16 November 2013

The Prime Danger Of Being Reformed

I’m proud to be reformed. I’m proud to be a five pointer. Don’t get me wrong. Being reformed doesn’t make me proud – at least I hope it doesn't – but rather, I am ready to wear my convictions on my sleeve. I am not ashamed of them.

However, there are times when I find myself ashamed of wearing the reformed colours. There are times I walk away from a discussion or meeting embarrassed to be associated with my own. The compelling convictions of the reformed faith have a tendency to make one think they are more superior and knowledgeable than the rest. And when I see this happening I, to some degree, despise myself and my own.

Paul, aware of this danger for those who espouse to the truth, elevates love over knowledge in one instance saying in effect, better an ignoramus who loves than a know-it-all who doesn’t and again, in a different instance, elevates love over even faith and hope. In 1 Corinthians 8.1, he says knowledge puffs up but love builds up going on to say in effect that the minute you think you know it all is the very minute when you must realized that you’ve missed it! It's not likely that you'll find a reformed person claiming to know it all but sometimes we behave like it! And do not be deceived, actions do, in fact, speak louder than words. In 2 Corinthians 15.2, Paul says, faith and hope are great but the greatest thing is love. Knowledge is good. But without the endearing ingredient of love, it can be an ugly, obnoxious and repugnant thing. Elsewhere, he encouraged that truth be shared but with one qualification, that it be done ‘in love’ (Ephesians 4.15).

Too many times, the language, both audible and visible, of reformed people is indicative of a people who look down and despise others for their beliefs and convictions that are contrary to the teachings of scripture.

I recently came across some reformed brethren saying in a rather public forum that the belief that one can cover their houses and cars in the blood of Jesus, as many believe, was ‘silly’ and ‘rubbish’. And an individual who practiced this covering of property in the blood of Jesus witnessed it all. A few Sundays ago, someone called the catholic church 'unserious' in a meeting where, unaware to them of course, at least one catholic person was present. The response from the audience was laughter and I think I laughed too. No doubt, that person won’t be visiting our church or any Reformed church any time soon. That’s the kind of thing I am talking about.

The paradox here is that the reformed faith emphasizes God and de-emphasizes us, that’s what I find compelling about it in fact. It takes the man off the center of the stage removing the stage lights off him and illuminates God, putting Him on center stage instead.

Take limited atonement for instance. Christ died for some and not all. And those for whom he died were chosen not because of anything good in them but by his grace alone. How does one come away from such a doctrine and bash other people for wrong beliefs and convictions? It’s a contradiction. What about irresistible grace? You do not come to God by your own strength and desire but by the irresistible call of the Spirit. It’s not you, it’s God. Yet with that kind of knowledge we go on to look down on those who refute the teachings of scripture. It doesn’t make any sense.

It could be that our knowledge ends in our heads but doesn’t successfully make it down to our hearts to effect change in our lives. In which case, the ignorant are better than us, at least they have an excuse.
For many though, it could be mere ignorance, a bashing of people who hold on to wrong doctrine that happens unawares for them. Whether it’s the former or latter, we all need to repent and realize that we embrace truths we hold on to simply because the Spirit has been pleased to reveal them to us through His word. We are not smarter and we are certainly not superior. Those who remain misled and misguided are not stupid. They are simply what we were before God was pleased to open our eyes to the truth. Shame on us if we think we’re any better, shame on us if we sit on the truth and shame on us if we share it but fail to do so in love.

15 November 2013

Is Masturbation Sinful?

Often called a grey area or amoral, I've never really heard/read masturbation treated thoroughly and biblically. I think this note by Zuba is the most comprehensive and compelling treatment I have found and so I thought I should share it.

By Zuba Mwanza

Before I begin, I would like to state that my writing of this note was to a large extent motivated by an article I read on the Modern Ghana page, entitled "Pastor Chris Oyakhilome's theory of Masturbation". In this article, Pastor Chris is quoted saying the following,

"Masturbation in itself is not a sin against God. Satan simply uses it in oppressing Christians and making them feel ineffective and inefficient in God's sight. But, once u understand that it has nothing to do with God, but its about you and your body..."

He said these words in a telecast when asked the question, "How can a Christian overcome Masturbation?" And when his response clearly seemed to have raised a lot of dust, he reinforced his position a few weeks later in another telecast (which I happen to have a copy of, and is also on Youtube) by clearly stating that, "It was not a slip of the tongue.." (as many who hold him in high esteem had been saying).

Everything God created is good [Gen.1:31]. And part of what God created is sex, our desire for it, as well our capacity to enjoy it. And these too, are good. However, sexual intercourse was created to be enjoyed ONLY in a marriage context.

By definition, Masturbation is "the act of giving yourself sexual pleasure by rubbing your sexual organs," (Oxford, 2010).

The concept of masturbation is basically deriving sexual pleasure n' satisfaction in a manner that is not ordained by God. If God is the one that created sex, as well as our capacity to enjoy it, He therefore has right to determine/ prescribe the manner & context in which it can be enjoyed.

Unlike the sexual desire God created, lust is a bodily passion. It is a perversion of that which God intended for good. It is essentially a strong sexual craving, aimed at that which God has forbidden (ie. Sex outside marriage). Where as sexual desire is perfectly natural n' enables a married man/ woman to enjoy sexual intercourse, lust develops when "by one's sinful desires, a person is dragged away and enticed," (James1:14). Lust is normally fanned by what we watch (eg. Movies, magazines), what we listen to (eg. Songs, erotic stories from peers), as well as what we read (eg. Erotic novels and stories in online or printed articles). Lust is sinful firstly becoz God says so (1Pet4:3, Col3:5, 2Pet2:18, 1Corint7:9b, Prov6:25, Gal5:19-21). But secondly, it is sinful because, it drives one to imagine him/ herself enjoyin that which disgusts God. That for which Christ was crucified! Therefore, He says, "Whoever looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matt5:28. This is becoz, when u are havin lustful thots, the only thing keepin u from committing the sin physically is circumstance. Otherwise, given the ideal environment n' opportunity to do so, u wud seize it! However, God's will is that we shud keep away from sin becoz of our LOVE for him, n' not our fear of diseases, pregnancy or pipo walkin in on us. He wants us to hate sin for what it is. To "learn to control our bodies in a manner that is holy n' honorable, n' not in PASSIONATE LUST like the non-believer do.." 1Thessalon4:3-5.

One of the major reasons masturbation can NEVER be justified is becoz, without doubt, it is a product of passionate lust. In the earlier mentioned telecast n' article, Pastor Chris' underpinning argument is that "the sin is LUST, & not the masturbation that results from it. Because, masturbation is a habit like any other." This cannot be true simply because, whereas the Bible clearly forbids us to ACT OUT OF passionate lust as the non-believers do [1Thess4:5], that's exactly what masturbation is. In the telecast, he further argues that, "we cannot say that eating bread is wrong simply because we know someone who stole bread and ate it. In the same way, masturbation is NOT sinful, but the lust that leads to it is." This kind of reasoning is faulty because, if we are to go by it, even stealing wud not be sinful, except for the Covetousness or lack of contentment that leads to it. Therefore, if God is disgusted by Lustful thots, how much more what they lead to and what sustains them? Hence, not only is it improper for God's holy children [as Eph5:3 puts it], but also it offends God, becoz your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit [1Corinth6:18-20].

In addition, masturbation involves the arousal n' gratification of ones sexual desires in an illegitimate manner. Illegitimate in that, God the law giver does not approve. Masturbation is essentially sex with yourself. And so, eventho we may have no control over certain things that can arouse our sexual feelings, He requires that we "LEARN TO CONTROL OUR BODIES in a manner that is holy and honorable."1Thess4:4.

Therefore my beloved friend, if u are in the habit of masturbating, I wud like u to know that it is a SIN against God, and that He can enable u quit it (Titus2:11-12). I also urge all who will read this to live Self-controlled lives, becoz the ability to deny yourself that which u desire, primarily becoz God does not approve, is one of the surest ways of knowing that His Spirit lives in you!

14 November 2013

Directorial Debut!

My brother has a passion and talent for performing as an actor. He's been writing scripts for quite a while. One of them, a stage play, was realized last year entitled "No Greater Love". It was superb. He got behind the camera for another script he wrote, a short film this time around and the following is the result. It's brilliant especially if you consider that it's his first, enjoy!