Friday, August 22, 2014

Same-Sex Attraction and the World  By Jeanette Howard, Bethany Ministries, Sussex, England

This week has not been easy. In the light of the drama, tragedies and horrors that dominate our screens and saturate the airwaves, I have found it difficult to see the subject of who's attracted to whom as little more than first world pettiness.

The passengers of one airline lie undetected on the bottom of the ocean whilst human remains from another flight are scattered over the war torn Ukrainian countryside. Syrian and Iraqi Christians are being slaughtered in their hundreds if not thousands while the Israelis and Hamas continue to bomb the life out of each other. Nigeria still hasn't found their 'lost' school children and they, along with the likes of Sierra Leone, are being torn apart by violent terrorists. I could continue with the increasing numbers of countries being confronted by the deadly Ebola crisis, but you get the picture.

Placed against the mountain of this awfulness I am left asking the question, Does what I do have any worth? 

I weep, I pray, and I beseech the Lord to intervene in world events. I sign petitions urging those in power to 'do something' to help alleviate the suffering and trauma in various continents, but I still question my day job. Does what I do really have any bearing on the big picture?

He [Jesus] went on: "It's what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness-all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution." Matthew 7:20-23 (The Message)
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds [as shown by] because of your evil behavior. Colossians 1:21 (NIV, footnote included)

The truth is that a world that is at enmity with itself is the only possible outcome for a people who refuse to acknowledge and submit to their Creator. We are designed to be dependent on God for all things, but insistence on living independently of Him can only result in more of what we are already witnessing around the globe.

I may not be shooting air planes out of the sky or butchering people who don't happen to think as I think, but the truth is that I am more than capable of thinking murderous and slanderous thoughts or indulging in lustful imaginings. And that is why I need to continue with my day job. I can't change world events but I can help change the world in which I live. If, through the power of God's Holy Spirit I can help men and women bring their sexuality in thought and expression under the increasing Lordship of Christ, then I am fulfilling my part, however small, in ensuring that God's Kingdom increasingly invades and destroys Satan's Kingdom here on earth. We can live as men and women of the light who choose to surrender and submit our ways to the One who calls us back to our true self, that of being image bearers. In all things, however global or local:

Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, here (in our hearts and) on earth as it is in Heaven. Amen.
Photo: This is a variant on the Arabic letter 'N' you may have come across as some people's Facebook profile. This is to show solidarity with the many Christians who are currently being slaughtered in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State. The letter is being scrawled on Christian homes and stands for Nasara (Nazarene).

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Celebrate Easter Big -- EASTER SUNDAY

Scripture:  Luke 24:5
“Why do you seek the living One among the dead? 

            He is not here, but He has risen!”

JESUS is Risen . . . .  

                                      He is Risen Indeed!

Celebrate Easter Big -- Passion Week: Holy Saturday

Scripture:  Matthew 27:59-60

And Joseph took the body [of JESUS] and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in

his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock . . .

. . . And he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb.  . .

            . . . And went away.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Celebrate Easter Big -- Passion Week: Good Friday

The link below is the Lent/Easter Devotional for today, Good Friday.  It is one of the most powerful presentations on Good Friday that I have ever experienced. 

Be certain to watch the video at the end . . . enlarge it to full screen & turn up the volume!  Embrace the moment and prepare yourself for Sunday . . . it's comin'

“Sunday is a Comin’” by the late Dr. S.M. Lockridge

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Celebrate Easter Big -- Passion Week: Thursday

Scripture:  Mark 14:12-31 & John 13:1-20

Though I did not grow up in a Christian home and did not have much understanding about the things of GOD or who JESUS was our family had the traditional picture of a blue-eyed JESUS and I saw many pictures depicting the Last Supper.  It was many years after I had become a believer that I came to understand that what I had always known as the Last Supper was actually a Passover Meal and it has taken me years longer to understand the significance of this meal.

As I read Mark 14:12 today, I was impacted in a fresh new way by the statement:  “On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed . . . .”  Do you see the amazing picture taking place here?  It would be helpful to read the story of the first Passover especially Exodus 11 and 12. 

Every year, even to this day thousands of years later, Jews all over the world remember this foundational event by observing the Passover Feast which includes a Passover Seder (a retelling of the Exodus from Egypt).  There is also expectation of the coming of the Messiah who will re-establish the kingdom of Israel. 

In our scripture today we read of JESUS calling His disciples together to observe the Passover meal (Last Supper) as Jews everywhere were doing.  But this one was different from all the others.  JESUS took some of the bread they were eating during their Passover meal and said, “Take it; this is My body” (v. 22).  Then He took the wine they were drinking during their Passover meal and said, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many” (v. 24).  JESUS could not have done or said a more insulting thing to incite the religious leaders.  JESUS was clearly declaring that He was the long awaited Messiah . . . the Son of GOD . . . .  He was boldly declaring He was the ultimate fulfillment of the Passover Seder . . . He WAS the Passover Lamb!

In the midst of disciples’ pridefully clamoring about who might be the greatest or who might have the best position of authority and honor in the new “administration” JESUS declares His identity.  JESUS gives an example of the kind of king He is going to be and the kind of kingdom in which He will reign by washing their feet.  I don’t think they go it!

The religious leaders didn’t get it either.  They felt so threatened by JESUS they were ready to implement the evil plan of ending all of this . . . the irony of it all . . . they were playing a role in the redemptive story of GOD and they were being led by one of JESUS’ own.  He was present at the Passover meal with JESUS.  And JESUS, knowing all along what was coming down, washed his feet.  I am amazed!

JESUS is Risen . . . !

Richard Holloman

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Celebrate Easter Big -- Passion Week: Spy Wednesday

Scripture: Luke 22:1-6; 21-23

The Wednesday of Holy Week has been called “Spy Wednesday” by the Church for many years.  The plot thickens as the religious leaders are meeting privately plotting angrily for a way to have JESUS put away.  JESUS had confronted them over and over again and had made strong statements that inflamed them as He proclaimed GOD’s piercing truth uncompromisingly.  He had to be silenced and it had to be quickly!

Luke makes a statement in our scripture today that made me shiver to my bones:  “And Satan entered into Judas . . . .”  This was the moment that Judas made a decision he could not sit back any longer.  Perhaps he thought he needed to take matters into his own hands to force JESUS’ hand to move forward with the new kingdom of Israel.  Or, perhaps Judas was just plain greedy and the experience of Mary anointing JESUS’ feet with expensive ointment and JESUS' defense of her against him was more than he could stand.  Whatever the reason Judas became a pawn in Satan’s hand.

Judas actually met with the religious leaders to discuss how this would all go down.  They were more than happy to agree with him (sounds like it was his plan . . . his idea) and agreed to give him money in return.  We know the amount was “30 pieces of silver”
. . . the price of the life of a slave (Exodus 21:32).

It gets worse; Judas began plotting for the best opportunity to betray JESUS away from the crowd.  This really puts the thought of Judas’ presence at the Last Supper with JESUS and the other disciples into perspective.  I’m thinking, “You dirty, sneaking, conniving, evil, and horribly wicked traitor!  How dare you!  How could you!

This story has just never hit me this way before.  This makes me cry out.  This makes my heart heavy and brings an aching pain in the pit of my stomach.  You know the feeling!  Why am I sitting here in Ugly Mugs (coffee shop in East Nashville) thinking about this and experiencing a deep wave of emotions flowing throughout the fiber of my soul?

I think I know if I’m willing to be truly honest with myself.  And I think you know why too.  It seems I’m more like Judas most days than I ever want to be or that I’m willing to confess and admit.  “Had the redemption of the world depended on the diligence of the disciples (or even their staying awake) it would never have been accomplished” (Donald Macleod, “The Person of Christ”).  And yet JESUS died for Judas and for me and for you.

JESUS is Risen . . . !

Richard Holloman

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Celebrate Easter Big -- Passion Week: Tuesday

Scripture:  Mark 14:1-9 & John 12:1-8

Though the raising of Lazarus and Mary’s anointing are very familiar stories to me the proximity to JESUS own death, burial, and resurrection overwhelmed me in a completely new way today.  This story took place six days before the Passover.  John has just said in John 11:57 that the chief priests and the Pharisees had issued a warrant for His arrest.  The time is very near.  JESUS is moving into danger not away from it.  This is the Passover when He will die.

JESUS was having a special dinner with His friends.  They were honoring JESUS for raising Lazarus from death.   Lazarus was reclining right there with them.  Mary then took expensive ointment, about the size of a soda can, made from pure nard (a highly valued fragrance) and anointed JESUS’ feet and wiped them with her hair.  The house was overwhelmed with the fragrance.

We know about Judas’ objection but let’s focus on Mary’s expression of love, value, and worth that she felt toward JESUS.  Mary realized intimacy with JESUS and to know Him, to see Him for who He was, to hear His incredible teaching, to experience His healing touch, and to have authentic fellowship with Him is infinitely more valuable to her than the money used to purchase the expensive perfume.  JESUS brought her brother back to life!  There is no way to measure the value of that.

Mary took that which was the most beautiful thing that she had, her hair, and used it to wash JESUS’ feet, the lowliest part of JESUS.  She turned her hair into a rag to wash JESUS’ feet.  This is truly the ultimate foot washing expression.

Judas could not begin to comprehend what Mary was doing because he was so focused on the material thing.  That’s what happens when we allow the things of this world replace our worship of JESUS who is LORD and KING.

JESUS did not want Judas to rob Mary of her thrill, her gratitude, her amazement, her wonder, or her love for Him.  The mind set of Judah at the tomb would be:  so much for that Messiah; so much for that way to find victory over our enemies.  What a waste!  What a failure!  But the mind set of Mary and those who believe as she believes will be one filled with love and hope as she stands by the tomb in six days.

If anyone tells you to moderate your love for JESUS, do not listen!  Let your affections for JESUS be lavish!  Do not allow the cares of this world rob you of the riches JESUS has to offer!  Do not allow anyone to tell you JESUS’ death is anything less than triumph over death.  JESUS is the resurrection and the life.  “Whoever believes in Him, though he die, yet shall he live.  Whoever lives and believes in Him shall never die (John 11:25-26).”

JESUS is Risen . . . !

Richard Holloman