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Friday, May 4, 2012

A Christian View on Suicide

In recent days we have seen an increase of media reported cases of suicides among high profile individuals who many people admired and still admire to this day. At first report of a suicide or murder suicide (where a person murders others and then themselves) it sparks debate among people whether they are Chrisitan or not of that person's eternal destiny.

Just recently, I read a post of a friend that asked a question: "Is suicide an unforgivable sin?" which again sparked debate of approx 36+ comments of people trying to understand what seems to be a hard pill to swallow, a person taking their own lives and happens to them next.

I will admit up front that I am not a professional counselor on this issue so I will not be offering any suggestive advise as to how to handle individuals contemplating or have experienced such a tragedy. I can (and will) only say what the bible says to help us understand God's view on the topic.

As I write this introduction on a Christian View About Suicide, I will do my do-diligence to insure accuracy of biblical teaching on suicide. This is not an easy topic to write on nor is it an easy topic to understand. Therefore, I will allow the Holy Spirit to saturate our hearts and minds for understanding.

What does the bible say about suicide?
First understand that, according to Scripture, suicide is not what determines whether a person gains entrance into heaven. The bible views suicide as equal to murder, which is what it is self-murder. The bible views suicide as a sin just like any and every other sin. The command given to Moses in Exodus 20:13 validates the belief that suicide is sin when it says: "Do not murder". This is a command to not murder others nor yourself. The bible is clear that suicide is a sin. However, the mistake many of us make is categorIzing the severity of the sin from others. I guess we can categorize certain sins to scare the Hell out of us but lets be careful of doing so. We murder in so many ways, like, lying is murder because it kills a person trust of what you say. Slander (gossip) is murder because it kills a persons character. Adultery kills the vows/sanctity of marriage. In short, sin is sin no matter what sin you commit. As well, sin is deadly according to Paul's writing to the Romans: "The wages of sin is death but the of God is eternal life".

Are there biblical examples of people committing suicide? Yes. The Bible mentions six specific people who committed suicide: Abimelech (Judges 9:54), Saul (1 Samuel 31:4), Saul's armor-bearer (1 Samuel 31:4-6), Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23), Zimri (1 Kings 16:18), and Judas (Matthew 27:5). Five of them were wicked, sinful men (not enough is said regarding Saul's armor-bearer to make a judgment as to his character). Some consider Samson an instance of suicide (Judges 16:26-31), but Samson's goal was to kill the Philistines, not himself. The Bible views suicide as equal to murder, which is what it is—self-murder. God is the only one who is to decide when and how a person should die.

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

National Day of Prayer 2012

Today, May 3rd, 2012 is National Day of Prayer. This is a special time in the life of our government, society, families, and Christian community. It's ironic that our government would take prayer out schools but still set a special time of prayer for us to observe as a country. Wow, I'll take it!

When I pastored First Goodwill, I looked forward to spending this day with the church and other sister churches as we came together in prayer as a body of Christ. I still look forward to this day of prayer time. I'm under the belief that if you don't pray any other day (which is bad if you're not praying in the first place) you should pray today. If our government thinks enough of prayer to give it a special day surely as a Christian you and I should make it a priority today.

1 Timothy 2 is a favorite passage of
mine for this day...

2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to bthe knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man1 Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time...8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.

Enjoy National Day of Prayer!

He's Too Long

A few weeks ago during a meeting session at the church, I admitted that at times I can be long winded during a preaching/teaching opportunity. For which a response came back; "Yea, you were long but I chalked it up as you being a preacher!" We all laughed cause it was funny the way the person said it.

Since that time, I've been asking myself, Am I really a long winded preacher?" I will say in recent days I am more time sensitive by watching the clock or being aware of the late hour when being put up to preach.

I've also heard guys speak of the congregations retention ability during the sermon presentation that after about 20-30 minutes people checkout of the message and don't hear anything else you have to say. I dint think thats it for a few reasons:

1). A many of folk can sit in front of the TV for hours watching their favorite shows and can tell you everything about it the next day if not days/wks later and don't leave out one detail.

2). I just believe people listen to want they want to ... Period.

3). We can listen to an entire CD and memorize the lyrics with no problems.

4). Some guys (preachers) are just plain old boring. I will admit I fell asleep on some guys because they were too long and boring.

5). People stay up way too late and then come to church asking God to speak to their tired restless mind. It ain't gone happen and if it does call it a miracle.

I think you get my point.

A person's retention ability is not the problem but a symptom. A follow up question then is this, what is the problem? My answer, who knows but them.

While I am aware that an effective sermon does not have be long as much as what maybe considered a short sermon can be deemed ineffective.

Here's the issue that I've been toying with in my head for weeks.

Am I a longed winded preacher or a concerned preacher who wants to insure God's people are fed regularly and consistently?

When approaching this topic from the stands of consistent preaching, I realize I can be both long and short winded as long as I am consistently interpreting the text accurately.

Preaching is like cooking a good meal. There are some meals that require long preparation time and there are some meals that are cooked quickly (right out of the box) and the final result is satisfied eaters.

My ultimate goal and mission in ministry is to insure that God's people are satisfied with what I prepared for them to digest whether short or long.

At the end of Amen, I want them to walk away and say that was good for my soul.