AMA: Addictions, Soul-Sleep, Current Events & Where God Was in Hard Times

What does the Bible say about how to overcome addictions?

While the Bible does not specifically say the word “addiction,” it does talk about how to overcome sin. And addiction in any form is sin. The only thing we should be slaves to is God. Even Paul struggled with this.

Romans 7:17-20 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

Understand that sin, no matter what it is, does not come from God. And, sin happens over time. No one has one drink and is suddenly addicted. No one commits adultery without dwelling on the idea in their heart. No one commits murder without first struggling with anger, hatred and rage.

James 1:12-15 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

The only place we can run to and find help is God.

Hebrews 4:15-16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

In order to overcome an addiction (or sin), we must make the decision to change, to choose right. And, we must make this decision every day.

Galatians 5:16-18 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Romans 8:5-6 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

And the addiction won’t go away in a day. Just as the sin came to fruition over time, so purity will come over time. We must fill our hearts up with God so that there is not room for sin.

Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Romans 5:3-5 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For more help with overcoming hurts, habits and hang-ups, check out Celebrate RecoveryThe Landing and Celebration Place at Highland Baptist Church here in Clovis. This great ministry led by wonderful people will help you grow in God, support you and encourage you as you walk through overcoming anything including addiction.
 

When we die, do we go straight to heaven? If not, does our bodies stay here till rapture with our souls? What happens at rapture?

Here is a good article to answer the 1st two questions: https://bible.org/question/soul-sleep’-biblical-when-we-die-do-we-go-heaven-immediately-or-second-coming

Here’s what Jesus had to say about the end days:

Matthew 24

Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all[a] these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences,[b] and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’[c] spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.

26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it[d] is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,[e] but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour[f] your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

 

How are current events playing out with the Bible?

Could you ask how many of us need to hear about today’s events, politics, how they are prophetic and preparing for the return of Jesus Christ soon?

This is a difficult question to answer because no one can really 100% interpret all Bible prophecy. In researching this question, I found many things that made sense, many things that did not. I found many things I agreed with and many I didn’t.

I would encourage you in your research of this topic to research the Bible and history for yourself. Sure other people’s opinions are helpful but don’t rely on those opinions. Use them as a stepping stone but find out the truth for yourself.

Here’s a blog I thought was interesting: http://www.therefinersfire.org/recent_prophecy.htm

 

I was sexually molested from age 12-17. Where was God then?

Our awesome God gave us free will, and therefore, a choice. We can decide whether we want to follow Him or not.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Unfortunately, that means many people do not. Sin runs rampant. Many people reject God and many people say they know God, but in their hearts they know nothing of Him. And when Satan grips someone with sin, they act upon it in many ways, including sexual misconduct.

This is not new. In the Old Testament, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their wickedness, which included, but was not limited to, sexual immorality (Genesis 19).

I can tell you this: God loves you and he did not send this wicked thing to happen to you. He did not abandon you.

Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

God was with you and He always is but this world is not perfect. People are evil and bad things happen.

I encourage to seek forgiveness. Forgiveness of yourself, your attacker & God. That is the only way you can truly move forward and it is possible.

If you would like to talk with someone about this, fill out this form and our counselor will contact you: http://www.thevinecc.tv/counseling/

For more encouragement from the Bible about moving forward, go to this blog: https://www.reviveourhearts.com/true-woman/blog/sexual-abuse-trusting-god-with-my-past-hurts/

Whatever you do, don’t keep it in. Talk with someone and keep moving forward.

AMA: Unicorns, Prophets, Women & The Bible

Is it possible that unicorns existed before the flood?

“The unicorn appeared in early Mesopotamian artworks, and it also was referred to in the ancient myths of India and China. The earliest description in Greek literature of a single-horned (Greek monokerōs, Latin unicornis) animal was by the historian Ctesias (c. 400 bce), who related that the Indian wild ass was the size of a horse, with a white body, purple head, and blue eyes, and on its forehead was a cubit-long horn coloured red at the pointed tip, black in the middle, and white at the base.” (britannica.com)

Ctesias was a physician and historian who “wrote a history of India (Indica) that was based on reports of Persian visitors and of Indian merchants and envoys to the Persian court.” (britannica.com)

So, he never actually saw the animal but wrote about what others had told him. It it thought that Ctesias described as a unicorn was probably the Indian rhinoceros or possibly the narwhal or another animal whose antlers had, in a defect, grown together, like this little deer here: http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1814227,00.html

There is no proof that unicorns did or did not exist. Therefore, there is no straightforward answer to this question.

The answer, more than likely, is they possibly did, but probably not.

 

Are there still apostles and prophets today? How does the Bible support this answer?

In my opinion, yes.

All these gifts manifest in us through the Holy Spirit. Jesus did many miracles and spoke many words of knowledge during His ministry on Earth. Jesus has this to say about the Holy Spirit.

John 14: 12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask[c] anything in My name, I will do it. 15 “If you love Me, keep[d] My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.

Jesus said that when He died, those who believe in Him would receive the Holy Spirit and Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” God does not change and He fulfills all His promises and the Holy Spirit is one of those promises. And the Spirit comes with gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same[b] Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

Mark 16:15-18 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they[b] will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

These gifts are a part of the same Holy Spirit as the early church and these gifts are alive today.

 

How do we interpret the degrading of women in the Bible? (Lot offering up his daughter…)

Women were not degraded in the Bible. When God created woman, He created her to be a helper for the man He had created (Genesis 2:18). And, when Adam and Eve sinned, there were consequences.

Genesis 3:16 “To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”

Husbands are to be the head and women are to be the helper for their husbands. And, in the New Testament, men are called to love their wives and women are called to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-33). Our culture teaches us that women are to be the head or over a man, when really they are to be a partner and an advocate for the man. I'm not saying women "can't do" certain things, (we can work, we're smart, we have great ideas & abilities) but there are some things we definitely shouldn't do (like degrade me, try to conquer them, be disrespectful, etc). I don’t believe women were degraded any more in Bible times than they are currently. And this is coming from a woman!

In Lot’s case, he was living in Sodom, a very wicked, Godless city, where the hearts of men were nothing but evil.

In Genesis 18, the Lord appeared to Abraham with two men. He tells Abraham that the next year Sarah will have a son and that He was going to Sodom and Gomorrah to see if the city was as wicked as the outcry against it. If it was, He would destroy the cities. Abraham then asks the Lord to not “slay the righteous with the wicked” (I can’t help but wonder if he was thinking of his nephew Lot while he asked) and the outcome was that for the sake of 10 righteous people, God would not destroy it.

When the two men who were with God reach Sodom, they meet Lot sitting at the gate. Lot insists that they stay with him so strongly that they finally agree (Genesis 19). (Perhaps Lot knew what would happen to these men if they stayed the night in the square.)

That night, the men of the city surrounded Lot’s house and demanded that he bring out the men he was housing so the people of the city could molest them. Lot, being a righteous man, begs the people not to do this wicked thing. When the men of the city insist, Lot offers up his daughters for the sake of the two men staying with him.

Genesis 19:6-8 “So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, 7 and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! 8 See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.””

Lot was not degrading his daughters, he was trying to protect the men that he had invited under his roof. And the passage above says, “since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof,” meaning the evil thing the men of the city were planning. This leads me to believe that Lot knew why these men were there and knew it was important to protect them, for the men’s sake and for the sake of the city.

Of course, the men of the city don’t listen and instead move in and try to break into the house. Allowing Lot & his family to escape, God destroys the evil cities by raining fire and brimstone on them.

True followers give up the things they love, even if it hurts, to follow God and make His name great and I believe this is what Lot was doing by offering his daughters.

 

How did everything in the Bible last this long? How did they write it back then and keep it safe?

In a nutshell, the answer is God.

Jesus said in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

If you would like to learn more about how we got the Bible, check out this link: https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/canon-scripture-wayne-grudem

 

AMA: Tithes & Relationships

Doesn’t tithe mean 10th? How does that fit into how our church presents tithes and offering?

God is concerned with one thing and that is our heart. Is your heart with Him and His plan? Is your heart one of love, giving, kindness and glorifying Him? The Old Testament does tell us to give a tenth, the New Testament does not go against that but Jesus reminds us of the importance of giving with a cheerful heart. He is telling us that God is bigger than all things and we can step out in faith knowing that God will take care of us when we give with joy, happiness and love. Giving is about money but it is also about time, talents, love, fellowship and discipleship.

On Sunday mornings, you hear us say to give out of the joy of abundance in your heart, the amount is between you and God, to give to the storehouse and that we pray for God’s direction in it all. So, when you look at giving as a whole, throughout the bible, who are we to limit God at what He can do? God could be calling someone to give their tenth but he could be calling the person next to them to give more. Who are we to say what God wants from each person or what He can do with what is given? Only He knows and only He will guide each person in how-to.

We as a church pray and take very seriously the tithing that comes in to be glorifying to God on the givers part and on our part to do God’s will with it.

Deuteronomy 14:22-26:

Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always. But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the Lord your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the Lord will choose to put his Name is so far away), then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lord your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice.

Malachi 3:10-12:

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.  “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.

Matthew 23:23:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

2 Corinthians 9:6-10:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.

Matthew 6:21:

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

Is it ok to date a non-christian?

No.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18, “14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.””

God has made it very clear that those who have accepted Him are in the light and those who haven’t are living in darkness. Light & dark cannot survive together. Sooner or later, one will take over the other and, it most likely (and unfortunately) won’t be the light.

1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.””

 

Can a relationship between two people who attend different faiths such as Catholic and Christian be a successful one, blessed by God?

The real questions to ask are:

1- Have you both accepted Christ?

As stated above, we are not to be connected with unbelievers. God made it very clear to Israel that if they intermarried with the pagan countries around them, those countries would eventually talk the Israelites into following their gods and lead the people astray. If you have both accepted Christ and confessed Him, move on to questions 2.

2- Are you both followers of God?

Luke 9:23, “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”

Are you both striving daily to follow His commands and do right things? If you have truly accepted Christ, things in your life change. You desire to do right and obey God’s commands. Of course we all sin at times, but if either of you are blatantly choosing wrong, I would question if you truly love God. If you are both following Him, here’s the last question.

3- Do you agree on your denominational differences?

This isn’t a Biblical deal-breaker but I have personally watched a marriage between someone who was Catholic and someone who was Church of Christ fall apart. There were disagreements on Baptism, prayer, worship, etc. Christians & Catholics believe in the same God & Christ but many other beliefs are very different.

Before marriage, I would recommend you sit down and have a conversation about your two denominations and how that affects you. You have to have the hard conversations now. For example, if your beliefs differ in a certain area, in which way will you raise your kids?

So, can this union be blessed by God? Yes.

 

AMA: Sexual Purity

How does the Bible define sexual purity? Inside and outside of marriage?

To define Biblical sex, we have to look at both the old and new testaments.

First things first. God specifically made woman because there was no suitable helper for a man among what He has created. Men and women’s longing for each other is Biblical in how we were created. And God set this up for a purpose when He created women.

Genesis 2:21-25 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Jesus echoes this scripture in Matthew 19 while addressing divorce and Paul does too in Ephesians 5 as he addresses husbands and wives in the church.

This was God’s plan: for one man and one woman to be joined together, both in a marriage sense and in a sexual sense. The problem? We as people are terrible at obeying God. Adam and Eve sinned, were kicked out of the garden, had kids who brought about the first murder and righteousness began to decline. People were so corrupt that God flooded the Earth to rid it of sin. But even a “factory reset” couldn’t save our sorry butts. People continued to sin. It’s in our nature.

Fast forward to Moses and the Israelites. God sets a bunch of rules before the people and some were about sex. Exodus 22: 6 says, “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife.” Deuteronomy 22 says that if a woman married and was found to not be a virgin at that time, she was to be stoned to death. And, if a man lay with a betrothed virgin, they were to both be stoned. God intended for sex to be between two married people.

In Leviticus 18, God gets even more specific. He addresses adultery, sex amongst family members, homosexuality and bestiality.

And God doesn’t change. He doesn’t contradict himself and there is no evil in Him. So, to those of you saying “well, that’s old testament.” News flash: That’s GOD. He is good and unchanging.

So, let’s face it. Anything we do outside of God’s plan is immoral, so sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sexual immorality.

1 Corinthians 6:9-20 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined[d] to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin[e] a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Inside of marriage, sex is an amazing thing. It creates intimacy between you and your spouse. It’s a precious thing that you share with each other and only each other. It’s a good thing. (Read Song of Solomon!) In fact, sex within the boundaries of marriage is worship because you are using it for what God created it for. As long as you are not bringing anyone else into it, whether physically or visually, you’re good to enjoy it!

(Want to do a little experiment with your spouse? Read Sexsperiment by Ed Young.)

What is the church’s view of sex? Will I go to hell if I had sex before marriage? How do I not have sex before marriage?

The church’s view of sex is God’s view of sex. We believe what He says so read the answer to the question above if you haven’t already.

You will not go to hell if you had sex before marriage.

John 14: 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Romans 10: 9-11 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Salvation is a heart issue. There is no good thing you can do to get yourself into heaven and there is no bad thing you can do to get yourself out of heaven. You either accept Christ and believe God or you don’t. But I will say that when you accept Christ, things change. Your heart changes and you want to obey God. As Christians, we all make mistakes and we all give into temptation but we are striving to live like Him. So, check your heart. If you truly believe and have confessed and are trying to follow Him, then you are His.

So, how do you not have sex before marriage? You CHOOSE not to. And don’t say “I can’t” because you can. In the same way that you choose to tell the truth or choose to be patient when you’re frustrated or choose to love someone who is not so loveable, you choose to stay pure.

Here’s how:

1 – I Corinthians 6:17 says, “But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” Fill yourself up with God and His word. Watch good things, listen to good things, read good things. Worship, pray, learn and stay connected in God’s word. Good produces good and evil produces evil.

Luke 6: 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

2 – I Corinthians 6:18 says flee from sexual immorality. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Don’t put yourself in the position. Don’t spend time with your significant other one-on-one. Don’t let them spend time at your house and don’t spend time at their house without another person present who will keep you accountable. It’s not “extreme”, it’s smart. And, it’s worth it.

Is it ok for a Christian couple to live together before marriage?

For reasons stated in the answers to the 2 questions above, no. It is not ok to live together before marriage.

Counseling for people that aren’t married but live together as married.

If you know of two people who are looking for counseling, they can fill this out: http://www.thevinecc.tv/counseling/

But, if you are wondering how to counsel those people. You can speak the truth in love but, in reality, there's not a whole lot you can say to change someone's mind. So, encourage them to do right, pray for them and, most of all, don't condemn them. Use kind words and when they don't listen, let it go and continue to show them Christ's love through your life.

AMA: Scientific Debate & the NBA Finals

Whitney Sledz • Media Director • whitney@thevinecc.tv

Whitney Sledz • Media Director • whitney@thevinecc.tv

What is the “Christian Evidence” of the geological sedimentary fossil layers that the evolutionists rebutt? I cannot debate my atheist son in this. Any help?

While many scientists believe that science proves that there is an ultimate creator, many believe the opposite. There is not a clear answer to prove beyond a doubt that God is the creator of life and I believe that’s because as Christians we are called to faith.

The truth is, finding the answer to the question above will not change your son’s mind. If you can win this debate with him, he will counter with something else. Here’s how you will win the ultimate “debate”:

1- Pray for him. It’s easy to become frustrated and feel like God is not answering that prayer but it is so important for us to not give up. Pray for his salvation and for other people to come into his life to plant seeds and water them in his heart.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,” - 1 Timothy 2:1

“And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.” - Luke 23:34

“Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” - Romans 10:1

2- Be a light. Let your love and faith and good works shine for him to see so that he may ultimately come to glorify God.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” - Matthew 5:14-16

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” - John 13:34

3- Speak the Word of God. Scripture and God’s word is another way his heart will be changed. Whether you quote it, somehow get him to read it or hear it from another source.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” - Romans 10:17

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” - Isaiah 55:10-11

4- Don’t give up. You have been called to spread the Gospel and you have been placed in your sons life and God will use you to speak truth.

“But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’” - Acts 26:16-18

Were the NBA Finals rigged?

I am SUCH a conspiracy theorist especially when it come to the NBA. As a HUGE Spurs fan and an avid basketball watcher, I have seen too many things happen in the playoffs over the years with referees, well shooting teams who suddenly can’t make a basket in the fourth and teams or players in bigger markets or that are more marketable beating smaller or less popular teams. I believe a big majority of the NBA is rigged and that this year’s finals set up many of the trades that happened afterward. I also believe there is a behind-the-scenes rhyme and reason for most things that happen in the NBA.

I’m always up for discussion on the topic if you want to hear my opinion but I think Derek Osburn said it best. He said it doesn’t matter what the event is, when there is that much money involved, there will be corruption. I believe we have seen this in all big events. Politics, the Olympics, the NFL, etc.

Were the NBA finals rigged? We’ll probably never truly know but I can’t help but believe they were.

 

AMA: Hurtful Words & Baptism

April Roberts • Children's Director • april@thevinecc.tv

April Roberts • Children's Director • april@thevinecc.tv

Why are Christians so judgmental and hurtful to other Christians (persecute those who stumble and fall)? It has been said: Christians are the only army that shoot their wounded.

First off, we always need to be reminded that we are all sinners. Christians, like other people, judge others. It’s human nature. And a lot of times, we give in to our human nature too easily. In the church, we are all just a bunch of broken people coming together. We are all a work in progress, striving to grow in Holiness.

If you are following Jesus, you need accountability in your life. Accountability isn’t always easy. It SUCKS when you are called out on your sin. We are prideful and emotional people, so immediately we jump to feeling judged. We have to realize that this isn’t a Christian judging us, this is another believer acknowledging sin for what it is and wanting us free from it. When we confront others about sin in their lives, we have to follow Jesus’ example of truth, love, humility, and most of all grace.

“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of god may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

“Preach the word; be ready in season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” - 2 Timothy 4:2

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any sin, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” - Galatians 6:1

I have several people in my life who hold me accountable, one being my husband. I’m so thankful that I have a husband who calls me out on my sin. Most days, it’s easy for me to get my feelings hurt and get defensive, but when I am reminded of God’s character and see those qualities in my husband's approach, I see that he just wants the best for me.  

We need to do the same with each other in the church. As Christians, we want other Christians to walk in obedience; we want the best for each other. But we have to remember that we are not always going to approach every situation perfectly just because we are Christians. If there has been someone that has hurt you in the church, forgive them. You can’t fix other people, but can you can work on you. Grow in truth, love, humility and grace.

When do I get baptized?

I think it’s very important to first understand what baptism is. Just as Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose to life again three days later, baptism symbolizes one’s death to sin, burial of the old life and resurrection of the new life in Christ. Baptism does not save you. Jesus is the only Savior. Second, you need to understand what it means to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior. We use The Gospel: God’s plan for me every week in VineKids. It breaks it down simply.

1. God rules- God created everything. Colossians 1:16-17, Revelation 4:11

2. We sinned- Since the time of Adam and Eve, everyone has chosen to disobey God. This sin separates us from God and deserves punishment. Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23

3. God provided- God sent His Son Jesus, the perfect solution to our sin problem, to rescue us from the punishment we deserve. Jesus alone saves us. John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9

4. Jesus gives- Jesus lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins and rose again. This is the best gift ever! Romans 5:8, 2 Corinthians 5:21

5. We respond

·      Admit to God that you are a sinner.

·      Believe that Jesus is God’s Son and accept God’s gift of forgiveness from sin only through Jesus dying on the cross.

·      Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Tell God and others what you believe.

Once you fully understand and make the decision to follow Jesus, Baptism is the outward expression of your decision. This is the first step of obedience after you place for your full trust in Christ.

“And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” - Acts 22:16

“Therefor go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - Matthew 28:19-20

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” - Romans 6:1-18

AMA: Purgatory, Satan, Good People & a Marriage Conference

Tyler Hicks • Family Pastor • tyler@thevinecc.tv

Tyler Hicks • Family Pastor • tyler@thevinecc.tv

Purgatory?

I think this article is very helpful on this topic, so check it out!  https://www.gotquestions.org/purgatory.html

Why did God create Satan and allow him to live if he knew he was going to fall?

Great question.  We know God knows everything, has all power, and He loves us.  He has given us His word for everything we need to know for life and godliness.  I don’t like to speculate because that would just be my thoughts, and I believe it’s more important to know what God says in His word.  I found this helpful article on this exact issue, and it’s very biblical, so I hope you check it out!  

https://www.gotquestions.org/if-God-knew.html

Why do good people who don’t sin get aids from a blood transfusion?

This question seems to be very specific, but I’ve heard a more general question that goes like this: “Why do bad things happen to good people.” And the short answer is: there are no good people.  Only Jesus is good. And that one good person (Jesus) died for all of us bad people in order to make us good in Him. He came to fix everything that is broken, reconciling us back to God and reconciling us to one another. Here is a helpful article that gives you more detail and Scripture:  https://gotquestions.org/bad-things-good-people.html

Does the church have plans to do another marriage conference anytime soon? Could a conference on spiritual intimacy in marriage be considered?

I don’t think we know this at this time. But yes, I suppose that topic could be considered.

 

AMA: Loss & Forgiveness

Diana Wood • Office Manager • diana@thevinecc.tv

Diana Wood • Office Manager • diana@thevinecc.tv

Ask me anything; you guys have laid out a lot that is humbling, hard and good for us to answer. There are some very deep questions that I know are dear to your hearts. So, as I answer these few questions, I’m going to be real with you and open up about some things I have a hard time talking about.

1. How do you offer hope to someone who loses a loved one that might not have accepted Christ as savior?

Losing the people that we love sucks! Sorry, I was trying to think of a better way to say that but yeah it does. I have unfortunately experienced a lot of loss in my life for only being 33. I have lost grandparents, an uncle that was like a second dad to me, many classmates (yes, its so many that I have lost count, somewhere in the teens), two childhood friends, a friend that I met just after college and my momma. Through all of this, there have been times where I knew without a doubt they are in heaven rejoicing but there was the other side of not knowing if they were in heaven or being sure they were not. It is a struggle to make sense of what could have been done differently for them to be in heaven without a shadow of doubt.

A few years ago, I lost a very good friend of mine. We had been friends since the 5th grade and all through school. We did everything together. Once we became adults, the friendship continued but something changed. She was diabetic since the 6th grade but as an adult she started not taking care of herself like she needed to. Fast-forward to her having to little girls and still not taking care of her body like she should. I could see that she was slowly killing herself. I had one of the hardest talks with her. I told her that I was there when she was ready for help but that I could not stand by and watch her do this to herself. I wanted so badly for her to see that she was going to end up dead and her babies would have no mother. I think by the time she realized that she needed to change, her body was already so far gone that it could not come back from all the lack of nutrition.

The problem is that I was so focused on talking to her about her health and eating right, that I never talked to her about my wonderful savior. I never told her about that peace and comfort that she could have in Him and not in the world she was trying so hard to control. The day she died, I got that phone call that we all hate to get. I grieved harder than I ever have (and this was after losing my mom) because I didn’t know if she went to heaven. I didn’t know if she had ever given her life to the Lord.

God brought me to my knees over the next couple of days. I learned a hard lesson. I can never allow myself to not share what God has to offer. There was so much guilt that I had for a long time after that. I know God has forgiven me for that but I was hard on myself for a while.

The day of her funeral her uncle got up to speak about her life but he shared one of the most wonderful things. The night that she died he was at her bedside and shared with her about Jesus’ love and peace that He had to offer her. She said “I want that how do I get it?”

I know this story ends with a happy ending but the lesson that has to be taken away is that you have to share with your friends and loved ones, no matter how hard that is, about God. Just a few months after she passed away I had another good friend of mine take her life. In the months leading up to her ending her own life, she and I had many conversations about God, His love, His peace and how great His gift is to us. I truly believe that she did ask Jesus to forgive her. I just don’t know that she was able to forgive herself for choices she had made in the last year of her life. Ultimately, the burden she put on herself became too much. She never learned how to give it all to God and let go. The day she died I was sad. It was so hard to hear what she had done but I had peace in God.

There is no right thing to say to someone that has lost a love one that you don’t believe had given his or her life to God. There is no magic phrase or scripture that is going to take the pain away. I do believe that, in the right timing, you can talk about the fact that the only comfort is in God’s word, sharing with others about Jesus and taking this as a lesson to never let someone pass without at least hearing your love for God. The hope is in God alone!

Job 6:8 “Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for,

2. After God has forgiven me, how do I forgive myself?

I have struggled with forgiveness. I didn’t lead a very pretty life in high school and college at all. There are things that I wish I could go back and change. But God doesn’t ask for us to come to Him all cleaned up and perfect with “our life together”. He wants us the way we are, a mess, broken, unholy and unclean because cleaning us up is His job. He wants to make us whole, clean and perfect through Christ.

We like to have control. Even after we have asked Christ to save us, we want to hold onto things because we can think “I can fix that part” or “God’s too busy to have to deal with this part so I will take care of that too”.

The one thing that got me to realize that I could not fix my problems and that I needed to forgive myself was waking up every morning in prayer. I would tell God and myself that I am no longer that person. I am better than that. God forgave me and I forgive myself. I know this sounds crazy but saying those words out loud helped me to believe in myself and forgive myself over time. The same was true for me when it came time to forgive someone that hurt me very deeply.

What you put out there whole-heartedly you will get back. God will give you that peace and security that you need to forgive. I still have times in my life where I have to say this prayer out loud to come to forgiveness for myself because the world doesn’t stop throwing things at me. God is so much bigger and better than all of the world’s problems. We have to have faith He will overcome it all.

Proverbs 4:25-27 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

AMA: Divorce, Salvation & Judas

Whitney Sledz • Media Director • whitney@thevinecc.tv

Whitney Sledz • Media Director • whitney@thevinecc.tv

What does the Bible say about a divorced person getting married for a second time?

The Bible is very clear about divorce and this may make some people mad but these are God’s words, not mine and sometimes the truth hurts. So, here we go.

Matthew 5:31-32 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Mark 10:2-12 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”

“What did Moses command you?” he replied.

They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”

“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied.

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’

‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,  and the two will become one flesh.’So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this.

He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

Luke 16:18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

1 Corinthians 7:10-16 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

Malachi 2:16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the LORD Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

Matthew 19:8-9 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

I think this is pretty black & white.

So, you might say, “but Jesus said, if a man looks on a woman lustfully, then he commits adultery in his heart.”

Yes, he did. But Christ is the church’s groom, we (his bride), as sinful beings, commit adultery against God often by putting someone or something else above Him. We give that intimate place that is reserved for God over to something else and He continues to pursue us. God doesn’t hand us a certificate of divorce, He loves us through it. Jesus was calling us to be pure in our heart because sin in our heart leads to sin physically.

 

If my son asked Jesus into his heart when he was 6 and does not live for Jesus now, is he still saved?

The truth is, no one can say whether or not your son is saved because no one truly knows his heart. Only he and God know the answer to this question.

Romans 10:9-11 says, “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

If you truly believe and confess, then you are saved. When we accept Christ, something in our hearts and lives changes and, because we love God, we desire to be obedient and do His will.

James 2:14-17 “ What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

God has given us free will. We can choose to believe and follow Him but we can also choose to walk away from that salvation. Faith without works is dead and works without faith is dead. If he is truly saved, I believe you will see it in his daily life. I would encourage you to pray for him and hold fast to proverbs 22:6, which says “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

 

Tyler Hicks • Family Pastor • tyler@thevinecc.tv

Tyler Hicks • Family Pastor • tyler@thevinecc.tv

Can you lose your salvation?

The short answer is no.  But the question could also be, “was I really saved to begin with?” Here is short answer from one of my favorite preachers, John Piper. I think it’s really helpful:

http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/can-a-born-again-christian-lose-salvation

Did God love Judas?

Yes. He spent over three years with Judas. He washed Judas’s feet. I wouldn’t do that unless I loved someone. I just read this article on Judas and Jesus, and there is more than enough here to think about. I think you’ll get a lot out of it!  

http://www.gty.org/resources/positions/P26/unmasking-the-betrayer

 

AMA: Serving & Membership

Tyler Hicks • Family Pastor • tyler@thevinecc.tv

Tyler Hicks • Family Pastor • tyler@thevinecc.tv

If I am really involved in ministry outside of the church (which uses most of my time), does it count as “being involved” in the church since the church is Christ’s body?

It’s great that you are doing ministry! When we think through the topic of “church,” it’s important to remember that there is the local church (or some people call it a “particular” or “visible” church) and there is the universal church (or invisible). The local church is a specific group of people that assembles together regularly for the preaching of God’s word, for community, for baptizing and taking the Lord’s Supper. And they are under the authority of that church leadership. The universal church is made up of all Christians from all times and places - the overall body/bride of Christ.

When you read the New Testament, you see that there are letters written to particular local churches like the church in Ephesus or Corinth, etc. In those letters you see instruction for God’s people to commit themselves to a particular church where they can grow together, serve one another, love one another and many other “one another” passages that can be found here. http://storage.cloversites.com/wakarusamissionarychurch/documents/59one_another_scriptures.pdf

So, the Bible teaches us not to just go about life trying to do these commands in some vague way, but more in a specific way with a specific group of people that we do life with and grow together with. This is why when you join The Vine, we have you sign a “covenant agreement” saying that you are committing yourself to the people of the church and that under the leadership of the church you willingly work together to build up the members of the church. So, I would just encourage you to look at that covenant agreement and if you decide to commit yourself here, do your best to serve this body of believers using the gifts that the Lord has given you. Also, I would want you to think through what you might need to do to free up your time to serve in the local church. There is no shortage of needs in our church, so I’d love to help you with seeing where you can get plugged in! The local church is God’s plan to make Himself known to the world. http://t4g.org/media/2010/06/the-church-is-the-gospel-made-visible-session-i-3/

Again, I think it’s a great thing that you are doing ministry outside the local church, but I do see clear commands in scripture where God wants us to serve a particular church made up of specific people.  

As far as being involved in our church, I would think about it this way. If I love and work with alot of families, that’s a good thing. But if I tell my wife that I’m not involved in the life of our family, I’m not spending time with her and our kids but it’s OK because I’m involved with a lot of families and love family in general, she wouldn’t be too happy with me! I need to make ministry to my family a priority over ministry to other families or else I’m not loving my family as I should - as God has called me to.  In a similar way, we need to commit ourselves to a particular “family of God” (church) and not neglect them. So, I think there needs to be a priority on the local church.  But ministry outside the church is a wonderful thing to do as well, just not to the neglect of your local church. I hope this makes sense and helps.

Am I in sin if I am not serving in the church as a Christian?

Here are many verses on serving in the church. https://www.openbible.info/topics/serving_the_church

So, if you are not obeying God’s word, you’re not obeying God. Therefore, to answer your question, if you are not serving your church, scripture seems pretty clear that you are being disobedient to the Lord’s commands. But the good news is that there is grace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ! And, we all have room to grow.

Serving in a church is a great way to grow as a Christian. I’ve found that when I begin to serve in church, I meet people, grow in relationships, take ownership and I get to experience how wonderful it is to be used by God for His glory and for the building up of His people. I encourage you to ask your church leaders or others in your church how you can serve and what needs you could meet.

How do I become a member?

Come to a membership meeting or come talk to us in the “information room” after a service. We can tell you about the church, answer any questions you have and show you the covenant agreement. To become a member, you read that and prayerfully see if God wants you to commit to this body of believers and whether or not you can commit to what is in the covenant agreement. After you sign that, you are a member. You can also become a member by being baptized or by asking that your membership from another church be transferred to The Vine.

 

AMA: Heaven, Depravity, The Bible, War

Tyler Hicks • Family Pastor • tyler@thevinecc.tv

Tyler Hicks • Family Pastor • tyler@thevinecc.tv

Will we know our husband, wife, kids in heaven?  

Yes, I believe that we will know our families in heaven. Randy Alcorn, author of the book Heaven, has shaped much of my thinking on the new heavens and the new earth. Here are some reasons I think we will know people in heaven:

We won’t be dumber in heaven. We will be smarter (1 Cor.13:12).  We don’t see any indication in the Bible that there will be some sort of “memory wipe” that would cause us to forget our loved ones or anyone else we’ve known. Also, 1 Thes. 4:14-18 talks about being reunited with one another. Why would that be an encouragement to us if we don’t know our loved ones?

At the transfiguration, the disciples recognized Moses and Elijah. They weren’t told who they were, and there’s no way they could’ve known what they looked like. So, maybe we will instantly recognize people we know of but have never met.

We do not lose knowledge in heaven - we gain it. The nature of love itself transcends death (1 Cor 13:13). The shared experiences we have had with loved ones creates bonds comparable to soldiers who have fought together in war. They never forget what they experienced together in that foreign land called earth.

Do you believe in total Depravity?

Yes. Total deparavity is a phrase that is used to summarize what the Bible teaches about the spiritual condition of fallen man. The doctrine of total depravity teaches us that as a result of the fall of man (Gen 3:6) every part of man - his mind, will, emotions and flesh - have been corrupted/polluted by sin. Sin affects every fiber of our being. It penetrates the core of our being.  Everything is tainted with sin so that “...all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” before God in all His holiness (Isaiah 64:6).

We sin because we are sinners by nature and by choice. Our hearts are “deceitful and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). We are born dead in sin (Psalm 51:5, Psalm 58:3, Ephesians 2:1-5). We do not naturally seek God (Romans 3:10-11). We love the darkness (John 3:19) and we don’t understand the things of God (1 Cor 2:14). We suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). Our sinful lifestyle seems right in our own eyes (Proverbs 14:12). Our minds are hostile to God; we don’t submit to His law, indeed we cannot (Romans 8:7).

Paul talks about our depravity in Romans 3:9-18. Our natural tendency is to sin. This should come as no shock to parents.You don’t have to teach kids to lie, hit, steal, disobey or be selfish. These things come naturally because of our sinful nature. In Romans 3, we see that no one is without sin, no one seeks after God, there is no one who is good, our speech is corrupted by sin, our actions are corrupted by sin and we have no fear of God. These verses make it clear that fallen man (unregenerate, apart from Christ) is totally depraved - sin affects our mind, will and emotions so that “there is none who do good, no not one” (Rom. 3:12).  

Total depravity does not mean that man is as sinful as he could be. It does not mean that man doesn’t have a conscience or a sense of right or wrong. It doesn’t mean that man cannot do things that seem good from a human standard. What the Bible teaches is that even the “good” things man does are tainted by sin because they are not done for the glory of God and out of faith in Him (Rom 14:23; Hebrews 11:6). Man looks at the outward actions, but God looks at the heart, the motive behind the actions. So, even our good deeds are like “filthy rags” because they are not done from a heart that desires to please God but by our own self-interests.

So, in order for God to save man out of his total depravity, he must open our spiritually blind eyes, take out our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh, freeing us from the bondgage of sin so that we are enabled to place our faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit frees us and enables us to see Jesus as our savior and Lord.  It is the Holy Spirit that works in our hearts enabling us to place our faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

The world sees man as basically good, so telling people that man is totally depraved usually doesn’t go very well. This biblical idea flies in the face of most modern religious, psychological and philosophical views of the basic nature of man. But we must believe the Bible, which teaches the depravity of the human heart and that our biggest problem is not the environment we are raised in but is our own wicked and selfish hearts. Total depravity teaches that any works-based righteousness will not get us to God. There are no good people. There is only one good person, the God-man, Jesus Christ. And he is the only good person that can save bad people like you and me.  

Who wrote the Bible?

God wrote the Bible. But he used men to do so. One catechism puts it this way “holy men who were taught by the Holy Spirit”.  2 Timothy 3:16 says that Scripture is “breathed out” by God. The Bible refers to itself as the Word of God many times (Psalm 119; Prov 30:5; Isaiah 40:8; 55:11; Jeremiah 23:29; John 17:17; Romans 10:17; Ephesians 6:17; Heb 4:12). God accomplished His written word through the process of inspiration. Human writers wrote God’s message as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. It’s true that God wrote the Bible. And it’s true that inspired men of God wrote the Bible. The doctrine of inspiration teaches that God wrote the bible using men to write exactly what He wanted to write, but this did not do away with their styles and personalities.  2 Peter 1:21 says “Prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”.

What’s amazing is how the bible, though it is made up of many books by many different authors and spans many many years, it is yet one single book telling one unifying story, all pointing to the person and work of Jesus Christ. The unity of the Bible is a testimony itself to the divine inspiration of God’s word.  

Explain killing in terms of a war situation.

    Most of what I say here I found at GotQuestions.org, a very helpful website for questions about the Bible, Christianity, etc. There are many wars in the Bible. Wars of conquest (Josh 1:6), civil wars (2 Sam 3:1), and there was a war in heaven when Satan rebelled against God (Revelation 12:7). Killing is a part of war. We know that murder is sin (Exodus 20:13). But what about the killing of an enemy combatant during wartime?

There are times when God Himself commanded battles to be fought so we know that not all killing in wartime is a sin (Josh 5:14; 8:1-1; 1 Sam 15:3; 2 Samuel 5:23-25). God never tells people to sin, so the Israelites who followed God’s commands to wage war were not sinning. Killing in war cannot be equated with murder.

There is no theocracy today. No nation has a command from God to wage war but wars are still fought. War is part of the fall. We live in a fallen world filled with fallen, sinful people. The Bible never condemns the actions of a soldier following orders on a battlefield. The New Testament has examples of soldiers who had faith in God - Jesus commended a centurion’s faith in Matt 8:10; and another centurion, Cornelius, was saved in Acts 10. These men of war were not rebuked for performing the duties of a centurion, nor were they told they must change professions.

When some soldiers came up to John the Baptist and asked, “What should we do?” he could’ve told them to stop engaging in warfare, stop killing or stop being soldiers. Instead, John replied “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely - be content with your pay” (Luke 3:14). So, being a soldier doesn’t appear to be inherently sinful.  

In 1 Cor. 9:7 and 2 Tim. 2:3, Paul uses the life of a soldier as an analogy for the Christian life.  War is no doubt a part of this cursed world. There are forces of evil that must be stopped, and killing the enemy is part of that. God, in His sovereignty has put governments and soldiers and policemen and other officers in place to “wield the sword” and have the authority to protect people and establish justice. Whether a Christian should serve in the military is a matter of one’s own conscience, but killing an armed combatant in the context of warfare is not sinful in itself.  There is a time and season for everything, including war (Ecc. 3:8).

AMA: Missions

1- What local ministries does our church support?

2- Does The Vine partner with any non-profits in Clovis? What ministries does The Vine do in Clovis?

3- Why aren’t we more involved in more “missions” in our community?

4- The missions of The Vine currently? Where do you see the church in one year?

 

We know you asked about local ministries, but we thought it would be good to let you in on all the missions our church has been involved in. So, here we go:

 

Local:

Salvation Army - TVCC & its members have bought Angel Tree Christmas presents and bicycles for families in Clovis.

Baptist Student Union – Every 6 months, TVCC serves free lunch to the college students at the BSU on the Eastern New Mexico University campus.

Barry Elementary – TVCC provided Christmas present for students in need.

Beacon of Light – Sponsored financially

Bethel Assembly of God/The Seven Project – The Seven Project is an evangelist group that spreads the message of Christ to teenagers. TVCC helped sponsor this group to come to Clovis and many of our members attended as members of the salvation team.

Celebrate Recovery/The Landing at Highland Baptist Church – sponsored financially

Clovis Schools – did shoe drive for students in need, TVCC’s members have assisted with Reality Check at CHSFA & testing at Yucca Middle School, provided art supplies and provided lunch for student organization at W.D. Gattis Middle School, provided art supplies & helped clean at Bella Vista.

Clovis Christian School – Assisted with Color Run fundraiser, hosted back to school luncheon for teachers and administration and sponsored financially

Commando Air Drop – help cookie drive for single airmen

Eastern Baptist Association – TVCC is a member of this organization. We have sponsored them financially and did a food drive for the children’s home.

Eastern New Mexico Food Bank – Food boxes for the needy

Future Generations – sponsored financially

Gone Fishin’ Ministry, Inc. – sponsored financially

KSMX Secret Santa – sponsored financially

Lighthouse Mission – sponsored financially & donated various items

Lincoln-Jackson school – collected clothing and shoes for families, sponsored financially

Matt 25 – sponsored financially

Meals on Wheels – deliver meals one week a month

Outreach/Benevolence – Provided Christmas gifts for families in our church in need, financial help for couples adopting children, made and handed out Thanksgiving, food boxes for those in need, partnered with Kelly’s Bar & Grill to host Thanksgiving meal for military families, had VineFest carnival, had Vacation Bible School and fundraised for/gave to various individuals and organizations for medical bills, financial strains and ministry opportunities. We have supported countless locals that have experienced tragedy. We have helped many widows with maintenance, rides & medical bills.

Pregnancy Resource Center – sponsored financially, assisted with baby bottle campaign, underwriter for yearly banquet

Preordained ministries – sponsored financially

The ROCman Fight Club – Provided an iPad to be used during Character Counts rallies at elementary schools where students learn the pillars of character

Sandia Elementary – sponsored financially

United Way – sponsored financially

 

State:

Baptist Convention of New Mexico – TVCC is a member and has supported financially

 

National:

Athletes in Action – supported financially

City Light Church – financial support for staff

Operation: Red, White & Blue – supported financially

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries – supported financially and a member of our church cooks for On Eagles Wings each year

World Vision – financial support for Oklahoma tornado victim and caregiver kits for Ebola victims

YWAM Denver & LA – supports financially

 

International:

Assistance for mission travelers to Belize, Africa, Haiti, Europe, Mexico, Russia & within the USA.

Casa Hogar Bethel Orphanage in Juarez, Mexico – supported financially, donated various items, purchased food, sent mission teams & we hold a cereal drive once a month.

Built multiple homes for families in Belize.

Commission to Every Nation – financially supported the Wills family as missionaries

Compassion International – TVCC sponsors 2 children and our members sponsor many more

Gateway to Life International – sponsored financially

Gomer’s House – sponsored financially and in the process of helping build this safe house for trafficked women in Belize

King’s Children’s Home – sponsored financially, sent teams to assist including placing missionaries at KCH for extended periods of time, supported director Leonie & her family.

Orphanos: Samuel’s Sanctuary – TVCC sponsored this home for boys to learn skills in a Christian environment in Belize.

Schools – sponsored scholarships for students in The Valley of Peace, donated and set up computers in The Valley of Peace, donated supplies to build fence at St. Margaret’s Catholic School, donated various school items for different schools, taught and donated the story cloth to teachers, all in Belize.

The Word at Word – sponsored financially, have had member sit on the board and partnered with TWAW on mission trips.

Young Life Service Center – financial support for the Espinosa family, missionaries in Nicaragua.

 

To answer the third question, we are involved in a lot. But to get involved in more places, we need three things.

1 – Each of these takes finances and we are doing our best. Over our 7 years of operation, we have given over $590,000 to missions.

2 – We need people. We need bodies that will be involved, get their hands dirty & be prepared to minister. We struggle to find volunteers in nearly every area and our staff & leadership can only be stretched so far.

3 – There are many organizations in our community that we don’t know about, so let us know. We are always open to hearing about new opportunities and ways to get involved with missions both in and out of our community.

Lastly, in one year, we plan to be here, growing both physically & spiritually, making disciples & making a difference in our community and the world. Obviously, we will have a new pastor, but the vision of our church has always been 4 God, 4 People & 4 The World. That will not change. We are up for whatever God wants & to go wherever God will lead. We will lean on Him for follow His voice. So, continue to pray for this church, for wisdom, discernment & direction.

TVCC is a mission-minded church and an open book. If you have any questions at all about missions or how to get involved or absolutely anything, contact Cindy at cindy@thevinecc.tv or send us a message through our website and we’ll be happy to answer.

 

 

AMA: Science & Tattoos

Is there a way to marry science and Christianity?

Also, check out this article: https://cccdiscover.com/5-reasons-why-science-and-faith-are-compatible/

Are Tattoos against God's word?

Check out this link: http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/263962-can-christians-get-tattoos-2.html

AMA: Saints & Ensoulment

Whitney Sledz • Media Director • whitney@thevinecc.tv

Whitney Sledz • Media Director • whitney@thevinecc.tv

Can one religion, or several religions, live in harmony and respect for each other? Can you have one religion in your heart and still follow another religion that is as just and meaningful?

God has made it very clear that we are to worship and follow Him only.

Exodus 20:3-4 - “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Deuteronomy 6:13-14 - It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you—

Even Jesus iterated this.

Luke 4:8 - And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’”

John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

And the new testament church as well.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 - For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. 

No, you cannot follow two religions. No one can support two conflicting causes and there is only one God. 

As for multiple religions getting along, that will never happen. The Bible says that the darkness hates the light. So anyone not following God is going to hate us because we are spreading His light. If you are not in God’s light, you are in darkness.

Why do Catholics pray and worship Mary? Is that a sin?

Catholics believe in devotion to the saints. They believe that those who have gone before us and lived righteous lives are worthy of praise by imitating their virtues. They also pray to them to intercede on their behalf to God. They believe God works through the saints. There are over 10,000 saints and Mary is considered one of a higher place because God honored her by asking her to be Jesus’ mother. While they do pray to Jesus, they also ask Mary to speak to Him on their behalf.

Hebrews 4:14-16 - Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we can come boldly before God when we pray. Jesus bridged that gap that Adam left when he sinned against God. We don’t need to fill the gap with anyone or anything else because Jesus, who was God in the flesh, has already done that.

Most Catholics will say that they don’t actually worship Mary in the same sense that they do God, but that they honor her in the same way that they honor elders or those with authority. No one can speak to whether a person worships Mary or not, that is a heart issue that only each individual & God truly know. But as stated earlier, God is one God and only God is worthy of our praise, so if one does worship Mary, that is sin. No one, whether on earth or in heaven is above God. John learned this in Revelation 22:8-9.

Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

Even Mary calls herself God’s servant.

Luke 1:38 - And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

She even praises God in Luke 1:46-55.

Our prayers & worship should be to God & God ONLY.

Is it a sin to use “saints” for help? My mother-in-law is Catholic and suggested we use St. Joseph’s statue. You bury it outside your house to help you sell it. It sounds silly to us but is it a sin? 

The saints are people who have been elevated by man and not God. By using the saints for help, you are saying “God can’t handle this alone” or “I’m not worthy enough to ask God for help”. Both of these are wrong thinking.

I liken the use of a statue to when Aaron and the Israelite’s built the statue of the calf in Exodus 32. When Moses went up on the mountain to meet with God and didn’t come back for forty days & forty nights (Exodus 24:18), the Israelites came to Aaron and asked him to make them gods because they believed God had forsaken them. In other words, they stopped trusting God.

Any time we stop trusting God and rely on something or someone else, this is sin.

What does the Bible say about ensoulment?

The Bible does not literally speak about “ensoulment”. Here’s what is does say:

Genesis 2:7 - then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Adam became a living person as soon as God breathed life into him. Adam, like any other man, was mind, body & spirit.

And, the Bible does say that God knew us before we were even born and He has a plan for each of us. Many authors in the Bible speak to this.

Jeremiah 1:4-5 - Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Psalm 139:13-16 - For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Luke 1:13-15 - But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb.

Galatians 1:15-16 - But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 

We are created in God’s image and He is father, son and Holy Spirit and we are mind, body and spirit. Even Paul says that God knew him and had a plan for him even when he was not living for God. And we are to take care of this precious thing God has given us called life.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 - Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple. 

2 Timothy 1:14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

When you are conceived, you have a mind, body & spirit. “Ensoulment” happens at conception.

 

AMA: Homosexuality & Truth in Love

Derek Osburn • derek@thevinecc.tv

Derek Osburn • derek@thevinecc.tv

01 - Homosexuality is being made to be perfectly acceptable life style by the media & politicians. What is the best way to stand firm and yet not compromise my faith when the issue comes up? I understand and know the word.

First I am glad you know the word of God, that is the most important part.

Next we need to discuss our sensitivity to this cultural issue and how as Christ-followers we are to address it (in a TRUTH IN LOVE WAY).

We as Christians are not called to judge, speak truth devoid of love, or anything else that would go against what Jesus taught. I believe that we should love people where they are and allow God to convict through the Holy Spirit. Since this is His job to begin with. 

We are not called to talk about people, let others know what we know about them or what their sexual orientation might be. 

We are called to LOVE people.

We are called to PRAY for people.

We are called to REPENT for ourselves only.

As the issue comes up, which by the way it is inevitable that it will come up, I believe we just LOVE people, pray for people and not have tolerance for ANY and EVERY SIN. We tend to make other people’s sin bigger and badder than our sin. This sin of Homosexuality is not greater sin than lying, stealing, complacency, being lukewarm, gossip and/or lazy christianity.

Once we begin to understand these biblical facts we can begin to love people where they are, just as we are loved where we are in ALL OF OUR SIN.

02 - Why is my son gay?

Gay is an individual decision. One can not answer why someone is gay, just as one can not answer why someone is a liar or a cheater. There are too many deciding factors that come into play to properly diagnose the issue outside of a trained counselor (which I am not). 

03 - Why did Jesus not speak about homosexuality in the new testament? How are we to respond to them as people?

Jesus didn’t speak about a lot of things in the New Testament, but it doesn’t make them less important, i.e.. How to raise a teenager, or how to properly fight with a spouse.

Our response should always be of love. Jesus did talk about loving others as we love ourselves.

How would this world be if we could actually look past other people’s sin like we look past our own sin? I believe it would be a different world.

Maybe we do not need to look past our own sin as much as we do.

04 - My son has declared himself to be transgender. How do I pray for him? Is praying for him to change selfish on my part? It’s been 2 years now and I’m losing faith in my son coming back.

I believe that we pray for true confession in the hearts of those we love. I also believe that there is no time limit as to when God will answer our prayers because He does not operate on our time schedule. I think you pray for your son as a parent often prays of their children. 

Example Prayer:

First forgive me where I have failed to be the parent my son has needed. May You keep him where he can grow in knowledge of You and become obedient to You through reading Your Word and doing Your will. I pray You will use my son to accomplish mighty and impossible things through the Holy Spirit. AMEN

 

It is a pleasure to answer these questions, May they bring a sense of how God is calling all of us to be, do and go. May we all learn how to better walk as Christ walked. And live a life worthy of the GOSPEL.

Derek Osburn

 

AMA: Free Will & The Gospel

April Roberts • Children's Director • april@thevinecc.tv

April Roberts • Children's Director • april@thevinecc.tv

Why did God die for our sins?

The quick answer: Sin cannot go unpunished.

The long answer: God created us to have a relationship with Him. He knows that we are messed up people. Sin cannot go unpunished. We need a savior! That’s why He sent His son, Jesus. He lived 33 years on Earth and NEVER SINNED. He was the answer to our sin problem. Because He never sinned, he was the perfect sacrifice to pay the price for what we all deserve.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” - 2 Corinthians 5:21

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 6:23

"For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh. In order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." - Romans 8:3-4

We deserve to be separated from God forever because of our sin, but Jesus died in our place. He rose three days later proving that he was God and man. When He did this, he wiped away all of our sins and created a way for us to come to God and have a relationship with Him. He did this because he loves YOU.

“And walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma." - Ephesian 5:2

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” - 1 John 4:9

God loves every single one of us so much that He sacrificed His own son, so that we could have a relationship with Him. But he doesn’t force us to accept this gift. He gives us the choice. Just like if I walked up to you and handed you keys to a brand new car, you would have two choices. You could take the keys or not. You have the same choice, you can accept Christ or choose not to accept Him and face the consequences.

Why does God give us free will?

A friend and I were talking about free will and she said, “Would you rather your spouse choose to love you every day or be under a spell where they are forced to love you?” I thought this was such a good way to look at the freedom God has given us. God desires a true relationship with each one of us, not to force us to love him.

When we look in the beginning when God created Adam and Eve, we see that God gave them the choice. This is where we first see God giving us the freedom to make decisions, good or bad. They decided to ignore God’s command out of curiosity and temptation and they ate from the tree that God commanded them not to eat from. God wanted good for them! But their decision led to punishment. From this moment, we knew that there would be consequences for our sin. God wants good for us. God gives us the freedom to choose, good or bad, but we will be faced with consequences when we choose to disobey.

When God created man, it could have been so much easier for him to create us to be good, for us to automatically love him and for us to always obey him. But only the love that comes from a free choice of will is TRUE LOVE. How amazing is that? God wants us to choose him as he has chosen us.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” - John 14:15

 “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” - 2 John 1:6

Does or will the Gospel ever lose it’s excitement? It’s power? It’s joy? It’s sweetness?

The Gospel doesn’t change. It never will. It is always exciting, powerful, joy-filled and sweet! We are the ones who change. When our hearts become hardened, we may not hear or receive the news of the Gospel in the same way.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” - Proverbs 4:23

“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” - 1 Thessalonians 2:13

“For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.” - 1 Thessalonians 1:5

“For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.” - 1 Corinthians 4:20

AMA: Abortions & Stillbirths

Diana Wood • Office Manager • diana@thevinecc.tv

Diana Wood • Office Manager • diana@thevinecc.tv

This whole ask me anything series is outside of my comfort zone and my box. The questions are so personal and heart felt. Who am I to answer any of them?

At The Vine, we have always stood firm on God’s word and truth He gives us. It is sometimes hard to hear and uncomfortable at times, however, I believe in doing this. Opening up the platform for questions gives us the opportunity to come together to grow, learn and strengthen our faith. I pray that through this blog and the rest to come that everyone can see what God has in store for all of us. I pray you all ask Him to show you what you need to get from this series.

The questions that I’m going try to answer myself are hard. This is not easy to talk about. In fact, it is it something everyone usually likes to steer clear of. All I can show is what the word has to say on it.

1.   What is the church’s stance on abortion? What does the church believe about when life begins?

2.   Are miscarriages/ stillbirths amongst true followers of God really only a result of disobedience?

3.   What does the church say about abortion? How does that fit in with Biblical stance on abortion? Is abortion unforgiveable? Am I going to hell if I’ve had an abortion? What if I’m married and my spouse doesn’t know? Will I ever heal? Now, I’ve had a miscarriage. Is this punishment?

1. The Vine Community Church and our stance on abortion, our beliefs, views and faith has always stood on the foundation of the word of God. So, I will let God’s word speak for the church.

The Bible doesn’t say anything specifically about abortion. The fact is you will never find that word in the bible. Abortion is a word this world has come up with. The bible does speak of several child conceptions. It tells us that God breathed life into us (our souls) Job 33:4. The fact that God knows us before we were born (Jeremiah 1:5) speaks to the fact that He views each conception as a human being created in his image. Psalm 139:13-19 tells us about God’s active role in creation and formation in the womb. God give us numerous accounts in the bible to show us that He created us, formed us, breathed life into us, and that we are a child (person) in the womb, Luke 1:36. This leaves us to with the truth of God’s word. Life is started at conception.

One of the most clear scriptures about how God feels on abortion is Jeremiah 20:17 taking the life of the unborn is clearly murder— He didn’t kill me in the womb, with my mother as my grave. There are several others that I could go through but what is the point when you read this? It is cut and dry, to the point. Does God see abortion as a sin? Yes. Is God a forgiving God to all sinners? Yes. The one thing that I want to say is that there are no greater sins. Romans 3:23 says we are all sinners. No one person is better than another, no matter the choices made in life. God views all as falling short of His glory. We are all in need of Christ’s grace, love and forgiveness.   

I hate that we as human beings put the weight on ourselves of the past decisions made. God loves you no matter what. God forgives all sins. Lying, deceit, abortion, un-forgiveness, he has it all and can take it all. There is nothing that you will tell God that He doesn’t already know. But you have to tell Him. This is a fallen world. God has given us free will to choose Him. God doe not cause bad things to happen to us but as a fallen world He tells us that there are going to be hard times. Miscarriage and stillbirths is one of the things that He is talking about with hard times. But does He do it as a punishment for things you have done in your life? NO. It is something that is allowed to happen because of the fall in the beginning with Adam and Eve (Genesis 1).

It is hard for me to speak into your marriage. I know that for myself, in the wrong choices I made before I met my husband, I knew that God was telling me, "you have to tell him before you marry him." Mine was not abortion but I still had made some really horrible decisions that would affect our marriage forever if I did not tell him about everything. God calls us to be honest and truthful. I believe that leaving things out or not saying anything is lying. The enemy will only takes this and drive a wedge between you and you spouse when you are dishonest about anything.

I want to end this with hopefully giving you some information that you may not have ever heard about. The Vine Community Church supports an organization in Clovis & Portales called The Pregnancy Resource Center. They are a faith-based organization that helps with pregnancy information and many other things. One of the things that I love that they have is grief groups and counseling for anyone. I believe in Revelation 12:11 we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the power of the testimony. When you are able to speak in God’s truth about your heartbreak and trails to enemy has no more power of that. I pray for you all to have the peace and understanding that only God can give you.

In Christ’s Love,

Diana

 

 

 

How are You Looking at Things?

Rafer Owens Jr. • Worship Pastor • rafer@thevinecc.tv

Rafer Owens Jr. • Worship Pastor • rafer@thevinecc.tv

July 8th: I was notified that my job on base was letting me go.

July 22nd: My last day of work.

August 9th: A close family member of mine was notified that the small mass (non tumor) in her breast is cancerous.

August 11th: Received news that Derek is resigning.

August 14th: The church receives the news that Derek is resigning.

August 22nd: One month since my last day of work.

I could tell you that this past month and a half has been the worst. I could tell you that things are and have been looking bleak more and more every day. I could tell you that I hope God sees all of this and does something about it. I could be very distraught about all of this. I could. And none of it would help any of us.

A hopeless attitude and poor outlook hasn’t helped me day to day during this time. They won’t help our church find the pastor we need or help us cope with Derek leaving. A hopeless attitude or poor outlook won’t help my family during this very trying time. But what we CAN do is very simple.

Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) reads, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is set on You, because he trusts in You.”

It isn’t our job to worry. It isn’t our job to stress. It isn’t our job to find peace in every situation. It is our job to trust and set our minds on God. God will grant the perfect peace. He will show us what we need to do. He will take care of His people. It is our job to simply trust.

In every situation, no matter how big or how small, we have to learn to give God everything. Not because it’s how we feel but because we trust that He can do something about it all. So bring your fears, hurts, pain, joy, praise, worship, and everything else. Give it to Him. Tell Him you trust in Him. And allow your mind to be covered in His perfect peace. And once that perfect peace has set in, He will let us know what to do next. Just trust Him.

Rest in His perfect peace friends

Rafer Jr.

Throw Jonah Overboard

Whitney Sledz • Media Director • whitney@thevinecc.tv

Whitney Sledz • Media Director • whitney@thevinecc.tv

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love listening to Steven Furtick. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t put the guy on a pedestal but he encourages me to look at Bible stories from different angles and thinks about things that I have never thought about before. Recently, I was listening to one of his messages and he mentioned something that I’m going to try to iterate in my own words.

Jonah is a pretty popular Bible story and we can learn a lot from him disobedience and attitude. But there is more to Jonah’s story than just Jonah & a big fish.

Jonah was called by God to go to Ninevah and preach a message of salvation. The Ninevites were a godless, corrupt people and Jonah, out of fear and hatred for the Ninevites, went a different direction than God asked him to go. He decides to flee to Tarshish, which is much further away from Ninevah. He finds a boat that is headed to Tarshish and pays the fair to go there in order to get away from God’s presence.

As they are sailing, a storm stirs up around them to the point that the boat is ready to capsize. The mariners throw things overboard and cry out to their own god for help. Jonah is asleep on the deck below and the captain of the ship goes to Jonah and tells Jonah to rise up and pray so that they don’t sink.

That’s where we pick up in the story, but let’s not focus too hard on Jonah. Let’s focus on the men in charge of the ship.

Jonah 1:7-16

7 And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they called out to the Lord, “O Lord, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

In the midst of a giant storm sent by God, these men were afraid, confused and trying everything in their power to get out of the storm. I want to focus on 3 specific things these men did.

1: Verse 10 says that Jonah had told the men that he was running from the Lord. These men allowed Jonah to get on their boat in Joppa even though they knew he was being disobedient.

2: Jonah told them that God had sent the storm because of him and that the mariners should toss him overboard and the storm would stop. But verse 13 says that instead of listening to Jonah, these men rowed harder, trying desperately to get to shore to save their lives and Jonah’s. That, of course, didn’t work.

3: At their wits end, these men called out to the real God & threw Jonah overboard(v. 14) and the storm stopped just as Jonah had said it would.

I would venture to say that many of you who are reading this are in the midst of a storm (or maybe drama) and you are doing whatever you can to keep your boat afloat in the storm and make it safe to the shore. You are even crying out to God and nothing seems to change. But it’s not going to stop. The storm will grow more tempestuous. The drama will get worse. You heart will hurt more. Your boat will eventually capsize. And it’s all because you are unwilling to throw Jonah off your boat.

Rick Burke, lead pastor or Cedar Point Church in Claremore, OK (awesome dude, btw), used to always tell us, “When God wants to do something in your life, he’ll send a person. When the devil wants to do something in your life, he’ll send a person.”

Perhaps your storm is being caused by a person, whether they claim to be a Christian or not, whether they claim to be obedient or not. Maybe it’s a passenger, asleep beneath the deck. Maybe it’s a crewmember helping you throw stuff overboard and crying out to their god for you. Whoever it is, they’re the problem. And you may not feel ready to let go; you may be afraid to throw them overboard. But the truth is, no matter how hard you row, no matter what you do, no matter how many times you cry out, this storm, send by God, will not settle until you let go of that person. Do yourself a favor and throw Jonah overboard.