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A Brief History of “Perversion”, and its Relevancy to the Boston Bombings

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Here in Turkey, I went to work one day as I usually do, only to hear from a British co-worker of mine the news of the horrific and disturbing bombings in Boston.  I remember thinking, “Oh not again!” as my stomach began to sour with grief.  Haven’t enough people had their fill of bloody violence and their appetites quenched with innocent lives, I was thinking.  Apparently not.

Many people are searching for answers.  Why did the brothers do this?  What does this mean about the future of security in America?  In the world?  People like FBI agents, Police Officers, psychologists, and the family and victims of the bombings are all searching, to name a few.  I suppose you could say whenever violence like this happens, like a lightning bolt shattering the calm of everyday life, most people who hear about such things, start to struggle for answers.

I’d like to share with you my strugglings, mainly through the historical and semantical exploration of the word, “perversion”, and its relevancy to the issues at hand.

Latin – Pervertere – “to turn the other way, to overturn”, figuratively to “subvert, corrupt, or abuse”

English – Pervert (verb) – 1300 AD “to turn someone aside from a right religious belief to a false or erroneous one”

Online Etymology Dictionary

It wasn’t until later, in the 1300’s that the word “perverse” started to carry mainly a religious tone, used to describe those who had gone astra, or those who had apostatized, or turned away in an erroneous way.  This was noted as late as 1660.  It wasn’t until 1892 that the way you used that word morphed to describe someone who has a “perversion of the sexual instinct.”

Perhaps we’ve lost our sense of the broader use of the word.  Pervert has become simply a noun, and maybe we’ve lost the sense that it can be a verb as well.  To “pervert” something.  The modern definition of being a “pervert”, is the definition most of us would be familiar with.  It’s a sexual term, to describe someone who is sexually deviant, or just twisted.

So why did I chose the word “perversion” to be the center piece of this exploration?  I like the severity of the word in describing how twisted ones actions need to be in order to earn that title.  To simply call the brothers “twisted” or even “radicalized,” just doesn’t do what is happening on a larger scale justice.  The Tsarnaev brothers were perverts, but not in the sexual use of the term.  Using the Latin definition together with the 14th century definition along with the modern adaptation to the word, we can give “perversion” a generalized umbrella definition of “the act of turning someone, something, some idea away, towards corruption, or simply towards the wrong way.”  It is a twisting of what’s true; a misconstruing of what exists.  Perversion doesn’t just happen to terrorists and dictators.  It happens at all levels of life.  Perversion is a parasite, and it can latch onto anything.  It takes sex, something beautiful between a man and a woman, and taints it with notions of selfish unedifying acts of pleasure, diminishing each other to mere objects from which “feel good” moments come.  It takes meal time, something useful to bring people together over, and turns it into a gluttony fest where food is used to quench not the stomach, but the hurting spirit.  It takes the workplace, something where honest bread-money can be won for a family, and turns it into an arena where control hungry men and women dominate others, or where simply crooked men and women use their employees for less than honorable ends.  It takes a simple family man, named Tamerlan Tsarnaev, with a wife and a daughter, which could have been a happy family, and it turns him into a tool of terror, death, and heart-break.  Perversion happened.

The tragedy in all of this, is when the one who “turns away”, becomes convinced it is the right way.  Perhaps it is the mere feeling of something “right”, that confirms this, or they have convincingly been lied to.  In the case of the Tsarnaev brothers, who knows how that slippery slope happened.  All we know is that the tool of perversion was radicalism, which really is a synonym to perversion.  Let me be clear at this point.  I’m not saying anything about a connection between radicalism and religion here.  There are radical Hindus, radical Christians, and radical aetheists.  Somewhere between birth, maybe during adolescence, maybe when he came to America, a lie entered his worldview, and perverted reality for him.  The lie altered the course of his life, it soured the good that was in him.

The state of things is simply not good.  In recent history, Colombine, 9/11, Sandy Hook, to name a few.  In history past, wars of all kinds, genocides for any reason.  Things are not well with us.  Lets be honest.

Will it always be like this?  Does it have to be like this?  Now I’d like to take our exploration into the origin of the word “perversion”.  It takes us back quite far.  My hope in reaching this far, we’ll be able see a glimpse of hope, to this violent state of affairs.

The greatest perversion that happened, is in one of the oldest books we have, the Bible.  You may already know what I’m talking about by now.  Yes, how the serpent lied to Eve, she took of the apple, gave it to Adam, and they both fell from favor in God’s sight.  Why?  Because they believed the Father of Lies, corruptor of everything, the most perverse of perverts.  The one who himself “turned away” from God first, leading all who are willing, in the way of perversion, that is, in sin.  In simplest terms, we could say, sin is living life turned away from the way God intended.

What is the hope I was talking about?  If what I’m describing is true, life seems pretty dismal.  Things are not well with us, but they will not always be this way.  Christ is coming again, and when he comes with the power of a creator that he used when time began, once again, like in Eden, earth will be heaven for those who truly know Christ.  It will be perfect.  We will be free of perverse acts that malign us, harm us, and cause us to despair in this time.  It’s hard to imagine what a world like that would be like, but that’s what I want, and that’s the hope we have in Christ.

Does true Hope exist?

 

I don’t know why but I was just thinking about death recently.  The sun is shining, life is good, but I believe I started pondering it for a good reason.  I’ll share that reason with you.

I think death entered my idle mind as I started thinking about my little brother who is in the Holy Land right now, touring around Israel.  I love him so much.  My mind went into “what if…” mode.  I hate it when it does that, and I have to forcefully stop it sometimes, because it can be so damaging.  But my mind played the “what if…” question to my brother.  “What if my brother died in Israel?”  Well he would certainly get a front row seat of the return of Christ when he rises from the dead, but in the off-chance he did die in Israel, it would be a devastating blow the family.  We would miss him dearly!  But praise be to God, we would have hope of seeing him again.

Does everyone have this hope?  I know of a family who don’t believe in a heaven and hell.  They believe that we live for the best we can in this life, and then die.  Die and disappear pretty much.  Which is why its important to them to invest in society so much, so as to leave a legacy.

I want to pose a series of “Isn’t it curious….” questions to this type of outlook towards death, for those who say there is no God, and there is no after-life, we just…..disappear.

Isn’t it curious we place so much effort and life into the pursuit of love….only to lose it in the end?

Isn’t it curious we spend the good part of our lives investing in material things that we seek and work to call our own…to only lose it in the end and it become others possessions?

Isn’t it curious how we react to death…as if death is a cruel thief stealing our loved ones at a most inconvenient time?

Isn’t it curious how we mourn and miss our loved ones….as if we feel we have been dealt a crappy hand, and life turns to be an unfair master?

Isn’t it curious why a word even exists called HOPE?

If a word called “hope” exists, and all is useless in the end, are we just fooling ourselves when we talk about hope, at all?

Or maybe there is hope…true hope!  Hope that says, “All your love is not wasted!”  Hope that calls back from the grave, “You’ll see me once again, but in paradise!”  Hope that offers a saving hand to you, that will pick you up out of any trouble you get into.  Hope that says, “Even if you’ve been dealt a crappy hand, ultimately there is hope for you beyond the grave.”

Hope is written on Christ’s arm as he turns to death and deals a blow so great, it crushes him to disappearing, while saying, “Death is swallowed up in victory; O death where is your victory?  O death where is your sting?”

Those who love Jesus Christ, we are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:13-14

Stats revealing how our church may be a bit off-goal!

First a quick history lesson.  The gospel arrived in Jerusalem, and from there the world knew of Jesus.  First in Israel, then to surrounding Middle Eastern countries (before Mohammed great monastery’s were everywhere in Saudi Arabia), then spreading west-ward to Europe.  Through the ages, the gospel crept further west, spreading to America, and then to South America, as well as shortly after spreading to Asia.

Well that’s the whole world then, right?  Phew!  But as far as people who know Jesus Christ as their Savior, or even knowing who he was historically, most of the world does not know Him.  So when we talk about the “least-reached people” we talk about people groups who have the least amount of believers among them, and do NOT have access to the gospel because no church or Christian presence is there in their own language.  The most reached ones being countries like South Korea and America, with confessing believers in Christ ranging in the 30% of the population.  Least reached countries being like Indonesia (which is mostly Muslim) where the believing community is more like 0.01%.

The stats below are presented to bring to your mind the perspective of urgency in our world that oh so desperately needs to know Jesus Christ.  Because “globalization” is happening and is already here, and our world is ever increasing to be an Internationalized community, its good to know where we stand in perspective to other countries, gospel-wise.  So now, the stats:

We Live in an Asian World**

(this includes the Middle East)

61% of the Worlds population are Asian

12.7% are European

8% are from Latin America

5% of the Worlds population of the world are North Americans

“Asia is the only continent where Christianity is not the largest religion.”

“Asia is our greatest challenge for world missions.”

America is Packed Full of Churches

The US and Canada have 575,000 churches, or one church for every 537 people.

In Turkey there is approx. 1 BELIEVER for every 2.5 Million people in Turkey.  About one church for every 5.5 million people.  That’s like ONE church for New York, of about 150 people.

In some places the stats are worse, like India and Pakistan.

Least-Reached People groups by Blocs

Western (much of Europe) – 100 Million

Tribal/animalist – 242 Million

Buddhist – 376 Million

Chinese – 400 Million

Hindu – 841 Million

Muslim – 1.27 Billion

Foreign Missionaries Working in those Least reached Blocs

Western – 60,000

Tribal/animist – 11,200

Muslim – 7,000

Hindu – 5,000

Chinese – 2,000

Buddhist – 1,800

We are Good at Reaching the Churched Here in the West

(Not in the stats, but ask yourself how many people you know have attended church once, grew up in the church, have heard of Jesus Christ, have a Bible but not read it, or just heard of Christmas or Easter)

74% of our Foreign Ministers we send out, are sent to reach “nominal Christians” either in the America’s or Europe.

If Asia consists of 61% of the Worlds pop. how many are we sending to Asia?

1% to Jewish people

2% to Chinese (Asia)

3% to Buddhists (Asia)

4% non-religious Aetheists

6% to Muslims (Asia)

Where There is Darkness There Aren’t Enough Candles

Ratio of Foreign Ministers per Million in Geographical areas

<25 FM’s per Million in Middle East

<25 in Eurasia

<25 in Asia

85 FM’s per Million in Africa

100 in Europe

175 in Caribbean

415 in Latin America

500 in Pacific per Million

If the church is the body, are we more like a mis-proportioned body builder, who only works out his biceps, but forgets to work the rest of his body and so appears awkward.  Are we like a shipbuilder who focuses all his attention on the mast and sail, but forgets to water-seal his hull, and so making him dangerously prone to sinking?

Don’t get me wrong, local ministry of the church is absolutely necessary!  Just posing the question….perhaps we are a bit mis-proportioned?

What do you think?

** All stats and information found in “Through God’s Eyes: A Bible Study of God’s Motivation for Missions”, by Patrick O. Cate, William Carey Library, Pasedena, CA. Pp. 61-69

Early evidence that proves death and ministry of Christ

A charge sheet that accuses Jesus of his crimes.  These experts discuss exactly what is implied here.  They show that some sections of the sheet has been rubbed out in an attempt to delete it.  Amongst a litany of testimonys that prove Jesus death and ministry, here is an interesting clip from scholars across the Pond at Asbury University, UK.

 

When I’m just not feeling it…

Last night was just one of those nights, and this morning was just not one I want to remember.  I was slightly less than romantic yesterday evening, and this morning, my attitude wasn’t exactly as bright as the morning sun.

I’m discouragingly finding myself insufficient to pursue my wife the way I want to the past day or so.  I’m sure husbands, wives and boyfriends, girlfriends everywhere know what I mean when I say, sometimes “its” just not there.  If everyday could be full of sailboat rides on balmy mornings, hours filled with my wife and I skipping down the Lake Shore trail hand in hand eating cotton candy, and watching a sunset from atop a mountain in the middle of nowhere.  But we know that’s not how things are.  Things scratch at our affection, and compete for our emotional energy.

Sometimes a rough night of sleep tears down your day.

Sometimes the stress of the unknown makes you a bit shaky and irritable.

Sometimes that crazy driver in front of you should just be blown to bits.

Sometimes everything just does NOT go your way….

And you find yourself insufficient to invest in the lives of those around you.  Sometimes you can’t go forward, so you slump into a chair and zone out, or take a nap, or just get out.  You want to stop everything…and be still!

This morning a word was impressed on me, and I want to share it with you.  It was simply this:

“I [God] am relentless for you!”

Relentless?  What does that mean?  It means unstoppable, unwilling to stop, and VERY willing to continue in perseverance.  Also, since one of the attributes of the very being of God, is perfect love, he can’t help but pursue us with His love!  He just can’t help it!  He pursues us!  Relentlessly!

He is so able to come alongside, and give you strength for the journey!

Like me this morning perhaps you need to pray this with me:

“Father I come to you broken and needy.  Indeed be glorified in my weakness, that as I come to you for help, you give it.  If my earthly father gives me bread when I ask, how much more will you give me good things when I ask you, my spiritual Father.  May your peace, your comfort settle on my life.  Enable me to be the co-worker, the friend, the husband, the servant you want me to be. Amen!”

“That is it! That’s Jesus!”

Have you talked with someone and had to imagine their face?  Have you ever been in a long distance relationship and never actually met them in person?  Have you ever had a pen-pal and with great excitement you wait til you get a picture of them?

We were made to do two things (well many more, like eat); 1) to behold glorious things (which is why we go to geological attractions like the Grand Canyon and the Niagra Falls), and 2) to behold the glory in each other.  We each have a shadow of the glory of Jesus in our faces.  We were made after his image, his likeness, bone of his bone.  And some awesome day, some glorious day, we will behold the face of Christ, our God in the flesh.  Don’t we all yearn for that day?

Some have already supposedly seen him.  The apostles for one, but also some in our century have also.  People who have had near death experiences often describe going into a dream like state where they enter heaven, talk with Jesus, see Gabriel the angel, etc.  Many Muslims who have come to Christ have done so by way of talking with Christ himself in their dreams (which is obviously not a near death experience, and an important distinction).

Well what I’m about to say I don’t put a ton of stock in, but find it very interesting, and truthful in a very big way.  Two young people, one a boy at age 3, and a girl who was around 7-8 years old, both almost died, and both witnessed seeing Jesus Christ.

The parents of the boy, Colton Burpo, were obsessed with finding images and portraits that Colton might find in the likeness of Christ.  But again and again, Colton would say no.  Until they come across a picture that the girl painted after she came back, of Jesus.  When Colton saw this painting, he said, “That is it!  That’s Jesus!” So we have the testimony of two very young children who have seen Jesus, and agree together as to what He looks like.  You want to see a picture of what Jesus may look like?  Here it is:

Surprise!  He’s not white, or has blue eyes!

Todd Burpo, his father, wrote a book, last year, about this whole experience, of his sons getting sick, seeing him through, and takes us on a journey through years of Colton recounting and telling the story of what he saw in his “three minutes” of heaven.

Matthew Patton of Parchment and Pen wrote a good critical review of this book.  In which he asks the question, “Are they lying?”  After all, this sort of stuff could get one very rich quick in the world of Christendom.   This is a good review of the book if you are interested.

And because I think everything that is worth believing in, is worth questioning, (I’m not saying I whole-heartedly believe this story) here is a good clip by David Platt on why we shouldn’t believe this story of “ascending to heaven and descending again to earth”, which as Platt will explain, is only attainable and was only attained by Jesus Christ.  The other “experiences” of heaven, were through visions, not by one who died and came back again.  I don’t we think we should declare this story true too quickly.  Instead, let this be a time when we search the scriptures to see what it says on this sort of matter.

Here is a short clip that explains who Jesus is;

If this has interested you, and you want to go deeper into who Jesus is, and what he said, maybe you can start here;

Learn more.

You don’t know JACK…about Jesus Christ!

Remember that game? I think it was a board game.  I can’t remember if it was a Game Show on TV at one point.  Perhaps it was, but lets see how you do with these questions, to gauge how well you know your Savior.

The following questions were meant to stir a spoon in the pool of thought towards the most important being you’ll ever know.  After each question, seriously think through, “How would I respond to these.”  Some are easier than others, just have fun with it.  Ask what your friends think, what your parents think, etc.

(Disclaimer: The conclusion after each question, is completely false.  I completely and whole-heartedly believe in the existence, the divinity, and humanity of Jesus Christ)

Question #1

1. Can God be seen? (answer is ‘no’)
2. Did people see Jesus? (answer is ‘yes’)

Therefore Jesus is not God

Question #2

1. Was God born and has a beginning?  (answer is ‘no’)
2. Was Jesus born and has a beginning?  (answer is ‘yes’)

Therefore Jesus is not God

Question #3

1. Is God self-sufficient? (answer is ‘yes’)
2. Was Jesus in need of things like food, water, rest etc.? (answer is ‘yes’)

Therefore Jesus is not God

Question #4

1. Is God immutable or changeless? (answer is ‘yes’)
2. Was Jesus changing in body and intellect? (answer is ‘yes’)

Therefore Jesus is not God

Question #5

1. Do you believe that God is your God? (answer is ‘yes’)
2. Did Jesus also say that God is his God? (answer is ‘yes’)

Therefore Jesus is not God

Question #6

1. How many true Gods are there? (Answer is ‘one’)

2. Did Jesus say that the Father is the ONLY true God? (Answer is ‘yes’)

“Therefore, Jesus is not the true God as he gave that title exclusively to the Father,”

These are quite philosophical, and to be honest, caught me off guard on a couple of them myself.  Actual people ask these questions, thought not that often at all.  All in all, they’re good issues to wrestle with, so as to better know just who this Jesus character is.

Ready for some thoughtful responses to the questions above.  Then check out this link here.