Having Sex? Context matters, so does truth.

As I was praying for my meal, I happened to start confessing my sins before God (usually my meal prayers are as short as short can get). But this one was different. As I was praying, I received a sort of a "revelation" for lack of a better word, and this revelation had little to nothing to do with the sin(s) I was confessing but I guess God thought it was important for me to understand the truth. 

As I was praying, I realized that we often mislabel, misrepresent, misunderstand, misuse, and mistaken sex in contexts where it clearly is not sex. Let me explain. How often do we call the act of taking someone's property without their authorization simply "taking". We associate the taking of another's property without full prior consent as theft, saying "he/she stole", not "he/she took". We wouldn't misrepresent lying by saying "he/she is telling some of the truth", or call even the smallest twist of the whole truth to be truth. Truth is holistically true. So why do we so stupidly and ignorantly say we are having sex when what we are actually doing is fornicating. Sex is not sex in all contexts. Sex is only sex within the contexts of marriage. Period. Outside of that, call it whatever you want to call it but you are not having sex. We use sex in all the wrong contexts that now we have tried to dichotomize sexual intercourse as sex-while-married vs. sex-outside-of-marriage. Sex outside of its proper context is not sex, just as taking something that doesn't belong to you doesn't have any other proper definitive verb than "stealing". It's not simply taking, or taking-out-side of being given permission to take, but STEALING. Do you get it? 

Fornication, adultery, immorality, etc, are the proper terms. Let's not subconsciously sugarcoat sin, and perhaps we'll walk away and flee from the sin more often. Let's not twist scripture either, that's Satan's job. And the twisting of scripture comes via media, pop culture, society, and a worldly viewpoint of knowledge. 

The Path of Righteousness

I originally posted this on Youversion based on the following scriptures: Psalm 23:3, Psalm 119:40, Psalm 119:105, Proverbs 11:19, Proverbs 12:18, and Matthew 7:13

Think of a train on its path, on its rails. As long as it stays on the rails, it can move from point A to point B, and so forth. It can also most effectively deal with unexpected situations that come its way. As long as it stays on the rails, it can move forward when its supposed to, it can stop when it is supposed to. And us, in our walk with Christ, we think we can operate off of the path God has destined for us to stay on. We think we can operate outside of the path of righteousness. We absolutely can't. 

It might seem like we are moving forward for a period, but we are not going far before we come to a complete stall. The terrain of unrighterousness is not conducive to the progress of our journey, and our spiritual growth in Jesus Christ. We will not grow, move, be supplied for walking outside of the will that God destined for us to live in. We will more than likely perish outside of the path of righteousness.

My pastor used an example of the earth around the sun's orbit. As long as the sun follows its orbit around the sun, everything is perfect and conducive for human life on earth. If the earth moves just little bit closer to the sun in its orbit path, we would have real global warming or burn to death. If the earth moves just a little further, we freeze to death. Either way, the atmosphere becomes deadly. How much more, do we think we can operate outside of the path of righteousness? A righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus Christ, being transformed daily into His likeness; and not works that come by following "the law", or self-righteousness, which God says are nothing but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

Dealing With Pain: The Story of Job (Part 1)

Continuing with the chronological reading through the Bible, I left Genesis Chapter 11, and into the first 5 chapters of Job. The first two chapters of Job set the scene for the next 40 chapters.

In Job chapter 1, we are introduced to a righteous and very wealthy man called Job. He was very wealthy the Bible says, and he feared God and lived a blameless life. God commended Job Himself. We also know that Job's children loved to party, and Job would give sacrificial offerings for each them thinking that "perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." Job also had a wife, who will be introduced shortly after.

Satan, the accuser of the brethren as the Bible refers to him in Revelation, and one whose purpose is to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10), appears before God and the conversation goes something like this:

Satan: "Job would curse you if you didn't bless him and protect him."
God : "Well, I'll show you that his love for me is deeper than the material and comfort I have given him".

And so God allows Satan to have everything Job possessed, but his health and life he could not touch (Job 1:12). Satan seized the opportunity to kill, steal, and destroy everything that belonged to Job, including all his sons and daughters. One bad report came one after another and we can only imagine how devastated Job must have felt. Ever felt like one wrong thing went wrong after another, and one bad day after another, and you almost lost it? Well, compare that to this situation. Read on.

Job fell on the ground, in disbelief, pain, speechlessness. Guess what he did? Job worshiped God. Yes, read it for yourself. The Bible says, in Job 1:22, "in all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing." In Job Chapter 2, Satan sees that Job still fears and loves God, minus all his possessions, and so being the liar and limited being he is, he asks God for permission to see if Job would curse God if his health was taken away. God allows Satan to strike Job's health, and in turn, Job grows grows painful sores all over his body. By this time, Job's wife has had enough. She asks her husband to curse God. Why are you still holding on to your integrity, she asks. Job is surprised that his wife would talk like a foolish woman, and tells her that we can accept trouble from God as much as we can accept His goodness and blessings.

In chapter 3, the pain gets so real for Job, that he starts wishing he was never born. When 3 of his friends come to visit him, they can't even recognize him from afar and they break down crying at the sight of their friend. They are so speechless, lacking words to comfort him that no one says a word for 7 days, but yet they sit on the ground next to him, comforting him with their presence and listening to him. while wishing he was never born, Job admits that what he feared and dreaded has finally happened to him (Job 3:25). The man is in all sorts of agony: physical, emotional, spiritual, etc. "I have no peace, no quietness, I have no rest", he says (Job 3:26).

In Chapter 4 and 5, one of Job's friends, Eliphaz, finally talks. He reminds Job of his righteousness in God, and how that integrity can be hope for him. He reminds Job of how he has helped many people, encouraged many, strengthened many, and how all that was not in vain. He then asks Job to lay his case before God, for God performs wonders and miracles beyond number. Eliphaz does one thing right, he tells Job to turn his eyes to God for God's track record can be trusted. On the other hand, Eliphaz, no knowing God's ultimate purpose in the entire situation, wrongly assumes that Job might be undergoing the Lord's correction and punishment, and so Job should rejoice in that. But from what we know from previous verses, this was not the case. Nonetheless, Eliphaz seems like a friend to be trusted.

What are you going through right now? How is your reaction similar or different from Job's? Are you charging God with wrong doing? What makes you think this could be correction, discipline, punishment? If it's not discipline, how can you still respond in grace and thankfulness but yet still express pain and sorrow?

The beginning and original sin: Noah

In Genesis 6, we saw Noah, a man of faith, obediently building an ark exactly as God commanded. God told him there would be a flood that would destroy the entire planet and that he should prepare for it. According to some Bible scholars, it is believed that the ark must have taken at least 75 years to build. So this we know: 1. For years, Noah obeyed in faith in building the ark without seeing the flood as promised. 2. Noah probably endured scorn from the rest of the people who lived in sin, rebellion and violence. Why has this old man been building this giant wooden structure, especially in a place where it doesn't rain much? Nonetheless, we see obedience through faith coming from Noah.

God's promise, or should we say judgement, comes to pass. After the flood destroys the entire earth and it's inhabitants, with the exception of Noah and his family and a few animals, the ark floats to the top of Ararat mountains (located in present day Turkey). Noah first sends out a raven, then a dove to see if the waters had receded so that they could come out of the ark. At one point the raven came back with a freshly plucked olive leaf, which meant that lower elevations were above water and new life had began to spring forth. Important to mention that the symbol for peace traces back to this imagery of the dove with an olive leaf in its beak.

In Genesis 9, God makes a covenant to never destroy the earth with water again. The rainbow becomes a signature of that covenant. Also, since murder had grown so rampant before the flood since Cain and Abel, God lays heavy expectations for the sanctity of human life (Genesis 9:4-6). God orders Noah and his family to be fruitful and multiply just as He had done with Adam and Eve in the beginning. We see that humanity has been given a second chance, a fresh start, and things seem peaceful. There is hope. But not quiet so fast. Sin in the heart of men and women wasn't dead. The virus that started in Adam, the disobedience that started from Eve couldn't be destroyed by a flood. It was as if evil became ingrained in man's heart and his every intent was to be sinful and do all sorts of evil.

Towards the end of chapter 9 of Genesis, we see Noah drunk, passed out naked. His son, Canaan, sees him naked and doesn't do a thing, and instead goes and tells his brothers. The two brothers, Shem and Japheth, quickly hurried, walking backwards and avoiding the sight of their father's shame, and covered their father Noah. The old man later sobered up a bit and cursed Canaan, the son who had seen him naked. The Bible says that the Canaanite clan reached toward Sidon, Gerar, Gaza, Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim. Yes, you read that right, the two cities that would be destroyed for their insane wickedness, Sodom and Gomorrah, descended from the cursed son of Noah. 

The beginning and original sin

I just read the first 7 chapters of Genesis in my chronological reading plan of the Bible. I am really excited to start to see God more clearly from the beginning of time to today.To see His original plan and resolution to commune with man and women from the beginning of our time. It's amazing just how God has been at the rescue and in fellowship with man from the beginning. Even in punishment, God was concerned and was caring for His creation in all of His actions. He blessed them with free will, a character that defines and clearly separates them from all creation. First, God makes man in His image, makes man to be a reflection of the attributes of God. Perhaps these attributes might be physical, capability, will, spiritual, relational, moral, ethical? Who knows. But all we know is that man rules over all other creation. Man stands out. The first marriage happens. The first sexual attraction and bonding happens. The first disobedience. The first blame game happens. The first guilt and shame. The first pronunciation of death and other consequences come into the picture. The first DEATH happens. A brother kills brother. Soon after that, murder is the most popular cause of death, until natural deaths start happening due to man's new state of mortality. God doesn't disappear from the picture even as messy as it gets. Although He pronounces consequences to Adam and Eve, God covers the shame, guilt, nakedness of Adam and Eve with garments of skin [an animal that probably had to be slain all for the sake of man]. This is perhaps the first picture of Jesus Christ we see. Can you imagine the arguments that Adam and Eve probably had for the rest of their lives: "you ate apple", "no you gave it to me", "but the serpent deceived me". Amazing.  Shortly the first death happen with Cain and Abel, stemming from the first sibling feud. Sin exponentially increased in the heart of men and women. Violence got so ugly. God is hurt and grieved that He created men and women. God prepares the earth for destruction by water. Noah (a righteous man), and his family are given instructions to prepare for the flood. Obediently, Noah builds an ark that will house the seeds that will restart civilization. It rains for 40 days. Waters cover the earth for 125 days. All living creatures on the entire planet die but a few people and animals in the ark.