Friday, March 02, 2012

February is over

The year barely started, and February is already gone?

I've been asking God recently about time. Have you seen how time flies?

God teach us in Ephesians 5.15-21 what to do with out time: "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ". This passage contains 4 important orders that God has been teaching me through the past two months.

1. Look carefully how you walk
I always thought I was a good Christian - I'm a missionary, right? Aiming for the most amazing goal of preaching the Gospel! - that I was a good person and I was walking straight.
But I wasn't being careful in my walk, and had problems to face and solve. The Lord taught me that every person needs to be sure of what they are doing, why are they doing that and, as the verse says, if this is wise or not. I Peter 1 says if we need wisdom, we should ask God and don't be shaken by doubt. This was my first lesson of 2012.

2. Make the best use of the time
I work 45 hours per week, and in my free time I'm doing ministry - planning activities, preparing lessons, counseling and discipling teenagers (in person and online), producing teaching material, composing songs and so on. It's very easy to get caught in the activities I do for God's kingdom and forget about the King I talk about. God wants us to look to Him, get to know Him and make sure our priority is spend time with Him. Lesson #2 - focus my time in God.

3. Understand what the will of the Lord is
In Psalms 25:12 we find that the Lord guide us:  "Who, then, are those who fear the LORD? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose".
So God will show us His will, but to know it, we must learn about Him and fear Him. Since the Lord promised us wisdom and guidance if we fear Him and trust Him, we must engage in seek for Him. I've been asking the Lord about the plans for my future and proposed to myself a time of seeking and waiting for His answers - pray with a clear heart and He will listen!

4. Be filled with the Spirit
The Bible teach us that the Holy Spirit inhabit us with the purpose of guiding, teaching, showing what is wrong and revealing what is right. The fulfillment of our spirit with God's Spirit should be one of our pursues. Many people believe it belongs only to the spiritualized strong almost perfect Christians and it doesn't apply to them. The passage we read show us that this is an ORDER! If you're attentive to walk in wisdom, making the Lord your priority, seeking His will for your life, you're on the way to be fulfilled - you are getting to know God! The most we know about Him, the most we realize His presence on us. Here are ways that we can see to this happen in our lifes:

 - addressing one another with songs
 - singing and making melody to the Lord
 - giving thanks always and for everything
 - submitting to one another

Those acts of faith show us the work of the Holy Spirit in our lifes and guide us to a more fulfilling and deep relationship with the Lord. I've been learning about and seeking for God. I haven't done hugely visible things. But God is working tremenduously in my life and I encourage you to take those steps and get close to Him.
Yes, come and see for yourself that the Lord is GOOD! 

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
     Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" 
                        Psalm 34.8

Your Sister

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Sex without Shame

Don't be confused by the title. I really want to talk about sex without shame. This is possible, this is biblical, and I will do my best to be clear and honest.
I decided to share a conversation I had with a friend about Sex. He, as a new christian, asked me my opinion about sex, and I wrote it to him. I deleted some personal information, but in general the contents are the same. Remember this is a conversation transformed in a post. Forgive me for any mistakes. 

So what do I think about sex??

As a christian the Bible is my life guide. But the Bible is more than MY life guide. The Bible is human being's instruction manual. How we work, how we were made, how to fix us, what is our purpose, what works well, what doesn't. Warnings, instructions, rules, best before: everything needed for a good understanding of man. But I've been a christian for many years and I believe every experience in our lives also works for the purpose of teaching us about us and God and relationships. So my opinion is shaped along with my experience also. So I said:
The Bible says sex is a tie between a couple: it's the most deep kind of involvement a couple can have. It is not a physical expression only, but involves spiritual and emotional areas of our life. It means whoever isn't a virgin brings all the ex-partners he/she slept with to the new relationship because when they had sex, they shared a part of themselves, causing a bond that generates emotional and spiritual connections that can affect the new relationship (even though they might claim they are fine because they used "protection").
Scientists from Cornell University proved that strong biochemical connections are made between a couple during the sexual encounter in a research made to see the effects of having multiple sexual partners. There are two body chemicals called oxytocin and vasopressin (also called monogamy molecule) who are responsible for bonding the couple during the intercourse. Physician Dianne Vadney M.T.S. says:
        Sexual intercourse appears to be a threshold at which man and woman enter into a new relationship that is biochemically oriented toward staying together, geared toward their unity as a couple. (...) Chemicals released during intercourse, such as oxytocin and vasopressin, introduce a unique effect that promotes a series of pair-bonding behaviors. The primary exposure of the system to these chemicals seems to trigger a response that permanently alters body chemistry, and consequently behavior tendencies, making the individual (animal or human) more receptive toward his or her partner. Once the bonds are established, the disruption of these bonds causes great distress. (...) Such data seem to show that the biochemistry of the body associated with sexual union is optimally designed to be experienced within the context of an intimate and permanent relationship.
(This research was mentioned in The New View on Sex blog. You can also find more information at the Physicians for Life site here.)

As you can see, the scientists are proving what the Bible has said many years ago, when God said about Adam and Eve: "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Gn. 2.24). One flesh. Isn't that powerful? So I concluded that:
Because it's such a deep tie between a couple, God reserves it to the marriage, where both can express their love fully and shameless, through sex.
I continued my explanation saying that everybody sins, and every single man and woman will have struggles in the area of relationship. God made us sexual, and gave Adam and Eve the order to procreate, to became one flesh. We have all the things we need in our body, physically, emotionally, biochemically and, most important, spiritually, to delight in an amazing sexual life. But because of the consequences and bondages it brings, the perfect place for it is the commitment of marriage. That's why God not only CREATED sex, but He, the Creator, decided in his power and perfect knowledge, to also create a place and a way it could be enjoyed. 
Every time you share your body with someone, you're using it for something that it wasn't made for. It's like using a potty for serving soup or using a Versace dress to clean the floor - it will work, but it's not what it was made for. And the action not only sounds unacceptable, but also dishonor the creation - the Versace or the soup - and in our case, our bodies and the SEX. 
        Man and woman struggle with sex for different reasons. Woman want a "best friend for life", they want to feel loved and cared for. They want to feel important to someone - it's more emotional and relational than physical. Man want to feel admired and respected, but also show their ability to seduce. They want to satisfy their pride, to be seen as powerful and strong and capable. It seems that not only they have different views on it, but they will look for sex with different perspectives. What happens in the end is that two people, for different PERSONAL reasons, go for sex with selfish reasons: to obtain from the other the satisfaction of their strong desires, many times called "needs".
But in the christian marriage, according to I Corinthians 7.2-6, the couple not only can express themselves freely, but they are expected to fully give themselves to their partners:
2b Each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command.
Because sex was made to fulfill the other person needs, it should come out of an altruistic motivation. That's why the Bible tells the married couple to not denied their bodies to themselves, which means they should bless each other through it. But when sex happens out of marriage, it is egoistic, to fulfill our desires.
The reason why I can't give myself to another man is because it belongs to my husband. Imagine that God created your body to belong to your husband/wife, it's like a personalized gift - your body is made specially for your spouse. God knows that whatever you have is to please your spouse in the best way. And the opposite is true: your spouse's body will fulfill completely your needs and desires in sex. That's God's plans - fulfillment. 
Every time you share your body with someone else, you're giving it to someone whom it doesn't belongs too. I call it STEALING! Can you imagine that every time a couple that is not married has sex they are stealing pleasure and fulfillment from their partners and from themselves?!

That's the reason I decided to not do it, because I wanna give it fully to my husband, because it was made for him and belong to him. And doing this way, I honor God. This is the good thing about sex within the marriage, it that I will be able to express my love and fulfill my desires without shame or worries. I will have SEX WITHOUT SHAME, giving GLORY and HONOR to God!

I know it's a hard battle against the hill, specially in the culture we're living in, that keeps pressing us toward self-satisfaction. But remember to ask the Creator to help you, as in the Versace-dress-how-to-preserve instructions, God knows how you can keep yourself pure until your wedding. It's through God, His strength, that you have power to flee temptation, with the help of friends, which whom you can be accountable to and feel supported. And just one thing: if you already failed in this area of your life, be sure that GOD FORGIVES YOU FOR WHAT YOU DID IN THE PAST and He is always ready to love you, transform you and make you new.

Your Sister