Friday, May 22, 2009

good questions #3


What can you tell me about avoiding the temptation of sex outside of marriage? I'm looking for any advice that you can offer or any tools that you can tell me about.


Great question. Let me see if I can get this discussion started.

First, I believe that an understanding of the goal of relationships from God's perspective would be a good foundation for this discussion. God created us and he loves us and he knows what is best for us.

In the book of Genesis the Bible tells us that God created Adam and after some time had passed God looked at Adam's situation and stated that "It is not good for man to be alone." So, he made a "suitable helper" for him in the form of the first woman, Eve. God realized that man by himself was not good, so he made woman. I believe that the most healthy way for a man and woman to live is within a covenant relationship. This covenant or promise is one that is made between a man and a woman and God. This covenant relationship is what we call marriage.

I also believe that God intends for one man and one woman to live in an intimate relationship with each other for life. In our culture we have been told that intimacy is sex, while in God's eyes there is so much more to intimacy that just the physical act of sex. As a matter of fact, one of the things that sets us apart from animals is the ability to experience real intimacy, not just sex. When we have sex outside of this covenant relationship we are really just having sex, there is not true intimacy and just having sex is a sin in God's eyes. True intimacy includes covenant, trust, commitment, sacrifice, discipline along with desire, attraction, and all the things that go along with the physical side of sex. People who have sex outside of this covenant relationship think they have intimacy, but really they are just settling for sex.

Now, along with these positive reasons there are also some negative things which can motivate us to want to wait until we are married to have sex. There is the risk of physical disease, pregnancy, emotional damage, and other consequences of sex outside of the marriage covenant. From a practical sense it just makes life easier, from a spiritual sense waiting is pleasing to God and not waiting is disobedience or sin, and intimacy is better than just having sex.

I don't want you to think that this is an easy way to go, it's not, but it is a better way to go. Decide together that you choose intimacy over sex. God created these urges, but He intended them to be expressed within the marriage covenant. Choose to wait. Choose intimacy. This is God's design.

Tell me your thoughts and we can talk about some other stuff.

grace & peace.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

good questions #2


I am concerned that earlier in my life I may have blasphemed of the Holy Spirit. What is that, and is that the unpardonable sin?


First, the passage in question is in three of the four gospels. (Mt. 12:29-32; Mk. 3:29-30; Lk. 11:221-22)

The context is an encounter between Jesus and the Pharisees. Jesus drives out a demon from a man who was blind and mute. The Pharisees accuse Jesus of using the power of Satan to drive out the demon from the man. Jesus casts out the demon by the power of the Spirit. But the Pharisees attribute it to the power of Satan. Thus, they call the Holy Spirit the unholy spirit.

The Pharisees were unable to accept Jesus as the Messiah, so much so that they accused Him of being under the power of Satan. Such cynicism and unbelief is motivated by a refusal to accept the evidence of God that is right before them. Essentially, their problem was a lack of faith. Without faith there can be no forgiveness of sins. The thing that is unforgivable is their willful unbelief. (see 1 Jn. 5:16 & Heb. 6:4-6)

I believe that the same is true today. Anyone who willfully chooses to disobey God and does not believe is not going to be saved. So, what about someone who walks away and then returns? The question is does that person now have faith? If so then they can be forgiven. Prodigal son. I don't believe that God cares as much where you've been as where you are. He is not as concerned as much with what you have done, but what you are doing. And that goes both ways. You can't become a christian years ago and then walk away from God and expect to be in good standing with Him at judgment, in the same way you will not be judged by what you did if you are now walking in faith.

I also found this interesting. There are a number of sins against the Holy Spirit like Rebellion (Isa. 63:10), Lying (Acts 5:3-9), Resisting (Acts 7:51), using the Spirit for Selfish Gain (Acts 8:18-22), Grieving (Eph. 4:30), Quenching (1 Thess. 5:19), Disobedience (Heb. 10:29). Blasphemy is the only of these that is unforgivable.

I will continue to think and study through this difficult passage and maybe we can get together again to discuss it.

grace & peace.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

good questions #1

Since the launch of TRC we have had a lot of interest and a lot of questions. I thought over the next few days I would post a few of the questions that have been posed to me and the response that I sent. It has been a real blessing to meet so many diverse people and get the opportunity to share the truths of the Bible with them. Some have been receptive and others have never returned, but either way I always learn and grow. Any comment to these posts will only help me respond more clearly and accurately in the future.


I wanted to know where your Church stands on Gays and Lesbians? I live in New Bern, I am gay and still believe in God to guide me and direct me in my life. My partner and I would very much like to know more about your Church and its beliefs on these issues.


Thanks for your interest in Two Rivers Church.

The short answer to your question is that I believe God loves Gay and Lesbians as much as He loves any person in the world. My hope is that TRC will be the kind of church where people of all backgrounds, races, sexual orientations, and groups will feel loved and be able to explore their own personal relationship with God.

That being said, there is also a longer answer to your question, and one that strikes more precisely to the question I believe you are really asking which is, "Does Two Rivers Church consider same sex relationships a sin?" The answer to that question is yes. Though, I do not think that this sin is any different than anyone else's and we are all on level ground when it comes to our mistakes before God. Each moral failure, mine or yours, separates us from God because He is holy and incapable of sin. It is very difficult to convey my feelings about you or this subject through email, I would be glad to meet with you and your partner for coffee and talk more about the subject.

I love the fact that you still believe in God and look to Him for guidance, unfortunately most gay and lesbians in our culture have rejected the idea of God, probably because the church in America has done such a poor job of conveying Biblical truths in loving ways. I hope that you will come and worship with us and we can continue to discover together what God means for our lives.

Please feel free to call me anytime, my cell number is below.

grace & peace.