Thursday, August 29, 2013

All Things Work Together for Good . . .

Romans 8:28.
Many of us have it memorized without knowing what verse of what chapter of what book it's in.
"Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with His purpose;"
That's the CJB translation. That verse doesn't apply to everyone, obviously. "Those who love God and are called in accordance with His purpose."
This verse is speaking specifically to the "called" to God. Some have a natural tendency towards faith, and what a blessing that must be.

But let's look at the two promises in this.
"We know that God causes everything to work together for the good . . ."
That is only one statement, but two things are actually being promised here.
First, we have things working out for the good of God's people. This seems a joyous promise -and oh, how it is!- but we must look at what good is when it comes to humanity. Good is the fruit of the Spirit. Good is loving, good is humility, good is being gentle, good is having hope, good is . . . Good is such matters.
Now look at some other verses for the second promise of this.

Romans 5:3-5;
"But not only that, let us also boast in our troubles; because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope; and this hope does not let us down, because God’s love for us has already been poured out in our hearts through the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) who has been given to us."

2 Corinthians 12:7;
"Therefore, to keep me from becoming overly proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from the Adversary to pound away at me, so that I wouldn’t grow conceited."

1 Corinthians 13:4-7;
"Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful,
not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered,
and it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not gloat over other people’s sins
but takes its delight in the truth.
Love always bears up, always trusts,
always hopes, always endures."

Now, look at those verses. These are how we gain hope, humility, and love (for many years, I did not know that 1 Corinthians 13 was a poem), respectively.

1) Hope; through tribulation, trouble, suffering, pain, misery . . . Despair! The very antonym of hope is the means by which we achieve it. We must suffer to gain hope.
We must suffer to achieve this good--and not by our own means, but by the Holy Spirit. Not only are we to accept our trials, but we're to delight in them because they will be used by God for our good.

2) Humility; through a thorn in the flesh, through a messenger of Satan himself. It was likely a constant reminder of his past (it could be anything, but i perceive it to be a memory, possibly of a Christian he'd killed "in the name of God." But that's just my imagination). It was this very thing, this demon, this tormentor, this thing "pound[ing] away" at him that kept him humble.
Humility achieved through, again, suffering. God used this suffering for good.

3) Love; we often think of this passage as being all kind and sweet and soft and mellow . . . But it should be applied to us.
Someone getting on your nerves and not leaving you alone? Be patient (or, literally, long-suffering; suffer endlessly through what you're being put through; that is love).
Return evil with kindness. Don't be jealous that someone who has wronged you is being promoted over you--be happy for them. Don't boast that you have this certain skill, or you have achieved something great. Don't build yourself up in the eyes of others, but elevate them. If someone insults you, hold your tongue; don't be rude, but rather, again, kind.
So on and so forth.
This isn't so easy when it's seen as an application for your own life. Are you living in love?
Do you forgive completely, keeping no record of wrongs (not seven times, but seventy times seven; that's how often we're to forgive a person in a single day--losing track of their sins against us probably around the fourth or fifth)? Do you always bear up, though you have little encouragement to offer? Are you always trusting, to the point of naivete? Do you always have a hopeful perspective to a situation, confident that God is in control, even to the loss of a loved one? Do you persevere, enduring to the end, despite being in a sea where the end is a horizon that is retreating at the exact same pace in which you pursue it?
That is what good is. It's self-sacrifice. It's loss of self for the benefit of others. Our love is good, because it is selfless.

Now, let's look again at Romans 8:28; "Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with His purpose;"
See the second promise in this? God is promising we will be tested, we will be stressed, we will suffer, we will know despair and pain and torment.
But the first promise, the obvious one, says that He will work it together for our good, if we wait it out. If we trust. If we hope. If we endure.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Prophecies of Wrath Abstained--Love Abounding.

Ezekiel 16 is a very harsh chapter of the Bible, describing many deplorable acts committed by Jerusalem (enough to make her sisters, Samaria and Sodom, look innocent by comparison). It starts by saying God found her out in an open field, having been abandoned, her umbilical not having been cut, nor having been cleaned or clothed. Left to die, forsaken in an open field.
"No one seeing you had enough pity on you to do any of these things for you — no one had any compassion on you. Instead, you were thrown into an open field in your own filth on the day you were born." (Ezekiel 16:5)

It says God found her, and clothed her, gave her a name, made her a princess; "'Thus you were decked out in gold and silver; your clothing was of fine linen, silk and richly embroidered cloth; you ate the finest flour, honey and olive oil. You grew increasingly beautiful — you were fit to be queen. Your fame spread among the nations because of your beauty, because it was perfect, due to my having bestowed my own splendor on you’ says Adonai Elohim." (v.13-14, CJB, as that is the version I've been cross-referencing with as of late)
It says that, at a certain point in her youth, God covers her, makes a covenant with her, declares her as His (" became Mine.")

She was beautiful. The most beautiful. Perfectly beautiful. And instead of appreciating what God had done for her, she went out and became, pardon the term (it's used many, many, many times in this chapter), a whore. She had sex with anyone who would have her, and instead of being like the typical prostitute, she would instead pay her clients (described as being the opposite of other women). This is how lowly she had become. The vilest, most perverse possible.

"The crimes of your sister S’dom (Sodom) were pride and gluttony; she and her daughters were careless and complacent, so that they did nothing to help the poor and needy. They were arrogant and committed disgusting acts before me; so that when I saw it, I swept them away. Shomron (Samaria) did not commit even half as many sins as you did. You committed many more disgusting acts than your sisters; in fact, in comparison with all the disgusting acts you have committed, they seem innocent!" (v. 49-51)

God speaks of punishment. He speaks of gathering all her "lovers" together, and stripping her bare before them so she is so set upon by shame as to probably wish for death. Then she would be stoned to death, the punishment of an adulterer and a murderer, and hacked to pieces with swords.

The last few verses really shocked me, though.
After having read nigh sixty verses about how adulterous she had been, I had forgotten something; the covenant He made with her.
“For here is what Adonai Elohim says: ‘I will do to you as you have done — you treated the oath with contempt by breaking the covenant. Nevertheless, I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were a girl and will establish an everlasting covenant with you. Then you will remember your behavior and be ashamed of it as you receive your older and younger sisters and make them your daughters, even though the covenant with you does not cover that; and I will re-establish my covenant with you. Then you will know that I am Adonai; so that you will remember and be so ashamed that you will never open your mouth again, so ashamed will you be when I have forgiven you all that you have done,’ says Adonai Elohim.” (v. 59-63)

The promise made to Jerusalem in this chapter was because God alone had compassion for her.
A promise was made in Isaiah 54; “'Briefly I abandoned you, but with great compassion I am taking you back. I was angry for a moment and hid my face from you; but with everlasting grace I will have compassion on you,' says Adonai your Redeemer.
'For me this is like Noach’s (Noah) flood. Just as I swore that no flood like Noach’s would ever again cover the earth, so now I swear that never again will I be angry with you or rebuke you. For the mountains may leave and the hills be removed, but my grace will never leave you, and my covenant of peace will not be removed,' says Adonai, who has compassion on you."
Notice the key similarity here? Compassion. Even in His wrath, He is gracious and loving. That is His promise to us; that He will love us no matter how irreverently we act.

Remember, God Made You Special, And He Loves You Very Much!

Times have changed. Socially, and spiritually. We call it progress, but it's really not.

In 1993, twenty years ago this year (that makes me feel so old), Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki produced a children's show called "Veggie-Tales." It was kind of a hit among Christian families, and even to this day I enjoy many of the older episodes. My favorite would probably by Dave And The Giant Pickle, a retelling of David and Goliath. It was about as historically accurate (though dressed up in a couple ways so as to capture children's attention) as the recent "Bible" series that aired on the History Channel. Dave went and got five smooth stones from a brook in the Veggie-Tales episode (which the Bible points that out for a specific reason; an entire book could be devoted to expressing how impressive it was that he took five stones). In the more adult-oriented Bible series, he reaches down into the sand and grabs one. Just one. The children's show from '96 was seriously more accurate in this than the one that was geared for a more mature audience in '12.

The "shalom" at the end of each episode, the farewell, goes "Remember, kids, God made you special, and He loves you very much! Bye!"
If you turn to television evangelists or go to one of these "mega-churches", the basic theme of each sermon will likely (there are many exceptions, but it is growing increasingly common for itching ears to be tickled) be "Remember, adults, God made you special, and He loves you very much!" Yes, they preach more than just that, but it can be summarized in that phrase.
It's true, God did make you special, and He does love you very much. The Bible, summed up, says just that. It's a love story of God and how He cares for you. But what is said in the Word of God that isn't said in these churches is the difference between having peaceful situations and having a peaceful spirit. It is a massive difference.
They preach that nobody will do you wrong, that loved ones won't die, that trials will not come, that everything in life is bunnies and rainbows. Here's a smack-on-the-cheek to that philosophy: Matthew chapter 10. The words of Jesus in that chapter do little for the ideology that only blessings befall those who trust God.
What these preachers (I refrain from calling them pastors because a preacher is a person with a microphone, whereas a pastor is a leader of a flock) say creates a thin faith, a faith based on "God won't let anything bad happen to me." What this does is create the mindset of "If bad things happen, God isn't there."
Instead of this teaching, Paul said to delight in your trials and hardships because they help you in the long run.

I went to a morning and evening Christmas service at a church in another state; it was a fairly large church (goodness, the stained-glass window in front of the room the preacher stepped out of was glorious--one could even describe it as vulgar). Sadly, albeit honestly, cartoons aimed at children that I watched as a kid were as informative as these two services if not moreso.

This is not progress, people.
This is appeasement.
It's offering only appetizers.

"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."
That's something not mentioned by these preachers; 2 Timothy 4:3-5
Not only does it prophesy that people will only want to hear happy-go-lucky doctrine (which has come to pass in the last couple centuries, but all the more in the past decade), and that they will find preachers who preach such a doctrine, and also that they will turn away from listening to the truth, but get this; it says to "endure suffering."
Why would it say that if there was nothing but "victory," "favor," "blessings," and the like in our future?

Monday, August 19, 2013


We want revival. As Christians, what we seek so desperately for is revival in the Church; some even travel across the nation, following "movements of the Spirit" to various churches, in an effort to stay revitalized.
We go about this is the wrong way
Firstly, I feel compelled to note the definition of "revival." 
  1. An improvement in the condition or strength of something: "an economic revival".
  2. An instance of something becoming popular, active, or important again.
There we have the two primary definitions, whereas another is as follows:
  1. A period of renewed religious interest.
  2. An often highly emotional evangelistic meeting or series of meetings
The Spirit does move, and It tends to rest over certain geographical locations for whatever reason (not for me to know). So, understandably, Christians tend to flock to these areas/churches/congregations.
But again I say we go about this the wrong way.
The Spirit moves where people are active.
Revival is another word for resurrection. We already have the resurrection because of Christ. If we're complacent in our faith, following revival around the nation will do little but exhaust us further.
We have to find the vigor within ourselves. That's not God's fault; that's something we have done. He starts fires in the soul, we put them out. If He starts a fire within us, it's our job to make it spread, not to quench it.
Revival rests in the hearts of each and every Christian, not in a church 2,000 miles away.

Revival is already inside of you; you already have the resurrection. Once you realize that, you will have a personal revival. Stoke it, and it will grow and consume. Let it, and it will spread to others around you.
Our God is an all-consuming fire. All-consuming. Not just patches of brush here and there, but forests, land, even waters. All-consuming. Allow Him to move in you, and He will move those around you. Revival is just as strong inside a sole individual as it is in an entire congregation.
Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. You don't have to follow Spiritual movements around the nation or even the world, just focus on your own walk, drawing closer to Him. He'll meet you, and He'll revive you.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Prodigal's Return

We all know of the parable of the prodigal son; the Father, who represents God, is asked by His son, who represents one of His children, to give him his inheritance. The Father does so, the son goes away and squanders a third of the family fortune (the older brother got twice the inheritance, as per Jewish customs, meaning the younger brother had a third of the share instead of half), and wasn't even fed what the pigs were fed.

Here's a portion of the story:
But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
(Luke 15:17-24 ESV)

I could go on, and will, about several details here; pigs were considered unclean by Jewish people. This particular part of the parable would've caused great disgust with Jewish leaders, and even the disciples at that time. A man in a field with pigs, longing for the food that the pigs were eating. That is less than lowly.
Another aspect is that the Father showed him mercy when he would ask to be treated only as a servant. Instead of this, the Father accepted him as His son again, and even threw a party.

My favorite part, though, is something often overlooked. “And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”
The return itself isn't what I most enjoy, but the Father's reaction. Yes, the Father ran out to him, but that's not quite my favorite part, either. “...while he was still a long way off, his father saw him ...”
The Father didn't merely see his wayward son coming home while sitting in his house attending to other matters, his son didn't knock on the door, the Father had no reason to be in the fields for He had servants. It's not happenstance that the Father saw him from afar. The Father was waiting. He wasn't just waiting, either, He was anxious to see his son coming back. He never gave up on him. He stood at watch, eagerly anticipating the return.

When we stray, when we tell God we want to go live in the ways of the world, He doesn't just say “Oh well, have fun,” then go about other matters. He says, basically, “If you must,” then waits, and waits, and waits, because He doesn't give up on us.
And just when we start to come back, we don't have the chance to meet Him where He's at or to make it up the would-be driveway before His love for us overflows—He runs to us! He meets us where we are, embraces us, cries for joy over us, all before we have a chance to plead our case.

Fair Wages

Currently, I am reading a book titled “What's So Amazing About Grace” by a wonderful fellow by the name of Philip Yancey. It's been recommended to me several times, so I've finally picked it up and started it. There's a lot to digest in it, and much has stuck out to me. One such thing is that he covers a parable that, as he points out, is not often brought up in modern sermons because, plainly put, it just doesn't make sense in our world.
It's the parable found in Matthew 20:1-16; the Master of a house going out to hire workers for His vineyard. Summed up, He hires some men in the morning (presumably 6am) under the promise of a full day's wages (one denarius), then hires more at 9am, 12pm, 3pm, and 5pm (third hour, sixth hour, ninth hour, and eleventh), all under the promise of a denarius. He has them paid last to first, as in those hired at 5pm to be paid first, then those at 3pm, then those at noon, and so on. The first-hired, last-paid get upset, saying they deserve more. The owner's response is that it's all generosity, and He can distribute His money as He wishes.

In this book, it's described as a grace and that, if paid according to what we deserve, we'd all get Hell. Instead, it's moreover gifts that God gives us rather than wages; that the grace of it is that it's not about counting, because grace doesn't work by measurement. And that's true, I will not deny that. It's a great example of grace in that sense.
Reading over that parable again, I've realized something I'd care to add to this interpretation.

Firstly, a lifelong Christian will get Heaven. A lifelong Christian who turns away in his final hour will get Hell. Likewise, a lifelong heathen will get Hell. Inasmuch, a lifelong heathen who repents in his final hour will receive Heaven. And with Heaven comes all the glories that God bestows upon His beloved.
The thief on the cross beside Christ, despite asking Christ to remember him as he was dying, was given -that day- the same amount of Heaven as, say, the most notable reformer, the widest-reaching evangelist, the most faithful disciple, or the greatest of apostles. They all received the same Heaven, the same God, the same blood of Christ covering them. This is grace, but it's also fair in the sense that if any of these people had disowned Christ, even a second before their final breath, they would have received the same amount of Hell, despair, and absence from Christ.

Secondly, this is reminiscent of the mentality of the first son in the story of the prodigal; when the younger son demands his inheritance, it's made clear that the older gets his share as well, at the same time. Yet, when the younger returns after having squandered everything, the older son is irate when the Father throws a party, has the prize calf butchered for a feast, and the younger son's return treated as a monumentally joyous occasion. His case is that the Father had never thrown a party for him, saying, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” (notice how he doesn't even claim his brother, except as “this son of yours”)
It doesn't seem fair, but it is. The Father's response was “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.”

In both senses, the fault lies in the ones receiving; it's not up to them (this is you and I) to bargain with God, nor to look at what others are getting. We should focus on how He's blessed us, not how He's blessed another person for the same (or less). Our walk is not with them, it is with God. Our walk doesn't concern them, nor does theirs concern us. Both concern God, and it's between the two.
To paraphrase the way one of my favorite singers put it in her book, titled “What Is The Point?,” God doesn't measure the size, timeframe, or impact of our ministry. He measures the heart of it. If we help lead one soul or one thousand souls to Him, He does not favor one over the other; He watches the heart we put into the one or the one thousand.


Many times, I have been confronted with the question, “How do you believe in God if you can't see Him?”
This question has been asked by others almost as many times as I've asked myself. It's a difficult question. Often, one reason enters my mind, and that's “I can't see the wind, but I can see the effects of it.”
Sure, that's a fitting answer. I can see the evidence of God in nature, and in my very life. But there's something I've overlooked for so long.

How would a person born blind believe in those around them? They can hear them. I can't audibly hear God, but I've heard Him. It's hard to explain, but anyone who has heard the call of God knows what I'm referring to. A stirring of the heart, and revelation in the mind that is, quite frankly, not my own. There's that.

But going a little deeper, let's consider love for a moment. It's not something that can be seen. It can be said, but it can't be seen.
I love you.
That sentence doesn't mean all that much, yet it's been said. Not until there's some sort of sign saying it, like roses on your doorstep, or a ring on your finger, or something of the like. It's something that has to be shown, not just said, and yet it still can't be seen. How do we know it exists, then?
It's not that it doesn't exist in words or in things we see, it transcends those senses. It's something that's felt deep inside our heart, and in that mere feeling, we're more sure of it than we are of anything we can see, touch, hear, smell, or taste. It becomes a part of our existence. It is part of what makes us what we are, and we are sure of it. Because we feel it more definitely than our own heartbeat, we feel more certain of love than we're sure our heart is beating.

So how do I believe in a God I've never seen face-to-face?
Simple. As it's said twice in the first letter of John, in chapter four, “...God is love...”
Basically, I am loved by God. And once you know this feeling and embrace it, you, too, will believe in God because it's not that you can't see Him or hear Him, it's that He transcends sight and sound; He exists deeper than these fleeting senses, and instead stirs our hearts to know more certainly than we even exist that He loves us.
He loves you even now, even if you don't believe in Him. But once you realize He loves you, you will not deny that He does.

Why Is Love The Greatest?

Paul emphasized over and over that loving was the greatest thing for a person to do. Of the three, faith, hope, and love, he says, love is the greatest. He goes through a list of things that love embodies, and it's patience, gentleness, kindness, etc., as well as a list of things it does not do, such as delight in wrongdoing.
Paul was a man that had formerly been known as Saul of Tarsus, a man who was versed in the Law of the OT (Torah), and was adamant about punishing those who disobeyed it (to the point of killing those who professed Jesus as the Christ).

This man, who had for so long ignored what the love of God is, became outspoken that love was the greatest, even over faith (faith would imply obedience to the Law). It's not that we're to disobey the Law, or to disregard it, or to see it as anything less than crucial.
As Jesus said, the greatest of the commandments is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The second being to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus, not just Paul, placed love above any other legislation of the Torah.
Love covers a multitude of sins. Love never fails. Love delights in truth. Love obeys.
In Romans 13, and likewise in Galatians 5, Paul says that all the Law is fulfilled in loving others as we love ourselves.
The reason is because if we love someone, we won't steal from them, we won't murder them, etc. The whole of the Torah is obeyed if we love God with all we have and if we love others more than ourselves.

Jesus said something along the lines of “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
If we love Him, we will keep His commandments. It's the one who loves Him that does keep His commandments.

That is precisely why love is greater than obedience to the Law; a fruit of love is obedience to it. Which is greater, a tree, or one of its fruit? Surely, the tree.
Not to mention 1 John 4, I think it is, says twice that God is love . . .

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fruit Of The Spirit

There are two primary seasons for a crop; there is planting, and there is reaping. The growing part should not be overlooked, but i'm going to focus this post on the lattermost of this span; the reaping.
In an orchard, trees grow and bear fruit, and the fruit is then harvested to be sold or eaten.

When it comes to spirituality, there are two types of fruit.
Firstly, we have the flesh, which consist thusly: "sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like." (Galatians 5:19-21)
Secondly, we have the fruits of the Spirit, which includes the following: "love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23)
Something occurred to me when my pastor's dad mentioned that the Bible is, in essence, "food" that we must "eat" daily to stay spiritually healthy and strong; we, too, produce fruit. One definition for fruit is "produce," or "result." Fruits of living by the Spirit are results of it. But after looking at the Hebrew text for this and running it through a translator, seeing all the other possible definitions, i've found only one, and it's not merely the "result" of something.
That is the word we're looking at here; it's the one that translates to "the fruit" in this verse. Other fitting translations are "fruiting," "fruits," "fruit is (fruit's)," etc.
This verse isn't talking about the result of living by the Spirit so much as it is the literal fruit of it. We produce fruit. A tree does not produce fruit for itself. It produces fruit which will provide nourishment to things around it. We do not merely live by the Spirit to become loving, gentle, joyful, peaceful, etc. We live by the Spirit so we exude these things, and so others can benefit from them. We produce these things for the glory of God, not for our own well-being. So others can experience the love of God through us, the joy of God through us, the peace of God through us, and so on. We were made to nourish each other. In other words, we are the Bible to the world. We are nourishment to the world. We are Christ to the world.

I just thought that was interesting.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

My Views On Homosexuality

I'm going to start with some Scriptures here.

"You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination." Leviticus 18:22

"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, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

"Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted." 1 Timothy 1:8-11

"Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error."
Romans 1:24-27

This post isn't intended to slap people with certain tendencies in the face, nor to beat them with a few select verses out of thousands. This is intended to state my stance on the matter (specifically within the Christian community) out of love because, due to these verses, i believe homosexual behavior to be sinful.
If you knew someone who was dying, and could encourage them to change their ways and fight their inclinations and, in doing so, save their lives . . . Wouldn't you? That's why i'm writing this; not to judge, but to encourage.

Now, most who practice such things don't believe in God. But they do believe in nature. I could start by saying that one orientation is natural and the other is not, but that's cliché. Instead, i'll warn; the human body has a natural "culling" behavior to homosexuality. It's called AIDS, of which there seems to be no cure, and only fleeting inoculations/vaccines. It was once referred to as "GRIDS" (gay-related immune deficiency syndrome), for obvious reasons. Understandably, it was changed because it wasn't exclusive to the gay community. It is, however, nearly exclusive to such a demographic, and transfers by vast majority from them.
Nature, not just God and the "religious" society discern against it.

Now there are others who believe in God and the Bible, and yet still practice such things.
I've heard the argument that "God created [them] like that," or that "[They] were born [the opposite gender]," and also that it's suppressing who they are to deny such practice (i've heard people say "You just can't accept me for who i am).
That's a rather fallible ideology.
Firstly, every man was created male, and every female was created female (Genesis 1:27 says "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."). If God is infallible, then He makes no mistakes--man is man, woman is woman, simple as that.
Secondly, to pretend one was born the wrong gender and therefore would be denying who they are to go against what is their natural tendency doesn't make quite logical sense. The two genders work together for a reason. Man is supposed to be with woman, and vice-versa. To deny that would be to deny what and who they are.
Also, note it doesn't say such desires are sinful. Leviticus says to lie with a man as with a woman is wrong. 1 Corinthians says men "who practice homosexuality," as does 1 Timothy. Romans, however, is a little less contrasted, though still defined; it says they were consumed with passion for one another, but it still points out that they committed such acts, and that's where the sin lies (though those actions stemmed from God 'giving them up' to 'dishonorable passions' because they traded the image of the Creator for the created; sin bred sin, as it always does).
For these reasons, i believe the "Queen James Version" of the Bible to be contrary to the literally translated Word of God, and substantiatedly (that should be a word) blasphemous if it does, in fact, condone homosexual behavior.

So that's how i stand on the matter, in case anyone was curious. Basically, i hold it to the same light as infidelity in marriage, or adultery outside of marriage. Abominable, selfish, and based solely in greed and wrapped up in the "now" and not the future.

Above all, we are to love the sinner, be they convicted of infidelity, adultery, homosexual practices, thieving, murder, lying, or anything. Our first commandment is to love. So then, we are not to be malicious with one who has committed any of these sins. We are to care for them, offer them shelter and refuge, and love in the way of encouraging them unto righteousness that can only be found in Christ.