Ose Burnett is the co-founder of First Love Media. She is an evangelist with a heart for ushering young people into the presence of God to receive healing and deliverance. Ose lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her husband, Niral Russell Burnett, and her three beautiful children. You can find out more information about the ministry of Ose Burnett at Osemene.com
We've always heard that we must be pure before God. Many of us have been raised in legalistic environments and churches that placed an emphasis on our "works", and it's certainly not what the book of James spoke of. The definition of "works" meant wearing long skirts, covering your head with doilies, no earrings, no jewelry, no pants for the ladies (not sure what the rules were for men). For others it was worshiping on a certain day, praying 5 times daily, and reciting specific scriptures at specific times. But in the midst of those "do's and don'ts", we still had MAJOR issues with our flesh. We ran to the altar, seeking for an immediate fix for our flesh. We thought that doing all these things would bring our flesh under, and we would be delivered from heart issues such as lust, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness. But what many of us found out was, although we abstained from physical things, we couldn't keep our flesh in check. Our eyes still wandered to things we were not supposed to see. We still harbored malice, jealousy, rage, gossip-you name the sin- we still had it.
How can we possibly see God with our carnal flesh still alive and active? And can we even stand to "see" Him? I've noticed that in every instance that men of old experienced the very presence of God, they could barely stand or bear under the "pressure" of His presence. So why would the God of the whole earth be interested in us seeing Him? And how do we even begin the process of seeing Him? Let's look at what Matthew 5:8 says:
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
Another scripture alludes to the same thing:
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."- James 4:8
So we have to look at the phrase, "the pure in heart", because that's where the answer lies So you have to ask yourself, "Where does purity originate?" Does it originate from wearing a "purity ring"? Does it come from making a decision not to wear certain clothes, or using foul language? Where does purity come from? In the scriptures, wherever you see purity or holiness spoken of, the heart is not too far behind. Purity is always referenced with the heart. Our heart is intrinsically tied to being pure. Purity stems from the heart. Purity is not about what you wear, or an outward experience. Purity has to originate from the heart. Jesus illustrates it this way:
Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.”
Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowd, and his disciples asked him what he meant by the parable he had just used. “Don’t you understand either?” he asked. “Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.)
And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”-Mark 7:14-23, New Living Translation
In these verses, Jesus was dealing with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law and their apparent hypocrisy in regards to religious rules and regulations. They created all these rules, but their rules were man-made, and driven by the flesh. They were not concerned about purity at all. They were more concerned with the outward appearance of purity. Fortunately their heart condition betrayed them. He said:
Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God." -Mark 7: 6, 7 NLT
Our heart is where purity is cultivated and originates. God understands how our heart operates more than we do. He knows our intents and thoughts.
"The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” - Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT
There are things we must do in order to assure that we're walking in purity. First, we must ask the Lord to purify our hearts. David understood this, because in Psalm 51:10 he says,"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."
Our hearts are deceitful. It may try to justify our sin and give excuses to us why we are the way we are. But in close examination, we can see that our hearts need to be purified. And this process is a daily process. Like I stated before, purity must be cultivated. Because we were conceived in sin and shaped in iniquity, we were already at a disadvantage when it came to being pure. Secondly, We must hide the Word in our hearts:
How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word."-Psalm 119:9
The Word of God keeps us from impure thoughts, evil intentions and prideful ways. The Word of God brings Life! You cannot live the Christian life without the Word of God. It is impossible. It is not enough to just be convicted when impure thoughts and actions come. The Word of God is the measurement of what we need to do in those tempting situations. Many times the Word of God has risen out of my spirit to convict, encourage, rebuke and reprove me when I needed it most. But you must give God something to work with! Study His Word.
Finally, we must guard what comes in- and out of our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 says:
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Do you see the part our heart plays in EVERY aspect of our lives? Our heart leads us to good or evil. David knew this all too well. He was trying to relay to Solomon that everything begins and ends with the heart. It determines our steps. Our heart consists of our mind, will and emotions. Those areas of our heart are where the battles are fought. It is where they are won or lost. We must endeavor to guard our hearts, because it is the backdrop of where our life is developed.
God desires for us to see Him, but His motives are even greater than that. It all started in the garden, when He said, "Let US make man in our own image and likeness..."(Genesis 1:26). God desires for us to be so much like Him. He wants us to see what He sees. His glory cannot compare to anything on this earth. So he has made a way to see Him, because of His Son's shed blood on Calvary. Now we can stand before Him, our hearts sprinkled clean from a guilty conscience. Purity is not about dos and don'ts. It's about seeing Him as He is. Let's endeavor to please Him with a purified heart.
"Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water."-Hebrews 10:22
Gabrielle Rehmeyer is the author of Ransomed Heart: Out of Homosexuality and Into the Father's Arms. She grew up in a Christian home, as a missionary kid in Swaziland. As a young teen, she found herself struggling with her identity, in the midst of a battle she never imagined would be her own and one that very quickly became easier not to fight.
After nearly a decade of identifying and living as a lesbian, proudly advocating for the LGBTQ community, she was overcome by a relentless, passionate Love she faintly remembered but never truly knew. This Love did not condemn her, but called her to know Him. And in knowing Him, revealed to her all of the broken areas of her life, while loving her through the healing, and showing her who she always was, in and through the eyes of Jesus.
Bear with me as I try to put words to all that is going on inside. Something is stirring within and I believe He is showing me a glimpse of what it is going to look like moving forward, what standing for Him will require. Which has been a very interesting thing given where I have come from, how hard I fought Him. Discipleship, following Christ, comes with a cost, but in losing everything, life is gained.
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matthew 10:39).
Something I learned this week broke my heart. There was a time a few years ago, which I wrote about in my book, where I was invited to a church in the city by a friend I used to bar-tend with. I went to their annual women’s conference, and at this conference had an encounter with Jesus that I will never, ever forget, as a (now) dear friend of mine prayed for me and my struggle with homosexuality. Her conviction was real. The women I met at this conference were some of the most loving and steadfast Christian women I have ever met. This has not changed, I pray these women are still pursuing Christ and allowing Him to work in and through their lives as was so evident on this weekend in Pennsylvania, where a broken young woman, though she was not yet ready to surrender her heart fully, was gently corrected and so lovingly held in the arms of her Savior.
The pastors of this church have decided to wed gay and lesbian couples. This news is actually not surprising, given where our society is headed, given the great change and shifting in our beliefs, given widespread confusion, and a missing, key element in the midst of all of it. It is not surprising, and that, in and of itself, is incredibly heart breaking.
Hear me out.
I am currently reading a book by David Platt, called Counter Culture. I only just finished the first chapter, but this is one of those books that is so loaded and powerful that it took me a few days just to read and meditate on the introduction! So powerful. And so convicting. And this is exactly what we need. Leaders, pastors, messengers, to stand up and speak the truth, to call us out when we are slipping, when we are missing the mark, when we are not looking to the instruction manual we have been given and are instead looking to our own very faulty and lacking knowledge and experience in efforts not to offend or make anyone uncomfortable. I am thankful for leaders such as David Platt, who are preaching and writing, who are delivering these difficult messages.
Platt starts off his book by discussing and expressing his concern on how Christians today are zealous for certain social issues, yet lack zeal for others. For example, on issues such as poverty, slavery, sex trafficking, Christians are quick to stand up and speak out. Yet on ones such as abortion and homosexuality, ones where standing up and speaking out would most likely mean criticism not only from the world, but sadly, also from other Christians, we would choose to remain silent. This picking and choosing is dangerous, which leads to the most important question, one Platt says is the fundamental question and concern from which all else stems:
Do you believe the gospel? Because if you do not, yet are professing to be a Christian, a follower of Christ, there is a major inconsistency. It is impossible to be a follower of Christ while denying, disregarding, discrediting, and disbelieving the words of Christ.
Being a follower of Christ requires one to believe the gospel, despite its offense, and to follow Christ for who He is and not who we want or try to make Him to be to suit ourselves. We must remember that the gospel is in and of itself offensive, simply in that it tells us that that we were created by God and that He who created us owns us. We do not make the rules, nor are we masters of our own souls. We do not deserve the love we are freely shown, but through His grace and mercy, we are given a means to reconcile with a holy and just and loving God who wholly and equally displays each of these characteristics and cannot do otherwise, for that is His perfect nature. I am sure you have been in a place, perhaps when you first heard the gospel, or perhaps witnessing other’s reaction to the gospel, where this offense has been evident. We do not like to be told that we are wrong and that we are in need of a Savior. I know I was offended.
Therefore, if we are truly followers of Christ we are called to break the silence, for our silence speaks louder than we think. We are called to recognize and stand by our convictions, and then to act in compassion, with courage and boldness, because to do anything else would be to do an eternal disservice to all of those around us who are lost, hurting, broken, and in need of Jesus. The world needs to see Christians stepping up to the plate, ready to fight. And not in the violent, rude, judgmental, shove the Bible down your throat kind of way. Simply in our sharing the gospel, the entire gospel, sharing Christ in a manner that would represent Him well. And even in sharing in the most humble and gentle and loving manner, expect that you will still offend. Because again, we do not like to be told that we are wrong and that we are in need of a Savior.
It is the truth which is assailed in any age which tests our fidelity….If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proven, and to be steady on all the battle fronts besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point. Elizabeth Rundle Charles
Due to fear and the cost of holding to biblical conviction in our society, many Christians today are finding it easier and easier to dismiss the gospel. Due to this fear, churches are choosing to accommodate and adapt, rather than confront these issues. And I do not just mean homosexuality. Yes, this one stands out a little more to me because this is the area I have struggled with. And this is the area, the issue I feel God is calling me not only to stand for Him in, but to reach out and compassionately and courageously share my story and convictions, because there are plenty of people who are being told by many in their Christian community that living a lifestyle, which contradicts the gospel, is permissible.
And I am afraid because I know the messages He is calling me to share, to speak out, to deliver…will not be taken well by many. And I am hurt because so many churches, so many leaders, are giving in, are choosing to basically ignore what the Bible says on matters such as homosexuality and same sex marriage, which in a way, renders my testimony and the testimony of so many others who have chosen Christ over their sin struggle, meaningless. Which means that if I were in a different place today, if I were still struggling to the extent I once was and were to go to one of these churches and ask for help, for shepherding, for counsel, for prayer to be able to work through my struggles- because we all have them- knowing that though it is not fun or easy, He is the God Who has already granted me victory many years ago on the cross, that they would not be in a place to direct me to word of God for direction, to see what He says on the matter.
Well, they would, and I do know that God still uses us in our stupidity, in our disobedience, in our failures. I also know there is a difference between being human, being imperfect in humility and in vulnerability, in recognizing this and still being in a place where you can lead, and then intentionally rendering the word of God meaningless and leading your flock down a path that could mean eternal separation from God. Your actions could mean that the people who look up to you for guidance and direction are eternally separated from God, who has called you to stand and to lead for Him, regardless of how it makes you feel, because your feelings do not trump His word.
Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28).
Conviction, compassion, and courage. They go hand in hand. We cannot dismiss one for the other. We cannot dismiss His word. Or at least, we cannot dismiss His word and in the same breath call ourselves His followers. For the sake of His sheep, whom He loves fiercely, the line must be drawn.
Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33).
Lord, teach us how to recognize the lines You have already drawn….and how to walk in conviction, compassion, and courage. Teach us to be more like Your Son. And forgive us for falling short.
This has been another summer of blockbuster superhero movies. So far, we have had among others, Dr. Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and of course, the monster blockbuster movie, Kong: Skull Island. I must admit that even when I viewed the trailers, the movies seemed enticing — a thrill ride, from start to finish. It is hard to help being amazed as the action and special effects jump across the big screen, tied to an over-the-top, but engaging story-line.
Movies are an American pastime. Most of us can remember as kids, buying popcorn, whose aroma can’t be replicated at home, and the tub of soda too big for our own stomach! The movies were exciting! However even then, they were not so innocent. Still, we didn’t care. It was fun, and we were ignorant. Jump forward a couple decades, and nothing has changed. In fact, many movies we flocked the theaters to see are now being rebooted to be edgier, faster, more mainstream, and more vulgar — much more vulgar. Maybe it’s because I am getting older and have teenagers of my own, but at the risk of sounding like an old killjoy, I am growing increasingly concerned about the content of movies — even animated movies — which are marketed towards our children. As a Christian parent, you should too.
So, let’s just imagine you see an adult with your child, and this person decides to tell your girl or boy a joke. They smirk, look around, and begin loudly, “Two transvestites walk into a strip club…” Do you allow them to continue? Do you stand by to hear the rest of the joke? Or, do you immediately interrupt, knowing that a line has been crossed? If you are a parent worth your title, you would stop them in their tracks. Even if your teen hears every lewd comment and dirty joke imaginable at their local Christian or public school, there are rules on how we allow adults to speak with our children, whether they are being funny, or not. I believe those same rules should apply on the big screen. I think you know where I am going here. Let’s go.
I'm Getting Tired
I am getting tired of the movies. I am getting tired of the summer blockbusters and even animated “children’s” movies which market themselves as harmless entertainment, indoctrinating and training our children with vulgarity and sexual lewdness. I am tired of our kids learning about drugs, porn, homosexuality, dirty jokes, and graphic violence while Christian parents are sitting right next to them, staring at the giant screen with a broad smile on their face. These movies are witty, funny, and nearly two-and-a-half hours long. Sadly during the exact same week, I often have to beg parents to bring their kids to youth ministry for the exact same amount of time. These same people complain when church lasts for over an hour, but will not second-guess the decision to watch a movie for nearly three hours.
I am starting to wonder if our choices of entertainment are really modern manifestations of idolatry. I believe a line has been crossed when our children understand the detailed history of the characters in the Marvel Universe, but will not study the Bible. A line has been crossed when our kids can define the terms, Jedi, Padawan, Infinity Stone, Sith, and Inhuman, but claim they cannot understand the pages of scripture. They understand every term and phrase that comes out of the mouth of Yoda, but claim that the “thee’s and thou’s” of the King James Bible are too difficult for them to understand. They understand Snapchat, Minecraft, and modern hip-hop, whose language changes and upgrades nearly every year, but seem to think the Word that brings salvation is out of the reach of their heart and mind.
Your Kids Are Not Dumb
See, your kids are not dumb. They are being trained, but not by their parents. Nevertheless, if you are constantly exposing them to the uncleanness of Hollywood, you are allowing the world to upstage and eliminate God from their impressionable minds, all in the name of entertainment. You are allowing them, in essence, to take a break away from God, as though the joy and wonder of the spirit-filled life is some type of burdensome reality from which we must protect our kids. As Christian parents, it seems as though we fight hard to protect them from “too much church,” using the lame excuse of having “time with the family!” All the while, we open our households to the wickedness, debauchery, and secular humanism preached to them in the theater. Then on the very next evening, when the church gathers together for prayer services (if your church even has a prayer service), you leave the kids home, as though it’s an abomination for them to tarry for an hour. Then, they happily comply and stay home for an evening of television, internet, video games, and only God knows what else. The training is working. They are lost. Your teens are lost in your home, while you go to church, and your kid takes the long, painful journey of a godless life.
Are We Raising Christians at All?
Zion, how willing are you to go to heaven without your kids? You want your kids to know Jesus, but are sitting there in front of a 60-inch television screen, letting the world invade your home with all of its corruption, while you laugh? Even at church (if your teen still goes), they have their iPhone or their tablet, playing video games and talking on social media, while you sit right next to them. Are we raising Christians at all? Are our teenagers disciples of Christ, or are they hell-bound, non-religious churchgoers? I say this with the fear of God, and with all due respect to you as a parent: Continue this course, and hell will open its mouth wide for your kids, and you will have allowed it! Is there no desperation? Is there no burden to see them saved? Would you not face the perils of hell yourself, for the salvation of your own children? Yet, because of the taste for the world, I fear that for many "Christian" families, the perils of hell may become a family affair. Something has to change. A line has been crossed.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2, KJV).
Imagine a household where your teens are transformed — not like the Autobots or the Decepticons, but true inner-change towards Christ where their minds are renewed. Imagine them being a force in this world, not for good, but for God, and the gospel. Imagine your teenager being the type of person who actually thinks about pulling others out of the snares of hell! Now, I know you want to believe your baby loves Jesus, but recent statistics show that this generation is the most godless generation, ever. Your kids do not have prayer lives. They have no clue about personal evangelism, and they know little to nothing about the Bible. The majority.of our "Christian" teens hardly even believe in God. Most likely, this includes yours.
Please be warned: Your kids will not thank you when they stand before God in judgement. If you are allowing the world to indoctrinate them through movies, music, the internet and other mass media, you are teaching them how to compromise and conform to the world. Consequently, your kids will not get into heaven. Now, I understand that the gospel is not just about avoiding hell. But, if avoiding hell was the only reason why Jesus came, I would beg my children to stay away from the wicked one, and give their hearts wholly to Christ! Have you given this message to your teen, lately? If not, then how will they ever know? Will your youth pastor tell them? That's unlikely. Far too many youth ministries do little more than play games and give advice. In fact, there are quite a few who will go to the movies this week, and fill your teenager with more worldliness.
Consider Your Ways
Before your next family movie, or the next big release from your favorite rap artist, and before you buy your teen the new iPhone, I need you to consider the eternal consequences of the seeds you are sowing into the life of your children. This is a matter of heaven or hell, for them. Instead of worldly entertainment, have fun with your kids. Spend quality time away from screens (television screens, movie screens, cellphone screens), and talk to them. Take them camping, fishing, and even shopping. Throw the football around. Cook with them, teach them the ways of God through your words and your life. Dust off the bicycle in the garage and go riding. Find a way to their hearts again, because they need Jesus, and they need Him to be seen through you. This is not the time to take a gamble. Please do not willfully expose your children to things that separate them from God, while hoping they will still live for Him. Consider their souls. Help them to lose their taste for the world, and begin to hunger and thirst for righteousness. The time is short.