Precious Hope

For it was by hope that we were saved; but if we see what we hope for, then it is not really hope. For which of us hopes for something we see? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

In the same way the Spirit also comes to help us, weak as we are. For we do not know how we ought to pray; the Spirit himself pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express. And God, who sees into our hearts, knows what the thought of the Spirit is; because the Spirit pleads with God on behalf of his people and in accordance with his will. (Roman 8:24-27 GNB)

My daughter often prays for the end of Global Warming. I have also prayed for issues that seemed too hard. How can the hearts of hardened people be melted? When can the outcasts find relief?

We need to be faithful, because our Lord is faithful. Our prayers and praises are companion to the Holy Spirit. Be patient, because our Lord is readying the hearts of the people. When the term is full the Holy Spirit will ignite the compassion of the people, and the world will be changed.


Debunking the Clobber Verse in First Corinthian Chapter 6

In First Corinthian Chapter 6 Paul wrote about some of the problems in the Corinthian church. Apparently members of the Corinthian church have been attacking each other in the courts.  Paul wrote that such lawsuits should be stopped, because they are wicked behaviors.  Paul gave a list of other examples that are also wicked in verse 9 and 10.

Surely you know that the wicked will not possess God’s Kingdom. Do not fool yourselves; people who are immoral or who worship idols or are adulterers or homosexual perverts or who steal or are greedy or are drunkards or who slander others or are thieves — none of these will possess God’s Kingdom. (1 Cor 6:9-10)

This Bible verse is known as one of the few Bible verses that clobbers the gay people.  When Paul wrote his pastoral letters he used the Greek language.  In this instance Paul decided to use a constructed compound word man-beds that translated to “homosexual perverts” in the GNT translation.  As far as we know this compound word was invented by Paul, and he had a specific meaning in mind.  He assumed his reader would be able to understand what he wrote given the cultural context in his time.  However, that cultural context has been partially lost in two thousand years’ time.  According to word fragment construction man-beds could either mean “man bedders” (gays), or “man with multiple bed partners” (bed hoppers).

To see which of the definitions produce the best fit we can also introduce verse 11 into the picture:

Some of you were like that. But you have been purified from sin; you have been dedicated to God; you have been put right with God by the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:11)

We then can see that the specified behavior not only must be wicked, but it also must be stoppable once someone believes in Jesus.

Bed hopping is wicked, and that behavior could be stopped by going into a dedicated relationship. When we look at a married gay couple we can no longer assign the wickedness label without knowing who they are as real persons.  When the gay couple become believers of Jesus I hope their marriage will become stronger, rather than getting a divorce!  This is exactly the opposite of what is implied in verse 11.

We can then conclude that the translation usually seen in 1 Cor 6:9 does not fit when it refers to gay people, but it has a better fit when it refers to men with multiple bed partners.

The scriptures are more revealing when we read larger sections together, rather than few verses in isolation.

Reflections on Supreme Court Marriage Ruling

The Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed the rights of gays and lesbians to marry.  Will that cheapen the holy institution of marriage?  Obvious people will have their opinions, and we will read them on newspapers and on the Internet.

My own viewpoint is a little different.  The institution of marriage is not a holy temple where only perfect couples can visit.  One dear pastor once told us that marriage happens when two deeply flawed people join together, and learn to love selflessly, hoping to make each other more whole.

From the book of Genesis we learned that marriage is a bestowed blessing because God did not want people to be lonely and struggle by themselves.  The first marriage was between Adam and Eve, but since then through the generations there were also people who were different than us.  They were also God’s lovely children, but they long for union of their own sex.  Some of them found lasting matches, but they were not understood by us.  We thought their loving relationship as sinful, and as a result the gay people could only live in the shadows of our society.  One notable gay author wrote that even a chancy encounter in a bar is superior to a life of loneliness.  How little do they live for!

But the work of the Holy Spirit continued all this time.  At last there is understanding and reconciliation. I still could not believe how many hearts and minds were changed in these few years.  As a straight ally, I can only help along side the true fighters.  There were only a few stories I could offer up, inadequate as they were.  However, I felt we need all our stories out there in the open, in order to continue our honest dialogs.

Now the gays and lesbians can also participate in loving marriages.  No doubt they will face many challenges – just look at how many straight people’s marriages fail.  I do hope there will be helpers out there to help them travel this journey beside them.  I wish more people will see them not as problems, but as real people needing care just as everyone of us.

Do not lie to one another, for you have taken off the old self with its habits and have put on the new self. This is the new being which God, its Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image, in order to bring you to a full knowledge of himself. As a result, there is no longer any distinction between Gentiles and Jews, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarians, savages, slaves, and free, but Christ is all, Christ is in all. You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you. And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:9-14)

May the spirit of truth guide us.

Turning the Law into a Way of Living

Laws brings crime and punishment into definition.  Jesus was not into that.  He asked us to find the spirit of the Law and live it out in daily living.

“You have heard that people were told in the past, ‘Do not commit murder; anyone who does will be brought to trial.’  But now I tell you: whoever is angry with his brother will be brought to trial, whoever calls his brother ‘You good-for-nothing!’ will be brought before the Council, and whoever calls his brother a worthless fool will be in danger of going to the fire of hell.”  (Matthew 5:21-22)

Instead of not murdering, Jesus asked us to recognize anger, and to seek reconciliation with our brothers and sisters.  Is this approach harder than not murdering?  Definitely, but seeking reconciliation brings blessings into our lives.

In addition, Jesus told us to do two things as what summarized all of the laws: loving our God with all our hearts, and loving our neighbors selflessly. By looking for the spirit of the law we can love our brothers and sisters more selflessly, and all that was to benefit our spiritual lives.

Heavenly father, thank you for giving us a new life.  May your spirit help us love people as they really are.  Enpower us to free people from hateful prosecutions until your justice extends on Earth as it is in heaven.  Humble us in devotion and worship – glory to our Lord with truth eternal !

Attributes of God

God is Love

God is love, and those who live in love live in union with God and God lives in union with them. (1 John 4:16)

We love because God first loved us.  If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars.  For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen. (1 John 4:19)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  (John 3:16-17)

God the Creator

God looked at everything he had made, and he was very pleased.  Evening passed and morning came – that was the sixth day.  (Genesis 1:31)

God is Good

Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  (James 1:17)

God the Merciful

But God’s mercy is so abundant, and his love for us is so great, that while we were spiritually dead in our disobedience he brought us to life with Christ.  It is by God’s grace that you have been saved. (Ephesian 2:4-5)

God the Helper

Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful Father, the God from whom all help comes!  He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God.  (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

God longs to be with us

The Lord says, “Let my people return to me.  Remove every obstacle from their path!  Build the road and make it ready!  I am the high and holy God, who lives forever.  I live in a high and holy place, but I also live with people who are humble and repentant, so that I can restore their confidence and hope.”  (Isaiah 57:14-15)

Lord, you are the God we can know. We are your children, and we wish to be close to you. In you we have our hope eternal. You sent helpers to us when we are suffering or discouraged. May you bless us to become other people’s helpers as well.  Amen!

Jesus Standing with Gay People Too

One thing I know for certain is that the Scripture belongs to all of us.  It is not solely reserved for the religious conservatives.  The Scripture told a story about our God who stands with people nobody will love by sending his beloved son to live with us for a time.

Jesus talked about loving our neighbors: “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?” (Matthew 5:46-47)

Why does God creates gay people to live among us?  God did this not to provoke us, but to see who among us will truly love them as our neighbors.  It is only by loving the people who are different than us can we fulfill Jesus’ commandment to us.

Matthew chapter 19 has been long used to justify the value of traditional marriage, how God created man and woman, and that God blessed their joining with marriage.  All that was true, but gay people also received a blessing when Jesus talked about the fact not everyone can be in a traditional marriage.

“For there are different reasons why men cannot marry: some, because they were born that way; others, because men made them that way; and others do not marry for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 19:12)

We know Jesus did not marry for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.  Some males lost the ability to marry because they were castrated as a condition for providing royal service.  The people who were born unable to participate in a traditional marriage included gay people.  Jesus made a point that castrated people as well as gay people can be included in the circle of holy people.  Jesus stood with these people on that day, and he stands with these people today.

Gay marriage is not the same as traditional marriage, but for an instance of gay marriage to be successful it requires blessing from God as well.  One of my favorite Scripture passage was from Galatians:

But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.  There is no law against such things as these.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

A gay marriage based on love carrying no laws of prohibition is not that hard to imagine. If that indeed come to pass then we have to remember again that the Scripture belongs to all us, yes even to the gay or the castrated people too.

Heavenly father, may your justice stay with our nation.  We pray for your people who cannot marry right now; they are our brothers and sisters too.  We also give thanks because you send Holy Spirit to sustain us, even though people do not listen to each other but talk past each other.  May your will tame our hearts so we can accept all the blessings you intended for us.  In your name, Amen.

Jesus Fulfilled the Obligations of Old Testament Laws

There are some Christians who sought to bind us to the obligations of Old Testament Laws. Perhaps they thought that they were superior to Christians who were free from these Laws. These Laws served a good purpose; they brought order to a barbaric society in the Bronze Age. However, if we had to be subject to these Laws, then we would risk spiritual death, and suffer guilt and alienation from God.

Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head. (Leviticus 20:9)

If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife – with the wife of his neighbor – both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10)

If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. (Leviticus 20:13)

If a man has sexual relations with a woman during her monthly period, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them are to be cut off from their people. (Leviticus 20:18)

The punishments for any of these violations are so harsh that we could call them human sacrifices. The people of their time thought that blood have to be shed to appease the angry land for these violations. Fortunately, Jesus has fulfilled the obligations of the Old Testament Laws. It was Jesus who said “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” (Matthew 9:13)

In Acts chapter 15 the Christian disciples had abolished almost all but just a few of the Laws. Peter said that the Law was a burden that the disciples nor their ancestors could carry successfully. Paul and Barnabas described that non-Jews were becoming followers of Christ, and there were no distinctions between the Jewish believers and the non-Jewish believers, for they all received the gift of Holy Spirit. The disciples finally did away with the burdens of the Law because they found confidence in Christ.

Jesus had talked about the issue of Laws in his ministry. He taught us the principles of following the spirit of the Law in his Sermon on the Mount. Prohibitions and punishments have been turned into a way of daily living. He also pointed out two principles as being fundamental: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” And also: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22) These principles should be safe, since they were from our Lord who we trust.

Also be sure that by following Jesus faithfully we will be made pure, as people who belong to him alone and eager to do good. (Titus 2:14) That is also a good news!