Humble Dogs

That they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts. Matthew 13:15b

Archive for the tag “christian”

Have We Failed?

This morning I received a link to “Losing Our Religion

This past week on U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) the Morning Edition journalists have explored religion and spirituality in the series Losing Our Religion. Today if we take time to listen to even a small portion of these broadcasts we may gauge our own awareness – and gratitude – for God’s presence in our lives.

As I listened to the broadcast, the following Bible verse kept coming to mind.

II Thess 2:3 “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”

The verse depicts a departure from faith in Christ! I am struggling with this because the falling away described in the broadcast is not a falling from Christ but a rejection of religion, not just of the Christian faith but of all religion. Perhaps it is a good thing in that the hypocritical nature and apostasy of the established religions is not being ingrained into the youth of our nation. Then there is still time and a way to reach them with the true Gospel message.

This I know to be true, if our sons and daughters are not coming to faith in Christ, we, the Church, have failed them.

I believe that one who has been born again by the Spirit of God would be so led by God to bring his children into the Faith in God. That be the case then, there must be many who are members of the church, baptized by water only and hold a false profession of faith. Their children turn from the truth through false prophets who come in Christ’s name, but are preaching a false gospel.

Matthew 24:10-13 “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

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Moments of Change

Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

There are always moments that remain with you throughout your life. At the time they may not seem as God given but, the lesson learned becomes impressed into more than just your mind, they become indwelling. That critical event or word that changes your life and your lifestyle.

My father and mother were God fearing people, most people would call them religious. There were practices that needed to be adhered to. Go to Church, read the Bible, tithe, say grace before meals, dress appropriate, don’t shop on Sunday. Looking back, I see now it was more than only the ritual.

I was raised in Church, baptized, confirmed, the whole 9 yards ritual. At the time, it didn’t seem to stick. Basically I was the typical young man. I rebelled, dropped out. I still believed there was a God and could ‘argue’ religion with the best of atheists.
2 Timothy 3:15 – “and that from a child you have known the Holy Scriptures….”

Dove

Holy Spirit shall come upon you as like a dove

Moving ahead several years. My 12 year old daughter one day asked, “Why don’t we go to church?”. Click, “a moment”. The following Sunday, we were off to church and although there were two other churches closer, we were led to one particular Church. I know now that it was God’s doing. The whole family were able to fit in perfectly. We were more than welcomed, they made us feel we belonged.

It was Pentecost Sunday 1984, that the infilling of the Holy Spirit came upon me. When the preacher laid his hands on me, I knew, the preacher knew, the whole congregation seemed to know – for me, this was “a moment”. A couple whom, I realize now, had taken me and my family on as their prayer mission, at the very moment, jumped up, praised the Lord with a loud “Hallelujah”, and scrambled over to hug us all. Prayer and praise took on a whole different meaning, -became a reality.
John 3:6-8 – “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

My life changed, my family’s lives changed. Except for one thing – my conduct outside of Church and family.

Early one morning, at Granny’s house for a family reunion, before everyone rose, just myself and my older sister’s husband who was a ‘self confirmed’ athiest, objected to something I had said the night before with, “You’re not in church now.”
My only comeback was, “I am always in Church”.
Upon those words coming out of my mouth, I knew. Another Holy Spirit “moment”. Every thing I do reflects my relationship with Christ. Everything I say is a testament to Christ in my life. I am Christian – I am Christ’s. I am no longer my own. I am an agent of God’s love and a vessel of His peace. I am in “Church” always.
2 Corinthians 5:16-18 – So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:”

Love and the Single Mom

Her husband lost his job as construction foreman after the building downturn 5 years prior and in the following year accepted a lower pay job with a private contractor in a small town just outside a military base. They were happy there, got to know their neighbors, attended a local church, along with their two children, they just wanted to fit in. Then the unthinkable happened when one day at work he was killed in a machinery accident. The contractor he worked for did not provide insurance coverage and after the accident, mom and children were left nearly destitute. With only social services to rely on, she was forced to leave the family home and move to a small apartment.

Social services provision not being sufficient to live on, she was forced to work part time at a local diner. Having to leave her children unattended for several hours each day while she worked, the authorities threatened to remove her children from her care. Sometime in her despair  she was offered a drug to hide the pain, she was hooked. Now in deepened desperation and in dire need for money, the woman felt the only way she could manage, was to resort to prostitution. The army base nearby provided ample customers for her illicit services. Her self worth crumbled, she became ashamed to be seen in public.

At the church she attended, she was beginning to feel very uncomfortable. The greeters at the door, although polite, did not seem welcoming anymore. She began to notice people stare in her direction. No one asked her to help out at any of the festivities in which she had participated previously when her husband was alive. No one even comes over to talk with her any more.

Her son has quit soccer and is now a victim of bullying at school. Her daughter is skipping classes and the police have picked her up twice for shop lifting. She has become exceedingly depressed.

I know this woman. I believe you know her too. She arrives just as the service starts, sits near the back of the church and leaves before the service ends. She is a single mom, one of possibly the most ostracized group in the country. To clarify; Not all single moms give in to drugs nor will many resort to prostitution but, well over half are left close to defined poverty. Almost all need help in some way. Most single moms will leave the church. Institutional counselling cannot provide the the care and attention mom and family require.

Consider:

  • The single mom is one of the fastest-growing identified groups of our population, why has the church ignored them for so long?
  • By “appearances” the perceived make-up of most churches is run by and for married couples with adequate incomes.
  • It is difficult for many single moms to ‘Break the Ice’. They feel they will be a burden and their meager contributions just cannot measure up to the standards.
  • There is a stigma attached to being a single mom. “How dare she get pregnant.” or “How dare she get a divorce.”
  • There is often a shield put up by married women to protect husbands and family from the single mom.
  • How has the condemnation of abortion without guidance and support led to the huge numbers of pregnancies ending in abortion?
  • How has the lack of adequate counsel (for both girls and boys) led to so many young girls becoming single moms.
  • How has inadequate marriage and family counselling from the church led to so many divorces?
  • How has the condemnation of divorce without concrete support led to so many single moms leaving the church?
  • Apart from seasonal support at Christmas, often through secular agencies, single moms are very much forgotten.
  • The emotional state and spiritual condition of single moms is as important, if not more so, than the food and clothing.
  • The most precious gift the church can offer a single mom and family is to be welcomed as Christ welcomes.
  • Will single moms place a burden on the church? No!
  • Will single moms use much of the resources of the church? Yes, Be glad in it!

For more information for what the church can do for single moms, type in or copy, ‘single moms and the church‘ to your search engine.

In my peruse of the internet I came across this blog entry:

Illegal Immigrants

Richard Rohr
December 18, 2011

This morning after celebrating the 8AM Mass here at Holy Family parish in Albuquerque, I had finished talking to folks in the vestibule and aisles, when I noticed one middle aged woman standing to the side weeping. I approached her and realized she could not speak English, so I invited another lady to translate her Spanish. She was holding a baby, but said she had three more under 13 at home.
Read more…

Rants of a Christian Enviromentalist

I am an environmentalist. I believe all people have a role to play in protecting the environment and the eco-systems we live in. Even more so for us who claim a dedication to Christian principles. We were created by God to be stewards of all He created.

Earth

View from Space

Genesis 1: 28; And God blessed them, and God said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth”.

It is that word, “DOMINION”, which means REGENCY. God granted us regency in His creation. We, mankind, are to, use the land, the seas and all God has abundantly supplied but, we are to watch over it, take care of it, and return it to Him unsullied. God has asked us to be conservationists, environmentalists, ecologists and take care of this earth. Perhaps, at least in part, it is our failure to look after this earth that the final act of the creation story is to create a new earth, one fit for His Holy Kingdom.

I will admit, I get very judgmental over environment issues, especially towards those whose authority is to look after the affairs of our Country, Province/State, or community. Yes, I am referring to politicians  I live in Alberta, Canada and I realize that even though I am retired, much of the benefits I enjoy come from the resource revenues created by the Oil Sands industry. Some call it the Tar Sands, probably a more fit name but, that is another debate.

The last thing I want in this matter is to have the Oil Sands shut down. That would serve no one. What I would like to see is proper management applied to this resource. Both the Federal and Provincial Governments know the problems with pollution, they have conducted numerous studies, they know the solutions and yet due to heavy lobbying pressure by the oil companies involved, they choose to do nothing environmentally constructive. They boast about the monies the project brings in, they spread economic fear that unnecessary meddling will create economic disaster.

What I don’t understand is why the laws to protect the environment and ecology which are already in place are not enforced over the industries involved with the oil sands.

Several months ago a government authorized study conducted by the Univ. of Alberta confirmed that pollution, directly attributed to oil sands operations, is having a detrimental effect on the environment and the ecology in a wide path, mainly east,(prevailing winds) surrounding the Fort McMurray, Wood Buffalo region. These reports were not released to the public and scientists who worked on the report were put under gag order. The report was eventually leaked by a subordinate several weeks later.

I wrote to my Member of Parliament, Blaine Calkins, on this matter and received this reply:

Dear Mr. Tilley,

Thank you for your letter concerning the recent study done by Environment Canada that confirmed the studies done by Dr. Schindler.

As Environment Canada noted in their report, the levels of containments found in the samples were consistent with contaminants that have been found in areas with no development. Consequently, Environment Canada has decided to do further tests in an effort to better understand the levels of contaminants in the Oil Sands area.

“…the levels of contaminants found in the samples were consistent with contaminants that have been found in areas with no development.” Of course they are consistent – they are the same contaminants blown there by winds coming off the oil sands.
In other words; “We will continue to do nothing.”

I also asked him about the ‘Gag Order’ muzzling the UofA scientists, he replied:

With regards to your comments about monitoring reports being kept secret, and scientists being ‘gagged’, it simply isn’t happening. The process of making reports public is not new, and has not been changed by our Government.

OK, Let’s hear from the scientists themselves after the report was leaked. Watch the following news video.

Government Hides Proof of Oil Sands Contamination
http://www.albertaprimetime.com/Stories.aspx?pd=4450

Original Air Date: Monday, November 05, 2012
The public is learning Environment Canada knew of oil sands contamination and muzzled its scientists. What fallout will those revelations cause?

We speak with David Schindler, international acclaimed and outspoken environmental biologist from the University of Alberta.

Tar Pit #3

Tar Pit #3

This week a new report was released by Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario This time the report was published directly to major news sources. This report confirms the findings of the previous UofA reports of last November.

Oil sands development polluting Alberta lakes: study 
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/oil-sands-development-polluting-alberta-lakes-study/article7014184/

Oil Sands Polluting Area Lakes 
http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/393673-report-oilsands-polluting-area-lakes

Oil sands pollution ‘clearly evident’, government-funded study says 
http://business.financialpost.com/2013/01/07/government-funded-study-concludes-toxic-hydrocarbons-from-oil-sands-pollute-lakes/

Margaret Munro, Postmedia News | Jan 7, 2013

Leading federal and academic scientists have uncovered “compelling” evidence that Alberta’s oil sands operations have been sending toxins into the atmosphere for decades.

Industry’s role as a decades-long contributor of PAHs to oil sands lake ecosystems is now clearly evident
The team has found “striking” increases in contaminants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) at the bottom of six lakes up to 90 kilometres from the massive oil sands operations in northeastern Alberta.

PAHs began to climb in the lake sediments in the 1970s and are now up to 23 times higher than 1960 levels. It says the increased PAHs coincided with oil sands development and the compounds have a distinct “petrogenic” fingerprint different from PAHs generated by natural phenomenon like fire.

Levels of the toxins have almost tripled since the 1960s in Namur Lake, the most remote lake tested. It is about 90 kilometres northwest of oil sands operations in a provincial park known for its fishing. The PAHs are up to 23 times higher in the other lakes, which are within 35 kilometres of the oil sands operations.

“Given the planned expansion of the oil sands, the trend will likely accelerate in future,” says co-author John Smol, a Canada research chair in Environmental Change at Queen’s University.

Government and industry response is; “that many pollutants found in the lakes and rivers of northeastern Alberta are naturally occurring and leached from the bitumen deposits themselves.”

In other words; “We choose to do nothing.”

It’s just a red box

It’s just a red box.

In many big cities the streets are always full of people. People coming and going, from all sorts of countries – they’re tourists, immigrants, ex-change students, business men…In such cities as these it is also common to find artists in the streets – clowns that make the passers-by laugh or musicians that attract listeners with their beautiful melodies. In the centre of Madrid, in Sol, one can also find a group of people and a red box. Read more…..

I find this story quite unique, well unique among the Christian community. Not only of this young lady willing to profess her faith in public, but that her faith grew firm in Pakistan, a country where one would expect just the opposite.

Worship and the Artist

Recently, I visited a blog of a man who is both a sculpter and painter, a very acomplished artist. This man is a Roman Catholic and his work takes him to various churches restoring the religious figures that adorn these places of worship. He mentioned in his post that many Christians condemn his work and the objects of his craft and even him in that he is repairing idols, being that idol worship is wrong.

Exodus 20: 3-6;”3
“You shall have no other gods before me.”
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

The reason this discussion on the condemnation of this man is because many worshipers bow down and pray before the image. Can an image help a worshiper feel closer to God? Many protestant churches have eliminated imagery from their churches and regard religious images as idolatrous. These same churches though, may have very ornate or stylized crosses above the alter. Could not images serve the same as these crosses, to draw people closer to God.

Much of the criticism is around the images of the Virgin Mary, or other patron saints. Surely the objection is toward prayer in the name of these saints and not the image itself. Are the frescoes of cathedrals idolatrous?

If images are considered idols, I wonder then, how could a sculptor or painter glorify God in his craft? Do not ‘religious’ works of art glorify God? Is not artistry a talent gifted from God? Is not true art a reflection of God, the great artistic creator? Artistry can be in many forms, sculpture, painting, music, dance, can not these all be used in God’s service and glorify God?

Exodus 31:1-11 – The Lord said to Moses, “I have chosen Bezalel,…and I have filled him with my power. I have given him understanding, skill, and ability for every kind of artistic work – for planning skillful designs and working them in gold, silver, and bronze; for cutting jewels to be set; for carving wood; and for every other kind of artistic work….”

Every church uses music as part of the worship service. When I was part of the music ministry in the church I was attending, there were several occasions on which we discerned that many of the congregation were becoming ‘wrapped’ in the music rather than in the spirit. Several selections were becoming favorites particularily for that reason, the music itself was becoming seductive. Was the music becoming an idol? I do not really know but, we did take precautions.

I was raised in the Anglican tradition and much of what became ‘orthodox’ tradition has stuck with me even though I no longer attend an Anglican church. I find myself bowing before the alter before taking my seat at church, I will still cross myself as a sign for blessing of the Holy Trinity. Perhaps some may find this practice idolatrous.

Of Rights and Obligations

As a Christian, which comes first, my rights or my obligations?

In almost all democratic nations, within their respective constitutions there contains a clause, almost always within the first paragraph, which reads something as follows, “We are a Nation under God”. The constitution will then list the “Rights” of citizens within that nation, whether it be in the constitution itself or a Declaration of Rights and Freedoms, as in Canada or a Bill of Rights, as in the USA. Every country pre-ambles these rights as “Inalienable and/or God Given”. I have yet to find a democratic country which has a “Bill of Obligations”. I have yet to find a list of “Rights” in the Bible even though biblically we are given many obligations, particularly once we become “a people of God”.

Even the greatest liberty man can receive, salvation, is not a right but, a gift of God. We are not born with it, just the opposite, we are born into sin, into captivity, into death. There is no way we can even earn it.

Ephesians 2:8
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–”

There seems an audacity among many a Christian, even politicians that they will defend the rights of the voters even to quoting scripture out of context to do so. One oft times quoted verse used in a social services context is 2 Thessalonians 3:10;
“….this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

There is no defense of a person’s rights in Paul’s message, just the opposite. One must first read the preceding chapters to understand the verse.

2 Thessalonians 1
3 “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;”
11 “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:”

2 Thessalonians 2
3 “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”
10 “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:”

The chapters can be summed up in these verses:
“your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth”
“the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power”
“because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
“God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie”

Is not Paul’s letter, 2 Thessalonians, basically an testament on Jesus teaching as given in Matthew 25: 34-40 KJV
“34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

James 2:14 KJV
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

Just as you did unto others, you did it to me.

This is the Christian’s obligation of which he/she will do, not under compulsion of the law, but willingly as a work of faith in love of the truth as given to us in Christ that the Father be glorified.

Perhaps the closest the Bible comes to expressing a persons rights is in Jeremiah 22: 13-16 and Proverbs 31:8-9 where it is basically stating that a legitimate people/government will uphold the rights of the poor and vulnerable.

All Christians, all persons, should hold to be true that human dignity can only be protected and a prosperous, healthy community be achieved if others rights are protected and our individual, personal responsibilities are met.

Of our obligations we are given:
Leviticus 25:35 KJV
“And if your brother becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you; then you shall help him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with you.”

Proverbs 31:8-9 NIV
8 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Isaiah 1:17 NIV
“learn to do right!
Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.”

2 Corinthians 9:6-15 KJV
“6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;
14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”

The main work of the Church, the reason for the Church, is to glorify God by doing the works of Christ who came to comfort the poor and the meek, deliver the underprivileged from their plight, show mercy to the persecuted and be a light to God’s salvation.

New Year Resolution Anyone?

Blessings for a Joyous New Year.

I have never made a New Year Resolution. I have always been guilty of some degree of procrastination. I once thought that I would resolve to change that but, ….             (old joke)

In order to make a resolution that has any promise of result, first one must belief that he/she has the power to change one’s situation. Most of the time our lives are much too complicated for follow through on our resolutions. Perhaps that should be everyone’s top resolution; to simplify our lives. Allow God time to show the way.

The historical meaning of ‘Resolution’ is; “the process of reducing things into simpler forms”.

Questions we must ask ourselves before making a resolution:
Why am I making a resolution?
For whom am I making this resolution? For myself? For my Family? For God?
Is my resolution realistic?
What are the realistic expectations for how my life will change upon adapting to my resolution?
What influences are preventing me from achieving the desired results?

Very often it is the way we conduct our lives that stands in the way of any significant improvement. We are creatures of habit, not habits of smoking, or drinking, or drugs, swearing etc. but those things we do that come between us and peace. The rush of mornings before we leave for work. We too often are so regimented, or try to be, that the little obstacles of life, like running out of toothpaste, Johnny can’t find matching socks, Annie needs a note for her teacher, these can disrupt our whole day, well at least the morning. So often our regimentation, our habitual routines, come between us and God. We fail to take time to hear his voice.

Here’s a short story.
A man would leave for work each morning and drive down the cul-de-sac where he lives, come to the intersection, slow down and look up the street before making a right turn onto the avenue. One day after making the turn, blink – blink, a police car was pulling him over.
“Did you not see the stop sign at the intersection you turned off at.” asked the cop.
“Yeah, I saw it.” The man replied.
‘Fraid I’m gonna have to write you a ticket for failing to stop at the intersection.”
“No way, I slowed right down and looked for traffic. That’s the same as stopping.”
“Next time come to a full stop. Here’s your ticket.” The policeman left.

The very next day the man drives down the cul-de-sac, slows down and looks up the street before making a right turn onto the avenue. Again, in the mirror, blink – blink, the same police car was pulling him over.
“So, you didn’t learn your lesson yesterday. I’m gonna have to write you another ticket.”
“O come on! I slowed right down and looked for traffic. That’s the same as stopping.”
The policeman hands the man a ticket and drives off.

Once more, the man drives down the cul-de-sac, slows down at the intersection, looks up the street before making his right turn. Again, in the mirror, blink – blink, the same police car, pulling him over for a third day in a row.
“What am I gonna have to do to get you to come to a complete stop at that intersection?” the cop asked.
“Look officer”, the man retorts with anger, “I slowed right down, I looked for traffic. That’s the same thing as stopping.”
With that the officer reaches in, grabs the man by his head and starts beating on him with his free fist.
“Now,” says the officer, “Do you want me to stop, or just slow down?”

So many Christians are like that driver. God needs to give them a right smack upside the head before they listen.

2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

With that, I wish you a peaceful, prosperous and joy filled 2013 – and may the peace of God, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus. (from Philippians 4:7)

Sensuality – Part of Us All

A large part of sin as described biblically is a matter of works of the flesh. Paul in his epistles is very thorough in listing them all. Many translations include sensuality in this list. Most bible commentaries and sermons posted on the internet interpret scriptural use of the term sensuality as sexual deviance in one form or another.

I turned to the dictionary:
sensuality:
1. The quality or state of being sensual or lascivious.
2. Excessive devotion to sensual pleasure.
Noun 1. sensuality – desire for sensual pleasures
sensualism, sensualness
concupiscence, A strong desire, especially sexual desire; lust.
physical attraction, sexual desire, eros – a desire for sexual intimacy

These definitions describe sexual desire as mankind’s dominant sense?

“Colossians 3:5 NIV “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

Ephesians 4:19 NIV
“Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”

New American Standard Bible
“and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.”

International Standard Version (©2012)
“Since they have lost all sense of shame, they have abandoned themselves to sensuality and practice every kind of sexual perversion without restraint.”

English Standard Version (©2001)
“They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”

Galatians 5:19-21 English Standard Version

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Let us leave out sexual drive in describing what it means to be sensual.

What man, or woman, doesn’t find the feel of English leather appealing? Is that not sensual?

My wife enjoys a tub soak and uses aromatic oils in her bath. That is sensual.

I enjoy listening to jazz or classical music, it effects my senses and more than just my hearing. Most people find music of one genre or another appeals to their senses, – hips start swaying, toes start tapping.

The freshness of the air after a summer rain, even the feel of rain on the skin is sensual.

The aroma of fried onions at the fair. The taste and satisfaction of chocolate. Ice cream on the palate. Hand cream on dry skin. The feel of soft fur on boots and gloves. Stroking the cat, even having the dog or cat on your lap. The changing glow of a sunset. The delight of increasing warmth of sunrise when camping. The play of a fighting fish on light tackle. The warmth and glow of a campfire or fireplace. The emotions of having your lover close, the caress of a lover’s hands. These are all sensual. Surely God gave us these senses for our pleasure, and if so, then they are not sinful.

I find the feel of a well crafted tool, a hammer for instance, the balance, the form to the hand, that is appealing to me. Is that not sensual?

There is something suspicious in an item that is termed ‘Decanted’. I received an email today with an ad for ‘5 Decadently-Scented Body Products’. Obviously appealing to ones sensuality. Then again, ‘Decadent Chocolate Cookies’ are just plain and simple yummy.

Manufacturers employ design teams which will conduct surveys to incorporate sensuality into their product knowing that looks and feel are often more important to a customer than function. They call it ergonomics. They also realize that sex sells. Are we now bordering on the sinful side of sensuality?

Your cell phone has been designed to appeal to you. It’s shape, color and handling is meant for a specific grouping of users. Whether you are young, older, male or female, there is a cell phone tailored directly for you. The sensuality inherent in people translates to money for the savvy entrepreneur.

Fashion is the biggest manipulator of sensuality/sexuality. Why do women wear high heeled shoes? Certainly not for the comfort or practicality. It is for the way it makes a woman look and feel. Raising the heel adds shape to the calves and tightens the buttocks increasing the sensual appeal. Taller women are far more sexier, not that shorter women can’t be sexy, but it comes down to overall sensual appeal. Feeling sexier is more sensual, even if it is only to the ego.

Fashion is tailored for sex appeal for both women and men. Accentuate the bust and hips on women and narrow the waist or have the garment flow to the walk. For men, pants should slim the hip line and jackets give breadth to the shoulders. Clothes define a person, that defining can be attractive, sensual or sexy. To dress to be flirtatious or appeal to the sexual senses of the opposite sex can very well be sinful. Does this mean that the Christian must always be prudish, reserved?

What is the difference between fashion and style? I offer this from Divine Magazine for Women:

“Style requires self-awareness, self-knowledge, confidence, personality, inventiveness, and the courage to express one’s true self in an increasingly fast-paced world that renders individuality almost obsolete. ….. matters of style carry certain social implications. For one, as Psychology Today Editor-at-Large Hara Estroff Marano put it best, “Style presumes that you are a person of interest; that the world is a place of interest, that life is worth making the effort for.” The author also incisively points out that style implies a degree of moral responsibility. Once we limit ourselves to pieces reflective of our personal style, consumption no longer becomes something we blindly partake in to excess, or at the behest of marketers. And in that verve, we do our part, however small, to reduce the waste that currently engulfs our planet.”

Perhaps Ephesians 4:19 explains it best “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” I believe Paul is inferring that we make sure we remain sensitive and restrained, not only to our own sensual pleasures but, the sensual drive of others that we may not cause them to lose themselves to lust.

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