items that I never did collect. My immediate concern was the safety of my parents and friends in the area.

As I look towards Fort McMurray, I’m astounded as friends, neighbours and acquaintances run for safety. Highways blocked with vehicles and dark smoke. I’ve watched videos of families leaving their houses behind to make homes in temporary camps and hotels. I can’t even comprehend the overwhelming feeling so many are experiencing right now.

What can I do to help?

I’m sure we all want to do something.  Some are able to volunteer, open their doors for displaced families, and help rebuild in the near future. From a distance, however, there are few things we can do.  But what we can do, can make a huge impact!

There are few things we can do, but what we can do can make a huge impact! #ymm Click To Tweet

Simply stated – we can pray, fast, and give.

We all know we can pray and fast, but sometimes we forget that every dollar makes a huge difference.  If we all helped according to our means, Fort McMurray’s residents would experience hope in the ashes.

But where’s God?

From the beginning, God has been at work.  The very fact that there have been no fatalities is a true testament to God’s mercy and hope.  Part of this hope is realizing that human life is ultimately God’s greatest gift. Possessions can be replaced or lived without, but we can’t replace each other.

Possessions can be replaced or lived without, but we can't replace each other. #ymm Click To Tweet

Moving forward, God is acting through His Church.  God is calling believers everywhere to step up and be the hands and feet of Christ.  It’s called being the body.  In talking about unity, Paul wrote:

25…there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together…1

That means by praying, fasting, and giving to those hurting, we are acting in unity with the body and therefore expressing God on this earth.  We’ll never be able to explain why bad things happen, but we can always choose how we will respond.

When we help those in need; those in need find hope in the ashes.

When we help those in need; those in need find hope in the ashes. #ymm Click To Tweet

Your turn…

Let’s pray and fast together! Prayer helps us speak to God, and fasting helps us hear God’s heart. You can read more about prayer and fasting in my previous posts (“Prayer: The Sincere and Authentic Heart” and “Fasting: 3 Reasons Why We Fast“).

Join with me in a practical way – give towards the crisis response.  The Red Cross has taken an active role and the Alberta government has partnered with them as well:

RED CROSS Emergency Appeal or text REDCROSS to 30333 to make a $5 donation.

The Alberta government is matching donations made to the Red Cross.2

Here are some other groups you can give through:

ERDO Fort McMurray Crisis Response

Samaritan’s Purse Wildfire Response


PHOTO CREDIT: CBC – The majority of homes and some vehicles were destroyed in the hard-hit neighbourhood of Beacon Hill. (Sylvain Bascaron/Radio-Canada)

References   [ + ]

“Christian” Government?

Canadians have decided – Canada will have a liberal majority government led by Justin Trudeau.

government

I’m a Christian, so you may think I would be upset because the “Christian” progressive conservatives are no longer in power.  The reality is, “Christian” politics don’t really exist.  It can’t exist.  The Canadian government is required to lead Canada, and Canada proudly celebrates diversity and thus everyone is not Christian.  In a democratic society with religious freedom, religion can’t define a government.  Instead, the government must be defined and measured by how policy allows for religious freedom.

Here’s my message to Christians who may be upset with a changing government: you serve a God who is in complete control, and His Word tells you to respect the government in power while continuing to serve Him.

God is in control and God instituted the governing authorities.

While I pay attention to the political story and vote accordingly, the party who receives the most votes is completely in God’s hands.  I have to trust that.  The reality of the policy changes that may occur (for, or against my faith-based views), will happen for God’s purposes.  Whether I understand that or not, I have to trust God is in control.

“For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”i

God expects us to respect the governing authorities.

If God has ordained the governing authorities, than we must respect God’s authority by respecting those He has ordained.  Anything less than that would be going against what God has put in place.

“…whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”ii

We may never fully understand why certain people are elected and others are not, or why certain policies are created, enacted or reversed.  The point is, God has planned this and it’s not the Christian’s job to simply resist such leadership.

“…one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”iii

We live in a free country.  As Christians, our job is to be faithful to the calling on our lives, not create fights with a government who doesn’t hold scripture as their authority.  Their definitions, view points and understandings aren’t necessarily based on scripture – they’re based on general acceptance, and let’s face it – general acceptance means more votes.  In our faithful journey, we must respect the leaders God has placed in our lives, and give…

“…taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”iv

So, what happens if policy stops me from being faithful to God?

Be a Daniel – Remain faithful to God, and God will remain faithful.

God is always faithful to those who are faithful to Him.  What I’ve noticed, however, is that many Christians get upset over potential faith-based issues before becoming truly faithful to God.  When there are no arising issues, attention moves away from remaining faithful and towards being comfortable.  God is calling a generation to be faithful to Him at all times.  If I had to breakdown the Daniel story into three main points, this is what I would say:

  1. Daniel was faithful BEFORE it was illegal to do so.

Daniel was faithful from the beginning – before trouble came his way.  Everything from remaining clean and observing Jewish food lawsv to praying three times a day.vi  He didn’t wait for policy to change – he was faithful from the beginning.

  1. Daniel respected the governing authorities.

Daniel was faithful to his king.vii  Even after God was faithful in sparing his life in the lions’ den, Daniel’s response was clear:

“O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”viii

  1. God was faithful when Daniel stood strong.

Daniel respectively stood firm on his devotion to God when he was faced with policy changes.  He respectively declined unclean food and chose to live off of vegetables to do so.  God was faithful, as Daniel’s appearance was not only healthy, but stronger than those who did eat the king’s unclean food.ix  Daniel also experienced God’s faithfulness when he was tossed in the lion’s den for praying to God.  God’s faithfulness was evident in his life.

No matter how we may view the governing authorities, we must remember that God is in complete control, He expects us to respect those in authority, and remain faithful as we serve Him.  We will never fully agree with every policy.  Some policies will be more “Christian” than others; however, at the end of the day, our goal should be to simply be faithful to God and trust who he places in government.  The days ahead are not glum; the days ahead are bright.  The question is: will you be a Daniel and be an effective instrument for God?


i Romans 13:1.
ii Romans 13:2.
iii Romans 13:5.
iv Romans 13:6.
v Daniel 1:8, 12.
vi Daniel 6:10.
vii Daniel 6:4-5.
viii Daniel 6:21-22.
ix Daniel 1:12-16.

Good People Responding To Bad Things

As we experience life, we have probably all asked, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  While I have pondered this very question numerous times, I have also pondered this question: “why don’t good people respond well to bad things?”  It’s impossible to determine the external experiences we face in our lives; however, we are able to determine how we respond to them. This is my response to the Moncton RCMP tragedy.

We often say, “the world is becoming a bad place!” However, we hardly ever wonder, “what’s wrong with my response to what’s happening in the world?”  We often don’t assume blame, responsibility, or even offer love (in many cases) towards what we consider as “bad”.  Instead, we tend to label ourselves as “the good people” and expect “the bad people” to be removed, judged, and/or imprisoned.  From the beginning, there have been consequences for those who do bad things, with an equal responsibility to respond with love and grace.

The world isn’t becoming a bad place; from the beginning, bad has consumed the human race.  Murder has been around since people started interacting with one another.  Cain took his brother’s life because he was resentful of God’s response to his brother’s offering.[i]  The response of humanity was anger, while God’s response was consequential mercy.[ii]  While there were major consequences to Cain’s actions that were even “greater than [he] could bear,”[iii] God protected him out of mercy and love.

The world isn’t becoming a bad place; God included murder as a form of spiritual deface. When God gave Moses the ten commandments, he specifically included the command not to take someone’s life.[iv]  The issue of murder is not a sign of the 21st century, it is a sign of humanity’s sin.  To murder, however, means to disobey God’s command and to deface our spiritual journey. It results in consequence and forgivable under God’s grace.

The world isn’t becoming a bad place; humanity is becoming numb to God’s grace.  One of the most notable stories of murder in scripture is found in the Gospels.  Jesus was brought before Pilate and they were determining the outcome.  As tradition, Pilate released a prisoner during the Passover feast.  Pilate gave the crowd a choice: release Jesus or Barabbas (a rebel murderer who was a part of the rebellion against Roman authority[v]).  The people asked to release Barabbas, and to crucify Jesus.  When I step back and look that story from Barabbas’ point of view, I see Jesus not only showing mercy towards him, but taking his place and paying his consequences.  Jesus hasn’t called us to pay for the wrongdoings of others (Jesus paid it for all of us); however, He does expect us to point others to His grace.

My heart really goes out to our Canadian friends in Moncton this week; tragedy has struck a city by surprise.  Elements of fear, terror, and the unknown, fill the streets as police are shot and murdered in the middle of the day.  My prayers are with their families, friends and co-workers as their lives are forever changed by this unforeseen tragedy.  I pray that God’s grace, mercy and love will overwhelm them; and through it all, this experience will somehow draw the community closer together.

My heart is also saddened as I think about how much help and love Justin Bourque needs.  There are consequences that he faces, and so he should, but our response to his actions has the potential to silence his cause.  The world isn’t getting worse, but our response could make it brighter.

Join with me, as I #PrayForMoncton …

…for the families, friends and co-workers of the RCMP victims; may God’s peace be with them as they grieve the loss of three heroes.

…for the residents of Moncton; may God’s peace and comfort fill every house as police continue to search.

…for the families and friends of Justin Bourque; may God grant them peace as they realize they are not to blame for Justin’s actions.

…for Justin Bourque himself, may God’s love overwhelm him to turn himself in and return peace to the city Moncton.

 


[i] Genesis 4:4-5, 8

[ii] Genesis 4:14-15

[iii] Genesis 4:12-13

[iv] Exodus 20:13

[v] Mark 15:7