Sexuality is not identity
Sexuality Is Not Identity
What is identity? Identity is who we are. It is how we view ourselves, and how we want others to view us. Our sense of value is based on our identity.
Increasingly, we are taught at a young age that our identity is in our sexuality. The influences of friends and media encourage us to pursue sexual experiences. This focus on sexuality creates an impression in our minds that our value must be measured by our success in experiencing sexual pleasure.
Many young people today are robbed of their childhood and damaged emotionally by being pushed into sexual experiences that they are not mature enough to handle. They develop a diminished sense of self worth, and become addicted to many destructive behaviors. Girls often feel that they must dress in such a way as to attract the attention of boys. Boys often mistreat girls because they view them as objects of pleasure rather than human beings with equal value. Girls who get tired of being mistreated by boys sometimes seek pleasure in relationships with other girls. Boys who struggle to have successful relationships with girls sometimes turn to other boys. Some become confused and begin to pretend they are a different gender. Others become frustrated even with the idea of gender.
Much of the confusion we see today could be avoided if we understood a simple, yet profound truth. Sexuality is not identity.
We have become so accustomed to viewing our sexuality as our identity, that we never stop to ask ourselves why we assume this. Sex is a physical act. How could one physical act define who we are as people? That's ridiculous! Identity goes far deeper than outward appearance and physical actions. Identity is not external at all, but internal. It's not in our personality, preferences, or performance.
In refuting the idea that sexuality is identity, we will point out three self evident truths.
1. Humanity is identity
Both science and the Bible confirm that we are all descended from a common ancestor. Therefore, all of us have equal value. Our value cannot be measured by our skin color, height, facial features, mental ability, or physical ability. All of these measurements are subjective and create abuse and oppression.
We are all human, and therefore humanity is our identity. The differences between us do not reflect on our value, they make our lives more interesting. Who would want to live in a world where everyone looked, acted, thought, and spoke exactly the same?
Our weaknesses do not diminish our value at all. Instead, they provide an opportunity for us to appreciate someone else's strength. Weaknesses also build character, not only in those who must accept their limitations, but also in those who must learn to think about the needs of others.
When we learn to find our identity in being human, instead of our sexuality, we become free to make better choices. Often a wrong sense of identity causes us to feel compelled to make choices that damage ourselves and others.
2. Gender is design
Both science and the Bible teach us that our bodies are designed. Even those who have an evolutionary view of origin use the word "design" to describe how the different parts of our bodies work.
The human race exists today because there is a male and female gender. Gender is a design we see not only in humans, but in animals as well.
When we learn to see gender as design, rather than identity, life becomes less complex. How I feel about my gender is unimportant. My gender is a fact of nature that allows the human race to engage in the miracle of reproduction. I will be much more at peace as a person when I accept my gender as design, rather than viewing it as a subjective construct of personal identity.
3. Sexuality is purpose
Both science and the Bible remind us that the purpose of sex is reproduction. In fact, reproduction is the mechanism of evolution, so if you believe in evolution but reject the purpose of sex, you are rejecting the very mechanism to which you owe your existence.
Sexuality is purpose, and that purpose is reproduction. Sexual pleasure is not the end, sexual pleasure is the means that accomplishes the end of reproduction.
Animals have a desire to mate in order to reproduce, and human sexual desire serves the same function. If we understood this simple principle, we would make wiser choices when it comes to sexuality.
Reproduction is not a complicating factor in sex, reproduction is the primary purpose of sex. To ignore this obvious fact is to open the door to all sorts of problems in society. The reason we make poor choices in relationships is because we are focused on short term pleasure rather than long term goals.
If we view sexuality as our identity, we will view the responsibility of reproduction as the enemy, rather than the purpose of our sexual desire. On the other hand, if we accept the reality that sexuality is purpose, rather than identity, we will control our sexual desires rather than allowing them to control us.
Humanity is identity, not sexuality. This means that none of us needs to feel obligated to be involved in some type of sexual activity in order to have value.
Gender is design, not identity. This means that we can be free to be human no matter which gender we are. Since our gender is not our value, there is no need for us to wish or pretend we are another gender.
Sexuality is purpose, not identity. Since we owe the existence of the human race to sex, there is no need to view reproduction as the enemy of sexual pleasure. Instead, we should accept reproduction as the purpose of sexual pleasure, and adjust our choices to accommodate this fact of nature.
All of the teachings in the Bible about sex need to be understood within this concept of identity, design, and purpose. When we adjust our choices to fit the reality of our identity, design, and purpose, we find that biblical morality is not a burden at all.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
In the area of sexuality, as well as many other areas, we have turned to our own way, but Jesus took the punishment for our sins when he died in the cross.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
God loves you and wants you to have everlasting life. He didn't send his Son to condemn you, but to save you.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
You can call upon Jesus to save you today. He will change your heart and teach you how to live according to his design.
"Jesus, thank you for dying for me. I am a sinner, and I need forgiveness. Please forgive my sins, save me, and make me a child of God. Amen."
Written by Pastor Mark Hunter
Dells Baptist Church
Helping, or Hindering?
Navigating adult life can be tough for our young people. They are passionate about making a difference. They soak up information from the world around them like dry sponges! They develop strong opinions about trends of the day and are eager to share them, with or without fear of what others think.
At times, amidst their voicing of these opinions and beliefs, others will challenge and even criticize them openly. They then have the obstacle of opposition to overcome. They may respond in many ways, including taking to social media to share their experience. I’ve seen this sharing lead others in their life to rally to their support, and rightfully so. We should be a voice of support for our young adults.
One thing that I have observed during these times in the development of the minds of our young people is the invariable adult who makes the following (or similar) statement: “You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life!” As a father, pastor and friend to young adults, I cringe when I see that. I can understand the motive of the individual in wanting to support their loved one or friend, but it bothers me on two fundamental levels. One, it is simply not true. Two, it may be encouraging the young person to rebel against a God-given authority in their life.
Let me tackle the first issue. I realize that negativity in life is not desired. It is not fun. In many instances it may not be warranted. However, it is needed. How can we truly be a help to those around us by sharing truth, if what we are sharing isn’t actually truth? In the case that what our young person is sharing is not true, they would need to be corrected and shown the truth. In the Bible, Job shares this thought on chastening: “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:” (5:17). Solomon, the wisest man to ever live said “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:” (Proverbs 3:11) When someone takes the time to speak truth into your life, resist the urge to turn them away. Rather, examine their correction and see how it can make you better. If we do that, the writer of Hebrews tells us “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (12:11)
On the other note, we need to be cautious when encouraging our young people in their endeavors. What we mean to say to them and what we are actually saying can be two entirely different things. The statement “You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life!” can be taken as an encouragement to rebel against those who are trying to speak truth to them. This can be their parents, a godly pastor or mentor, or a loving Christian friend. If taken the wrong way, you are tearing them away from those who love them enough to help them.
Finally, I want us to consider other ways of encouraging our young people when they experience criticism. This is where you come in and join the discussion! Comment below with alternative methods or phrases that can challenge our young adults. How can we help them see the benefits of negativity? If we are successful, they can further mature into the productive adults that they want to be, and then make a lasting change in their world
Rose Hill Baptist Church
Dissect The Desires of Your Heart
Let God Shape Your Desires - Psalm 37:4,5 & I Samuel 8-10
Samuel is growing old, his sons are worthless, and the people of Israel want a new form of leadership. The Israelites have decided in their heart what type of leader they want. They want a king! A king “like all the nations” I Samuel 8:5. A man to lead them into war and triumph! This request represents a rejection of God as their King. God often allows men the freedom of choice, but not freedom from the consequences. God in his grace warns the Israelites of the consequences of an earthly king, but they will not be persuaded. They want what they want! I Samuel 8:19, “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; that we also may be like all the nations…”
What type of King will Israel get? Good looking, strong, and tall? Yes. But how about godly, wise and mature? The first coronation of the king of Israel takes place. Saul has become king. The people are jubilant and excited! I Samuel 10:24 “And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.” All the dreams and desires of Israel seem to be fulfilled through their new king. But is this truly what they wanted? Time reveals…
Although Saul had a few successful moments, his life is a complete and utter failure as king.
How did this happen? How did this joyful and exciting beginning to their Monarchy come to such a tragic end? Did God give Israel the desires of their heart? He did. Where did those desires for a King come from? From their communion and closeness to God? From them loving and treasuring the Lord above all else? Or, did those desires come from a desire to be independent of God? From doing that which was right in their own eyes?
Your delights shape your desires. To delight means to find complete satisfaction, to commune, to desire above all else. God wants to shape our desires. Psalm 37:4-5.
One of the worst things that can happen to you is for God to give you the desires of your heart, if that desire came in a time when you were not delighting in God.
Everyone has desires, wants, and ambitions. Those are not necessarily bad. But before you act upon a desire, make a decision, pursue an ambition, and go for what you want - honestly and carefully ask yourself: Where did that desire come from? Test the desires of your heart, and pursue only those that were born out of your delight in God.
Southwest Baptist Church
Church Planting Missionary to Sri Lanka
Many of the thoughts and ideas conveyed in this lesson came from a sermon preached by Bro. Sam Davison at Southwest Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, in 2003.
Living Out Your God-Given Potential
DON'T WASTE YOUR LIFE - JUDGES 13
You are young. You have potential! Potential does not guarantee success though. Potential is only a possibility: you have the capacity to become or develop into something in the future. It is something not yet achieved. No biblical character shows more potential than Samson.
The biblical author of Judges highlights the birth narrative of Samson throughout chapter thirteen. Why? I believe the author is pointing to the potential of this child. The angel of the Lord visits Manoah, and later his wife, twice. He instructs them about their son’s Nazarite vow. Samson’s Nazarite vow is unique. It is divinely imposed, unlike the normal voluntary vow. A Nazarite vow would usually be a temporary token for a period of time to show dedication to God, but Samson will have this vow from conception until death!
Don’t forget what the author highlighted in the opening verses: Manoah’s wife’s barrenness. They could not have children! So, the announcement of a child was a BIG deal. Those must have been the longest nine months of their life. Finally, Samson was born!
Judges 13:24, 25 “And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him. And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him...”
Samson’s potential is off the charts!
After reading chapter 13 of Judges you naturally would ask yourself these questions.
For the next three chapters over and over again Samson will find himself facing a tug-a-war in his heart between – living for God and living for self.
Chapter 14 Summary:
Samson is disrespectful to his parents, uncaring toward his Nazarite calling, disloyal to his own people, compromising his morals, rude to his wife, flippant with his tongue, driven by his lust and appetite.
Chapter 15 Summary:
Samson is self-centered. Although it may appear exciting, he is violating his calling. Life is all about Samson and his pleasure.
Chapter 16 Summary:
Samson treats his call like it is a game. His eyes end up plucked out, and his last days are spent grinding grain. Instead of fulfilling his life’s potential for God, it is wasted by living for himself.
You too have great potential to live a life for God. But that potential will be wasted when your life is spent on yourself. Those who refuse to embrace the special life of a Christian end up losing the blessed life. Determine, by God’s grace, to live out your fullest potential for Christ.
Southwest Baptist Church
Church Planting Missionary to Sri Lanka
How To Obtain Wisdom
When looking at this world today and the young people that are in it, one does not need to look far to see that there is a lack of wisdom. Not only in the young people that are in the world but those that are in the Church as well! This is quite sad to see the young people of today getting tossed to and fro from the beliefs and standards of this world. It is not easy to find wisdom when, even in our churches today, there is a lack of wisdom in those who are leaders in the church. Wisdom is a huge commodity in the Christian life. How might one obtain a commodity such as wisdom?
In the word of God we see that it's actually quite a simple thing to obtain. In Proverbs the wise man, Solomon, said it this way “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but the fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Pro 1:7)” The reason a lot of young people are finding it difficult to obtain wisdom is because they fail to fear the Lord the way they ought to. It's kind of hard to do so when we live in a world that encourages us to live in the moment. Not only that, but we live in a nation that does not hold highly the Word of God. These cause a lot of young people to give into the lust of the flesh which will lead to nothing but destruction.
When the Word of God says “The fear of God” it is not referring to being terrified or scared to have a relationship with Him. The word fear means to have reverence. When we, as believers, have a reverence for the things of God then we will obtain knowledge (understanding). We will never earn understanding if we are not holding God’s Word over the knowledge of the world. One must forfeit the understanding of this world to have the understanding of the Word of God. Our flesh will tend to lean to the understanding of this world, but we need to be in the Word of God in order to have the knowledge of His Word. It's more than just listening to the Word being preached; a young believer must give time for the study of the Word of God.
In the second part of this verse, we see that there is a contrast between obtaining wisdom and forfeiting wisdom. The foolish person will completely despise (disrespect) wisdom (skillfulness) and instruction (chastisement). There will be many people out in the world that will completely disrespect the stance of a young believer holding onto the Word of God. This is why it is of upmost importance that a young believer surrounds themselves with fellow believers, so that they do not put themselves in a place of compromise or discouragement. The way to have true wisdom is to have reverence for the things of God. Then, you will have the understatement (knowledge) to apply the skills (wisdom) of the Word of God to your life.
It is easier said than done to obtain this wisdom, yet it is something that is really rewarding once it is obtained. Wisdom is something that needs to be maintained as well. Once we allow the fear of God to diminish in our lives, then we are slowly giving up the wisdom that we worked so hard to obtain. As young believers it is required of us to hold the Word of God in a high regard. As soon as a believer starts going back to the indoctrination of this world they will forfeit their knowledge and wisdom to the destruction of this world. Know that it's up to you, believer. Are you going to strive for the knowledge and wisdom of the Word of God, or surrender to the knowledge and wisdom of this world?
Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.
Rose Hill Baptist Church
As with any of our posts, feel free to add to the discussion in the comment link below! Also feel free to like and share on your social media pages.
Depression in the Bible - Elijah
Despair to live, extreme exhaustion, loneliness and failure - not really phrases one would consider belonging to the great prophet Elijah, are they? Certainly, we can read Elijah's entire story in the Word of God and see that this is far from a true reflection of his life’s story. The problem is that this is how Elijah saw himself at one point in his life. Over the next several posts, I desire to show you the effects of depression as seen in some of our heroes from the Bible. Truly it is no secret that Elijah is my favorite character in the Old Testament, so I decided to start with him. I hope that you will grab your Bible and look at these great happenings with me. Let's look in 1 Kings and see this great person, Elijah, and how God helped him with depression.
Our narrative in the Bible begins with the rise of Ahab to the throne of the kingdom of Israel and his rearing of altars to Baal. God said of him in 1 Kings 16:33 that "Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him." With this great atrocity, God raises up Elijah in the next chapter (17) to stand against this wicked ruler. He begins by proclaiming God's judgment of a drought on the land. The book of James attributes this to his great prayer life (James 5:17,18). God miraculously feeds him during this time of lack, leading up to a great showdown at Mount Carmel with Jezebel the queen's prophets of Baal. God shows out in a mighty way and Elijah prays for rain to come again on the land. Through all this, we see a man that God is using in a mighty way. Then we get to chapter 19 and see that depression works its way into Elijah's life.
Jezebel is not happy and declares that she is going to kill our Bible hero. When Elijah heard this news, "...he arose, and went for his life..." (vs. 3) Next we see Elijah wishing to be alone, wishing that he would die, feeling that there was nothing left ("it is enough"), and comparing himself to others (vss. 3,4). All of these are things that we experience ourselves in times of depression. If not treated with the attention that it needs, any of us could break under the enormous pressure that life puts on us. Elijah was a success for God, God had his back. However, depression can strike anyone at any time. For Elijah, it came right after a highly visible victory, an impressive physical run (18:45,46), and a threat from a wicked woman. Elijah is down for the count, to borrow a boxing term. Many victims of depression get to this point and never recover. Let me say to you, God is not finished with you, just like He was not finished with Elijah. What He did for him, He will faithfully do for you! What did God do, you might ask?
Our perfect God provided for the entire need of Elijah's depressive episode. First, He addressed Elijah's physical need with rest, food and water. “And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.” (1 Kings 19:5-8) Elijah's body had exerted quite a bit of energy. He had depleted his physical reserve and God knew that he needed rest and nourishment. We too must not see depression as being "all in your head" as has typically been assumed by many over the years. There are physical needs that must be met. Never be afraid to consult a physician or nutritionist to help in this area of your depression. Treat your body right, then go on to the further issues that need to be addressed.
Next, we see God meet the mental needs of Elijah with a reassurance of Who God is in 1 Kings 19:11-13: “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?” God personally met with Elijah, to show him that even when man is in distress, he has a God that cares. God then corrects his faulty thinking in 19:18, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” Elijah was not alone in his service to God. He only thought that he was. He did not know what God was doing in the lives of those around him, probably because he was so busy doing what God had called him to do that he did not see others around him. While depression doesn't just affect the mind, it would be foolish for us to think that the effect on the mind is not substantive. It was enough for God to address it with Elijah, so let us not live in denial of it ourselves. We are many times guilty of what I call "stinking thinking." I have counseled many people to allow God to direct their thinking in purposeful ways, following the leading of the Word of God in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Elijah thought that he was the only one serving God, God showed him different. Elijah thought that he needed to be alone, God commanded him to anoint Elisha who would be his minister (vs. 21). Elijah thought that his life had no further purpose, God gave him work to do (vss. 15-17).
That brings me to my final point of emphasis today, what does God have for you to do? Elijah's thinking was challenged by God and he obeyed the commands God gave him. This brought healing to Elijah, making him able to be productive for God's work once again. Elijah finishes his course with faith in the God Who met him at his deepest point of need. I pray that God has met you at your point of need through this great account in the Bible. God has a work for all of us to do, He has a purpose for your life. Get your physical needs met. Let Him challenge your thinking. Seek to do His work.
As always, continue the discussion. Comment here or on Facebook. Like and share. Help others with their fight by raising awareness. Furthermore, take a minute to reflect on Elijah in 1 Kings chapters 17-19 and learn from his life.
With all God's help,
Increasing Your Faith - Comfort Zone
There are many things young believers struggle with when it comes to increasing their faith. The subject that is going to be addressed in this Increasing Your Faith series is going to be the subject of taking steps out of your comfort zone. I believe this is an issue that each believer struggles with somewhere in their lives. Whether it be with their finances, helping out in the church, witnessing to coworkers, or just the struggles of every day. I truly believe that Christians will oftentimes struggle with issues they don't understand how they will be resolved. It is easy for us to begin to worry about an issue that is completely out of our hands.
Christians will allow emotions to get the best of them in tough issues then allow worry will to seep in. When we allow ourselves to worry, it boils down to a lack of faith in our God. The Bible in Philippians 4:6-7 states “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The word careful here means to be anxious. Therefore, Paul is telling the people to worry for nothing but just seek God through prayer and He will give the peace that passes all understanding.
Believers, did you know that God still wants us not to be anxious about things but just depend on Him to give you the peace? Even through times that are uncomfortable for you, God will give you the peace. If you are struggling with finances, pray to God and give anyway. If you are going through financial difficulties, don't stop giving your offering. There is no faith in that. However, by giving and seeking the Lord, you will be given the peace that passes all understanding.
Perhaps as far as finances go, you have already decided to trust in God. Maybe the way you need to increase your faith in stepping out of your comfort zone is by being a Sunday school teacher/ helper. The Spirit has been working in your heart to do this but yet you are coming up with every excuse in the book to why you are not capable of doing it. Living life like that, you will never see God’s true power. Can you just imagine if God allow Moses’ excuses to stop him from doing His will? Moses was given a couple of signs that God was going to be with Him and that he was capable of doing wonderful things through him.
You are maybe thinking that if God gave you signs as he did for Moses than you would know that you could do something great. Well, that is not going to happen, but why can't the Word of God be enough for you? If the Holy Spirit is already speaking to you, shouldn't that be enough of a sign? The Bible says in II Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight:” God does not want us to walk by sight but to walk by faith. Stop waiting for God to write His will in the clouds for you. Sometimes you just need to listen to the His still small voice and allow that to lead you into action.
There are too many Christian believers on the sidelines when they should be standing in the gap. Often times, we will limit ourselves by our comfort zone. Whenever there is something that is a bit uncomfortable for us or we are unsure of success, we will typically shy away from opportunities that God is trying to use as an to help us grow. We lack faith; therefore, we will fail to seize the opportunity. We fail to recognize that this was a time we could have increased our faith. By forfeiting a time to minister because we are afraid to push and stretch our comfort zones, we then are giving a foothold for the devil. Each step towards Christ in an unfamiliar territory is a step of faith and true dependence on God. Allow the Holy Spirit to have complete reign in your life, in your finances, getting involved in your church, witnessing, and your business affairs.
A Post by Robert Reyes
Increasing Your Faith - Contentment
In the Christian life faith is one of the greatest characteristic traits a believer should have, if not the best. It is in faith alone in how a person receives salvation. However, though salvation is a great thing to have and without a shadow of a doubt it is the best decision a person can make in their life, a believer’s faith should not stop after salvation. The Bible says “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). When developing this new faith/belief/trust in Christ, we need to allow our old sins and selfishness to pass away and be born of the new things in life, which are the things of Christ. However, faith is something that a believer will never fully grow to their full capacity. We need to constantly increase our faith in our Lord. How can a Christian continue to grow in their faith?
Believers must learn to be content. In today’s society this may seem like a foreign concept to most people. This may be because there are always people in pop culture that will tell you that you cannot be happy unless you have: the trendiest clothes, the new iPhone, nice cars, and the latest video game consoles. But let's really think about this. If someone really did obtain these items and luxuries, would they actually be happy? The answer is no because this kind of mindset will make you just want more after you obtain the things you wanted. There is not a light at the end of the tunnel that is called selfishness. Christians need to learn to be happy with that which God has already blessed them with.
One portion of Scripture that really speaks out to me when being content is found in the book of Philippians. The Apostle Paul was talking to the Church at Philippi and he was talking about how blessed he was to have his relationship restored because they were a big encouragement to him by sending him things and sending him Epaphroditus. During the time of no communication we see some of the struggles Paul went through during that time.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:11-13)
Paul explains to the church that he was thankful for the restoration of relationship not because he wanted anything from them. Paul desired nothing but to see the Lord’s fruit in their life. Read the remaining of the Chapter to see for yourself. Through Paul losing all communication with those in whom he loved, he learned to be content no matter what his circumstances were. He was content whether he was abased (depressed/humiliated) or abound (to be in excess), full or hungry, abound or suffering need (to lack). Paul had experienced some really hard times in his life: he had been beaten three times, shipwrecked, and even stoned. Not only that, but he had a thorn in his flesh that God said he was not going to get rid of. Despite these facts, Paul had seen great high points in his life: outreach to the Gentiles, and the salvation of the Philippian jailer.
The Apostle knew how it felt to be full and how it was to be hungry. He had felt many times the energy that proper nourishment gave him physically. He also knew the struggles of being starved and physically weak. He learned how it was to have all his needs met and he knew how it was to suffer basic necessity. But we see that Paul did not depend on the basic commodities to keep him content. If he was depending on those things, then during the times he was abased, hungered, and suffered need he would not have been content. In the Scripture, we see Paul’s contentment comes from the strength of the Lord. Christian, I tell you that you can access the same contentment that Paul had by just depending on God’s strength. Stop worrying about things that you wish that you had. Just be thankful for all that God has blessed you with.
Over the next several weeks we are going to keep tackling this topic of increasing your faith. It starts with learning to be content in that which the Lord has already given us. The world wants what they do not have and when they get what they want, they continually want something different. Christians ought to be thankful for that which we have. Stop looking at what we do not have and be content with what the Lord is allowing us to have. Just by being content, you will develop a new depth to your faith.
Is. It. Real?
Is. It. Real?
Raising Awareness for Depression
Is depression real? Just asking this question will stir up strong emotions in the hearts of many who will read this post. If you will give me a chance, over the next several weeks I would like to share my heart on this matter. My goal with this first post is not to answer all the questions concerning depression or to provide a cure for depression. I believe that I can help with this matter, but first I hope to spend this time to raise a little awareness.
Let us start with awareness…
Among the authorities
Depression is defined by Webster as “a sinking of the spirits; dejection; a state of sadness; want of courage or animation.” Modern psychiatry offers the following: “Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. ... Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.”(1) Webmd states that clinical depression is “when intense sadness -- including feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless -- lasts for many days to weeks and keeps you from living your life.”(2) Also, simply put by Wikipedia, depression is “a state of low mood and aversion to activity.”(3) Finally, the Bible uses the terms “sorrow of heart,” “sorrow of mind,” “worldly sorrow,” “overmuch sorrow,” “heaviness,” or “careful” when speaking of depression.
Now let us look at awareness…
Among young people
According to cbn.com, 9 out of 10 adolescents have periods of depression that last at least two weeks and often go untreated and ignored. Crosswalk.com stated that "the rate of teenage depression is at an all time high. ... the general incidence of suicide ... has tripled among young people ages 15 to 24." They go on to state that the "causes of depression and anxiety can range from a genetic predisposition to a variety of illnesses. And, a pop culture filled with empty messages of 'love em and leave em', a devaluation of human life, the fact that 40 percent of children live in a broken home and an emphasis on materialism is enough to make even the healthiest child wonder if his/her life really matters." We cannot bury our heads in the sand. This is a real problem in the lives of those who need us the most, our youth.
See also awareness…
Among leaders in faith & history
In the Christian headlines of late, we are seeing a regular stream of church leaders who are struggling with depression and even many who are attempting suicide as a release from the enormous weight that depression has caused. Is this new? I say not. Leaders of the past have suffered from this condition as well. It was said that Spurgeon was never the same following a great tragedy where, at his church, seven were killed and many others were wounded. His wife, Susannah, wrote, “My beloved’s anguish was so deep and violent, that reason seemed to totter in her throne, and we sometimes feared that he would never preach again.” Later, it would be physical ailments that added to his bouts of depression.(4) The following has been said about Lincoln: “Lincoln resorted to humor when he needed to resolve the gloom. Aware that his storytelling and joking were essential to his mental balance. He once told his law partner Herndon "if it were not for these stories-jokes-jests I should die: they give vent-are the vents of my moods and gloom."(5) We will talk at a later time about how these men were able to cope with their symptoms.
Among the hero’s of the Scripture
In the pages of Scripture we see some of the great men of the Bible, battling with sorrow, wishing they had never been born! Elijah, after a great victory on Mt. Carmel, runs from Jezebel and wishes for God to kill him.(6) Job, during his great trial and the accusations of his friends, wishes that he had died at birth.(7) David went through many ups and downs in his ascent to the throne and his sin with Bathsheba. Many of the prophets were severely distressed as they endured persecution and the testing of God for His people. Even Paul experienced much “heaviness of heart” in his yearning for Israel to accept Christ.(8) There is much to be learned from the Word of God that can help us combat this epidemic, but we will save that for another post.
Do you, or someone you know have prolonged periods of sadness? If so, I think that you could answer our opening question affirmatively. Depression is real. It affects people all around us, people from all races and genders, people from all walks of life. Let us be active in the conversation and learn more about this great plague of the mind that is stifling the growth of our loved ones. Let us be ready with an answer and available to support those who need us. Truly, it could be any of us that need the help tomorrow.
(6) 1 Kings 19:1-4
(7) Job 3:11,12
(8) Romans 9:1-5
Serving God while Single
The Importance of Singles Serving in the Church
This subject matter is something that is truly important. It is one of the reasons especially that this “chosen generation ministry” was put together. We want the college and career age people to find where they fit in the local church. Being in this category myself, I have a few things I believe that singles are completely capable in doing in our local churches today. The first thing I would like to talk about is availability. Being available is something that is important when it comes to serving in the church.
I believe that many young single people in churches today fail in making themselves available when it comes to giving their time to their local church. The question is why do young singles allow themselves not to be available to their church? There are many answers to this question. I think one of the big reasons young singles don't make themselves available is because it takes them out of their comfort zone. Nobody likes to be put in an uncomfortable position. It is natural too for people to give themselves a cop-out to avoid things that they are uncertain about. When you have this kind of mentality you never will know whose life you could touch through God. There are young singles in churches that I see having potential to do big things to God. However, they will never reach that potential if they don't get out of their comfort zone.
When I think of someone who had to get out of his comfort zone my mind goes to Moses. When God came to Moses in the burning bush, we see that Moses had doubts. In Exodus 3 we see that Moses kept coming up with excuses on why he was not adequate to do the job that God wanted him to do. We see that Moses tried to question God (Ex 3:11). He said, “Do you know who I am.” Many times, we try to get out of things because of our past. Like God is not aware of what we have done! Then we see that Moses questions the authority on who was sending him (Ex 3:13). There are times that we know God is burdening us to help more and we know that He is convicting us to do more for Him, but we often try to fight it. Moses was aware that he was having a divine meeting with God, yet he was still trying to get out of it. Lastly, we see Moses trying to say that he was not a good speaker (Ex 4:10). Again, he was talking to God. God knew all that Moses was capable of.
How many times are we like Moses when we continue to give ourselves excuses as to why we cannot do something. We all know that when Moses finally got out of his comfort zone, he was able to do something big for God. We will never know what we can do for God until we give all our doubts over to Him. When we make ourselves available, we will be able to invest in people's life, and we will be a blessing to our pastors. It always brings encouragement to a pastor when young people have the fire and willingness to get involved in the ministry. Also, it shows younger children that there will be a place for them to serve in the church as they get into the young adult age.
What are some ways that we can get involved in the ministry? This may be different for every church depending on what ministries are available. One thing that any young single can do is work around the church, such as cleaning the church. Any young single can go door knocking, help on a bus/van route, in VBS, or in a Sunday school class. Something to remember about serving in some of these areas is that we need to be sure that we have a solid relationship with God. If we are faithful to Him, we can have an opportunity to serve in these capacities and places of leadership. There is a place for all those who desire serving in the church, but we need to be willing to give our insecurities over to God. The more you allow yourself to get out of your comfort zone the more your comfort zone will expand. Allow God to expand your faith and your comfort zone at the same time!
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