|Posted by shalomiss on October 27, 2009 at 12:02 AM||comments (0)|
After 98 years, a stalwart of the faith has gone to glory. Sis. Iris Rainford understood that she has one life to give, not one life to live, and give it she did! We salute her and we pay tribute to her.
|Posted by shalomiss on July 31, 2009 at 3:34 PM||comments (0)|
He is awesome, He is high, Creator! One sun, with the globe revolving around it every 24 hours. I am here in Republic of South Africa and its 7 hours ahead of Jamaica. Yet its the same 24 hours.
|Posted by shalomiss on November 5, 2008 at 11:53 AM||comments (1)|
Crossed Passion, Overlapping Wires
?Yesterday for the first time, I engaged in lesbian sex. I was part of sex party with four other girls. I know it is wrong but I enjoyed it so much and I want to keep on doing this for now. Please do not pray for me. Some 5th form girls at my school have been making passes at me for some time now and I have always been rejecting them but now I am one of them.?
When I was at college there were many lecturers and fellow students who somehow came to me and told me that they felt that they could confide in me that they were having homosexual struggles. I then told them that we were in the same boat. Many times they would invite me over to their office or their homes so that we could share and pray together for our struggles. It always turned out that that was their way of trying to lure me there in the hope that we would have sex. After all these years, I tried talking to my pastor about it, I have been to counselling and nothing is helping. I do not want to be this way but I feel like I cannot fight anymore, will you help me? Will you hold me accountable.?
These two scenarios described above happened within the last five years since I have been a pastor. On these three occasions I had the opportunity to have to listen to a male and a female, both Christians, relate to me their struggles with intense attraction for a member of the same sex. There have been other similar cases but these stand out most. With my four years of seminary training and my honours degree I couldn?t have been more unprepared to have to sit and listen to a Christian sister say those words. As a matter of fact it took me hours of assuring her that whatever it was that she was facing it was ok for her to tell me and that I would not judge her or bash her for telling me what caused her to not go onstage when her name was called by the moderator to do the special musical item that she was on the program to do that morning at church. I found it within me to stifle the range of emotions that were racing through me at the speed of a fighter jet, and listen to her. Earlier this month my emotions were again jolted and taken on a roller coaster ride when I opened an email from CrossWalk.com and read: ?Ministry leaders and high profile preachers of the Gospel need to know: the world is watching. And our words can surely come to haunt us: And now our time has come to count the cost. To reject this world, to embrace the cross. And one by one let us live our lives. For the One who died to give us life. Till the trumpet sounds on the final day. Let us proudly stand and boldly say "I pledge allegiance to the Lamb "With all my strength, with all I am "I will seek to honor His commands "I pledge allegiance to the Lamb" In early October 2008, the composer of this well-known song, Ray Boltz, admitted to giving himself over to the gay lifestyle after a 33-year marriage including four children. "If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I'm going to live," he told the Washington Blade recently. "I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself." We hear this same type of rationale from many leaders who have fallen along the way, whether to the homosexual lifestyle or any other immoral choice, leaving many observers with a bad taste for Christianity?
It is easy for us to sing along with the dj?s, it is easy to say fire bun, it is easy to say brimstone and fyah. The reality however is that in the matter of homosexuality, homophobia, gay rights, discrimination, gay marriages, gay churches, gay ministers there are no easy answers. There are certainly no simple answers as to how or why someone becomes a homosexual.
What is clear from a Biblical perspective is that the practice of homosexuality involves passion, lots of passion, albeit a passion that involves these persons having their ?wires crossed,? hence crossed passion. Scripture is also clear that the advocating of violence and hatred and scorn and discrimination by vehement and unrepentant anti-gay sentiments by Christians in their zeal for God?s standards, involves crossed wires as well. Hence the wires on both sides of the issue are crossed. There are crossed wires and overlapping passions.
We want then to take a look at two things very briefly. What are some of the implications of this homophobia for the Christian community? How do our Christian youth straddle the divide of facing the monster head on without being maligned as insensitive, cold, malicious and evil.
IMPLICATIONS OF OUR HOMOPHOBIA: The Merriam-Webster?s Collegiate Dictionary 11th ed. Defines homophobia as : irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals  . The second thing I?d like to say is that this issue is by no means a minor matter, nor is it going away anytime soon. I am glad that your youth director has seen it necessary to make a bold step to bring this matter to the fore.
It would do us well to draw caution from the example of Saul in the book of Acts, who was consumed by his zeal for the law, his zeal for God and became the self appointed guardian of the law, set about personally supervising the killing of the early Christians. Having satisfied himself in Jerusalem for the time being, he set out to take his crusade further afield to Damascus. It was on his way that the Lord, Jesus Himself stopped him in his tracks. After his conversion Paul speaks about his zeal for God and the law and how he came to realize that in comparison to the greatness of knowing Christ it was rubbish (to use the sanitized word) Phil. 3: 6-8.
Disciples of Jesus are followers of Jesus. Followers of Jesus examine Jesus? teachings and practice and seek to do what Jesus would do, as well live by the principles of His word. To be driven by homophobia and dance unthinkingly and uncritically on the bandwagon puts us in danger of presenting a distorted view of Jesus. The Jesus of Scriptures never typified the kind of passionate rejection of sinners that characterizes most of the homophobic rhetoric. In fact he made it clear that he had come to save sinners, to seek them out. This is what we see Him doing. In St. John 4, He had to go through Samaria, not that it was the only route to his destination, but that he could meet the Samaritan woman at the well who was not well. She had a reputation in community of having had five husbands and the current one was not hers. Scorned and rejected, and worse a Samaritan (racially prejudiced) yet Jesus sought her out, elevated her and transformed her life, becoming the embodiment of her hopes and dreams. In Luke 5: 27 ? 32 Jesus is walking on the streets and he passes by a tax collectors booth- there at work was Matthew the tax collector, one of the most despicable occupations of his time, because as a Jew he was working for the Romans who were occupying Jerusalem and taxing the Jews? this was betrayal of the highest order and to add insult to injury tax collectors added their own mark up. In a word they were extortionist. Jesus did not just see him, he stopped and noticed him, He stopped in His tracks and stared at Matthew, then he asked Matthew to be one of His disciples. He did the same with Zaccheus, another tax collector, He allowed Mary of Magdala, a woman who once had seven demons and had a bad reputation as a notorious sinner? to cling to his feet, wash them with her tears and dry them with her hair. Jesus was labeled as a friend of sinners.
Our understanding of God?s love must also be examined and brought to weigh in on this discussion. The very well known verse John 3: 16 says it. God loves sinners but hates sin. God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Rom. 5: 8 ).
Another implication is that we run the risk of creating a false categorization of sins. It is true that the Rom. 1:26 ? 28 speaks of homosexual acts as shameful and the dishonouring of the body. But a diligent student of the Word will not be able to escape noticing that the very context also lists other sins that those who reject the knowledge of God commit, sins that are deserving of death, for the wages of sin is death. The list is completed as follows:
Their lives are filled with all kinds of sexual sins, wickedness, and greed. They are mean. They are filled with envy, murder, quarreling, deceit, and viciousness. They are gossips, Rom 1:30 slanderers, haters of God, haughty, arrogant, and boastful. They think up new ways to be cruel. They don't obey their parents, Rom 1:31 don't have any sense, don't keep promises, and don't show love to their own families or mercy to others.
When disciples of Christ join with the homophobic crowd they send a message that this sin is the worst of sins. The reality is that it is a sin against the body in that it is a sexual sin, but it is no more of a sin than lying, covetousness etc. Dj?s will spew forth all kinds of lewd lyrics that promote orgies and wild expressions of fornication, but because it is heterosexual in nature it is ok because at least they lick out against homosexuals. They will promote and glorify the gun but they are ok because they are not gays and they decry homosexuality. This is hypocrisy of a different nature that must be condemned by the disciples of Christ. How many of us are blasting out against the homosexuals but we are practicing fornicators or adulterers?
The crowning implication for us to consider I believe is that the unquestioning homophobic Christian calls into question the efficacy of Christ?s sacrifice. It questions the fullness of the atonement. The real question is: Do we sincerely believe that Jesus died for the homosexual, was raised from the dead for the homosexual, and that His power is available to deliver all sinners from their sins ?even homosexuals? To refuse redemption to the homosexual is to believe in a different Jesus than that of the Scripture. Scripture is clear that Christ came for sinners, all sinners, none excluded. 1Ti 1:15 Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of who I am chief. Paul?s humility allowed him to refer to himself as the chief sinner. Was he a rapist, a mass murderer, a homosexual? No! The Bible says nothing specifically about the homosexual condition What it consistently denounces in both the OT and NT is homosexual conduct, not the homosexual.
HOW DO WE BRIDGE THE GAP: Counselling psychologist, Dan Rogerson?s words are instructive here: ?The Church often emphasizes the sinfulness of the homosexual lifestyle without a concerted effort to effectively reach out to struggling individuals with the transforming power of the gospel of Christ. This dilemma casts a dark shadow on the church today. In my counselling ministry, I have seen the emergence of Christian individuals who are earnestly seeking deliverance from the chains of homosexuality. They are asking, ?Why must we be singled out as spiritual incurables? Why can?t the church move beyond rejection and see us as hurting people who want help just like other sinners?? Because of a fear of being rejected by the church, they do not see the church as a safe place to find hope and help for their troubled hearts. The question that must be asked is ?Do we really believe in the transforming power of Christ?? There are many struggling homosexual men and women who believe that they were not created to be homosexual, and would be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to try to break free from their chains of bondage.
BE ABLE TO RATIONALLY RESIST THE HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA: In order to effectively reach homosexuals, it will be necessary for the church to evaluate the widely accepted consensus on homosexuality. This consensus is comprised of three propositions that fit the so-called ?bio-psycho-social? model of mental functioning. The three propositions follow:
Let me say upfront that these three positions are all refutable. This I believe has to be a part of where we begin to suggest methods of straddling the divide and deciding our individual position re homophobic pronouncements of actions.
1. Is homosexuality a genetically determined aspect of the human body? No it is not. The studies that they appeal to which claim to have found genetic links have all proven to be seriously flawed. Rogerson reports that the very scientist, Hamer, who reported his linkage theory after being investigated for selective reporting later said: In 1997 Hamer wrote in The Advocate (an American gay and lesbian newsmagazine), ??sexuality is too complex to ever be completely explained by genes. Although DNA may influence brain chemistry and thus tilt us to feel and behave in particular ways, it does not govern sexual identity? the social and cultural environment will always play a major role, as will ? choice and free will? (1997). There is no evidence that shows that homosexuality is simply genetic. From a Biblical perspective the only transference theory is that in so far as it is an expression of sin, the sin nature in inherited. Look at it this way, as CrossWalk.com puts it: Turns out we're all "born this way." That is, with the sin gene. In each of us it battles for control over us with a unique set of depraved desires that may be influenced by our upbringing, personalities, or other factors. For some our innate desire may be for homosexuality, for others pornography, or gambling, or alcoholism, or overeating, or overspending, etc. But if you boil it all down, yes, it's in the genes. It's human nature to want to sin, that is the truth.
2. Is homosexuality irreversible? Homosexual activists would have us believe that homosexuality is healthy and no attempt should be made to change it, even if an individual requests it. If it is true that homosexuality is irreversible then there is no hope for the struggling individual. There have been those who have challenged this proposition and sought to reverse their homosexual orientation regardless to popular cultural belief. The following is a quote from a client of Joseph Nicolosi, co-founder of the National Association for Research and Treatment of Homosexuality (NARTH): "I have never believed I had homosexual tendencies because I was 'born that way.' It is quite an insult to my dignity and a gross disservice to my quest for growth to be told that I have no hope for change?
3. Is homosexuality normal, in the same way as other social categories as sex and race?
The answer to this question depends totally upon what side of the political arena you stand on. Gay activists would state that their lifestyle should by no means be referred to as abnormal. While those on the other side of the spectrum would state that the homosexual lifestyle is by no means normal. As we consider reaching out to homosexuals it will be necessary for the Christian to question what approach a distinctively Christian response to homosexuality should take.
PROPERLY INTERPRET SCRIPTURE: We should be leading the way in properly applying Scripture. Do not run headlong with those who go to Lev. 18 ? 20 to support their call for the death of homosexuals. As Christians, living in a secular society rather than in Israel?s ?society under God,? we can take a moral stand on what is right. But probably we will not be able to criminalize homosexuality. This is the same principle invoked by Paul in 1 Corinthians 5. This passage teaches that immorality outside the church is not to be judged, but that immoral people within the church are to be judged, and if they do not repent are to be expelled from fellowship. Even so among the believers we must exercise caution with the mater of expulsion. Gal. 6: 1- 2 speaks of the brother overtaken in a fault, being restored (as one would reset a broken bone) in the spirit of love being mindful of one?s own sinful propensity.
FOCUS EVANGELISM OF HOMOSEXUALS ON THE CROSS ON NOT THEIR SIN: As for those outside the Christian community who practice it, their real spiritual need is for Jesus Christ. With them, we need to keep the focus not so much on this sin as on the message of forgiveness for all sins that comes with personal faith in the Saviour. The critical message here has to be the message of grace. We speak of grace but do we understand grace? Phillip Yancey examines it in his great book, ?What?s so Amazing About Grace?? Author and speaker Tony Campollo shares a story from his friend. Funeral of a gay man, his friends ask him to read to them from Rom. 8? his friend asked, do you know why homosexuals think that the church dispises them? Because the church dispises them! It is largely because we are more concerned about our image. God didn?t care about his image because he allowed His Son to be strung out on a cross.
INSIST ON HOLINESS AMONG DISCIPLES OF CHRIST: But those who claim to be Christians and still demand a right to be homosexual must be challenged with a vision of our Holy God, who insists that all who have a relationship with Him depart from their iniquity, to live a holy and godly life. Upon the premise that God will not call the believer to a task that is impossible to perform, the Christian may conclude that the homosexual can be equipped by the Holy Spirit to live the life that God has called every believer to ? a life of holiness. The Apostle Peter wrote: ??prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ?Be holy, because I am holy?? [The Holy Bible (NIV), I Peter 1:13-16].
Andrew Comisky, a former homosexual, who is founder and director of Desert Stream Ministries ? a multifaceted outreach to the sexually and relationally broken writes: ?We alone are graced by God to bear His likeness?As bearers of the divine image, we?re in a spiritual relationship with the Creator. We?re not mere animals left to our own instincts or desires. And we need to know the Author of the image we have been chosen to bear, for without that connection we are unable to become truly alive to the inspired aspects of ourselves? (Comisky, 1989, 39).
LISTEN AND QUICKLY REFER TO COMPETENT COUNSELLORS: To bear the likeness of God is to reflect His holiness. There is liberation for homosexuals who ?prepare their minds for action? (I Peter 1:13). It is the task of the Christian counselor, as an agent of God?s healing grace, to lead the homosexual client into a journey of reparation. This task is not intended for all Christian counselors as it will not be within the realm of their competency. It is imperative that Christian pastors and counselors avoid the assumption that because they have a moral evaluative framework they therefore have the professional capacity to work with homosexuals.
UNDERSTAND THAT THE CHURCH HAS TO BE THE BEST PLACE FOR HEALING: Struggling homosexuals need Christian counselors, pastors and friends who are able to see beyond their sin and into the bright future that God has planned for them. Is it possible that the church needs the struggling person as well? Comisky writes: The church needs the struggler! Out of the profound work of restoration that Jesus has wrought in each life will flow healing authority. Jesus dwells there, full of grace and truth. But He?s not content to stay. He insists on bursting out of each struggler to proclaim His faithfulness in resurrecting the dead. He will heal wounds incurred by homosexuality; He will be glorified in the honest testimony of His healing authority. Through the struggler?s restoration and resulting ministry, the church and the world will be awakened to His powerful love (1989, 201). To the homosexual I believe we must sound this message loud and clear: Jesus invites you to come to the foot of His cross. The cross is the place you can come when you have exhausted all the simple answers. (Indeed, does anyone come to the cross any other time?) Christ is there on the cross for you. He will not turn you away. That is what Jesus will do with you. I don't know what the rest of us gathered there on Calvary are going to do with you. I really don't. But I hope we will choose to welcome you. Should gays have all the civil rights and protections as other people. Yes, most definitely. I would also say that for the sake of those whose sexual orientation is still being formed (a process of which we are still largely ignorant), society needs to somehow express its clear preference for heterosexuality without denying the dignity of anyone. I do not pretend to believe this will be easy.
AVOID FALSE SECURITY: That could never happen to me. It's easy to shake our heads in disbelief and disgust. But truly, the frailty of human nature should never surprise us. We have been warned that the human heart in all of us is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). We must be careful not to judge the Ray Boltz' and the Ted Haggards of our world, but pray for repentance and restoration of their lives and their families. Any one of us is very capable, and really never more than one step away from the same life-altering, devastating sins except by the grace of God. Our pride in our good behavior will surely be our downfall. I think a valid question that we each need to ask ourselves and be very brutally honest about is whether our homophobia stems from our own insecurity in our sexuality.
CONCLUSION: The evangelical church has, far too long, ignored the gay dilemma. With the issue of same-sex marriage, we are being encouraged to let our voices be heard and take a stand against another threat to the moral fiber of our society. In the midst of our campaign to let our voices be heard, may we be mindful that there are individuals in our congregations and communities who are aching to be understood, to be healed and freed. We need to experience that move from revulsion to compassion, a compassion that allows us to reject the sin without rejecting the sinner. Again the question is asked Do we sincerely believe that Jesus died for the homosexual, was raised from the dead for the homosexual, and that His power is available to deliver all sinners from their sins?even homosexuals? If so, it?s time to prepare ourselves and put forth the effort to let people know that our churches are, indeed, places of refuge and healing?even for the homosexual.
Merriam-Webster, Inc: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. Springfield, Mass. : Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003
Wood, D. R. W. ; Marshall, I. Howard: New Bible Dictionary. 3rd ed. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill. : InterVarsity Press, 1996, S. 478
 [Eph. 4: 15-16]
|Posted by shalomiss on March 6, 2008 at 9:56 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted by shalomiss on December 13, 2007 at 12:50 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted by shalomiss on October 2, 2007 at 12:01 PM||comments (0)|
To God be the glory great things He has done! The weekend of September 30 2007 had been booked by Pastor Ronald Webster from July of this year. The idea was to have Pastor Jones preach the sunday and that he would take along with him some of the youth of Shalom to be involved in other aspects of ministry. In His providence God allowed the weekend to co incide with the finals of the National Missionary Youth Fellowship Talent and Quizz competition. Our run of excellence continued at the national level as we returned with 2 silvers and 1 gold from the three pieces that had advanced to the national finals. Preacher Serena Anderson delivered an anopinted sermon to win gold. The dance piece, Kirk Franklin's "My Life Is In Your Hands," won silver, as well as the group song, "He Knows My Name." This contributed to Area 6 of which we are a part winning the finals. Basking in the joys of this excellent show we then made the trek from Central to the west. It was a long and ardous journey as by then the three drivers were battling sleep. This was compounded when we came upon a delay due to two accidents in close proximity in the Whitehouse area. Thank God we finally arrived at Belmont Missionary in one piece, but exhausted and for some very miserable as sleep began to take a toll on the emotions. After a light supper it was time to split up the group of 17 into the 4 host homes.
Sunday morning service at Belmont was a lievly and anointed experience. The ministry of Christine Williams in testimony was well received. The group song touched many and Monique's rendetion of Kurt Karr's "I Almost Let Go" ministered powerfully as many attested that they were really at the point of letting go. This was further developed in the riveting sermon delivered by Pastor Jones on Gen. 26: 1 - 14 . The sermon focused on the challenges to the modern family, the place of testing in the life of the believer, the correlation between obedience and divine favor, the need for personal integrity, and the impact that one member of the family can have on the entire family.
After a sumptious dinner it was time to hit the beach, and left to some of the Shalomites Belmont would have lost their beach after we left! Some of the youths had their firts boat ride! As we were taken out unto the choppy seas of the West Coast and back.
Bags were packed and we were escorted into the remote district of Grove, off the Whitehouse main road for the Grove Missionary Church's rally (part of the Belmont Circuit). The ministry of David "Prince" Beezer with his rendetion of Jermaine Edward's "Your Love", the choral speech and the drama were tremendously appreciated. Much thanks to the group: Andrea, Colleen, Stacey, Christine, Tracy, Serena, Damian, David, Garwain, Sherika, Sherika Rutherford, kabari, Shauna, Tia, and Monique .
After being stopped by the police about 3 times, several stops for 'bathroom' breaks, and sleep breaks, a few swerves towards the medians and the toll roads and another accident delay we made it back to Grants Pen some time after 2 a.m. Monday October 1, 2007. Praise God!
|Posted by shalomiss on September 11, 2007 at 11:54 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted by shalomiss on August 31, 2007 at 9:28 PM||comments (1)|