Tuesday, February 14, 2012


MASTURBATION IN A NUTSHELL Ralph Hephzy Ehiabhi (His Inextinguishable Power Hovering Over People is Life Ministries {HIPHOP is Life Ministries}.)www.hephzy.blogspot.com +234-806-5976-701, eazyraph@yahoo.com Masturbation and Lust One of the major sexual issues discussed throughout scripture is lust. Jesus condemned lust in the heart as adultery in Matthew. While most advertising, television shows, movies, magazines, and more promote lust, the New Testament describes it as a sin. Many Christians see masturbation as a form of lust, if your lust is causing you to masturbate. Matthew 5:28 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who has looked a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (NIV) Masturbation and Sex Sex is not bad. God created sex to be something beautiful, right, and pure. It is supposed to be pleasurable. Yet most Christians believe that sex is to be enjoyed in marriage between a man and a woman. Many Christians believe that sex between a married couple is the only acceptable sexual act, and masturbation takes away from it. Genesis 2:24 – “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (NIV) Proverbs 5:18-19 – “Rejoice in the wife of your youth! A loving doe, a graceful deer – may her breasts satisfy you at all times, may you ever be captivated by her love.” (NIV) 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 - "The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." (NIV) Masturbation and Self-Centeredness Another argument against masturbation is that it is a self-centered activity rather than a God-centered activity. For some Christians, there is a belief that an orgasm actually brings a person closer to God. However, a majority of Christians believe that “pleasuring oneself” is about the self rather than God. Most Christians see their faith as having a God-focus, and that every act should be a way of edifying God. Thus, if masturbation is not helping to develop a relationship with God, it is a sin. Psalm 119:35-37 – “Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statues and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.” (NIV) Onanism Onan’s name is often used synonymously with masturbation. In the scripture, Onan was supposed to dutifully sleep with his late brother’s wife to produce an offspring for his brother. However, Onan decided that he did not want to produce an offspring that would not be his, so he ejaculated on the ground. There is great debate surrounding this scripture as an argument against masturbation, because Onan did not actually masturbate. He did actually have sex with his brother’s wife. The act he committed is actually called “coitus interruptus.” Yet, Christians who use this scripture refer to the self-pollution of Onan as an argument against the act of masturbation. Genesis 38:8-10 – “Then Judah said to Onan, ‘Lie with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother.’ But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother’s wife he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so he put him to death also.” (NIV) Be Your Own Master Remember, you need to master your behavior, or else sin will master it for you. Even a good thing can become sinful without the right heart. Even if you don’t believe that masturbation is a sin, if it is controlling you then it is a sin. 1 Corinthians 6:12 – “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’ – but I will not be mastered by anything.” (NIV) Even though these scriptures are used as an argument against masturbation, they do not necessarily make masturbation as a sin very clear. Yet, it is important that a person look at the reasons for masturbation to see if the desire behind the act is actually a sin. Some Christians believe that, because masturbation does not hurt others, it is not a sin. However, other Christians ask a person to look deeper within to see if masturbation is building a relationship with God or taking away from it.

Masturbation: A Sin for Christians?

Masturbation: A Sin for Christians? Ralph Hephzy Ehiabhi (His Inextinguishable Power Hovering Over People is Life Ministries {HIPHOP is Life Ministries}.)www.hephzy.blogspot.com +234-806-5976-701, eazyraph@yahoo.com ___________________________________ WARNING::::: THIS IS A DEBATE as such facts will be played with An answer to the oft-asked question of if masturbation is a sin for believers in Christ Jesus, and what the scriptures teach concerning it. 1Cor 4:6 (Wey) .. in order to teach you by our example what those words mean, which say, "Nothing beyond what is written!"... The Scripture is strangely silent about this universal issue, while not shy about all sorts of other sexual situations and perversions... in great detail concerning sex with animals, etc. Yet the Bible says nothing about masturbation. This is odd, don't you think? Some, mistakenly, cite Onan in Gen 38:9 as suggesting that masturbation is a sin. In fact, "onanism" has become a synonym for masturbation. In fact, there is no place in scripture where masturbation is even mentioned. This is a very odd situation since it is so common a human experience, and given that scripture speaks of other sexual sins (some fairly perverse and rare) without any shyness at all. But since you asked, or clicked, as the case may be, we will give you the best answer we can using what we do know from scripture as our guide. We should stick to emphasizing the things God has told us are important, and not be teaching things that the Lord has never expressed His opinion on. To be sure, it is clear from Scripture that illicit sexual fantasies are forbidden, and this is a significant issue with masturbation. Matt 5:28-29 (NIV) [Jesus:] "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." I hope this is clear. Were it not for our perverted imaginations and lustful sense of expectation, our bodies would not cause us much trouble. It is our minds and hearts that need "treatment". It is like rev-ing an engine near red-line at every traffic signal, and all the time it is running, and then complaining about the eventual engine failure. Sure the thing can rev, but not all the time. It was not made for that. From Scripture, the line not to be crossed is the line of illicit imagination. And what a line! Minus the sinful fantasies, which are the fuel for most masturbation, all the fun and zest would be taken out of it. Thus, it would no longer be a topic of interest to you or anybody, any more than the act of going to the bathroom. Sex was not created for this, you can be sure. Eph 5:3 (NIV) But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Much like a person who is an Alcoholic must avoid any kind of drinking like the plague, where others can drink with moderation and without sin, the same principle applies here. So people might come to different conclusions concerning masturbation, and that is anticipated within our faith. Rom 14:12-13 (NIV) So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling-block or obstacle in your brother's way. The important thing is that we live holy before Him, and this is a matter that we should take very seriously. I assume this is why you are interested in this question, because you want to please God by avoiding any kind of sin. And when it comes to sexual sin in the thought-life, in our culture this is an easy temptation to fall into. So care and caution are appropriate as we consider these things and make choices before the Lord. 1Th 4:2-8 (NIV) For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God... For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. Can you, in all honesty, masturbate without sinning against the clear commands of Christ? If yes, then we are never told that the act itself is impure or forbidden. But let us be honest and admit that it is not so easy to do if we are committed to avoid mental sexual sin. In our society, where lust is in the air, how is it is possible to "learn to control our bodies in a way that is holy and honorable"? Well, the answer is that we can die. Really, spiritually. This is The Gospel as we have received it. John 8:32 (NIV) "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Here is the specific Scripture that set me free, when it finally dawned on me what it meant: 1 Peter 4:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. Think about the radical nature of the spiritual dynamic of what is being explained here. If you are really the recipient of the HOLY Spirit, then this means PAIN in a physical body that lives in this carnal world. If you get this right in your attitude, God says you will be "done with sin". Awesome, eh? The problem is that we want relief, and sin is the way. But if we agree in advance that the way of the faith must inevitably involve suffering, then we are truly living the gospel and have transferred out of the power of evil and into God's will. I pray that through what we do know, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, that you will be able to conduct yourself in purity and wisdom concerning this matter. Ro 6:13 (NIV) Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. Luke 14:28 (NIV) "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'" 1 Peter 4:1-2 (Wey) Since, then, Christ suffered in the flesh, you also must arm yourselves with a determination to do the same--because he who has suffered in the flesh has done with sin--that in the future you may spend the rest of your earthly lives, governed not by human passions, but by the will of God. SOLUTIONS FOR MASTURBATERS Christine O’Donnell, the 2010 Republican senate nominee from Delaware, was on a crusade during the 90s to stamp out masturbation. Here's what she said about it. The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. So you can't masturbate without lust. And I think she's right about that. You can't masturbate without lust. (Go ahead and give it a try.) And Jesus said that whoever lusts commits adultery. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28 So there you go. Masturbation is adultery. Now the Bible is clear on what we should do with adulterers (masturbaters). And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. Leviticus 20:10 So whether you commit adultery with another man's wife or you commit adultery with your own hand, it's all the same to God, Christine O'Donnell, and the Republican Tea Party. You shall surely be put to death. But there is a way out, if you're man (or woman) enough to do it. Don't commit adultery with your hand; cut if off instead. If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Matthew 5:30 When you consider the options, it makes a lot of sense. Masturbation is adultery, adulterers must be executed, and God tortures dead masturbaters forever in hell. So the next time you're tempted to commit adultery with your own hand, take Jesus and Christine O'Donnell's advice. Cut it off instead (hand, eye, whatever). Or do as Stephen Colbert suggests and marry your hand!

Victims of Assumicide: What to Do When You Are Misunderstood

Victims of Assumicide: What to Do When You Are Misunderstood Ralph Hephzy Ehiabhi (His Inextinguishable Power Hovering Over People is Life Ministries {HIPHOP is Life Ministries}.)www.hephzy.blogspot.com +234-806-5976-701, eazyraph@yahoo.com Text: 2 Corinthians 1:12-2:4 Are you guilty of Assumicide? That's a word I discovered this week. It's what happens when you make false assumptions about others so that you can portray them in the worst possible light. Michael Andrus says we do this all the time: We are so prone to be suspicious. When we become offended or hurt, we immediately begin to look for evidence that someone did us wrong. I can't tell you how many times I have done that in my marriage or in my parenting. But I can tell you how many times it's been done to me; I keep track of those things. I'm being a bit facetious, but not much. It's really amazing to me how often I am quick to assume that someone has it in for me. Assumicide leads to the death of relationships because we end up believing the worst about others. We've all been guilty of drawing wrong conclusions on the basis of tiny scraps of evidence: He didn't call back so he must not want to talk to me. I think she's trying to ignore me. They never hire people like me. That church is so unfriendly. How could he be a Christian and act like that? I saw her in a bar. She must have a drinking problem. I'll bet they are sleeping together. He's probably a jerk at home too. I don't like him. I don't know why. I just don't like him. She's full of herself. You can't trust someone who dresses like that. He's a hypocrite. On the other hand, if you are the victim of assumicide, it's very hard to fight back against false assumptions. Few things hurt more than being misunderstood by our close friends. The closer they are to us, the greater the pain. When that happens we discover a lot about ourselves. How we respond when we've been misunderstood tells a great deal about the depth of our Christian faith. We've all been guilty of drawing wrong conclusions on the basis of tiny scraps of evidence. Our passage brings us face to face with a strange situation that at first glance doesn't seem like it should be a big deal. The apostle Paul found himself in trouble with a church he had founded in the Greek seaport of Corinth. From Acts 18:1-18 we know that he spent 18 months in Corinth winning people to Christ and establishing the church. After he left a faction arose in the congregation that questioned his leadership. They challenged his authority, insinuated that he wasn't a "real" apostle, attacked his character, and accused him of using the Corinthian church for his own gain. The troublemakers succeeded in turning most of the church against him. And their chief complaint was this. Paul couldn't be trusted because he had changed his travel plans - not once but twice. He hadn't come back to visit the Corinthians as he said he would. That proved he was a fickle man whose character and message could not be trusted. Just remember this. It started over something small. That's how it usually happens. Someone didn't greet us in the hallway, they didn't answer our email, they didn't invite us to their party, they didn't show up for an appointment. Or we heard they said something negative about us. Or they didn't laugh at our jokes. Or they suddenly seem cold when they used to be glad to see us. Little things. Small stuff. Petty complaints. From a tiny spark of discontent a mighty flame of unhappiness grows. That flame soon becomes a wildfire that threatens to destroy a relationship. Congregations have split and friendships have ended over things that started very small but grew all out of proportion. Let's check out this passage to see how Paul responded to a misunderstanding that threatened to destroy a friendship and a local church. Our Actions May Be Questioned From a careful reading of 1 and 2 Corinthians it appears that Paul made three different decisions about his trip to Corinth: 1. He planned to go to Macedonia and then to Corinth. We find that in 1 Corinthians 16:5-7. He plans to pass through Macedonia and hopes to spend the winter with them in Corinth. He doesn't want it to be a brief visit but a longer time so that he can minister to them. He qualifies it all by saying "if the Lord permits"(1 Corinthians 16:7). But that trip never took place. 2. He later planned to go to Corinth, then to Macedonia, and then back to Corinth. He mentions this in 2 Corinthians 1:15-16. "I planned to visit you first so that you might benefit twice" (v. 15). 3. Finally, he decided to postpone his trip altogether. "I decided that I would not bring you grief with another painful visit" (2 Corinthians 2:1). What's going on here? That question is hard to answer because we don't have all the details regarding the trouble that threatened to overwhelm the church in Corinth. But this much is clear. Paul's opponents used his changing plans as a way to attack his credibility. "See, you can't trust him. He calls himself an apostle, he says he's coming but he never shows up." Well, that is a problem, isn't it? Keeping your word is hugely important for all us, but especially for spiritual leaders. It's all about integrity, consistency, proving yourself trustworthy, showing up on time, and doing what you said you would do. If people feel like they can't count on you, how will they ever listen to what you have to say? Paul's answer comes in three parts: 1. My conscience is clear (v. 12). 2. I haven't hidden anything from you (v. 12). 3. I haven't tried to deceive you (v. 13). In his comments on this passage, William Barclay says we might add a new beatitude to the list: "Blessed is the man who has nothing to hide." Sometimes all you can do is to simply speak the truth about your own heart. If that's not enough, talking for hours isn't likely to make a difference. In times of trouble I have often prayed this way, "Lord, let your will be done and let the truth come out." That prayer satisfies the heart because it is a prayer for God's will to be done, not my will. I usually have an idea of how I think things should work out, but my ideas do not equal God's will. So in praying that prayer, I am implicitly admitting that my understand is flawed, that I see things from my point of view, and that God's will is very likely to be different from my own perception. And it's a prayer that God will bring the truth out by any means he chooses. Our Words May Be Twisted Paul doesn't try to hide his change of plans. It's true that he had changed his mind several times, but whether or not the Corinthians could understand it, his only concern was for their welfare ("Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm" 2 Corinthians 1:24). He wanted to come and see them but only if his visit would bring about healing and spiritual growth. But what about the charge that he is inconsistent? Did he just say "Yes, yes" and then "No, no" just for the fun of it? (v. 17). Paul says, "Check out my message. It comes from God and he never changes. His message to us is always ‘Yes,' and we his people say ‘Amen' to all of God's promises." Everything God promises will come true. As D. L. Moody said, "God never made a promise that was too good to come true." Look at the amazing things God has done for us in Christ. 1. He anointed us (v. 21). 2. He sealed us (v. 22). 3. He gave the Holy Spirit as a deposit (v. 22). He did this so that we might stand firm in Christ, never wavering, never blown away by the winds of adversity, never swept away by the changing tides of life. It happens that I am writing these words on a Sunday night. Two days ago Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church, a large multisite church in Dallas, underwent very serious surgery to remove a tumor from the right frontal lobe of his brain. I mention this in part because Matt is a rising star among the younger pastors in the United States. In just seven years he has led the Village Church from 150 to over 6000 in attendance. And he has done it with very strong preaching that is authentic, biblical, accessible, and drenched in the sovereignty of God. Before he went into surgery, Matt (who is only 35 years old) recorded a brief video that was played in all the services this weekend. You can watch it on the Internet. I would summarize it as a ringing statement of his confidence in God. After talking about Hebrews 11 and the life of faith with its glorious victories and its difficult trials, Matt says that he knows some people have always said, "What do you know about suffering?" But now he can speak directly to those people and say, "I am so glad he counted me worthy of this." A man in his position might lose it all. There are no guarantees for him or for any of us when we go under the surgeon's knife. Matt acknowledged that he and his wife wept and prayed together before the surgery. He has hugged his children and kissed them. And with what faith did he approach his surgery on Friday? "I get to show that he is enough. I get to praise and exalt him and make much of him." "God never made a promise that was too good to come true." He added that he would love to live to be 70 and drink coffee with his wife. He would love to walk his daughter down the aisle. He would love to see his son grow up. "But none of those things is better than him." He closed by expressing his love for the church, and then he simply said, "I am not afraid . . . My hope is that you would see that he is good in all things . . . He would never send us anything that he does not provide strength for." That's a man standing firm in Christ. That's the difference that comes from knowing Christ deeply and intimately and walking with him daily. That's exactly the sort of foundation God wants to build in the lives of all his children. What difference does it make to know all these things? It certainly matters when we face a life-changing crisis, but it matters just as much when we are misunderstood and our honorable words are twisted and our changing plans are made to appear sinister in some way. Some people will choose to misunderstand no matter what we say or do. To them we have no answer except to say, "Our conscience is clear. We have done what we could. And we rest our reputation with the Lord. We will never "stand firm" in our own strength when trouble comes our way. I've often said that "good theology will save your life," and this passage amply proves it Get to know the Lord. Make God's Word the standard for your life. Rest in his love. Revel in his righteousness. Think about his greatness. Give glory to his name. When others twist your words, do not despair. Speak the truth, explain yourself clearly, and then entrust your future with the God who knows you through and through and in Christ who has anointed you, sealed you, given you the Holy Spirit, and promised to guide you. If we trust in him, the time of chaos will pass, and we will be stronger for having gone through the struggle. Our Motives May Be Challenged. His critics thought Paul was some sort of fickle, fly-by-night preacher, the kind who is always on a power trip, a control freak who enjoys having his acolytes sing his praises. When he didn't show up when they expected him, what else could they conclude but that he didn't love them? To that Paul says, "I call God as my witness that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth" (v. 23). He stayed away so as not to have an angry confrontation. That's why he made up his mind not to make another painful visit to them (2 Corinthians 2:1). He wrote them a tough letter (apparently lost to history) in which he boldly confronted his critics. Now he says, "I said what I needed to say and I wrote what I needed to write so I won't do anything right now." Then he adds a surprising revelation of his own heart for these young believers who viewed him with suspicion: "For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you" (v. 4). As hard as it may be for some of us to hear, we can't always solve every problem in the world. Some people won't listen. Some people love to argue. Some people have already made up their minds. Some people have an answer for everything. Evidently that was the situation in Corinth. Because the church was so rent with factions, and because Paul had already sent them a very stern and painful letter, writing with tears streaming down his face, and because he knew the situation was inflamed, he decided not to come to Corinth. Talk about countercultural wisdom from the Lord. Paul knew that his personal presence in Corinth at that moment and in that situation would only make things worse. This isn't a blanket rule for every time and place. It's a principle to keep in mind. Sometimes you need to meet and hash it out. Sometimes you need to back off, give people space, give them time to think and pray and discuss, and give the Holy Spirit time to soften hearts. I'm fascinated by the way this passage ends. Speaking of the difficult letter he wrote to the Corinthian church, he says, "I wrote that letter in great anguish, with a troubled heart and many tears. I didn't want to grieve you, but I wanted to let you know how much love I have for you" (2 Corinthians 2:4). It was a hard letter that Paul didn't want to write. It was a hard letter that the Corinthians didn't want to read. But he did and they did. Here's the mind-blowing part. He wrote the letter so they would know how much he loved them. I'm not sure they "felt the love" as they read his stern words. But love must be both tough and tender. In this case, Paul's tough letter proved how much he loved them. If I shout at my son, "Watch out!" to keep him from being hit at a car, do I love him or do I hate him? I love him so much that I will risk raising my voice and scaring him in order to save his life. That's love just as much as hugging my son and saying, "I love you." Love must be both tough and tender. So now Paul decides to wait for God to work. In order not to stir up trouble, he decides not to come to Corinth at this moment. Here we see true Christian maturity at work. He has no desire to stir them up further. He only wants to share in their joy when he does come. And he does plan to visit. He says so in verse 2 ("when I do come"). But for the moment he will wait. Waiting can be hard, perhaps the hardest discipline of the Christian life. When I look back at the mistakes I've made in the ministry, many of them have come because I would not wait. Too many times I've jumped in like the proverbial bull in a china shop, trying to fix everything according to my own vision of right and wrong. This is not an argument for apathy or disinterest but rather an argument for "active waiting," which is what David meant when he said, "Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret-it leads only to evil" (Psalm 37:8). If God is God, he can be trusted to do right. But he doesn't work on my timetable. It's worth noting what Paul doesn't do in this passage: He doesn't avoid the problem. He doesn't call names. He doesn't assume motives. In short, he doesn't commit assumicide. He doesn't do to his critics what they had done to him. He simply and clearly explains himself, his change of plans, and in the process he reveals his heart to his readers. That's all any man can do in a situation like this. When I look back at the mistakes I've made in the ministry, many of them have come because I would not wait. How to Respond to Misunderstanding Let's wrap up this message with a few points of application: 1. Sometimes we will be misunderstood by our close friends. Paul clearly loved the Corinthians and knew them well. And they clearly knew him well. Yet a rift had grown between them. The same thing happens in marriage, in families, among friends and co-workers, and it certainly happens in every church. If you haven't been misunderstood lately, don't worry. It's bound to happen before long. That's part of the price of living in a fallen world. What happened to Paul happens to all of us sooner or later. 2. The best defense is an honest, clear, non-defensive explanation. Remember Joe Friday from the oldDragnet TV series? He was famous for saying, "Just the facts, Ma'am." Paul doesn't complain, doesn't blame, and doesn't point fingers. He isn't long-winded. He lays out his explanation so his readers can decide for themselves why he had not come back to Corinth. 3. We can't control how people respond to us. Rarely will our explanations convince everyone. Sometimes even our close friends will choose not to believe us. At some point we must decide to leave our reputation in God's hands and walk away from the controversy. "If you live to please people, misunderstandings will depress you; but if you live to please God, you can face misunderstandings with faith and courage" (Warren Wiersbe). 4. Pray for those who misunderstand you. In Sunday School recently our teacher exhorted us about reaching out to the "lepers" around us, the people who cause us difficulty or pain, the folks we normally avoid as much as possible. Then he asked, "Who are the lepers in your life?" An uncomfortable silence filled the room. No one wanted to answer that question. Finally a man spoke up and said there were some people he found it difficult to be around. Referring to the call to reach out to the "lepers," he commented, "That's good preaching but hard living." Very true. It's easy to say "Love the people who misunderstand you," it's hard to put it into practice. But we must do it anyway. 5. We must not return evil for evil. This is also hard, especially when your motives are repeatedly attacked. But in this we are to be like our Lord who when he was reviled did not return evil for evil. When he faced the shouting crowd, he did not trade insults, he did not try to get even, and he did not make accusations. I submit to you that this is not a natural way to live. When we are insulted, our natural inclination is to return an insult for an insult. But Jesus chose another way. As the old spiritual puts it, "He never said a mumblin' word." "As a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth"(Isaiah 53:7). When he stood before Pilate and Herod, and when he faced the jeering mob, he uttered no insults, he made no threats. When they swore at Jesus, he didn't swear back. When they scourged him, he didn't retaliate. When the soldiers pushed the crown of thorns on his head, he didn't curse at them. When they drove the nails in his hands and feet, he didn't threaten them. When the bystanders spat at him, he didn't spit back. When they swore at him, he didn't swear back. This will happen to you too. And that's the real test of your faith. You find out what you really believe when others mistreat you. Sometimes the real test of your faith is what you don't do. Sometimes you'll be a better Christian by not saying anything at all. What was his secret? How did he do it? The answer lies in the final phrase of 1 Peter 2:23, "He entrusted himself to him who judges justly." In our day we hear lots of talk about claiming our rights. That spirit comes into the church and we hear people getting angry and saying, "How dare you trample on my rights?" Most of our problems stem from claiming our rights. But the Bible turns that upside down. You aren't to think of your rights first. You are to think of others first. When you are misunderstood, repeat these four sentences: It's not about me. It's not about now. It's all about God. It's all about eternity. As you read these words, I encourage you to stop right now and say those four sentences out loud. Write them down on a card, and put the card where you can see it. Try repeating those sentences every day for a week so that the truth will be tattooed on your soul. The followers of Jesus will sometimes be misunderstood not only by the world but by other Christians. May God give us the spirit of Jesus that we might walk in his steps.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Best short article I have read in years

Best short article I have read in years Ralph Hephzy Ehiabhi (His Inextinguishable Power Hovering Over People is Life Ministries {HIPHOP is Life Ministries}.)www.hephzy.blogspot.com +234-806-5976-701, eazyraph@yahoo.com GREAT stuff. Best article I have read in years. Read it-learn it-recite its truth to others. Concise, compelling and TRUE. Let’s get busy teaching the Word and why it matters to our friends. Does the Bible Matter In the 21st Century? By Vishal Mangalwadi Published April 13, 2011 FoxNews.com AP In his quest to change oppressive regimes in Afghanistan, President George W. Bush “Everyone desires freedom.” True. Everyone also desires a happy marriage can everyone therefore have one? Afghanistan, Iraq, Ivory Coast ought to teach secular ideologues that freedom does not flow from the barrel of a gun. Nor does it flourish in every culture. Why do most American presidents place a hand on the Bible to take the oath of office? Secular education has made that a meaningless tradition, but the tradition exists because the Bible is the secret of America’s freedom. Forget the Bible and America will go the way of the first Protestant nation – Nazi Germany. Plato saw Greek democracy first hand and condemned it as the worst of all political systems. That’s why the spread of the Greek culture, called “Hellenization,” did not stir a struggle for democracy. In AD 798, the English scholar Alcuin summed up the then European wisdom to Emperor Charlemagne: “And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness.” Indeed, the voice of a corrupt people is often the devil’s voice. The cancer at the heart of America’s political economy is cultural. This great nation was built by an ethic – a spirituality that taught citizens to work, earn, save, invest, and use their wealth to serve their neighbors. This biblical ethic has been replaced by secularism’s entitlement culture that teaches people that they have a right to this, that and the other without corresponding obligations to work, save, and serve. This new culture forces the state to take from productive citizens or borrow from other nations and spend it on man-made rights. This corruption of character is destroying the world’s greatest economy, but can democracy allow leaders to go against the voters’ voice? The people’s voice began to be honored as God’s voice only because the sixteenth century biblical Reformation began saturating the hearts and minds of the people with the Word of God. Those who prayed, “Your kingdom come, your will be done in Scotland (or England, or Holland)” found the grace to free themselves from the tyranny of men. Not just Islamic, but every culture that rejects the kingdom of God condemns itself to be ruled exclusively by sinful men. Almost everyone desires a happy marriage, but without the Bible, America cannot even define, let alone sustain marriage as one man–one woman, exclusive, and life-long relationship. The West became great because biblical monogamy harnessed sexual energy to build strong families, women, children, and men. Human history knows no force other than the Bible that has the capacity to dam sexual energy to build powerful families and nations. Indeed, no non-biblical culture has ever been able to require husbands to “love your wives” and give them the spiritual resources to do so. Vishal Mangalwadi is the author of “The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization.” (Thomas Nelson)

The Tattoo Show

The Tattoo show Ralph Hephzy Ehiabhi (His Inextinguishable Power Hovering Over People is Life Ministries {HIPHOP is Life Ministries}.)www.hephzy.blogspot.com +234-806-5976-701, eazyraph@yahoo.com What the Bible says about tattoos Some people usually ask me about Christians being tattooed. I did some research on the matter. I didn't know that there is at least one verse that uses the word, "tattoos." It turns out that the research has led me into more related issues. Here are my thoughts on the subject, for whatever they may be worth. Leviticus 19 includes the following: 27 You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. 28 You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord. (all Bible quotes are ESV. The NIV also uses "tattoo.") Anything in the Bible should be taken seriously, of course. However, we can divide the commandments in the Old Testament (OT) into three types: Cultural and Civic -- commandments for the OT Israelite culture, like commands on how to divide the land among the tribes. Ceremonial -- commandments concerning the worship of the Israelites, like commands about feasts. Most of the OT commands are of this type. Moral -- commandments for all cultures, at all times, like the commandment that husbands stay with their wives (Genesis 2:24, repeated by Jesus in Matthew 19:5). Moral commandments, though they may be stated first in the OT, are also found in the New Testament. We can't always tell which type of command was meant. They are not identified as such in the Bible. The church generally does not hold that the first two types of commandments are binding on Christians. At the Jerusalem conference, the leaders wrote as follows, when Jews felt that gentile Christians must obey the ceremonial law: Acts 15:28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29a that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Even some of the prohibitions in Acts 15:28-9 are not taken as binding by most Christians anymore. 1 Corinthians 8:8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. The Acts 15 statement was about the ceremonial law. It does not undo God's moral laws. So what about tattoos? The context seems to indicate clearly that Leviticus 19:28 is ceremonial or cultural, not a moral command. Not only is not a moral commandment, but it is probably speaking particularly of a situation involving death of a loved one, and, likely, refers to practices of the heathen neighbors of the Israelites. So why do some Christians speak out against tattoos, saying that the Bible is categorically against them? One reason may be that they don't distinguish between the three types of commandments in the OT. But, if that's true, I bet they don't preach against clipping off the edges of a beard. It is easy to confuse our own prejudices with what God commands. I can remember when that happened with not wearing wedding rings, not wearing a tie, not having your hair cut or wearing pants if you are a woman, not having a beard, or not having long hair if you are a man. Opposition to these ways of presenting oneself is and was cultural, not moral. In our own congregation, attitudes on these matters have changed, which is just as well, because they aren't based on moral commandments. No one ever went to hell just for wearing a tattoo. People go to hell because they don't believe in Christ as Savior and honor Him as Lord. Nonetheless, there are some principles that would seem to apply about tattoos, and to other choices about how we present our bodies. 1) Why are you doing this? If a tattoo is meant as a statement of rebellion against God, or our parents, or is a display of personal pride, then we shouldn't get it. 2) What is it showing? "Four-letter words," insults, anti-God statements or pictures are some of the things that should be avoided, of course. 3) How much does it cost? We need to use the money that God has given us wisely. This does not mean that we can never spend money on fixing ourselves up, or on things that we enjoy, but we should be careful, and have the right priorities. 4) Is it immodest? Is the purpose to arouse lust in others, or is it likely to do so? 5) Does it put your health at risk? 6) How will it affect other people? We can't live solely for other people, but we need to be careful that we don't drive others away from Christ, or weaken other Christians. Some groups (musicians, actors, models, motorcyclers, some African-Americans, some military personnel) might be drawn to Christ by some tattoos, whereas other groups might not. 7) Has God given you a personal conviction against this (or for it)? If so, you'd better abide by that conviction. (1 Corinthians 8 speaks about some of these things.) However, we should be careful not to expect others to live according to our personal convictions. 8) Have I promised not to do this? There are certain vows that go with joining our church -- which has no prohibition on being tattoed -- or other bodies, and promises should be kept, unless there is a more important moral principle in play that wasn't anticipated when you made the promise. 9) What's my attitude? (In this case, toward those who disagree with my opinion about something external, or who may be affected by what I might do.) My attitude must be one of love. Here's part of Mark 12, on the most important commandments: 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34a And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” I used to have plans to get a tattoo myself, but being tattooed isn't necessarily wrong for Christians. Some day, I may have a pastor, or a descendant, with a tattoo. I may have one or both of these already!