Mon, Mar 23rd - 4:13PM
Posting From Vermont
I am in Vermont, visiting family over my 50th birthday. I am away from my children, and somewhat somber about what is currently happening in this state. I was at church yesterday, and I am pretty sure I understood the woman who was speaking up in a prayer request quite clearly. They are considering making Marriage between same sex couples legal in Vermont. The Burlington Free Press supports it. (I wonder how low for the press my respect can go -- the basement has to be somewhere, but I have not found it's ultimate depths yet!) When they got the right for Domestic Partnerships some years ago, even some of the more vocal supporters swore that they desired nothing more. Either they were dramatically emboldened by their success, or they are fickle and changed their minds. However, it will probabaly be up to the Governor here to decide the matter. It looks like the popular vote is more thinnly divided than those in the legislature, but they seem determined to impose their definition of what a family is. I will say it clearly: They are bigots! They say my values have no meaning and that their understanding is perfect! Only a Veto seems likely to stop this attrocity! I will, for my part, refuse to *ever* call a same sex union a marraige. It is not so, and no human law can change the TRUTH!
What she asked for is that God's will would be done in this. I tacitly specified that what she thought was the right thing to do and what I thought were probably two different things. However, since she specificied in her prayer request that only God's will be done, I could not refuse. So join me in praying that God's Will be done, on behalf of one who might be misguided...
I've got a somewhat unrelated scripture to share:
3 Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” 4 Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.
5 He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! 6 At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus.
Mark 3:3-6 (NLT)
What is my point? Jesus hated the evil actions and felt sorrow for those commiting the wrongs. It is this attitude we must have. We cannot condone evil in the hearts of others, and yet must be saddened by really what evil they are ultimately doing to themselves? Do you not believe this? If so, act upon these beliefs. Otherwise, you are in the camp of the Pharisees.
Wed, Mar 11th - 11:52AM
Something about 'Taking the Fifth'...
1 " 'If a person sins because he does not speak up when he hears a public charge to testify regarding something he has seen or learned about, he will be held responsible.
Leviticus 5:1 (NIV)
Now I don't know about you, but this seems pretty clear. You don't have to wait to be called forward to go awry of this, but instead we have people who will refuse to tell the truth under oath. I guess we really should not be surprised. But should we participate with the world in this matter? You might as well just take a fifth of whiskey or vodka or whatever your poison of choice is and get drunk for all the good you refuse to do! At least if you were drunk, you might have a reason for passing out and not coming forward!
Side with Truth in Everything. But this is not all, being only in the courts that man has set up. I think it is broader than this.
Let me put it to you another way:
30"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 31And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit (of Truth) will not be forgiven. 32Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
33"Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."
Matthew 12:30-37 (NIV)
I should think this is plain. The world is a court, and judgement is always at hand. Speak up! Spread the Truth! Is abortion wrong? Say so! Is adultery wrong? Speak against the advertisements that sell sex to our children!
In a way, I look to this as potentially being a teacher, or a leader, and walking away from what I should do is a variation of not Speaking the Truth! I live in great fear of screwing up and being judged for teaching something wrong! But I now see I will be judged for doing nothing. This is not good! Fear of the Lord. Very Real! And I am totally unworthy! Give me Grace!
11While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12He said: "A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.'
14"But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king.'
15"He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.
16"The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.'
17" 'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.'
18"The second came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned five more.'
19"His master answered, 'You take charge of five cities.'
20"Then another servant came and said, 'Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.'
22"His master replied, 'I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?'
24"Then he said to those standing by, 'Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.'
25" 'Sir,' they said, 'he already has ten!'
26"He replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. 27But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me."
Luke 19:11-27 (NIV)
"Kill them in front of me." That seems harsh, but are we opposing the King? Hmm...
Wed, Mar 4th - 9:39PM
Teachers, Leaders and Priests...
4As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
"A voice of one calling in the desert,
'Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6And all mankind will see God's salvation.' "
Luke 3:4-6 (NIV)
Although I have taken personality tests that peg me to being close in personality to Moses and/or Paul, it is the message that was (and is) John the Baptist's (not his to own, but the one given to him) that I relate to the most. I understand Moses and Paul. I feel kinship with John. I am not as righteous as I imagine him to be in any way. I know he, like I, failed at times, even though we do not read of it. However, his failures are not as clear as mine are. And yet I am to be an example, as are you, if you consider yourself a Christian. Without the Grace of God, Through Jesus Christ, this is not possible at all. I know I should not judge myself, but I fail in that still. Give me faith in this!
15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
17 " 'As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats. 18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? 19 Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
20 " 'Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, 22 I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. 23 I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd.
Ezekiel 34:15-23 (NIV)
Because of the evil we do, one to another, God must step in and send a shepherd. Do not be the fat sheep! You will be saved, not because you are better at shoving others around, but because it is His good pleasure to do so, and He is righteous in all things.
4 And you will know that I have sent you this admonition so that my covenant with Levi may continue," says the LORD Almighty. 5 "My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.
7 "For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction—because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty. 8 But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi," says the LORD Almighty. 9 "So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law."
Malachi 2:4-9 (NIV)
This is a sad commentary. It is true now as it was then. But nothing is new under the sun. It is now as it was then. The blind turn away and lead the blind down a terrible path, full of the laws of man and lacking the Laws of God. We have come to this point in the circle again. What comes next?
1Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
James 3:1-2 (NIV)
You have heard this one from me before. I fully understand the burden of command. I do have the gift of command and I know it, but am afraid to use it. I absolutely do not want to lead. I have no desire to do so. But that is for my selfish reasons, and has no merit. I know this in my head, but still fight with it in my heart. Sounds like Moses, I guess. I fear my own failure, and greatly so. I, alone, am not sufficient for the task. I know it. Yes, I know, rely upon God! It is hard. It is a fearful thing indeed! For this reason, I feel like Jonah, and I have asked for people to Pray that God does not send a big fish just yet. If you feel compelled to do the same, please do. If you feel the need to pray for something else, do that as well or even instead. Hopefully the message to Esther is not for me. Thank You.
1"To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. 3Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. 4Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.
Revelation 3:1-5 (NIV)
I wonder how badly I have soiled my clothes with this. I do not think I have done what is asked of me. My deeds are not complete. I know I need to get that right. Again, pray!
14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Romans 7:14-25 (NIV)
Paul gives me hope here. Man, can I relate to his message. He also prayed three times for the thorn in his side to be removed, but it was not. I still think that Good and Righteous in the eyes of the Pharisees as he was, he had to be well educated and very proud. He had to be laid low. Lets just start by striking him blind and talking to him directly. I wonder if my own sins mean the same thing, and that I need to press on and give this up to the Good Grace of my Father. He sent his Son so that I might have it, and I am too damn proud to accept it in the absolute way that I should. And yes, that is the correct adjective! Paul said he does not judge even himself, and yet I insist and persist. I absolutely know my works are of no value for salvation, and still I cling to them as if they were actually important. They are not! My heart needs work here, too!
For now understand this: Leaders can make errors. Sometimes it may be better from them to hear from you or I before their sin makes it to something that requires bigger adjustments. They suffer the same frailities. I may speak out against our leaders, and I must when I think there is a wrong to be addressed. But, they need our help as much as any one of us need theirs. I wonder oftentimes, how many understand this. I have had many leaders who seemingly wanted the job. I don't understand. Do they?