Sunday, December 31, 2006
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Friday, December 29, 2006
10 Jesus’ disciples then said to him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!”
11 “Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. 12 Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry* for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”
* Some manuscripts add And anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Compare Matt 5:32.
* Greek and some make themselves eunuchs.
Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible : New Living Translation., "Text edition"--Spine., 2nd ed., Mt 19:8 (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2004).
The Lord Jesus explained that there are three types of eunuchs. Some men are eunuchs because they were born without the power of reproduction. Others are so because they were castrated by men; oriental rulers often subjected the harem attendants to surgery to make them eunuchs. But Jesus especially had in mind those who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. These men could be married, and they have no physical impairment. Yet in dedication to the King and His kingdom, they willingly forego marriage in order to give themselves to the cause of Christ without distraction. As Paul wrote later, “He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:32). Their celibacy is not physical but a matter of voluntary abstinence.
Not all men can live such a life; only those divinely empowered: “But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that” (1 Cor. 7:7).
William MacDonald and Arthur Farstad, Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments, Mt 19:12 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995).
I press my hand to my forehead. “He scared me to death, Gerald.”
I wish I hadn’t said anything at all. I wish Gerald hadn’t felt it necessary to ask about my spiritual life.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
I had to sit and think about this a while. I've wanted to talk about it, but I'm well-aware that this is an explosive topic. If you haven't noticed, there's been a real campaign on television to move homosexuality into mainstream entertainment. ER, one of the few TV shows I watch regularly, had two plot threads dealing with it recently, and both plot threads are ongoing.
So, for what it's worth, here are my thoughts.
I do not hate--or even dislike-- gay people. I've had several gay friends--one of my dear friends and fellow singers died of AIDS, so I have felt that loss. I associate with the gay couples in my neighborhood, have had them in my home and I've been to theirs. I have written a gay character into the first Fairlawn book.
BUT--my character in Fairlawn is a gay man who loves Jesus, and as a result, he lives a celibate life. (I have to credit Lisa Samson, who did this first in her novel, Tiger Lily.)
The problem, I think, lies in how you define "gay:" does "gay" mean someone who is actively living a homosexual lifestyle, or does it mean someone who is attracted to people of the same gender? Sexual temptation is not sin. Sexual surrender is.
When I first found out that my friend Glenn was homosexual, I called him and begged him to come to my city to talk to a Christian counselor. He fit the stereotypical profile: a sensitive young man, difficult relationship with this father, an artistic bent. He assured me that he wasn't living "that lifestyle," but he said he'd felt "this way" his entire life.
Obviously, he lived the lifestyle at some point, because he contracted HIV and AIDS. But his comment made me realize that this is not a problem easily solved. As Jeff Watson says:
"While a heritable gene may predispose a carrier toward physical height, heredity does not require anyone to play for the National Basketball Association. Stated differently, even though a person may be born with a vulnerability toward manic depression or alcoholism, one’s personal outcomes can be modified by choice and by experience. If a boy with a sensitive disposition is marked as “different” by his father and is subsequently rejected by male authority figures, peers, and potential heterosexual partners, he may experiment with the temporary anesthesia of homosexual companions. What starts out as a relatively “free” act can become less so over time because of the biological power of repetition.
"Homosexuality can be changed. The vast majority of young people who adopt homosexuality eventually give it up.10 An overview of secular therapies suggests an approximately 50 percent success rate, with Masters and Johnson reporting 65 percent in a five-year follow-up.11 Successful approaches focus on treating social anxieties rooted in father-to-son gender-identity injuries12 and on encouraging Christian forms of abstinence, self-discipline, and mutual accountability.13"
Angie here again: The current "politically correct" stance holds that anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, has the right to pursue sexual pleasure and gratification without limitation.
But Christians are commanded to follow the Scripture. We call Jesus "Lord," and by granting him that title, we are acknowledging a surrender of our rights. And what does Scripture say about sexuality to every follower of Christ ? Let's look at 1 Cor. 6:9-13:
9 Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. You say, “Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.” (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) But you can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies.
Blunt talk ahead: I am married, so I am not free to have sex with anyone other than my husband. If I were single, I would not be free to have sex with anyone else. If I were widowed, I would still be commanded to control my sexual impulses in a way that honored Christ. I am a slave to Christ, not to my own appetites.
So--about that gay gospel band. If it is composed of people who battle a common sexual temptation, okay, and why not have a band for gluttons (I'd join that one) or chorus for coveters? Surely we all have enough besetting sins that we could form clubs of all kinds.
No matter what our temptations and weaknesses--and we all have them--we can find victory in Christ if we are willing to surrender and trust him. But we have to come to that place of surrender.
11 M. F. Schwartz and W. H. Masters, “The Masters and Johnson Treatment Program for Dissatisfied Homosexual Men,” American Journal of Psychiatry 141 (February 1984): 173–81.
12 Joseph Nicolosi, Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach (New York: Jason Aronson, 1991).
13 E. M. Pattison and M. L. Pattison, “Ex-Gays: Religiously Mediated Change in Homosexuals,” American Journal of Psychiatry 137 (1980): 1553–62.
Jeffrey A. Watson and Charles R. Swindoll, Biblical Counseling for Today : A Handbook for Those Who Counsel from Scripture, Swindoll leadership library, 189 (Nashville, Tenn.: Word Pub., 2000).
Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible : New Living Translation., "Text edition"--Spine., 2nd ed., 1 Co 6:9 (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2004).
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
The editorial, by Melanie Kirkpatrick, explains that Pastor Buck has rescued 100 refugees and helped support another thousand who are still on the run. For his "crime," he has also spent fifteen months in a Chinese prison. He spent last Christmas in jail. This year, he is celebrating Christmas with his family in Seattle.
I don't know about you, but I didn't know about the underground railroad that is working to ferry North Korean refugees out of China to South Korea and then to the United States. I have a great fondness in my heart for Korea--I visited there while I was in college, and that country gave me my two children. I have great respect for the Korean people, and I rejoice that Christianity is strong in that country.
The article spoke of another American, Steve Kim, who has been in a Chinese prison since September 2003, sentenced to five years for smuggling aliens out of the country. Kim, who is also a Christian, has funded safe houses and paid for refugees' passage on the underground railroad. Beijing refuses to grant him parole. His wife and three children, who live in New York, will celebrate this Christmas without him . . . again.
I need not tell you about the brutality of Chinese prisons . . . but I beg you to pray for these people who are being persecuted in North Korea and China. And if you hear of some other way to help, please let me know.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Misters Brooks and McClay confirmed what I've known for years--religious people give more than political liberals who talk a lot about giving, but would prefer that the government empty its pockets first.
I don't usually talk politics in this blog because I know it's a quaqmire from which there is no escape. But it's so refreshing to hear this news, I couldn't resist.
The following is from the review:
"Mr. Brooks speaks here with the authority of a liberal who has been mugged by the data. 'These are not the sorts of conclusions I ever thought I would reach,' . . . He fully expected to find confirmation at every turn that political liberals 'cared more about others than conservatives did.' But his empirical findings simply refused to comply with his expectations . . . Mr. Brooks concludes that four distinct forces appear to have primary responsibility for making people behave charitably: religion, skepticism about the government's role in economic life, strong famlies and personal entrepreneurship. Those Americans who have all four, or at least three, are much more likely to behave charitably than those who do not."
- people who attend houses of worship regularly are 25 percent more likely to give and 23 percent more likely to volunteer, and the religious give away four times the amounts of money than the secular do.
- Conservative households give thirty percent more to charity than liberal households.
- Redistributionist liberals give about a fourth of what redistributionist skeptics give.
Mr. McClay, author of the review, says, "One can hope that this debate will refresh our patterns of social thought by reintroducing some very old ideas: the importance of giving as one of the central activities of a free people and the profoundly spiritual paradox that giving is itself the ultimate source of our greatest wealth and happiness."
Can it be that one reason the country assumes that conservatives are stingy and liberals are generous is because liberals talk about giving to the poor while conservatives are mindful of the admonition to "let not your right hand know what your left hand is doing?" Some of the greatest gifts are given quietly, anonymously, without any fanfare. And those are the givers, I think, who enjoy the greatest reward.
Perhaps religious people give more because they recognize that what they have comes from God. And, mindful of their blessedness and unworthiness, they are quick to pass God's bounty on to the less fortunate. Or perhaps they are simply obeying the admonitions we find over and over in Scripture: blessed is the man who gives.
A friend of mine tells the story of Christ's advent something like this: Gabriel was planning a huge to-do for the son of God's arrival on earth--a display of shooting stars, a parade of angelic choirs, a heavenly procession through the clouds.
But God said, "No, I had something different in mind. He will come to earth as a baby, be entrusted to poor parents, and be born in a humble animal pen."
Gabriel was crestfallen. All his fantastic plans . . . would he not be allowed to do anything?
Not wanting to hurt the angel's feelings, God the Father relented. "Okay," he said, "I'll let you do something. You can use one angel choir . . . and one star."
This Christmas, let us not forget that we live . . . because God gave.
A blessed Christmas to you and yours!
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Okay, this is hilarious. Don't forget to hit the space bar before you click the mouse to shoot. What's your score?
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
Suzanne is right, this is too cute! Visit the above link and elf yourself!
Note: I heard on Good Morning America that this site was getting so many hits it almost shut down! So if the dancing elf comes up without a face, you'll know it's just busy!
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
HT to Robin Lee Hatcher (http://robinlee.typepad.com) for the following fascinating quiz.
I'll never forget the day last year when I was signing books at a school in South Carolina. This adorable boy came up for me to sign his book, so I asked his name. "Cly," he said.
"Clyde?" I asked, not sure I'd heard him correctly.
He shook his head. "Cly."
I tried spelling it: "C-L-Y?"
He shook his head again. "No, C-L-A-Y."
Oh. Clay. Which in my part of the country rhymes with hay, stay, and convey.
Then again, those words probably rhyme in his part of the country, too. :-)
|What American accent do you have? |
Your Result: The Midland
"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.
|The Inland North|
|What American accent do you have?|
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz
Monday, December 11, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
A May 2006 Gallup poll that 28 percent of Americans believe the Bible represents the actual word of God to be taken literally word for word [in the original scripts!]. But not every translation has made it through the publication process without error. Look at some of these dangerous typos:
Camels Bible: an 1823 Bible that read: "And Rebekah arose, and her camels [damsels]."
The Child Killing Bible: Thomas Bensley's 1795 Bible read: "Let the children first be killed [filled]."
The Wicked Bible: printed in 1631, by Barker and Lucas, the word "not" was ommitted from the seventh Commandment, making adultery appear compulsory.
Vinegar Bible--in 1717 the Clarendon Press printed a heading in Luke "The parable of the Vinegar [Vineyard]."
"Sin On" Bible: a 1716 King James Bible where, in John 5:14, because of a transposition of "n" and "o," readers are exhorted to "Go and sin on more."
Price of Peace Bible: the 1966 Jerusalem Bible included a misprint exhorting us to "Pay [pray] for peace."
Friday, December 08, 2006
Well, there are some folks on earth who might be experiencing a heavenly ability now. They enjoy--or suffer from--lexical-gustatory synaesthesia. What is that? Okay, class, study the words. "Lexical" has to do with being derived from words; "gustatory" usually applies to food or digestion. And "syn" has to do with absorbing, while we see "thesia" in a process.
If you have lexical-gustatory synaesthesia, you can actually taste words. These people taste specific flavors when they hear certain words or even try to recall them, says Julia Simner, a cognitive neuropsychologist at the University of Edinburgh. Her study, "Words on the Tip of the Tongue" was published in Nature last month. (I'd have called it, "You'll Wish You Could Eat Those Words!")
According to the article I read, magnetic-resonance imaging proves that these folks aren't faking--and the experience can be unpleasant. One subject hates driving because road signs flood his mouth with every taste from pistachio ice cream to ear wax. And Simner has yet to figure out any logical pattern. For example, the word "mince" makes one subject taste mincemeat, but so do rhymes like "prince." Words with a soft "g" as in "roger" or "edge," make him taste sausage. But another subject, hearing "castanets," tastes tuna fish. Another can taste only proper names. "John" means cornbread for him; "William" tastes like potatoes.
No one can explain the mystery--the flavors are just there.
Gives new meaning to the proverb about a word fitly spoken being like golden apples, doesn't it?
Thursday, December 07, 2006
All of you who have little wind-up dogs should take a look at this photo. Babe, our newest mastiff from mastiff rescue, plays basketball!
She needs to work on her technique, though, because she doesn't dribble . . . she drools. :-)