Monday
Sep242018

The Weekly Encourager – September 24, 2018 – Gender Bender?

I apologize in advance, for today I'm going to share thoughts on a controversial topic: homosexuality and “gender reassignment.” I know that in many circles this is politically incorrect, but sometimes as Christians we are called upon to speak the truth. Read or delete as you wish.

I start with this irrefutable fact: “God created man in His own image...male and female He created them….God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good.” - Genesis 1: 27, 31. Just let this soak in.

I'm not an expert on the topic, but here's what God says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” - I Corinthians 6: 9-11 ESV

Note that, after listing a bunch of sinful lifestyles, the Bible says, “And such were some of you.” It doesn't say, “such ARE some of you,” but “such WERE some of you,” indicating that they have changed, by God's grace. Every one of us is a sinner, so we can't judge homosexuals as being any worse than idolaters, thieves, or drunkards. We still love these people just as much. BUT, those who have met Jesus and chosen to follow Him will repent of evil and try to reform bad habits with the help of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we slip and fall into old patterns sometimes, but our hearts have been changed in a fundamental way. These sinful acts are no longer our chosen lifestyle, but aberrations we regret. The church is made up of sinners of every stripe who are not perfect, but forgiven. We have received mercy, thus we have a new desire to live righteous lives which bring glory to God. Therefore, if we have homosexual thoughts, we try not to act upon them, but direct our minds to something else. If we are alcoholics who feel like getting drunk, we step away from the bar.

I know several teenagers and young adults personally who are “identifying” as homosexuals and/or pursuing changes in gender. By the way, most of these dear children come from “good Christian homes” with parents who believe in Christ. These parents have tried to live by faith and raise their kids in the faith. I cannot begin to understand the grief of these parents, who are my dear friends. My heart goes out to you, and my prayers go up to God on your behalf. My love for you and your children remains as strong as ever.

What's happening to these young people is beyond sad. And it's just Wrong. No matter what you do to your body, you can't change your DNA. This is a scientific fact. Therefore, I cannot bring myself to call a boy “she” or a girl “he.” I could change my name to Butch S. Manly, get surgery, take hormones, act like a man, and dress like a man, but I will never BE a man inside. Every cell in my body cries out, “I am a woman.” “Gender reassignment” is ridiculous on the face of it. God gives gender assignments, not people. If you are required to pass a Spanish class and the teacher gives you the assignment to learn a certain set of Spanish verbs, you don't answer back, “No, I'd rather learn some Chinese verbs instead.” It should be obvious that the teacher gives the assignment, not the student. Our job as students is to do the work to get comfortable with those verbs, to practice and become fluent in the assigned language, whether it's our first choice or not.

The underlying problem here is not the child's gender, but the overall unhappiness with his/her life in a sinful world. Most often, the person seeking a gender change is depressed and not getting help for it. The person believes that changing gender will be the solution to his/her problems. Often, the child is going through the typical “I don't fit in” feelings of youth. They struggle with perfectly normal feelings of not belonging, being rejected by peers, etc. As parents, teachers, mentors, coaches, relatives, and friends, our role is to help these struggling children to navigate the difficult phases of growing up. At the risk of being overly simplistic, we do this by providing unconditional love along with positive male and female role models. We must foster an environment where the child feels safe and accepted, loved and listened to. We must help the child find his/her God-given gifts, so that he/she can feel the satisfaction of doing something well, finding some place to fit in. We also must provide age-appropriate rules and boundaries, with firm discipline when necessary. We get pastoral or professional help when needed. No matter what our fallen world says, we never let the child set his own agenda. That is a fool rearing a fool.

I am reminded of a young boy I know, who got up early one Saturday and ate an entire box of a dozen donuts himself. His parents awoke in time to see their son vomit up the sugary treats. I assure you that if he had asked first if he could eat a dozen donuts in one sitting, his parents would have refused. A parent is given the responsibility of helping the child distinguish between Want and Need. Train the child in the right way to go, so he/she can make healthy choices later. We can't give a child everything a child wants, but we try to give everything a child needs.

Our role is to help these sad children to find Jesus, for He alone holds the answers. He alone can give meaning to life, ease real suffering, and bring joy to troubled hearts. Even if a child asks for a stone (thinking it to be a box of donuts), good parents will give him nourishing whole-grain bread. As the Proverbs say, there is a way which looks appealing to a person, but it leads to death. Remember Adam and Eve, the original disobedient children. Trying to become the opposite sex is like eating a bad apple full of worms or a box of donuts which will make you vomit over and over. Eating a stone will only drag you down further. Suicide rates are twenty times greater in people who have artificially “re-assigned” their gender through surgery.

Sometimes it's an issue of authority. Remember that we have been given the sacred duty to supervise and superintend our kids' growing years. We must cultivate healthy relationships with the children God has placed in our lives, so that they are able to confide in us. We are wiser than they. We try to cultivate good sense and emotional awareness, so that they can make wise decisions as they mature. We must build trust. We must build faith. We must affirm, encourage, and celebrate the gender God chose for them.

What if it's too late? If you are a parent, this situation may not be your fault, but a result of living in a broken world. It's never too late to change your relationship with your child. Get godly help. For your child, this may not be his/her fault, but a result of living in a broken world. It's never too late for God to change a heart. Get godly help.

In any case, keep on praying, for God is faithful. Keep on loving the person, no matter what, yet speak Biblical truth and maintain boundaries. Refuse to call good evil and evil good. Truth is a part of love. Maintain your integrity, finding your strength in the Lord, who is our only Rock. Stay close to the Lord, His word, and His people. These are the same things we all must do to fight our daily battles. Stand firm! God is more than able to overcome any problem, to forgive any sin, to reach any reprobate. “They who trust Him wholly, find Him wholly true.” - Frances R. Havergal.

Have hope! Remember that love covers a multitude of sins. Above all, do not hate sinners, but love them to Christ.

God is faithful,
j

For further reading: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/06/15145/

 

 

Wednesday
Sep052018

The Weekly Encourager – September 5, 2018 – God's Timing is Perfect

It's been a long time since I've posted here, but today I have some encouragement that needs to be shared. After all, the Scriptures remind us to tell others what God has done.

I mentioned a while back that my husband Dave lost his job last Thanksgiving. Due to a change in management at that company, Dave's department was mostly eliminated. This was bad news: a 61-year-old white male losing his job right before the holidays, with no guarantee that he'd ever get a similar position again. Although he was not excited about it, that was the job that Dave had planned to do until retirement. But God had other plans.

Of course no one was hiring during the holidays, so Dave ended up out of work for four months in total. During that time he kept a daily job journal and spent a fair amount of time in God's Word, prayer, and self-examination. What a wonderful opportunity to reboot his life! It was a time of spiritual growth. One of the fruits of this time was the decision to make a major life change via bariatric surgery. Thus he began the long process of preparation and paperwork. It's important to note that if he had not been laid off, he would not have had time or energy for all this.

Meanwhile, he accepted a temporary job for six months with low pay and no benefits. As the six months were ending, the employer was impressed with his work and broadened the scope of the project, asking Dave to renew for another six months. Dave reluctantly agreed, but told them that, after that additional period, he would seek something more commensurate with his abilities and experience. A week later they called him to say that they had created a new position for him! This would be a permanent job with more appropriate salary and some benefits, too.

In answer to our prayers, Dave was approved for the surgery under COBRA and was able to schedule it just at the end of the first six-month contract! Therefore, he had two weeks of (unpaid) recovery time before beginning his new permanent role. God is so good!

The surgery went well, with lots of prayer support from many Christian friends. Yesterday, Dave had his two-week follow-up appointments, and the doctors were very pleased with his progress. He's healing well and feeling well! Yay! I've been so impressed with his dedication to the new program of healthy diet and exercise. He's lost 35 pounds since the spring, his blood sugar is in the normal range, and he looks much better. We even took a two-day getaway together.

After the doctor visits yesterday, he took the metro downtown to begin the new job. Interesting note: our new medical insurance does NOT COVER bariatric surgery, so it's a good thing he had it done while still on COBRA. We are so grateful for the job loss last November that led to this chain of events. God's timing is perfect.

These verses from Psalm 118 seem to sum up our situation now:

“The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous….
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly!
I shall not die, but I shall live and recount the deeds of the Lord.
The Lord has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death.
Open to me the gates of righteousness that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord….
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, and his steadfast love endures forever!”
- from Psalm 118 ESV

How much happier we pilgrims would be if we would just remember that everything God brings is for our good! What may look like a huge stumbling block in our way can turn out to be the hill we climb that strengthens our legs for new hikes ahead. God loves us! We shall not die, but live to tell the story! If we fall into a pit, the Lord's arm is strong enough to pull us out. God loves us with an everlasting love!  His covenant love, bought with the blood of Christ, endures forever.

Gracious Father, help us to trust in You despite huge obstacles in our path. Teach us to give thanks in all things as we walk along day by day. Remind us to share Your good deeds with others whom You have placed in our path. Fill our hearts with joy that we may sing praise to You!

God is faithful,
j

Copyright 2018 Janet A. Marney
I welcome your comments below.

 

 

Friday
Jun082018

The Weekly Encourager – June 8, 2018 – Resolve Relationships

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” - Romans 12:18 NASB

I'm featuring a guest author today, a young woman whose father just passed away. What she said really struck a chord with me because I've been struggling with a situation in which a relative has deeply hurt and betrayed me. Although I've tried to show love and respect over the years, there's an emotional distance between us. Just this week, I've been wondering whether I should call this person and try again to resolve things before it's too late. Here's what my friend wrote about her father:

Lots going through my mind and heart currently. Definitely sad that our relationship was in disrepair, and we had not spoken in years. Glad that when I did think of him (which was often) that I was able to pray for him and chose to keep moving forward, hoping that one day everything would work out. Unfortunately, pride and hurt feelings got in the way so much so that he couldn't bring himself share the news [of her father's very aggressive cancer] with me himself. It saddens my heart greatly that whatever got in the way, Dad felt he couldn't share the news with me personally.

I'm grateful for my friend who shared the awful news with me. I know first hand that wasn't easy as I had to deliver the news to my grandparents who are still going strong at 80+ years of age. Delivering bad news is the worst!

I'm thankful for voicemail as I wouldn't have had another way to contact my Dad or his wife to at least let them know I was thinking of them and praying for them. And I'm thankful that in the end my stepmother graciously called to give me the news of my father's death first hand. I know it wasn't easy for her and the worst news no matter how long you are apart!

So with all that said, no matter what kind of family crap anyone may be dealing with: anger, hurt feelings, resentment... in the end none of it is worth getting in the way of choosing to let go of the past long enough to express forgiveness and love to one another.

There's a lot I could be angry over. Many sins committed against me by my father that only Jesus and a few people close to me are aware of. The truth is hard to take sometimes and it's not always easy for others to want to hear or even try and understand. With all that's happened, what I have learned through this long process of silence is that forgiveness and love are always the key! Pride is killer and comes to naught!

Life is hard sometimes and it can be hard to forgive. Forgiveness is a choice, a daily choice in fact, regardless of past mistakes. The enemy will use old mistakes and memories to cut you up and keep you spinning in circles away from the light if we allow it. So it's imperative to stay vigilant and choose to keep forgiving and loving one another.

Love and forgiveness do NOT mean you should over look mistreatment or that it's ok to overstep boundaries. But love and forgiveness DO mean you should still care, pray for the other, do your best to leave the door open for when peace is possible so when that time comes you can work together for positive changes. And in the meantime while you wait for enough healing to happen to start taking those positive steps forward, it's always important to do self care and work on changing what you can control, yourself.

My only wish is that in the end Dad really understood my door was open and that I still cared for him. Although I did relay that long ago to him, sometimes it's hard to hear when feelings are hurt. So I hope he knew it.

I'm sad that he missed out on so much, especially his grandkids. But I know that Jesus has it all under control and His plan is perfect. So what may not be repaired here on earth, may be repaired later after life.

I will never forget how fun he was, his love of music, word play, theater, singing, our time driving in the "rolling speaker," love of sci-fi movies, Dr. Who, running and many other things! I've been able to share so may cool things with my kids because of what Dad shared with me through the years. And I am thankful he is out of pain and at peace now. I love you forever Daddy!

Is there a relationship you need to resolve? “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” - Romans 12:18 NLT

God is faithful,
j

Excerpt written by Leigh Hamlet Ingham, June 5, 2018, on Facebook. Used with permission.

 

Tuesday
Mar272018

The Weekly Encourager – March 27, 2018 – Why?

As we reflect upon Christ's journey to the Cross, may this song by Michael Card deepen our devotion. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He embodies love, mercy, and all goodness forever.
j

Why

By Michael Card

Why did it have to be a friend
Who chose to betray the Lord
Why did he use a kiss to show them
That's not what a kiss is for

Only a friend can betray a friend
A stranger has nothing to gain
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain

And why did there have to be thorny
Crown pressed upon His head
It should have been a royal one
Made of jewels and gold instead

It had to be a crown of thorns
Because in this life that we live
For all who would seek to love
A thorn is all the world has to give

And why did there have to be
A heavy cross He was made to bear
And why did they nail His feet and hands
When His love would have held Him there

It was a cross for on a cross
A thief was supposed to pay
And Jesus had come into the world
To steal every heart away

Yes, Jesus had come into the world
To steal every heart away

 

 

 

Tuesday
Mar202018

The Weekly Encourager – March 20, 2018 – Two Days Later...A Long-shot

We don't know what God is doing, but we know He is good.

If you read last week's post, you learned that my husband did not get the “perfect” job he was hoping to get on Wednesday, but we were still humbly trusting God to provide. Just two days later, on Friday, Dave got an interview for a six-month temporary job with a different organization. On his way out the door, he told me it was “a long-shot,” which the dictionary defines as “a venture or guess that has only the slightest chance of succeeding or being accurate.” After the discouraging news of 48 hours previous, he didn't want to get our hopes up. Well, guess what? The Friday interview lasted two hours, then an hour later he got the call that he was hired. “Can you start on Monday?”

Besides being good news, this whole experience brings to mind the Good News. Would you believe that a little baby born to poor parents in a stable would be able to forgive our sins? This certainly fits the definition of a long-shot! But God had a good plan. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as high as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts that your thoughts.” - Isaiah 55:8-9 The Jews of Jesus' day expected a royal Messiah who would conquer the Roman government and bring peace and prosperity. Even the most faithful believers of that time could not anticipate God's plan to save them by sending His Son to die on a cross at the hands of Roman soldiers. People wanted victory over men, but God gave victory over sin, Satan, and even death. People wanted diplomatic peace in their community, but God gave permanent peace with Him spiritually. People wanted worldly prosperity, but God gave heavenly riches beyond all measure, and for eternity. Yeah, I'd say God had a different plan, and it was far better than human minds could conceive.

Let this be an example to us. His ways are higher, so we don't always know what God is doing! I've been studying the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus' words are resonating as never before. Blessed are the poor in spirit (the humble), blessed are those who mourn (for their sin), blessed are the meek, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Do you want to know how to live as a Christian in hard times? Here it is, spoken by Jesus Himself, “Thy will be done.” True godliness cannot exist apart from a humble heart. This heart submits graciously and gratefully to whatever our Father sends, be it disappointment, tragedy, loss, poverty, or any sort of humiliation. Yes, any sort of humiliation! If we are discouraged, we need look no further than the Cross of Christ, and His humiliation on our behalf.

We don't know what God is doing. He may allow us a glimpse at times. For example, during these past four jobless months, God had a different “job” for my husband: to grow in Christ. This down time has allowed Dave to explore some issues in more depth than before. He told me that the Lord convicted him of an attitude that needed changing in order to conform to what God desires.  In a different area, Dave made an important decision because he had time to think it through. Third, Dave started a job seekers group that has been meeting here weekly to encourage and pray for one another. He was even blessed to be able to provide direct help to enable one friend to get two part-time jobs! (Both jobs were long-shots, by the way.)

We don't know what God is doing. The job that seemed a sure thing didn't come through, and the job that seemed a long-shot did. The baby that looked like a “loser” was revealed as Lord of All. Our job is not to know everything God is doing, but to be faithful in doing what we know we need to do. Our job is not to tell God what we think is best, but to humbly bend the knee to His decree. Our job is not to grumble, but to be thankful in everything.

“But I have trusted in Thy lovingkindness; my heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” - Psalm 13:5-6

God is faithful,
j

Copyright 2018 Janet A. Marney
As always, I welcome your comments below.