Tuesday, August 21, 2012
I was sent this video from a missionary our church supports in the Muslim world. It contains a powerful testimony of a young, former-Muslim woman and music from the band Selah.
I don’t think we Americans have the slightest clue of the cost that one must pay to become a follower of Jesus in that part of the world. Truly that decision has all-or-nothing consequences that may mean they will be ostracized from family and friends or even worse!
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:23-26).
Watch this video with Jesus’ words in the back of your mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT4v5Ma5iiE&feature=player_detailpage
What do you think about this woman’s testimony? What stands out to you?
How does it affect your decision to be a follower of Jesus instead of just a fan?
What has been the cost of being a follower of Jesus in your life?
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
I have heard a lot of buzz lately about the book 50 Shades of Grey. This book has been bought and read by millions and has lasted at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for over three months now. I personally know of a number of people who have read it or have thought about reading it, not to mention a great amount of buzz in the media and on Facebook about it. As followers of Jesus, how should we react to a book like this or to other questionable books, magazines, movies and places? We don’t need to become modern-day Pharisees, nor do we need to isolate ourselves in a social corner. However, it seems to me that we need to come to terms about where the Bible’s lines are on this subject.
Commenting on the book, sermoncentral.com writer Karen Yates writes:
As a mother of three children, I'm likely raising my sons to be someone's lover, husband, father, and best friend. My daughter too, is learning how to be her husband's wife. And all around them are compromised, loosened sexual content. It's on the TV, on the radio, in bookstores, on the baseball field and next to the Trident at the grocery store check out. A few months ago, when I was face-painting for our city, an 11-year-old asked to have 'Sexy and I Know It' etched on her cheek (goodbye unicorns). Turn on a baseball game and you'll enjoy the not-so-pleasant duty of educating your child about Cialis.
Sex sells, and while we can take steps as parents to guard what comes into our homes, we cannot, unfortunately, completely isolate our children from the avid sexual images around them.
Fifty is only going to make this worse.
We need to be prepared.
The rulebook that navigates my life as a Jesus-follower is that of the Holy Bible. For most of my readers, you too also have that compass. Yet I understand there are many people who do not live their life under that constitution, and I have many amazing friends who are of no faith or of a different faith. I must be ready to take a stand in this conversation. We (you and me) must be wise, educated, and engaged to speak into the movement, and we need to have more than Bible verses under our belt. We need to be able to discuss, dialogue, and challenge our culture as to why we think these books and what they stand for negatively impact our communities. We need to be able to explain why this book is not good for the soul, why it will harm your marriage instead of help it, why a carnal pleasure for a moment is not worth the lasting psychological harm.
To read some secular critiques of the trilogy, check out these articles: Dr. Drew Pinksy: "Dr. Drew: 50 Shades of Grey Pathological, Poorly Written"; Whitney Frink of Acccess Hollywood over at MSNBC "Is 50 Shades of Grey Sending the Wrong Message?"; "Avflox" of Blogher who likes BDSM "The Troubling Message in Fifty Shades of Grey"; Avital Norman Nathman over at HLN "Women Deserve Better than 50 Shades of Grey."
Within the church, we need preparation. We need Biblical reasons for why we shouldn't follow the mainstream culture on this one.
Here is what Jesus says:
You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (Matthew 5:27-30)
God designed us to pour all of our sexual energies into one person, our husband or our wife. When we don’t do that it inevitably leads us away from the design of God, wounding and destroying the healthy sexual relationship we should have. As a pastor I know personally of many cases where this very thing HAS happened . . . always to people who never expected it! The effects of these things are always subtle, so subtle most people deny having any trouble until it’s too late.
What do you think about this important subject, not just the book, but the important issue of fully honoring Jesus with our hearts and minds in this area?