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Sunday, 28 August 2016

Sex, Gender, and Sexuality


This is a work in progress. It is to both allow me to test my understanding and to produce a document exploring the vast rainbow that is sex, gender, and sexuality. Please forgive any errors or anything that can be taken as insulting or derogatory. Please put it down to ignorance on my part. Also, please let me have corrections and additions that will improve this.

Sex
This section refers to a person’s sex organs. It does not relate to gender reassignment. As with much of this subject, there are generalisations and, with them, inaccuracies. For instance, to say that a female is a person that produces eggs would imply that a woman who did not have eggs was not female.
Male
Intersex
Female
Exclusively having penis and testicles, producing sperm
This includes true hermaphrodites, people with hyperandrogenism and other variations.
Exclusively having vagina, womb and ovaries, producing eggs

Gender
This is different to sex. It is how a person perceives themselves.

Male
Agender and Neutrois
Demigender
Third Gender
Female
Person perceives themselves to be male
Person perceives themselves to be without gender. Agender and Neutrois are similar, but are not the same thing.
A person who perceives themselves to be a combination of male and female.
Person has a gender identity that is neither male or female.
Person perceives themselves to be female

Sex/Gender Relationship




Cisgender
Multigender
Genderfluid
Transgender
Gender corresponds to sex
Includes bigender and trigender, omnigender and pangender where a person perceives themselves to be several genders at once
Person perceives themselves to be different genders at different times.
Person perceives themselves to be a gender that does not correspond to their sex.

Attraction




Androphile
Aphile
Ambiphile
Gynephile
Attracted to males
Person does not experience attraction of any kind
Attracted to more than one sex/gender. Biphile, triphile, omniphile, panphile
Attracted to females

Degrees of Attraction




Platonic
Agapic
Romantic
Sexual
Friendship only
Close, as with brothers and sisters
Physical, but not sexual


Attraction Fluidity
Relationships have a general trend with regard to degrees of attraction. There are those who experiene variations in attraction. Genereally, these fall under the banner of asexuality.




Asexual
Demisexual
Fraysexual
Sexual
Does not experience attraction
Degree of attraction increases over time
Degree of attraction decreases over time


Orientation
The differentiation below applies to all levels of attraction, so a romantic may, for instance, be heteromantic in the same way that a sexual may be heterosexual.
⚥⚥
Heterosexual
Asexual
Multisexual
Homosexual
Person is attracted to people of opposite sex/gender
Person does not experience attraction
Includes busexual, trisexual, omnisexual and pansexual
Person is attracted to people of the same sex/gender

Expression
These are examples from the vogue community and other sources

Female – Heterosexual woman expressing as female
Drag Queen - Heterosexual man expressing as female
Butch Queen – Homosexual man expressing as female
Femme Queen – Transexual woman expressing as female
Androgyne – Any person expressing ambiguous gender
Drag King – Heterosexual woman expressing as male
Butch – Homosexual woman expressing in a masculine way
Male – Heterosexual man expressing as male
Feminine Gay - Homosexual man expressing in a feminine way
Masculine Gay – Homosexual man epressing sa a male

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Adult Colouring Books, Mandalas and Christians

I have seen a number of blogs warning about the fact that many adult colouring books depict mandalas. These are “spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions, representing the universe.  In common use, mandala has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe.” (Wikipedia).

These blogs warn that the act of colouring these in can put the Christian in a meditative state in which they are receptive to demonic influence.

There is some truth in this. Before becoming a Christian in 1978, my background was the Occult and Psychic Phenomena. Part of this included the use of complex patterns, sigils, and black mirrors in order to form a psychic conduit.

Now I am not claiming to be some kind of demon buster, ghost hunter exorcist, I have gained some knowledge from my attempts to understand my own experiences.

You can put most of what I have to say, now, as opinion and no more. That is fair. However, they may provide some insights for you to come to your own conclusions.
***
It seems to me that we have two channels that connect us to spiritual forces; Faith and Fear.
It is the faith channel that allows God to reach us, and activates many of the Spiritual Gifts. For instance, you cannot heal someone unless your faith tells you that you can. Also, faith allowed some objects to be used in miracles.
The fear channel is the conduit used by divination and superstition. It can cause a person to be enslaved to supernatural forces.  The fear channel is also involved when demons are attracted to a person experiencing extreme emotion, especially negative emotion.
There is also a negative version of the faith channel, which allows a person or entity to subvert another person's will. Some drugs can induce this, so can some people using techniques based on glama, where the mind is so confused it becomes suggestible (Used by conmen, some hard salesmen, cult recruiters and so on). Hypnosis and some meditation techniques can also do this. The person becomes susceptible to who (or what) they have surrendered to.
***
So, how do these apply to colouring books and mandalas? If they do put the person in a susceptible state, the negative faith applies. However, the fear channel may also apply.
Over the years, I have encountered people and situations where demons have (or seemed to have - not everything that seems demonic is demonic) used record covers, stains on the wall, strange smells and countless other media. To a susceptible mind, anything can be a channel.
***
So, what form does this demonic attack take?
Actual possession is very rare. The usual consequence is known as demonisation. In fact, this is going on all the time to everyone.
The Bible tells us that demons are fallen angels. There are many categories of angels, but the vast majority are messengers (the meaning of angel). They carry out this function by planting thoughts and images in our minds. They also cause emotion-laden dramas to play out in our heads.
This is our spiritual battlefield - our own minds. This is where we encounter the enemy, equipped with the Armour of God. This is where we use our Spiritual weaponry.
If you want to see the truth if this, consider your thoughts. Where did they come from? You could put it down to the subconscious, but what, exactly, is the subconscious, and how does it seem to come up with notions, thoughts and ideas that our conscious mind does not?
***
So, what is a Christian to do?
Firstly, close that fear channel. He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world. God holds the Universe in His Hand, yet is aware of every hair on your head. Demons are less than bacteria before Him.
Do not give Satan credit for every problem. Sometimes what you perceive as a problem is an opportunity for God to be glorified in your life.
Second, live a consecrated life. Everything you have and are is part of God's plan for you. His desire is that you have an abundant and fulfilled life. Tell God to do what He wants in your life. Ask Him to cause you to speak and act according to His Will (Jesus had to do this, how much more so us?). Ask Him to destroy anything in you that resists or opposes His Will. This is acknowledging that we are not our own, but bought with a price. It is also acknowledging that God designed and created us for this specific time and place, for His Glory and Purpose.
Third, realise that God is the only one who knows you and what you are capable of. Letting Him have His way will allow you to find out what your life is about than stumbling blindly through life or trusting self-styled experts.
Fourth, realise you are now in a position of power. The Bible says that, if you submit to God and resist the devil, he will flee from you. Take authority over your thoughts, especially the dramas (replaying old hurts or future encounters).
***
Finally, be aware of how the enemy attacks, but do not be fearful (equally, do not be arrogant about them). Realise the protection, power, and authority that God gives you. Do not expose yourself needlessly to possible channels of attack, but do not fear them either.  In all things, God makes you more than a champion.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

God's Masterpieces

When we are born, we are what we are. We did not choose our colour, race, or anything else. We have nothing to be proud of or ashamed of.

In a metaphorical sense, the Apostle Paul talks about one man sowing, another reaping, but God bringing the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). Similarly for humans, once conception has occurred, what happens next is in God's hands. God said He knew Jeremiah before He formed him in his mother's womb. In Psalm 139, the Psalmist says "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,  I know that full well."

Let me state here and now, I do not know the mind of God. I do not know why some pregnancies fail, or why babies are still-born, or have some condition or other. I do know that many babies with special needs have caused their parents to grow in all kinds of ways as they provide a loving and caring environment for their child. I do know that many people, born differently to others, have gone on to lead amazing and fulfilling lives.

The thing is, when we are born, we do not come with a handbook for our parents to follow. We are all unique, with unique needs, and unique abilities. There are no real experts to turn to. After all, what qualifies them as experts? How many children must a person raise to have the expertise to advise other parents?

What we do have is potential, but we do not know what this will be for. Some people are fortunate, and, very early in their life, they find something that fully engages their abilities. Others spend a lifetime looking and failing.

We are guided and changed by our families, our education, local culture and conditions. We may increase in knowledge and understanding, and learn what is right and what is wrong. The problem is that all this is coloured by tradition, opinion and prejudice. Instead of allowing us to find our place in life, that path may be cut off from us.

It does not matter how much we know, much of our knowledge is incomplete, imperfect, or just plain wrong. Our wisdom, similarly, is also flawed. There is so much more that we do not understand than we do. And our goodness, our righteousness, is also imperfect, because it is tarnished by selfishness, pride and other things. There is no-one truly good in this world.

Because we are so flawed, we do not have the ability to guide ourselves through life, let alone anyone else. we do not even know what will happen to us five minutes into the future. We do not know the consequences of what we say and do before they happen.

There is only one Person who truly knows us, and that is God. He designed and created us for a reason, and those reasons are His alone. He knows the heart of every person, and the future is as clear as the present to Him. It follows, then, that He is the only One able to guide us.

Now, Romans 9 says that God makes some people "objects of mercy" and others "objects of wrath". Only God knows who and why. The point is that those of us that choose to follow God do so only because He chose us to receive that ability, that grace. There are others who can never make that choice. Jesus said that only His sheep would hear His voice.

God provides us with the Holy Spirit. It is as if He plants a piece of Himself in us. To see how this helps us, you have to look at the life of Jesus Himself.  He put aside His human knowledge, wisdom and righteousness, and allowed God to speak and act through Him, guiding His every step.

The Apostle Paul reckoned all of his human qualities as rubbish, choosing to live subject to God's Will, just as Jesus did.

This does not make us puppets. We still have free will, but it is making a connection which gives us access to God's knowledge, wisdom and righteousness. Our lives, guided by Him, become a journey of joy and abundance. We will discover our fullest potential. Our lives will achieve their greatest fulfilment. We will be the people we were designed and created to be.

God promises that all things we experience under His guidance will be to our good.  If we let Him, He can override our human shortcomings with divine power, enabling us to do and say exactly the right things for the circumstances we are in, and to allow us to bring encouragement, healing, and freedom to others.

There is another side to this. What I have said above applies to all believers. Everyone who follows Christ was chosen by God. They were designed and created by God for His purposes, known only to Him.

This means that, if we judge another believer, we are judging God. It does not matter what colour, race, gender, sexual orientation, height, weight, level of education, physical or mental characteristics. If a person is a believer, they are chosen by God, and it is up to God to guide them into the life He has planned for them.

So, accept yourself as God's Masterpiece. Trust that He has a perfect plan for you, if you let Him guide you, and accept that the same is true for every other believer. They are all God's Masterpieces, and we must see them like this.





Friday, 10 April 2015

Zing Zang Zoonie


Courtesy The Gold Guys

Some people want, or so they claim
A life of international fame.
In music, sports, or TV screen
They smile, they wave, they pose and preen
When everybody knows their face
No privacy, no hiding place
They get their fame and then they try
In vain to shun the public eye.

Zing Zang Zoonie,
Life's a little loonie

Some want wealth, for a life that's high
A million or so to just get by
They have their jet, their cars, their yacht
Their houses, their servants, they've got the lot
But they fear to lose what they have earned
To thieves and tricksters and they've learned
To mistrust money grabbing friends
The paranoia never ends.

Zing Zang Zoonie,
Life's a little loonie

Others want to be the best
They work, they strive to beat the rest
They study and practice day and night
Always trying to get it right
Bur family and friends are left aside
For the sake of ambition and pride
So they claim the prize so dear
But have no-one to applaud or cheer

Zing Zang Zoonie,
Life's a little loonie

Power, for some, is life's goal
In government or business, they'd sell their soul
To be obeyed without a word
Their will be done. It’s so absurd
For every power there’s an assassin
With camera, gun or accusation
They fear and fret that somewhere lurks
The one to knock them off their perch

Zing Zang Zoonie,
Life's a little loonie

Then there are those who want the best physique
They nip and tuck and cut and tweak
That nose, those ears, those thighs, that chest
They spend their money to look their best
The smallest blemish is what they fear
But wrinkles and sags will always appear
For age and health cannot be cheated
And so their beauty is depleted

Zing Zang Zoonie,
Life's a little loonie

But then there’s the few who only strive
For what they need to survive and thrive
Enough money to pay their bills
Friends that stay true through good and ill
They are content to have enough
Without sparkly shiny stuff
Happiness is their only desire
And, for these folk, that’s theirs to acquire

Zing Zang Zoonie,
Life's a little loonie

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Wanted: Good Leadership

World War Two was over, the Korean War was over, and America was still fighting in Vietnam. There were new movements among the youth, who saw their parents way of life as a failure. Some saw Jesus as a revolutionary, bringing His message of peace and love - the opposite of what could be seen in the world.

The Charismatic Movement started and grew. Young people, unschooled in the ways of the established church, were a challenge. The churches wanted to capture this enthusiasm, but educate the new attendees in church teaching and behaviour.

One of the responses to this was the Discipleship, or Shepherding Movement. It promised an organised way for new converts to come into a structure of accountability and authority. Every person would be responsible to a Shepherd, who would teach and guide them. The Shepherd, himself, would be responsible to their own Shepherd, and so this formed a pyramid with the founders at the top.

Sheep would have to refer every decision - employment, finance, relationships - to their Shepherd for approval. Some Shepherds took advantage of their power, and many lives were ruined. I recommend Steven Lambert's book, Charismatic Captivation, for more information.

Although the Shepherding Movement as it was is largely discredited (one founder, Bob Mumford, publicly repented of his part in the movement), it still casts its shadow over the church today in the form of damaged Sheep and leaders who use non-Christian forms of manipulation and control over those they are responsible for.

So, what should we look for in a Christian leader? How do we tell the good from the bad?

The New Testament is not short of examples and instructions on who should be made leaders, and how those leaders should behave.

First of all, a Christian leader must be a servant as Jesus was. He should prove this in how he serves his wife and family. He should be prepared to do whatever it takes, whatever needs to be sacrificed, for the sake of those that look to him for leadership. The response of these people will be obedience, because they know beyond doubt that their leader will always be there for them when they need him. If a person cannot do this, they should never be considered for leadership.

The reverse of this is also true. Jesus made it clear that a Christian leader is not to be like a worldly leader. A person who insists on being treated with deference and respect, who maintains authority by bullying, threats and manipulation, who engages in gossip, false accusations, condemnation and name calling, has no place in church leadership. A person who "tries to toughen" people by abusing them should never be given a position of authority in the church.

Secondly, the role of Pastor is clear. Pastor simply means Shepherd, but the picture of a shepherd in the Bible is completely different to that depicted in the Shepherding Movement. In the Middle East, the shepherd led his sheep. They followed because they trusted him.  They trusted in his love and protection. Whenever a sheep got into trouble, the shepherd went to find and rescue it. He would get the sheep free from thorns, ravines, swamps and wild beasts, even to the cost of his own life. If a man does not show this kind of love to the people he is responsible for, he should not be called a Pastor.

A Pastor (Shepherd) does not leave his flock to resolve their own problems. He is active in making sure they have all they need, providing whatever help he can. He will contact or visit those that have not been around. He will go to them if they are in hospital or in prison. He will never desert them. Never leave them to fend for themselves. Always be there when they need him. Just like the shepherd is for his flock.

A Christian teacher must be on the path of Christlikeness and holiness. If he cannot show these qualities in his life, how can he teach them to others?

The same goes for the Fruit of the Spirit. These are evidence of an ongoing relationship with God. If a person does not have this, if their lives do not show love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, patience, humility and self-control, then they do not have this relationship with God. If this is the case, they cannot be a Christian leader.

As leaders, make sure you are serving those you are responsible for in the way Christ and His Apostles taught, not in a worldly or fleshly way. Have the humility to measure yourself against scripture, and have the integrity to resign your position if scripture disqualifies you.

To all people, make sure your leader is taking you in the right direction. He must show you Christ, not fleshliness or worldliness. When you agree to be led by someone, give that person your trust, obedience, loyalty, and support. What they are doing is hard. Help them however you can.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Two Dirty Words

Service and Obedience. What is it about these words that makes us uncomfortable? When we hear them, something inside us rises up to rebel. If someone says "Serve" or "Obey", we want to say "NO!"

Service is helping or working for someone else, but it carries a deeper meaning in this particular context. Service, in this sense, means ensure that the physical, spiritual, mental, practical, financial, medical needs of someone else are met. This is not in the form of control, but support. In this context, Jesus served those around him by teaching, healing, feeding them. Parents serve children in any number of ways.

Obedience is compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another's authority.

Taken separately they can be tyrannical and oppressive, but when taken together, something amazing can  happen.

Take the example of a parent and child. If the child knows that their parent loves them and provides for them, the child will trust the parent and obey them. This is especially important when it involves something the child does not understand, such as "Don't drink bleach."

The parent serving the child in this way is not a burden, but an act of love. Service is a natural part of being a parent.

The child obeying a parent is also not a burden, but an act of love. The child knows the parent has their best interest at heart, and obedience in this context gives freedom.

This model of service and obedience is used to illustrate a number of scenarios in the New Testament.

1) Jesus and His Disciples - As stated above, Jesus served those around him. He healed lepers, blind people, the lame. He cast out demons. He raised the dead. He fed people by the thousands. He even washed His disciples feet, one of the lowliest tasks a servant of that time could do. When His disciples obeyed Him, they experienced supernatural power and provision.

2) God and the Church - God serves the church through guidance, provision, spiritual gifts, wisdom and knowledge. The Bible says that God knows and supplies our every need. The Church's response is willing obedience, because that is the only way to gain access to the provision of God.

3) Marriage - "Obey" is rarely heard in marriage vows, with good reason; when did a groom last promise to "Serve?" If a husband cares for and supports his wife, this leaves her free to live her life to the full, knowing he has her interests at heart. A serving husband should be willing to do whatever chores were necessary to support his wife.

4) Church Leaders and Congregation -  One of the ways church leaders are to be chosen, according to the Apostle Paul, is how they look after their family.  A church leader should care for the welfare of his flock with the same care and dedication a parent does a child.

This is a powerful model. A business where the employer provides all the needs of the employees would be rewarded by the loyalty and commitment of those employees.

Service and obedience. Taken by themselves, unhealthy and oppressive. Taken together, a powerful way for building dynamic relationships.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

As I Understand It.

OK, here is my understanding of things. It may be flawed, but, hey. I'm human.

In Genesis God's stated aim was to create mankind in His image. God Himself is a tripartite being (at least; Revelations says God has seven spirits) -  Father, Son and Holy Spirit - each part interacts with others by consent. This is similar to how our body, mind and will are separate but unified (our mind can override our bodily drives, and our will can override our mental desires). God's plan, as Jesus prayed, was that we should be one with God the Father just as He is one with God.

Mankind was supposed to willingly allow God to speak and act through them, as Jesus demonstrated ("The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works."). In this way, we allow God to operate in this universe through us.

As creations of God, He has full rights over us, as we have over anything we make. If we make a pot out of clay, we can use it for whatever purpose we want, and we can even destroy it, and no-one has the right to stop us. As created things, we have no rights, no say in what God chooses to do with us, any more than a pot has with a potter. When we talk about our sentience, our self-awareness, this is only important to us. Similar to those films about whether androids could be considered to be self aware or alive. The tests are those we devise, because we could never devise a test we would fail. However, before a storm or earthquake, it counts for nothing. Our sentience, our self awareness, does not cause the disaster to treat us any different than a rock or plant.

What is sometimes called Original Sin is an aspect of self awareness. We became content with our level of knowledge, wisdom and righteousness. We decided we were sufficient to control our lives and decide what is right and wrong without reference to God. In effect, we became our own gods. We covered up our limitations with opinions, assumptions and self-justification.

In order to complete His plan, God created two types of people. There are those whose name He put in the Book of Life. God has chosen them to be people of grace, to become aware of Him and receive His mercy, not because they deserve it, but because God chose to give it to them. Through the Holy Spirit, they are regenerated and perfected, but only as long as they allow God to do the work. If they choose not to continue on this path, then God cannot use them, and their name can be removed from the Book of Life.

The other group of people are totally unable to receive God's grace. No matter how things are explained to them, it is impossible for them to understand or accept it. These are the people of judgement. Their role is to demonstrate what Man is like without God, caring more for their own desires than the needs of others. Their purpose is to shape the people of grace, to refine them through challenges, tests, trials and persecution. Their actions cause the people of grace to become stronger, more faith focussed, and more driven to become what God wants them to become.

Natural disasters play a part in this, as does war, famine and sickness. In these circumstances, we have a choice, whether to think of ourselves, or to help other people. In an earthquake, we can just get ourselves to safety, or we can work to free those that are trapped. In sickness, we can focus on our own problems, or we can accept them and move on, becoming an encouragement to other sufferers.

Now, Jesus Christ's mission was to remove any excuse a person may have for rejecting God. By dying for the sins of all mankind, any justification we might have for our actions is removed. It is reduced to a single test - do we accept Christ or not? If we accept Christ, we learn to stop depending on our own faculties (dying to self), depend on God's resources, and become more focussed on the needs of others than our own desires. At least, we do as long as we choose to. God does not override our will.

The universe that we now experience is a testing ground, where God sorts the wheat from the chaff. It is the universe to come that is His true goal, a universe that operates in different ways to this one. God can only use the people that passed the test of this universe - who willingly allow God to operate through them, and who serve others with love and kindness, seeking the good of other people above themselves. These people will be fully transformed into the image of God in the same way Christ was transformed.

The people of judgement and those whose names are removed from the Book of Life will go to a kind of scrapheap. What that is, I cannot say. It may be annihilation -  a second death, or it may be a quarantine area where they cannot interact with the rest of the universe, or it may be something else. I believe that those that go there will clearly know why they have been put there - the choices they made, the things they did and the things they said - and will accept that God has treated them justly.

As I said. This is my understanding. I could be wrong.