Thursday, July 07, 2011

Devotional from Leviticus Chapter 18

Devotional from Leviticus Chapter 18

Prohibitions* against sexual relations with...

  • Mother (verse 7)
  • Step-mother [father's wife] (verse 8)
  • Sister and half-sister (verse 9)
  • Granddaughter (verse 10)
  • Step-sister (verse 11)
  • Aunt [father's sister] (verse 12)
  • Aunt [mother's sister] (verse 13)
  • Aunt by marriage [father's brother's wife] (verse 14)
  • Daughter-in-law (verse 15)
  • Sister-in-law [brother's wife] (verse 16)
  • A woman and her daughter (verse 17a)
  • A woman and her granddaughter (verse 17b)
  • Wife and her sister [wife must be dead before sister can become wife] (verse 18)
  • A woman menstruating (verse 19)
  • Another man's wife (verse 20)**
  • Against child sacrifice (verse 21)***
  • A man (verse 22)
  • An animal (verse 23a)
  • A woman with an animal(verse 23b)
  • Pagans of the land did these things but God's people were not to--they were to be holy (verses 24-30)****

* Prohibitions are from the perspective of a man. Women are addressed in verse 23. However, it can be inferred that women should also not willingly participate in these sexual unions which are prohibited for men.

** This whole section could be summarized as "Do not have sex with anyone or anything other than your wife." Sadly, because of our own wicked hearts, God has to get specific to show us there are no exceptions.

*** Not a sexual prohibition since it is against child sacrifice but much of idol worship was tied to fertility, prosperity, and immoral acts.

**** God's people are to still be holy. If you are practicing any of these then repent, turn to God before it is too late. There is hope for those who put their trust in Jesus. 1Cor. 6:9-11 "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Moving to Washington

I (Barry) was born in Gatesville, TX and lived in Gatesville, TX until I graduated highschool and attended college in Austin. Years later, I began pastoring a church in Gatesville, TX. I have relatives buried in the cemetary in Gatesville, TX where I assumed I would be buried as well. But now, I am moving to Washington state.

As you can imagine, it will be hard for me to move 2000 miles away from family, life-long friends, and some new ones I have made along the way. As a pastor I wonder if I have completed the work that God had me here for. I think of all the sweet people of Hay Valley Baptist church--how loving, patient, and hard-working they are. I have been praying for my replacement there ever since it became clear I would be moving to serve as a pastor of a church near Spokane, Washington.

So why am I moving? The short answer is that God calls the shots in my life and it is clear to me that He is leading me to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in an area of the U.S. that is desperate for it.

"But," you may say, "isn't there a need for people to hear about Jesus in Texas and in Gatesville?" Yes, of course there is. In fact, looks can be deceiving because Gatesville has a church on every corner in town but there are still so many people who are not Christians. Many of these go to church regularly but it evident by the way they live Mon. through Sat. that there has been no new birth in their heart like Jesus talks about in John 3:3. In other words, they are as lost as a ball in high weeds. I should know because I was one of them.

Let me explain. I grew up going to church and was by all outward appearances a "good kid." I got baptized. I knew a lot about the Bible and called myself a Christian (in other words, a follower of Jesus Christ.) But I, and everyone else I knew lived a double life. Church and Christianity were simply a cultural thing we did on Sundays. This was part of growing up in Gatesville. I am sure there were true Christians that I knew then but at the time everyone I met called themselves a Christian and the waters got so muddy. Ironically, it wasn't until I was in college in the morally decadent town of Austin, that I became a true, born-again, follower of Jesus Christ. You see, in college, everyone my age just stopped pretending to be something they were not and gave up outward appearances of Christianity. People dove into sex, drink, drugs, etc. It became clear what their "god" was. As for me, I realized during this time that my heart was wicked. While I may have fooled others into thinking I was good, I knew who I was. And worse than that God knew who I was, too. I began to fear that God would judge me (and rightly so) for my sins and that I would perish in Hell when I die and that there was no hope for me. I came to a point where I was so desperate to be forgiven for my sins that I cried out to God, "If you don't save me then no one can. Please, if you will save me I will follow you." This all sounds dramatic but if it's happened to you then you understand that I am not exaggerating. In fact, this is a short summary of a lot of difficult things that God used in my college years to bring me to the point of surrender to Him.

Well, what happened was this: I knew from the Bible that Jesus was God's Son and that He died on the cross for sinners. I knew that if I trusted in Jesus, His sacrifice on the cross would make me right with God. Jesus' goodness would cover my badness. It all finally made sense, I was a sinner and I needed a savior, Jesus. Instead of God being my judge, by faith in Jesus, God became my savior (Ephesians 2:8-9). I would be saved from His judgment. What a loving God!

I can tell you that God radically changed my heart in college. I began reading the Bible and understanding it. I had new desires, like wanting to follow God and do what He says. I said earlier that God calls the shots in my life and I meant it--He is my boss. I want to tell others the Good news of Jesus Christ. I want to tell them that they can be saved too from the judgment of God for breaking His laws and instead given a new life.

This has been a long explanation for why I am going to Washington: to tell others the Good News about Jesus and because I want to obey God, my boss (Matthew 28:19-20).

I am excited about Washington state but I still am praying for Gatesville. It is a town that I think is especially in spiritual darkness. The people have a hard time listening to the truth because they have a "been there, done that" attitude towards anything Christian. But sometimes, when things are the darkest, is when the light shines the brightest. God is alive and giving life to those who turn to Him. Where do you stand?