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A Ring for the King

The apostle Paul was not an idiot when he wrote 1st Corinthians.  However, the way we live our lives would seem to imply that we think he was.  In 1 Corinthians 7:8 Paul writes, “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.”  Yet, today, when the God-fearing single person sets foot in a church building (or on a Christian University campus) there seems to be an outrageous amount of pressure to find “the one.”  There appears to be some sort of thought process in the church that has directly connected God’s plan for your life with getting married.  And the effects are horrendous.  This train of thought has created a distorted view of the gospel among God’s people, and has caused many believers to call into question their faith in Christ.  As a result, the Lord has placed this blog post on my heart.  Whether you’re single or not, please read what I have to say.

For this post I will discuss several lies that single people have either been told, or believe about themselves.  As someone who has been single for over 5 years, I think I have adequate knowledge and experience to speak on these things.  Also, I understand that I do not know all things that single people struggle with, and I do not claim to know it all either.  I hope that this blog post will be helpful for those of you who are struggling to find joy in the Gospel because of your singleness.

Singleness is not a curse.

When I left home for college my mom sent me off by telling me that she thought that I would meet my wife at college.  That statement helped spark a great deal of hope within my 18 year old heart.  Now, while my mother’s words to me were completely innocent, I developed a very unhealthy thought process.  I went into school actively seeking someone to live my life with.  But, with every rejection and every failed attempt to start a relationship, I became very discouraged.  Eventually I began to view my singleness as a curse.

But, that was a lie.  Singleness is not a curse at all.  Singleness is actually a great gift from God.  And while marriage is a good gift from the Lord, I would argue that singleness is in fact a better gift from God.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:9, “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry.  For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”  So, how does that make singleness a better gift than marriage?  It’s actually rather simple.  Being blessed with singleness is an opportunity exercise our spirit of self-control, which has been given to us by the Holy Spirit! (see 2 Timothy 1:7)  Singleness allows us to live a life of self-control that is completely devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul goes on to write about this more in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35:

“I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”

Singleness is far from a curse, it is actually a great blessing.  The life of singleness allows us to be devoted solely to the Lord without any distractions or divisions.  While a spouse can help urge you toward the cross, they will also require a certain amount of attention that is directed completely towards them.  The single person is free from this anxiety.

There is not “The One”. 

I cannot express my frustration with this lie.  There is not one person that God knitted in the womb just for you to marry and live happily ever after with.  It is a fantasy.  The problem with this fantasy is that it demands our hope and faith.  When we buy in to the idea of finding “the one”, we are torn apart when we are unable to find that person.  We become professional analysts of the opposite sex, judging every personality trait of our “significant other” in order to make sure that we are perfectly “compatible”.  But, even worse than that, we begin to question God when He does not provide a spouse.

Let me be very clear with what I’m about to say next.  God’s plan in your life is not dependent on you getting married.  He has not failed you if he does not provide you with a spouse.  God’s purpose for your life is to know Him (John 17:3) and to make Him known (Acts 1:8).  The absence of a spouse allows you to be entirely devoted to knowing God, which is far better for your eternity than a spouse could ever be.  There is “The One”, but His name is Jesus Christ, not some other person.

You are loved.

One of the worst lies that I’ve ever told myself, because of my singleness, is that I’m not lovable.  It’s hard to admit, but this thought seems to always creep into my mind whenever a potential relationship falls apart.  I begin to believe that no-one could possibly love me, and this thought process is brought about by the fact that I cannot cultivate a relationship. However, there is not greater lie that I could tell myself.

The truth is that I am loved.  If you struggle with the same mindset, you are loved as well.  Jesus went to Calvary, took up the cross, and bore our sins so that we might have a personal and intimate relationship with Him.  Through Jesus’ sacrifice, we have been reconciled with God; and our broken relationship with God has been restored to what He originally intended for it to be.  Whenever your singleness causes you to doubt how lovable you are, remember the gospel.  Remember the work of Christ on the cross.  Remember that while you were an enemy of Christ, He loved you enough to bear the weight of your sin, so that you might be brought near to Him.  There is not greater joy than that.

 

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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My Encounter with a Street Preacher

Yesterday, while I was enjoying a cup of coffee in downtown Greenville, I took a scroll down my Twitter news feed.  As I scrolled, I laughed, I became informed, and then all of a sudden I was filled with rage as I read the words: Street Preacher.  But, it got even better; this street preacher was only minutes from where I sat, and I was not going to miss this opportunity.  I quickly packed up my things and headed over to the said location of this preacher.  My mind was running at an incredible pace.  Confrontation was bound to happen.  I pictured the preacher announcing judgement and the law with a complete void of grace and forgiveness, but this wasn’t the case.

As I rounded the corner I saw one of my classmates.  There stood one of my brothers in Christ, who encourages me weekly in class, and he wasn’t preaching the law… he was preaching grace!  And just as I expected, confrontation did happen, but it was between myself and the street preacher.  No, the confrontation that occurred was between me and the Lord as I was convicted of the self-righteousness in my own heart.  It broke me, as I had to once again evaluate my own heart.  Below are my reflections on my encounter with a street preacher.

We Critique the Mission and not the Message

My mind has always been set against street preachers.  Much of this is probably because of past experience, as well as the bad reputation that they carry among non-believers.  Too many times I have heard street preachers proclaim the law with no mention of grace.  I’ve heard several street sermons announce that God hates sinners, and it turned me off to street preaching all together.  However, I failed to see the true problem.  The problem isn’t street preaching.  My classmate had been called by the Holy Spirit to evangelize through street preaching, and the Spirit never calls us to do something that is evil.

No, the problem has never been street preaching.  The problem has always been the message delivered by most street preachers.  The reason so many people hate this style of evangelism is because most of the time it isn’t evangelism… it’s condemnation.  Most street-side sermons are focused on the sinner and not the Savior.  But, we shouldn’t allow the ones who are doing it wrong to keep us from supporting the ones who are doing it right.  The problem is not the mission, it’s the message.

But, Street Preaching is Offensive

Yes, it is.  But, isn’t the gospel offensive as well?  Christ spoke to His disciples in Matthew 10:21-23 and said, “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”  Why then should we expect anything different now?  The gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive whether you preach to the masses on a street corner, or if you have a one on one discussion in a coffee shop.  We must not criticize our brothers and sisters in Christ for their evangelism tactics just because we have been called to preach the gospel in a different fashion.

There Must be Better Ways to Evangelize

There probably are better ways.  However, it is not our place to stop someone from preaching in the streets, by doing so we can easily fall into the sin of hindering the work of the Spirit.  Romans 10 says that no-one can call upon the name of the Lord if the gospel has never been preached to them.  So, Paul writes, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Good News!”  If scripture commends the work of faithful street preachers, then who am I to condemn it?

Let us become more concerned with the spreading of the gospel, and less concerned with the methods that are used to spread it.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2014 in Christianity, Religion, Uncategorized

 

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The Church, Christians, and the Crucifixion of the Gospel

Over the past several months I have seen debate after debate about sin on social media.  I have sat through discussions that lasted for hours, arguing what sin is and what sin isn’t.  And I’m not casting stones, I have involved myself in such conversation, but now I’m drawing the line.  I am done.  Screw all the sin debates.  Screw what you think about homosexuality.  Screw what you think about alcohol use.  Screw what you think a “Christian” looks like.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ve missed the point.  Maybe the point of following Jesus isn’t to debate sin.  Maybe the point of being a Christian isn’t to judge the un-believer.  Maybe the point of going to church isn’t to learn a moral code.  What if everything that the Christian life entails is actually in opposition to all of those things?  What if Jesus doesn’t care how someone became “gay”?  What if sin debates actually destroy the Church instead of building it up?

“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Jesus’ words in John, chapter 8 are a stark reminder to the one who listens.  Possibly, one of the most important things that Christians today need to be reminded of is that no-one is without sin.

God’s Holiness

However, I think that in this time of such great controversy and debate, what we really need to be reminded of is Who God is.  God is the Creator of everything (Gen. 1:1).  God is King of all of His creation (Psalm 47:7).  God is Lord over all all, and the earth is full of His Glory (Isa 6:3; Rev 5:13).  This God is free from sin, holy, and perfect.  His glory fills the sky, and causes the angels to sing unending worship.  The God of Christianity was so grieved by sin that He nearly destroyed creation in the flood.  Not only that, but He destroyed His own Son to defeat sin.

These things leave us with one undisputed fact:  God is so holy, so perfect, so glorious that all things contaminated with sin fall short of His glory (Rom 3:23).

This fact leads us to discover another that is not so pleasing to our ears:  Because God is holy He must judge those who have rebelled against His glorious name.  From this God will repay every sin in His judgement (Rom 1:18).

But, then we are led to uncover the greatest truth of all:  God is so loving, gracious, and merciful that He laid down the life of His Son as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), so that all who repent and believe might be saved (John 5:24).

This is the beauty of the Gospel!  That despite our sin, Christ died for us.  He has paved a way back to God, our creator.  Although God is holy and perfect, He was (and is) willing to redeem a people for Himself.  God is gracious enough to look at us in our filth and clothe us in garments of righteousness.  But, we cannot forget that this is God’s doing, and His alone.

The Truth of the Gospel

The fact of the matter is that we’re all screwed up.  We are all sinners.  Apart from divine intervention, and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, that’s all we will ever amount too… a bunch of sinners.  We all deserve to be destroyed by the wrath of God.  We all deserved to be damned for all eternity.  But, praise be to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who made a way for us to be reconciled to Him.

And when this reconciliation starts to happen, when God peels back the scales on our eyes, a transformation begins.  The Holy Spirit begins to strip away the desires of our hearts, and He replaces them with the desires of God’s heart.  The patterns of our life begin to change, and a shift occurs where we are conformed to the patterns of the Kingdom of Heaven.  As we seek to know and follow Christ, we begin to become more like Him!  As we start to understand who God is, He starts to change who we are, but not before.

So, let’s stop the arguing.  Let’s stop trying to transform people by way of debate.  May we stop trying to persuade people to be “straight.”  Perhaps we can stop trying to clean up the language of the un-believers around us.  Let’s stop trying to make “good people” and start telling people the good news of Jesus Christ.  Let’s begin sharing the grace and mercy of our Holy God.  Then we can sit back and watch the Holy Spirit transform the lives of those whom we encounter.

Stop telling people they’re wrong, and start showing them the One who is right.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Selfless Sacrifice

I recently read a post on Twitter that said, “Don’t sacrifice your time for people who wouldn’t do the same for you.”  The sadness of this statement overwhelmed me.  It was not only the statement that saddened me, but also the obvious truth that it spoke to the condition of my heart.  In reflection of this, the Lord put three simple truths on my heart that I wish to share with you.

1. Jesus Sacrificed Everything

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” – 2 Corinthians 8:9

Much of the time, when we think about Christ’s sacrifice, we think immediately about the cross.  This is a good thought, and do not wish to condemn it, but I do want us to look at Christ’s sacrifice from another angle as well. See, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice did not start when he was crucified, rather it started when he took on flesh.  Christ gave up equality with God (Phil. 2:6) so that he could make us identify with us (Heb. 4:15).

We see this presented so clearly in the verse from 2nd Corinthians mentioned above.  For a short time, Jesus gave up the richness of his glory and became poor, and he did this so that we, who are poor, could one day share in the richness of the glory of God.

This same idea is also seen in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  For all eternity Jesus had experienced the joy of fellowship with God the Father.  But, on Calvary, Jesus gave up that joy and took on the wrath of God.  Although Jesus was rich with the joy of the Father, he chose to become poor, so that we, who are poor, might one day share in the richness of the joy of God.

2. We are called to follow Jesus

Many people, including myself for a time, think that following Jesus simply means to believe and have faith.  But, I’m not so sure if that does justice to what Jesus meant when he told his disciples, “Follow me.”  For this section I wish to explore a conversation between Jesus and Peter recorded at the end of John’s gospel.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go. (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” – John 21:18-19

To be quite honest, this passage of scripture startles me, and I’m sure it startles some of you as well.  Christ tells Peter that he is going to die a martyrs death.  Also, Peter is given no reason to why he must die this way, rather he is simply instructed, “Follow me.”  Likewise, Christ calls us to follow him, and to follow no matter what the cost!  The price that Peter paid was his life, and Jesus has called you to do the same.  We may not be called to die a martyr’s death, but we are called to take up our cross (Matt. 16:24) and die to self.  This is our sacrifice to Christ.

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” – Matthew 10:39

3. We are called to sacrifice ourselves of others

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” – Philippians 2:3-7

Part of following Jesus is striving to resemble is characteristics.  One of those qualities was Christ’s humility.  Even though Jesus Christ was God, he didn’t consider equality with God as something to be grasped!  Jesus lowered himself from his rightful position to serve us.

With that in mind we should strive to serve others.  We should count others as more significant than ourselves, and we should sacrifice for them.  We should sacrifice our time, our love, and our lives for the interests of others.  And we should do it because Christ did the same for us.  We were a people that would have never sacrificed our time for Christ, yet Christ sacrificed his life for us!

 
 

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