Terry Francis, one of the Evangelists at East Shelby, shares some of his thoughts and discoveries from studying the scriptures. Feel free to check back for new posts!
January 22: Exodus 15–17
- What was the purpose of the Song of Moses?
- How does God provide for Israel in these chapters?
January 23: Exodus 18–21
- What wise advice does Jethro give Moses?
- How many of the Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament?
January 24: Exodus 22–24
- Did the Law of Moses demand restitution when it could be paid? Find examples.
- In Exodus 24, we see Moses talks about the blood of the covenant? Where is that phrase used in the New Testament? Why?
January 25: Exodus 25–27
- What was contained in the Ark? Why?
- How were the Tabernacle and it contents transported?
January 26: Exodus 28–29
- Who were the holy garments for?
- Peter says we are a priesthood today (1 Peter 2:9). Do we wear holy garments?
January 27: Exodus 30–32
- How often did Aaron burn incense on the altar?
- Who did the golden calf represent for Israel?
January 28: Exodus 33–25
- How does Moses intercede for Israel?
- Why does Moses’ face shine when he leaves Sinai?
Today's video isn't as fine tuned as we hope to be in the future. Look past the issues we're working through and hear the message. It's a great message from the book of Genesis.
This past week a friend of mine contacted me about some website questions. He looked around our site and sent me a message. It read, “I enjoyed your ‘follow through’ article about your blog.” After revisiting the blog post, I questioned whether that was a compliment or just an excellent form of witty banter between friends.
You may ask why? After discussing my tendency to collect half-read books, half-finished projects, and good intentions I wrote the following:
This blog is one of those areas that I haven’t followed through. So in 2015, I make no promises lest I be forced into failing to keep them. But I do have a goal. My goal is to follow through more with the blog. My goal is to post every Tuesday. Oh sure… I may do more—but there are no guarantees. Here’s having a better follow through in 2015!
That was on Tuesday, January 6, 2015. Since that post there were exactly four more posts ending on Tuesday, February 10, 2015. And the final post was a piece written by someone else.
So here I sit facing the reality of another unfinished project with good intentions. My “follow through” in 2015 lasted roughly a month. And not even the opportunity of a New Year’s Resolution in 2016 revived the unfinished preacher’s blog. I had the best of intentions in 2015. But like most of us… other things got in the way. Again.
I referenced Ecclesiastes 9:10 in that original post. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might…” Obviously that was not fulfilled. The reality is that following through certain tasks is more difficult than we often realize.
So the first attempt at following through was a failed attempt. What’s the proper response? Try again. After all, “if at first you don’t succeed…”
Will this attempt last longer than a month? No one knows. Time will tell. Join me for the journey. And feel free to send a message when you see that I’ve stopped following through… again. And if you have unfinished projects and goals in your life, don’t be defeated. Try again…
Today I'm sharing an article written by Mark Roberts. The upcoming film Fifty Shades of Grey is getting much publicity. But should Christians be involved with the book or the movie? Please consider the points Mark makes...
Fifty Shades of Grey is the new runaway erotic best seller. It seems that everyone is reading it and talking about it. Within six weeks of publication, the three books in the series, Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed occupied the top three spots in USA Today’s best selling books list. Sales are more than 10 million. Facebook is full of posts about Fifty Shades. Bookstores have piles of the books in their windows, and even a place like Sam’s Club sells them. A British hotel announced they are replacing the ubiquitous Gideon Bible in their night stands with Fifty Shades of Grey. Why is Fifty Shades making such an impact in our society?
Fifty Shades has been such a smash hit because it is all about sex and smut and our culture today is obsessed with sex and smut. I have not read FS (and I won’t) but because so many are discussing it a synopsis of the plot isn’t hard to find. A young college graduate, Anastasia Steele, has an affair with a handsome young billionaire, Christopher Grey. He was abused as a child. She wants to help him, so she signs a contract giving him complete control over her. The book then details his kinky sexual desires and her giving in to them. The book explicitly details sexual bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM), including handcuffing and whipping. Of course, what should be shocking and disgusting is portrayed as a wonderfully romantic relationship where the characters fall in love and the girl ultimately rescues the boy.
Unfortunately, some argue “It’s only fantasy. It’s just make-believe. And maybe it’ll spark up our married life a little!” There is lots of talk of FS as “mommy porn” and that it can add some spice in the bedroom. Is that correct? Should you read FS? I want to argue very strongly that you should not. Here are four reasons why Christians will reject FS and other similar materials.
First, it does not present the sexual relationship as God created it or intended it. Biblically sex is God’s great gift within marriage (Gen 2:24-25). It is much more than a recreational pursuit. It is designed to bring pleasure to a husband and wife in a unique way that makes them one (Prov 5:15-20) and eliminates the desire for any other relationship outside of marriage. Within the bounds of marriage there is great freedom for a couple to discover and enjoy each other and such is good and right (read the Song of Solomon). However, such is always to be done within the context of marriage and mutual love and care for each other. The Bible also shows that the sexual relationship is often badly misused and perverted and God’s people seem to be consistently drawn away to such. Exodus 32:6 tells us that as Israel sinned with the golden calf they “rose up to play,” a reference to the perverse sexual activity that was part of idol worship in the Old Testament world. Such continued in the New Testament, a society that was saturated with sex and sexual images, including prostitutes serving in idol temples so that sexual immorality was cloaked under the guise of “worship” (see 1 Cor 6:9). Again and again, the Bible reminds God’s people that such is wrong and detrimental to the purity of passion within marriage. Yet that isn’t the message of FS. Instead there is fornication of every kind outside of marriage and before of marriage. That isn’t beautiful, romantic or endearing. It is sinful.
Second, the book destroys the beauty of the sexual relationship. What about claims that reading FS could provoke a few needed sparks in one’s marriage? Even a moment’s thought reveals what a terrible idea such is. The relationship in FS, full of BDSM and all that accompanies it, completely distorts what the sexual relationship is all about as God made it. Indeed, the books make clear that Christopher Grey wants to do these things because he has been damaged by child abuse. Who wants to learn how to spice up their marriage by taking cues from an abused person, who doesn’t care about what the Bible says, is a serial fornicator, and has no intent to treat any woman as God wants him to? How can a book like that possibly be a marriage manual for Christians? FS depicts sex as something men do to women, and that men dominate women and women crave that kind of dominance. That is a dreadful perversion of what the sexual relationship should be. We do well to remember that the marriage relationship is a mirror of Christ’s relationship with the church (Eph 5:24-25). How does BDSM possibly fit that picture? Christ does not abuse us, or seek to force us into submission because He is on some egotistical power trip. No one is humiliated as part of their service to the Lord. How then can anything like that be part of a true Christian marriage, where the husband seeks to serve the wife “as the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7) and the wife seeks to serve her husband as his helper (Gen 2:18)? While acknowledging there is freedom within the bounds of the marriage relationship there most certainly are some forms of “play” that cannot be part of a marriage bed that is “pure and undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4). Should a wife dress like a prostitute and demand payment for “services” from her husband in some kind of “role-playing fantasy?” Absolutely not, because a husband shouldn’t be fantasizing about frequenting a prostitute! Just because something is done in marriage between a husband and wife doesn’t automatically make it right. If it mimics sin and encourages wrong thinking about marriage and the sexual relationship then it doesn’t belong in a marriage that seeks to honor God and live by His standards. Understanding that means FS must not be looked upon as a “how to” guide for couples seeking to improve their marriage.
Third, FS should be avoided because the purpose of books like FS is to arouse desire. The biblical terms for that kind of sin are words like “lust,” “licentiousness,” “sensuality” and “lewdness.” All are part of the works of the flesh and are thoroughly condemned in the Bible (Gal 5:19; Romans 13:13; 2 Cor 12:21). The fact that FS is popularly termed “mommy porn” ought to tell anyone more than enough about what the book is about. It is disappointing that our culture is now so accepting of such filth. If a man was leering at a girlie magazine on a subway people would be disgusted. However, a woman two seats over can take out FS and openly read verbal smut and no one thinks anything of it. Somehow lust has become a sin only men can commit, but FS shows women can sin in this way too. Women need to ask themselves “Would I be angry to find my husband clicking on Internet pornography? Why shouldn’t he be angry to find me reading pornography?” What is more important is asking “Isn’t God displeased with me for reading pornography?”
Fourth, FS sells the lie wicked men desperately want women to believe: have sex with me before marriage and without any commitment and I will fall in love with you and we will live happily ever after. It sadly true that many men today simply want the pleasures of sex without any commitment. Unfortunately, women want commitment and so they are often willing to trade sex to try and get a commitment. Read the story of Amnon and Tamar in 2 Samuel 13. Tamar is assaulted (through no fault of her own, she does not consent), but that story fits our discussion of FS perfectly. Amnon engages in illicit and dangerous sex with Tamar (the very kind of activity FS is all about) and then is utterly uninterested in her. Sex with Tamar doesn’t lead to a beautiful and wonderful relationship where she redeems and rescues Amnon from “the darkness in his soul.” He uses her and then throws her away! Which do you think more accurately portrays real life?: a book glamorizing a sick and sinful relationship or the very word of God? How much damage will FS do to young and impressionable women who will decide they can forsake the teaching of Scripture to “help” some troubled soul, only to end up weeping and shattered like Tamar?
There is certainly more that could be added to this discussion. FS could arouse sinful curiosity. What happens when a wife (or husband) can’t get their spouse to play the kinky games found in FS? What if someone at work indicates they are willing to try? Marriages will be undermined and adultery will follow. Further, will FS open couples up to more and more sin? If reading FS spices things up what about downloading pornography? Where does that end?
FS is just more proof of the depraved nature of our society, as sin increases its stranglehold on our world. All around us people are being captured by the allure of sin. As Christians we need to know better. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4).
This article by permission from Pressing On magazine, the new e-magazine for your Kindle, iPad, iPhone or other electronic device. Go to www.PressingOnMagazine.com for more information and to subscribe.
This is a true story… I was recently drinking coffee with some of the locals when I overheard a conversation. One patron stopped by to speak to one of the guys at the table. The conversation topic was the new praise band at their church. The new band was needed because the old praise team had decided to leave and go work for another congregation.
During the discussion it was explained that the former group left because the new congregation was able to support them substantially higher—high enough that they could stop working late nights at a local establishment as the live music. The man sharing this information said if he was in the same situation he would change churches in a heartbeat.
What was interesting to me is the fact that the praise team left a Christian Church to be the new contemporary group at a Catholic Church. Let that sink in for a moment…part of the staff (I checked the old website and they are listed as the Directors of Contemporary Worship) left a Protestant church for Catholicism strictly because of the money. And the man who said he would do the same? He’s an associate pastor at the same group. Two different leaders at a local Christian church admit either through their words or actions that their faith is for sale.
What are you willing to sell out for? The reality is we can be critical and judgmental about this couple for changing their “religion” for the right price, but if we aren’t careful we can be just like them.
Jesus said that you had to renounce all that you had to be His disciple (Luke 14:25–33). You have to be willing to be sacrificed so He can live in you (Galatians 2:20). Serving God isn’t about what He can do for you. It’s not about profit. It’s not about gain. It’s not even about feeling some kind of emotional fulfillment. That’s right… we may not sell out for money but we will for an emotional high often disguised as “worship.” If we do that, are we any better than selling out for cash? It’s still putting ME at the middle of what matters most instead of GOD.
We are supposed to offer up our bodies—our lives—as a sacrifice (Romans 12:1–2). The result is that we are different. We don’t chase the highest bidder. We don’t chase the biggest rush of emotions. We don’t chase the fulfillment of the flesh. We humble ourselves before the Creator and sacrifice all of our wants and desires to be pleasing to Him.
I challenge you to take a moment of self-evaluation. What are you willing to sell out for? What is your price? Is your faith for sale? Or even worse… have you already made that transaction?