Saturday, 16 June 2012

Speak Up!

Recently, many of the western countries have been affected by serious 'equality' themed movements, e.g. abortion, homosexuality.etc. - some for the better but most, for the worse.

In the UK, the government opened a consultation, proposing to redefine marriage to accommodate 'gay marriage' on the basis of 'equal rights', when already, civil partnerships are available! A strong movement grew against this redefinition across Britain called the 'Coalition for Marriage' - this was supported by many political leaders, people of many faiths, heterosexuals and even homosexuals.

Slightly digressing, just to be clear on this issue - 'Marriage' shouldn't be redefined as it is a sacred institution whether people CHOOSE to involve God into it or not, it was intended to be between ONE MAN and ONE WOMAN, God willing, for life.
Supporting this view doesn't make you a 'homophobe'!
What does 'homophobia' mean? - It is the 'fear' or 'hatred' of homosexuals. Remember, Jesus said that 'hatred' towards a person itself is a sin as it is equivalent to murder! Besides, there is a HUGE difference between hating the sin and hating the sinner; we are called to hate homosexuality but to love homosexuals.
Homosexuality is a sin (as it is not a part of God's intended world system), just like lying, adultery and murder; thus, we ourselves, are no better (James 2:10 "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking it all.")! As much as God is love, He is also a just judge - although God loves us as we are, like one of my favorite preachers, Pastor Barry King, puts it, "He loves us too much to leave us unchanged." Yes, rights are essential however, there is a limit. On the grounds of 'equality' everything and anything under Heaven DOES NOT become permissible!

My digression has just slightly touched on one tiny example, unfortunately, the number of examples available are growing...

As a Christian what should our response be? 
Should we ignore the rise of sinfulness around us? Should we just keep laws separate from our beliefs? Should we just care about our spiritual stand and sinfulness?

As I pondered on the above thoughts a few days back, I came across this powerful verse - the message is clearly stated for the Christian. 

Romans 1:32 "Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them"

Woe to the aloof! 

When we know that it is a sin, we need to stand up against it. Someone on Twitter put it this way: 'When a dog's owner is attacked, the dog barks, likewise, when God's word is attacked, we need to speak up.'
It is a sin to remain silent against sinfulness! If you're aiming for popularity, do not follow what I'm writing right now as you are very well going to be hated by many. They may brand you as a 'Bible-basher', 'homophobe', 'Jesus freak', 'hater' - but who cares! Can't you bear to take just a flavor of the immense ridicule Jesus had to take. He did warn us and say we had to bear His Cross!

Proverbs 27:5 "Better is open rebuke than hidden love"

This is a calling - a general calling that applies to every Christian - yes, including you and me!

By remaining silent against sinfulness and the rise of it, we are actively allowing many to sin - thus have a share of the blame. We know where they're headed, the indisputable reality of hell, yet we do nothing to warn or help them - can't you see the lack of love!


James 5:20 "remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins"

What do I mean by 'speaking up'?

I don't literally mean taking a microphone and yelling down the road! If you have the courage and the confidence to do it, go for it! However, not all of us are gifted that way.
Thus do what you can - from wearing a catchy t-shirt, to writing to the government or taking part in forums, there are numerous options available for you to choose from. When you step out in faith, God will honor your trust and will do the rest. His word does not come back void.


Finally, as Ephesians 4:15 beautifully reminds us, we ought to '...speak the truth in love...'. The criticism we face, is generally due to hateful self-righteous rebuke - let us not forget our own flawed, imperfect selves that God has saved and is continually transforming. Grace is essential while speaking up!


Someone needs to tell this generation where they're headed. 
Someone needs to point out right from wrong. 
Someone needs to accentuate the fact that everything that makes you happy isn't right, lasting or permissible. 
Is that someone going to be you? 
If not, ask yourself, 'WHY NOT?'

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Theological Reflections on 'Inception'

Recently, we watched 'Inception', starring Leonardo DiCaprio, during our Church youth night. It took all of us by surprise, as we wondered about how this much loved secular film that confuses many, could have any relevance to Christianity. We were proved wrong.


Note: I will not be re-telling the story, as I do not wish to spoil it for those who may not have watched the movie yet. However, I might have to expose some vital parts of the movie to explain my points!

'Inception' is full of important, controversial themes that have been woven together intricately and beautifully to produce such a fast paced, thought provoking, engaging film. The themes and issues raised throughout, are important as they reflect our minds and our deepest, inner desires; there is much we all can learn and be wary of. In this post, I will be focusing on two of my favorite themes from the movie. If you haven't already watched it, I would strongly encourage you to do so.

No Regrets


This is, by far the most prominent and salient theme in 'Inception'. 'Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien' by Charles Dumont is played extensively, on many occasions throughout the film, especially just before the characters wake up from their dreams. Why? The title of the song translates into: 'No, I Have No Regrets' - this reflects their desire to live a life without regrets, something that the protagonist, Cob, earnestly longed for - something, I am sure all of us can relate to, ourselves! 
All of us are alive once, with trends like '#YOLO' (You Only Live Once) on Twitter, it is clear that the world pressurizes us to make the most of life. However, it stumbles terribly on what '...make the most of...' truly means! Making the most of life has very little to do with settling for temporary pleasures found in numerous relationships, sex, drugs or alcohol, instead it refers to living a life where we are truly joyous, truly happy and at peace naturally, not as a result of a stimulus, that leaves us feeling worse once it wears off. Moreover, these 'temporary pleasures' are not the answer, instead of escaping regrets, they bind us to more! 

To live a life without regrets, we need God. We need His grace, forgiveness and ransom. In Isaiah 43:25, God says regarding Israel: "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more." - Now that is a prodigious promise! Inevitably, we all have 'fallen short of God's glory' and are rooted firmly in sin, which with itself, has bound us to barrels of regret and guilt. Only God's grace and His blood shed, in the person of Jesus, on the Cross, can manumit us. 
We live once, make the most of this life to live a life free of guilt and shame. Instead of relying on deceiving worldly pleasures that offer very little for what they promise, seek God and His help to wipe the slate clean, to gain forgiveness and fill your heart with the joy, peace and guidance, it yearns for. Ensure that your life has a meaning and purpose, and that you don't live it selfishly but strive to love and leave a lasting, worthwhile legacy, in the lives of those around you.


Reality


Ever so often, we can be trapped by our ambitions, dreams, hopes and assumptions. We might end up believing a lie, being deceived and living in a dazed state and struggle to distinguish reality from delusion - just like Cob and the other characters in 'Inception'. For example, a person suffering from anorexia - he or she isn't able to see their real state as they're mentally accustomed to the lie they hold dear, likewise, someone who might be suffering from depression - a bit like Mal(Cob's wife), she believed the lie Cob had himself planted in her, that eventually led to her tragic peril.
Every character involved in the dreams, has their own 'Totem' - an object used to test if a person is in their own or someone else's dream. In a person's own dream, the totem will work and feel correct as they know it well.

We all need a point of focus, a totem, one that is steady and reliable at all times. The only steady point of focus, is God! He is the same, 'yesterday, today and forevermore', He 'doesn't lie', He can be trusted at all costs. When our point of focus is on God and we are driven by the desire to please and love Him, we can never go wrong. Our totem, needs to be God, we need to know our Totem well, to be able to get back to reality, establish our identity in Him and proceed, with peace, joy and satisfaction - something these characters were miserably deprived of. Unlike the characters' inanimate totems, if our totem is God, EVERY TIME we focus on Him, He will straighten our paths and relinquish clarity.


In conclusion, there are a lot of interesting themes in the film, however, I would call those 'sub-themes' as each one can be categorized into one of the two mentioned above. The above themes are absolute and universal, they are not only relatable but also teachable. 'Inception' might have been targeted at the secular world, however the themes dealt in it are far from secular; they reiterate the importance of a God centered life, free of sin and full of forgiveness and redemption through His grace alone. Like Cob and the other characters, we are flawed, inside out, searching restlessly for something that satisfies us; God still sees something in us that He can transform, He is the one we ought to turn to, to put that search to rest. 

Thursday, 7 June 2012

True Love Waits

I was listening to Kim Walker, one of my favorite worship leaders and randomly stumbled upon her blog - didn't know she had one! I read one of her posts on 'Love' and 'Singleness', she beautifully offered advice, to all the young women reading, using some exquisite, vivid imagery. Here is an extract from her article titled, 'All the single ladies!':


'Imagine that your heart is locked away behind lots and lots of gates. When a guy comes along who is interested in you, only put a little, tiny piece of yourself out there. In other words, you don't just give away your whole heart and tell him every single thing about you and in you. Just let him see a small glimpse of who you are and what you hold dear inside you. If he handles that well; if he honors it and treats it like the treasure it is, then maybe you open the first gate and let him through. With each time you put a piece of yourself out there, you see how he handles it. Does he honor and respect it? Is he kind? Does he treat it as a treasure? The moment he doesn't treat you well or handle a piece of who you are well, he doesn't get through the gate. there is only ONE man who will get through all the gates and win your heart, and he is the man who will stand at the altar and vow to love you and protect you the rest of your life. Does this make sense? By doing this, you are protecting your heart, but also allowing someone to get to know you. But not just anybody gets to know you deeply...be careful! Let a man pursue you and see where he leads.'


I cannot agree more! Adding to what Kim beautifully depicts, lock all those gates up and give God the key; let Him control who enters and who doesn't!



The world's 'normal' is 'following your heart', a Christian should know that not everything you 'feel' is permissible...your heart isn't always right, why else would Solomon write, 'Guard your heart above all else, for it is the wellspring of life' ? Something needs 'guarding',only if it is vulnerable to the environment it is in.
How do you 'guard your heart' from yielding to every desire of the flesh?


1. God First

God has instructed us to not be yoked with an unbeliever, however, sometimes, we might find ourselves drawn to someone who is just not on the same spiritual spectrum as us or who doesn't share the same passion for God as us. When we find ourselves in those situations, let us remind ourselves of Matthew 6:33 - Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you - This 'seeking' rule also applies for a potential spouse.
This is important, you've got to realize that by looking for a relationship with someone, you're viewing them as a potential spouse... Thus, if you find yourself allured to someone who doesn't share your love and passion for God, move on, no matter how hard it may be.


2. Make every thought captive in Christ

Easier said than done! I know! However, this is one of the most important measures to take to strive to live a life of purity. Give a little thought to the following quotes:

'Where the mind goes the man follows' ~ Joyce Meyer
'An idle man's brain is the devil's workshop'
'You can't stop birds flying over your head, but you can stop them from building a nest on it' ~ Billy Graham

How true! When you like someone, you're bound to think about them, A LOT! As it is, there is nothing wrong with 'thinking' about a person, however, it is certainly wrong to dwell on the thoughts and turn them into 'mental fantasies'. These can soon, turn from thoughts into actions, and before you know it, you're down a slippery slope! As they say, 'better safe than sorry', so when you catch your mind wandering and fantasizing, pray and ask God to make every thought captive in Christ.


3. No Haste!

Just because everyone around you has a boyfriend/girlfriend, doesn't mean you need one right now too! Wait for God's timing! Many Christian teens I speak to, including myself, agree that purity, in mind and body, is one of the hardest things to maintain. We are pressured to be in a relationship, but remember, don't be hasty! Your hasty response could be the result of a fleeting, temporary, infatuation - True love, grows deeper with time! Strive to preserve those special moments in life for this special one God has predestined you to be with, even your first kiss - remember, that is why the priest, at the altar says, "You may NOW kiss the bride!"
God's timing is always right, wait for Him to show, lead and guide you to 'the one'. God has already chosen someone special for you, you have to wait for Him to reveal this person to you.

God has assigned ONE MAN for ONE WOMAN - obviously, 'free-will' comes in the way, thus we have to find the right person, the ONE that God has preassigned. Don't seek to establish your identity by a relationship, you've got a God who loves you immeasurably, more than anyone on earth ever could, may your identity be rooted in Him. Hence, trust God alone, seek Him and His will first and remember (girls especially!), in the words of Kim Walker, "...you are worth the fight!"

There is a lot more that can be said on this topic, however, I am still learning, thus I'll let the experts do all the talking...

Be sure to read or listen to: Paige Omartian, KimWalker, Practical Purity for Christian Young Ladies, Moriah Peters, Every Young Woman's Battle and Jamie Grace.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

FEAR NOT!

I have recently been struggling with fear, a fear that inhibited me from sharing the gospel, I'd have a handful of tracts but will not have the guts to give it to anyone. This is a fear, I am ashamed to own-up to but, inevitably suffer from. The fear of 'rejection'. However, WHY do I fear 'rejection'? I am trying to please men!

This powerful, self-explanatory video attached below was a wake-up call, reminding me that as Christians, we are called to be fearless for God - a calling that isn't easy, a calling that we all try to dismiss or ignore, yet, a calling that is vital and determines our commitment and love for the Savior. 

We are being called to fear God not man. We are being called to rise up without fear for the sake of the gospel. We are being called to be fearless for God.

What is your response?