The truth about lies – part 5

Please don’t stone me for this blog topic, but much money has been made on discussing sin — all types. We all sin, so that isn’t up for discussion, but somehow, many people have made their life’s work and paycheck by touring the country talking to about (name any sin).

One in particular though, is a “hot” topic right now — homosexuality, or whatever acronyms that are used to describe some facet of it. No matter how we “frame” it, it is still sin. To give time, resources, and so much explanation as so many have to sin, serves only to propagate the lie that deceives us into negating the power of Christ’s death on the cross to overcome ALL sin. The lie says we (people) can save others — that we (people) shouldn’t leave any behind — that we (people) are responsible if people die damned in their sin.

We ALL sin and fall short of the glory of God – Rom 3:23.

That’s exactly why He sent His son, but what I can’t understand is why we (people) spend so much time trying to understand cause and effect of sin (all kinds) when the bible says sin is the result of the fall. There are so many discussions, books, and speakers on sin, that all they do is blunt the true, wicked nature that we all have. Rom 3:10 says NONE are righteous, not even one.

The bible is sufficient for all people no matter what our struggles are. We don’t need to be told from the pulpit or in books the how’s, the why’s, the what to do’s about sin. Jer 17:9 says our hearts are desperately sick and we can’t understand it.

If we really believe that God is who He says He is and His son’s blood is the atonement for our sins, then He alone can release us from the bondage of our sin. The more we try to manage, work through, and survive our sin or help others with theirs, the more we take power away from Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We don’t save people. We can’t even save ourselves – Christ alone does – Eph 2: 8-9.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to change us, we love as Christ loved and He abides in us — I Jn 4:16, but if we feel awkward, repulsed, or judgmental in being with other sinners, that is a work we need to ask the Holy Spirit to change in us. It’s personal. We all work out our salvation with fear and trembling – Phil 2:12-13.

When the Holy Spirit dwells in us, it does the work of changing our lives – John 4:10. Can we just go back to the bible and believe that IT is sufficient for teaching, reproving, correction, and instruction for our lives.- 2 Tim 3:16.

This isn’t just my opinion, this is what the bible says.

I’m praying today that churches will go back to the bible and let our LORD, Jesus Christ, do the work of saving souls. The more time and effort we give to understanding sin, the more time and effort is taken away from sharing God’s truth to the very ones who need to hear it.

Let’s let the word of God and the power of the cross change people’s lives.

Trusting God in all things and if you must stone me, at least try to hit the basket. I can use the stones to shore up my path – Ps 119:105.

Sorry. Bad believer humor. I know.


The slave vs. the servant:

Do you know the difference?

I had en ephiphany this morning. Some months ago, I read the book Redemption by Mark Driscoll, which by the way, I won’t recommend reading, but will elaborate on why later on in this blog.

One of the key ideas in the book, is that we are slaves to our “idols” (distractions that keep us from full relationship with God) much like the Israelites in the book of Exodus. The book says that we need to get rid of our idols and become “slaves” to righteousness.

As a mature Christian, I understand what Mark means, but the word “slave” never set well with me because the word has a negative connotation.

Many months ago, I started reading the KJV version of the bible instead of the NIV. I understand it nowdays in a way I never could before. (Thank you Jesus for lifting the veil.) For quite some time, I’ve been matching verses in both translations to see where they differ and if the changes, change the meaning. Many times, the NIV simply takes out the “thee’s,” “thou’s,” and words ending in “eth.” I don’t have a problem with that, but I am noticing in some places where replacing a word with a similar word, changes the meaning.

I think the slave vs. servant is one of those “key” changes that could be problematic in sharing the gospel with nonbelievers.

Websters dictionary defines a slave as one who is bound in servitude as the property of a person or household. Slavery is a condition of hard work and subjection.

The definition of servant is one who expresses submission, recognizance, or debt to another: obedient servant.

These definitions are vastly different as one means you have no choice in the matter, the other means a willing submission, obedience to your debtor.

If you look in the bible for verses that speak to our attitude towards a relationship with God, the NIV uses the word “slave” instead of “servant,” and while it seems the difference is slight, stop to ponder what you think and what you feel about both of those words.

For example:
Romans 6:17-18 – (NIV) 17 “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”
(KJV)17 “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”

Colossians 3:22 – (NIV) 22 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.”
(KJV) 22 “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;”

Ephesians 6:5 – (NIV) 5 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.”
(KJV) 5 “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;”

I’m not saying the NIV is bad, but I think that it’s always a good practice to balance it against the King James to make sure that the meaning has not been lost in translation.

The relationship we have in Christ we’ve chosen in total freedom; and not under the threat of slavery.

When I think of slavery, I think of being owned by someone. It is very negative and makes me think of torture, neglect, being shackled without choice.

When I think of servant, I automatically think of choice: The freedom to choose to serve someone or something. I also think of it as a selfless act of love and gratitude.

Many people are in some sort of bondage to something (eg. TV, video games, drinking, drugs, porno, overeating, to name a few) but isn’t it really that we’ve just chosen to serve those things rather than serve God fully?

When we look at the meaning of servant over slave, we can understand that it was our willfull choice to think, live and act the way we do.

I know. It’s hard to put ourselves under the microscope, but to live as a believer, we must be brutally honest with ourselves. We choose to serve many, many things, but when we become addicted to those things, it truly becomes slavery. We are in bondage.

The good news is that God provides a way for us to be completely “free” of anything that separates us from Him. The question is, do we really, really want that?

As I said earlier, the book called Redemption by Mark Driscoll, makes a valid point in that our “idols” enslave us and keep us from relationship with God, but the book also says that it’s better to be a slave to Christ (righteousness) than a slave to an addiction.

This is where I have to step away from it. Why would people in their right mind choose slavery to one thing to slavery over another? Why would we choose to be a slave to a master we can’t see, don’t know, or understand over being a slave to a material or physical things we can touch, feel, experience?

We don’t have to be in ANY kind of slavery. God lets us willfully, freely choose Him.

If you really want to be free to serve a mighty God, the bible is the best book for that; however, in the beginning, you may need help navigating through the passages. Neil T. Anderson has written several books on Freedom in Christ. But there are two I’m thinking about specifically that do a wonderful job of helping people become free — “Victory Over the Darkness” and “Bondage Breaker.”

I encourage anyone who is reading this blog, to take a good look at your life.

What fills your time?

Many of us have to work (and no, that’s not slavery — we get to choose who we serve) but outside of that, how do we spend our “free” time? Do we fill it with kid activities (sports, dance, play dates, etc.) and/or adult activities (hobbies, movies, exercise, etc.)?

None of those are bad things, but inside your daily living, how much time is spent “serving” God? Spending time with God?

To be healthy, we need a balance. It’s different for everyone, but through prayer and bible reading, God will guide you in every part of your life.


The purpose of scripture


2 Timothy 3

This is a really meaningful chapter, especially when you view it through the lens of our current culture.

It describes how people in latter days will act (vs. 2-5), what they think of God’s power (vs. 6-8), and their folly (vs. 9).

Verse 5 is particularly interesting in that it says “…having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away.”

I would describe many church leaders this way. In my hometown, anyhow. But further on into the passage, it talks about defending the faith and how the scriptures are intended to be used. Vs. 15-17 says “15 And that from a child thou has known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

It is a challenge to find a church that uses scripture this way. Ten years ago, my home church taught this way. I can remember leaving church on many occasions feeling convicted and having to really consider my lifestyle, my thinking, my actions.

Nowadays, if I attend that same church, I may or may not hear a snippet of scripture, but I will definitely come away with feel-good fuzzy feelings.

I don’t mean that we can’t find comfort, strength and encouragement from God’s word. We certainly can, but in our current world, God’s word is twisted, edited or ignored and it’s used primarily for our glorification.

Today, believers who speak God’s truth and live by it are called judgmental, hypocritical, and mean. Where once, God’s word was used to guide our behavior and bring about healthy change, it is instead turned against the believer who is hated and is thought to be dangerous.

To be a true believer, you don’t fit in this world (culture), you will be hated, and you may end up paying for your faith with your life but what better way to live than for the glory of the kingdom. Matthew 10:22 says “And you shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”

I am praying mightily for and encouraging my family, friends and others, to prayerfully consider the teaching they get from their churches.

Matthew 7:13-14 says, “13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.”

I don’t mean if you’re in a mega-church that you’re listening to false teaching, but I am asking that you really start paying attention. Thanks to the world wide web, there is a wealth of good, solid bible teaching/instruction at your fingertips. Start researching the doctrine and theology of the church you attend and match it against scripture. It’s the only doctrine there is. Any deviation, twisting or omission of God’s word is a false teaching.

Look for other sources for biblical teaching rather than just in your hometown. If you’re like me, you may be hard-pressed to find a church who meets God’s criteria, but you can find good pastors online or in smaller churches who use the bible as their only doctrine.

According to Psalm 119:105, God’s word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

I believe God’s word.

It is our guide, the very blueprint for our lives. I don’t need any other book to tell me how to live. God’s covered it all.

I’m just kicking myself for spending SO many years reading books on parenting, living happily, getting closer to God, when relying on God and believing His word, would’ve gotten me through all of that.

Today Lord, I trust you like none other. There is NO other truth than yours. John 14:16 Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.


The traitor

I’ve been mulling over the story of Achan in Joshua 7. For a bit of background, the sixth chapter of Joshua describes the battle of Jericho. God commanded that all the people (women and children included) of Jericho be killed save for Rahab and her family, and that the spoils of the city be given unto Him and that anyone who kept something for themselves would be cursed.

One of Joshua’s soldiers, Achan, took 200 shekels and a beautiful robe and hid them in his tent. God knew of this deception and asked Joshua to confront each tribe leader about the missing booty.

When asked, Achan owned up to the thievery then he and his tribe were pillaged, stoned and burned.

My first thought was that I was glad I wasn’t living during that time in history. But thinking beyond that, I am reminded that today, we serve that SAME God. The bible is full of stories of God’s vengeance He metes out quickly and suredly on those who opposed and disobeyed Him.

He is a jealous God. He commands obedience, devotion and praise. When we act outside His will (our disobedience, distractions, worship of earthly things-toys) he doesn’t strike us dead as He did Achan and his family. THANK YOU LORD!

God knows us. He knows we are incapable of being perfect like Him. We are human, therefore we sin.

But perfect, holy God still wants a relationship with us, though He cannot stand the sin. He cannot look at it, ignore it, or pretend it isn’t there.

So why do we ignore our own sin or try to pretend it isn’t there, or minimize it somehow? Just like with Achan, God knows when we’ve been deceptive. He still demands a blood payment for disobedience. In the bible, it was the traitor’s blood and his family’s.

But thanks be to Jesus who was sacrificed in our place for our sin — our disobedience. His blood was the payment for our sin.

That is a pretty weighty act when you stop to think about it.

Many people, myself included, don’t often ponder the gravity of our sin or the grace God extends us through His son’s blood. Any sin, big or small, hidden or out in the open, can be washed by Jesus’ blood. God made that sacrifice for us because He wants a relationship with us.

Today I want to understand the price of sin more fully and revel in God’s grace over me.


The pursuit of peace

In our workplace, we are trained on the ethics (politically correctness) for peaceable work conditions. Schools expel students for fighting, and parents oftentimes will do almost anything to “keep the peace” at home.

We search for peace in Yoga classes, in art forms or in counseling sessions.

Our leaders convene to talk about peace, make laws to “keep” the peace and compromise our safety in the name of peace.

But, despite all of this effort – voluntary or not — people are more angry, impatient and violent than ever before.

I won’t deny that peace is very important, but perhaps we are looking for peace in the wrong place.

In the New Testament alone, this phrase: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, is repeated word for word in Romans 5:1, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 6:23, and 1 Thessalonians 1:1 and probably in many other verses throughout the rest of the bible.

In fact, if you run a search at www.biblegateway.com for peace, it pulls up 420 references for “peace” in the bible.

I could be wrong, but it seems like God IS trying to tell us something. He gives peace. Genuine, everlasting peace.

If each individual pursues peace through faith in God and His son, Jesus Christ, what affect would that have in our workplace, schools, home life, and even in our local, national and international politics?

You might not think that this would have much of an affect on a large scale, but think about what happens at work when you fly off the handle, or what happens at home when your child(ren) jump on your very last nerve?

I’d bet your whole department or office, and definitely your whole house walked on eggshells around you the rest of the day.

We do have more of a ripple effect in life than we think no matter what we’re doing, so I challenge my friends and family to pursue the kind of peace that comes from pursuing God.

Don’t worry. I’m doing it right beside you.

Praying today that we do it with complete abandon.
Beth


The hunger

I can remember when the first food commercial ads came out that said we could “Have it your way” (1974) and tennis shoe ads that told us to “Just do it” (1982).

I can also remember thinking how great those slogans were because they affirmed and promoted self-fulfillment and self-confidence and that perfectly fit with my teenage and young adult mindset because afterall, I was the most important person in MY life. But I hate to admit, I’ve felt this way much of my adult life.

I won’t go so far to say that the commercials are to blame for the totally self-involved and immature-thinking society that we’ve become, but our culture has fed us a steady diet of commercialism that feeds our needs, wants and desires but it always makes us “hungry” for more and the more. And the more we indulge our desires, the emptier we are so the more we indulge.

For example. When the Kindle came out, I wanted one right away. Once I got my Kindle, I heard about the Kindle “touch” and I thought it would sure be nice to have one, but told myself I’d wait a year or two before upgrading. In another example, I have plenty of clothes to work and play in, but The Loft clothing store always has new merch that I feel I must have in order to look trendy and nice while at work and play.

I’m not saying it’s bad to have nice stuff. I’m really not. What I’m noticing though is how quickly we (people) respond to or get hungry for the latest, greatest of things. It is completely self-centered and me-fulfilling and if we’re aren’t careful, it makes us ravenously so (lust/envy).

I expect culture to keep driving the hunger for self-fulfillment, but the one place I never thought I’d see the “me” culture is in church.
It started just as innocently as the Burger King commercials of the mid-1970s did only with coffee bars, casual dress and a choice of contemporary service over a tradition one. Over time, the contemporary services have won out.

Don’t misunderstand me.

I’m not against contemporary music or churches, but most of the worship music in church now is about what God can do for “me.” Churches cater to us in a way that we’ve learned to expect from culture — That we can have things “our” way. The pulpit messages are feel-good, motivational speeches that only talk of God’s love for us, rather than a message that makes us eager to go home and sink our teeth into God’s word and study His will for our lives.

Be honest with yourself.

When is the last time you heard a sermon that you a) wanted to takes notes on, and b) wanted to study scripture more because you were so excited after hearing God’s truth?

More realistic is that twenty minutes into the sermon, your tummy started growling and you looked at your watch and began thinking about what you wanted for lunch and how fast you could jet out of the parking lot to beat the rush at the restaurant you want to hit, or maybe you are one of those who starts thinking about all the things you wanted to get done once you get home.

We live in such a self-centered culture, that even our churches try to give us a short message that fits into our 45 mins that we’ve allotted to God every week. We are living in the times God spoke about in Amos 8:11-12 – vs. 11 says “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.”

We go to church hungry for what, we aren’t sure, and we leave even hungrier but instead of turning to God’s word, we satisfy the physical hunger with food and then with activities. We all need food, but there is so much more that we need to sustain our Christian lives.

John 6:35 says “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.

John 6:32-33 – 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.”

I’ve written about this before, but God’s not done with me yet. I am still hungry and seeking fulfillment in the wrong places. Not always, but I’m human, so I do.

The only way I feel full and satisfied is when I spend more time reading about God’s truth and less time on whether the new shirt I want will go with the pants I already have.

Today, I’m asking the Lord to fill me with the eternal “bread of life” instead of the stale bread of earth.


The redeemer

All of us have a redemption story and most, if not all of them fall into one of four categories. Psalm 107 gives us a snapshot of what those types look like, but what do they look like in current culture?

The first type is the “Seeker.” (vs. 4-9)
The “Seeker” is someone who is a wanderer. They are hungry and thirsty for something meanginful that makes them feel important and happy, but everything they try is short-lived and offers immediate gratification, and leaves them wanting more. It’s a bit like eating Chinese food. You can eat a boatload of it. Stuff yourself, then an hour later, your hungry again.

Seekers also have no ties, no commitments, or no anchor in their lives. They remain aloof and always eager for the next adventure, the next thrill, or the next Chinese meal, hoping that will satisfy the deep longing they have.

Have you ever experienced the thrill of a fun and dangerous roller coaster ride or a parachute jump and then automatically wanted to do it again?

Seekers are forever searching for the fastest, dangerous roller coasters and highest, difficult parachute jumps in order to sustain the “adrenaline rush” they get from the activity.

The second type is the “Captive.” (vs. 10-16)
The “Captives” are people who are prisoners that live in darkness often shackled by something they cannot readily see. They are so enslaved sometimes that they remain in bondage until they die and many times they die as a result of the bondage.

You might be thinking that we don’t have slavery in our current culture, but almost all people are enslaved by something. Overeating, drugs, and drinking are some of the most obvious bonds, but watching questionable TV shows, listening to negative, degrading music, and participating in risky and damaging behaviors are invisible bonds that enslave us that no one but you knows about.

Repeating these types of behaviors over and over changes our perceptions and our thinking, which influences our decision-making processes and determines our behavior. It creates a pattern of sin that is very difficult to break. When this happens, you are enslaved.

The third category are “Fools.” (vs. 17-22)
No one wants to be in THIS category, yet many are. They are the people that think they know best. They also don’t understand their own limitations. Oftentimes, they get in situations where they’re in over their head, they feel overwhelmed, and they put themselves in danger without thinking about the ramifications.

These types of people, lose jobs, money and friendships and sometimes their lives for their foolish decisions. They reap what they sow.

The fourth type of person is “Self-Sufficient.” (vs. 23-32)
This type actually sounds like it should be a good type to be. These people are successful in business and in relationships. It seems that everything they touch turns to gold. Whatever they want, they go out there and grab it. People like this don’t see the need for God. As long as they can control their circumstances, they do well.

Being this type of person though is almost more dangerous than being any other type because they don’t leave any room for God. They think if they can’t make something happen, then it can’t be done.

In all of these scenarios, one thing is apparent. They all need deliverance (redemption) from themselves.

Seekers need a leader they can trust.
Captives need a savior who can liberate them from bondage.
Fools need wisdom which only comes from the truth of God’s word.
The self-sufficient need a deliverer when they can no longer control their circumstances.

Our path to a relationship with Christ is our own, but no matter what your redemption story is, there is only ONE redeemer.

God, through His son Jesus Christ is our leader, our savior, the source of wisdom and a deliverer who always provides a way of escape for us.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (KJV) “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

Thank you, Jesus!