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Archive for the ‘Bible Study’ Category

Swearing: Okay?

Before I go into this post, I’d like to make clear that a) I don’t condemn people that swear, and b) I don’t believe swearing is ‘worse’ than any other sin. James 2:10 says, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”  So we are told that when we commit one sin, we have ‘broken the law’, meaning that we have sinned and messed up, period. Not “I messed up less than he did”.  All have sinned and require forgivness.

I chose to do a post on this because I’ve noticed that people in my youth group will sometimes swear, or admit to swearing outside of church. When they ask me what I think about swearing or ask if it bothers me, I tell them that I don’t like it and think it’s wrong, and they counter that they don’t think the Bible condemns swearing. What amuses me is that they then say that curse words are used in the Bible. So I wanted to see if I could find these verses and see what the Bible has to say about language.

So let’s look at some of these supposed swear words. First off, damn. Damn has a very literal meaning. To damn somebody is to, for lack of better translation, doom them. Nations may be damned, or certain people, meaning doomed to hell. And now we come to another word: hell. Hell is a literal place, not a swear word. Nor is it ever used as one. Hell is a place of eternal suffering, separation from God. Not a way to express anger. Ass is a donkey, folks, not an idiot. It is also never used as a swear word. Piss is also used in the Bible, but also in its literal sense. It is never used in an offensive or crude way. Bastard is also used properly, ie for an illegitimate son, not as a derogatory term for somebody. Words such as the f-word or s-word are not found in the Bible, though a friend of mine told me they were. It is also a sin to use God’s name in a way not reverent. Exodus 20:7 says “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” God’s name is holy; don’t abuse it.

As for verses that speak of using improper language, the one most obvious would be Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” I’ve never heard a swear word that builds somebody up. But we also see in this verse that it’s not just a sin to swear, but use any words or phrases that are unkind and would hurt somebody. So saying ‘freaking, shoot, or crap’ are really just as bad as swear words. Also, calling somebody stupid or saying a girl is ugly is a sin. The only difference is that in our language we count these words and phrases as less vulgar than some other things that could be said. But really, they are just as much a sin.  When we say such things, we hurt not only others but also ourselves.

Matthew 5:22 – “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Raca meaning literally ‘empty head’, in our language, idiot or moron). While saying these things won’t send you to Hell, you will be held accountable for them at judgement. Matthew 12:36-37 – “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” 

Matthew 15:18-19 – “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” What comes out of our mouth reflects who we are inside. Not what goes in, but what we let come out.  When we swear or say mean things, we are losing control of ourselves. James 3:4-5a: “Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.” Our tongues are powerful. We are to learn to control them. The Bible speaks of it so many times. Most of James 3 is devoted to talking about controlling the tongue. We have to keep a reign on what we say so that we can build each other up, and strengthen each other and give encouragement. Not tear down and offend.

Provers 10:31 says, “The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue will be cut out.” We are supposed to be like Christ, and our actions and words should show who we stand for. We are supposed to be different from the rest of the world, in it but not of it. James 3:10 says, “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” He continues, saying, “Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.” While cursing here isn’t used as swearing, per se, it does mean unwholesome and degrading talk. We can’t have both. We can’t say swearing is okay and be following the correct path. That sin needs to go. Just like so many others.

So is swearing a sin? Most definitely. We need to be more uplifting and show people the love that Christ has shown us. We need to be an example and tame our tongues so that only edifying talk comes from our mouths.

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The Still Voice

I’m in an extremely good mood today. I had probably the best dream I’ve ever had in my life this morning, taking place not at Barnes and Noble but at my church with people important to me. It was truly amazingly wonderful, and I woke up with the the lyrics of “Never Gone” playing in my head. There are few things that could have made this morning any better.

I feel like I haven’t written about science for forever. Oh wait, it has been forever. I will have to write my last cosmology post soon…However, right now I am on a Bible study kick, so I’m going to say what I feel God wants me to.

I often hear Christians speaking of how they haven’t ‘heard’ God lately. And I’m one of them. But I can’t help but think that it’s my fault.

Mat 13:12-17 (NIV) “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.’ In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become callused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

Ever feel like that? Like you’re trying to see and hear what God is trying to say but losing the battle? You set aside time to read your Bible, you pray to Him, you glorify Him in what you do, but you feel like you’re doing it for no reason, like you’re getting no reply? This goes back to my post about being in sync with God.

The teen generation spends an average of sixty hours on technology per week. That’s over eight hours a day! Texting, listening to your iPod, browsing the internet, updating Facebook, tweeting…whatever. You’re constantly bombarding your mind with more more more! There is always something going on, always something making noise.

My church did something one day that had everybody squirming. And what they did was a powerful way to set up for the sermon. We did worship, and usually after worship one of the pastors comes onto the stage to pray and give the announcements. It’s an almost immediate thing. Band stops, pastor prays. But they did it different one Sunday. The band stopped playing…and there was silence. Everybody was staring at the stage, looking around, wondering what was wrong. The silence was deafening. It went on for just a couple minutes, yet it seemed like many. When the pastor finally came on the stage, he explained that they did that for a reason.

We are always being fed noise and busy-ness everywhere we go. We don’t stop for a moment. Every moment is filled with a task that must be done, or music that must be blasted or a status that must be updated. When we come home, we spend maybe a couple minutes talking to our Father, and then, feeling as though we filled our ‘religion quota’ for the day, go to bed so that we can wake up oh so early to start the grind all over again. We don’t leave time for what really matters in life, our relationship with God. We’re so busy, so distracted, that we can’t seem to find the time to speak to Him. No wonder we haven’t heard Him! It’s so noisy around here that it’s almost impossible to hear Him!

Rom. 12:2 (NIV) Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We need to ‘renew our minds’ in Him. We can’t be like the rest of the world, letting life take over. We don’t even belong to this world. “If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.” (from John 15). He chose us out of the world. We are to be different, because we choose to follow Him. But how can we follow Him if we can’t hear Him?  Mark 8:33 (NIV)  says “But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said. ‘You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.'”  Obvoiusly God does not want us to be of the world. We are different. We are supposed to be an example. But we need to know how to be an example. We need to hear God tell us what we need to be doing, and we can’t do that if we aren’t listening.

John 10:2-5 (NIV) “The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

I think sometimes we are running from Him. We’re afraid of what He’s going to ask us to do, afraid of our future, afraid that we’ll get something we can’t handle.

Afraid that we’ll be powerless.

Because of that, we don’t truly know God. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God will not leave us on our own. His plans should be ours. If we are truly living to serve Him, our own plans should be discarded and we should be seeking His plan for us. Does that mean we won’t get hurt along the way? Goodness no. Pain and trial is how we learn and how He strengthens us. But in the end, it will work out how He wanted it to. But we have to be listening for His plan. We have to be taking the time to give Him our ears. We can say we’re listening, but are we really? Are we really seeking what God wants?

He’s always talking. We have to listen.

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Synced with God

So I’d like to take a break from all the mind-boggling science and do a little bit of a spiritual post. Okay, a major spiritual post.

Lately in my church, it has been stressed a lot about putting our priorities straight and becoming in tune with God. Now, most people look at their life and go, “Well, I could probably play video games less…but you know, it’s not like I’m worshipping them or something.” The question isn’t necessarily are you worshipping something, but rather what you are allowing to control your life.

Look at the amount of time you spend on video games, sports, watching TV, browsing the internet…whatever it is that you spend your time doing. Now look at the amount of time you spend reading your Bible, talking to God, glorifying God through your actions. Is it anywhere near the time you spend on other things (and yes, I realize that school doesn’t count here, so look at things beyond school)?

Here’s how you should look at this. What you give your mind to controls you. For example, if you spend hours on video games, and if you don’t get to spend hours on it and you become anxious or even irritated with life, then video games are controlling you. As soon as you let something take over your life, you are no longer in control of your body and mind. Is that really how you want to live your life, with a controller in your hand? Or would you rather be living for something more worth-while?

When we put God first, He controls our thoughts, actions, an everything in our life. That’s how it should be. It should all be for His glory to further His kingdom. He’s not a crutch to get into Heaven on. He is the person we commit our lives to, to serve with all diligence. We are to serve Him with heart, mind, and soul.

When we put God first, we are in tune with Him. This is how life should be lived. Christian means ‘little Christ’, and to be that little Christ, we need to be tuned in on who He is.  A lot of the time, Christians get so focused on knowing all the little details, following every rule, doing what God wants us to do, trying to be perfect, that we miss the big picture. We lose sight of what being a child of God is. We forget that He is our Father who loves us more than we can ever realize and that He wants to spend time with us. He’s happy when we do loving things, but He wants us to become one with Him. He wants us to be so tuned to Him that every moment we live we are living for Him and with Him.

One thing that amazes me is how somebody who is new to Christianity can have something so beautiful that the rest of us who have been Christians for years don’t understand most of the time. Something that is so simple, yet wonderful. Something we lack. That’s pure, simple, joy and faith in the One who saved them. A young man began to attend my youth group at church in October. In January, on a ski trip with our group, he formally accepted God into his life after taking his first communion. When I look at him now, I see the raw emotions that he feels toward his Father. He sees the simple side of things, but he sees it for how deeply important it is. When I listen to him speak and pray, he understands it in a way that I, a Christian of over twelve years, can’t begin to comprehend it. Because he understands it in a different way and doesn’t get hung up on the details. And He is more in tune with who God is than I am. He gets it. Does he have Christianity ‘perfected’, or has he gotten rid of ‘bad habits’? No. But think about it; often Christians get caught up on somebody swearing or being crude and the sins of somebody, and we aren’t rejoicing that somebody has found their Savior. We are out of tune with God at that point. I am not condoning those things that are wrong, but simply saying that we need to see a miracle for what it is and not get stuck on the technicalities of situations.

To be in tune with God is not a complicated thing. We need to be wrapped in His love and wisdom before we can be in tune with Him. Once we are with Him spiritually and mentally, then we can truly begin to understand what He is calling us to do. We can truly begin to see the way He works and what He wants for us to do.

We can truly begin to see His magnificent grace and love.

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