What’s Christians Big Deal With Gay Marriage?

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So unless you’ve been locked in a closet for the last few years, you’ve probably realized that homosexuality has become a fairly hot button topic in our country. From the recent Supreme Court ruling declaring it a right for same sex couples to marry in any state, to many people changing their avatars to rainbows on Facebook to show support, to the recent news story of Kim Davis refusing to comply with the new law, everyone seems to be talking about it and everyone seems to have an opinion.

Christians, in particular, seem to be strongly against same sex marriage and those who are for gay marriage don’t seem to understand why (and frankly it seems like a lot of Christians don’t know why they’re against it):

Here’s some of the questions I’ve heard:

  • Why do Christians follow some outdated moral code from an old book about strange fairy tales?
  • Why don’t they get up with the times? Isn’t it obvious we don’t live in the stone ages where your silly institution was started to protect ancestrally land rites?
  • Have you even read your own book? Because it seems like your just cherry picking which verses you like and don’t like.
  • The Old Testament has one verse about homosexuality in Leviticus, but you don’t follow anything else from that book so seems a bit inconstant to use that verse.
  • If gay marriage is such a big deal, why didn’t Jesus say anything about it?
  • Yeah, Paul did apparently say somethings about homosexuality, but isn’t it quite possible the idea of a committed loving consensual homosexual relationship wasn’t even known to him? Couldn’t the terms he uses for homosexuality be mistranslated do to a later bias in the reading when he was maybe originally talking about something more along the lines of pedophilia or male prostitution?
  • Jesus talked about Eunuchs born that way from birth, he actually could’ve even been referring to those born gay couldn’t he have?
  • Didn’t Jesus talk a lot about divorce, and Christians seems to get divorced a lot, why aren’t they talking about that one?

First let me give 3 reason I am NOT writing this post:

  1. I am not writing to tell those who aren’t followers of Jesus how to live. Whether or not you’re a follower of Jesus we can both agree that it won’t be me that will be judging you when you die. If you’ve felt judged and experienced hatred from other Christians for your sexuality, I apologize, Jesus said he didn’t come to condemn the world by to offer it salvation. I hope to have the same attitude but know I often fail and am judgmental towards others
  2. I am also not writing to debate the validity of the recent Supreme court ruling. If you don’t believe in my God I wouldn’t expect you to follow his morals. I’d rather focus on telling people how awesome Jesus is then to try and force those who aren’t Christians to live like one.
  3. I’m not writing to debate the above questions and tell you why your questions are dumb and show you ‘what the Bible really says’. I actually think they are good questions, (especially the divorce one. We most certainly are being giant hypocrites in that area).  I’d rather go a bit a deeper and address the fundamental beliefs that lead to differing viewpoints because otherwise we will just go round and round in a debate that goes nowhere. If we establish that then we can fire away at questions like the above getting into specifics.

Why I am writing:

Why I am writing, though, is to answer the question as to why. Why is homosexuality a big deal to Christians and why do we disagree with the majority of American’s viewpoint that a committed consensual romantic relationship between members of the same sex is morally acceptable?

My hope is that you may disagree still, but at least you’ll be able to say okay I understand why they believe what they believe.

Because, what I have mostly seen is heated debates that come down to Christians saying homosexuality is wrong because the Bible says so and you should listen to the Bible and those for same sex marriage saying well I don’t believe the Bible and your rules are outdated and don’t make any sense.  This generally turns into an argument that goes nowhere.

Okay enough of the long introduction here’s the meat of what I want to say:

The reason that Christians and the majority of Americans differ on the moral acceptability of same sex marriage is because we fundamentally have a different understanding of what the point of sex, marriage, and family is, why they exist, and what they are for.

Although I’m sure the answer to what the meaning and purpose of sex, marriage, and family would very greatly from person, if I could broadly generalize what I understand most of those supporting same sex marriage to believe, it would go something like this (and please feel free to correct me if I misrepresent your views):

  • Marriage is primarily about love and happiness and it is when 2 consenting adults decide to express their love by committing to exclusively be in a romantic relationship with one another. Robbing someone of the right to express their love to another in marriage just because they are of the same sex is cruel and imposing your preferences onto them and not much different then discriminating against another person because they are a different skin color then you.
  • Consensual sex is a way that two people can both fulfill pleasure and express love towards one another. If both people are old enough to consent and enjoy it, it is doesn’t hurt anyone else it doesn’t make any sense why this behavior should be deemed immoral or why you should care about what other people do in their own bedroom. Sex is a personal matter and each person should be free to do as they wish as long as it’s consensual.
  • Family is a place where kids are raised. The goals should be to provide a safe, loving environment where they are free to become who they want to be. Families can take all kinds of shapes and forms, the important thing is that kids are getting the above things.

(Again if you support same sex marriage and this grossly misrepresents your view on sex, marriage, or family, please feel free to let me know, I in no way shape or form mean to mock, belittle or misrepresent your views or beliefs and I’d love to better understand where you’re coming from and thank you for taking the time to read this and understand where I am coming from).

Now the conclusions of most people who support same sex marriage makes a lot of sense, in my opinion, if their foundational beliefs about sex, marriage and family are true.

However, why I as a Christian can’t fully agree with the above statements about sex, marriage and family is because I have a very different understanding of what those 3 exist for and are all about.

The meaning of life:

As a Christian, I believe the purpose of my life is to know and enjoy God and to make him known. This is true in every area of life.

The Bible says that God created us to be his image bearers. What that means is that we are created like God in a way that no other part of his creation is, and we are intended to give the rest of creation a picture of what God is like.

We work and create because God works and creates. We think, feel and act because God thinks, feels and acts. We make art and tell stories, because God is an artistic story teller creating the most magnificent or art like a beautiful sunset, the Grand Canyon, Mount Everest or Niagara Falls and telling stories through lives of peoples and rulers and civilizations.

And, most fundamentally to all of who God is, is he is a loving relational God. We are created to have a relationship with him and with each other.

Our human relationships both help us know God and help to make God known.

This is why Jesus said all of God’s instructions and laws can be summed up by this: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Relationship are (or should be) at the top of what is most important to Christians (first with God then with one another).

God’s Purpose for Creation:

One of my favorite books outside of the Bible is called From Eternity to Here By Frank Viola. In it, he tackles the question of what God’s eternal purposes were for creating the world and creating us people.

2 of the 3 reason he identifies for God’s purposes in creation are this:

1)God wanted a bride for his son
2)God wanted children for his family

Marriage and family are the 2 most important types of relationship to God then, because they are all about who He is and why he created us. Let me try and explain:

The apostles Paul wrote the following (which may sound odd and cryptic but hang with me for a bit) in his letter to the Ephesians:

This mystery [marriage] is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:32 ESV)

What he is saying here is that marriage exist to show the relationship that Jesus has with his covenant people (the church). Jesus is the husband and the church is his bride.

Through marriage we both get to reflect (you could think of that as acting out who God is) and understand who God is and how we relate to him.

You see God created us to be in a deep committed loving relationship with him like a husband and a wife. He promises to be faithful to us and asks us to be faithful to him by loving him and putting him above all else.

We however have not been faithful to our side. We rebel against Him and worship created things rather than the creator.

There’s a story in the Old Testament about a prophet named Hosea. God calls Hosea to marry a prostitute named Gomar. He tells him that Gomar is going to keep whoring herself out to other men but he wants Hosea to view as a princess and to keep loving her, chasing after her and winning her over until she will become a faithful bride to Him.

That story is about Jesus and us. We keep running away and prostituting ourselves after other gods who are not gods but he keeps loving us and pursuing us as he seeks to woo us back to him.

He wanted us as his bride so much so that he came down and took on human flesh in the person of Jesus. Yet instead of receiving him, we crucified him.

Any guy that’s asked a girl out or proposed to a girl and been turned down knows how bad rejection hurts, in fact the fear of rejection alone paralyzes a lot of us guys from even approaching girls we like. Do you know Jesus knows more than anyone the pain of that type of rejection.

Yet death couldn’t stop him, he rose from the dead and offers us forgiveness and new life in him. He offers to make us new creation, when we accept his marriage proposal we are no longer filthy prostitutes but a pure virgin bride.

Before Jesus left the earth he commanded his followers to practice something called communion where we share a meal together, break bread, and drink a cup of wine. The bread and wine remind us of his body and blood that was ahead on the cross for us. But it also represents his marriage proposal to us.

In ancient Jewish cultures if you were going to ask to marry a woman you would go the brides house after talking with her parents and offer her a glass of wine. If she accepted the glass of wine it meant she was accepting your proposal.

This is what is being referred to in this verse in Revelations:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelations 3:20

You can read more here if your curious, but the entire Jewish wedding tradition from proposal to the wedding ceremony was completely acted out by Jesus and heaven is often compared to a giant wedding banquet in the Bible.

This is why men propose to woman because it is Jesus who proposed to us in the cross, not the other way around.

I heard a pastor named Doug Wilson says that ever Saturday night he has a family dinner and asks his kids what’s the story of the Bible all about, and hey respond “kill the dragon, get the girl.”

This is why our hearts resonate so much with the great love stories about Prince Charming coming and slaying the dragging and rescuing the princess. (You didn’t realize that Zelda and Super Mario Bros were actually Christian video games did you!)

Through us God wants to tell a beautiful love story. God doesn’t want us for a one night stand, he doesn’t want us to be his friend with benefits, he doesn’t want us just while we’re both experiencing euphoric highs of romance and then we can be free to pursue someone else when that wears off, he doesn’t want us whoring ourselves out to other men, and God loves animals but isn’t offering this type of intimate relationship to them. No God is jealous for us and won’t settle for anything less than an intimate committed relationship.

This then, is why I believe all sexual relationship outside of a man and a woman in a marriage relationship is wrong, whether it be a man and a woman not married, two men or 2 woman married, polygamy, or something as perverted as bestiality, because it misrepresents who God is and how he loves us, and through it we rob ourselves of knowing him deeper.

So for Christians, marriage isn’t a right, it’s a privilege and a calling. It’s a privileged to display to the world who God is. To play out the the love story that has been in process since the beginning of creation of God wooing and winning over his bride. It’s an opportunity to know God and make him known. It’s not primarily about getting our individual needs of love and happiness met, although those things get thrown in as bonuses if we don’t let them be our main focus.

And despite how much the church has talked about sex like its something dirty and gross and exclusively for making babies, it’s actually meant to be something deeply spiritual and helps us understand the deep pleasures we have in a loving committed relationship with God. It’s meant to bring oneness and unity to a husband a wife. There’s actually an entire book in the Bible called Song of Solomon all about sex that Jewish boys weren’t even allowed to read until they were 13. So for Christians we don’t save sex for marriage because we think it’s gross we save it for marriage because we think it’s something divine that needs to be protected and used in the proper context.

Family:

Now I’ll just touch briefly on family because I talked a lot about marriage and you probably already have the gist, but to a Christian God also reveals himself to us as a father and we are his children and God wants a big family with lots of children.

This is why Christians value (or at least should) value children and large families. It’s why we believe in role distinctions in marriage. It has nothing to do with one gender being better than another it’s all about who God is and knowing him and making him known and playing our part in His epic story.

Why Then Does God Make People Have Homosexual Desires?

Okay that sounds all good and nice you might say, but why then would God create me or others to be attracted to people of the opposite sex. What kinda god would be so cruel to create people to have desires then tell them there wrong?

Well this was never his intention. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, had a choice to live by God’s life or live apart from God, sadly they listened to the lies of Satan (the dragon) and chose to live life apart from God rather than by his life. It lead the human race to be filled with all kinds of desires in us that are wrong and we as a result don’t reflect God the way we were intended too.

I never have experienced sexual attraction to another man, but I do experience desires and thoughts about woman that aren’t my wife, and before coming to Christ was a porn addict that treated woman like an object to fulfill my sexual fantasy rather than children of God. That’s just as wrong and distorts who God is as any other sexual sin.

You can think of sin kinda like darkness. You don’t really create darkness, it’s just the absence of light. Sinful desires aren’t from God they come from the absence of God. Without God’s life inside of us we get all kinds of desires that aren’t of God, be it homosexuality, lust, greed, bitterness, covertness or any other sinful desire.

But God doesn’t see us for that. He see us for the beautiful bride he created us to be, and he sent his Son to die on the cross to forgive our sins. And when we repent (turn from living apart from him and again live for him) and believe he then sends his Spirit to come live inside us. God makes his residence inside us again and our desires begin being transformed to His image so we can perfectly image Him as we were created to.

I can tell you first hand it’s not a fairy tale, I’ve experienced it in my life. I don’t have the same desires I once had. When I gave my life to him, he came into me and my desires changed drastically.

And although this side of heaven we will always continue to struggle with sinful desires, if we trust in him and accept his marriage proposal. though, one day he will come back, slay the dragon once and for all and take us back to his castle to live happily ever after.

Film And Theology: Pixar’s Inside Out

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insideout

Summary (SPOILER ALERT)

Inside Out is a Pixar movie about a girl named Riley. The movie shows Riley’s development from the time she is born, to the time she is 11 years old. When she turns 11 her family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. This change is very difficult for her and she eventually gets to the point of running away from home and trying to get back to Minnesota.

The main focus of Inside Out, though, is about what is happening inside Riley’s head during this time. Riley has 5 little cartoon characters that live inside her head, they are named joy, fear, disgust, anger, and sadness. As you can probably tell by the names they represent Riley’s emotions. Inside Out attempts to use these characters and the events that happen to Riley to show how humans make actions and choices, and develop personality.

Inside Riley’s head is a control tower, and the emotions react to different circumstances and scenario and then control how she acts. Joy is the first emotion that she gets right when she is born, the others come shortly after as she develops, but joy clearly remains the leader and decides who gets to take control of the control tower.

They all have different functions. For example, disgust tells her when something is not pleasant to her (for example eating broccoli when she is a young child), fear tells her when something might harm her, etc.

The emotions also touch different memories that come in (represented by marbles) and determine what feeling is associated with the memory. They also produce ideas from time to time and this is represented by placing a light bulb in the control tower.

Throughout her life there comes time when she has situations that produce a strong emotion and lasting memory. These become “core memories” and create her personalities. For example she tells the truth at one point when she is young and this makes her happy so she develops the personality of honesty, she bonds with her family at a time in her life so she develops the personality of family, she does something silly and it makes her feel good when she is young so she develops the personality of silliness. She has a key moment where she did good in hockey and it made her feel good so she develops a personality of liking hockey.

Each one of these personalities is represented a “personality island.” Which is represented kind of like a theme park. The emotions try to keep these islands in tact by making sure the core memories are retained.

After Riley moves she gets into a crisis, begins missing home, and is nervous about starting a new school. Throughout this time sadness wants to touch memories and take control, but joy keeps telling her shes not needed and tries to put her in a corner.

Sadness wants to start touching some of her core memories and joy won’t let her, this eventually leads to the core memories falling out and joy grabs onto it with sadness following and they both get sucked into the memory tube (where all the memories go to be stored each night). With the core memories out her personality islands began crumbling.

She talks to a friend from back home who has a new best friend and with joy gone, anger takes control and hangs up on her and friendship island begins crumbling. She goes to school the next day and doesn’t talk to anyone. Anger then gives her a thought to go steal her mom’s credit card and run away, because he thinks she can only get back core memories if she goes back to Minnesota where she developed them in the first place. Honesty island crumbles. Riley begins her plan to take a bus back to Minnesota.

Meantime sadness and joy go through various part of her memory (long term, where dreams and imagination develop, abstract thoughts). During this time joy comes to the realization through a few different events that sadness is actually very helpful and she hadn’t realized this before.

Sadness and Joy eventually make it back to the control tower and this time joy lets sadness touch her core memories and they go back in place. She lets her have some control in control tower instead of pushing her off to the side. Riley’s personality islands begin being rebuilt.

Riley comes home to her parents and cries in there arms, telling them that she was really sad and missed Minnesota. They let her know that they aren’t mad at her and that they missed Minnesota too. Riley makes new friends, gets back into hockey and begins making a new life in San Francisco. Joy now knows not to put sadness off in the corner.

Positives:

I thought the movie was very and entertaining, funny, and well done. It kept me laughing and interested. The way they used simple things like idea marbles, personality islands, emotion characters, and control towers inside of Riley’s head to make concepts about a complex subject such as the human psyche tangible all in the context of a well told story (actually 2 well told overlapping stories) I thought was brilliant.

I liked how they were able to portray how different circumstances effect our emotions and showed that there is a proper place for morning and sadness that we shouldn’t neglect. I thought it would provide a lot of great talking points for kids (or adults).

Negatives:

The overall model of the human psyche portrayed in the film, however, had several holes in it, in my opinion.

As I got into this second part i will make clear that I am a Christian and believe the Bible to be inspired by God.

The Bible talks a lot about what goes on inside of humans. It uses the words like soul, spirit, mind, or heart to talk about the inner, non-material parts of us. The word heart alone appears over 700 times in the Bible, so it’s a fairly big theme.

Now of course I wouldn’t expect Pixar to depict Christian convictions, nor do I believe the bible is a psychology text book, but the film attempted to show how the human psyche works, and how our emotions respond to events, drive our decision making, control our thinking and build our identities and personalities. Tackling these type of issues has much overlap with theology and world views expressed in the Bible.

Therefore because of the nature of the issues it tackles, coming from a Christian world view myself its impossible for me to separate the truth that is revealed in the Bible and the psychological world view presented in Inside Out.

Here are some ways I believe that the Psychological model presented in Inside Out collides with that presented in the Bible:

1)The Characters Were Completely Controlled Completely by Emotions

In the movies, there was a control tower inside the character head that determined what decisions they made. It was controlled by 5 emotions (joy, anger, sadness, disgust, and fear). The emotions actually even controlled what Riley thought about (they would sometimes place a light bulb in the control tower which would represent an idea coming to Riley’s mind).

After doing some research I found out this is based on a theory called “Discreet Emotional Theory” which itself was heavily influenced by Charles Darwin’s book: The Expression Of Emotions In Man and Animals.

Joy (which I think should have been named happiness, I’ll expand on this later) was the primary driving factor behind Riley. So in other words she was completely controlled by emotions, particularly what would make her most happy. There was no mind that could think and reason and the only really will or choice she had was which emotion she listened to and let be in control.

Bible Theologians dating all the way back to the earl second century AD have believed that the Bible teaches a tri-partate view of man (that is 3 part), consisting of body, soul, and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23 for example).

The body is the material part of us that we can see, feel, and touch. The soul is the invisible part of us, itself being tri-partate, made up of mind (where we can think, reason, understand etc.), will (where we choose and act), and emotions (where we feel and desire etc.), and the spirit is the spiritual part of us that is made to connect with God and interacts with things in the spiritual realm (and invisible place where spiritual beings called angels live).

The 3 parts are distinct parts (both body, soul, and spirit, and the 3 parts of the spirit), yet they comprise one person and are very intertwined. For example we can use our will to think about things which invokes certain feelings in us. When something happens that makes us feel a certain way it brings up thoughts about past events etc.

Interestingly I found a secular psychologist who wrote a critical review of the way Inside Out portrayed decision making and they almost nailed exactly what theologians have seen in the Bible for almost 2000 years (at least at as far as having these 3 areas of mind, will, and emotions).

The article refers to System 1 mental processes, and System 2 mental processes. System 1 essentially is our feelings and emotions. It doesn’t necessarily process things in order of why or how but in gut reactions. System 2 is the central cognition it refers to as the area where we process slow and deliberate decisions, where we weigh complicated factors, and consider different strategies.

The article points out that decisions and actions are made by a combination of the two. Sometimes for example we put something disgusting in our mouth and we just instantaneously spit it out without thinking, other times we make a major decisions and slowly compare data and weigh options, this type of decision is largely dominated by thinking but has obviously as each data or thought is compared it invokes emotions and the will chooses how much to base the decision off of thoughts vs feeling.

2)The Emotions Were Completely Surface Level

As stated in the previous point, Riley’s psyche was completely controlled by 5 core emotions, but these emotions were exclusively surface level emotions that responded to situations and circumstances.

What I mean by surface level is that if someone punches me in the face, I would have instantaneous feelings of pain, probably anger, and possibly fear if they were bigger than me and I couldn’t fight well. Or if I just ate some food, I might feel happy or satisfied.

But some emotions and feelings are much deeper withing us, for example deep fears, like fear of death, or desires, like desire for approval and acceptance, desire to be known, desires for meaning and significance.

These kind of feelings don’t really come and go like our in the moment feelings, and in fact they often control what are feelings and thoughts are in the moment.

As mentioned in the previous point they pretty much only depicted emotions as well in the movie, and ignored the mind aspect, so this applies as well to the mind. We have thoughts come up at the moment, but we also have much deeper rooted beliefs that affect of our decisions (What we believe about who God is, what we believe will make us happy, self-image, world views etc.).

The Bible uses the term ‘heart” to refer to the deep inner part of man where these deeper desires and beliefs lie. The heart is depicted in as a deep well from which thoughts, and emotions spring out of.

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23)

I grew up in a Christian home going to church but didn’t love Jesus until just after my college years. As a result I didn’t pay attention to most sermons as a kid, and don’t remember much of what my pastor taught. But one thing I do remember, is that he used to often say “the issue is never the issue and the problem is never the problem.”

This saying is about how when there is conflict between people we often just look at the immediate circumstance and situation: how people felt, what they were thinking and how they acted in the moment, etc. But, most often, what really causes conflict, is deep rooted lies and sinful desires lying within the hearts of the people fighting.

This is why if you just treat the surface level thoughts and emotions, or try to correct behavior, you will just see the same conflicts and issues happen over and over again, or just exchange one type of problem for another. Lasting change happens only when the sinful desires are removed and the deep rooted lies are exchanged for truth.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. (James 4:1-2 ESV)

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45)

3)The Way Personalities/Identities Were Formed

In the movie, Riley, would would have certain times in her life that would make her feel really happy. These would create ‘core memories’, and ‘Personality Islands’ would be formed. These represented different parts of her personality (family, friendship, hockey, silliness. and honesty). Her feelings would then choose actions for her to help protect these core memories and keep her ‘Personality Islands’ running.

So what was taught was that we are born with no inherent identity or personality and all of her personality are learned personality that form of off memorable experiences growing up.

Even her values such as ‘honesty’ were determined by what made Riley feel good at young age and not by any sort of inherent right and wrong that exists outside of Riley and how she feels.

Although certainly some of our personality is formed as we develop and based on experiences we go through, the Bible teaches that God has given each one of us certain personalities, gifts and talents before we were even born (Psalm 139:14-15 for example) and we are even going to be judged by how well we used the gifts and talents that God gave us (Mathew 25:14-30).

I think any parent instinctively knows this as you can see personalities and interests develop in a young child from a very early age before they’ve really had any experience to develop those personalities, or by seeing the difference in personality between boys and girls for example.

Furthermore, we have identities that are given to us by God and there are distinct identities that everyone shares. For example everyone is created with a desire for family, friendship, meaningful work, intimacy, and pleasure (I’ll talk more in the next point about how these get distorted do to sin).

In the movie once Riley moved she came into a crisis after her move to San Francisco her identies/personalities began crumbling and she became unstable. The ‘personality islands’ were completely destroyed (although new ones were rebuilt at the end of the movie).

In realty though people don’t just lose these type of core identities they get misplaced and distorted. For example many people who grow up in the foster system end up in gangs because they are desperately looking for a family. This paper called ReFamily did an excellent job showing how the Western understanding of family has been distorted from a biblical understanding of family and as a result many men seek to get out of work the fulfillment they were created to get out of family.

In the West we are very individualist and as a result not many of us have a lot of deep intimate friendships, as a result we get addicted to social media, go do work at Starbucks to feel like were around people and countless other things to fill the bucket that we were created to fill with friendship. I even read an interesting article recently that talked about a study done that linked many drug addictions to social isolation.

Unfortunately our culture has bought the lie hook, line and sinker that rather than looking to the Creator to find our identity and purpose, we believe that we can determine our own identity by what makes us feel good and that is why we are a very confused people. When you go against how you were designed it just doesnn’t work.

4)No Spiritual Part

Another thing absent from the movie was any spiritual side to there characters. This is obviously expected since its Pixar and not a Christian movie, but it’s just simply not possible to begin to portray an accurate model of the human psyche without accounting for the spiritual side.

The bible portrays that humans are primarily spiritual beings created for worship. I’m not talking about going to a religious building and singing some songs when I say worship. I’m talking about what we pour ourselves into. What we spend our time and money on. What we fix our minds on. What gives us pleasure, motivation, meaning, value, worth, and purpose in life.

It’s not a matter of whether or not we worship, it’s a matter of what we worship. You may not consider yourself spiritual, but the Bible would say you are. It’s just a matter of what your spirit is looking to for its life source.

Genesis 2:7 says that God formed man from the dust of the ground “and breathed into his nostril the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Bible commentators and theologians have generally understood God’s act of breathing into man to represent him putting His very spirit into man.

God placed man in paradise called the Garden of Eden and placed two trees in the center, the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I believe these represented much more than just magical fruits, but an opportunity for our spirits to feed of God as our life source (the tree of life), or us to choose autonomy from God and try to choose for ourselves good and evil.

Unfortunately our first parents, Adam and Eve chose the later and were removed from the Garden of Eden, sin and death entered the human race, and we were separated from God. When we choose autonomy from God our spirit’s don’t stop looking for life and fulfillment though we just look to in other created things.

The apostle Paul, who authored nearly half of the New Testament lays this out in Romans chapter 1:

 

  1. We believed a lie about God and exchanged the worship of God for the worship of created things. (Romans 1:23,25)
  2. Our hearts then became filled with evil passions, thoughts and desires. (Romans 1:24,26)
  3. We begin doing evil and unrighteous behavior (sexual immorality, evil, coveting, gossiping, pride, rebellion, etc.) (Romans 1:26,27,29-31)

 

This is the order of how we are wired. What we worship and get our life source shapes our desires and thoughts, which shapes our behavior. When we worship and get our life source from God we are filled with his desires and able to live in joy and peace, when we worship other things, even good things that we make god things (like work, family, relationships, hobbies, sex etc.), it fills us with evil desires which leads to sinful behavior.

Worshiping created things instead of God is called idolatry and is the root of all of our sin. Some people would say that if God is the creator of everything than he must have created evil, but when we see sin and evil from this perspective, we see that evil is the absence of the life of God, in the way that darkness is the absence of light.

This is why the famous Protestant reformer Martin Luther said that if we follow the first command “You shall have no other gods before me” we will follow all the rest of the commandments.

In the movie, however, it just depicted Riley’s bad behavior as a result of ‘not correctly listening to her feelings.’

For example, after moving, she talks with a friend back home and finds out she has made a new friend. She gets jealous and angry and hangs up on her friend and quits talking to her. Rather than showing this as jealousy stemming from idolatry (trying to get life from friendship that she can only get from God and therefore leading her to focus purely on herself and be jealous of something good happening to her friend) it is just portrayed as ‘not listening to her emotion of sadness.’

In another instance she decides she can’t have any happiness in San Francisco and therefore devices a plan to steal her mom’s credit card so she can buy a bus ticket and run away from home. Again instead of showing this as given into idolatry, where she was making something too important in her life, which caused her to steal and rebel, it was just portrayed as ‘not listening to sadness’ (a good question to reveal where you have idles are is to ask: What unfilled need or want would make me willing to rebel against God.)

Now we all struggle with idolatry, so I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t have compassion on young children in Riley’s, especially one going through a major change like moving, nor am I saying that the idea that learning to properly grieve over loss and not feel like you need to always pretend to be happy isn’t a good message (as well as how sadness can help us empathize with others as the sadness character did with Riley’s imaginary friend when he lost a wagon he really liked.)

What I am suggesting is that though is that there is something much better to offer someone than just ‘learn to listen to your emotions,’ and that is Jesus Christ. Jesus is what are souls long for.

The gospel is often cheapened to Jesus died for your sins and if you believe in him you will have your sins forgiven and go to heaven when you die. Of course that is true but there’s so much more than that.

It is true that we deserved a just penalty for our sins, and that Jesus died in our place so that our debt could be paid and we could be forgiven. That’s an important part of the gospel. But it’s also true that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, so that we could die and then rise with him. We die to all the false gods we try to get life from, and God raises us to life to again be able to live by his life and begins restoring us to how we were created to live.

I have died with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20)

When we give our lives to Jesus we are “born-again” and he gives us a new heart, that has new desires. The Spirit of God comes to live inside of us and produces supernatural love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self control. It feels a deep approval and piece from God as it cries out ‘Abba Father’. (Romans 8:15)

Through Jesus all of our deepest hearts desires and needs are filled. He is called our groom as he fills our deepest need for intimacy. We are reconnected to the Father, made part of the family of God, and Jesus is our true older brother as our deepest desire for family is found in Jesus. We are made part of the temple of God, as the Holy Spirit makes his home in our hearts and our deepest desires for spiritual worship is fulfilled. Jesus is our ‘friend who sticks closer than a brother, and He meets our deepest desire for friendship.

This doesn’t replace our need or desire for the physical relationship of family and friendship, and physical pleasure (Christians believe the physical and the spiritual are good), but what it does do is make it so that good things can remain good things and not become god things that we try to get our life source from that only Jesus can give us. We still feel sadness and brokenness over loss, tragic circumstances and the pains of things not being how they are supposed to be, but it no longer crushes us.

5)The Character in the movie name Joy was Really Happiness Not Joy

The final area I felt Inside Out I felt collided with the bible was in the nature of joy.

The character inside of Riley’s head that was called joy I believe should have been called happiness not joy. What’s the difference? Well, happiness is a feeling that comes and goes and and is often based on our immediate circumstances.

Joy to me is something that only Christ can give us, though. Its a deep satisfaction and fulfillment in the soul. We can feel joy while at the same time going through tragic circumstances and experiencing deep sorrow or grief. It’s a fruit of the Spirit that we can have at any time, when we are connected to the life of Christ.

I think the following verses portray true joy:

In this verse, Paul speaks of how through Christ we can be content and have joy in any circumstance:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV)

This verse speaks of how Christians who have the life of Jesus in them, still suffer in their physical body and over the pains of this present age, but it doesn’t crush us because because we have His life inside of us:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10 ESV)

And finally this verse talks about how we can have joy as Christians because we have a future hope knowing that Jesus is coming back to give us new resurrected bodies completely free of the effects of sin, and will restore all of creation:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)

Conclusion:
Although I didn’t agree with a lot of the psychology taught in Inside Out was a well made, I thought it was a well done, entertain and thought provoking movie. I believe that all humans are created in the image and therefore capable of reasoning and understanding. Therefore I don’t believe that I need to reject all findings of psychologist just because they don’t share the same world view as I do (I also believe that Christians are still marred by sin and as a result although God’s word is infallible our interpretation isn’t).

But the book of proverbs does says that “wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord.” This is why I believe we must start with a Biblical understanding of God’s word if we want to fully understand God’s world, because if we start with a faulty world view, we will come to many faulty conclusions.

Here’s some questions If you actually made it this far through my whole review (didn’t even get a chance to talk about spiritual warfare and how angels and demons effect are thoughts and feelings, but already over 4000+ words so will have to save that for another day🙂 )

 

  • What did you think about Inside Out? Do you feel it accurately represented what goes on ‘inside our heads?’ What did you feel was accurate, what did you feel wasn’t?
  • If you are a Christian, what areas, if any, did you feel were in conflict with a Biblical understanding of the human psyche and what areas did you feel lined up?
  • If you aren’t a Christian, what do you think of the way the Bible talks of the human psyche and human condition as i talked about in this blog (….or essay, by the way thanks for sticking with me this long). Does it make more sense of the world to you? Why or why not?

 

How Does The Church and Israel Relate

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There are two major views in the church today as to how the church and Israel relate. One is called Dispensationalism (or Separation Theology), the other is called replacement or supersessionism.

I will first try and explain both of them, then take a look at whether either of them lines up with how the Bible describes the relationsip between the church and Israel.

Dispensationalism (or Seperation Theology)
The Church and Israel are two separate things.

In this view God entered into a covenant with the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai with the giving of the law and the old covenant. Israel was chosen out of all the nations of the world to show the world what God was like by following the commandments delivered to them at Sinai. They however didn’t hold there part of the covenant and rejected Jesus the messiah. As a result God has temporarily abandoned his plans for the nation of Israel and began a new way of bringing salvation through the church.

The church then is a brand new spiritual body that was started when Jesus came to the earth and called the twelve disciples. The church is now called to take the gospel to all nations and make disciples of all nations. At a later point in history when the great commission is finished a time of great tribulation will begin when the nations gather against Israel. The church will be raptured (like magically transported) to heaven (some believe before the tribulation others after the tribulation). The Jews will repent of rejecting Jesus as the messiah and call out to Jesus who will return to rule from Israel in his millenial kingdom and restore the earth. The temple will be restored and sacrifices etc. will be restored as the dispensation of the Gentiles is over and God again begins a dispensation of working through Israel.

So in this view the church and Israel are 2 completely separate entities. Jesus came and started a new primarily Gentile religion to save the gentiles and it will be raptured out when Jesus comes and he will again return to his plans for Israel and ushers in his millenial kingdom through the nation of Israel.

Implications:
-Throws out much of the Old Testament for the church
-God is portrayed as a polygamist (he has 2 brides Israel and the church and 2 paths of salvation)
-Where does a Jew that is part of the church fit in?

Replacement Theology (Covenantal Theology)
The church has replaced Israel or the church is the same as Israel (ie the true Israel)

In this view God entered into a covenant with Abraham promising him descendants and a people and a land. He then entered into a covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai and formed the nation of Israel. Israel was called as a nation to show the world what God was like. They however broke there promises to the covenant. Jesus came however with a new covenant that replaces the old covenant and all people are know welcome into this plan.

The church is the new Israel that has replaced Israel. Only faithful members of Israel were ever part of the true Israel those who had faith in the coming Messiah. The Mosaic Law, temple system, and sacrifices have all been done away with. God has no future plans for the nation of Israel all those promises and plans are transferred to or fulfilled in the church (ie what appeared to be physical future promises as in the future Messianic temple in Ezekiel and future Messianic Era spoken of throughout the prophets where Israel was head of the nations, is fulfilled in the church. For example this view would see the future temple fullfilled church which is a spiritual temple and the true temple, the promise about Israel never cease to be a nation was really talking about the church the true Israel and it won’t cease being a spiritual nation, the future messianic era was really a spiritual messianic era and Jesus where Jesus is a spiritual king over the church (not a physical king ruling from the physical nation of Israel) etc.

Implications:

-Anti-Semitism (Since God has rejected the Jewish people and abandoned his future plans for them it naturally leads to an anti-Semitic view point. Martin Luther promoted this view and it was then brought to its natural conclusion by Hitler who used it to justify the Holocaust. So yes having a proper view on this matters),

-Jacked up Escatological (End Time) Views – leads to either an amileniallenial view (that their is no future messianic rule of peace on earth by Jesus or that it is just a spiritual one we are already in) or post-millennial (where the church more or less conquers the world and Christianizes the world before Christ return and Israel is in no way involved in these plans). To get to either of these views you have to rationalize away the obvious centrality of Israel in the fut

-Throws away importance of prophetic books in the Bible. Most people holding this view will talk about the prophetic books as being very hard to interpret and don’t teach from the much. They are hard to interpret because they aren’t taking anything at face value but trying to spiritualize all of the propehesies and ignore the plain interpretation. Jewish hermeneutic of prophesies sees both a literal and spiritual meaning to most prophetic literature, so just because there is a deeper spiritual meeting doesn’t replace the literal meaning as well.

-Jews must give up their Judiasm and adopt a gentile version of Christianity. Since the Mosaic law and replaced Judaism for Christianity Jews must abandon their Jewishness and basically become gentiles to become followers of Christ. The Romans 11 olive tree analogy gets spun around that the Jews need to get grafted into the gentile olive tree.

-loss of much of the Jewish practices that estabilished the early church. Since Judaism has been replaced we lose much of the practices of the early church.

-Spiritualized view of the kingdom of God (many of the promises in the Old Testament have to be spiritualized and the promises of a messianic era of worldwide peace where the Messiah rules from Jerusalem just doesn’t make sense so we either have to spiritualize them or just conclude they are only about heaven)

-leads to gnosticism (ie spiritual and physical are separate, spiritual
is good physical is bad, since the spiritual body of the church has replaced the physical nation of Israel this naturally leads to a hermeneutic of reading the Bible with physical promises being spiritualized and we end up separating spiritual and physical and seeing spiritual as good and physical as bad )

-God is portrayed as pretty much having failed in his plans with the nation of Israel

-God is portrayed as a divorcee, having divorced Israel and then finding a new bride in the church

Having explained some of what I believe to be the unBiblical downsides to these 2 theological perspectives is there a 3rd way which lines up more fully with what the Bible teaches? There is and it is called remnant theology. Here is what remnant theology teaches.
Remnant Theology
The Church and Israel are different but overlap

In Remnant theology there is a physical Israel and a spiritual Israel. Physical/ethncic Israel is the physical descendants of Abraham and the Nation that began when God covenanted with them at Mount Sinai. Within physical Israel has always existed a spiritual body (ie spiritual Israel) these are those that share the faith of Abraham and are spiritual children of Abraham.

It is called remnant theology because God has always kept a faithful remnant of true followers of him even when the physical nation of Israel went into apostasy. Likewise God has kept a remnant of physical Israel through the ages that will still be part of his future plans for the nation of Israel as we already are seeing the first fruits of these prophesies coming to pass with the regathering of the nation of Israel in 1948. Jews are the oldest ethnic people group on earth having been around for 3000 years, this is a miracle from God and a fullfillment of his promise in Jeremiah that they will never stop being a nation. Through countless persecutions and being exiled from there land for nearly 2000 years they have remained a nation.

The church then is the smae thing as remnant Israel. It is a continuation of the spiritual body of believers. It is not some completely brand new spiritual body like the dispensationalist teach and it is not something that has replaced Judaism or Israel in God’s plan as the replacement theologians teach. When Christianity began it was primarily comprised of Jewish people and it was seen as a sect of Judaism.

There are some “new” aspects of the church however. Jesus came as the promised Messiah that the Jews had been waiting for and came announcing the gospel that the kingdom of God was near that people could repent and begin living in some ways living in future messianic kingdom now. On Pentecost the Spirit was given to the church (this was a down payment and fortaste of the coming Messianic kingdom). Also there was a new mission to take this good news to all the gentile nations (Math 28). So in this aspect the church is something “new” but it is really just a fullfillment and continuation of the Jewish faith.

Jesus clearly stated that he did not come to abolish the law and the prophets. The New Testament doesn’t replace the Old Testament. Jesus didn’t do away with the Torah (or Mosiac Law) to give the new covenant (the new covenant enables us to obey the Torah, the Torah doesn’t change we do. Now there is different obligations to the Torah for those that are Jews and those that are gentiles (ie the Jerusalem counsel ruled that *Gentiles* do not need to become proselytes to Judaism and undergo circumcision or follow the dietary laws, and they don’t have the same obligations to Sabath observance as a ethnic Jew), but they do need to become spiritually Jewish and have their hearts circumcised.

This is not the same as saying as saying the Torah has been done away with, the Torah itself makes these distinctions and in the future Messianic Kingdom all people will observe the Sabbath (Isaiha 58) and dietary laws (Isaiaha 66). The 12 disciples were all Jews, as was Paul the 120 and the 3000 saved on Pentecost. The disciples are seen going to the temple to pray (which would imply they participated in temple sacrifice) in Acts. Paul takes a Nazarene vow (which required a sacrifice) and regularly attends the synagogue to read and discuss the Torah. The Jewish believers continued celebrating the Sabbath and Jewish festivals and the gentiles likely participated in them as they were able to (though they weren’t bound to in the same way as the Jewish believers). Jesus came not to abolish Judiasm, or to abolish the Torah, but to fulfill it. When Gentiles converted to Christianity they weren’t joining some new Gentile religion they were joining something very old. If you are a gentile Christian you worship the God of Israel, and follow a Hebrew Messiah.

There are still unfilled prophesies for the physcial nation of Israel. The church did not replace God’s plan to fullfill these prophesies. They will not stop being a nation as a long as the sun and stars are shining (Jeremiah 31:35-36). God did not abandon a kingdom of borders for a kingdom of hearts. The promises he has made to regather them to their land and all the other promises scattered through the prophetic books, will be realized in his second coming. Israel as a nation rejected Jesus as Messiah in his first coming and right now the church is to provoke the physical nation of Israel to jealousy to cause them to receive him as Messiah and welcome him back for his second coming (this was prophesied in Deuteronomy 32 and Paul quotes this in Romans 11), where he will rule from Jerusalem over both Israel and all nations and people groups.

So in summary the physical nation of Israel and the remnant of Israel are not the same thing but they overlap as you can be a part of both.

There are 4 possible groups one could exist in:

1)Ethnic Jew that has rejected Jesus as Mesiah
2)Ethinic Jew that has recieved Jesus as Mesiah
3)Gentile that has rejected Jesus as Mesiah
4)Gentile that has recieved Jesus as Messiah

In Romans 11 Paul describes Remnant Israel (ie the church) as an olive tree comprised of Groups 2 and 4. Paul calls this group an olive tree and group 4 (gentile believers) the wild olive branch that has been grafted in to the olive tree (remnant Israel). Gentile believers are urged to remember they have been grafted in to a Jewish faith not the other way around so as not to become arrogant towards the Jewish believers.

The analogy of adoption is very strong here as gentile Christians have been adopted into Abraham’s family.

I believe this to be an import doctrine for the church to rediscover as Satan has used the doctrines of dispensationalism and replacement theology to confuse the church over her identity and lose sight of her true mission and future.

For more reading on this I highly recommend the following 2 articles:
http://www.leaderu.com/theology/remnanttheo.html
http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Articles/Israel/israel.html

4 Things I’ve Learned From My Struggle With Bipolar Disorder

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I usually keep this blog more teaching/theology related, but wanted to share something a bit more personal in this post.

4 years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  It’s a condition where a person gets unusual mood swings both of highs (manic) and lows (depression) far beyond what normal persons experience in the day to day up and downs of life.

For me I did have some depression, but most of the symptoms were on the mania side.

I would have rapid thoughts to where I couldn’t concentrate on any thing for more than a few seconds.  Not sleeping for several nights in a row, and grandiose type thinking where I thought I had super powers and was on a special mission from God.

It is a pretty scary thing to lose control of your mind like that.  For all intensive purposes I might as well have been on cocain or meth when I was manic as all sense of sound judgement was gone.

I went 3+ years without having another episode and thought I was cured and then recently went through another manic episode.

I wanted to share 4 things that I’ve learned from all this.

1)Life is not always black and white
Mental disorders are a tricky thing to diagnose, because so many things factor into our mental health that it can be difficult to determine if there is something physically gone wrong with the brain (ie chemical imbalance), or if it is just circumstances (ie stress, poor relationships, etc). or spiritual issues causing it, and these things often overlap.

So in other words it’s complicated, but a lot of people like to just oversimplify life.

On one side of the fence there are people that want to say that all mental disorders are completely physical and there is no circumstantial or spiritual element.  These people are quick to prescribe medication without treating the relational or spiritual aspects of the person.  People often get misdiagnosed by these type of people and get on meds and it doesn’t help because that wasn’t really their problem.

Others think all mental disorders are circumstantial (i.e. you just need to fix the problems in your life and relationship and you’d be better.)  The truth is there are people that have great marriages, great friendships and a great relationship with God, take care of there body physically and still suffer from deep depression, bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses and they get prescribed the right medication and they never struggle with it again.

Others, still, and this includes a lot of Christians, think that all mental illnesses are spiritual issues.  People that are depressed or anxious just need to pray more and have more faith.  People with bipolar or schizophrenia are probably demon possessed and need to repent of hidden sin.

I fully believe that people can be demon possessed (I’ve witnessed it before) and when diagnosed by a medical community that doesn’t believe in anything spiritual they often get misdiagnosed as bipolar or schizophrenia, but this does not mean that MOST people that suffer from these illnesses are demon possessed.  There are real physical diseases of the brain that have nothing to do with being demon possessed or being in sin. Our bodies are fallen both spiritually and physically.

If you don’t believe there’s anything physical in the brain go do some meth or get drunk and try to act normal. Chemical reactions clearly effect our brain, and there are illnesses that throw the chemical balances out of whack causing the brain to malfunction.

Mental illnesses are, like life, just not that simple.  People like to come up with a real simple world view that makes them feel more in control (and they use it to judge others), but life is a lot more complex than that.  If you want to know why someone is suffering from a mental illness you actually have to get to know them a bit to diagnose them. You can’t just categorize people into “this is how it always is categories.”

2)There’s a lot of Job’s friends in the church today
Job is a guy in the Bible who was a righteous man.  God allowed Satan to inflict him with a terrible sickness, kill his children, and take away most of his possessions.  He did nothing wrong to deserve this, in fact it was because of his faithfulness that God allowed Satan to do it, because he knew Job would still trust God even if Satan took everything away from him.

He had some friends come to comfort him who kinda sucked at loving him.  His friends reasoned like this:

1)Good people get blessed by God.
2)Bad people get cursed by God.
3)If bad things are happening, you must have sinned.
4)Job had bad things happening, therefore Job had some unconfessed sin that he needed to repent of.

Too many Christians today are like Job’s friends when it comes to mental illnesses.  People have bipolar or depression or other mental illness, therefore, they reason that it must be a result of their sin.

I’ve had people tell me all the things I did wrong to get bipolar disorder that hadn’t even talked to me or spent any time with me in the last year to have any idea if I had actually been in any unrepentant sin, but as soon as they found I had a manic episode rather than offer sympathy or at least ask me questions, they decided they needed to let me know what sin it was that caused it (well actually that would have been better it was actually a bit more of not talking to me and letting others know about my “hidden sins” so they could make sure to avoid me).

I’m not sure why I got bipolar disorder but I am pretty confident it wasn’t a result of God punishing me for my sins or because I opened my self up to demonic possession.

What saddens me is that I don’t know any non-Christian that wasn’t compassionate and sympathetic when I shared my story, but man have I been judged my some Christians.  We’re supposed to be showing the world that we are Jesus’ disciples by how we love one another, and I’ve certainly had some Christians that loved me very well and showed a great example to the world, for that I’m very thankful, but I’ve had a lot that seem to think it said we are to show the world that we are Jesus’ disciples by kicking our fellows brothers in the groin when they’re down.

There’s a good book out there called Why Do Christians Shoot There Wounded that deals with the problem in the Christian world of not loving those with mental illnesses.

If you believe all mental illnesses are a direct result of sin I challenge you to pick up that book and at least be willing to examine how much hurt this attitude is causing many of the very fragile members of the body of Christ.

3)If you have a mental illness take your meds
I learned this lesson the hard way.  I gave in to the belief my bipolar was all spiritual and a result of my sin and so when I started “getting over my sin” thought I didn’t need my meds anymore.

I was fine for 3+ years but then had a manic episode right before the birth of my son, a pretty scary situation.  I’m thankful nothing too bad happened but it could have been disastrous.  

In my manic state I was going to make my wife do a home birth that we hadn’t even planned for because I thought God wanted to test us if we’d trust him (extreme risky behavior like this is common in manic episodes).  It was also a pretty traumatic experience for not just me but my wife and family and one that we are definitely still healing from.  All this likely would have been prevented if I would listened to my doctors and stayed on my medication.

I have come to realize it doesn’t make you a bad Christian if you take medication for mental illnesses.  If you have a heart condition you’d pray for healing but you would still take your meds.  For you safety and for the safety of those who love you, listen to the doctors and take your meds if you have a mental illness.

Of course, take an honest evaluation of your spiritual and relational life and see if those things are out of whack as well, but Christians that say that all mental illnesses are really spiritual and a result of sin are just fallen into the same error that Job’s friends did. Listen to your doctors and tell Job’s friends they were doing better at the end of chapter 2 before they had opened their mouth.

4)God is good all the time
The Bible says that God works all things for good for those who love him.  I have found this too be very true.  Both times I had manic episodes God did a lot of good out of a very scary and seemingly hopeless situation.

He showed me his love in ways I had never seen before.  He showed me how fragile I am and how worthy He is to depend on him.  I got to experience his love through members of his body loving me like Christ.  He grew me spiritually more through these events than any Bible study or sermon I listened to (not meant to be a knock on sermons or Bible studies).

I would never wish bipolar disorder on my worst enemy, nor do I want to go through another manic episode ever again, but God is good all the time and works all things for good for those who love him, my bipolar disorder is no exception.

I couldn’t have made it through them without the hope and joy I have in Christ Jesus my Lord.

Is Heaven For Real (Part 2)

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Okay so in the last post we dealt with Heaven, Earth, Earthly Bodies, Spiritutal Bodies, and Heavenly Bodies.

In Part 2 we will discuss what is Israel and what is the church.

In all this its helpful to understand there is a spiritual world, and a physical world, they are distinct, yet overlap. As we will see this is the key to unmessing all the confusion.

What is Israel?

Well there is a spiritual Israel and there is a national Israel:

National Israel – People that are part of the National Israel, this is a nation that was started with Abraham and Sarah, lived for 430 years in slavery to Egypt, was set free, lived in the wilderness for 40 years, then lived in the promised land built Solomon’s temple there then went into spiritual apostisy was judged sent to exile, returned from exile then judged again in 70 AD and scattered among the nations. Miraculously in 1948 they reamerged as a sovereign nation.

God made a covenant with this nation, called the Old Covenant. There were blessings if they kept it and curses if they didn’t. Jesus himself was the lone faithful remnant of Israel that perfectly kept the old covenant, he then died on the cross bearing the curse, he rose from the dead and now the blessings promised to this nation belong to him.

He promised to return at some point in history (different from heaven at the end time), to set up an earthly millennial kingdom where all the blessings and promises made to the nation of Israel will be realized. Those that have trusted in him will also be raised from the dead at that point (again this is different than heaven, we are talking about our earthly body which is different from our heavenly body) and they will be free from sin like Jesus there old Adam will be completely dead. Those who trusted in Jesus will get Jesus’ obedience imputed to them and share in the blessings and reign with Jesus in this mellinial kingdom. The Gentile believers (non-Jews) get grafted into the promises made to Israel and will share in the millennial reign.

Spiriitual/Heavenly Israel (ie the church)– This is a family that is comprised of all who share the faith of Abraham. They are a new creation saved by the new covenant. It is “one new man comprised of Jews and Gentiles. The true temple of God. The bride of Christ, etc. There are many parallels with this and the nation of Israel, and almost all of the people who were first part of this were part of the nation of Israel as well.

So a Gentile (non-Jewish) Christian, does not need to get circumcised and become Jewish nationally (as the Judiazers taught), but they do need to become spiritually Jewish to be part of the spiritual body of Jerusalem, that will live together as one new man in heaven.

The Jewish Christians also do not need to become gentile culturally to become part of this family.

However neither is under the Old Covenant anymore as that came to completion when Christ died and we died with Christ therefore dying to the law, that separated the Jews and Gentiles by things like food laws and sacrifices etc, so now the Jews and Gentiles can share table fellowship to proclaim the spiritual reality of the gospel that we are one new man in Christ.

Okay so What is Jerusalem

Again there is a earthly Jerusalem and a Heavenly Jerusalem:

Earthly Jerusalem – The earthly city, that is the capital of Israel. It will be where Jesus is going to rule as king from this city in his millennial kingdom and where the 3rd temple will be built (more on that next).

Heavenly Jerusalem (New Jerusalem)– The heavenly city not built by hands that we will live in for all of eternity.

Okay so what the heck is the Temple?

Good question again there is an earthly temple and a heavenly temple.

Earthly Temple – A house for God in Jerusalem that is to be God’s Prayer house for all nations where all of those in Jerusalem (earthly) will intercede night and day for the salvation of all the Gentiles during Jesus’ millennial reign. A temple is a connection place between heaven and earth, it is where God’s heavenly presence comes down to dwell with his people.

This temple was built originally under Solomon, Then destroyed when Judah went into captivity to Babylon. It was rebuilt when they returned from Captivity under the leadership of Zecheriah and Haggai, but it was again destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.

There is a 3rd temple which will be built in Jesus’ Millenial Kingdom. During this time the temple will fulffill it’s purposes to be a house of prayer for the nations as Israel will pray night and day for all of the nations to be fully saved.

The heavenly temple – The church is the heavenly temple of God. Through the Holy Spirit we are the place where heaven and earth meet (our new heavenly bodies (which is the very life of Christ) live inside of our earthly bodies. Right now many prayer movements are beginning in spiritual Israel (the spiritual temple) for earthly Israel to be saved as in a great plot twist the gentiles are now called to intercede for the salvation of Israel when Israel was originally supposed to be interceding for the Gentile nations to be saved. This will get flipped in the millennial reign as I mentioned above.

The Feasts of Israel

There were 7 feasts in Israel, that were to prophetically celebrate important events that had happened in the nation of Israel (fall events) and look forward to future events yet to happen for the nation of Israel (spring festivals).

I will explain the 3 that are most important to this discussion:

Passover

Earthly Israel Passover – When the nation of Israel was saved from slavery to Egypt

Spiritual Israel Passover – When Jesus died on the cross baring the curse for sin and the curse of national Israel for breaking the Old Covenant.

At this point the spiritual nation of Israel was saved from slavery to Satan, Sin, and Death our evil taskmasters.

Pentecost

Earthly Israel Pentecost – Celebrates when the nation of Israel was given the Torah and became a nation

Spiritual Israel Pentecost – Celebrates when the Spirit wrote the law on peoples hearts and the church (spiritual Israel) became a spiritual nation.

Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot)

Earthly Israel Feast of Tabernacles
This is where the Israelites remember the time they were lead into the wilderness. They live in tents for a week so that while they are in the promise land they will not forget that they used to be in the wilderness and had to live by faith and while they lived by faith God provided for them. .

Spiritual Feast of Tabernacles (Not Yet Fulfilled)
In the millennial kingdom everyone will go to Jerusalem once a year to celebrate the feast of Tabernacles. This will be celebrating the time between Pentecost and the return of Jesus to start his millennial kingdom where we were in spiritual wilderness and had not entered the Spiritual Promised Land where we could truly be free to worship Christ as Satan will be locked in a bottomless pit for the 1000 years period of Jesus’ millennial reign. It also looks forward to the new heaven and new earth and they are reminded that this earth is not there final home but we are on a journey to a new heaven and new earth (New Jerusalem).

Okay so what about this millenial Kingdom?

Jesus is the rightful high priest of Israel after the order of Melchizedek. He is also the rightful king of Jerusalem as the heir to the David. He is also rightful king of the world which is prophetically seen by Joseph ruling in Egypt. Zecheriah describes what Jerusalem will look like, there will be a pillar of fire as walls for the city, pretty sweet. The curse of sin will be lifted that was given to Adam and Even and the earth. Work, Marriage, and child raising will not be so hard anymore. Israel will be transformed in a single day and and they will intercede night and day and water will flow out of the temple in Jerusalem that will be healing to the nations. Eventually the the entire world will be a paradise on earth.

What is going to happen during the millenial kingdom?

Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:24-28 ESV)

Satan is going to get locked up for 1000 years during this time in the bottomless pit .

During Jesus’ 1000 year millennial reign every single world system, person, and demon who opposes his reign will be judged the entire earth will eventually live under his reign.

At the end he’ll let Satan out for a short time, he will deceive the nations again to rise up against Jerusalem, Jesus will kill them all and judge them.

At this point everyone will be a believer, there will be no person or world system in rebellion to Jesus. Death will power over no one! Jesus will at this time judge and kill death itself!

The Kingdom of this earth, will be the kingdom of God, Jesus will hand over the kingdom to his father.

Everyone will then stand before the judgement seat of God and be judged for what they did on this earth. (If we remain under the law we will be judged by the law, if we remain in Christ we will be judged by what we did “in Christ”. For believers there natural body that is in Adam will be dead and so they will be judged by what they did “in Christ”.

At this time the Old Earth will be destoryed and the New Heaven and New Earth will be ushered in and we will live happily ever after with Jesus!

Is Heaven For Real? (Part 1)

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“There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of
another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.”(1 Corinthians 15:40-41 ESV)

There is a lot of talk these days in Christianity as to what heaven is. There was a movie that just came out called “is heaven for real”

There is also a lot of debate in the church as to what Israel Is, and what the church is. There’s a lot of talk about end-time matters and something called the millenium that no one seems to agree on.

All these issues are complicated by the fact that Westerners have adopted a completely naturalistic view of the world and don’t have a Biblical mindset when it comes to how the spiritual and physical work together.

Thankfully if we put on a Hebraic thinking cap and get into the mindset of Paul we will see that all of this is explained pretty clearly in his epistles. The above verse 1 Corinthians 15 is what God used to put all of the pieces together for me.

Here goes an attempt to see if I can explain this all to you.

Paul says that there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. There are spiritual bodies and natural bodies. What the heck is he talking about?

Heavenly Bodies, Earthly Bodies, Natural Bodies, Spiritual Bodies

    Heavenly Bodies – These are bodies that live in heaven. Heaven is where God lives. It’s a different dimension from this earth outside of space and time. If our names are written in the lambs book of Life we have a heavenly body being grown in heaven.

    Earthly Bodies – These are bodies that live on earth. This is where we live.

    When the earth was created, God had a heavenly body (Jesus) but no earthly body. When Jesus was born miraculously by the virgin birth of Mary he took on an earthly body.

    The glory of earthly bodies compared to heavenly bodies is compared to that of the moon (earthly) vs the sun (heavenly). Our earthly body are reflections of what our heavenly body is like, but as the glory of the moon is to the glory of the sun.

    Natural Body – A body that is created in the image of Adam (the man of dust), who was created from dust. We all have natural bodies right now.

    Spiritual Body – An earthly body that is free from sin, in the image of Jesus (the man of heaven).

    When Jesus was born to Mary he had a natural body. This was important because he had to atone for the sin of all who were in Adam, and he had to conquer death for those who were in Adam.

    When Jesus died and rose from the dead, he was the first to received a spiritual body. This body is imperishable and not corrupted by sin like his natural body in the image of Adam. He ascended into heaven and is now the rightful king of Jerusalem. He will one day return in this body to usher in a millenial reign in Jerusalem (more later on what Jerusalem is).

    You will notice though that in Revelations for example, we see the heavenly body of Jesus, although the spiritual body that rose from the dead was glorious, it is like the difference between the moon and the sun as far as the level of glory compared to his earthly body.

    His heavenly body has eyes that glow like fire and when people see it they generally fall on there face terrified. You will notice his spiritual earthly body people did not react that way though.

    We are born with natural bodies. When we place our faith in Christ we are also conceived by the Holy Spirit as new creations and we receive a heavenly body. Like Jesus though this new creation body is hidden inside of our natural body that is in the likeness of Adam. There is a battle that goes on daily in our lives between the life of Adam (flesh) and the life of the Spirit in us.

    When Jesus returns to usher in his millennial kingdom he will raise from the dead those who believed in him and they will have new spiritual bodies after the likeness of the man of heaven, (Jesus’ spiritual body, again different from his heavenly body, Revelation 19 is what Jesus’ heavenly body will look like while his spiritual body is on the earth). Believers will, like Jesus, resurrect from the dead in the middle of history.

    Jesus’ millennial kingdom will last for 1000 years, during this time Satan will be bound and not able to deceive the nations. Jesus will systematically destroy all of the evil world systems that Satan set up during this time and usher in his rule of piece.

    Then Satan will be released stir up all who haven’t trusted in Christ against Jerusalem they will get crushed and destroyed. Only believers in Jesus will be left and the world will be free from sin.

    At this point since the world will be free from sin, Jesus will destroy death itself.

    At this time judgement day will happen, and believers in Christ (who have their name written in the lambs book of life will receive their heavenly bodies, and live in heaven (new Jerusalem for all of eternity).

    Both New Jerusalem and our heavenly bodies in a mysterious way exists inside of our current bodies and the current natural earth (think of a wife who is pregnant and has a life growing inside her that is hidden) but will be ready to be birthed at this time and we will live in the New Heaven and New Earth for all of eternity.

    Satan and and his demons will be cast into the Lake of Fire (hell) and unbelievers at this time will be raised and judged in their natural body (after the image of Adam), they will be cast into the Lake of Fire as well.

    No more sin, no more death, no more tears, and we live happily ever after with Jesus.

Be Like the Bereans!

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Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:11)

I’m coming to realize that many Christians will just put up with some of the dumbest things. From playing silly games in there youth group to tolerating things in church leadership that just wouldn’t ever be tolerated in the most unjust of secular work places.

Many also are very content to just let there pastor or denomination leader think for them and have a relationship with God for them.

I think many Christians have added this beatitude:

Blessed are the compliant who always obey their leaders and never object, ask questions, or think for themselves.

Believe it or not, this one didn’t make Jesus’ list, and furthermore, Jesus himself caused so much ruckus within the organized religion of his day that the people up top it was actually primarily them who decided to kill him.

Many of the most faithful saints throughout history were persecuted or even burned at the stakes by the organized church of their day for asking there Sunday school teachers too hard of questions.

I’m not suggesting we intentionally try and cause division or be rebel rousers, let’s be meek, gentle, humble and all that other good stuff that actually is in the beatitude list, but let’s not be dumb, let other people think for us, and watch injustice happen right before our eyes.

Let’s let scripture not man be our authority.

Fact check your pastors’ sermons, or books you read and see if what they say is actually in the scripture.

Read and listen to people outside your camp or denomination and see what there saying about your camp. Get the perspective of some people you aren’t used to hearing from.

Read a hererotic, or read an atheist ever now and then and see if scripture actually holds up to their doubts, critiques and questions.

Read people that you denomination or church leader said were false teachers and see if what they say actually contradicts scripture.

If this makes you fear that you will lose your faith you probably never had any in the first place.

If scripture is your measuring rod, however, you never need to fear searching out the truth, God and his Word can handle your hard questions.

Don’t be a doubter and skeptic but do be a truth searcher.

The Proverbs actually portray wisdom as something to go hunt for and search for, don’t expect to have it delivered to your door.

I’ve had many people who have richly blessed my walk with Christ, that I almost didn’t read or listen to because a Christian leader told me they were a heretic, but when I decided to read them myself to see if they were in fact a heretic I found that:

A)They loved Jesus and loved the scriptures quite a bit for being a heretic

B)They were saying something quite different than what the Christian leader said they were saying

C)As I compared what they said to scripture their view lined up a lot better than the Christian leader that told me they were a heretic

 

God gave you a brain, use it.

Many people gave their life so that you could have a copy of a God’s word in your own language, read it for yourself. Learn from others, yes, but don’t let others read it for you.

Paul went around preaching the gospel in many cities and would usually start in the Jewish synagogues, some believed, some didn’t. But the Bereans were actually commended as more noble because they didn’t just believe Paul, but took God’s word serious enough to read it themselves and make sure that what Paul said was actually in there, and only believed him after that.

We need more Christians to be like the Berians, that use their brain and value God’s word enough to read it for themselves!

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