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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Is asexuality sinful?

Marriam-Webster defines “asexuality” in several different ways. There is asexuality in the context of organisms that reproduce through cell division (among other processes), but that is not the definition we are talking about here. If you could reproduce by yourself, I think I would be the one asking questions.

The definition that I am using for this answer is definition 3b from the Marriam-Webster website:

“not having sexual feelings toward others : not experiencing sexual desire or attraction”


As a man in his twenties, I struggle to comprehend how anybody could go without any kind of sexual attraction, but I understand that there are many people that do not have the same feelings that I have. I cannot imagine how it must feel to not have the feelings that most people have. I hope to provide some comfort to Christians that are struggling with their lack of sexual attraction.

In order to support my position, I will be using one of my favorite passages about marriage: 1 Corinthians 7.

There are many verses in this chapter that could help one understand the Bible’s position on asexuality, but I think the most helpful verses for this discussion are verses 32 through 38:


I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about the worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.


If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry-it is no sin. But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.


I would encourage anybody who has been struggling with their lack of sexual attraction to study that passage. There are a few portions of said passage that really stand out to me:

  1. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

The beginning of this verse explains the type of position Paul takes in 1 Corinthians. Paul is not telling people to remain single, but he is certainly advocating singleness. In the previous verses, Paul explains how, when we are married, our attention is divided between God and trying to please a spouse. When I first read this passage, I remember thinking, “Well, I understand how people could have their attention taken away from God, but I will keep this passage in mind, so that I can be a husband who is entirely devoted to the Lord.”  That type of thinking is prideful and rather silly. Yes, Paul was a man, but he was inspired by the Holy Spirit. The things he wrote were not like me writing answers to questions that people have asked me on the Internet, Paul was writing the Bible. I did not think I would struggle to focus on God if I was in a relationship with a woman, until I remembered that I was reading the Bible, and the Bible is inerrant. Forgive me for getting a little off-topic, but I wanted to address a thought that I am sure other people are thinking as they read the aforementioned passage. In short, Paul advocates for singleness, but he never says that we are commanded to remain single.


  1. If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry-it is no sin.

Despite Paul encouraging people to remain single, he makes it clear that marriage is not a sin. Paul tells us that, if our passions are strong, we should get married. Verse 9 of 1 Corinthians 7 explains this concept better than I could ever explain it: But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry that to burn with passion.

Paul warns married couples that they should not “deprive one another”, except when they agree to abstain from sex, so that they may devote themselves to prayer [1 Corinthian 7:5]. Paul ends verse 5 by telling the married couple to “come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control”. In short, the devil will use our desires to tempt us. Therefore, if one desires a sexual relationship, he or she should get married, so that they can satisfy their desire in a way that honors the Lord, and protect themselves from the temptation that comes from the devil.


  1. So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.

When I read this verse for the first time, I was really worried. I want to serve the Lord in everything that I do, with all that I am, but does that mean I should remain single? I prayed, and I did a lot of thinking, and I came to understand how the Bible encourages marriage for those who have the desire to be married. If you want to be married, get married. If you do not want to be married, remain single, and serve the Lord even more.


In conclusion, I think that the Bible is clear about the topic of asexuality. It is not a sin to be married, but it is better to remain single, so that one can devote himself entirely to serving the Lord. If, however, you experience sexual attraction, and you have a desire to be married to a member of the opposite sex, you should get married. If there is an opportunity for the devil to tempt you, you should seek to rid yourself of whatever provides the devil with said opportunity. If you do not have the desire to be married, you are to remain “as you were called”. Asexuality is not sinful, and the Bible encourages those who can remain single to do so.

One more thing that I must mention is that, if you do not feel any kind of sexual attraction, before you make a commitment to remain single, please see a doctor or a psychologist/psychiatrist. There may be an underlying mental condition, hormonal issue, or some other treatable cause for your lack of sexual interest in those of the opposite sex. I am not married, but I know many married couples who tell me how wonderful it is to be married to a person that they love. If you do not want to be married, do not seek to be married. However, I would encourage you to make sure that your lack of desire to be married comes from your heart, not from some issue in your mind or your body.


 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

What Are The Five Solas?


During the Protestant Reformation, there were several phrases used to help explain the differences between the Catholic church and the Protestants. These phrases are commonly referred to as “the five solas”, with the word “sola” being the Latin word for “only”. These five phrases describe the five major beliefs of the Protestant Reformation.


  1. “SOLA SCRIPTURA” - “SCRIPTURE ALONE”

This phrase refers to the belief that the Bible is the only source of authority for Christianity and its beliefs. This phrase is used to reject the authority of the Catholic church, as well as church tradition. One who adheres to the principle of “sola scriptura” puts the Bible and its teachings above the teachings of any pastor, priest, or religious group. In short, if it is not in the Bible, it is not something that Christians should believe.


  1. “SOLA FIDE” - “FAITH ALONE”

This phrase refers to the way that people are saved. One who believes in the meaning of “sola fide” believes that we only need faith to be saved. “Sola fide” is a rejection of the practice of purchasing indulgences, using works in order to get to Heaven, as well as looking at baptism as a requirement for salvation.


  1. “SOLA GRATIA” - “GRACE ALONE”

This phrase refers to the way that we are saved by grace alone, not by works. “Sola gratia” is a rejection of the idea that we must do certain things in order to obtain or retain our salvation. The grace of God is sufficient for our salvation.


  1. “SOLO CHRISTO” - “CHRIST ALONE”

This phrase describes the way Jesus is the only One we need in order to get to Heaven. “Solo Christo” is a rejection of the intercessory role that church leaders in the Catholic church, in favor of Jesus being the One to intercede on the behalf of Christians. 


  1. “SOLI DEO GLORIA” - “TO THE GLORY OF GOD ALONE”

This phrase is a declaration that the purpose of life is to bring glory to God, rather than to glorify a specific sect, leader, or movement. In other words, we should seek to do everything for the glory of God. A common verse to support this belief comes from 1 Corinthians 10:31:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Did God Create Evil?


If you are like me, you take your beliefs very seriously. When I say that I believe something, I truly believe it. One of the things that makes me confident in my faith in Christ is the reliability of the Bible. I have done plenty of research, yet I have never found a compelling argument against the Bible, nor have I found a compelling argument against the existence of God. However, there have been several arguments that really confused me. One of the most interesting arguments against Christianity is that God created evil. As a devout Christian who studies his Bible regularly, I am well aware of the passage in question, but I have spoken to other Christians who had no idea that there was a passage that says that God created evil. In order to help my brothers and sisters in Christ defend their faith, I am going to break down the aforementioned argument, explain why the argument is misleading, and provide the evidence to support my position. I will also explain how I was able to come to my conclusion, so that others can learn how to do the type of research that I do on a regular basis. Without further ado, let us examine the claim that God created evil.


The verse that this claim usually comes from is Isaiah 45:7. In the ESV, it reads:

I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.


The way the ESV words the verse is the way you would read it in the NIV, NLT, BSB, NKJV, NASB2020, NASB1995, NASB1977, AMP, CSB, HCSB, CEV, ISV, and pretty much every major translation from the last half century. However, if you find this verse in the King James Version, for example, it reads:

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and I create evil: I the LORD do all these things.


Aside from the KJV, the American Standard Version is the only other well-known translation to use the word “evil” in this verse.


So, what is going on? Why does the KJV say that God created evil? Did God create evil? Have modern Bible translations been corrupted? The answer to those questions are “because it is a very outdated and objectively poor (in certain parts) translation”, “no”, and “no”, respectively.

There is a lot more to discuss about why, in my opinion, one should avoid using the King James Version as his primary translation, but that is a topic for another essay. For now, let us go onto the next part of examining this verse: understanding the context.

The verse comes from Isaiah, and it is a message from God, directed toward Cyrus, whom the Lord refers to as “his anointed”. God says that He has grasped the right hand of Cyrus, “to subdue nations before him and to loose the belt of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed” [Isaiah 45:1 (ESV)]. In verse 2, God tells Cyrus how He will “go before you [Cyrus] and level the exalted places”, and that He will “give you [Cyrus] the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places” [Isaiah 45:3]. In verse 4, God tells Cyrus that he has been called by God. The first five verses of this chapter are God explaining to whom He is speaking, why He is speaking to Cyrus, and how He will show Cyrus that He is God.

Verse 5 is where we get into the part of the chapter where the subject of this essay comes from:


I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is non besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. [Isaiah 45:5-6 (ESV)]

Now that we have reached the main verse that we are discussing in this essay, we can understand the meaning of the verse, in context. Cyrus has been chosen by God, God will show Cyrus that He is truly God, and God declares that there is only one God. Then, God tells Cyrus that all things come from Him, that He has the power to create, to destroy, to create light, to create darkness, to “make well-being”, and to “create calamity”. The last two things that God mentions are the things that we are most interested in.

Finally, let us examine what the word “evil” has been translated from.


According to the Lexham Theological Wordbook, the word ”רַע” (pronounced, “rah”), which, as a noun, means “evil, distress, misery, injury, calamity”. This definition makes sense, given the way every Bible translation seems to have one of the words used to define the original word in Hebrew. The King James Version uses the word “evil”, but, as is the case with many of the words in the KJV, that word does not mean the same thing today as it once meant.

According to etymonline.com, the word “evil” comes from the Old English “yfel”, meaning “bad, vicious, ill, wicked”. It goes on to explain that, “as a noun in Old English”, the word meant, “what is bad; sin; wickedness; anything that causes injury, morally or physically”. While the Old English form of this word did mean “extreme moral wickedness”, that definition “did not become the main sense of the modern word until [the 18th century]”. The King James Version was originally published in 1611, which would mean that the meaning of evil (as it is used today) was not what the word meant at that time.

In short, God is telling Cyrus that He is God, and how He can give (in the words of the NLT) “good times”, and “bad times”, not that He creates good and evil.


Saturday, August 27, 2022

Using James 3:17 to Discern God's Voice

 [Originally written August 3, 2022. This was a note that was posted to my account on the YouVersion Bible app]


For those of my friends who are experiencing hardships, I offer to you the wisdom that God has given to me. I felt this on my heart, and I have felt God speak to me as I read and reread these passages.

Whenever we are in a situation where we are unsure of what to do, how to respond, whether or not to fight for something, whether to give up, or how to feel about something, it can be very discouraging. When people feel like they are in control of things, they often develop a sense of pride, which (according to the Bible) comes before the fall.


So, you're in a bad situation, and you are confused. What now?


Start by praying, confessing your sins, and humbling yourself before God. None of us deserve the love that Christ shows us, so we must approach Him with humility. Depending on the individual, and depending on the circumstance, this step may take some time.

When you have become humble, pray that God gives you peace, clarity, and strength to do what He wants you to do. From my experience, there are always emotions that are not Christ-like that come up whenever I am in a bad situation. When I feel those emotions in my heart, I pray and ask God to prepare me, and to work in my heart so that He can use me.

Take things day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. God's timing is perfect, but it can be very frightening for us to think too far ahead. Give thanks for what you have, for the life God has given to you, and ask God to reveal to you what you should do today.

When you begin to hear God speak to you, compare what you feel to the Bible. If what you feel contradicts the Bible, then that feeling is not from God. If the feeling in question aligns with the Bible, then compare it to James 3:17. I use that verse as a checklist. Go through each part of the verse and make sure that whatever you feel on your heart fulfills the requirements of James 3:17.


But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

- James 3:17


Some other things to help discern the voice of God:

  • In order to hear the Lord more, you must be in the position to hear from Him. Consecrate yourself in His Word, get rid of the sin in your life (as much as you can), know your Bible, and never stop praying.

  • While I have been reminded of things by God, it is generally true that God only reveals things that are new. This is not an absolute rule, it is just a general principle.

  • If you feel led to do something, but it does not give you peace, do not do it.

  • When you hear from God, it would be a wise decision to pray and ask God to explain/confirm what you have heard/felt.

  • When you seek the Lord, expect the enemy to increase his attacks on your spirit. You are no match for him, but God is greater. Seek God and His protection, and you will not be moved.


I hope my words have helped some of you. Seek God, keep the faith, and resist the devil!


- Daniel Teberian


Understanding the Way God Sees Us

Anybody who knows me knows how much I love my dog. Her name is Honey, she is a redbone coonhound, and she is beautiful. She has reddish-brown fur, with white “shoes” on her front paws, white fur on her chest, on the end of her tail, and on her snout. Her eyes are beautiful as well, and her nose is light brown in color. She is the sweetest dog that I have ever owned, and the sweetest dog that I have ever seen or heard of. Many people will claim that their dog never bites anybody, but my dog has never bitten anybody. I can honestly say that Honey is so peaceful that we have never had to worry about her hurting anybody in the family, nor hurting an animal or damaging furniture. She is incredibly well-behaved, and my family loves her more with each passing day. Honey is part of the family, and we really love her and care about her.

When we took Honey to the veterinarian, we were told that she had some kind of growth on her side. Honey is almost three years old, so it should not be too big of an issue if the growth is removed before it can get worse. If you are not following what I am hinting at, I will make things very clear: the veterinarian was concerned that Honey may have cancer. Now, I do not believe that the concern about Honey having cancer was too serious, but when the concern involves something as serious as cancer, even a small worry is an incredibly serious concern. As a result, my mother scheduled an appointment for Honey to have the growth removed. Yesterday morning, the operation was successful, and Honey was home with us again.

I was really sad to see her when I got home. I am always happy to see her, but I felt so sad seeing her wear a cone. She hates wearing the cone, but she was supposed to wear it so that she would not bite or lick her sutures, as her doing so could easily reopen the wound that she has from her surgery. What made me even sadder was seeing the little patch of fur that had been shaved, and how there was a sewn-up cut in her side. Her beautiful reddish-brown fur had a spot missing, and I felt so sad when I saw the missing fur.

I tried helping Honey feel better. My mother told me that Honey would not have to wear the cone if she could have a small shirt to wear, so that her wound would be covered up. My mother followed me downstairs, in order to search for a small shirt that could help Honey be more comfortable. We found a package of unopened undershirts that I had in my room. My mother opened the package, removed a shirt, and went to put the shirt on Honey. Honey was not very happy, or perhaps she did not understand what my mother was trying to do. After a few minutes of my mother trying to get Honey to relax, my mother was able to get the shirt on Honey. Honey’s paws had been put through the sleeves of her shirt (it was my shirt, but it now belongs to her), and she looked really cute, but we could tell that she really did not like wearing the shirt. Normally, we would not put clothes on her, since she really does not like wearing clothes, but this situation required that we put a shirt on her, or else she could really hurt herself.

She seemed to be a bit more comfortable, and her tail was wagging again, but she would try and take the shirt off. It took a bit, but she was eventually able to get used to wearing a shirt. She picked up one of her toys and brought it to me. My mother reminded me that we cannot play with Honey in the same way that we normally play with her, as Honey could hurt herself by jumping around and moving too quickly. I felt really bad for Honey, but I could not do anything to help her. My mother went upstairs and called Honey. At first, Honey looked like she was going to go upstairs, but when she tried to get up, she stopped moving. She sat down on the floor and looked at me. It did not take very long to realize that Honey would not come upstairs because it hurt her. She still had a wound from her surgery, and it was really hurting her. My mom tried calling Honey a few more times, and I tried to get Honey to go up the stairs one step at a time, but we could not get her to move. Eventually, my mother tried to get Honey to come upstairs, using one of the few words that Honey knows: “cheese”.

When my mother gives the dog any kind of medicine, she will wrap the pill in a small amount of cheese, so that Honey swallows the medication. It is not the healthiest of methods, but it is healthier than not giving her the medication. As soon as she heard that word, Honey went upstairs. She usually runs up the stairs, often jumping over steps (she is a pretty big dog), but this time was different. She tried to go up the stairs as she normally would, but after a single step, her body twisted around. She felt pain again, and it meant that she could not go up the stairs as she normally would. It took her a bit longer than usual, but she made her way upstairs, where (presumably) she got some cheese to eat.

I went to rest for a bit, since I had been out all day. When I went upstairs again, I saw my mother eating something while Honey was walking around. She was still wearing her shirt, and she was whimpering. She does not whimper when she wants food (usually), but she does whimper when she wants to go outside, when she needs something, or when she wants attention. She has the mental capacity of a very small child, so she can only do so much when she needs help. I asked my mother why Honey was crying, and my mother said that Honey was probably feeling pain from her surgery. I asked how many doses of medication Honey had been prescribed for her pain. We found out that she had five pills. There was a short discussion about what to do, with the two of us settling on giving Honey one of her pills. She was given her pill using the aforementioned “cheese method” (patent pending), which worked perfectly. Soon after she had taken her medication, Honey wanted to go and rest. I had been told that Honey would need to sleep in her cage for a week or two, since the movement required to get on my parents’ bed (where she usually sleeps) could hurt her. Honey tried to go to my parents’ bed, but she could not get up on the bed. My mother took the footstool from our couch and put it next to the side of the bed, so that Honey could use the footstool as a step, but this did not work as well as my mother had hoped. Honey put her front paws onto the footstool, but then she stopped. She could not get up on the footstool by herself. My mother saw that Honey needed help, so my mother gave her some help. With my mother’s assistance, Honey was able to get on my parents’ bed and rest.

Why am I telling you about my dog? Since I arrived home yesterday, I have felt the Lord put something on my heart to share with others. I realized that there were similarities to the way God sees us and how I see my dog.

Honey did nothing wrong (at least, nothing deserving of an operation being performed on her). She woke up on my parents’ bed, and she was going to do what she would normally do. She was led to my car, not knowing where she was going, but she was happy to be going on an adventure with my mother. She learned that she was going to the veterinarian, which she usually realizes when she reaches the doorway of the veterinarian’s office. She really dislikes going to see the veterinarian, the veterinarian scares her, but she goes inside the office because my mother is with her. My mother hands Honey off to the veterinarian, who proceeds to put Honey under anesthesia. Honey wakes up a little while later, but her body hurts, and she is wearing a cone around her neck. She is taken back home by the same mother that took her to the veterinarian, and Honey is still required to wear that cone. She had trouble leaving the veterinarian’s office, as the cone kept bumping into the wall. That cone was making it hard for Honey to lie down, and she had a hard time seeing people. My mother told me how Honey had been avoiding her, and how Honey was not very happy. Honey could not do much anymore. She could not play, she could not rest, she could not get on the bed, she could not go up and down the stairs, and she could hardly see anybody because of the cone in her face. She was able to see people again when we put a shirt on her, but even then she was uncomfortable. Despite being uncomfortable, Honey was so happy to see me again, and she was happy to see my mother again. She woke up with her life being the same as it always has been, but she went to sleep with her life being completely different. She had no idea what had happened to her, nor did she know when things would change. She did not even know if things would change at all. For all Honey knew, she would be in the same pain for the rest of her life. She had trusted my mother, she had gone with my mother, but my mother took her to a place where she was afraid, and she came home with pain in her side. Every time she felt like things were back to normal, she would feel that pain come back, and she would remember what had happened to her. In Honey’s eyes, she had been betrayed, she was in a situation that was very hard on her, and nobody was helping her.

In reality, Honey was taken to have a procedure done, so that Honey would live longer. We all felt really bad for her, but we love Honey, and we want her to be around for as long as possible. It really hurt to see Honey suffering, but we knew that it was for her own good. She had no idea when things would change, or if they would change, but we knew that she would only have to be like this for fourteen days at the most. Honey did not want to go up the stairs, but she needed to go upstairs. We tried to get her to follow us, but she would not come until we offered her something that encouraged her. She persevered through the pain as she walked up the steps, and she was rewarded with something that makes her happy. She had no idea, but her owners were really sad about how she was suffering, and they desperately wanted to help her, but there was only so much that could be done at the time. There were some things that would take time, and there was no way to speed things up.

I experienced a similar situation. I was not taken to a veterinarian, but I did have a part of me taken away. A part of my heart had been removed, and it hurt me deeply. Nothing felt the same, nothing brought me comfort, nothing brought me happiness, and nothing brought me peace. I tried to do things that I enjoyed doing, but they did not make me happy anymore. I had woken up, thinking that I would be going through a normal day, and I went to bed feeling like my life was over, which was an idea that I had welcomed. I felt like nobody cared about me, and I felt like I had been betrayed. However, God was with me (as always), and God never left me to suffer on my own. It was incredibly hard at first. I spent every day for several months, crying my eyes out. I wept as I drove to class, as I went to work, as I tried to sleep at night, and throughout most of the day. I felt like nothing was changing, like nothing was happening, like nothing would get better, but God was watching over me. God began to speak to my heart, and He gave me certain things to look forward to. I would ask God, “how long?”, but I did not receive an answer. All I knew was that God had told me what to do, what to look forward to, and given me peace for the first time in a long time. I made several attempts to continue my life as it once was, but every time I made such an attempt, my heart hurt again. That pain in my heart would return, and I would be reminded of how I need God to help me, how I could not have peace unless I trust in Him, and how I would not be able to survive without His help. It took a long time, but as I continued to seek the Lord, I felt my joy and peace increase. Day by day, I felt the presence of the Lord grow stronger, and I began to hear more from God. I began to learn what I had been put through, I began to learn more about my situation, and I began to see how I had been allowed to suffer in order for God to lead me to a better life. As with Honey, the goal was not to make it so that nothing would be the same again. The goal was to lead me through some hard times, guide me towards what God has for me, teach me how to know Him more, help me trust in Him more, and then I would be able to have the parts of my life that I had been praying for. There are many things that God has told me to prepare for, many things that God has shown me, and there are many opportunities that God has told me to look forward to. I do not know everything about my situation. In fact, I know very little. However, God has been guiding me toward what He has planned for my life. When it gets difficult, when it seems like I cannot continue, God reminds me of what He has spoken to my heart, and I am given “cheese”. I am able to persist and seek the Lord, by His grace, and by His guidance. Whenever I feel confident, or like I could just go do something else and skip the journey that I have been on, I am hit with the pain in my heart again. Whenever I feel like giving up, I feel the pain return, and I remember that I need God, and that He is the One who gives me relief from my suffering. He is the One who gives me peace, He is the One who strengthens me, it is from Him that my hope is derived, and it He Who will lead me to the place where I can see the blessings that He has told me about.

I know that, for somebody going through a difficult situation, hearing somebody tell them to seek God and everything will work out can be incredibly frustrating. If you are frustrated by my attempt at encouraging you to hold on to what God has promised you, I would like you to know something that you may not know already:

My writing may lead you to believe that I have already been through a tough situation, but that is not true. I have not been through a tough situation, I am going through a tough situation. I am writing this as I await the fulfillment of several of God’s promises. I have already seen some of His promises come to fruition, but there are several promises that I have been waiting a long time to see. I do not know when I will be given the opportunities that the Lord has told me about, but I do know that God can, and will, do what He says He will. If God promises you something, you can have confidence that it will be so. I am able to encourage others to hold onto what God has spoken to them, not because I have been through it already, but because I am still in a season of waiting on God, yet I have joy and peace that surpasses anything I have ever experienced before. I trust the Lord completely. Some people think that I am crazy, some think that I have been fighting a losing battle, some tell me to give up, but I know that I have heard the Lord speak, and I trust Him.

That being said, you should be sure that you have heard from the Lord, and that you have not been hearing from yourself, or from the devil, but that is another topic, for another post.

It may feel like you have been forgotten, like you are all alone, and like things will never change, but I want you to know that God sees you, He loves you, and He cares about you. If you seek the Lord, if you obey His commandments, if you seek first the Kingdom of God, God will bless you.



God bless you all!

- Daniel Teberian


Friday, August 26, 2022

Should We Have to Force Ourselves to Obey God?

 When I originally posted my note about James 3:17, and how we can use that verse to test whether or not God has spoken to us, I received several comments from people who were appreciative of what I had written. I write because I genuinely enjoy it, because I love God, because I am passionate about God, and I want to share what God has shared with me, so that others can be blessed. Furthermore, by writing, I am giving God the glory for all the talents He has given me (I am not saying that I have many talents, just that the talents I do have come from God). All that aside, it is a very strange feeling that I get whenever I see somebody’s comment, telling me how something I wrote changed the way they approach some part of their faith. On one hand, I am really happy that I helped somebody grow in their faith. On the other hand, I recognize that what little wisdom I have comes from God, so it would not be right for me to say “thank you”, as I would be claiming ownership of something that I did not come up with. I am still very new to writing about faith, and I am still trying to understand how to explain the way I feel. I am really worried that people will read the way I describe myself. I have already rewritten this paragraph several times, so that I do not sound like I am claiming to be some wise man, a prophet, or even a good Christian. I am just a man, I have many problems, but God was able to take me and shape me into the man that I am today. The reason why I am so passionate about sharing the Gospel is that I have seen the way God changed my life, and I want others to experience the joy and peace that can only come from a relationship with Jesus Christ. In short, I am very happy that I helped others, but I hope that they do not look at me as an authoritative voice when it comes to the Bible. More than anything else, I want to help others get to the point where they can speak to God all the time, where they can see God work in their life, and where they know that God is in control. I digress. This post is a response to a friend of mine. Her name is Melissa, and she is my friend on the YouVersion Bible app. In the comments of my aforementioned post about James, Melissa asked me a question that has really been on my mind. I do apologize for how long it has taken me to respond to her question. She asked: “What do you think about forcing yourself to do the will of God (such as not listening to certain music even though your flesh is telling you to)? God is a God of free will but do you think it comes from Him when we force ourselves to do His will? I go through this daily and I fail often. The devil has blurred my mind. I used to be so on fire for the Lord and I want to be like that again but I feel like I have failed to listen to Him too many times.” Dear Melissa, In all honesty, I have been struggling to figure out exactly how to answer you. The problem is that I have very little information regarding your situation, and this issue is very serious. I will start by offering you some encouraging information. The fact that you care about listening to God (to the point where you struggle with this on a daily basis), and that you are willing to reach out to others for help in addressing the issues you have been dealing with leads me to believe that you are on the right path. I want to share with you some things that have really helped me in dealing with the same issue that you are dealing with. There is a debate among Christians, regarding whether or not some sin can be worse than other sin, but I am not going to address that here. My current position is that some sins are far more serious than others, so I want you to bear in mind my stance on the issue. When I tell you to purge your life of serious sin, I am talking about sin that will create long-term issues in your faith. For example, if you are a witch, or you are interested in fortune-telling, astrology, tarot cards, etc., you have created a serious problem in your life that will hinder your ability to truly know the Lord. That example was pretty extreme, and I doubt that you are involved in that stuff. One thing that you may be doing (and are likely doing) is idolizing certain things or people. You mention feeling unsure about whether you should continue to listen to certain types of music, which is a problem that I can absolutely relate to. When I was in highschool, I was a metalhead (I still am), and there are many, many satanic bands and songs in that genre. The way I dealt with that issue is by doing my best to discern what I listened to. There are plenty of good metal bands that are not satanic, and there are many satanic bands that are very good. A practical way of dealing with the good satanic bands (good, as in quality of their music) is to not listen to it. It is very difficult to want to listen to a band or a song that you have never heard before. Another way to deal with the issue of music that a Christian should not be listening to is to do some research about what you can listen to. As a teenager, I would visit websites that were specifically designed for people like me who loved metal, but loved Christ more. You are not the only person with this issue, and while it can be difficult to change the way you live your life, you will not regret giving up some things that you enjoy in order to grow closer to God. As for the part about “forcing” yourself to follow God’s Word, I understand what you mean. “Force” is a word that carries a negative connotation in many circumstances, but I cannot think of a better word to use. Yes, if you resist the Lord and refuse to do what He tells you to do, you will be less able to discern the Voice of God in the future. This is a very complicated subject, and I really want to do some more research about the way our conscience works, but I think I have enough information to give you a good answer to this question. Your conscience is like a callus. When I began to play guitar, I remember seeing my fingers and thinking that my hands were dirty. I would wash my hands over and over again, but the dark color on my fingers would not go away. I learned that my fingers were actually bruised, which happens when one first learns to play guitar. When I first learned how to play guitar, I could really feel the effects on my fingers. My fingertips would be bruised, they would hurt, and it would be much more difficult to play while my fingertips were trying to heal. However, as I continued to practice playing the guitar, my fingertips did not bruise anymore. Over time, my fingers developed calluses. The calluses on my fingertips made the skin on my fingertips much thicker, which meant that I could play my guitar for longer, and without feeling the pain that I once felt. At some point, I did not have the time to play my guitar as much. I went for a few months without playing my guitar, and when I finally had the opportunity to play my guitar again, I noticed something that I had not felt in a while: my fingers hurt! When you sin, think of it like you are just starting out on guitar. The first few times you do something sinful, it really makes an impact. You feel bad about what you have done, you regret it, and you tell yourself that you will never do it again. As you continue to sin, that pain becomes less and less noticeable, until you reach the point where you cannot feel that pain at all. By that point, you have reached the point where your conscience has formed a “callus”, and it has prevented you from acknowledging the sin in your life. So, how can you get rid of that callus? I would encourage you to reach out to a pastor or a mature Christian that knows you better. I do care about you, I do care about your situation (I have been praying for you, and I have been doing a lot of thinking and praying about how to respond to you), but I do not know you as well as others do. If you cannot find a pastor or a mature Christian that knows you, find a Christian that does not know you yet, and get to know them. Spend time studying your Bible. Understand exactly what God wants us to do, and when you learn what you need to do, you need to obey the Lord. This process can be very difficult, but if you ask God for help, He will help you. God will honor your desire to be closer with Him, and He will strengthen you so that you can persevere. In short, yes, I think you may need to “force” yourself to obey the Lord in the beginning. After all, the heart of man is “desperately wicked” [Jeremiah 17:9]. We are all sinners, we all fall short of the glory of God, and we are born into a sinful world. However, when we begin to seek the righteousness of Christ, we will be blessed. In the beginning, you may have to force yourself to do or not do something, but as you follow Christ, and as you grow in your faith, you will find that obeying Him will become much easier. It may take some time, and it may be difficult (it was difficult for me), but it will be worth it. I have my shortcomings, I make mistakes, and I sin a lot, yet, from the moment I wake up, until the moment I go to sleep, I have the joy of the Lord in my heart. No matter what you have done, God can help you know Him more. Also, I really do not believe that the devil would tell you not to listen to music when that music is not what you should be listening to as a Christian. The devil is absolutely working in this world, but he does not do everything. As previously mentioned, our hearts are desperately wicked. If we do not know God, we will be comfortable living in a life of sin. It is when we grow to know Christ that we can recognize our sinful nature. If you seek Jesus Christ, if you seek His righteousness, and if you are willing to give up the things that have kept you from a closer relationship with the Lord, you will experience a faith that is unlike anything you have felt before. You will be “on fire” for God all the time, and it will get even stronger as you continue to walk with Christ. Of course, there will always be moments (or days, or weeks, or even longer) where you do not feel as close to God, but that is something we all deal with. What matters the most is that you earnestly seek God and trust Him completely. One of my favorite verses for understanding how to overcome the desires of the flesh comes from Galatians 5:16: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” As for how you can “walk by the Spirit”, I would encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to help you. Study your Bible, pray without ceasing, and seek first the Kingdom of God. Life can be overwhelming when we look at it from a distance. Instead of asking yourself, “how do I fix my life so I can know God more”, ask yourself, “what can I do today in order to grow in my faith, and what do I need to address in my life right now”. When you know your Bible, you will be able to apply God’s Word each day. You will have the ability to address issues as they arise, and you will be able to discern God’s Will more clearly when you are closer with Him. When you wake up, ask God to guide you. When you are having a hard day, tell God. If you are having a good day, thank God. If you are just wanting to talk to God, you should talk to God. If you do not want to talk to God, you should talk to God anyway. I heard a pastor explain how “God is so much more excited when you pray than you are.” God loves you, and He wants to help you. Ask Him for help, and He will guide you. Take your life a day at a time, trust in the Lord always, and He will make straight your paths [Proverbs 3:6]. God bless you! - Daniel Teberian


Finding Hope in Times of Suffering

 [Originally written August 7, 2022. This was a note that was posted to my account on the YouVersion Bible app]


Good morning, my friends!


I hope that this note brings you peace and strength as you go through another day. I have been seeking the Lord during a season of trials, and I have learned so much from others, from the Bible, and from the leading of the Holy Spirit. My entire view of suffering has been changed, and I find myself rejoicing in my suffering. I don't know who this is meant for, but I felt it on my heart to share some things to encourage those who are going through trials. I have included numerous verses, and I would include many more if I could, but I don't think this app would be able to handle all the verses that I would share.


1. Your suffering serves a purpose.

One of the best things about being a Christian is knowing that God is in control, that He loves us, and that He doesn't let us suffer for no reason. Perhaps we need to grow, or maybe we have done something that is deserving punishment/correction. Perhaps our suffering will draw us closer to God and help us to share the love of Christ with those who have yet to hear about it (this is what I have seen come from my situation). The bottom line is that whatever we experience as Christians will serve a purpose, it will advance the Gospel, and "in that I rejoice" (Philippians 1:18).


2. God will take care of you.

There is nothing that we could go through that Christ has not overcome. Jesus tells us that He has "overcome the world", so we have no need to worry about tomorrow.


3. The less hope we have, the more we seek Christ, which increases our hope.

This point is somewhat confusing, but it makes sense to me. When everything fails, when we have nothing left, when we cannot muster up the strength to continue living, God rescues us. When we seek Christ, we will find what He has planned for us, His blessing will be upon our lives and upon what we do, He will open doors that we could never open, and He will protect us from those who wish to harm us.


4. There is justice for those who suffer unjustly.

In Romans, Paul tells us not to avenge ourselves, reminding us of what God spoke: "vengeance is mine. I will repay". The Psalms have countless examples of God defending His people, and the book of 1 Peter describes the blessings that will come to those who suffer unjustly. God sees you, He knows the truth, He will take care of those who have wronged you. In my experience, the thing that tells me I am on the right path is when I begin to pray that God shows mercy to those who hurt me. God is just, He will repay. You do not have to worry about getting even. We must make the decision to forgive, to forget, and to seek Christ. If you cannot forgive, pray and ask God to help you. Tell God that you want your heart to be changed, and allow God to work in and through you.


5. Our pain is temporary.

This life is not the end of us. We live to serve God, so when we encounter trials, we can look toward the promise of Heaven. When we stand strong under trials, when we live according to God's Word, when we suffer unjustly, and when we seek the Lord, we will be blessed more than we could ever imagine.



I hope that this note has encouraged my brothers and sisters in Christ. When we wait on God, we are not just waiting. We wait as God works, and God will not disappoint us. No matter how hard life gets, God is with us, so who can stand against us?


Have a blessed day.

- Daniel Teberian




[These are the verses that I attached to this note]


I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

- John 16:33


But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

- Luke 18:27


For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

- Romans 8:18


I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

- Philippians 3:14


Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

- James 1:2-4


Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

- James 5:11


Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

- 1 Peter 4:12-13


And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

- 1 Peter 5:10

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Yes, the Bible Condemns Rape.

[Written August 24, 2022]


While I was conducting some research to find topics to write about, I came across an article that caught my attention. The article is titled, “Ten Questions Biblical Literalists Cannot Honestly Answer”, written by Casper Rigsby of Atheist Republic. I would love to respond to each of the questions posed by Rigsby, but I cannot respond to each of them right now. In the future, when I have more time, I plan on revisiting this article. For now, I would like to address the first half of the first question posed by Rigsby:


“Can you make a moral judgement against rape or slavery using only scripture?[sic]”


Yes.


I could leave my response at that, given that the author of the article does not cite any passages to support their claim about there being no passage that condemns rape. However, my response is designed to bring some kind of sense to a rather simple question, posed by a man who is not educated in the Bible. The article describes how, “they [Christians] can search the bible till their fingers fly off, and not once will find a single scripture that says rape and slavery are morally wrong. Not even one.”

The statement in question is verifiably false, and I will explain how Rigsby is incorrect, but I want to take a moment to clarify a few things. I have quoted the author of the article correctly, including the way he intentionally leaves “Bible” in lowercase. He does the same with the words “Scripture” and “God”. The decision to leave said words in lowercase shows the author’s contempt for the faith of Christians, as well as his devotion to being condescending and dismissive of other beliefs, to the point where he actually harms his writing by leaving a proper noun (“the Bible”) in lowercase. I am not a Muslim, but I would still capitalize the name of their holy book. This is a concept that one would be taught in elementary school, and a topic that Rigsby is surely aware of, yet he chooses to make a grammatical error just to get in another dig at Christians. The author also uses language that would lead the reader to assume the article was written by a man with extensive knowledge of the Bible, despite the author having a very limited understanding of the Bible. There are plenty of atheists that are respectful, educated, and genuinely interested in a discussion. The author of this article is not one of those atheists.


The first passage that I want to draw your attention to is Genesis 34. This chapter is about the defiling of Dinah. Jacob (who would go on to become Israel) had a child with Leah, and that child was Dinah. Dinah was “seized” by Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite, who was the “prince of the land”. The ESV describes how Shechem “seized her [Dinah] and lay with her and humiliated her. [Genesis 34:2]”. In short, Dinah was raped.

Now, what happens next? Hamor, the father of the man who raped Dinah, tries to get Jacob to give Dinah in marriage to Shechem. Jacob makes a deal where, if all the men are circumcised (as the Jewish people were), he would give Dinah for Shechem to marry. This deal was made “deceitfully, because he [Shechem] had defiled their sister Dinah. [Genesis 34:13].”

So, Jacob’s daughter was raped, then he gave her to the man who raped her? No. In verse 25, we are told about Simeon and Levi (two of Dinah’s brothers) taking their swords and killing all the men in the town. Verse 26 tells us that the brothers killed Hamor and Shechem (the father and the rapist, respectively), then took Dinah away from Shechem’s house. Verse 27 describes how the brothers “came upon the slain and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister”. Jacob was upset about what his sons had done, as he feared that he and his household would be destroyed because of what his sons had done. The chapter ends with the response given by the brothers: “Should he treat our sister like a prostitute? [Genesis 34:31]”

The chapter ends there. What does this chapter tell us? This chapter describes Dinah being raped, her brothers killing the man who raped their sister, killing the father of the rapist, and killing all the men in the town. Jacob tells his sons how they may be destroyed for what they did, but the brothers basically tell their father, “it was worth it.”

I have provided an example of the Bible condemning rape, despite Rigsby’s claims that no such condemnation exists in the Bible. To further illustrate how silly of a question Rigsby has asked, let me describe some more examples of the Bible condemning rape:


Deuteronomy 22:25:

“But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die.”


This verse describes how a man who rapes a betrothed woman should be put to death. Verses 23 and 24 describe a similar scenario, except the woman is in a town, and the woman does not resist the man. In the previous example, by not resisting the rapist, she consents. As for what would constitute “resistance”, verse 24 mentions the woman never letting out a “cry for help”. Basically, if a man wants to have sex with a woman, and that woman does not try and fight or make a sound, she would effectively be consenting to the act. The requirement that a woman resist her rapist is not important if the rape takes place in a location where nobody could witness the rape. In such a case, the woman is not punished, but the man is put to death.


Deuteronomy 22:28-29:

“If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.”


One may look at this passage and be upset at the seemingly insignificant ramifications for raping a woman, but there is a cultural aspect to this punishment that one must understand. Virginity was incredibly important in those days, to the point where a woman would likely never marry if she was not a virgin. By raping a virgin, the rapist is removing her hope for a future, which means that she will live with her family for her entire life, she will never have children, and her family will be required to take care of her. In order to deter the rapist, the Bible requires that, in such a scenario, the rapist pay the father of the victim, and that the rapist is now required to marry and take care of his victim for the rest of her life. This passage deters the rapist, while providing some kind of security for the victim. Whether one agrees with the punishment that this passage describes, this passage definitely condemns rape.


Casper Rigsby claimed that Christians could not find a single example of the Bible condemning rape, yet I have presented you all with three examples of the Bible condemning rape.


In order to address a common argument against the Bible (concerning rape), I would like to dedicate the remaining portion of this entry to discussion Numbers 31. It does not take much to explain why this chapter does not support rape, but let me explain it anyway:


Yes, Numbers 31 does allow for the Israelites to take female captives. No, it does not give the Israelites the authority to rape them. The captives may have married the Israelites (they probably did), but that does not mean that the Israelites raped the captives. If the Israelites did rape their captives, the Israelites in question would be put to death (see my explanation of Deuteronomy 22).


The New Testament never describes rape, but it does condemn sexual immorality (which would include sex with a person outside of marriage), and it commands Christians to submit to the governing authorities. The governing authorities had already made rape illegal, so Christians would not be allowed to rape.


In short: the Bible condemns rape.


- Daniel Teberian




Here is the link to the article that I responded to:

https://www.atheistrepublic.com/blog/casper-rigsby/ten-questions-biblical-literalists-cannot-honestly-answer


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