Category Archives: UMC

Is Celibacy Always Good? Matthew 11:28-30 ASV

Is Celibacy Always Good?  Matthew 11;28-30 ASVCelibacy and a Priest

My first year in high school I was required to take a child development class. My friends and I were looking forward to the class because we knew the teacher was going to discuss “where babies come from.”
Before classes started that fall, my girlfriends and I chatted and wondered about the teacher who was going to give us the real nitty-gritty on sex!

This class would offer me “two firsts”: First, I was going to meet a teacher who shared my first name, Naomi.
Second, I was going to find out what information Mama had been withholding! Oh, boy! Let the fireworks begin.

The big day arrived in September 1965. On that eventful Monday morning, I walked into class and saw a petite African-American woman. The classroom was filled with eager teenage girls. However, the boys had been sent to a shop class to learn how to make objects instead of babies.

“My name is Mrs. Naomi Smith and I will be your child development instructor. I want you to learn one word this week. Celibacy. And I want you to learn the importance of practicing celibacy.”

My friends and I looked at one another and shrugged our shoulders. What in the heck does celibacy mean?

Mrs. Smith continued, “Celibacy is withholding, celibacy is saying no, celibacy is saying wait. I am going to teach you how to get a baby and not where babies come from.” Believe me, when you are fifteen years old, the rhetoric she used became awfully confusing!

Of course, Mrs. Smith was talking about waiting for sex until we were married. About saying no. About withholding ourselves from sexual intimacy. Those are good things. The right things to do. But what about spiritual celibacy? Is that good too? I think not.

I see celibate Christians in the church today. They are withholding themselves from a day-to-day relationship with Jesus. Saying no to the things He is calling them to do. Waiting until they’ve tried everything else before asking Him to help.

We’ve all been there. Maybe some of us are practicing spiritual celibacy right now. We may be sitting on the pew, but our minds and trust is elsewhere. We are waiting for a promotion at work, so we are placing our faith in our boss. Depending on our job instead of Jesus for our security. He may choose to provide for us through a job or promotion, but we need to remember He is our source.

Celibacy and the spiritual life!

Some of us may be looking for a spouse. Are we depending on Jesus to guide us to “the one” or are we depending on our own choices—guided only by an online dating service.

Some Christians today are just staring at Jesus Christ and not interacting with Him at all. We too often say no to Jesus and yes to everything else we think may solve our problems, give us pleasure, and make us happy. But Jesus is the only answer.

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30 ASV)

A relationship with Jesus is not developed by just going to church, reading the Bible now and then, or even serving in ministry or other good endeavors. A relationship with Jesus means living together every moment. Being unceasingly aware of His presence. Getting better acquainted by spending time in the Bible and talking to him. Not just a 10-minute prayer time in the morning or evening . . . Interacting throughout the day. He is not only your Lord and Savior. He wants to be your best friend. Discuss everything with Him. Trust His answers. Everything in His way and His time.
Stop practicing spiritual celibacy and start practicing Christ. Put your hand in the hand of the man who can do for you what no one else can!

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Why Are You Doubting? John 14:1-14

John 14:1-14
Many scriptures speak to those of “us” who constantly doubt Jesus. They speak of faith . . . Yet we turn and do just the opposite.

We read about people of faith in scripture and shake our heads with thoughts like this: After all, they were privy to walk and talk with Jesus Christ while He traveled here on earth—but even some of them expressed doubts!

In today’s scripture, Jesus addressed much of what He said to Phillip, probably because Philip seemed to be struggling the most with Jesus’ announcement that He was leaving. Wouldn’t it be nice to sit down and talk to Philip about what he was feeling?

Don’t you think Jesus might have been a little frustrated with Philip’s challenge to show them the Father (John 14:8)? “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am?”

I believe Philip had a hesitant belief. He had followed John the Baptist before meeting Jesus. Could it be that perhaps Philip was a bit disappointed when Jesus showed up after believing that John the Baptist just had to be the one? Jesus came and Phillip had to change direction. We become resistant and guarded when we build our hope and trust in someone or something and it does not pan out the way we think it should. Consider what Phillip may have felt when he realized John the Baptist was not the one. But he made the change. And now Jesus was telling him to prepare for more change.

Disappointments

Years ago in my early twenties, I met a young woman at work. As flight attendants, we flew together often and became close. As time went on, she announced her wedding engagement. All who knew her rejoiced with her as she happily planned for the big day and bought and ordered everything she could to make it special. The task was especially challenging because she lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the groom was in California, where the wedding was to take place.

At the time, I was disappointed I couldn’t fly that distance and return to Pittsburgh in time for a following morning check-in at work. However, God works in mysterious ways! Later I was glad I had not been present on my friend’s wedding day because the groom stood her up at the altar. Hearing about such outlandish things happening and being connected first hand to the situation are very different realities. That was before we all had the technological gadgets strapped to our waist and ears that we have today, but the news traveled just as fast.

My friend was utterly heartbroken, but became a stronger woman through it all. After much hard work, eventually the two worked it out. My friend forgave her future husband and three years later, they married—for real! My friend was willing to trust him again, even though he had broken her heart. She didn’t allow doubt and disappointment to overwhelm her. She was willing to seek the right plan even when events didn’t work out the way she had planned. The marriage could have never taken place all those years later if she had been reluctant or resistant to listening and continuing to love. Today the couple has more than forty years of marriage under their belt!

Dealing with doubt can trouble and overwhelm us to the point of stagnation! Can you not hear Philip urging, “Just show us the father” with panic in his voice. “Show Him to us and then I am good. Come on, just one time.”

Listen closely, my brothers and sisters. Listen to the frustration in Jesus’ voice. “Where have you been when we have been together?” Perhaps Philip had his head stuck in a cloud. Can you hear Jesus asking Philip about the day He had fed more than 5,000? I certainly can! “Man, don’t you remember?” said Jesus (see John 14:8). Philip didn’t like change. In fact, it often terrified him. But he had a first hand view of Jesus in all His glory!

I believe Jesus becomes frustrated with us too. Some of us resist change. We may not want to see someone we care about leave. We may want to continue doing things the way they’ve always been done instead of stepping out in faith to do what God is calling us to do. We may be afraid to take risks for Jesus Christ. Unless we remember Jesus is alongside us holding our hand, we become hesitant and fearful.

Jesus Christ is saying to Philip and to us, “Look around you. Do you not see me? Do you not feel your heart beating in the exact moments with mine? Do you not see me in the rain even during the times that it is pitch black in your life? Do you not see me?

No matter what you may be facing today . . . no matter what challenges lie ahead . . . Jesus is not about to leave you alone!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please help us to become risk takers for the kingdom and let us feel your heavenly presence even when we do not see you!