Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Sometimes I find things that shouldn't be all that interesting interesting. I'm always wondering where something fits in -- context -- and what else it's related to -- connection -- and how true to what it's supposed to represent it's actually being represented -- honesty. Here's a classic example of my insanity with context, connection and honesty.

So, here I am, not really able to sleep, thinking too much about all I want to see happen in my family and the ministries I serve and the community I live in -- my brain spinning like mad. I turned off my bluegrass and turned on the TV. I flipped around and found Beverly Hills Cop, starring Eddie Murphy. I started watching and pretty soon a scene was on that found Mr. Murphy's character, Axel Foley, wearing the outfit you see here (r).

I noticed the shirt (I bet I noticed it when I first saw it -- sometime around 1984 -- when it came out, but didn't have the internet or Google). I thought, "I wonder if that's a real school in Detroit...?"

Sure enough, a quick Google search proved my suspicion. Mumford High School, built in 1949, is located in Detroit's northwest side.

I wondered if I could find a picture of the school (I'm always looking for proof, LOL!). The internet is a trip. I wasn't only able to find a picture; I found several.

It's a delightful old structure, as you see here (below right). I thought, "Wow! Powder blue! All my fellow North Carolinians who love the Tarheels would love that building's color!"

A side note, rabbit run by my mind and I wondered where someone could find powder blue limestone. I discovered "Because of impurities, such as clay, sand, organic remains, iron oxide and other materials, many limestones exhibit different colors, especially on weathered surfaces." I had to pause and worship at God's amazing hand of creation.

Well, I didn't find the answer to where that particular blue limestone came from, but I found it's pretty common in several places, like China or France.

Rabbit duly chased...

Next I wondered, "Okay, Mumford is a real school in Detroit, but there are bound to be hundreds of schools in Detroit; why this one?"

I did think it was cool the filmmakers made sure to have a character that was supposed to be from Detroit repping a real school in Detroit. That being said, I knew someone involved in the movie had something to do with that alumni, I supposed. Maybe it was the costume person or a key grip or maybe even a bit player. As it turns out, one of the producers of the movie went to Mumford. That producer, a one Mr. Jerry Bruckheimer (r).

You might not know Bruckheimer by face or name, but I bet you know something he's had his hands in. Some of his many movies are Flashdance, Top Gun, Pirates of the Caribbean, Remember the Titans, Black Hawk Down, Bad Boys and National Treasure. Needless to say, Mr. Bruckheimer has quite a resume.

There are more connections in life than we often care to notice or investigate. I suppose I'm no better off for having performed this little research. Fact is, I am pretty sure it was a waste of time. However, I am sleepy now, so maybe it was to shut down my never-want-to-shut-down mind.

At the end of the day, though, I'm always learning. I think God is always teaching me something; He is always growing me. Details, connections, context, honesty...

God does nothing that doesn't matter. He made all of creation, and He upholds all creation by the word of His power. He is omniscient, so He knows how EVERYTHING is connected. I think His work in me  always is primarily giving me His nature, so I get an easy, fun lesson on God's good person. Finally, the shirt is true to what it was trying to represent, which was showing off a guy from Detroit. God is always true! So, here again, God is teaching me, EVEN IN SMALL THINGS, to be honest to what (or Whom) I am represent.

Or, maybe I did just need to wear my brain out...LOL!

Social Situations that Honestly Cause Me Inner Confusion and Constant Thought #1

Don't read if you are fanatical about guns, but not so fanatical about thinking about things in a new way. By the way, if you are a Christian and reading this, it is to US -- ME and YOU.

Gun control. Everyone has an idea of what they'd like it to be.

I'm a vet, a country boy, Southern and I love Jesus. The first three would make you think I would be absolutely in love with guns. Frankly, I do like them. I can't lie. I have fired a huge variety of shotguns, pistols, rifles, assault weapons and even several pieces of artillery. I've shot BB guns, slingshots, dart guns, bow and arrow, crossbows, paintball guns; I've shot spitballs out of straws... I've even shot the moon in Rook!

M1 Garand
But, I don't play violent video games.

I don't like gore and I don't approve of war games.

I used to hunt, but I don't have (read: MAKE) time to do it anymore. There are a multitude of reasons I don't hunt, and none are relevant to this conversation, besides one...I just don't enjoy laying in wait to kill any longer. Hey, if you like that, cool. I am not condemning it; I'm testifying.

See this rifle to the left? It's one of my favorites. I don't own one. I am not shopping for one. However, I like it. I like guns? Yes. Have I enjoyed firing them in my life? Yes. Do I understand their purpose? On about 50 levels, yes. Do I understand the Second Amendment? Yes.

Do I support gun control? No.

Wait...hear me out.

My wife asked me once what I thought the greatest purpose of Americans owning so many guns might be. I explained my opinion to her in this way: that even if foreign armies thought they could whip-up on our military, and various law enforcement agencies combined, they'd have to face what I guess (super conservative estimate) to be about 200 million privately owned firearms in this country. Just pause and think about that...

That's a lot of firearms floating around in one country.
Battle of Guilford Courthouse

Even if our own armies and law enforcement agencies somehow turned on us, there'd be a serious store of weaponry for personal defense, and certainly enough to mount assaults of citizen militias against unjust attacks. Another shout out to the Second Amendment.

Hunting is valuable... .... .... TO PEOPLE WHO WANT TO EAT! This country has a lot of game. That's a lot of potential meals walking around in the fields and bushes. Sport hunters who kill and waste lives are not cool (in my humble opinion) and ought to take a strong gander at Genesis 9 and give some thought to the stewardship of the privilege of dominion. That being said, hunting can be helpful.

Do I support gun control? No.

Can shooting be a fun sport? Yes, and a positive sport (executed safely and sanely, of course).

Are owning historical weapons good for understanding our past? Sure. We have a violent past (mankind in general, and America in particular), and we'd do well to have many symbols to remind us of how many lives wars and disputes have cost us.

I could go on and on...I probably have 10 more sensible reasons to own and use guns.

Do I support gun control? Yes.

Yes, you heard that right, and yes, it is contradictory to my aforementioned confession that I am not an advocate of gun control.

More so than a supporter of gun control, I'd love for them all to vanish completely from the face of the planet. They won't, any time soon, that is.

See, here's where my constant confusion comes in about guns comes in: I love Jesus. See that? That simple statement musses up all my pro-gun arguments and fuels all my advocacy for peace. He said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9).

That. Just. Sticks. With. ME. and in me...

See, since I've been walking with Jesus, there is this growing desire inside of me that wants and loves peace. I just can't shake it. I try. I try to hearken to my soldierly thoughts and my redneckness and Southernability. I try to be hard (and, I am still too hard to be a good disciple), but those feelings aren't there any more. I want peace. I love love. I hate hate. Violence rarely delivers the peace it promises.

Yes, my logic is still intact. Didn't I demonstrate that? Sport, hunting, history, defense...I get it.

And here is my biggest thing: perhaps I just long for heaven. I long for this day: He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4 ESV, emphasis mine). I long for the day when man CHOOSES to beat their swords and 12 gauges into plowshares. I long for Jesus to return and bring peace to Earth. I long for the warrior to be jobless and the battlefields empty. I long for people to lay their contentions down. I long for the enemy to finally be defeated, and, yes, I mean that enemy that NO GUN can defeat.

I long for Jesus.

I know. Man, I know! Don't even comment back to me anything that sounds like any of these:

  • If we took all the guns from the good people, only evil people would have them
  • As long as we have people, they will do bad things, so somebody has to stand up to them
  • As long as we live their will be wars and rumors of wars and we have to be ready
  • America has to defend itself!
  • If they take guns from law abiding citizens, only criminals will have them
  • It's my right!
  • Somebody has to protect the weak.
  • It's not guns that kill; it's people!
Lame and tired...every argument.

Believers, we should love defending the weak. We should absolutely love it.

But, what happened to standing in the gap and turning the other cheek and loving our enemies and suffering for righteousness sake the scores of other things that ought to come to our minds and actions before we think of fighting and shooting and killing?

How do we forget that Jesus scolded Peter for cutting off a man's ear? How do we forget James 4? How do we forget Mark 9:50? And Luke 6:27 and Romans 12:17 and James 3:18 and Romans 8:16 and Colossians 3:15? Why doesn't Numbers 6:24-26 fall off our lips quicker than "right to keep and bear arms"?

I KNOW guns are not going away until the end of the Earth. I KNOW sinners are not going away until the end of Earth. I KNOW that evil is not going away until the end of Earth. I KNOW that war is not going away until the end of Earth. I KNOW that violence and murder and beatings are not going away until the end of the Earth.

I know, okay?

Still, brothers and sisters...shouldn't we long for peace? Shouldn't that desire beat in the heart of the believer like their very own pulse?

Shouldn't we desire to be armed with the sword of the Spirit more so than the guns of man? Good gracious, yes. Why are so many believers advocating for guns and so few simply acting as peacemakers?

Why is our impulse to be vindicated as Americans so much stronger than our impulse to live as disciples? Why aren't the commands of the Kingdom stronger than the rights of the nation in our hearts?

Why do we surrender to the lower rules of men instead of the higher calling of God?

Lord, help me...

I know all the realities and the arguments, and I'm tired and sick and worn out with all of them. I know all of the founding father quotes and am well versed in NRA talk. I know it. C'mon, man.

If you love Jesus, you can be realistic. You can even be disciplined in the art of war, but we OUGHT to desire that discipline goes unused. We OUGHT to serve and give and suffer.

Peace ought to be the conversation for believers, not guns. Peacemaking ought to be our practice, not war.

Let create some new discussions. Let's forge ahead with some fresh actions. Let's hear Christ's commands over culture's commotions. Let's heed His calls of peace over the world's calls for strife.

I confess that I am often torn over the argument about gun control and the Second Amendment. But, I'm more in love with peace than I am torn over any of our American hang-ups. Love has won my heart. I may one day have to fight. I may have to shoot. I may have to defend the weak. I just might. Still, even then, I'll grieve that it's come to that again.

I want to be called a son of God. I want to be a peacemaker.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Sweetest Times are these...

My good friend, Cristina, shared some thoughts on the coming Bridegroom and the Bride of Christ and her preparedness, or lack thereof, this past week. It encouraged me to (a) know folks I'm teaching are listening and the Spirit has the words of life boiling in them and (b) to see how the Spirit teaches us and (c) well, it was just a reminder that needs to ever be before the Body.

That being said, I had a time with my family this morning worth sharing, for sure...let me share.

Back on November 23, we put our manger out (which is what we do in lieu of a tree). Here's what I posted on Facebook with this picture:

As we decorate a bit, our decorations are really a preparation for our family's Christ Mass. Several years ago, the girls and I built a manger and had Connie Stone paint on it Revelation 22:20 -- He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! -- we use it as a discussion piece to prepare our hearts for the second coming of our Lord Jesus, The Christ. Today we set it up and talk about how woefully unprepared Israel was for The Messiah & how we want to be prepared for His return. Between now and the morning of December 25, each of us are to find and wrap symbols of our constant expectation of His return and place them in our manger. That morning, we'll unwrap them and discuss our expectation of His coming again. May our lamps be filled, wicks trimmed and hearts ready...

Today, we unwrapped our symbols and each person shared. The depth of thought my 9 year old, 12 year old and my darling wife shared was such a sweet blessing for me. Each person was spot on, and each person shared what we needed to be reminded of and in shared it in the gentle love of the Spirit.

Rachel drew a picture of a knee and a tongue and quoted Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.(Philippians 2:9-11 ESV). She explained how when she thought of the Second Coming, she thought of that...that EVERYONE will bow and EVERYONE will confess He is Lord and "nobody will not understand who Jesus is that day!"

Katie made a scroll, and decorated it with various pictures, such as the apostles staring as Jesus ascended and the Morning Star, Lord Jesus, who believers desire to see return. She read some pretty powerful verses to us, to remind us of His Second Coming:

  • and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11 ESV)
  • Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:30-31 ESV)
  • For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 
  • (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 ESV)
Katie ended her scroll and reading with this quote: "I just love Christmas time! Even though Jesus' birth should be thought of year round, Christmas time is a good reminder. It is also a reminder of the Second Coming. It could be anytime, any day. So, we should be prepared. Prepare yourself and get excited about Jesus! Merry Christmas!!"

My darling wife shared an ornament with us; a beautiful, sparkling angel blowing a trumpet. She talked about how God would send His angels when Jesus returned and Jesus would use those angels to collect the elect from all over the face of the planet. What an exciting reminder!

Can you picture it, dear friends? Can you see those angels -- those same angels that frighten men and women every time we see them appear in the Scriptures -- gathering the elect from over the face of the earth? Wow! Just, wow.

Then, I revealed my symbol: a lamp. Matthew 25:1-13 is powerful. I mean, powerful...

We need this before us all the time. We need to see this picture of unpreparedness and preparedness. It needs to shake us. We need to be ready and excited for the coming Bridegroom.

Lord, thank You for today...the sweetest times are these...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Fightings within

There's things that concern me and there's things that concern me...know what I mean? One of the things I think constantly about are the fightings with the church. No, I don't mean the local church I'm a part of, nor do I mean to say we are above it or have no experience with it; I mean to say I think about the church universal. And, no, I don't mean fightings among the church and cults and pseudo-Christian movements; nor do I mean the fightings between the church and false religions. All of that is a whole other conversation.

Today's Peanuts Sunday strip was not addressing fightings within the church, but it surely made me think of it! We find Linus enjoying his snow fortress, and proclaiming said fortresses' impregnable qualities. We find him facing an unseen foe and fearlessly extolling the virtues of his encampment.



copyright 1966, all rights reserved to Peanuts Worldwide LLC
That Lucy. She bops old Linus upside the head -- as our venacular beautifully says -- AND she did it from behind!

Doesn't that seem to be the way of things in the church? We have an impregnable fortress in Christ, and we can operate from it and be defended in it, but we often find our attention must be given to fightings within. Linus' line is classic, and could well be said to our adversary, Satan: "You'll notice that you had to use strategy though, didn't you?"

Well, beloved, that's Satan's thing! He is wily, subtle, treacherously full of lies and has the heart and mind of a thief.

Here is another drawing I've kept for a long time. I've had it so long, in fact, that I do not remember who to credit it to. This cartoon has appeared in this blog before, and will appear again, I'm sure.

However, there's one part I want to focus on today; namely, the middle guy on the creation (right) side of the drawing. Look at that guy. What a shame. He's firing at the church! And, he's mad. The one guy firing at the issues is happy. The one guy firing at nothing is happy. The guy firing at the church...well, he's clearly upset.

He ought to be upset, but mostly with himself. Poor, deluded guy.

The words of Jesus are enough here: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35 ESV)

C'mon, now...that's clear, right?

When I am not loving someone, I don't assume the fault is theirs, nor their burden to bear. I assume the fault is mine. I assume I need to grow. I assume I need to surrender. I assume the Spirit needs to have His way in me. I assume my flesh is quenching His good work.

After all, if the emulation and likeness of Christ is God's goal for me, then I'm to love even the most unlovable. Why, then, do we seem always to insist that someone else must "straighten out" or "get themselves right"? It's our desires warring within us, or at least that's one contention Bro. James tells us about (ref. James 4:1-12).

Jesus seemed pretty clear about reconciliation, too. He said whether we are offensive or offended, we are to go to the offending or offended party and seek reconciliation (ref. Matthew 5:23 and Matthew 18:15).

Oh, pshaw! I could go on forever. Let me say this; I'm grieved and peeved. But, here's my first resolution: Lord, let me be the last to offend and the first the reconcile. And, my second is like unto it: Lord let me be the quickest to love and the slowest to hate.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Poem

I arrived early to The Warehouse yesterday. My mind was distracted, so I begin to say and sing praises. I began to focus on the nature of God. Out of that surrendering of my mind to the reclamation of the Spirit, I rejoiced that my distracted mind and crabby spirit was turned back to God. I began to repeat a couple lines over and over again; those lines became the opening two lines to this poem and the rest followed very quickly

"This Righteous Resistance" 

I live a poetic existence 
With vigilant persistence
And will in one instance
Go the full distance
Without delay or avoidance
Hold life with substance
And hang in the balance
While filled with Great Essence 
Which is a license for brilliance
Receiving no hindrance
Except from that Presence
And I make that preference
With humble reverence
I say good riddance
To fakeness and pretense
Now I'm sent and intense
Making holy fragrance
And nothing makes me quit this
Or take for granted Assistance
Or hold back when I spit this
Or make my subsistence
This Righteous Resistance.

Too Much Chatter

It's plainly obvious to me that many people are talking too much, especially believers. Right now, I don't care about gun control. YES -- and back off! -- I do know gun control will not fix human hearts, and that more guns will not give us real security and and and and ..... guns are not the problem! Guns make the problem show up in very ugly ways...very ugly.
Right now, I don't want to lock schools down. We can't lock down every public place in the world. I don't want cops at every school. I want less cops in general -- and, yes, you heard that right, too. 

Safety created by man is an illusion, at best. 

These and a dozen other conversations twirling around the tragedy in Connecticut are trite and, frankly, stupid right now. Yes, this is the tone of chastisement. IF you are a believer, you should be longing for the day when every sword is beaten into a plowshare (see Isaiah 2:4). Seriously, it's our American non-sensibility that loves guns and thinks they equal freedom and protection. But, again, I'm weary of that conversation and it's not the time for it. 

Pray, folks. Send words of encouragement, hope and healing to Connecticut. Fast. Weep. Mourn. Hug your children. Pray for your family. Work to turn America to God...

Otherwise, in my un-esteemed opinion...hush. 

There is simply too much chatter.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Fine Dwelling for My Thoughts to Find Home

There's going to be quite a build up to some simple thoughts, but, alas, if you're crazy enough to visit this blog, and assuming you know me, that's to be expected from time to time. If you'd like to back up from all the set-up, just go down to the part beyond the long line.

I've been teaching through Romans. Many a fine folk have been humbled by reading and studying this fine letter, given to us by the Spirit, as He desired to have a word with the church, through His apostle, Paul, beginning with the believers in Rome. Add me to the list. Really, it seems whatever book I'm meditating through becomes my favorite. Right now, Romans is being used of the Lord to rock my world, and I am grateful!

I think too many people treat Romans like a theological treatise, and it's academically thick enough for that sort of title, but I hold that it was meant for something simpler in its purpose. Granted, it can be treated as a heavy theological handbook. Granted, it can serve a wonderful purpose in that way. Maybe it should be treated like that, but only after its original purpose has been appreciated.

Namely, I believe Paul was assuring the Romans that he was thoroughly converted, complete in understanding and seeking to follow whole-heartedly the will of the Lord Jesus. He wanted them to know he was consumed with the Gospel of God's Kingdom, and at the discretion of King Jesus.

But, that doesn't fully capture the purpose of the letter. WHY does Paul want to be confirmed in these things? I think the simple answer is this: Paul wanted the believers in Rome to partner with him in reaching lost people in Spain and beyond. His intentions cannot be more obviously stated than this: "I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while." (Romans 15:24 ESV, emphasis mine)

However, for the sake of thinking things through, consider these things:

  • Paul felt like he was prevented BY THE LORD from going east: "And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia." (Acts 16:6 ESV)
  • Paul felt like the Gospel had already been preached everywhere between Jerusalem and Rome: "For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation." (Romans 15:18-20 ESV, emphasis mine)
  • The Spirit was always pressing Paul's ministry team's hearts forward: "We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another's area of influence." (2 Corinthians 10:15-16 ESV, emphasis mine)
  • He expected to find partnership and blessing: "When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ." (Romans 15:28-29 ESV, emphasis mine)
  • Paul's ministry team felt compelled to act in faith upon the promises of God to Israel: (I cannot say more succinctly what was said in the introduction of Romans 9-11 in the English Standard Version Study Bible) ---> Rom. 9:1–11:36 God’s Righteousness to Israel and to the Gentiles. Paul has made it clear that God’s saving promises have been fulfilled for the Gentiles. Indeed, the church of Jesus Christ now enjoys the spiritual blessings promised to Israel: the gift of the Spirit (8:9); adoption as God’s children (8:14–17); future glory (8:17, 30); election (8:33); and the promise of never being severed from God’s love (8:35–39). Paul now asks in chs. 9–11 whether the promises God made to ethnic Israel will be fulfilled. If his promises to the Jews remain unfulfilled, how can Gentile Christians be sure that he will fulfill the great promises that conclude ch. 8? Paul answers that God is faithful to his saving promises to Israel (9:6) and that he will ultimately save his people (11:26).
  • Paul purposed to encourage the church in Rome to (a) unity and (b) mission, understanding that unity allows / encourages believers to focus on mission: The "Therefore..." then in Romans 1, begins to open the ball on a very encouraging discussion and list of imperatives to Christian living in response to God having given us new life in Jesus. In other words, there's is an expected, reasonable response from people toward God's goodness.
The Holy Spirit was always pushing Paul's ministry team to more than they were experiencing; more of Jesus; more of the Gospel; more evangelism; deeper into discipleship. Paul desired unification in fellowship, and his letter to the Romans was not trying to get them "straight" but rather letting them know he was "straight" --- letting them know, before speaking of confident expectation of partnership, that his heart was screwed in straight.

I'm thoroughly inspired.

It was just about the it, encouraging others, preaching Jesus' as King, proclaiming God's just rule...and taking off from the fellowship of Roman believers and the geography of Rome itself into the wilds of Unreacheddom. 

Now, all that being said...

It's simply important to dwell on Jesus; to consider Him, meditate upon His character, to revel in the beauty of His perfection, to appreciate His work, seek to understand His person --- all of it. It's just good to have Jesus on the mind. It's appropriate for Him to dwell at the surface of our thoughts in all things and to be coursing through the depth of our deepest considerations

As I've been reading and re-reading and reading Romans again and again, some things have occurred to me in a fresh way. The chief thing that has been brought to the forefront of my mind is the resurrection of Christ. I already knew, from Scripture, it was the central and most important theme in the New Testament Church's preaching, but I've seen in a fresh way Christ's resurrection in the book of Romans.

To be sure, MUCH more could be said about each thought I'm introducing below. All I'm saying today is how sweet it is to contemplate these things, how wonderful to meditate (blog post about THIS soon) upon the things of the Lord, to plunge into the depths as a method of growth and an exercise of worship.

Think about these things:
  • Death not only did not defeat Jesus, but vindicated His work and proved His deity: "and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 1:4 ESV, emphasis mine) ---> Consider that: many pretenders have risen to the claim of "god" but death has consumed them. Even if people have been praised or worshipped beyond their death, it is only Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, who rose from the dead, was seen of many witnesses and lives still. Romans 1:4 even says that the resurrection was God showing His "power." I mean, hey, c'mon now! Of all the miracles that could be mentioned here, it's the defeat of death that God says takes His power. Not creating or upholding or multiplying fish or healing the sick or parting a sea or river...resurrection = POWER!
  • The resurrection not only showed Jesus' righteousness, but grants to us unworthy folk His righteousness, too: "But the words 'it was counted to him' were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification." (Romans 4:23-25 ESV, emphasis mine) ---> Notice it if you will, it's not who knows about Jesus, not who goes to church, not who knows Bible stories, or has a religious's not who was baptized, who can speak in tongues, who gives money, not who has joined a local's none of those people. It's not who is a "nice person" and it's not who "does more good things than bad things." Righteousness comes to those who believe in HIM who raised the dead Jesus our Lord. That's how significant the resurrection is! It points to HIM who has the power! Even in dying and being raised from the dead, it was "Thy will" to be done, and the Father's glory to be gotten!
  • It's in His life that we are partnered, and have living hope: "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Romans 6:4-11 ESV, emphasis mine) ----> It is a wonderful to understand and keep constantly before us that Jesus did not just die for us, but counted through His death us dead with Him. Why is that wonderful? Simple; just as He counts us dead with Him, He partners us with Him in new life!
  • We are dead to the law and raised to life in Christ, thus our responsibility is not to keeping the law, rather it is in enjoying fellowship with Christ: "Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God." (Romans 7:4 ESV) ---> Now, this is wildly exciting to me! In the preceding three verses, Paul uses the illustration of a married couple and says the spouse is not released from the bond of the relationship until the other spouse died. Well, dear friend, when we died with Christ, we died from our relationship to the law. When Christ was resurrected, He gave us new life and that new life is in relationship to Christ, for the glory of God. (See, another point on "till death do us part..." meaning no divorce but death. Oh my. Yep.) Since believers die with Christ, our old spouse, the Law, has no claim on relationship with us, and we are now alive, being made ready to be the Bride of Christ! WOW!!!!!
  • In Christ's resurrection, death is not the final answer; likewise, in our death, because HE lives, death will not be the final answer for believers either: "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you." (Romans 8:11 ESV) ---> Notice the "if." That's something folk need to settle, and it's a whole other conversation. Two of the most delightful words any believer will ever hear or read are "will also." Yes, and wow and amen! He raised from the dead, 'cause He could. He raised from the dead, 'cause death couldn't hold Him. And He "will also" give life to a believer's mortal body! And, here's the best part, it's not only when we all get to heaven, but eternal life IS HIM and IS GRANTED to us and BEGINS while we yet live in these mortal bodies! It's because the resurrected Christ is alive in us -- living right now, you see -- that death will not hold us, just as it did not hold Him. I wish I had some words bigger than "WOW!" and "AWESOME!" but I don't. 
  • In the resurrection of Christ, in that Living Savior, there is someone to answer the debt collector:  "Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us." (Romans 8:33-34 ESV) ---> Let me create a little conversation, for the sake of illustration:
    • Satan: "Well, Judge, here's Tim Bowes. Nevermind whatever he has been, let me tell you what he is. He'll want to tell all about what he used to do and be and no doubt highlight the nice changes in his life, but I want to talk about what Tim Bowes is."
    • Judge: "Bring the charges!"
    • Satan: "He's proud. Many times he is lazy. He often lusts and covets. He is judgmental. He speaks with lewdness and tells coarse jokes. He responds with apathy to many needs around him. He..."
    • Jesus: "ENOUGH! Good Judge, all that Satan says is true, and more. What should be noted above all these things is He is mine, by my gift and according to the faith You have given Him in me."
    • Judge: "He is justified, not condemn and free to enter My rest. Case closed!"
    • Satan: "But, Judge, You said 'Surely you will die!' That's what You said! You said so! Death! Tim Bowes should die! He should die! Don't do this, Judge! You said 'surely die' so why is this wretch being given rest? I demand..."
    • Judge: "Silence! My Precious Son died for Tim Bowes, and many more. He died for Tim and defeated death. I make Tim right in My Son; I declare My Son's righteousness be extended to Tim. What of death? It is nothing to My Son! If My Son does not condemn Tim Bowes, neither do I. Silence, Satan! Your accusations mean nothing!"
  • Jesus' resurrection is the confession we make and cling to: "because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9 ESV) ---> it must be and remain our constant confession. I have believed. I do believe. I will continue to be believe. I have confessed. I do confess. I will continue to confess. JESUS IS LORD! JESUS IS RAISED FROM THE DEAD! HE IS ALIVE! Hallelujah! I believe! I believe! He was, is and shall remain my hope and stay! I have no hope, save Jesus! It's not the history of His life nor the quality of His IS Him, alive and living and I trust Him now, and now, and now, and now....
  • And, because Jesus knows death without sin and knows life beyond death, He is Lord of both the dead and the alive: "For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living." (Romans 14:9 ESV) Therefore, Jesus is Lord over those dead in sin and those alive in Him. HE IS LORD. He absolutely has the right to judge both the living and the dead. It's not me; I do not have that right. I can judge no man. Jesus can judge every man. 
More and more... I will find other points of beautiful contemplation, but these, concerning the resurrection have meant much to me lately. 

More than ever, I am convinced to trust Christ with all is the only logical choice I can make. Thank God. Thank God for Jesus. Thank God for the resurrection!

So, then, a natural conclusion comes to me. If it's all about Jesus, and all my hope is in Jesus, and my only hope is Jesus, then I'd better be about walking as a disciple of Jesus. Point blank; end of story. Jesus' business must be mine, or I'm missing His life in my soul.


My little cousin would aggravate her little brother to no end. It used to crack me up to hear her mom yell, "Don't you fret him!" or "Stop fretting him!"

It was always hilarious to me.

The word has a lot of great picture word definitions: From


1  [fret]  Show IPA verb, fret·ted,fret·ting, noun.
verb (used without object)
to feel or express worry, annoyance, discontent, or the like:Fretting about the lost ring isn't going to help.
to cause corrosion; gnaw into something: acids that fret at the strongest metals.
to make a way by gnawing, corrosion, wearing away, etc.: The river frets at its banks until a new channel is formed.
to become eaten, worn, or corroded (often followed by away ): Limestone slowly frets away under pounding by the wind and rain.
to move in agitation or commotion, as water: water fretting ove rthe stones of a brook.
verb (used with object)
to torment; irritate, annoy, or vex: You mustn't fret yourself about that.
to wear away or consume by gnawing, friction, rust, corrosives,etc.: the ocean fretting its shores.
to form or make by wearing away a substance: The river had fretted an underground passage.
to agitate (water): Strong winds were fretting the channel.
an irritated state of mind; annoyance; vexation.
erosion; corrosion; gnawing.
a worn or eroded place.

For most of us, we wouldn't choose these old fashioned words, but, if honesty fitted itself upon us, we must confess that we worry, become vexed, are agitated, are annoyed, have gnawing concerns, eroded confidence...well, we're fretted and prone to fretful fits of fret!

Sometimes, I just want to yell at Satan: "Stop fretting them!"

"Stop fretting me!"

I know it's some horrible combination of lack faith, attack of the enemy and exceeding weaknesses of the flesh that finds us feeling attacked on some points and powerless on many.

"Worried Man" by Jean Townsend
It's just not funny to me anymore. As a parent, I get why it was not funny to my cousin's mom. As a pastor, equipping those sweet saints I undershepherd, it breaks my heart over and over and over. I want my intercessory prayers to be like A Magic Prayer Wand, which I make a wave offering of and dispense confidence and fear-dispersing answers.

I know we're not given a spirit of fear, for the Bible tells me so! (ref. 2 Timothy 1:7)

I know there are some things to fear, and we have a God we ought to fear, but agitation is not to be our norm. Anxiety, irritation, and nerve wearing should not be a disciple's daily experience.

Keep in mind, the enemy would just as soon steal your joy and hinder your walk with a one large fret as he would a thousand small ones, or any minor or major sin or tragedy.

"Did God really say that? Really?" is the common intonation of this master schemer. He didn't just pull that junk on Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:1). That might have been a one liner, but it's an oft repeated one liner.

If nothing else, the enemy will author confusion. He'll befuddle. He will cast doubt, especially concerning the deity of Christ, the necessity of the cross and anything reinforcing God as Creator.

Frankly, I could go on all day, but my point is simple: the enemy desires us to be anxious, unsettled and fruitless. He wants our joy sapped. In the least, he wants us fretted.

I know it's the Spirit of God, and I imagine His voice is just like Jesus' --- I hear Him say to me, "Let not your heart be troubled..." 

"I'm listening, Lord. I'm listening, and trying to hear. It's just...just...I don't know, so many thoughts."

"Let not your heart be troubled. Whether I fix this or not, I've got you. Whoever believes in Me will do greater works than Me..."

"Wait? What? I mean, I'm sorry to interrupt, but I'm confused. White noise, brain is humming and I'm assailed on every side, foes within and foes without and I'm flat out troubled. And, you say seomething about doing 'greater works' a time like this?" 

"Absolutely. You're a bit Martha-ish tonight...troubled by too many things. One thing is necessary, and that's to sit at My feet and let Me deal with you. And, in dealing with you, the fretting will cease, and you feed My sheep. Get right back to it."

The melody rises up, and then the words: "Standing on the promises of Christ my King; through eternal ages, let His praises ring. Glory to the highest, I will shout and sing; standing on the promises of God!"

His voice starts like a whisper, agreeing with His word. When I begin to agree, fret is replaced by worship.

I shouldn't be amazed, but I stand amazed in the Presence...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sweetnesses I Often Forget

Frankly, I don't have time to write this down, but I'm afraid I'll lose it if I fail to appreciate it somehow.

My heart gets tender sometimes, and I don't like it.

I've long held that people, who each are prone to hardness in some way or the other, ought to have several disciplines in place to fall upon every day that will tenderize their heart.

I'm not talking about the fake, drama-like kind of tenderness where we conjure some memory for the sake of making the water flow. I'm talking about the things that counter the hardness of this fallen world; the stuff that keeps the flesh at bay; that which makes silent the whispers of the lying, destroying enemy of God and man.

Surely, I know the earnest prayer habit is most helpful; fill it with praise and adoration and many Scripture references to the nature of God. Remind God that you remember His mercies to the world, and to you. Perhaps, if you are like me, some sweet music will break through the ice of this cold world. Maybe you might like to read poetry, or some short story or to gaze upon some wisely made art. You might be the type that needs to take a walk, amid towering trees, in the gaze of the full sun, or under the vastness of the night sky, that nature's fine testimony will alight afresh in your heart the intricate hand of God upon His creation. Without a doubt, I recommend choice Scripture readings, preferably aloud and with genuine feeling. There are more ways, I know.

Good ol' Tender Heart Bear
But, sometimes, my heart gets tender, and I don't enjoy it. Not one single bit.

I almost feel unwillingly exposed in times like these. You know, like someone has left me uncovered, or something has sneaked in behind me and caught me unawares. Then, in that way, it feels worse... unguarded and tender. Like, if I'd just seen that coming, it wouldn't have made me feel this way.

Even though I know tenderness is good, I want it on my terms, in times of my choosing, and in controllable degrees.

Today, I was caught unawares. I don't like it. I feel like weeping, even now, as I type.

Someone asked for financial help, and, from the outside looking in, they don't deserve it; they're wasteful, their priorities are all jacked up. They are morally bankrupt and immoderate in most every sense.

Then, quite unexpectedly, God shows me that person through His eyes. Really, it was miraculous. No, it wasn't omniscience that came through to me; I didn't come to understand everything about that person's life and personal affairs in some "magical" way. I don't know their sins and motivations. What God showed me is how perfectly He loves them.

I became broken. Again.

It got worse.

God showed me my own pitiful state, and His heart for me, too. He chastised me with such gentle love that my shame was erased and replaced with such tender affection I could hardly breathe. Make no mistake, God did not simply remind me of the "bad dude" I was before Christ; He showed me the wretched creature that I am, even today, and how His love and mercy is continually being extended to me day by day, and how His sweet mercy truly is new every morning.

I recalled some good words from Psalm 3
But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the LORD,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around. (Psalm 3:3-6 ESV)

God has a long history of protecting me, except when I need to be exposed. That's a sweetness I often forget. One saying I treasure in my own heart is "Brokenness is the plow that prepares the heart for transformation." The Lord is a shield about me, except when He wounds me as a friend. The Lord sustains my life, even as I wake and slumber, save those times He desires some ugly thing be killed in me. The Lord always has my back, save when I need to be overwhelmed. His record of good wounds are a sweetness to me.

Yes, this tenderness snuck up on me, and I hated it. But, O, how I love Him!

I did not invite today's tenderness, but I welcome it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Revealing Clues

From the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son...He is the radiance of His glory, the exact expression of His nature. -- Romans 1:20, Hebrews 1:2a and 3a; HCSB

When I served as an associate pastor one of my responsibilities was ministering to teens. One thing we particularly enjoyed was scavenger hunts. One was very memorable to me. We had a "secret" meeting planned; the "secret" was that the teens had to follow carefully hidden clues placed ALL OVER our neighborhood to find the meeting place. At the meeting place we planned on having a cookout, singing, and hearing a message from a preacher-friend of mine from Africa. The clues were hidden over an eight mile radius; it took days to plan and hide the clues.

The teens partnered with an adult chaperone in groups small enough to ride in the adult's cars. Every team found the meeting place; some faster than others. All agreed that it was fun and hard.

It's funny, when you’re really looking for something that has clues you will find it. It may take some work, but clues are very revealing.

A word to the teen generation reading this...THINK about the things I am about to say. DO NOT be afraid to use your cotton-picking brains! Just so you understand me, ADULTS, you are not off the hook on this either!

One of the most wonderful, worshipful things I can dwell on is the fact that God has chosen to reveal Himself to mankind. At once it is all together humbling, awe inspiring and encouraging.

As Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:20 testify, nature alone is sufficient to reveal the glory and nature of God. It's an awfully funny thing to me that (so called) science often looks at nature and natural things and "discovers" there is no God. I think one of the highest intellectual pursuits is to logically look at nature and there define or realize the wonderfully unified nature of God by His own handiwork. I have often marveled at the hand of our God; by His power He carved mountainous rocks and formed the most genteel flower petal. By His hand He has molded the tusks of elephants and the wings of dragonflies. We only have to observe His creation to know by it He has revealed Himself. As Romans 1:20b asserts, it is so plain to see God in His creation that no person is without excuse

I think modern science's problem is that they not are looking for God. The clues are there!

Furthermore, in God's word we have the testimony of His servants, His prophets, and, most importantly, His Son. Do you want to see the face of God? Seek the person of Jesus. What did He say? What did He do? How did He feel?

If we are willing to seek, we will find. If we are willing to hunt, we will see Jesus. We will see and know God. It is a pursuit of the heart in that we willfully search for the face of God. It is a pursuit of the mind in that we can use our God given skills of THINKING and LEARNING. We can exercise logic. We can ponder. We can meditate. We can take information in and process it.

Here, I believe, is the number one missing ingredient in finding God...we don't seek. We have shut our minds down to intellectual pursuits and turned them over to mindless activities. I think we are sometimes afraid to think! It seems as if we fear we may learn something that will require action. Or, is it that the enemy has so cleverly dangled simple things in front of us that we have been fooled into thinking they are the things of wisdom?

In closing, God has left MANY revealing clues about Himself. The question remains: are we looking? Read the following words from Proverbs 1:20-33. Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: "How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof,I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices. For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster" (ESV - emphasis mine).

Look at the clues. See God. Worship Him!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

It Ain't Just THAT

I'm gay (1).


Like most things, that first statement needs to be approached with some education and understanding. I am gay, right now. No, I don't mean definition #4, or #3 for that matter. I'm #1. Not in all things, mind you, but I'm #1 in the definition thing.

I think the shock factor and the emotional-subject factor that homosexuality currently is enjoying blinds us all from the real issue that NEEDS UNDERSTANDING. Namely, MANY types of sexual sin are...well, they, um...are...sin.

Most sexual sin is performed in totally heterosexual ways, and -- let me be clear here: IT. IS. STILL. SIN.

More on that in a bit...

Get prepared...second shocking statement: SEX IS GOOD. (No Merriam-Webster this time.) Instead: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed." (Genesis 2:24-25 ESV)

Let's be mature, thinking people here, okay? Sex is good. God made man. God made woman. God made us different. God intended for those differences to mesh...emotionally, mentally, and, yes, physically. God called His creation "good" and when God added man to creation, He called it "very good" (Genesis 1). God marched all the critters by Adam, and pre-sin-Adam was no slouch; he saw the differences in those animals. He saw everyone had a counterpart. Let's just be frank about this: our sexual bodies are simply part of the created order.

So, then, the question is never whether sex is an abomination or not. It's not an abomination. Okay? Got that?

How then shall we live? Stewardship of our body is a key issue. We've been given our gender-specific body, and it's subject, in some degree, to a fallen world, so the main thing we all need to remember is to lean into God for self-control and seek God for our the ethics of sexuality; definitely NOT the culture!

Remember, I am writing to believers right now. I am writing to the elect. I am writing to people who know the good help of the Holy Spirit, His indwelling and His constant hand of help. The unregenerate heart has little hope of anything other than temporary escape from ANY type of sin. Such a one is in bondage, a prisoner to sin.

For the unbeliever, reading this right now, you may not believe what I'm saying. You may not see it the way I do. I didn't always see it this way either. My mind had to be delivered. My blindness had to be cured. My spirit had to be set free to know God and see His truth. Indeed, I was delivered from the domain of darkness and delivered to become subject to The Light.

I've been set free from the prison of darkness! Thank God that He, in Christ Jesus, had / has a plan to set the captives free! "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:13-14 ESV)

My personal list of sexual struggles need not be listed here for me to convey that I deeply, and with great personal pain, can say I understand the problem of sexual temptation, fall, self-loathing, semi-recovery, temptation, fall, self-loathing, etc. I'm glad to share with anyone, anytime, but I'll leave my list off this public forum in respect to potential unguided-young-readers. Suffice to say, I understand, from theology, philosophy AND experience the difficulty and emotional strain this entire subject causes  all for whom it affects.

However, this post isn't about that either...

It's time we stop bashing homosexuals. That's never right. More so, it's time we started bashing the WHOLE subject of sexual sin (and some other ones, too!).

For the believer, the matter is sort of cut and dry: follow God in purity. There. I said it. That's our calling; plain and simple. We are called to lives of purity. We don't simple avoid being homosexual. We MUST seek the Lord to be pure in every part of sexual sin. That means MANY things; for example, no pre-marital sex, no pornography, no masturbation, no lustful thoughts, no adultery - physical or heart-ti-ful -- no philandery (yes, I made that word up), no flirtations, no perversions (I do not want to spell out what I'm thinking...) -- did I say no pornography? -- no emotional affairs, no lust of the eyes, failure to consider the WHOLE subject of purity! I mean, think about it, Jesus said adultery begins in our hearts and, in the same passage, says lust in our INTENT is where sin IS MATURE (ref: Matthew 5:28).

It ain't just "that" that needs discussion. The discussion is NOT only about homosexuality, but we are letting that ONE THING get the bulk of our attention.

For example, we ought to be out battling the pornography industry, tooth and nail! It's surely battling the life of the church and is that roaring lion that is preying on millions upon millions of men. Read this interesting blog post from "Business Pundit": See, in particular, the comments on prostitution and pornography. Frankly, I think the estimates are really low on the pornography expenditures. ====== (Be careful to notice the jewelry choice of the lady pictured in the "prostitution" section of Business Pundit's article.)

Let's be honest (again), vice pays. In this fallen world, sin makes money. I often wonder if singular issues -- like the current hot-topic of homosexuality -- are the flares sent up by the enemy that cause us to stare into the sky while a thousand battles rage in the shadows.

Trust me, the Bible is not silent on the entire subject. I went over to and typed in "Sexual Immorality" and this link will show you what my search revealed: ... wow.

I'll go on record and say it: HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN. It's not a sin because I say that. It's a sin because God says it's a sin. Don't believe me? Check out Genesis 19:1-13, Leviticus 19:22, 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, and 1 Corinthians 6:9. I want to be clear that I agree with what God says about that. At the same time I want to say four things in relation to that:

  • I love every homosexual in the world. Period. I WILL treat them with the same dignity with which I attempt to treat thieves, which I honestly do struggle to love.
  • God loves every homosexual in the world, too, AND, more than I love them!
  • I never forget my own sin, sexual or not in nature, when I am talking about some sin that is not my own personal struggle. 
  • ALL SEXUAL SIN IS SIN! Did you read that? Tell me you did. ALL of it. Every type. Every time.
Believers, we need to simply agree with God on all of it, not only those things which DON'T pertain to our individual struggle.

I am gay (1a). No joke. I "happily excited" that Jesus frees people from the bondage of sin. I am overjoyed to see the work He's done in me. I am hopeful about the more-to-come nature of our current relationship. I am full of awe of what He will do in glory!

I honestly do believe Jesus is the chain-breaker, sin-taker, saint-maker that the world needs!

I do believe He is the only hope for THIS:

"Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming." (Colossians 3:5-6 ESV)

I've set my hope on Jesus and Jesus alone.

That being said, whether I'm talking about my issues or someone else's, I believe Christ Jesus IS the answer. THAT being said, we need to put the whole discussion of immorality -- sexual and otherwise -- on the table. We need to talk about divorce, greed, gossip, etc, on and on...all of it needs to be regular and fair game. One of the faults of the American church is that we simply move from hot topic to hot topic. It makes us look small and small-minded. However, when ALL of it is ALWAYS on our minds and in our scope of introspection and preaching, no one can accuse us of being a johnny-come-lately on sin-subjects as they arise in pubic scope and discussion.