Thursday, February 24, 2011

Smoking, Tattoos and Piercings 2/23/11

Tonight in random all three of these came up and the question was whether or not they are a sin.  So let’s take a look.

Smoking:  Is it a sin to smoke?  Of course one of the students brought up the fact that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and we need to take care of it. (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19)  In the first reference Paul is talking about false doctrine (teaching about God).  If you mess up the teachings about God, then you are destroying the temple of God.  In the second reference Paul was talking here about sexual sins and what we do with our body.  Although I think you could still apply the principal it’s probably not really getting to the heart of the matter.  The heart of the matter with smoking is an addiction issue.  We need to ask ourselves if we are allowing anything to control us.  Whether it be smoking or any other type of addiction this can become a form of idolatry.  When we allow something to control our lives rather than submit ourselves to God then we have allowed an idol into our lives.  So here is the proper “body as the temple” scripture to apply here – 2 Corinthians 6:15 – 17.  This is something we need to surrender to God.  Anything that we cannot surrender to God is sin.

Tattoos and Piercings:  Everyone likes to quote Leviticus 19:28 and say that the Bible says not to mark your body.  Therefore tattoos and piercings are a sin.  You can’t just make that blanket statement.  You have to look at why Leviticus gives this warning.  This scripture is condemning a practice that the heathen people used to worship their idols.  In essence the verse is saying don’t try to look like the world and the way that they worship their false gods.  Ironically this is yet again an idolatry issue.  The heart of the matter is the motive of the marking.  If you want a tattoo as some kind of status symbol or because you think it will get you acceptance with some group or it is some kind of symbol of a false god then yes that would be a sin.  If you want a tattoo cause  you think it looks nice.  Maybe you want it to be a symbol of your faith in Christ.  Possibly you want it as a reminder of something special.  These reasons are not in themselves sinful.  This is a matter of the heart that you need to take up between you and God.  There is not a blanket answer for this one.  Something else to consider is trying not to offend others or give an appearance of evil.  You need to make it a matter of prayer if you are considering a tattoo.

Just Joking?  Finally, as we were closing someone asked about yo mamma jokes and why people say them.  I’m not sure of everyone’s motives on things, but let’s remember this when it comes to things like this.  We need to be careful that our joking doesn’t go too far and hurt or offend someone (Eph 5:4; Prov 28:18-19).  The other thing to consider is when we are on the receiving end of insults that most people hurt others because they themselves are hurting.  See past the insult to the need.  Maybe that person just needs someone to reach out with the love of Christ.  See them like Jesus sees them.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Prayer and Accountability 2/16/11

Hey all it’s the first blog for Random.  This one is related to our discussion from 2/16/11.  First off, props to Erin for spending some time in prayer before going to bed.  I hope all of you have a time set aside each day to spend some time with God.  Take a little time to pray and read your Bible every day.

Questions from tonight:
When you pray should you pray specifically for what you want or should you just pray that God’s will be done?
In looking at several instances from scripture where people prayed you see that they prayed specifically for what they wanted God to do.  Abraham prayed for Sodom’s deliverance (Gen 18:23-33).  Samson asked for strength (Judges 16:28-30).  Hannah prayed for a child (1 Sam 1:10-20).  Solomon asked for wisdom (1 Kings 3:1-13).  Elijah prayed for rain (Jas 5:17).  Don’t forget the infamous prayer of Jabez for prosperity (1 Ch 4:10).  Zacharias prayed for a son (Lu 1:13).  Peter prayed for Tabitha to be restored to life (Ac 9:40).  These are just a few examples of prayers from the Bible where people prayed specifically for what they wanted God to do.

We display our faith in God by praying specifically for our need.  We show Him that we put our trust in Him.  We let Him know that we believe He can and will answer our prayer.  Why pray it if you don’t think it will be answered?  We need to be careful that we aren’t praying from a selfish heart or just trying to get rich.  I’m not saying that God will make you rich if you just ask.  He might, but He might not.  I believe that God wants to bless us just like a father would want to give good gifts to his children (Mt 7:11).  God may want to bless you, but you just haven’t asked for the right thing.  You don’t have it because you haven’t asked (Jas 4:1-3).

Finally I think we go back to the example of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane from Matthew 26:36-39.  I talked about this last night.  Jesus prayed specifically to the Father if there is any way that we can save man and I don’t have to go through this torture then let’s go with that option.  But He closes up His prayer with this, “Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine.”(NLT)  We have to have that kind of surrender to the will of God in prayer.

So the answer to the question:  Do you pray specifically for what you want God to do or do you just pray for His will to be done?  Is a resounding YES!  We pray specifically, and have a heart that trusts God for what is best for us and says, “Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine.”

Who’s fault is it for how Miley Cyrus’ life has turned out?
A student asked about a news story from this week that said Billy Ray Cyrus blames Hannah Montana for destroying his daughter’s life.  You can read the story here:  

There is a trend in today’s culture to blame everyone else for our problems.  Everyone wants to play the victim.  So who’s fault is it for the way Miley has turned out?  Well mom and dad I think you need to take a look at what you did when you were the ones making the decisions.  Did you put her in a good environment?  Did you give her the tools to succeed?  Did you instill in her morals and values?  Did you teach her how to make good decisions? 

There’s a fine line in parenting between over parenting and under parenting.  I think we only strike that balance by the grace of God.  Parenting is kind of like a handoff in football.  At one point the quarterback has 100% possession of the ball and he is in control.  As that handoff takes place there is a shared possession between quarterback and running back.  Finally once it is complete the ball is in the hands of the running back and it’s up to him what he will do with it.  That exchange is the critical moment.  That is where a fumble is most likely to occur if not done properly.  That’s the kind of thing that parents have to do.  With babies and young children parents are totally in control of all decisions.  As the child grows hopefully the parent is instilling values and morals in them and helping them to make decisions.  Through adolescence there is that shared possession where the parent is guiding some decisions and the child is also making some decisions.  Then the handoff takes place and you trust the child to make their own decisions.  The parent has to realize when the child is no longer a child and ready to make those decisions. 

Unfortunately there is not an easy defining point for each of these steps.  It’s easy to see when the QB only has the ball and when the RB only has the ball.  But during that handoff who’s to say what percentage of possession each has.  It’s a fluid motion and it’s something that is practiced over and over again to get it right.  It’s a critical point in the game to be successful.  Let me illustrate it a little further.  Imagine the following two scenarios:

1.  The ball is snapped.  The QB doesn’t even take possession of it.  It hits his hands and he just lets it drop to the ground.  He turns and looks at the RB and just expects him to pick it up and run with it.  How successful would that be on the playing field?  Someone’s losing a job.  That’s what it looks like when parents give in to the whims of their children and just let them do whatever they want.  Don’t want to hurt their fragile little psyche (did you sense the sarcasm there?)

2.  The ball is snapped.  The QB turns to make the handoff.  But as the RB goes to take possession of the ball the QB doesn’t let go.  The two of them try to run down the filed while both of them carry the football.  I think you see this doesn’t work either.  This is the parent that won’t let go and tries to make every decision for their child.  They never give them the tools to succeed on their own.

OK that’s enough for parenting 101.  I’m ready to answer the question now.  Who’s to blame?  Parents?  Disney?  Miley?  Sorry, but it’s the same answer as the first question.  This one is also a resounding YES!  Everyone has a part in this one, but there is a lesson to be learned here.

To parents:  Do your job.  This is the most important ministry God could ever entrust you with.  Raise your kids being led by God.  Pray for His direction.  Instill in them morals and values that will give them the tools to succeed once you’ve handed them the ball.  Check out Proverbs 22:6 from the New Living Translation – “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

To students:  Do your job.  Pursuing God’s best for your life is the highest calling you can achieve.  Take responsibility for your own actions.  Ezekiel 18:20 and 1 Corinthians 3:8 tell us that we are responsible for what we do.  The consequences of your choices are your own and you can’t blame anyone else.  Own it.