Out Of The Closet--The Greatest Difference

A young friend and professed Christian publically declared on Facebook this week that he is “bi” or, as people categorize these things today, bi-sexual. This is not novel, and I expect such disclosures will continue in our culture. He also declared that those who will not support him in this new life with his “bf” should unfriend him. He put me in a quandary, to remain his Facebook friend I would be sending the message that I support all his disclosure entails. Which… I do not. I have not acted on his request to unfriend him yet, but plan to do so since he has requested it and has challenged me both publically and privately. I also have not responded until now to the broader conflict within Christianity, but I am constrained to do so for many reasons, not the least of which includes the public nature of social media and the frequency of these disclosures.

While I have friends and family (going back to the 60s) who are or were involved in relationships of this type I have never hidden the fact that I believe this behavior is included in a long list of sins that God Himself has disclosed in a myriad of ways not the least of which is the Bible. While being open about my beliefs and living with the accompanying tensions and boundaries I make every effort to not be perceived as rude or hateful and for the most part receive that kindness in return. The reason for my behavior is mostly found in my personal experience with God that I describe below.

Frankly, even though I do not struggle with an attraction to those of my gender the greatest difference between us is not found in the type of sin we produce but in the shame experienced over the production of sin. It is a horror to me… a nightmare… to imagine that I could be so far from God’s Mercy that my sins and failures would somehow be flaunted before my God and published to my fellow-companions in His Grace. When my own wretchedness becomes evident I slink into the shadows of shame. I beg God’s forgiveness and plead with my fellow sojourners who may know of it to forgive--not to accept--my wrong. Then I struggle with God to so change me that I will never be found here again. I do hate the cold grey iron walled cell of shame, but I know my periodic imprisonment there is necessary for me to understand and responsibly value the liberty I have in Jesus. I find no solace in giving a brighter name to such a cold dark place… it is shame and it is necessary. In my shame I find vital comfort because folded within shame’s dark layers is one of the tell-tale signs of a converted heart: a Spiritual conscience.

A woman, who was a church member, came to me for counsel years ago concerning her shame and fear. Her shame was so great she feared hell was to be her grave. She, with reddened face, disclosed that she “cussed” in the kitchen when something boiled over or didn’t go like she wanted it to go. I asked her if she thought an unconverted person would fear or even think of God’s displeasure over such language and the temper behind it. She thought for a second and replied, “no, probably not.” I explained to her that this shame, fear, and sensitivity to God, instead of being evidence that she isn’t converted, is one of the best evidences that she is converted. I didn’t spend any time trying to convince her that it was OK. Oh to have such sensitivity to God’s displeasure! I asked her if she thought Jesus died for this intemperance. She paused and gave a halting, teary, “yes!” I told her to confess this to Him and plead with Him to take this burden away, but always trust in the Gospel work of Jesus regardless of the outcome. Only in the Gospel do we sinners find forgiveness, peace, and assurance. Shame, even over things that others may consider small, is what brings us to victory’s gate.

When looking within myself I cannot easily find a separation between sin and the sinner since it is from within me that my sin is born. I am told to hate the sin but love the sinner as if that were a Bible verse, but I produced my sin… if it were not for me it would not have existed. How can I claim to hate the product that destroys and then claim to love the factory that produced it? How can I so easily hate the poison that killed the Lamb of God, but then almost flippantly love the poisonous heart from which the poison poured? I am not saying there should be no inclination to love in the face of failure, but anyone who confesses no problem or struggle on both sides of this cliché must be cut from a purer cloth than I. Some concerned friend may seek to comfort me now with God’s love so they tenderly say, “God Loves you”. This I do know and I sincerely thank you for your tenderness, but the more I learn about myself the more His love is the greatest mystery to me. It seems the closer I get to Him the further from His perfections I find myself to be. How… can… He… Love… me??? Yet He does and I am amazed by His love!

Grace never says sin is OK. It says the exact opposite, sin is so far from OK that Jesus had to die for it. And I am ashamed of that, but at the same time I will attempt in my feeble way to ensure that His death for my sin is not in vain. I will, by His grace, rise up and walk out of the shadows of shame with my sin forgiven and a commitment in my heart and prayer on my lips to keep me from sin and allow me to serve Him with my remaining days. Since I have been in this cell many times I know I shall be in those grey shadows again soon, but I also know that when I confess my sins He is faithful and just to forgive my sins and to cleanse me… and that His Gospel Grace also reaches into the cell with me. I am never alone. I have a sure tried and proven way out of shame and ultimately my sin… and I am overwhelmed and amazed by that fact. Praise His Holy Name for such Mercy and Love! I am of all people most undeserving.

A person may redefine sin as they wish… but they will never find true peace in such a redefinition. Such defensive struggles are as Jesus said: paint on the outside of a grave or washing the outside of a dirty cup. I will not argue over the color of the paint. The only freedom from the grave is in finding our sins forgiven by the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If, because of my belief, I must be rejected by some… then so be it. If, because of my sin and failures, I must be rejected by some… believe me, I understand. But I cannot remain in the cold cell when the door has been opened by the one who holds the keys of eternal life. I am free and I must press on for my Savior!


My Three Greatest Teachers And The Thrill Of Ignorance

I have been taught by three great teachers over the years. And each one has taught me how ignorant I am. Each has taught me not to doubt that God exists, but to doubt my understanding of Him. When I came into Christianity I knew more about atheism (An Atheist At Thanksgiving), biology, and other sciences, than I did about church life and the Bible. I separate church life and the Bible because I had to grow into both, and I found over time that one is not always the same as the other.

My first teacher was this physical world. I can’t remember when I first became curious about the world around me. Before I could read I observed the movement of life around me, along with those things that didn’t move and weren’t alive. Some of my earliest memories are of hiding from my drunken brutal dad while mom was at work. They divorced when I was three. I can still smell the evergreen bushes and see the insects I observed as I hid in the shrubs in front of our house, or the feel of the cloth on the underside of the guest room bed as I hid in the darkness. Or the way the dust beneath the bed moved as I blew it across the floor in the dim light of the hallway.

A few years later when I learned to read I read, among other things, science, history, and science fiction. I devoured the books, and my most exciting time of the month was when a new couple of books would come from the book club. Mom spent her hard earned money to keep books in my hands. She bought a set of encyclopedias on credit, and when I had finished my monthly books I read those books that explored everything. And… all of this taught me about God. Some people I have known seem repulsed by God, but for me His existence was gravity… pulling me… always pulling me. I knew little to nothing about religion, but this first teacher taught me about God. The bigness of this world taught me that there was so much I didn’t know, and even more that I didn’t know about Him. And frankly I thrilled at my ignorance, because it meant I had a life of exploration before me. My first teacher still teaches me that truth, perhaps now more than ever.

My second teacher was myself, but probably not in the way you think. Self-awareness, common to all of us, taught me that I was more than the sum of my physical parts. This mind, this being, seemed so foreign to the physical world around me and was, at least to me, a different substance than what I could see and touch. For me there seemed to be two forms of life, physical life and the mind. Physical life seems much easier to grasp than this ethereal existence of the mind. Yet they both exist, both paradoxically inside and dependent upon the other. Life… it is about life.

I am here now in the hospital painfully observing my Father-in-law’s struggle with a major heart attack. And… it is not death I see so much as life. Death is the stranger, life is the native force of all we know. This truth is probably the root of my greatest resistance to the notion that there is no God. All my atheist friends must do is look at their own equations to see what I mean. It is life that has pushed itself against all odds, and I mean all odds, to explode with such force in this existence. It is in our DNA for life to survive… to fight against all resistance. Life is normal… death is not. Death is an end-state not a conscious force. And this mind, even our collective mind, pushes against death. We fight it. Our bodies fight it. And when we willingly give up life it is considered the greatest sacrifice.

God loves life! He is first, before all else, alive. This is a major truth that my first two teachers taught me… It is a fact that is so visible around and within us. We are bathed in it; all we must do is open our eyes.

There is a Mind behind these two life forms. But that singular Mind is the Creator not the created. When He pours Himself into a created form that physical form isn’t Him, but it is where we meet Him. This is how I tell the difference between the false and the true. Most religion is man meeting the mind of man. But there are places where and times when man meets the limitless transcendent God. And in this meeting our minds shiver in the awareness of our smallness and His beyondness. Yet… He has come to us... So that we may know Him. And in the glaring awareness of my ignorance it is this fact that strengthens me: He has come to me… He has, by His own choice, come to us. And this… this place of revelation, this time of reaching for Him, this condescension of The Life has been my third teacher.

This is something that so many people misunderstand about Jesus, but it is the greatest example of what I mean. Jesus is a man… a human. But His humanity is a unique package designed by the Creator to be a place where we meet the eternal Mind. In all created life forms we learn about God, but in these exceptional forms, such as Jesus who is the highest form, we meet God. In Jesus we meet the mind of God, the ultimate Force of Life,” the fullness of the Godhead bodily”. And The Life resisted and defeated death. And this is as natural as a blade of grass. Death is our enemy, Life is the victory.

“O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”


10 To The 44th Power... Really? You're Serious?

Just the other day I was reading an article on new theories of how DNA came into existence and one of the scientists wrote, “that there is a one in 1044 chance that the triplets occur at binding sites by pure chance.” He was discussing one essential part of his theory and used this number to support his theory. But keep in mind that he was dealing with only one detail in the whole process of DNA coming into existence. The probabilities in atheistic evolution have to all be based on chance.

What always catches my eye when the atheistic evolutionists speak of probabilities are the large numbers, in this case 1044. Don't just read over numbers like that. That is a huge number. So big I can’t find a name for it. It is a 1 with 44 zeros after it. 109 is 1 Billion.

How big is this number? Well lets see, the world population is estimated 6,898,075,483. If you bought a lottery ticket for $1, along with every other person on a million billion more planets with equal populations, your chance of winning the lottery would be far greater than the chances this scientist gave of just one part of his theory happening by chance. But that’s really not accurate, because in a lottery there is a sure winner, but in probability this is considered impossible. I’ll stick with God.


Jesus Stops Time

Matthew 5:21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time,
22 But I say unto you,
27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time,
28 But I say unto you,

In a sense Jesus stopped time. Let me explain. We time-bound creatures have a way of immortalizing the past. We sometimes think that teachers “back then” must have been more wise than we are today. Some of us tend to exalt the present as the sum of all that exists. And then there are some folks who see all that is bright to be yet in the future. But Jesus spans it all!

He is the “alpha and omega”, the “first and the last”. He said “before Abraham was I am…” The Son Of God was there to hear Noah preach, Moses judge, and King David play his harp. His Spirit was present when these teachers of old expounded their incomplete notions about the law to their audience.

He, above anyone in all time, can speak about what they had to say. He stops the influence of time when He speaks, because, in a sense, He is timeless. These “old time” speakers were in His presence just as we are today, and our descendants will be tomorrow. And He is their Lord just as He is ours, and He has the right to correct us all by saying “but I say unto you.” He is The Teacher of all teachers and we should sit at His timeless feet today and learn.


Naked, Living Underground, And Feeling No Pain

This is one strange little hairless creature. It is an African rodent commonly called the Naked Mole Rat. These rodents live almost exclusively underground in tunnel systems that can extend for up to three miles. Their uniqueness doesn’t end with just their looks.

One amazing thing about them is they are cancer free. Scientists believe this is because of a special gene called P16. But whatever the cause they are the longest living rodents in the world with life spans of over 20 years. The oldest on record was 28 years.

They live in colonies very similar to ant colonies. The average colony consists of around 80 rats. Each colony has one queen, and a few mating males. The rest of the colony population is made up of sterile workers, which gather food, and soldiers, which protect the colony from intruders. These, and another type of mole rat, are the only mammals to live this way.

Their lungs are small, but their bodies use oxygen very effectively. They can almost shut down their metabolism for long periods of time. They also can’t feel pain because of the lack of a neurotransmitter and they cannot regulate their body temperature like other mammals. The complexity and size of God's creation never ceases to amaze me.


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