A timely word for a young boy


 

A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word! 

Proverbs 15:23

Several years ago, I attended a reunion at Hollygrove, where I worked during my college days. It was a home for orphans and kids who were wards of the court.  It was under the auspices of the Los Angeles Orphan’s Home Society. The home, which was a huge building with several cottages was right in the middle of Hollywood. The whole complex was surrounded by trees and bushes, so that you hardly knew you were in Hollywood.  This is where, many years before,  a child named Marilyn Monroe lived when her family was in turmoil.  I know this to be true because I ran across her file one day while at Hollygrove.  Her name then was Norma Jean Baker, a very pretty name. I don’t know why she changed it later on, perhaps, and am just guessing, to separate herself from a very troubled childhood,

Walking into the lounge/cafeteria where the reunion was being held, I wondered if I would recognize any of the kids whom I had worked with so long ago.  Or would they even know me, for it had been 15 years?

As I looked around the room, which numbered about 50 or so, some faces looked familiar, but I couldn’t recall their names unless I looked at the name tags. Then while moving through the room talking with as many as possible, two young women approached me, one was with her husband and the other with her children. They knew who I was and began to praise the home and all of its staff for what had been done for their husbands who were children at Hollygrove

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. They were especially appreciative of the faith their husbands found at the home.

Hollygrove was not a Christian home; it was secular. However, it just happened to have a staff where most were Christians.  And because of this, the hope of Christ was often shared with kids who had lost hope with their families. Bottom line, many, many, many kids at Hollygrove found Christ during their years there.

While talking with these two gals, all of a sudden, a big 6”5” giant of a man grabbed me from behind and raised me up in the air.  He was not mad at me, just excited to see me once again. The last time I saw him was when he was eleven years old.

He cried out!

“It’s Brian, Mr. McClain, it’s me.”

“Oh, my heavens”, I said, “Not the little boy in cottage five.”

Then he said something that took me back a little, for I did not always remember every experience I had while working at Hollygrove. Here’s what I remember Brian saying, although I am not sure all of the words and sentences are 100% correct.

“Thanks, Mr. McClain, for writing me that letter after you left the home; what you said really helped, for I had been struggling with God back then, wondering if He loved me. When I got your letter out of the blue, I knew He did.”

As Brian continued and told me about how his life went over the years, I was so proud of him, for he turned out to be a man who loved God, was a good worker, and a great husband and father to his children.  For what he missed out on while growing up he made up for by always being there for both his wife and children.

I don’t remember all that I wrote to Brian at the time.  It had been a number of years since I saw him. But when Bob, the manager of Hollygrove, called and told me about his struggles, I immediately wrote what I thought might help. Needless to say, God used those words, as He will use your words to help others who are hurting, especially those laced in with the Scriptures.

Finally, never pass on any opportunity to say something helpful to another in need, nor sell short what you say, for God can use any and everything said to make a tremendous difference.

Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstance. They are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 25:11 & Proverbs 16:24

 

 

Lost in the Marsh


 

Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!

Luke 15:6

In 1955, my grandfather penned the following  account at the end of a book he wrote for a Bresee church located in Pasadena, California, which was once a flag ship church for the Nazarene denomination.

My grandfather was a very successful businessman, retiring at a young age to spend time with my brother and me after our family breakup. Yet amid his many business affairs he made time to lead Bresee’s large Sunday School program.

Trying to make an important point with his Sunday school teachers before the new year kicked off, he shared the following personal story with them

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. When I read it by chance a few years ago I was greatly moved, for I never knew this story about my grandfather.

“On November 1, 1925 at one o’clock, I was on duty at the Magnolia Petroleum Company in Beaumont, Texas.  The telephone rang and on the other end of the line was my younger brother who told me that Luis, our older brother, and another man,  were missing from a hunting trip they had gone on. He wondered if I could join in to search for the two of them. (In those days there were no search and rescue teams, everyone was pretty much on their own)

All, I remember saying was, ‘I am leaving right now, where can I meet up with you,’  for I loved my older brother very much. As I arrived at the site of the camp where the other hunters were, only one of them knew the marsh area where Luis and the other man could have gotten lost.  I said to my younger brother, ‘ Stay here, I will go out with this man and find our brother. Pray that he is still alive.’  And so, we went off into the marsh which was a quagmire of filthy water, reeds, and thickets, which came up to our waists as we trudged through it. It was difficult to say the least to make much progress, but I was determined, my brother was not going to die.

Meanwhile, what had happened to Luis, is that both he and his other hunting partner got cut off and separated from the rest of the group and had lost their way.  They tried shooting their guns off in the air so they could be heard and located, but both guns jammed and became useless. While trying to make their way, Luis and his partner went further in the wrong direction, ending up deeper in the wet and mucky marsh.  Exhausted, they tried to sleep when night fell, but found this impossible standing in water up to their arm pits.  When morning came, Luis was able to see better and discovered they had been going in the wrong direction, but when he turned to his hunting partner to tell him,  he had somehow died during the night. It could have been his heart, or just the bite of a venomous snake, which were everywhere. Nevertheless, he was dead. According to Luis’ account he tried to carry his partner for a mile or two but finally ran out of energy and could go no further.  Luis then placed their two guns into the marshy ground and placed his friends’ shoulders and head on top of them so that he could be found later. He was eventually found when others on horseback saw and retrieved his body. Luis continued on but was so beat that he could hardly make it much further, thinking that his own life was also about to come to end.

On my end as I walked deeper into the marsh, mile after mile, and hour after hour, and regularly yelling out at the top of my lungs,  ‘Luis, where are you? Luis, where are you?’  Then I heard a small faint voice off in the distance, it came from Luis, who was trying to yell back as best he could.  ‘ I am here, I am here, oh brother, I am here!’

When I pushed on toward him, I could hardly recognize Luis, for his face was so swollen due to all of his mosquito bites.  I immediately embraced him, and then picked Luis up and carried him back to camp. The other man with me also helped in carrying him. On the way bak, Luis kept saying over and over again, ‘I knew you would come and save me; I just knew you would.’

After telling this story to the Sunday School teachers, I ended by saying, ‘I loved my brother and would have done anything to save him.’ Perhaps in your teaching this year, you might have the same feeling of love and commitment toward the children you will be serving at Sunday School each week.  And maybe, just maybe, you might visit them in their homes, helping them invite their friends to your class. If just one of those found Christ by your extra efforts, wouldn’t that be worth it.  Like my brother Luis, who was all but lost, but then was found.

The Sunday school teachers responded, and more came to Sunday school than ever before.”

Before I end this story about my grandfather and what he shared with his Sunday School teachers, I happened to be with my grandfather when Luis died years later. He had a stroke, which put him in a wheelchair for several months, and then in the hospital. As my grandfather visited one last time, he held his hand as he passed away.  It was a precious time.

Many years after that, while at school in seminary,  a message came to me while in class, “Your grandfather does not have long to live, you need to come as soon as possible.” He had been in the hospital himself for several days.  I arrived and was at my grandfather’s bedside, much like he was with Luis. He was delirious, for his cancer had gotten to his brain.  But when I took his hand and said to him, “Grandfather I am praying for you,” he came out of his delirium to say, “Prayer, yes, prayer is the answer, Kent.” Then he passed away to be with the Lord, and Luis as well.

What can you and I take from this story for ourselves?  I know what my grandfather’s Sunday School teachers took from it.  But what about you and me? Maybe the resolve to do all we can to help bring others to Christ.  And In doing this, we may have to go through a quagmire of marshy circumstances to finally get to them, but won’t it be worth it if just one comes into God’s kingdom?

Scriptures for your consideration

“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.  Luke 15:4-7

 

Ready, Willing, and Able


 

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. 

For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for your welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope.

Job 33:4 Jeremiah 29:11

 

I remember when I was a boy, my dad who was a naval chaplain took my brother and me aboard his ship. He escorted us all over it, showing us everything about his vessel. At the end of our tour, we sat down with my dad at the captain’s table for dinner. It was very formal, so we sat up straight, used good table manners, and were on our best behavior.

Perhaps as you well know, Navy ships have been vital to our nation’s safety and security. But it takes a long time to build one of these vessels. Today, for instance, an aircraft carrier can take up to 4 years to construct. However, in World War II, when there was a great need to get as many ships into battle as soon as possible, it only took about a year to complete each one of them.

Back then, as is the case today, there are many kinds of Navy ships with different designs, sizes, capabilities, and purposes. Each is important in its own right, and all work together to keep our nation safe, as well as other nations seeking our help.

Comparatively, you and I have also been uniquely constructed, but our construction is not entirely from our fathers and mothers, but from the hands of God, who had each of us in mind long before He put our parents on earth.

You had set me apart before I was born and called me by Your grace. You formed my inward parts and wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Galatians 1: 5; Psalm 139:13

Each of us is well thought out and designed by God who gives us various personalities, capabilities, skills, and purposes. And though it seems like we look or even act like others, we are uniquely different, for God broke the mold after each one of us was made.

In respect to this, my dad’s ship, the USS Jason, was a repair ship; its purpose was to fix, rebuild, and restore other Navy ships that had broken down at sea. After the Jason was launched in 1943, and put into action it developed a distinctive history totally unto itself, logging over 50 years of service for our country. How many ships the Jason saved is not known, perhaps hundreds. But the point is, just as there was only one USS Jason in this world, there is only one of you in God’s kingdom You are one of a kind to God and very special to Him.

Like the USS Jason, each of us was made by God to fulfill a purpose, and for some several purposes. Whatever that purpose or purposes are, each of us is just as important to Him as another.

God’s preparation for each of us may vary, just like that of the USS Jason, which probably took a little more time to equip because cranes, hoists, and winches had to be put in place. The Jason had big guns too, but not near as many as other naval ships. Likewise, some of us will experience longer periods of building time, depending on what kind of ship God is making out of us.

God’s place of preparation and development may also be different from one another, some do better in this while at sea, others need more time in the shipyard. This all depends upon what the Lord knows about us in the moment, and what He knows about us in the days ahead.

However, whether God’s preparation is at sea or on land, one thing is clear throughout the Scripture, we are all made to be launched and sail the ocean. That means entering into this world with a visible Christ on each of our decks, so others can see and consider Him for their lives.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations. Matthew 28:19

On a final note, don’t ever forget God is the one who made you who you are. In His eyes you are what He wanted; He has no regrets. So, don’t throw away any part of yourself by sinful disobedience, or by listening to the skewed opinions of others

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. If you have sinned, then make it right with Him as soon as possible, so that you can return and see yourself as God sees you, with no regrets. And never forget that God will always love you no matter what, good, bad, or in-between, for His love is unconditional.

Remember, and I mean always remember, that He has given you  certain purposes in this life to fulfill. Some purposes may have come and gone, while others are with you right now, and still others will come in the future. And if God has purposes for you, then you need to have  purposes too for yourself.

On another note, realize that when you received Christ as Lord, it was like having the perfect captain come aboard who knows exactly how to run your ship and get it where it needs to go.  Therefore, let Him do all the steering, especially when the storms and hurricanes of this life hit.

Finally, when you asked Christ into your heart, making Him your captain so to speak, you received a full measure of the Spirit, who is like a repair ship traveling with you day and night. His purpose is to fix everything that goes wrong in your life. All you need do is call out to Him for help. And like the motto of the USS Jason, Ready, Willing, and Able, so is the Spirit.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. The Spirit will also give life to your mortal bodies. John 14:26; Romans 8:11  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A race in jeopardy!


 

Encourage the exhausted and strengthen the feeble

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Isaiah 35:3

Some years ago, I was listening to a sermon on encouragement when the pastor broke into a joke, saying, “What has helped me the most when discouraged is a file I put together, with all of the upbeat comments I had received from others over the years. When I get down about the things in this life, I just read those comments. I must have reread those two comments from my mother and wife over and over again.” Of course, I and others laughed for what he said was kind of funny, but I thought such a folder was not a bad idea.  So, I put together a folder of my own, and sure enough when things go south in my life, I get out that folder and read some of the comments.  It really helps, for God uses these catalogued comments to encourage me when my life needs reassurance. I suggest making such a folder for yourself, for it could help when criticisms roll in or adverse circumstance hit in your life.

As I conclude this article let me share with you an experience I had several years ago, one where I received an important encouragement during a difficult challenge. What I got from it not only helped me get through the challenge but inspired me to encourage others.

Many years ago when I was young, I used to run in long distant races to keep fit. In my first marathon which was  26.2 miles, I trained hard for two months with a friend named Mark. A week before the marathon we were running 10 and 15 miles to make sure we would be ready for the race. However, on the weekend of the race, I did some foolish last things, like refereeing three basketball games the day before the marathon and skipping breakfast that morning, feeling two cups of coffee was all I needed. As I found out later during the race, these were not  very wise decisions to say the least.

As the race begun Mark and I ran a pretty good pace, but around mile 14 I began to run out of gas.  I told Mark to go on without me that I would catch up later. As I struggled to get to the 18-mile marker, I was all but done, very discouraged, and ready to quit. As I slowed to a walk, a young college girl running her first marathon ran by me. She stopped, and said, “Come on, you can make it, I will run with you the rest of the way.” Encouraged, I began to run again, and she was true to her word, and stayed with me until the finish line.  I thanked her and introduced this young girl to Mark and my family who were awaiting me at the end.

I never saw this girl again, but what she did was so supportive and selfless. She could have had a much better running time but decided cheering me on to the finish was a far better goal.  In the years to come when it came time for me to encourage others, I would remember her along with other Christians I knew who were also great encouragers. And of course, there was Paul, perhaps one of the greatest encouragers in the Scripture, who not only uplifted the discouraged, but inspired them to do likewise with others.

So, if you ever have the opportunity to share an encouraging word with another don’t hesitate, for it may make a huge difference in their life. A kind, uplifting, affirming, and reassuring word can go a long way.

Paul’s Encouraging Words

Philippians 1:3-7 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, for I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart.

Philippians 2:1-2 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 

I Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.

 

 

Meeting God in the Morning


 

 

Here is a passage of Scripture and a revised poem by Ralph Cushman, each have inspired me during times when I lost sight of God during the course of a particular day.

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love Lord, for I put my confidence in You. Show me the way I should go

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. Psalm 143:8 

I met God in the morning When the day was at its best, And His presence came like glory Of the sunrise in my breast.

All day long His Presence continued, All day long He stayed with me. We sailed in perfect calmness Over many a troubled sea.

Other ships were blown and battered, Other ships were sorely distressed. But the winds that seemed to drive them, Brought to me peace and rest.

Then I thought of other mornings, With keen remorse in mind. When I had loosed the moorings With His presence left behind.

I think I know the secret now, Learned from a resulting troubled way; I must seek God in the morning If I want Him through the day.

 

Tule Fog


When we used to live in Bakersfield, California,  both Myrna and I had to deal with the Tule Fog from time to time. It is a fog that usually forms in the late fall in the San Joaquin Valley.  When the Tule fog hits visibility can be treacherous to drive in, varying from 10 feet to a few feet, to near zero.  I remember times where I had to hang my head out the window just to see a little bit of what was ahead on the road.  Needless to say, it causes a lot of accidents.

Times in our lives can get pretty foggy too, where it is difficult to see what is ahead for us in respect to God’s will.   For times like these when they hit, here is a poem and two passages of Scriptures I have clung to, especially when discerning God’s direction.  The good part to all of this is that just as fog eventually dissipates, so do the circumstances that sometimes keep us from seeing what God has been up to the whole time while straining to see Him.

 

Fogged In!

(J. Danson Smith, rbk)

 

The road is fogged in, my Lord’s will seem hidden,

And further progress for the time is stayed.

But in good time God will again be bidden,

Meantime I will not be afraid.

 

Then came the night while restlessly sleeping,

A vision appeared, and my Lord said, “Prepare to move!”

So, once again in God’s good keeping,

I stepped forth, His faithfulness to prove.

 

No human voice conveyed a word of leading;

No human hand was sent my way to guide;

No human heart fully knew my depth of needing,

Or could assist my steps to decide.

 

And so, without others to appeal,

Assuredly now I began only to seek His will.

In response God began to reveal,

The purpose for which I was to fulfill.

 

Perhaps you are waiting too for His leading,

Your heart longs like mine did to know.

Rest in God, for His ear has heard you pleading.

The next steps He will surely show.

 

And as He does, don’t forget.

He knows what He is doing,

From early morning to sunset,

Always arranging and planning.

 

So, pray, read His Word, be ready to go,

The fog is moving and clearing.

And what seemed so longingly slow,

Will soon bring an end to your wanting and waiting. 

Deuteronomy 31:8  The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you

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. Do not fear or be dismayed. 

Isaiah 41:10  Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

The Wolf and the Knife


Do not say, “I’ll take revenge and do to them as they have done to me, … but instead strive to do what is good for each other.”  Proverbs 24:29, I Thessalonians 5:15 1 (rvk)

Today, more than ever we can see what criticism can do to others, especially if done in the wrong way. Just look at our political arena, where one side is criticizing the other without reservation and with great malice. Whether these leaders realize it or not they are destroying the spirit of our nation, as well as themselves. However, this article is not about politics but about what we as Christians need to do when receiving untrue criticism or badly done correction.

First there is an applicable story I want to share; whether it is true or legend I do not know. It is about a tribe of Eskimos that once killed dangerous wolves in a very effective way. To begin, they sharpened the blade of a knife until it was razor sharp, and then dipped it in the blood of a seal they had recently killed. They put the knife outside until the blood froze on the blade. They repeated this process over and over until there were many coats of blood on the blade. Afterward the Eskimos planted the knife in the snow far from their igloos. The scent of the blood, even though frozen, could be easily picked up by a wolf in the area. It would then begin licking, layer after layer, until only the blade was left. The wolf would continue, causing him to bite into the blade, and eventually bleed to death.2

Had the wolf in this story been wise enough to just step back from the knife when tempted by its smell of blood, he would have survived. And so, it is with you, instead of taking revenge when criticized or corrected, or becoming angry and defensive, backpedal a bit before saying or doing anything

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.

What are some back-pedaling steps? Here are just a few, for there are many.

A first step back from the blade of criticism or a poorly done correction is to stay quiet and just listen to the person offering the criticism or correction. In your silence pray that God will help control your feelings, which can range from surprise, despair, depression, to anger. Responding in anger with a counter criticism is like the wolf licking off the first layer of blood on the knife.

A second step back is to consider what is being said in the criticism or correction, maybe there is a kernel of truth to what is said. If so, then God will show this to you. Sometimes He confirms this through your feelings, and at other times through others who love you. Not to consider what is said, is like licking off another layer of blood on the knife.

A third step is to thank the person for what they’ve said and tell them you will consider it. This shows real humility which the Lord always loves to see in us. Such an answer will not only help you recover from the criticism or correction more quickly, but it will also greatly help build a bridge with the person who shared his or her concerns with you. Not to do so, but walking away in anger and disgust, is like licking yet another layer of blood on the knife.

A fourth step is to apply what you’ve learned from being a receiver of criticism or correction to situations when you are in a position to correct or criticize. Make sure what you say is filled with feelings and words of genuine care and love. Use words that will bring the person you are talking to, improved character, hope, and a closer relationship to Christ. Not to do so in this manner, gets you nearer to that razor-sharp blade, which will cut you to pieces.

Conclusion

Remember, when criticized or corrected by others, don’t lick the knife of revenge, just take it and grow from it.  And if that person has been unfair or ruthless in what they’ve said to you, just let the Lord take care of them. He will likely do it through another to bring them into account for what they’ve said or done. Finally, learning to deal with criticism or correction in a God-honoring way will keep you from possibly bleeding to death.

Scriptures on Correction

I Thessalonians 5:15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

Galatians 6:1, Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

Matthew 18:15 If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 

Ephesians 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

Footnotes

  1. rvk- Scriptures where the meaning has not been changed but have been shortened. (Revised by Kent)
  2. How to Kill a Wolf,com (October 19, 2006)

 

 

The Wolf and the Knife

Categories: Articles By Date


Do not say, “I’ll take revenge and do to them as they have done to me, … but instead strive to do what is good for each other.”  Proverbs 24:29, I Thessalonians 5:15 1 (rvk)

Today, more than ever we can see what criticism can do to others, especially if done in the wrong way. Just look at our political arena, where one side is criticizing the other without reservation and with great malice. Whether these leaders realize it or not they are destroying the spirit of our nation, as well as themselves. However, this article is not about politics but about what we as Christians need to do when receiving untrue criticism or badly done correction.

First there is an applicable story I want to share; whether it is true or legend I do not know. It is about a tribe of Eskimos that once killed dangerous wolves in a very effective way. To begin, they sharpened the blade of a knife until it was razor sharp, and then dipped it in the blood of a seal they had recently killed. They put the knife outside until the blood froze on the blade. They repeated this process over and over until there were many coats of blood on the blade. Afterward the Eskimos planted the knife in the snow far from their igloos. The scent of the blood, even though frozen, could be easily picked up by a wolf in the area. It would then begin licking, layer after layer, until only the blade was left. The wolf would continue, causing him to bite into the blade, and eventually bleed to death.2

Had the wolf in this story been wise enough to just step back from the knife when tempted by its smell of blood, he would have survived. And so, it is with you, instead of taking revenge when criticized or corrected, or becoming angry and defensive, backpedal a bit before saying or doing anything.

What are some back-pedaling steps? Here are just a few, for there are many.

A first step back from the blade of criticism or a poorly done correction is to stay quiet and just listen to the person offering the criticism or correction. In your silence pray that God will help control your feelings, which can range from surprise, despair, depression, to anger

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. Responding in anger with a counter criticism is like the wolf licking off the first layer of blood on the knife.

A second step back is to consider what is being said in the criticism or correction, maybe there is a kernel of truth to what is said. If so, then God will show this to you. Sometimes He confirms this through your feelings, and at other times through others who love you. Not to consider what is said, is like licking off another layer of blood on the knife.

A third step is to thank the person for what they’ve said and tell them you will consider it. This shows real humility which the Lord always loves to see in us. Such an answer will not only help you recover from the criticism or correction more quickly, but it will also greatly help build a bridge with the person who shared his or her concerns with you. Not to do so, but walking away in anger and disgust, is like licking yet another layer of blood on the knife.

A fourth step is to apply what you’ve learned from being a receiver of criticism or correction to situations when you are in a position to correct or criticize. Make sure what you say is filled with feelings and words of genuine care and love. Use words that will bring the person you are talking to, improved character, hope, and a closer relationship to Christ. Not to do so in this manner, gets you nearer to that razor-sharp blade, which will cut you to pieces.

Conclusion

Remember, when criticized or corrected by others, don’t lick the knife of revenge, just take it and grow from it.  And if that person has been unfair or ruthless in what they’ve said to you, just let the Lord take care of them. He will likely do it through another to bring them into account for what they’ve said or done. Finally, learning to deal with criticism or correction in a God-honoring way will keep you from possibly bleeding to death.

 

Scriptures on Correction

I Thessalonians 5:15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

Galatians 6:1, Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

Matthew 18:15 If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 

Ephesians 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

Footnotes

  1. rvk- Scriptures where the meaning has not been changed but have been shortened. (Revised by Kent)
  2. How to Kill a Wolf,com (October 19, 2006)

Introduction to the series What the Scripture Tells Christians about Homosexuality and Gender Change


 

Wisdom from God is pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, and full of mercy. His words are unwavering, without hypocrisy, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, which can pierce the soul and spirit. James 3:17; Hebrews 4:12-13 (RBK)

The following chapters are earmarked toward Christians, so they will have a better grasp on how to minister to those who identify themselves as homosexual or align with the LGBT Community.  Some of these chapters were taken from my earlier notes taken when putting together my book, Revealing God’s Design with Love (What the Scripture tells Christians about Homosexuality and Gender Change). This book can be purchased on  Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble (www.barnesandnobel.com) , and the website, Destineemedia.com

I find the subjects of homosexuality and gender change to be two of the most controversial and challenging on which I have written. This was not the case in 2001 when I first wrote about homosexuality and one of its derivatives, same-sex marriage. When I presented a Biblical view of homosexuality and same-sex marriage back then, I received a lot of agreement, encouragement, and supportive comments from other Christians. Some of those comments are in this web site section under the title, Same Sex Marriage.

This has not been the case this time around. American culture has changed and now reacts with greater tolerance towards all spinoffs of homosexuality, including gender change, which was hardly on the radar back in 2001. Several Christians have cautioned and even encouraged me to reconsider writing on this subject, as I may get heavily criticized, harassed, or ridiculed. Nevertheless, I have forged ahead and written a book that focuses on what the Scriptures teach about homosexuality, gender change, and their derivatives.

These chapters explore many difficult questions about this issue, some are rhetorical, but most are not. The answers to these questions are based on Scripture and my experiences or conversations with gays and those who have changed their gender. Some were friends, acquaintances, and others participated in some of my previous ministries. In case you were wondering, I have never been gay or interested in changing my sex. I have different temptations, desires, and enticements in this life, but these are not among them.

I have noted in this work a significant divide among churches today on ways to minister to gays and the transgender person. On one end of the spectrum, some churches feel we must accept homosexuals and the transgender person as is, and not try to change them. Other churches reject and refuse to minister to those who have these sexual orientations and lifestyles. Both church philosophies have elements of rightness and wrongness in their approach to applying what they believe God would have them do according to the Scriptures.

Special notes regarding terminology

The following terms: homosexual, gay, and LGBT will be used interchangeably throughout these chapters. Homosexual is the term the Bible uses to describe a sexual relationship or attraction between those of the same gender. Gay means the same but is a more acceptable term in many societies and cultures today. The acronym LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) stands for different expressions of homosexuality and gender identity.

L-Lesbian is a female homosexual, one who experiences romantic love or sexual attraction to other females.

G-Gay is often used to describe homosexual males but can also be applied to homosexual females.

B-Bisexual identifies both males and females who have romantic and sexual desire toward both genders.

T-Transgender person is one who has chosen a gender identity that does not correspond to his or her birth sex. A transsexual is a transgender person who has undergone a medical procedure to make a gender change.

Besides homosexual, other terms found in Scripture that relate to homosexuality include effeminate and cross-dressing.

Effeminate– A boy or man who intentionally tries to display feminine traits, so he can be identified as a woman. The opposite would also be true of a woman trying to become like a man. Both are forerunners to changing one’s gender. There are those who may naturally display traits of the opposite sex, but this does not condemn them. It is only when they try and be the opposite gender that puts them in opposition to God and His design for them.

Cross-dressing– To dress in clothing that is usually worn by the opposite gender with the intent to be identified with that gender. This is yet another precursor associated with changing one’s gender.

The terms Scripture, Scriptures, Bible, Word, and Word of God are all the same and will be used throughout interchangeably

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When using the term Hollywood, I am not referring to a particular city or even the people who live in this Southern California metropolitan area, but to those who make up the news media and entertainment business. In a broad sense, ‘Hollywood” in this book also refers to those who are deemed worldly, that is, those whose lifestyles run counter to God and His written Word.

The initials RBK, which may come after a particular quoted Scripture, stands for revised by Kent, the author. I revised some verses for the sake of brevity. In the process of doing this, I worked hard to make sure the original meaning of these verses was not changed.

The quoted passages and verses within the text are usually from the New American Standard (NASB) Version.

In these chapters, all Scriptural references that appear in parenthesis can be found in my book, Revealing God’s Design with Love (What  the Scripture tells Christians about Homosexuality and Gender Change), or in your Bible. In each chapter only the Scriptural references dealing with homosexuality and gender changed are listed at the end of each chapter.

 

 

Chapter 1 What does the Bible teach about homosexuality and transgender people?


 

Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. Psalm 119:105 & II Timothy 3:16

This chapter may seem a bit tough on the LGBT community, but irrespective of this, those in these communities need to be loved. In accomplishing this, revealing God’s truth about what they are doing is a key part of expressing this love. Other parts include friendship, acceptance, grace, loving discipline, and forgiveness. These attributes will be discussed further in other chapters, which hopefully will give a complete picture of the love Christians are to have toward these individuals.

The following passages of Scripture, which claim to be inspired by God, reflect His view of homosexuality and all of its derivatives. These Scriptures may seem harsh, condemning, and even uncompassionate at times, yet each is necessary to get those struggling with these practices into His kingdom.

What specific passages mention or refer to homosexuality?

Nine key passages mention or refer to homosexuality. The most straightforward and validating are listed first. They appear in both the Old and New Testaments, five in the Old, and four in the New.

Passage 1-Leviticus 18:22-24

22 You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. 23 Also, you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion. 24 Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. 

Comment– In this Old Testament passage homosexuality is condemned and is specially called an abomination. In other words, it is something that is very shameful and loathsome to God and His design. It is mentioned alongside another revolting and forbidden act: intercourse with an animal.

Passage 2-Leviticus 20:13

If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their blood guiltiness is upon them.

Comment– In this Old Testament passage homosexuality is a detestable act that was worthy of death in Israel. Even though such a punishment is no longer employed by Israel, or in most countries, it does not take away God’s condemnation of this sin.

Passage 3 I-Timothy 1:8-11

8 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for the murderers 10and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

 Comment- This New Testament passage was written by Paul, the one whom God called upon to explain more about God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness than possibly any other writer of the Bible. By the end of his life and ministry, Paul had composed almost half the books in the New Testament. In this particular passage, he identified homosexuals as unholy and profane along with murderers, immoral men, kidnappers, liars, and perjurers.

Passage 4-I Corinthians 6:9-11

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [a forerunner to gender change], nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Comment- In this letter to the church in Corinth, Paul warns that those who commit homosexuality are unrighteous and unfit for the kingdom, as were fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, the effeminate, thieves, coveters, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers. Quite a list with which to be grouped, wouldn’t you say?

According to Paul, an unrepentant response or unbelieving heart in respect to a sin like this, or any other as far as that is concerned, would disqualify one from entering the kingdom of God. This means exclusion from salvation, exclusion from an abiding relationship with God, and exclusion from a heavenly reward.

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. Romans 2:5

Passage 5-Romans 1:20-32

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. 

Comment- Paul is very explicit here about homosexuality, showing the heart can spiral away from honoring God and His design. The foolish heart tries to reverse its own nature where men end up sexually attracted to men and women to women which is worthy of death.

As this passage closes, Paul again groups homosexuality with other detestable sins. This doesn’t mean those who claim to be gay commit all the other sins recorded here, but it does mean that homosexuality is no less sinful than the ones cited. These include reprobates, murderers, backbiters, covenant breakers, inventors of evil, haters of God, and being deceitful, insolent, malicious, covetous, disobedient, haughty, boastful, unmerciful, absent of natural affection, and full of envy.

Passage 6-Genesis 19:1; 4-7; 10-13; 24-25

1Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 4Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; 5and they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.” 6But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, 7and said, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly.” 10But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. 11They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway.” 12Then the two men said to Lot, “Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city bring them out of the place; 13for we are about to destroy this place because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” 24Then the Lord rained on Sodom, and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, 25and He overthrew those cities, and the entire valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

Comment– This passage tells of an event in the Old Testament where men from every quadrant of the city of Sodom, young and old, showed up at Lot’s door one night demanding to have sex with the two men visiting him

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. The two visitors, though, were not men, but angels. They had come to rescue Lot and his family from impending doom. Sodom along with nearby Gomorrah was going to be destroyed because of their exceeding wickedness.

It cannot be ignored that homosexual lust and behavior in this account was highlighted as perhaps one of the greatest of sins in Sodom. So, God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of their many sins, including the sin of homosexuality.

Passage 7-Judges 19:22-23

22While they were celebrating, behold, the men of the city, certain worthless fellows, surrounded the house, pounding the door; and they spoke to the owner of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring out the man who came into your house that we may have relations with him.” 23Then the man, the owner of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my fellows, please do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not commit this act of folly.”

Comment- In this passage, homosexuality was deemed wicked and an act of folly. Because it was not dealt with according to Leviticus 18 and 20, one event led to another which in turn led to the tribe of Benjamin being all but wiped out by the rest of Israel. The resulting event, however, is not the point; the point is that homosexuality was identified as wicked and full of folly.

Passage 8-Jude 6-7

6And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, He (God) kept them in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day, 7just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural (strange) desires, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (English Standard Version & RBK)

Comment– In respect to homosexuality, Jude recorded that the final judgment of the angels who had rebelled against God would be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. And, like Sodom and Gomorrah, the sin of these fallen angels involved unnatural sex. As previously stated, unnatural sex was deemed immoral and associated with being wicked and rebellious. (See Romans 1:26-27 above.)

What specific passages allude to gender change?

Along with Deuteronomy 22:5, I Corinthians 6:9 plays a complementary role in explaining the development of gender change through the Scriptures. I Corinthians 6:9 has already been referred to in passage 4, which brought out another condemning point about homosexuality.

Deuteronomy 22:5

A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God. [Forerunner to gender change]

I Corinthians 6:9

 9Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived…the effeminate… will not inherit the kingdom of God. [Forerunner to gender change] (RBK)

Comment– In the Deuteronomy passage, Israelites were condemned for deliberately dressing or acting opposite of the sex to which they were born. Such an act was an abomination to God because, in essence, it was like telling Him that He didn’t know what He was doing when creating a man to be a man or a woman, a woman. This was expressed in the Old Testament by cross-dressing, but, today, it has advanced to changing gender.

In the Corinthian passage, effeminacy is also condemned, because it carries with it the same idea of striving to be or act like the opposite sex. This is why it is a forerunner to changing gender in today’society because it rejects the sexual identity given to each of us by God at birth.

Effeminacy typically refers to a boy or man purposely acting or speaking like a woman, but the same could be applied to a woman trying to be like a man. The key, in either case, is the intent. If there is no intent or desire to be the opposite gender, then there is no reason to be overly concerned about one’s level of feminine or masculine characteristics.

Last Thoughts

The great importance and role Scripture plays in this book with the issues of homosexuality and gender change, can be seen in the following quote by Priscilla Howe:

The Bible is a book that contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the fate of sinners, and the joy promised to all believers. Its doctrines are right, precepts binding, histories true, and decisions irrefutable. The Scriptures contain the light needed to direct our paths and the spiritual food to support, comfort and cheer our hearts. It is a traveler’s map, a pilgrim’s staff, a soldier’s sword, and a Christian’s charter. In it paradise is revealed, heaven opened up, and the realities of loss and hell disclosed. Christ is its grand focus, and our salvation is one of its most important aims. The Scriptures can fill our minds with truth, rule our hearts, and guide our steps. 1

The Bible is God’s inspired and written Word on just about every subject in this life including homosexuality and gender change. Whether a man tries to be or act like a woman or a woman like a man, this very attempt says to God that He was mistaken when making some of us the way He did. God does not make any mistakes in His human design; it is we who make the mistake of trying to change or alter what He has done.