Friday, October 19, 2018

Sex is God's Idea

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*This article was first published on the Christian Today website.
I ordered my coffee and made myself comfortable in the corner of the café ready to read what I had been handed. I was preparing to officiate a wedding and I had been given a document about the Song of Solomon.
I squirmed in my chair.
I don’t read Song of Solomon very often. Maybe it’s the poetic language that I struggle with or the old-fashioned metaphors.
I’ve even tried some of the pickup lines from the Song of Solomon with my wife, but she wasn’t impressed with, ‘Your teeth are like a flock of sheep’.
I must admit there’s another reason I don’t read this very often, nor preach on the topic.
I’m not too comfortable talking about sex.
Even now I am cowering away on my laptop thinking I’ve become an unwholesome, dirty man who needs immediate redemption.
Though I’ve been thinking a little lately.
Sex is God’s idea.
There, I’ve said it.
For too long the secular world has taken sex and perverted it, tarnished its image and made a fortune out of promiscuity. Tinder. I don’t even know what I’m talking about.
People of faith have shied away from even uttering the three-letter word. The church has unwittingly kept discussion about all things sexual to the world at large. It has inadvertently abdicated its voice on the topic and lost all credibility in the process.
The world needed direction about fostering healthy, strong marriages, and the church was silent. I speak generally when I say, it seems people of faith have struggled over the years to talk about the topic. Not only that, the church has been rocked by scandal after scandal in recent years that has made Jerry Springer appear tame. We subsequently felt we didn’t have a platform to speak on such topics and went silent.   
The silence must stop
Something is stirring within the people of God in these days. I have pastor friends who are beginning to talk about the importance of marriage and even God’s gift of sex to couples.
I never heard this talk before.
I don’t think I’ve been oblivious to it, I just think we didn’t talk like this. I assume the church was so embarrassed by its shortcomings that it lost its voice on the topic altogether.
I think for the sake of God’s work in the world, the silence must stop.
The Christian faith has important points to make about establishing and nurturing intimate relationships. There are many people of faith, with strong, healthy relationships, that need to teach others about fidelity, forgiveness, nurturing an intimate relationship, trust and all the rest that comes with it.
The Song of Solomon
The love that takes place in the Song of Solomon, takes place in the context of a couple’s loving, committed relationship. Love within a covenant is the main theme of the book, without which the book itself cannot be rightly understood. The relationship expressed in the Song of Solomon is nothing other than total dedication and permanent obligation.
We live in a culture of immediacy. This culture runs contrary to the teaching of Scripture. In this world, we see relationships that have no boundaries, love that is cheap, and sex that is expressed outside marriage covenants, that ultimately lack the permanency and intimacy found in a relationship centred around God.
On the flipside we read in the Bible about love that is unconditional, love that is quick to forgive and love that doesn’t give up on another when times are difficult. As the Song of Solomon puts it, ‘Love is as strong as death’ and ‘Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.’ It is about covenant love. Love that is expressed in promises that do not simply fade away when the honeymoon is over. This is love that, as the Song of Solomon puts it, is a seal upon the heart; a seal upon the arm.
So it’s time we stopped the silence. Sex is God’s idea. Strong marriages are God’s idea. Healthy, loving, covenantal relationships are God’s idea.
I’ve finished my coffee now. I’m a little less uncomfortable. I’m a little less embarrassed.
After all, it was God’s idea.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

One day in THQ and I'm converted

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The clock ticks 8:25am and half of the desks are full. Computers going tap, tap, tap in the background. Staff sitting in little rooms on conference calls. The kitchen staff are making minestrone soup (and for some reason they're only charging $3!). The photocopiers are already spitting out leaflets that means someone needs to plant some more trees. The I.T. department are answering calls. People are writing on whiteboards. Someone's recording a video for an up and coming production.

Then there's meetings. And a couple of more meetings. And another meeting. There's a plethora of items to discuss. Great productivity! I find a quick moment to grab a coffee. International roast. Ok, that wasn't positive.

Production plans. Strategic plans. Resource plans. The best laid plans. Lots of plans.

This is THQ.

Salvation Army Territorial Headquarters.

It's all happening. It's hard to describe, and I honestly don't know why I feel so energized.

I'm choosing to park my own previous cynicism and pessimism into the parking lot of history. See, the last couple of days I have witnessed an energy and passion about the mission of The Salvation Army that I didn't particularly expect to come from where it has. Forgive me, but some of you know what I mean. Perception is different to reality. The reality is, I see many people absolutely committed to transforming the soon to be Australia Territory into the best it can be. Some change and project management staff are working mighty long hours, with an amazing attitude, totally committed to producing the systemic change that The Salvation Army desperately needs to see.

For the sake of the Kingdom of God.

I am gobsmacked by the number of staff who may or may not have a faith in Christ, who are like pocket-rocket-change-management-gurus who love what The Salvation Army stands for, and who we are. Sometimes they love it more than Salvationists who have supposedly signed a Soldier's Covenant! They get the mission. They are for the mission. And they want to see The Salvation Army succeed.

There is no us and them. There is no pretention. There is no talk about 'who's better than who'. There's just paper flying everywhere and more PowerPoint slides than I've had chicken dinners. And I've had a lot of chicken dinners.

So, I have an opportunity for the next few weeks. I choose to support the change work that is being done in the national transformation of The Salvation Army in Australia. And, I feel like there's a fire in my spiritual belly to do what I can, with the time allotted to me, with the current capacity I have, to make a difference and play my part. (I have a 4-week secondment to learn and support the transition process - and I'm grateful for the opportunity).

I can see God truly doing a new thing through this movement. I see a picture of Jesus literally holding up The Salvation Army with his victorious right hand!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Salvation Army does not belong in a box!

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I was asked to contribute an article to the Journal of Aggressive Christianity in recent days. The editor Major Stephen Court challenged me to write and express my views. Here's the article I wrote and I think it's worth the couple of minutes to read:

God bless you.



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