Five for Friday (7.24.14)

five red buttonIt’s Friday again! Here are links to five great articles to keep you learning through the weekend.

Medal of Honor Goes to Soldier ‘Who Held the Line’ – This is what a hero does.

Jesus is for Losers – A needed reminder from Tullian Tchividian.

Nine Reasons Men Should Stay Away From Porn – Read this guys!

Can Neuroscience Help Us Disciple Anyone? – Amazing merging of science and theology!

Eight Ways to Help Your Pastor Have a Good Vacation – True words Mt Vernon!

Five for Friday (7.18.14)

5Here are five great articles to keep you thinking through the weekend! Go to church (somewhere) this Sunday!

Balancing Justice and Mercy in Immigration Reform – A great perspective on this divisive topic.

Catalyst’s Brad Lomenick on Secret to Success – Great interview with the guy who helped build the Catalyst Conference, a conference I look forward to going to every year.

The Road to Jericho & the Border Crisis – Another strong perspective on the border crisis from the top Baptist mind on the subject.

The Pastor’s Wife Who Went Crazy – Amazing first-person perspective on mental illness.

Why Are So Many Christians Afraid of Hollywood Bible Movies? – With more and more Bible epics coming out, this is a good word.

BONUS Video – For the guys, a history of hair fashion over the past 100 years.

Five for Friday (7.11.14)

5Learning never takes a break! Here are five articles (plus a bonus video) to keep you learning through the weekend.

Is There a Pause Button for Parenting? - My thoughts exactly!

Six Things You Can Do To Improve Your Marriage – Always helpful words from Perry Noble.

An Acts 17 Moment: What Burger King Has Right About LGBT People - Great perspective for those with ears to hear.

10 Keys to Being a Great Employee – We could all benefit from this!

Why We Won’t Live In Heaven Forever – Just to blow your mind a little.

Bonus Video – the new trailer for Exodus: Gods and Kings is out, starring Christian Bale. Looks epic!

Five for Friday (6.27.14)

5Have a great weekend!

A Different Kind of Millennial Problem – Wouldn’t it be great to have this problem in all our churches?

How to Speak Your Spouse’s Love Language (And What to Avoid) – Great help for any marriage!

10 Questions for a Six-Month Spiritual Checkup – Great tool! Worth the read!

A Letter to Married Couples Who Are Struggling With Infertility – Great encouragement!

Where Do Millennials Attend Church? – More good insight into this pivotal generation for the church.

The Difference Between Homosexual Orientation and Homosexual Behavior

6.24.14Today’s guest post comes from a friend of mine, Todd Rayburn. Todd is a 2000 graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling. He’s worked in psych hospitals, clinics, school systems and in private practice. He currently has a private practice in Picayune, MS.

My journey on the issue of homosexuality dates back to my high school and early college years (late ‘80’s). I found myself around an unusually high number of gays and lesbians as many family and friends began to confide in me about their problems. I noticed that as I entered into my early adulthood that gays and lesbians would seek me out and I could not understand why because I am without a doubt heterosexual.  I noticed that my “gaydar” (as the homosexual community calls it) was at least as good as any gay person I knew and I could spot a gay person a mile away. All this left me quite confused because I was, am and will always be heterosexual. So I began to pray and ask God why all this was happening. Why were all these people coming to me? Why did I have the ability to just pass some normal looking guy on the street and instantly know he was gay? God began to reveal to me that he was preparing me for the ministry of counseling and that this would be a major issue affecting families. This began my search and my eventual theological understanding of homosexuality.

I often noticed in debates about the subject that the term “homosexuality” was thrown around very loosely and inevitably one side would argue that it was sin and the other would argue the opposite. I finally realized that the term was being use synonymously for both homosexual behavior/lifestyle and homosexual orientation. I noticed that this left audiences confused – thinking the two parties were talking about the same thing when they were in fact talking about two entirely different concepts. Once I realized this, I began to talk to gays and listen to how they described themselves. I also listened to their stories of how they evolved and realized they were different. I listened to how they felt about themselves. It was eye opening to say the least. I began looking at studies on the subject and I combed through all the relevant scriptures. By the time I entered the counseling program at New Orleans Seminary in 1998, I had a pretty good handle on the theology of homosexuality. I discovered that many of my professors had a similar understanding of scripture but no one was talking about it openly. Here we are some 16 years later and now the world is dragging us kicking and screaming into the argument and we are still not educating our people on this subject. We are still more focused on the political than the spiritual. We are still allowing theological ignorance to rule over truth. So what is the truth and what do we know?

Studies tell us that many self identified heterosexuals in the prison system have engaged in homosexual behavior just for human contact and due to a lack of opposite sex partners (Eigenberg, 1992; Sagarin, 1976). These studies also showed that once these people were released, they returned to heterosexual behaviors exclusively. They had been involved in the homosexual lifestyle without having a homosexual orientation. Likewise, many closeted gays and lesbians get married to opposite sex partners and have families before coming out. They have a homosexual orientation but they spend years without engaging in the lifestyle. What is the difference?

Gays and lesbians will tell you that having a homosexual orientation means that when they think about sex or have sexual urges, these urges are directed toward the same sex. They always say that they didn’t ask for these urges. They don’t want them. They want to ignore them and make them go away but just can’t ‘will’ it to happen. The urges are invasive and overwhelming. Does that sound familiar? It should because we all have that same experience. Only for us heterosexuals, it’s for someone of the opposite sex. Their orientation is not now, nor will it ever be a matter of choice. Of all the gays and lesbians I know (and I know a lot), I have never met anyone who chose to have a homosexual orientation.

Homosexual orientation is not sin nor are gay people in sin by having a homosexual orientation. Scripture is clear on the matter that homosexual acts are sin. It is the lifestyle that is the sin. Every scripture you can find on the subject that condemns homosexuality is condemning the acts. So what does scripture say about the orientation?

James 1:14 clearly outlines the progression of sin. Sinful or evil desires (Strongs -1939, epiqumia) “drag us out” to temptation. Temptation leads to sin and sin to death. We all understand that sinful and evil desires are not sin but distortions of the good, God given desires we have. For example, the desire to eat and maintain our body become a desire to glutten ourselves. The desire to talk to one another and build community becomes backbiting and quarrels.  I could go on but you get the point. While these desires are called sinful they are in fact not sin but precursors to temptation. They are the reasons we are all tempted in our own unique ways and struggle with the same sin our entire life. God given desires can get distorted by our own sin, sin imposed on us by others or even just the general fall of man. Often times, we don’t know why we have a distorted desire problem. We just do. While I have a number of theories about homosexual orientation, no one but God really knows why it exists and what factors cause it to develop.

Romans 1:24, 26-28 give us our only real look at homosexual orientation. To summarize, God had put his hedge of protection around a people to protect them from themselves. That’s no big surprise because that is a habit of His. He develops a relationship with them (they “knew” God) but it was not a salvation knowledge of God. God offered Himself to these people and they reject Him in favor of other “gods.” The Bible then says He “gave them over” (Strongs – 3860, paradidwmi) to the sinful desires of their heart. He did not force it upon them. He gave them over to the same sinful desires described in James 1. It did not say He put those desires in their hearts because after all, James 1:13 tells us that God does not tempt. He simply took his hedge of protection from them because they made it clear they did not want Him. He gave them over to the desires that were already in their hearts. How did they get there? Again, I don’t know and quite frankly, it doesn’t really mater. What matters is what will each of us do with the gospel and if saved, will we choose to honor God regardless of how we feel and what sinful desires well up within us? Romans 1 was about homosexual orientation but it could have just as easily been about any other sin (false witness, murder, covetousness, adultery).  The bottom line is that homosexual orientation is a desire issue that leads to temptation. It is not sin. At the point of temptation, we have a choice to reject the urge or embrace it and sin. We do not have the choice of what desire problems we face. If a heterosexual man sees an attractive woman and is unwillingly confronted with a sexual thought, is that sin or temptation? It is temptation. If he rejects the thought, he does not sin. If he embraces the thought in his heart and acts on the temptation either physically or mentally, he sins.  So it is with homosexually oriented people.

So then how should we act and what should we do? Love people and be honest. Part of winning people to Christ is to give them the whole truth. Just as Paul prayed for his “thorn in the flesh” to be taken from him and it never was, so we have our own thorns in the flesh that never leave us. Most (99.9999%) homosexuals will never see their orientation change regardless of their salvation. For them to be saved means a life of constant sexual urge management and for most, celibacy. There are those that can have heterosexual urges as they seek God and grow closer to Him. But in times of stress and times of spiritual valley, the homosexual urges come back with a vengeance. They also need to know what scripture says about their orientation and behavior. The homosexual community respects this honesty. In this way, we CAN stand for what is right and moral in scripture while still fulfilling the Great Commission in the gay community. They may or may not embrace Christ but at least it opens the door to sharing the gospel rather than our rhetoric closing their hearts before we get to the gospel presentation. If we communicate the gospel and a sound theological argument regarding homosexual orientation and lifestyle, we will still have to make that decision Dr. Mohler spoke of, but we can do it with the compassion and love Josh spoke of – no compromises.

 

Additional Scriptures: Rom. 7:18-25, 8:1-17, 9:19-21; James 1:21; 1 Cor. 6:9-11, 10:13; 2 Tim. 4:2-5; 2 Pet. 1:3-9, 2:6-22; Gen. 3:6; Matt. 12:34; Mark 7:20-22; 1 John 2:17, 5:4-5; 1 Pet. 1:14; Psalm 103:5; Eph. 2:3, Jude 18-19, Jer. 17:10.

 

Eigenberg, H. (1992). Homosexuality in male prisons: Demonstrating the need for a social constructionist

approach. Criminal Justice Review, 17(2), 219-234.

 

Sagarin, E. (1976). Prison homosexuality and its effect on post-prison sexual behavior. Psychiatry,

39, 245-257.

Five for Friday (6.20.14)

five red buttonRick Reilly Last Column – The famed sportswriter is hanging up his hat. His last column provides some powerful perspective about the importance of family and sports (in that order)

The Symphony That Saved a City – An amazing historical story about the power of the arts in the human experience.

Christian Comparison Isn’t Pretty – Refreshing honesty for everyone who struggles with the temptation of comparison.

My Husband Doesn’t Need to See Your Boobs – Great reminder from a wife for all the ladies out there.

Hobby Lobby aims for Obamacare win, Christian nation – Interesting to see how a mainstream organization reports on this Supreme Court case. Read the comments at your own peril!

 

Five for Friday (6.13.14)

five red buttonThe more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss

Here are a few things to read this weekend. Enjoy!

What if Your Child is Gay? Very insightful words from Russell Moore.

Why I Gave Up Alcohol - A very reasoned, non-judgmental word to all the social drinkers out there.

What the Latest SBC Numbers Mean for Your Church – the article that inspired by blog post on Tuesday.

Lessons from 18 Years of Marriage – Great words!

7 Things You Should Know About Temptation – Don’t read this if you struggle with temptation! (Aha! I just tempted you!)

Five for Friday (6.6.14)

five red buttonThe secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda.” John C. Maxwell

Take some time out today to continue learning and growing. Here are five articles to stimulate your thinking. Enjoy!

1. 10 Characteristics Shared By Great Leaders – great insight into some of the great leaders of today.

2. On Parenting Teens – Jen Hatmaker shares another incredible blog post.

3. Pornography, Cerebral Plasticity, and Transformation – insightful article about the neurological effects of pornography on the brain, and why it’s so addicting to men.

4. Five Reasons Why Most Southern Baptist Churches Baptize Almost No Millenials – Would love your thoughts on this. Definitely worthy of a blog at some point.

5. Stripper Ministry is Answer to Woman’s Prayers – Inspiring article from USA Today. If only there were more Christians and churches like this!

What the Church Can Learn from Maleficent

6.3.14In 1959 the world was introduced to one of film’s great villains: Maleficent, an evil fairy who curses Princess Aurora, otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty. She was reviled and hated for generations . . . until this past weekend. With Disney’s latest adaptation (with Angelina Jolie playing Maleficent), we’re introduced to a new side of Maleficent. (Don’t worry, no major spoilers ahead).

Watching the movie, the viewer is introduced to something previous generations never got to see: Maleficent’s backstory. There was a good reason why she turned so evil. The goal of this reimagination of the Sleeping Beauty story is to get the viewer to sympathize with the villain by giving the context which led to her fateful decision to curse the heroine. It succeeded beautifully and I would recommend the movie to any fan of the original film.

In processing the movie, I realized there is an incredible lesson to be learned for the church: many of the ‘villains’ outside the church that we’re so quick to judge and condemn may not in fact be villains if we took the time to learn their backstory, the context which led them to the choices in their lives. Like Maleficent as the stereotypical villain, churches too often label and prejudge people based on their race, socioeconomic status, or lifestyle. We see a tattoo, a nose ring, a divorce and automatically condemn someone into a prejudged category.

But what circumstances led them to their lot in life? What tragedies befell them? What decisions outside their control helped lead them down a destructive path? Finding out someone’s backstory doesn’t necessarily excuse a person’s behavior, but it helps explain it.

One thing I appreciate about Maleficent is that it didn’t try to turn her into a saint. She’ll never be one. But it helped us sympathize with her, giving us context into her tragic choices and in the end, rooting for her redemption.

How many people out there need the church to understand their backstory and root for their redemption?

 

12 Things You’ll Learn After Twelve Years of Marriage

IMG_0494Yesterday my gorgeous wife and I celebrated twelve years of marriage. I’ve blogged about marriage many times, but my anniversary is another opportunity to share what I’m learning along the way. Here are 12 things you’ll learn after twelve years of marriage:

1. You’ll look back at your wedding photos and say, “Who are those kids?”

2. Being knee deep in parenting, you’ll think back and wonder, “What did we do with all that free time we had before we had kids?”

3. You’ll learn which fights are worth fighting, and more importantly, which one’s aren’t.

4. You’ll laugh at the false narratives of marriage being portrayed in the media (movies, sitcoms, etc).

5. You’ll find beauty in the mundane; you’ll find richness in the quiet moments with your spouse.

6. If you’ve made it twelve years, then you and your spouse will have already gone through the fire and come out stronger on the other side. You’ll have realized a new strength forged in your marriage.

7. You’ll learn that marriage doesn’t get easy after twelve years. It might get a little easier, but it never gets easy.

8. You’ll acknowledge that one of the greatest competitors to maintaining romance with your spouse is your own children.

9. To be successfully married for twelve years, you’ll have surmised that marriage is the most humbling, the most sacrificing, and most transformative thing you can ever do in life. It forever changes you.

10. You’ll have discovered a level of intimacy with another human being that you’ve never experienced before.

11. You’ll get this sense that your spouse truly does complete you. You’ll acknowledge that marriage really is God’s beautiful design.

12. You’ll learn that even though you spend every day with your spouse, you still have so much more to learn.

QUESTION: What have you learned after your years of marriage?