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Finding Joy in Chronic Pain and Illness

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Attached are the slides from my seminar last Sunday at Christ Fellowship, McKinney Texas.

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What if the same sex couple are cousins?

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Isaiah 55:8

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

In the United States, every state prohibits you from marrying any of your ancestors or descendants including your brother, your sister, your half-brother, your half-sister, your aunt, your uncle, your niece, your nephew, your mother, your father, your grandmother, your grandfather, your great-grandmother, your great-grandfather, your child, your grandchild, or your great-grandchild.

Twenty-five states prohibit marriages between first cousins. Six states allow first cousin marriage under certain circumstances, and North Carolina allows first cousin marriage but prohibits double-cousin marriage. States generally recognize marriages of first cousins married in a state where such marriages are legal. States where it depends usually allow it if the couple are too old or otherwise unable to reproduce.

Eight states recognize continued cohabitation as a form of “common law marriage” without the couple ever obtaining a license or undergoing any ceremony.

Nearly every state permits both girls and boys to marry without parental consent at the age of 18.  When the parents consent, they may allow their 16 year old son or daughter to be married.  However, in a few states, even younger girls can marry without parental consent, and one state allows marriage without parental consent if the girl is pregnant (seems backward to me).

In many states the age of consent to engage in sex is lower than the age that is required to marry. I guess a joint checking account requires more maturity than sexual relations.  Or so it would seem.

What does all this mean?

This hodgepodge of differing state laws relating to not just same sex marriage but even with respect to who is eligible to be married and even what a marriage is, shows that there is no legal universals in this area. And when the laws change, what happens with those who met the statutory definitions before, but no longer do? Or those who failed to be eligible for marriage before suddenly are eligible.   That means there must ethically be some higher principle than what these state legislatures decide.  The fact that the same rules don’t even apply across state boundaries in this “one nation under God” means that these states really cannot define marriage. Nor can the Supreme Court. Some thing may be legal in one state and not in another, but one thing can’t be ethical and moral in one jurisdiction and not in another.

So, fine, same sex couples now have a Supreme Court right to obtain a marriage license from a state government where they live (as long as they are not close relatives, under 18 and in some states not cousins), but that doesn’t make it ethical, doesn’t make it godly and doesn’t make it acceptable. God’s laws are not man’s laws and man’s laws are not God’s laws.

Ezekiel 18:25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way

not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BIBLE, NO TROUBLE

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For fellow Maranathans, you are invited to attend my class tonight on English translations–how to pick one, how to use it, and everything else you might want to know about your Bible. Which are literal and which are paraphrases? Liberal or conservative?  Also, you’ll find out what reading grade your Bible was edited for in a practice I call the dumbing down of the Bible.. This class tonight is part of the Bible College class on Why We Believe the Bible, but I feel this topic tonight has broad appeal so I am opening up the class to everyone. We meet from 7 to 9 in Room 208.  The same class is also made available tomorrow afternoon in room 208 from 3 to 5 pm.

WORLD MAP: WHERE THE CHILDREN ARE

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Africa must become the Church’s top priority mission field. Close to half the population of Africa’s most populated and fastest growing countries are UNDER 14 years old.

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WORLD POPULATION GROWTH

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Africa must become our top foreign policy priority.3385

And can it be?

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My favorite hymn is by Charles Wesley (brother of John Wesley). The poetry of it and the theology of it take my breath away.

“AMAZING LOVE” A/K/A “AND CAN IT BE”

Bible Passage: Romans 8:1
Author: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788
Musician: Thomas Campbell, 1777-1844

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood!
Died He for me who caused His pain!
For me who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

‘Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
(so free, so infinite His grace!),
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race.
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Moons, Stars and Festivals

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Yesterday I had a great opportunity to discuss the book Holy Land Key by Pastor Ray Bentley, of Maranatha Chapel, San Diego, California. For those unaware, Maranatha is my home church and Pastor Ray is my pastor, so not surprisingly, Ray and I have discussed issues raised in his book on several previous occasions.

Three topics have been of interest to my blog readers: the Gospel in the Zodiac, Blood Moons and the role of Israel’s 7 festivals in relation to God’s plan of the ages.

1. The Gospel in the Stars.

Let’s be really blunt: this has nothing at all to do with astrology or any kind of star worship or horoscopes. The Gospel IS in the stars. We know that the heavens declare God’s glory, attributes and even wrath. We also know beyond dispute that God has used the stars to proclaim Christ’s first advent and that the stars will also announce his second advent.  Further, from Adam to Moses there was no written revelation and it is perfectly reasonable to believe that God ensured the continuity and accuracy of the oral tradition by enabling what was said to be tied to what was seen. In other words, the signs of the Zodiac were something like God’s great PowerPoint in the sky. Yes, the symbolism and meanings of the constellations did devolve into something pagan later, but God created the constellations and declared them good.  Just as we are still in the image of God while being corrupted by sin, so also a later sinful exploitation of the constellations does not mean they didn’t serve God’s purpose originally. And besides, as Pastor Ray observed, we know the Gospel from God’s Word but that doesn’t mean we can’t see it reflected in God’s creation.

2. Seven Festivals of Israel.

I think I always knew Christ was crucified during the Festival of Passover and that the Church was born on the Festival of Weeks (Pentecost), but only recently and from Pastor Ray did I learn that Jesus lay in the Tomb during the Festival of Unleavened Bread and was raised on the Festival of First Fruits.  As for the latter, I had no excuse because Christ’s resurrection is even called the First Fruits by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15.  Knowing this has been edifying and even helpful in teaching because, for example, 1 Cor. 5 refers to the Jewish practice of removing yeast from your home, refers to Christ in the next sentence as “our Passover” and then refers to our celebrating the Festival of Unleavened Bread by getting rid of the old lump of dough and starting fresh with a whole new lump.

More recently our church has focused on the three fall festivals: Festival of Trumpets,  Festival of Atonement and the Festival of Tabernacles.  I have learned a great deal about these feast days and regret that I was a Christian for 30+ years in complete ignorance of them.  A year ago I could not have even named them. Now I am on a journey of discovery with these holidays. Personally, I am not prepared to make any prophetic predictions based on the dates of these festivals, and I can attest that Pastor Ray has not made any predictions either.  Some people (who maybe read too many blogs ) will inevitably succumb to the temptation to set dates and time tables for Christ’s Second Advent, but that should not deter us from celebrating and learning. Paul said in Colossians that we should not let anyone judge us on the basis of a Sabbath, festival or new moon. To celebrate them, whether you are of Jewish or Gentile background, is a matter of Christian liberty.

3. Blood Moons.

The Blood Moons issue has become extremely popular and has produced hundreds of “me too” self proclaimed prophecy gurus making all kinds of outrageous claims.  But I can say emphatically that Ray Bentley’s book (which has one chapter on blood moons) does not fall into the trap of making predictions based on the lunar eclipse schedule. Rather, Pastor Ray’s statements and book are measured and cautious.  One must not paint all with a single broad brush. That said, Pastor Ray and I don’t agree on every minute detail involving tetrads and historical events over the last 2000 years. But we do agree that God can, has, does and will use moons and the Sun and stars to get us to watch, wait, warn and worship.  These blood moons currently may be viewed as God’s traffic lights. The lights are changing from Green to Yellow to Red: we need to stop, look and listen.

So as is often the case,  members of one body will agree more than they disagree. Let’s remember that.

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