Category Archives: Mind Dump

On Homosexuality: On Open Letter Of Love

To Whom This Concerns:

In the world we now live in, this topic of homosexuality is one that causes a multitude of reactions and confusion. It causes many and often unfettered amounts of reactions. This makes it uncomfortable to talk about. But there are many reasons that compel me to speak on this issue and to speak from a vantage point of love. So please hear me out.

A Firm Biblical Position

I am not writing this post to explain why I think homosexuality is a sin. But I will state my position below so that it can be seen separate from all the mess that is out there. Also, you can know that I have read the books on “pro-gay theology” (which have done a great disservice to God’s word) and more importantly I have studied the Bible and here is the position:

The truth that the Bible teaches that should guide the moral actions of man about sexuality is that all sexual activities outside of the marriage relationship (between a man and a woman) are wrong.

Thus, we can conclude that fornication, homosexuality, pornography, bestiality, sex before marriage with the person you’re dating, sex with your family members, sex at parties, group sex, prostitution, rape, molestation, sex slaves, orgies, sexual fantasies, child molesting, etc. are all wrong and sinful. (And by extension transgender, cross-dressing)

Thus, my goal is not to call out homosexuality particularly, but all sin. It doesn’t matter what your attractions are, attractions are never to guide our lives, but the unchanging truth of God’s word does. (For example: Sexual pleasure can be received inside or outside of marriage. It can be received in heterosexual or homosexual relationships. But that doesn’t make it right. I am married to my wife. I can find sexual pleasure outside of my marriage, but I choose not to do so because of what the Bible teaches. I want to honour God and be faithful to my wife. In the same way, even though a person can find sexual pleasure in a homosexual relationship, they shouldn’t because of what the Bible teaches.)

Note: The Bible never has and never will accept any committed homosexual relationships. It is not possible to be a true believer and practice homosexuality habitually. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

For more about this position and the Bible references you can click here to read a post called: “What About Sexuality?

This position is not a position that comes from culture. I live in China. Many things are different here. I have learned to and am continuing to learn to adapt to the way of life here. But many also deny the existence of God. This is the cultural norm. In this aspect I don’t, can’t and won’t accept this cultural norm. In fact, I am here to challenge that very notion and declare the eternal existence of God seen from the creation of the world. Thus, my position is not political: conservative or liberal; it is not cultural: city or country; it is biblical—this is what God’s word clearly says. (Again, this post is not a Bible study about this topic, but it is an application of the stated position after coming to a conclusion from studying the Bible.)

For Those Who Are Homosexual

I believe the Bible with all my heart. The Bible states that homosexuality is a sexual sin. Sin has consequences. Sin brings death and after death eternal damnation in hell. Sin separates man from God. But God loved us so much that while we were yet sinners, He sent Jesus to die for us. Jesus died for our sins. He was raised for our justification. Through faith in Jesus, our relationship with God can be restored. We can never do this on our own because we are hopeless sinners.

That being so, in love, I can only say to turn from your sin. Turn away from any sinful lifestyle. Turn away from homosexuality. Turn to Jesus. Turn by faith. This is the most important thing in life. Embrace Jesus, not sin. Embrace Jesus, not homosexuality. You can’t embrace both–it is a contraction in the most offensive terms.

My Attitude Towards Sin As A Follower of Jesus

Thus, as a believer I hate sin. Sin kills. Sin condemns. Sin is punished. Sin separates. Sin destroys. As a believer, I fight against sin. I am at war against it. I don’t want to commit sin, even though there are times that I do, I want to live a life that is holy unto God. I am a man in submission to the will of God. I am not my own. I live for Jesus. If my desires, lusts, or wants are contrary to God or His word, then I must submit to His will, not my own.

For that reason, I hate homosexuality. Because it is a sin. But I don’t hate you, the homosexual. But I hate your sin. I hate the temporal pleasures it gives and how this pleasure deceives you to live in rebellion against God.

Even in our changing culture, where sexuality is being seen in a positive light and promoted, it doesn’t make it okay. The definition of what is or is not sin never comes from what the majority of people think at a certain given time in history. This judgment of sin does not come from ourselves. The Bible is judging. If you are a homosexual you are wrong. It is sin. But you are loved. And there is hope for you. Jesus made a way to free you from your sin. Through repentance and faith in Jesus, your life can be radically changed.

Applying What It Means To Love God And To Love Others In This Circumstance

Finally, love compels me to care about others. To care for others I must say the truth. To show my affection for others I can’t approve of their homosexual actions or relationships. This has several practical applications for daily life. I am to be so concerned with their souls that I don’t want to do anything that would show approval for something that leads to eternal separation from God.

Nor do I want sin to be commonplace in my life. I love my family. I desire to protect myself and my family from the influence and normality of sin that our culture inundates us with on a daily basis.

Accordingly, there are some practical stands I desire to take because I don’t want to mistakenly confirm anything that leads people to hell. Generally, I cannot accept nor endorse any sin—any way of life that causes people to live in continual rebellion against God. Specifically, concerning homosexuality, which is a very public and private sin…

  • I cannot celebrate homosexual relationships.
  • I cannot support homosexual relationships.
  • I cannot participate in anything that would endorse homosexual relationships.
  • I cannot attend homosexual weddings.
  • I cannot pretend a homosexual partner is part of our family (immediate or extended).
  • I cannot condone the open affection between you and your partner.
  • I cannot pretend there is nothing wrong with the homosexual relationship.
  • I cannot normalize homosexual relationships.

Please don’t misunderstand, these convictions are not because I want to disengage from or alienate friends and family who are homosexual from myself or my family, but their decisions to sin against God and to openly live a life of rebellion against God is them choosing to alienate themselves from me and my family.

A Final Plea

If you are a homosexual or you accept homosexuality, you are wrong according to the Bible, but I love you enough to tell you the truth. Repent of your sins before it’s too late. Believe in Jesus. Today is the day of salvation.

With Love,

Mark


P.S.

A Note To Christians

Many well-intentioned Christians have been put in awkward circumstances concerning this topic. They don’t know how to choose what to do. They are told not to judge others. But ultimately to not say or do anything is to have a hating attitude towards that person who lives in sin and not a loving one. Real love hates sin. Real love accepts the truth. To celebrate, support, participate in or condone the sin of others is to sin yourself. It is time for you to take a stand, it is time for you to truly love others.

Have the right reaction to sin. Two common but wrong reactions are: (1) To talk about how wrong homosexuality is and to reject it and those who are homosexuals. But you never talk about Jesus and what He did on the cross for homosexuals to be saved from their sin. (2) To accept their homosexuality and condone their homosexual lifestyle in words or actions, not talking about anything negative. But you completely void what Jesus did on the cross for homosexuals to be saved from their sin and minimize the gospel. Both reactions are wrong because they avoid Jesus. The first one never explains grace and the second one doesn’t see the need for grace. The proper response is to inject Jesus into the conversation. Don’t be a lazy Christian who tries to avoid the pressure and stress of preaching the gospel and sharing the good news. Your friend or family member will die and go to hell without Jesus. Speak up.

Mind Dump: Christian Bookstore Pics

  • If you haven’t listened to our latest podcast (Episode 11) then check it out and you will better understand these pictures.
  • For more information about this topic, check out my past posts “China & Bible Smuggling” or “Bibles in China?“.
  • Also, you can check out my other teammate’s post about this topic: here or here.

Bibles at a Christian bookstore in China.

A Christian Bookstore in China.

Mind Dump: Family Fall Party

✪ Our “Family Fall Party” was a great success. First, our church people were involved and serving. We hosted about 10 games at the event so we needed many volunteers. Second, we had a great attendance. There were more than 120 people. We had people register as they came in but not everyone did. The registration count was 124 people. This is our highest attendance at any event or service. We were praying for at least 100 people. Third, we reached out into the community through our kids. Two of our kids are in preschool and took invitations to school and invited their classmates. Many of them came. Fourth, it built faith and boldness. This kind of event is very risky because you don’t know who is in the crowd or who the parents of our kids’ classmates are, but at the same time, we didn’t think the risk factor was high enough to not do it. We openly told them we were a church and invited them to our services and kids club. Fifth, I think we had at least two new parent/kid units visit the church this morning that was also at the event.

✪ We finally started the seminary classes back and we will be going for the next twelve weeks. What are we teaching this semester? Here are the classes: Bible Doctrines 2; Preaching (Men); Home Economics (Women); Biblical Finances; Church Guidelines/Doctrinal Distinctives; Galatians; 1/2 Thessalonians. Also, we have an hour every morning of Bible Reading/Prayer–everyone spends 40 minutes just reading the Bible individually and 20 minutes in individual prayer. This is a spirit of unity when everyone is doing it at the same time. It has been a blessing.

✪ The church has been doing well but we have suffered in attendance since the summer…losing about 22 people (members/attendees) in attendance or so this year. About 14 of those went to help with the new church plant at the end of last month and the rest were from those moving out of the city for various reasons (work, etc.). But we still have a strong core and are working hard. Our attendance has been between 20-40 recently.

✪ We also have changed some of our church schedules. One of the changes that I have really liked is our afternoon service. We start with two songs, and then we have a 20-minute preacher. We have three men on a preaching rotation. Then I lead a 15 min. teachers’ and workers’ meeting followed by 15-minute prayer groups. Then we end the service in prayer. To see our full ministry schedule, click here.

✪ A few other updates: We finally received our residence permits for a year. Praise the Lord! We also finished the rest of the remodel and had the carpet installed. The nursery is ready to use!

Look closely, there is a kid in there!

One of the games from the Family Fall Festival.

Windy and cold day on the coast.

Weekly Mind Dump: New Video

✪ Watch our new video: 2017 Ministry Update.

✪ Giving Opportunity: Discipleship material, books, and bibles. (1) We are getting our discipleship material professionally printed instead of printing them in-house. We have a total of five books. Each book has 30 lessons in it (except for the special edition one). Two books are still in the developmental stage, but three of the books are ready to print. We would like to print anywhere from 100-500 of each book. Of course, the more we buy per printing the less expensive it is. But it will cost around $1.50 per book to print. (2) We buy Bibles in China and give them out to every first-time visitor that comes to our church or anyone that needs one free of charge. We recently gave a new church plant many bibles to use. Our stock of Bibles at the church is running low and we will be putting an order in to buy some more bibles soon. We would like to buy several hundred more. Bibles cost anywhere from $3-$5 per Bible. (3) There is also a book that we buy and give out to first-time visitors that is the testimony of a Chinese man who got saved. It has been a witness and help to many people. We are also running low on this book. These are three ways that you can give directly to help the church stock up on materials, bibles, and resources. If given for this purpose, we will use 100% of it for this purpose. Contact me for details.

✪ Our “Big Day” we had a couple weeks ago went well. We had three lost people in the service who heard the gospel. Last week was a slow week because everyone was on holiday for the National Day and Mid-autumn Festival. I enjoyed the extra time with family.

✪ In family news, our youngest is finally potty trained…or getting there. We are also looking at getting her into a preschool soon. Our middle daughter has started preschool every day. Our oldest has started homeschooling. We found out that the twins are….one boy and one girl. My wife is having her ups and downs…it has been a tough pregnancy but she is doing good.

✪ Lord willing, we will be starting a new school semester for our bible college students in the coming week. Pray as we are making the final preparations.

✪ Do you or someone you know want to “become a missionary to China”? What are your next steps? It depends on what life-stage you are in. Click here to read my three recommended steps from where you are now. It is my desire to help you make an impact in China.

Beautiful weather as we run on in the early morning.

A car caught on fire near where we live. The firefighters did a great job.

One of our recent lunches…it was awesome (crabs, clams, etc.)

Evening Traffic :-)

Weekly Mind Dump: Pray For Tomorrow

✪ So the last steps of our visas are underway. We received our “work permit” card which was a huge blessing and we have applied for our “residence permit” which should be given to us in about three weeks or so and everything should be done. Thank you for praying with us about this visa process. Hopefully, this will be the new path that we will be using to serve in China for years to come, Lord willing.

✪ Last Sunday we had a send-off service for the American family and the Chinese man who is leaving our church to start a new work in the city. It was a great service and they have been a blessing to our ministry over the years. Please pray for them as they are in the process of renting a place to start meeting in.

✪ This coming Sunday we are having a “big day” event playing off a Chinese holiday. There are two major holidays that run into each other. The national day is on Sunday and most people will be going home because they get off work/school for eight days or so. But for those that are local and don’t have a family event or haven’t left the city yet, we are trying to do a special event. Pray for our services tomorrow and that we will have some first-time visitors who will hear the gospel.

✪ After Sunday, it will be a slow week in the ministry because all our students and many of our church people will be returning to their hometowns or where their parents/in-laws are currently living to celebrate the holidays. But I am looking forward to spending some extra time with family and getting caught up on a few things to prepare for our upcoming new semester with the students when they return.

✪ We have had a great and productive week this week. We have been having class every morning for four hours and making preparations for our events over this upcoming year.

Send-Off Service

Work Permit Card

A barbequed chicken head I ate this past Friday night.

Sun starting to set over our city as we cross the road.

Weekly Mind Dump: North Korea

✪ We had another great week. Our Kids’ Club has started back, but it has been very slow. Each week there are more kids, but it looks like we might have lost some along the way. Time to go out and find some more!

✪ We visited a Chinese city on the border of North Korea and took a big boat into North Korean waters. We used binoculars to get a better look at everything. It was really sad. People washing their clothes in the river. The soldiers (I am guessing guarding the border) were fishing with nets up and down the river. The hard part of these tours (I have taken many) is that we can do nothing. Here I am on a nice boat with a bunch of Chinese tourists gawking at the North Koreans (like a zoo) and can do nothing to reach or help them. At least when we have taken the small boats in before, we were able to give out some Chinese tracts (even though they didn’t read Chinese) to the North Koreans who met us in the middle of the river on their boats. Pray for North Korea.

✪ In a previous update I mentioned about starting a new church plant in October, but we are holding off on that for now. One of the Chinese men who was going to go out and start it wants/needs more time and training before he steps out. I think this is a wise decision.

✪ Although we aren’t starting a new church this October, one of the American men who has been serving in our church for the past couple years is stepping out to start a church in October and one fo the Chinese men in our church who is a faithful member will be going to help him as they get things started. We will be having a send-off time for them this Sunday.

✪ One of the church members recently commented on our three girls personalities and I thought it was interesting and almost spot on. She said our oldest daughter was 透明 transparent (she really likes to talk about everything), our middle daughter was 温柔 gentle and soft (she loves to smile and cuddle), and the youngest was 淘气 mischievous (yep, she likes to laugh and cause trouble in a playful way).

A busy airport in the mornings! Seeing our friends off…glad they came!

About a 20-minute drive outside the city and you see this…

Going to the local mall for dinner, a busy time of the day.

One of the men practicing music as he looks out over the city from the church window.

Looking into North Korea with binoculars… a mom and child washing clothes in the river with a guard nearby.

Weekly Mind Dump: Hong Kong and Peru

✪ Everything went smoothly in Hong Kong. We were granted our visas and came back to China last Tuesday. (Now we have to apply for a residence permit.) We enjoyed our time in Hong Kong. Even though it seemed everyone was sick at some point, we got the medicine we needed and everyone is doing much better now. The Lord took care of us. Praise the Lord!

✪ We arrive back in China Tuesday evening/night and then a few hours later a friend serving the Lord in Peru landed. I picked him up from the airport and then took him to the hotel. The next morning we returned to the airport to pick up two more friends serving the Lord in Peru. Thus, we have been busy since we have returned from Hong Kong with our friends from Peru. Every day they have been teaching our students 4-hours a day, showing them around the city, talking about problems and solutions, planning for future plans (Lord willing), and busy with the ministry.

✪ Today, we started our new church schedule and restart the several areas that we stopped during last month remodeling. Please pray as we invite the families back for the kids’ club and that we can reach new students who are in the city for university and as everyone comes back from their summer break.

✪ We had great services today. The gospel was clearly preached in a powerful message in the morning service and we were reminded of God’s power in the second. I pray those in attendance were not only challenged to believe on Jesus but to share the message of this good news.

✪ One of the reasons for our friends serving in Peru came to China was to help cast the vision in Peru for men and women to give their lives to come to China and preach the gospel! Maybe the Lord would open doors, if not through support, then through opportunities to teach Spanish in universities for them to get a salary and be granted a visa to live and work in China as they spread the good news of Jesus. Pray with us about this matter!

Taxi in Hong Kong…look at all those phones!

Getting on the plane in Hong Kong to return to the mainland.

Looking and praying over the city with our friends who serve in Peru.

Weekly Mind Dump: Joy

✪ Preached on having an “attitude of joy” this morning and really enjoyed it. Studying the sermon and preaching it has encouraged me greatly.

✪ We should get an answer about our visas tomorrow, Lord willing. Then we will have to leave the country and re-apply for the new visas before we come back into the country. Please pray that everything goes smoothly. Our deadline is Thursday, so time isn’t on our side.

✪ Remodeling is almost done..which I am thankful for. Lord willing, everything will be finished this week and we will get back to a normal schedule starting next weekend.

✪ We have been contacted by a couple of people who are wanting to come and intern in China. We are working on the details and we will see what happens.

✪ Lots of plans coming up in the future. Excited about all the is going on and for what the future holds. God is good.

Clouds over the city in the evening.

Spent some time enjoying the ocean one afternoon this week.

A natural history museum on the coast.

Our newly remodeled kids’ room.

Weekly Mind Dump: Blessed

✪ I went to the doctor this week with my wife and I asked the doctor if she would be willing to tell us the gender of the babies since we are foreigners. Normally, it is illegal for them to tell you. For foreigners though, it is a little confusing. Anyways, she agreed to let us find out…and as my wife wrote on Facebook: “Latest update on the twins: Baby A revealed his gender to us during yesterday’s ultrasound. Baby B is still a mystery.”

✪ Good news on our renting/remodeling situation. First, the homeowner of the two main apartments we rent agreed to sign a three-year contract and approved our remodeling plans. He is also hoping he can sell it to us in the future. Second, we are remodeling the main two apartments by putting in a nursery and then remodeling the newly rented room into a kids room. Lord willing, everything will be done by the end of this month.

✪ This past Friday was our ten-year wedding anniversary. I am blessed to have been married for ten years. God has been good to us. I also enjoyed the day (alone) with my lovely wife. On Friday, we had three families from the church each take one of the children to spend the night at their house. The children had a great time and two of families asked if the kids could stay over another night. It is Sunday afternoon now, and two of the kids are still out with friends playing and the smallest is home taking a nap. We are blessed to have such greats friends that love on our family and children. My wife has done a wonderful job training our girls.

✪ I was thinking about Chinese…and we know there are four main parts: listening, reading, writing, speaking (maybe grammar can be added as a separate grouping). Each grouping is separate from the other (although they are connected) and one doesn’t automatically help you build up the other. Thus, practicing speaking all day doesn’t help you improve the other three. Only practicing those other three will make you improve. Now, there is always a little influence and overlap in each area, but not to the degree that it is useful. Listening will help you with listening and not speaking. Speaking will help you speak, but doesn’t’ improve your listening. Reading characters will help you read but it doesn’t help you perfect writing. Each area needs to be equally studied if you want to equally perfect each area. One more thing that came to mind concerning writing…there are two types…pencil and paper and then typing. You could easily be able to type characters, but not able to write them with a pencil. So this is two sub-categories of writing. If I was grading myself from best to worst, according to how I studied, then it would be as follows: Speaking; Writing-typing; Reading; Listening; Writing-pencil.

✪ One of the American families that have been working in our church for the past few years is working towards starting their own church. This past week they hosted VBS in the housing complex that they bought a house in. They hosted it in their new house and the Lord blessed. They had a great turnout with over 30 kids and many parents. So far they haven’t had any problems from authorities or neighbors…since they have been building relationships in the community. I am very proud of them and the work they are boldly doing. We pray the Lord continues to bless them.

Remodeling: Adding a nursery on to the main auditorium.

View from 38 stories up overlooking the harbor.