Sun, Jul 30th - 4:17AM
Jon asked a question and I make it a drinking question...
Let me open up with not just "What would Christ do?", but "What did Christ do?"
I will speak on a "disputable matter" that is not so disputable, and because of its very content and being specifically mentioned later in scripture, is very illustrative of what Paul was talking about in Romans 14 and 15.
Now, on drunkeness, is their any arguement that such is allowed? Not from me! There is a whole pile of scripture admonishing us not become drunk. (If someone wants to argue this point, well, we can go there, I guess -- if there is an arguement, it probably needs to be discussed) I feel strongly enough on this and believe that we can press on without belaboring this point needlessly.
So then, is it alright for a christian to drink at all? I have heard it argued that for a christian to drink at all is a sin. Is that true? Is that what you believe? It is not a far stretch to take us there, and for some of us, any drink at all is a sin, pure and simple. We all need to be aware of this. Does this, however, raise this to a standard where all must unequivicably abstain from any and all drinks with alchoholic content? I can see the logic that brings many of us there. I myself held to that as a tenet of my faith at one point.
Let me start into the Scriptures now.
John 2:1-5 (NIV)
1On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, 2and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."
4"Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come."
5His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
Now at this point, I can just hear that heavy sigh I would have given at this point. Oh Mom, why do you ask this of me? What then comes next? Could Jesus have sinned in this? I think not!
John 2:6-9a (NIV)
6Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
7Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim.
8Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."
They did so, 9and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.
This, some have told me, was not a sin only because he changed the water into grape juice, not wine. Others have said that he didn't sin because we don't see him drinking it. Oh really?!? That is the only way it could not be a sin? Hmmm...
John 2:9b-11 (NIV)
Then he [the master of the banquet] called the bridegroom aside 10and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."
11This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
Please explain the master of the banquet's comments to me.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
So if it is in the scriptures, it has a purpose.
Again, what does the comment about the 'best' wine really tell us? Yes it tells us that Christ is powerful enough to not just make wine, or good wine even. No. He made Great wine! Is that all we get out of that? No. Is drinking good grape juice going to make you realize that the grape juice you are later drinking may not be so very good? I can't get there. Sorry. I think it had to be wine, which dulls the senses even when not taken in excess.
Have you ever observed a professional wine taster? Watch some time. They rinse it around in their mouths to taste it and then spit it out. Why? Because even a small amount dulls the sharp edge of their taste. (and yes, that very arguement could lead one to say that even the smallest amount would be bad because it dulls the senses, and we are to remain vigilant.)
Ok, so still not very convincing. So I will press the point a little farther.
Romans 14:21 (NIV)
21It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.
Why does Paul say it this way? Why not simply command for us to not eat meat or drink wine? I don't think Paul did that because he could not! Neither the eating of meat nor the drinking of wine were sinful in and of themselves, and Paul knew that!
1 Corinthians 8:13 (NIV)
13Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.
Paul says the why even plainer here. Do I argue with what the scripture says? Do you? Paul discipled [trained] Timothy. What did he say on this matter to him?
1 Timothy 3:2-3 (NIV)
2Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
Ok again, this confirms that we should not become drunk, especially one who oversees another. But what does Paul write later in this very same letter?
1 Timothy 5:23 (NIV)
23Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
What? Paul is telling Timothy to drink a little wine? Um. Yep. And I suspect Timothy took his advice (if it was not a command) and did as it was suggested to him.
Still not convinced? Let's go back to what Jesus did, said, commanded.
Matthew 26:26-29 (NIV)
26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."
27Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."
Right. Grape juice. Uh huh. I don't think so! Paul again:
1 Corinthians 11:17-34 (NIV)
17In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. 20When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, 21for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. 22Don't you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!
23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
27Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
33So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. 34If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.
And when I come I will give further directions.
Pay particular attention to Verse 21. This is the Lord's Supper, and they were becoming drunk. Sorry folks. Grape juice just does not cut it if you are going to become drunk.
So then, do I suggest you all to go out and drink? Certainly not! Some of you that would be a sin all in itself. I do not even judge harshly the practice of using grape juice instead of wine for the Lord's Supper for that very reason. (remember Paul said he would not drink wine if...)
Is this a "disputable matter?" Yes and no. Yes because I think that my decission whether to drink or not is not dictated staight up in the scriptures. No, because many of us lack the judgement or ability to drink without becoming drunk, and for them I would say it is not disputable.
Now I expect others of you have great input on this subject. Let me have it! Seriously.
Oh. And BTW, there are other "disputable" matters. Don't try to make them doctrine if God did not.
In Christ's Love,
Sat, Jul 22nd - 4:12AM
Jacob to Ananias and Sapphira
Now then, before I go further, I will share where I am at and what I have done for my children. For a long time, it has been my desire to tithe 10% of my earnings to the church, but I have not found myself able to. That has troubled me sorely. However, I was able, from the time my children were quite young, been almost always able to scrape together two dollars so that I could give each of them one to put in the offering plate as it went by. Now that is no great thing, but I had purposed this from early on and kept at it as best I could and sometimes beyond what I thought (with this great worldly wisdom of mine – Phah!) until I just recently started giving them $10. This has only been two weeks now, so I can clearly remember how it went down both times.
The first week, I gave them the money just before the offering was to be taken. I gave them each 10 one dollar bills, and told them it was theirs to do with as they wished. Now we generally sit in the front, which can be embarrassing, since we also come in late a lot, missing singing, which is often one of the things I love the most about gathering together on Sundays. So they have no examples before them on how to deal with this. My eldest, Lylli, is sitting to my left, and the plate is passed to her first. Plop! She just drops the whole wad in without hesitation. Jolie, sitting to my right, asks if she can just put one dollar in, to which I say with all honesty, “Sure, honey.” She does so, satisfied that she has done right. (you can tell this by looking at her face, if you know her) She clutches those remaining 9 dollars and swings her little feet a little, thinking who knows what little thoughts about whatever. Don’t get me wrong. I think she did just great, but her older sister surprised me. I fully expected the opposite, thinking that I knew my children well.
The next time, I gave them each a $5 bill and 5 ones each. I was supposed to help with the offering, so I hustled up to skitter over to the other side of the gathering. I saw my eldest again do the unexpected but very pleasing thing of putting the whole thing in. I think she trusts more than I could have hoped for that whatever she really needs will be provided. Instead of just passing the plate, the brother who was helping on that side was walking in front of them holding the plate. Jolie put one right in. But the plate was still being held in front of her. She dropped the rest of it in and jerked her hands back quickly with a subdued little scowl on her face. She really had not wanted to do that. I both laughed (not aloud) and cried for her anguish over that. Generally, I think of the younger one as the sweet child, and the older as the wily one. (Both have good hearts, and as I have said to others before, give me a good heart in my children, and I’ll deal with the rest – and that I think could be one of God’s example to us) So little do I really know even about my own children. A mere shadow of what God knows about us.
I say this as a preamble with a purpose, so that you may know my heart struggles and thoughts on this subject. I am thinking that my heart was right, but my head was not.
Let me explain.
Of late, I have come across a site that has provoked a lot of thought for me. I do not agree with everything that the writer says, but I consider his thoughts valuable for insights. I would recommend that only you of strong enough will to search out the scriptures for yourself and challenge what you think or what he says and are willing to go back to the “Source Document” for yourselves should go there. If you have such an interest, the URL is:
Now then, on this site he slams the ideal of tithing as it is taught in many churches, and I think he is right as far as he goes with it. I think he has it right, but the emphasis is wrong for many of you, and I want to deliver it just a little shorter and sweeter.
In another diatribe, he talks about Christ and the woman caught in adultery. The main thrust is the fleshly Law of Moses demanded that the woman be stoned to death. He has an important conceit that what Jesus may have been drawing may have been something that would demonstrate that he knew the depths of their guilt, maybe even in this very matter themselves. The point is that the commandments that came down from God spoke about this, and Jesus did not stone her. (well maybe the commandment was not from God but from an interpretation of what Men thought God wanted – I am unsure here) The important thing is that there was a clear change from a law bound by fleshly understanding and the intent of the law guided by the Spirit. God does not want us to die! He wants us to not sin, to not hurt ourselves or others, but rather to set ourselves apart from these things.
Genesis 28:16-22 (NIV)
16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." 17 He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven."
18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.
20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth."
Now just previous to this, Jacob had lied to his father to take the blessing that was meant to be given to his older brother. And he has the audacity to say that “if God, then I…”
Mark 12:41-43 (NIV)
41Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
43Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.
The question here is: was this tithing, or something else?
Matthew 17:24-27 (NIV)
24After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?"
25"Yes, he does," he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?"
26"From others," Peter answered.
"Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him. 27"But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours."
How about this?
Acts 5:1-10 (NIV)
1Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet.
3Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God."
5When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
7About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8Peter asked her, "Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?"
"Yes," she said, "that is the price."
9Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also."
10At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
And what did they do wrong here? They lied. They could have kept the money. They didn’t have to sell the land. And this is not tithing.
Research this more. It bears looking into. Continue to give as it is given to you to do so or laid on your heart that you must. But come to a clearer understanding of what you are doing and why. Not one single work, even this, is needed by God from us. Rather, God set all things out ahead for us to do for our own benefit and good.
1 Timothy 5:8 (NIV)
8If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Matthew 15:4-6 (NIV)
4For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death. ' 5But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,' 6he is not to 'honor his father' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.
Can you say Ouch?
Ok, I’ve said enough for those of you motivated to look into this further that you might have a few places and ideas to jump into the Word from.
And Truly, Be Blessed,
Wed, Jul 19th - 2:40AM
My God is no milktoast!!!
Genesis 17:17-21 (Amplified Bible)
17Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said in his heart, Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a son?
18And [he] said to God, Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!
19But God said, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son indeed, and you shall call his name Isaac [laughter]; and I will establish My covenant or solemn pledge with him for an everlasting covenant and with his posterity after him.
20And as for Ishmael, I have heard and heeded you: behold, I will bless him and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly; He will be the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. [Fulfilled in Gen. 25:12-18.]
21But My covenant, My promise and pledge, I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.
My God Laughs. He has a sense of humor, and I find that comforting. I hope not to bring up painful memories, but do you remember hearing your father laugh at some folly of yours? Was he joyful in your childish way of thinking and call you close to hug you after he laughed and called you some endearing little name such as ‘my little goof-ball’? (Oh sorry Dr Spock, I forgot about the advice about their fragile little psyches… NOT! ) That is the image that comes to my mind when I read this passage. I love and cherish the thought of God laughing about the things I do sometimes. (Is that chocolate in your hair? HO HO HO!!!) If your earthly father never did this for you, I think your Heavenly Father will! Listen, and maybe you will be blessed enough to hear it.
1 Kings 18:16-37 (NIV)
16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, "Is that you, you troubler of Israel?"
18 "I have not made trouble for Israel," Elijah replied. "But you and your father's family have. You have abandoned the LORD's commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table."
20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him."
But the people said nothing.
22 Then Elijah said to them, "I am the only one of the LORD's prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God."
Then all the people said, "What you say is good."
25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire." 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. "O Baal, answer us!" they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. "Shout louder!" he said. "Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened." 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come here to me." They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which was in ruins. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, "Your name shall be Israel." 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, "Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood."
34 "Do it again," he said, and they did it again.
"Do it a third time," he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again."
I think if Elijah was taunting the Prophets of Baal today, he might say something like “Yell louder!, Maybe he is Grunting and Groaning on the throne so loudly because of the bad food you gave him that he can’t hear you!” Certainly, I think all political correctness would be out the window. If you read this passage closely, you might get the irony that they may have even been oblivious to the fact that he was taunting them! Sarcasm can be a mighty tool. Godly people have been known to use it!
“That is not loving!” you might say.
I ask you this: If I was running around in the dark like a stupid kid where you knew there was a pit filled with sharp stakes that would, at the very least, hurt me very badly if I fell into it, which do you think would be the more loving response?
a) Calmly tell me that it was unwise and shrug your shoulders in some kind of ho hum piety when I fell in.
b) Yell some sort of expletive at me that you knew I would come over to you and get in your face over, with no regard to how that might damage my image of you.
Which action is more selfless and loving, I ask? Let your own personal faith guide you here, not what I am saying. I’d hope for my sake that someone would be bold enough to choose option b) because I can be very stupid and bull-headed.
Matthew 23 (NIV)
1Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. 3So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
5"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'
8"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
13"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 14 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Therefore you will be punished more severely.
15"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.
16"Woe to you, blind guides! You say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' 17You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18You also say, 'If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.' 19You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22And he who swears by heaven swears by God's throne and by the one who sits on it.
23"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
25"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
29"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' 31So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!
33"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.
37"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. '"
Wow! This is Jesus talking. How many insults and accusations did he make here? Quite a lot! Can you just hear the venom in his voice? I can. I don’t think he was delivering this string of accusations with a gentle demeanor. Somehow it would just lose it’s meaning if he did, in my mind’s eye. I don’t know. Read more about what he had to say to these guys (the Scribes and Pharisees) throughout the Gospel. I might be wrong, but I think these guys really pissed him off! What do you think?
Mark 11:15-16 (NIV)
15On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.
Again, not Jesus the milktoast. Pretty colorful, if you ask me.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
A favorite passage of mine that now has new meaning. I mean this is one I have been reading for YEARS! Yikes!!!
And yes, I am deliberately trying to shake you up with this post. But I do mean it in all seriousness to be a loving rebuke and wakeup call for those of you who think you can never raise your voice or act violently or sarcastically or whatever. Restraint is still good, don’t make that mistake! But boldness that exceeds the need for a quiet delivery is sometimes needed! Pray for wisdom.
Your Brother In Christ,
Mon, Jul 17th - 3:01AM
Back to Basic
June 27, 1977. I entered military service. I took an oath. I began Basic Military Training.
Now for those of you who have experienced this, you will know what it is about:
The goal of ‘Basic’ is to break the soldier down, making him or her subservient, and then to build them up in the image that is desired. Pure and simple. Does this bring any biblical imagery to mind for any of you? It does for me. This may be simplistic, but a basic truth nonetheless. I do not call on any of you to adhere to my vision here but to accept it as mine. It is free for you to take or leave as you see fit, with no judgment from me in the matter.
I do not take it lightly the imagery, even in the New Testament of the Christian as a soldier. I do not think of it as peripheral. For me, it is a core image of what the Christian walk is about. ”Be a Good Soldier in His Army.”
Faith is Action. Courage is Action. They are one and the same. Doubt is the same coin as Faith. What you do determines whether you live by faith or doubt. Fear is the same. A courageous person does what he or she must despite their fears. A coward does nothing and weeps for their cowardice. A soldier that was a coward in one fight can still learn to stand up and fight! Or they can wallow in the pity and self-loathing and never become the lauded hero.
A very wise leader of mine once told us: “Hold on to your integrity, for once you lose it, it is hard to regain.” (not that this is a direct quote, but I think it is a fair paraphrase) I thought long and hard on this, because his words cut me to the quick. I thought he was correct, but then I thought that he was only correct in this: If you lose your integrity, it will be hard to convince others that you have reclaimed it. The real thing is right there for you to reach out and grab it. You may lose it again and again, failing countless times, but you can regain it as many times as you need to. Take it! Don’t worry about what others may think of you! Do it because God would have you do so! Why then should he give us such abundant grace other than he knows that you and I should fail again and again? And his grace gives us strength once we understand what it truly is!
I am writing here to address war and the condition of man.
Why must we have these “senseless” wars? Lest you think of me as a glory seeking war-monger, let me say this: I consider all war to be senseless. I consider no war to be morally right. And yet I also understand that it will be. Because of the very nature of man, indeed, it must be.
From my Christian standpoint, I see it thus: Man has from the moment of his birth in him a seed of evil, which is the way I see original sin. We are flawed. We are capable of both great good and great evil. Every one of us. From a secular standpoint I have heard it argued that all mankind is basically good. I have also heard of the world thinking that all men are basically evil. Does it matter to them? They can argue on that point all they want, but can they deny the capacity for man to do evil? If they think they can, I think they ignore a whole lot of history. I do not judge them in my anger. I rebuke them in hopes that they will forsake the foolishness of their worldly wisdom.
For the reason of our ability to do evil to one another, we have police. On a grander scale, for the same reason, we have soldiers. Ideally, we would have no need for either, and never fear rape, or robbery, or murder. But that is not how it works in this earthly realm.
I think we all need to understand just what a soldier is: He (or in some cases, she) is one who takes orders and does what must be done.
Joshua 6:1-3 (NIV)
1 Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.
2 Then the LORD said to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days.
Why all the armed men? Why not just all of the people? Maybe because God gives us some consideration in how difficult this would be. Certainly this does not seem wise to us now looking back in retrospect, and yet it was God’s (the true commander’s) way. A normal civilian would balk more easily at this. A soldier will often times do as he is told, even when what he is told seems utterly stupid. You may count this against the soldier. I count it to his or her credit!
A famous poem was inspired by a very real tragedy. An order was given in a battle that was obviously had to seem to be a stupid order in the minds of those who obeyed it. The truth was that the cannons they charged were not the cannons they were intended to charge by the one who gave the orders. The Poem? http://poetry.eserver.org/light-brigade.html The Charge of the Light Brigade. This kind of poem is not one you are likely to see today. More likely you would see one about how stupidly they had died. And yet, despite the tragedy, I, like Lord Alfred Tennyson, see the pure nobility in what they did. A lawful order was given. Without understanding the need for what they were doing and despite the fear that many of them probably had, they did as they were told riding “Into the mouth of Hell”. Could I do it? I do not know. I hope I never have to test it, but if I do, I would rather be labeled by this world as stupid rather than a coward in my own sight.
Do I say that all orders should be followed blindly? Nope! Consider this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lai_massacre Not exactly an order that should have been obeyed. But these situations do not arise as often as some would have you think. Most American soldiers are likely to question such an order. Some will not. If you are told to do something by an elder in the Church, do you just do it? I may. I may question it. And I pray for wisdom when I do.
Matthew 8:9 (NIV)
9For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."
Read the whole context of this. This was a soldier talking to Jesus. Not even a Jewish soldier, but a Roman! Read the context of this passage and pray for understanding.
Give honor to the fallen soldiers. Do not spit on their graves berating the senselessness of their death. Consider the integrity of those who sent them there, and even question whether the purpose is being served in doing what we are doing, but do not dishonor them. I say this because I could see my mother protesting a war in which one of her sons died if only out of grief. She would rationalize that she was doing it so that her son’s senseless death could mean something, could do some good. She would be blind to the fact that he did his duty and died a noble death, and that is more meaning than some people get in their entire worthless life in pursuit of their worldly goals! But my mother might not do that. I have to give her credit for sucking it up so far. She was against me joining the military, but understood that it was my choice and gave me her blessing to make my own choice.
If I should die in a war someday, I tell you this clearly: I give no-one the right to berate my death and spit on my grave! I don’t expect this, but I say it so that some mothers or fathers or sisters or brothers or what ever relation out there chose to speak up on their soap box, that in my mind, they have no right unless that right was expressly given to them by the one who has fallen in battle. Protesting without understanding is adding insult to injury. I do not respect what they have to say at all! I feel their pain, and have compassion for that, but I have utter contempt for their blatant use of the blood of the fallen to further a cause that may only have come upon them as a way to deal with the pain of loss that they are incapable of dealing with otherwise. They need Christ, not the ear of a politician, although coming to know Jesus if the soldier who died did not, would be an even harder truth to realize than deny, I am afraid. Pray for them. Pray for the Soldier.
Wed, Jul 12th - 1:54AM
On Teachers and Teaching
"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." †
And then Paul says:
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.‡
At times, this may be difficult to reconcile. I wish to share my understanding of how these two passages work together.
First and foremost, I think this is a case of attitude, not function or even title, per se. I think it is instructive to ponder the true meaning of the following words of Jesus in this passage:
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. "¤
And Paul also says:
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.£
Adding even more clarity, Jesus also said:
"The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."↟
Paul was quite the servant. I think few of us could measure up to his standard, and yet his standard is not the one we need to strive for. Clearly, he knew this, but others did not quite get it. It caused many divisions in the church and he addresses that lack of understanding of who is the true head of the church and whose body it truly is. He addresses it at one point in these words:
I appeal to you, brothers [and sisters], in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ."
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.↡
James adds another piece of advice:
Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.±
Notice he says “we”. Obviously, there are teachers, and he numbers himself among them. We are indeed brothers and sisters, all equal before Christ, but there is also a need to heed instruction, Godly given, as well.
Take also heed of this:
Proverbs 5:12-14 (NIV)
12 You will say, "How I hated discipline!
How my heart spurned correction!
13 I would not obey my teachers
or listen to my instructors.
14 I have come to the brink of utter ruin
in the midst of the whole assembly."
Some of you, upon reading this will stop calling each other by the titles of teacher, etc. Others of you, by faith, will still be able to do so, although maybe with a clearer attitude that they are serving you and by doing so, serving Christ. Let me finalize this by saying: I find the matter to be one of those that one cannot say: “you are doing wrong in calling him/her ‘teacher’, etc.” Neither will I judge those who do not use such titles among themselves. It is a matter of faith. I prefer no such burden, but will bear what I must for those of you who need me to when I can, Lord willing.
Be Blessed and Well in Christ,
† Matthew 23:8-12 (NIV)
‡Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)
¤ John 13:12-17 (NIV)
£ 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)
↟ Luke 22:25-30 (NIV)
↡ 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 (NIV)
± James 3:1 (NIV)
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