Saturday, December 12, 2015

Obnoxious discernment bloggers of the 17th century

"Around 1650, an English theologian, Professor Dannhauer, wrote "amongst the other absurdities which men are often more busied at Christmas than with the word of God, there is the Christmas or fir tree which they erect in their houses, hang with dolls and sweetmeats, and then shake it and cause it to shed its 'flowers'-- it is a children's game. Far better were it to lead the children to the spiritual cedar, Christ Jesus"."

Friday, December 4, 2015

Great teaching on the book of James

Listening to The Ray Edwards Show – How to Start, Run, and Grow Your Own Internet Based Business | Copywriter | Copywriting | Direct Response | Marketing Consultant | Communications Strategist (#194: 5 Unconventional Times To Practice Thankfulness): http://rayedwards.com/194/

How The Attitude Of Gratitude Makes You Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise

Maybe you've heard: giving thanks makes you feel happier and more fulfilled. There are at least 7 scientifically proven benefits to practicing the "attitude of gratitude". And right now, as we enter the Thanksgiving Holiday season, the media is filled with heartwarming stories of all we should be thankful for.

Instagram Quote(Landscape)

Today, I'm going to suggest you be thankful for the bad stuff. The challenges. The tragedies. The pain.

In today's show, we'll discover:

  • The shocking truth about suicide rates during the holidays.
  • The 3 dangers of "counting your blessings".
  • The 7 scientifically proven benefits of  gratitude.
  • The 5 unconventional times to practice thankfulness.
  • How the attitude of gratitude makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise.
  • Why you can be thankful for the trials, and not just through them.
  • Plus, I'll share a tip for how to get your podcast ranked higher in iTunes, quick and easy.

Spiritual Foundations

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
– James 1:2-8

All those things that seem to oppose our goals are actually the raw material for achieving them.
– Dan Sullivan

You can be thankful for trials, and truly count it all joy, not because God is teaching you a lesson, but because when approached with faith, trials always lead to victory. God doesn't cause everything, but He can use everything.

Be thankful for the trials of life, and not just thankful through them.Click To Tweet

Tip Of the Week

How do you get your podcast ranked higher in iTunes? It comes down to 2 key factors, according to my buddy Cliff Ravenscraft:

  1. Recent new subscribers in iTunes, using the Apple Podcast App.
  2. Recent new downloads in iTunes, using the Apple Podcast App.

It is my opinion that high star ratings and favorable reviews somehow factor into the equation as well.

Feature Segment:
5 Unconventional Times To Practice Thankfulness (How The Attitude Of Gratitude Makes You Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise)

This is is season for bloggers and podcasters to roll out their "Thanksgiving posts". And I do believe we all have a lot to be thankful for.

Of course, it's easy to be thankful when you live in a nice warm house, are privileged to indulge in gluttony, and watch multi-million dollar entertainment spectacles piped into your home virtually free of charge. Especially if you're healthy, and are in the top 10% of the world's wealthiest people.

Before you argue that last point, let me assure you that if you live in any modern country, especially in the USA or Canada, you almost certainly are. Check for yourself. I'll wait.

Just in case you didn't check, according to the Global Rich List website, if you make $14,000 per year in the USA, you're in the top 9.52% of the richest people in the world by income. So get grateful.

The Shocking Truth About Suicide Rates During The Holidays

Normally, this is where a blogger or podcaster would tell you about suicide rates surging up dramatically during the holidays. The convetinal wisdom is that we should exercise great discipline in being thankful during this time of year, because otherwise, we may, like so many, slip into depression.

The problem with this is that it's simply wrong.

Suicides do not go up during the holidays. They are, in fact, at their lowest rates of the year. But don't just take my word for it: The Health Central website says:

There is a well known reduction in the suicide rate on major public holidays (including non-religious). Many studies in different Western countries have found the drop is even more pronounced during the Christmas to New Year's stretch.  Read the whole article here.

The Wall Street Journal looked into this a few years ago, and their conlusion is that suicides dip in the winter, and peak in the spring. They back it up with solid reearch:

Studies from around the world suggest the key factor is climate, rather than the calendar. In the U.S. from 1999 to 2004, the six highest months in terms of suicides per day were March through August, not in that order, with a peak in July, according to my analysis of numbers provided by the CDC. (The seasonal variation isn't extreme; the daily averages range from 76.3 suicides in December to 87.6 in July.) Other northern hemisphere countries such as Switzerland and Lithuania exhibit the same trend as the U.S. Suicide rates rise in England and Wales on hotter days, according to a study this year. In Singapore, near the equator, there was little seasonal effect. In the southern hemisphere, suicide rates peak in December. Climate's role isn't totally understood; some researchers have linked suicide's seasonality to the amount of sunshine.

What do we conclude? One obvious possibility is that becuase people are practicing gratitude more intetionally during the holidays, they are less likely to kill themselves. So that's a big point in favor of "the attitude of gratitude". However, don't skip this next part, because I want you to know…

The 3 Surprising Dangers Of "Counting Your Blessings"

  1. Denial and gratitude are not the same thing. If you're swimming in the alligator tank, all the gratitude in the world is unlikely to keep you from being some lizard's dinner.
  2. Giving thanks only for the "good stuff" can bottle up poisonous thinking and emotions. It suppresses, refuses to deal with, and thereby strengthens, the power of unresolved pain.
  3. Your glib attiude and lack of empathy can hurt other people. You must be sensitive to what is happening with the people around you.

Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.
Proverbs 27:14

A man's spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?
Proverbs 18:14

If you're swimming in the alligator tank, gratitude won't keep you from being dinner.Click To Tweet

The 5 Unconventional Times To Practice Thankfulness

  1. When you a depressed.
  2. When you are lonely.
  3. When you are ill.
  4. When you lose someone you love.
  5. When tragedy strikes.
Question: How has "the attitude of gratitude" helped you deepen your faith… how has it make you healthier, wealthier, and wiser? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Widows and orphans

I just realized something interesting. The Bible talks a lot about providing for widows and orphans. That's not the interesting part. The interesting part is that those two categories of people, by definition, did nothing to bring about the circumstances that now make them a powerless. Unless you're the murderer, you didn't do anything to make your husband or parents die and leave you alone.

Monday, November 30, 2015

What are ears itching to hear?

There's an interesting passing reference to "tickling ears" in this podcast.  I think they're 100% right: Church funding is treated as "payment for services rendered" and right now in the United States the wealthiest donors are the politically conservative ones whose metaphorical ears are proverbially tickled by a politically conservative agenda.

This is Radio Cast with Jay Bakker (Ryan Meeks: On losing his congregation): http://thisisradiocast.libsyn.com/ryan-meeks-on-losing-his-congregation

Ryan Meeks, a pastor at a megachurch outside of Seattle, talks to Jay about reconciling his Christian faith with his belief in LGBTQ rights, and the price he paid for going public.

 

[Music excerpts from This is Radio Clash by The Clash]

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Rural ministry and "kids these days"

How has rural ministry changed since the time when Ronald Korfmacher wrote this book?

> Carleton Smee on Instagram: "Thanks to Pr. Ike for the good book on rural ministry. #doingchurch #gettingcloser"
>
> https://instagram.com/p/92GCc1kZnN/

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Communion elements

Despite having been steeped in Christian doctrine for more than 20 years, I’d never heard the distinction (and a fairly radical one, I’d say) between body/blood in Communion until it was mentioned recently at River Valley Church (in Apple Valley, Minnesota – for my non-local readers).  A bit of Googling led me to this from Joseph Prince (who, I’m sure, raises red flags with someone somewhere…):
 
At the cross, God also took all our sicknesses and diseases and put them on Jesus’ originally perfect and healthy body, so that we can walk in divine health. That is why the Bible says by His stripes, we are healed (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24).
In Luke 22:20, Jesus tells us that the cup is the “new covenant in My blood”, and the apostle Paul tells us that the blood of Jesus brings forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:14, Ephesians 1:7).
 
Today, when we partake of the bread, we are declaring that Jesus’ health and divine life flows in our mortal bodies. And when we partake of the cup, we are declaring that we are forgiven and have been made righteous…”
I’m adding this to the “things I need to dig into and ponder” list…
 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

What is prayer?

"Prayer is ripping open your rib cage so your heart can breathe."

From The RobCast (Episode 46 | The Futility and the Fire): http://robbell.podbean.com/e/episode-46-the-futility-and-the-fire/

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Church culture

"In a church culture, it's OK to talk about what you struggled with and overcame.  It's not OK to talk about what you're struggling with and are overcoming."

#truth



Listening to Mental Mastery Mondays | Life Purpose, Productivity, and Self-Discipline (Let's Get Naked So We Can Get Better - Ep. 159): http://gocoastalmedia.libsyn.com/lets-get-naked-so-we-can-get-better-ep-159

When we're emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically naked, we're forced to be honest and real with ourselves. When this happens, we can't hide behind something we may normally use to cover them up. 

Four Ways to Cover Up

Oftentimes we employ various strategies or justifications for keeping ourselves "covered-up" so we don't have to deal with the truth of our nakedness.  I've diluted these down to 4 general areas:

  • Making excuses for our imperfections
  • Blaming others for our shortcomings
  • Feeling Threatened by other's victories
  • Overstating our own victories

Each one of these is focused on the external which is outside of control.  That makes it really easy to ignore the issue and continue on as we have previously. But, this leaves us short of our best. 

We can only improve ourselves when we're honest about what needs to be improved and we can only be honest when we strip ourselves of everything we're using to cover up.  We must get naked to know what's really going on. 

Finding Our Real Support Team

When we're naked and honest about ourselves we find out who our real partners are in life. We discover who's going to be there to help us move forward.  This doesn't mean we rely on others to take us there, but instead, use their support to help us move there on our own. 

Don't Fall Into Complacency

One big stumbling point we can fall into when we're honest about ourselves is complacency. By that I mean, we are honest about our flaws, but we're not challenged to deal with them.  We must find that balance between being honest and being complacent.

Getting naked and honest about ourselves isn't about championing our flaws either.  Be careful you're not saying "well, that's who I am. Love it or leave it." That will not lead to improvement either.

I hope this episode helps you get honest and naked with yourself so you can humble yourself enough to seek the assistance you need to overcome the areas that need help.  There is no real gain is projecting a false success.

Listen to this episode and give me your feedback on how you've not been honest in the past and what you're going to do to change the situation.




Saturday, September 5, 2015

The reason the world has become less and less interested in your “faith based anything.”

From Momastery:


I'm going to break my own rule to answer this question, which came to me for the fourth time this am:

G: You've been silent about Trump and Kim Davis. Are you going to weigh in?

No. This might sound harsh, so be it-  I'll apologize later.  If you are a person spending any minutes discussing your "faith-based anti-gay marriage" stance while terrified babies are slipping out of their desperate parents' arms and into churning, deep, dark waters never to be seen again . . .  well, you're looking at the reason the world has become less and less interested in your "faith based anything." 

Entering into relief work with the refugees = hard. Complaining about gay people getting married= easy. Stop choosing the easy thing and pretending that "defending God" is your cross to bear. God didn't ask you to defend God. God is bigger than you and doesn't need your protection. But God's CHILDREN DO NEED YOUR PROTECTION. God's children are dying for the hope of safety for their families. Shift your energy to them. Let us all quit acting like we have anything to do with the fact that we were lucky  enough to have been born on third base, while millions are starving outside the stadium. Why are some Christians so obsessed with "saving" people until there are actually people who need saving? I would like to suggest that every Christian choose a faith tenant that requires HER family to change and to act and to sacrifice instead of somebody else's. 

So no- you won't see me discussing gay marriage for the same reason you won't see me discussing the pros and cons of re-instituting separate water fountains for black and white people. Because it would be insane. We're done with that. The battle is won. I'm not going spend my time in museums talking to people hanging on to the bad old days by their fingernails. 

And about Trump? NO. Not my circus- not my monkees. These are serious times and they call for serious people. 

The two most repeated phrases in the Bible are FEAR NOT. REMEMBER. If any of your faith leaders is fear mongering, telling you to build walls instead tearing them down, instead of scaling them to feed hungry people, encouraging any sort of us vs. them mentality…THINK HARD. The Gospel says: Do not be afraid. Re-member. Re-member is the opposite of dis-member. When we shut our doors to our own family: when we are afraid of each other - we are dismembered. The kingdom of God comes when we treat each other like KIN. Like family. When we RE-MEMBER.

Fear not. Remember.

G

P.S. Guess who else were penniless refugees fleeing a dangerous homeland, trying to find safety and welcome on foreign soil?  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

The return of pharisaism

Rouse bends over backwards to insist he's not being legalistic, while being exactly that. Christ's name is tarnished far more often in very real ways by his self-professed followers insisting that obedience to Him is defined by "avoiding sin" than it is by a theoretical alcoholic seeing theoretical alcohol consumption and somehow blaming his alcohol issues on Jesus.  That doesn't happen. But misled seekers dismissing Christianity as a holier-than-thou country club of hypocrites who avoid "the appearance of sin" in public so that they look good (and then "exercise their freedom" in private)? That's what followers of Christ should be fighting today, not with mere words but with actions that demonstrate honesty, authenticity and integrity.


A Caution For Every Christian That Drinks Alcohol | Nathan Rouse

"The often overlooked sin that is rearing its ugly head are Christians displaying their love and consumption of alcohol to those around them in public and on social media, when there are many around them that struggle with this temptation and addiction."



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Abortion rights

I disagree (because I have a "universal life ethic" and believe that a mature society should see that all humans have an intrinsic right to life), but I found a pretty good summary of the pro-choice position via a Facebook comment to a Dennis Prager video on https://facebook.com/prageru:

James Armstead


"Another problem I had was the collating and commingling of value and rights. Fetuses have value - even aborted ones, for research - but they don't have rights. See, rights begin where another's ends. That's pretty much the definition. Well, being inside another person doesn't afford the parasite any rights - there is too much co-mingling. Thus, we grant the mother all the rights, which she can extend to the fetus (and sue for damages if it is harmed) or deny (and thus abort)." 



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Men's ministry growth?

"Women join stuff; man attend things."is Chris LoCurto right and, if so, what does that mean for men's ministry? How does this relate to the Man in the Mirror model?

Chris LoCurto: Entrepreneur, Leadership Coach, LifePlan, Blogger (143: Savannah Flynn On Social Media): http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ChrisLocurtosBlog/~3/oxOGL583zZI/savannah-flynn-on-social-media

Facebook has 1.5 billion people actively on it. There are already 30 million business pages on Facebook. It has the most evenly distributed demographic, which means you're going to find almost as many 50-year olds on Facebook as you are 20-year olds. Social media is networking online. It just takes a little longer to build that rapport and to build that trust and the relationship. So what if your business could get .1% of those people interested in what you are doing? You've increased your reach in your customer base by a thousand times!! Today, on the show, we are talking about social media. Why it's so important to you. How you should be using it, and why you should be using it.



Thursday, July 16, 2015

More spiritually-themed lyrics...

Speaking of spiritual reflection, I still like the dark contemplation in Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Follow You Into The Dark:

http://youtu.be/NDHY1D0tKRA

(No, it's very definitely not a Christian worldview...)

Eric M. Larson thought you would be interested in this song

Pandora is a free music service that helps you listen to and discover new music.

I always appreciate a religious reflection in a song. @respektor #pandora

http://www.pandora.com/regina-spektor/far/blue-lips?shareImp=true

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Shaking your fists...

"If you've ever shaken your fists, like skinny little antennas, at the heavens..."


The RobCast (Episode 25 | The Sheeeeet Factor): http://robbell.podbean.com/e/episode-25-the-sheeeeet-factor/

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Similar thoughts...

It sounds like Tony Campolo is pondering the same foundational questions that I am....? 



Listening to The Phil Vischer Podcast (Episode 158: The Same-Sex Marriage Debate): http://thephilvischerpodcast.libsyn.com/episode-158

What do Franklin Graham, Tony Campolo, Tim Keller and the nation of Ireland have in common? They've all taken bold stands on same-sex marriage in the last month. From wholeheartedly embrace to all-out boycott, Phil and the gang talk through wildly varied responses to the same question.




Thursday, July 2, 2015

This morning's insights from a friend...

It's not the church's job to heal people of whatever fractures are in their life.

We don't have to be healed before we can seek communion together.

There's an interesting metaphor of Communion as the "breaking of bread" vs. the prepackaged individualized oyster cracker that the church hands to you perfect and intact until you break it by your own action of crunching it in your mouth.

Blessing marriage vs blessing families.

In coming to Christ you will be asked to change in some ways (by the Holy Spirit, not by pharisaical rules). Why. To better archive the command to "love your neighbor" - that's the "end" of the change you.l be called to.

Is "being confronted with with the definition of marriage" really your gay neighbor's greatest need.

Invite! Extend hospitality.

Book reference for the to-read list: Scot McKnight, Story of God: Sermon on the Mount

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Biblical sexual morality?

Question: how should today's church deal with unrepentant members who have remarried after a non-adulterous divorce? Jesus very clearly says that those individuals are committing adultery now, and Paul very clearly says that adulterers won't inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Yet these people expect their marriages to be tolerated (and sometimes even celebrated) by the church. How can we "love the sinner, hate the sin" for these people who often don't even acknowledge their sinful lifestyle?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

An Evangelical Case for Gay Wedding Cakes

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4476307

"Consider the story in 2 Kings 5 of God's kindness to Naaman, a foreigner suffering from leprosy. After being healed Naaman devoted himself entirely to Israel's God and vowed to worship no other. There remained one problem. Naaman was a servant of the King of Syria who worshiped another deity. Being old and weak, the King needed Naaman's help kneeling during worship. Naaman asked the Lord, through Elisha, to excuse him for this action. Elisha responded, "Go in peace." Naaman was not told to refuse service to his master, or to not enter the "house of Rimmon" the foreign deity. Instead God permitted Naaman to continue serving the Syrian king and to even kneel before the idol because he understood that Naaman's loyalty belonged to the Lord."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

From Transformed You with Mark & Melissa DeJesus (#054: Developing a Strategy for Overcoming [Podcast])

"Any season where you feel like you're in waiting, that is your time to process out your Gift and who you are."

What need you believe?

Matt Walsh: "Demons exist. Evil forces are at work in our world. This is a fact. As a Christian, you have to believe this or you are not a Christian. To deny it is to deny Scripture and to deny Christ's saving work on the Cross. Demons are real. Possession is real. It's scary, it's horrible, it's terrifying, but it's the reality."

Hmmm...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Shake the dust from your feet?

"Keep away from angry, short-tempered men, lest you learn to be like them and endanger your soul."  Proverbs 22:24-25 (TLB)


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Is Sanctification progressive?

Having encountered 1 Corinthians 6:11 anew, where it seems to frame sanctification as a completed act, I did some Googling and found these references:

http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/2013/01/sanctification-is-not-about-progress/

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Tim Storey on how God speaks

From http://www.DoseOfLeadership.com/tim-storey/

...There are different ways that God speaks. One is through the Inner Witness, where you feel like, "Man, I think I want to be a pilot." It's an inner witness. The other way He speaks is through Circumstances. He does things through circumstances; things shift. God closes "a" door to open up The door. So, one is Inner Witness; two is Circumstances; three is through the Word of God, where you can be reading something and it bears Witness with you, and you go, "Wow! Look at what happened! Abraham walked by faith: he went into a land that he knew not of. That's what I'm doing! But here's a way where most people miss it: God speaks through the Multitude of Counselors. It's important to put the right people around you, where you can weigh out your next move. I do it; I've got to do it. I've got so much coming at me at this point in my life that's positive, I need to weigh it out with a few people that really know me, to say, "Tim, you may be biting off more than you can chew; do you really think you can do nine jobs? You already have seven!" Pay attention to all those ways.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A theological quibble with lyrics

Today's evangelicals will know the song by Paul Baloche – The Same Love.  The chorus:

The same God that spread the heavens wide
The same God that was crucified
Is calling us all by name


One issue: The Judeo-Christian God, is a "Who", not a "that" (or even a "That".)

It might not be a unique understanding, but it's a pretty foundational one.



Thursday, April 16, 2015

God has longings

This episode contains an excellent summary of the biblical fact that God has longings and sorrows and truly does wish for us to engage freely in his redemptive plan.

To deny that is to say that the Biblical account of Christ's passion week is incorrect, or that Jesus was some sort of odd chimera who wasn't truly suffering and didn't truly mean what he said.

There are many people argue those things, but that's certainly not an evangelical perspective.  Which is why I find it frustrating when I hear evangelicals express one or the other or sometimes both in contradiction. 


John Eldredge and Ransomed Heart (Audio) (Easter. Really. Day 5: Thursday): http://www.ransomedheart.com/podcast/easter-really-day-5-thursday

A special eight-part series where John Eldredge takes you into Jesus' internal world - from Palm Sunday to the empty tomb.



Sunday, March 22, 2015

What's "extra"?

Pick your distinct denomination (Catholicism, LDS, Adventist) that has a set of unique doctrines in addition to yours.

Are those doctrines simply superfluous and unnecessary, or are they a detrimental undermining that contradict the true Gospel?

How do you tell?

How/should do you maintain fellowship with those individuals? With those churches?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Freedom, complexity, and inclusion

"Each new stage of growth always brings with it greater freedom, greater complexity, and greater inclusion."

Sounds good, and sounds intuitively correct. Is it true?

Could you replace greater inclusion with greater differentiation or greater discernment, which could then be read as a contradiction against inclusion?

The RobCast (Episode 6 | Listener Questions): http://robbell.podbean.com/e/episode-6-listener-questions/

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Who's not against you?

I find this verse fascinating. It's the exact opposite of what we usually think...

"Master," said John, "we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us." "Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you."

http://bible.com/111/luk.9.49-50.niv

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Disease.

The Judeo-Christian understanding of the world declares 1) the universe and everything in it was created in an intelligible way by a God who can be glimpsed as we understand His creation, and 2) the world is fallen and corrupt and doesn't run according to God's perfect plan. Thus, we have science -- seeking (and succeeding) to understand God's creation, and failing when it thinks it can understand it completely and replace the "myth of a creator" with itself. To grow, we need to remember that discovering causes of problems doesn't imply moral culpability. The established fact that Tylenol's glutathione depletion is an autism trigger in susceptible individuals won't be socially accepted for decades, because many parents falsely believe that accepting such a fact means it's their "fault" their child has a condition. Nothing could be further from the truth. (Culpability is a consideration only when people choose to stay ignorant of their alternatives and continue to engage in practices that they know are harmful to themselves or others.) We can rightly reject that false moral judgment without rejecting the science behind the causal relationship, or rejecting the notion that some human conditions are challenges that are best avoided if possible. Nothing happens outside of God's sovereign will, and He will move (powerfully!) through all His children's lives. But we have an Enemy who is happy to steal, kill and destroy via disease and illness. We not only can, but must fight that Enemy (not driven by prideful control but in humble obedience to our Creator); discerning his guilt from God's guidance is the trick. In the meantime, trusting God is perfectly compatible with taking positive steps to minimize our children's risks and shepherd them as closely to God's human design as we can.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ignorance of the law

"Ignorance of the law is no excuse," perhaps, but there's also an obligation to teach the law. And teaching requires understanding on the part of the learner.  

(Maybe that's why I'm excited for opportunities like the ATLAS app -- http://atlasapp.us -- which moves society into the context of voluntarily obeying mutually agreed-upon laws, rather than a police state attempting to entrap citizens for its own profit.  Not that any jurisdiction would ever do something like, oh, I don't know, set up speed traps to do something like that...)

Anyway, I wonder what the application is in a Christian context – Jesus coming to teach and fulfill the Law, not to abolish it, but to show us that the Law is a indicator of God's holiness, not the be-all/end-all book of rules that need to be perfectly obeyed to the letter. And, again, not that the Law is irrelevant, but that it's impossible to perfectly obey. And that's what God would expect if we were to try to meet Him on His own terms without grace and forgiveness. 

‭Ezra‬ ‭7‬:‭25‬ ESV

""And you, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God that is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges who may judge all the people in the province Beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God. And those who do not know them, you shall teach."

See it at Bible.com:

http://bible.com/59/ezr.7.25.esv




Sunday, January 11, 2015

Are you a New Testament Christian?

‭I get disappointed with Christians who cherry-pick verses out of the Old Testament and form theology (or politics) around them. "It's in the Bible!" and "It's the same Scripture that Jesus taught!" is their excuse that ends the discussion. 

The truth is, the conversation just begins there.

Here's a great example. "I know that what I'm asserting sounds contradictory to everything we know that Jesus taught, but 'Who can understand the mind of God?' It says that right in Isaiah 40!"  Yes, it does. And the Apostle Paul tells Christians what that means to us today:

1 Corinthians‬ ‭2‬:‭16‬ ESV

""For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ."

See it at Bible.com:

http://bible.com/59/1co.2.16.esv




Bold vs. Presumptuous

‭I've always felt bad for the king here: how did he know he was supposed to strike five or six times? Why not three? Why not thirty? Wouldn't it have been just as likely that, like being struck down for reaching out to steady the Ark, Elisha could've been upset that the king struck too many times and didn't "put his faith in God"?


2 Kings‬ ‭13‬:‭18-19‬ ESV

"And he said, "Take the arrows," and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, "Strike the ground with them." And he struck three times and stopped. Then the man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.""

See it at Bible.com:

http://bible.com/59/2ki.13.18-19.esv