Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Whirlwind Trip to See Sarah and the Counts Boys

It was a whirlwind trip to the West Side.  Sarah was scheduled for a homeschool conference this past Friday-Saturday in Auburn, WA.  Rick had a meeting scheduled for Thursday in Kennewick, or so we thought.

I had lists of my lists and everything was packed, or so I thought. We left home around 7:15am Thursday morning to head for Kennewick where Rick’s meeting was to be.  Nathaniel and I had made plans to meet Rod Garretson, an old friend we knew from our previous church for a short time.  

We were a halfway up Alpowa pass when the phone rang.  Rick’s boss wanted to know where Rick was. He informed us that the meeting had been canceled.  So Rick asked if he could have the day off.  

We arrived in Kennewick around 10 am and went to the public library where we met Rod.  We had a wonderful visit, and Sarah called and FaceTimed with Rod for a few minutes.  

I asked Rod if he would like to have egg salad sandwiches with us...a picnic.  When I went out to the car I discovered I had left our lunches all at home.  That was sad.  We ended up going to Subway instead.  After lunch, we headed out on our way to Sunnyside where we planned to spend the night.

It was nice Rick’s meeting got canceled and he got the rest of the day off.  That meant we could arrive at the hotel a little early and enjoy some time resting before the hectic part of the trip set in.

The hotel was one of the best Best Western’s we have ever stayed in.  It was located next to a vineyard and everything was themed around the vineyard including Bible verses in the lobby about vines and vineyards. They even served a light dinner here.  It was cream of broccoli soup.  A shame neither Rick or I could eat it...dairy and gluten ingredients.  But it was a nice offering. At breakfast, they served made to order omelets plus a variety of other items.  Nathaniel and I enjoyed the pool and hot tub.  We had two queen size beds and queen sized hide a bed that Nathaniel said was comfortable.  I enjoyed photographing the big barn out front and the vineyards out back.

Friday we left around 11 am and headed for Auburn, WA.  We used WAZE to navigate.  That proved very useful.  There was a gigantic traffic jam just before the exit to Wenatchee that WAZE rerouted us around without me even having to ask it to.  It just detected there was a mess ahead and said it was rerouting us.  We had a very nice scenic drive on Hwy 97 that took us all the way around the traffic jam and put us back on the freeway a long ways ahead of where it was. Another time WAZE detected a bypass to skirt around road construction.  Everyone was coming to a complete stop and we whizzed off to the left onto a single lane in the East Bound traffic side that took us around the construction. Only one time WAZE blew it for us when it routed us two miles back the way we came after a gas stop and landed us in a terrible traffic jam waiting to get off the freeway at Auburn.  I have a feeling it didn’t matter what exit we used they were probably all jammed up.  It’s just the way they roll over there.

Sarah flew in around 10am to Sea-Tac.  Our dear friend Wes Sorstokke picked her up and brought her to the hotel.  Thanks, Wes!  We love you!

As we got closer to Seattle and crossed Snoqualmie Pass traffic got really ugly.  I don’t do ugly traffic well.  We almost got rear-ended twice and nearly got our front bumper taken off once.  The drivers drive like idiots over there!  I’m thanking God for keeping us safe!   

So we got to the hotel around 3:45 or so and rested until around 5:40.  Then we started out to find Green River College and to find Sarah and her coworker.  After some texting and calling, we finally found them in parking lot 8.  We had parked in lot 7.  It was so good to see her again!

I navigated Rick back to the hotel with the help of WAZE and we dropped Chris off and then we went to Las Margaritas across the street to meet Jon and Paul Counts for dinner.

We had an absolute blast visiting with those two guys!  They are so fun!  Jon had asked Sarah, "When do you go back?"  Sarah misunderstood and said, "Chicken Mole!"  She thought he said, "What’s that?"

Sarah was telling us about how her company is developing an art book (art appreciation).  Paul thought they were developing a coloring book! LOL!

Later Rick described how his boss never uses a calculator but does all his math by hand and Paul asked, "What does he do, pull out a hibiscus?"  He meant abacus.  We all laughed really hard about that.

When we were outside taking pictures, Paul went over to the window and took a photo.  Jon asked, "What are you doing, taking photos of the people eating inside?"  Paul said, "No, I wanted to get a picture of the penguin for the kids."  We all burst out laughing because it was a flamingo!  

It was fun to listen to Sarah and the boys talk because they all do or have done marketing, but each one has done different aspects of it, so they each had something new the others haven’t done before.  

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and Sarah came to our room and hung out until around 10:30pm.  We had such a good visit with her.  She and I slept in the same room since she had an extra bed and Rick and Nathaniel slept in the other room.  That worked out well.

I got up earlier than her on Saturday, so I went to the other room and packed our things up and then met Rick and Nathaniel in the dining room.  Sarah joined us later.  Her coworker showed up a bit later.  After he ate we packed up the car and took them back to the college for their conference day.

There was a funny sign on the building of the college.

Saying goodbye was a hurried bittersweet affair.  It happened fast because Sarah and Chris were late to their venue.  My voice caught as I said good-bye and I was fighting back tears.  It was all so short and surreal.  I didn't even get one last picture in. At least we have the one from the restaurant. 

From there we headed for home.  Rick drove for about an hour, then got too tired to drive further, so we traded and I drove the last four hours home.  I was so exhausted it was all I could do to keep my eyes open.

Home never looked so good.  DJ was happy to see us and everything was in order.  The lunches I had forgotten on Thursday had been put back in the fridge by our next door neighbor, so dinner was all ready.  It was nice we didn’t have to spend any more money eating out or me spend energy making a meal after that long drive.

Last night I sat down and made up my menu plan from a template that was saved.  Went on the Walmart Grocery app and ordered what I needed.  This afternoon I will go pick up my groceries that someone else has shopped and bagged for me.  That is so nice!  What a time and energy saver it is after a long trip home and too many nights of little sleep!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Reclaiming Jesus Mess

Below you will find the entire text of the "Reclaiming Jesus" statement.  In red I have written my comments about this document.  Please take the time to look up the Scriptures they reference and read them in the context in the Bible.  I did not comment on everything here I probably could have, I just don't have time.  If you find other errors that I did not point out feel free to leave a comment about it.

We are living through perilous and polarizing times as a nation, with a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest levels of our government and in our churches.  We believe the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are now at stake.

It is time to be followers of Jesus before anything else—nationality, political party, race, ethnicity, gender, geography—our identity in Christ precedes every other identity. We pray that our nation will see Jesus’ words in us. "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).

When politics undermines our theology, (What is their theology?) we must examine that politics. The church’s role is to change the world through the life and love of Jesus Christ. (What about John 14:6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.) The government’s role is to serve the common good by protecting justice and peace, rewarding good behavior while restraining bad behavior (Romans 13). When that role is undermined by political leadership,  faith leaders must stand up and speak out. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state."
It is often the duty of Christian leaders, especially elders, to speak the truth in love to our churches and to name and warn against temptations, racial and cultural captivities, false doctrines, and political idolatries—and even our complicity in them. We do so here with humility, prayer, and a deep dependency on the grace and Holy Spirit of God. (False doctrine, what is their doctrine?)
This letter comes from a retreat on Ash Wednesday, 2018. In this season of Lent, we feel deep lamentations for the state of our nation, and our own hearts are filled with confession for the sins we feel called to address. The true meaning of the word repentance is to turn around. It is time to lament, confess, repent, and turn. In times of crisis, the church has historically learned to return to Jesus Christ.

Jesus is Lord. That is our foundational confession. It was central for the early church and needs to again become central to us. If Jesus is Lord, then Caesar was not—nor any other political ruler since. If Jesus is Lord, no other authority is absolute. Jesus Christ, and the kingdom of God he announced, is the Christian’s first loyalty, above all others. We pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). Our faith is personal but never private, meant not only for heaven but for this earth.

The question we face is this: Who is Jesus Christ for us today? (The question should be how has God defined Jesus Christ in Scripture?  You get that wrong and you have just created a god of your own imagination.) What does our loyalty to Christ, as disciples, require at this moment in our history? We believe it is time to renew our theology of public discipleship and witness. Applying what "Jesus is Lord" means today is the message we commend as elders to our churches.
What we believe leads us to what we must reject. Our "Yes" is the foundation for our "No." What we confess as our faith leads to what we confront. Therefore, we offer the following six affirmations of what we believe, and the resulting rejections of practices and policies by political leaders which dangerously corrode the soul of the nation and deeply threaten the public integrity of our faith. We pray that we, as followers of Jesus, will find the depth of faith to match the danger of our political crisis.

I. WE BELIEVE each human being is made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). That image and likeness confers a divinely decreed dignity, worth, and God-given equality to all of us as children of the one God (What makes a person a child of God?  Does simply being made in His image qualify us to be called a child of God? What does the Bible say? John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the [e]right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. ) who is the Creator of all things. Racial bigotry is a brutal denial of the image of God (the imago dei) in some of the children of God. Our participation in the global community of Christ absolutely prevents any toleration of racial bigotry. Racial justice and healing are biblical and theological issues for us, and are central to the mission of the body of Christ in the world. We give thanks for the prophetic role of the historic black churches in America when they have called for a more faithful gospel.

THEREFORE, WE REJECT the resurgence of white nationalism and racism in our nation on many fronts, including the highest levels of political leadership. We, as followers of Jesus, must clearly reject the use of racial bigotry for political gain that we have seen. In the face of such bigotry, silence is complicity. In particular, we reject white supremacy and commit ourselves to help dismantle the systems and structures that perpetuate white preference and advantage. Further, any doctrines or political strategies that use racist resentments, fears, or language must be named as public sin—one that goes back to the foundation of our nation and lingers on. Racial bigotry must be antithetical for those belonging to the body of Christ, because it denies the truth of the gospel we profess.

II. WE BELIEVE we are one body. In Christ, there is to be no oppression based on race, gender, identity, or class (Galatians 3:28). The body of Christ, where those great human divisions are to be overcome, is meant to be an example for the rest of society. When we fail to overcome these oppressive obstacles, and even perpetuate them, we have failed in our vocation to the world—to proclaim and live the reconciling gospel of Christ.

THEREFORE, WE REJECT misogyny, the mistreatment, violent abuse, sexual harassment, and assault of women that has been further revealed in our culture and politics, including our churches, and the oppression of any other child of God. We lament when such practices seem publicly ignored, and thus privately condoned, by those in high positions of leadership. We stand for the respect, protection, and affirmation of women in our families, communities, workplaces, politics, and churches. We support the courageous truth-telling voices of women, who have helped the nation recognize these abuses. We confess sexism as a sin, requiring our repentance and resistance.

III. WE BELIEVE how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner is how we treat Christ himself. (Matthew 25: 31-46) "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." God calls us to protect and seek justice for those who are poor and vulnerable, and our treatment of people who are "oppressed," "strangers," "outsiders," or otherwise considered "marginal" is a test of our relationship to God, who made us all equal in divine dignity and love. Our proclamation of the lordship of Jesus Christ is at stake in our solidarity with the most vulnerable. If our gospel is not "good news to the poor," it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ (Luke 4:18). (The verse referenced is a prophecy about Jesus. Look it up. Jesus claims in the next few verses that He has fulfilled this prophecy.  If it was referring just to physical needs, then Jesus would have given us all the ability to carry on the work of relieving the poor, broken-hearted, healing the blind, liberating the captives and the oppressed.  But He didn't do that and we are not all equipped to relieve these physical/mental ailments. However, this is referring to spiritual needs. Our gospel needs to be "good news" to the spiritually poor, spiritually broken-hearted,spiritually blind, the spiritually captive and oppressed because it’s only in and through the shed blood of Jesus that these can have forgiveness of sins and new life in Him. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy by His coming and left us the Gospel to continuing the work. There is nothing wrong with charitable acts of kindness toward those less fortunate and Christ’s followers should engage in these. I just take issue with taking Scripture out of context to push an agenda.)

THEREFORE, WE REJECT the language and policies of political leaders who would debase and abandon the most vulnerable children of God. We strongly deplore the growing attacks on immigrants and refugees, who are being made into cultural and political targets, and we need to remind our churches that God makes the treatment of the "strangers" among us a test of faith (Leviticus 19:33-34). We won’t accept the neglect of the well-being of low-income families and children, and we will resist repeated attempts to deny health care to those who most need it. We confess our growing national sin of putting the rich over the poor. We reject the immoral logic of cutting services and programs for the poor while cutting taxes for the rich. Budgets are moral documents. We commit ourselves to opposing and reversing those policies and finding solutions that reflect the wisdom of people from different political parties and philosophies to seek the common good. Protecting the poor is a central commitment of Christian discipleship, to which 2,000 verses in the Bible attest.

IV. WE BELIEVE that truth is morally central to our personal and public lives. Truth-telling is central to the prophetic biblical tradition, whose vocation includes speaking the Word of God into their societies and speaking the truth to power. A commitment to speaking truth, the ninth commandment of the Decalogue, "You shall not bear false witness" (Exodus 20:16), is foundational to shared trust in society. Falsehood can enslave us, but Jesus promises, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32). The search and respect for truth is crucial to anyone who follows Christ. (The question becomes this: what truth will these speak?  Will they speak the whole counsel of God or will they cherry pick the truth they like from Scripture and discard the rest?  Will they only speak the truth that God is love while ignoring the truth that God is also Judge and not all will be allowed into heaven? )

THEREFORE, WE REJECT the practice and pattern of lying that is invading our political and civil life. Politicians, like the rest of us, are human, fallible, sinful, and mortal. But when public lying becomes so persistent that it deliberately tries to change facts for ideological, political, or personal gain, the public accountability to truth is undermined. The regular purveying of falsehoods and consistent lying by the nation’s highest leaders can change the moral expectations within a culture, the accountability for a civil society, and even the behavior of families and children. The normalization of lying presents a profound moral danger to the fabric of society. In the face of lies that bring darkness, Jesus is our truth and our light. (How is Jesus their truth and light?  This needs to be explained.  It’s easy to say this, but if their meaning isn’t the Biblical meaning then they have a different Jesus,)

V. WE BELIEVE that Christ’s way of leadership is servanthood, not domination. Jesus said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles (the world) lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant" (Matthew 20:25-26). We believe our elected officials are called to public service, not public tyranny, so we must protect the limits, checks, and balances of democracy and encourage humility and civility on the part of elected officials. We support democracy, not because we believe in human perfection, but because we do not. The authority of government is instituted by God to order an unredeemed society for the sake of justice and peace, but ultimate authority belongs only to God.

THEREFORE, WE REJECT any moves toward autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule. We believe authoritarian political leadership is a theological danger that threatens democracy and the common good—and we will resist it. Disrespect for the rule of law, not recognizing the equal importance of our three branches of government, and replacing civility with dehumanizing hostility toward opponents are of great concern to us. Neglecting the ethic of public service and accountability, in favor of personal recognition and gain often characterized by offensive arrogance, are not just political issues for us. They raise deeper concerns about political idolatry, accompanied by false and unconstitutional notions of authority.

VI. WE BELIEVE Jesus when he tells us to go into all nations making disciples (Matthew 28:18). Our churches and our nations are part of an international community whose interests always surpass national boundaries. The most well-known verse in the New Testament starts with "For God so loved the world" (John 3:16). We, in turn, should love and serve the world and all its inhabitants, rather than seek first narrow, nationalistic prerogatives. (This is Scripture twisting.  They are taking a short phrase out of context to refute  "America first" agenda. The verse says, "For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  This verse has to do with why God gave His Son to die on the cross and take the punishment for our sins. To use it the way they do here is to diminish what God did for us by leaving it out and ignoring it in favor of cherry picking one phrase to bolster their agenda.)

THEREFORE, WE REJECT "America first" as a theological heresy for followers of Christ. While we share a patriotic love for our country, we reject xenophobic or ethnic nationalism that places one nation over others as a political goal. We reject domination rather than stewardship of the earth’s resources, toward genuine global development that brings human flourishing for all of God’s children. ("All of God’s children" Are they subscribing to the heresy of universalism? Or are they only interested in the flourishing of those who are God’s children as defined by Scripture? My guess is they are subscribing to the heresy of universalism because they obviously are being inclusive of all humans in their statements.  So that presents a problem.  They condemn heresy in their statements earlier in the document, but now they are embracing the heresy of universalism.  That’s what happens when you cherry pick Scripture and ignore what you don’t like.) Serving our own communities is essential, but the global connections between us are undeniable. Global poverty, environmental damage, violent conflict, weapons of mass destruction, and deadly diseases in some places ultimately affect all places, and we need wise political leadership to deal with each of these.

WE ARE DEEPLY CONCERNED for the soul of our nation, but also for our churches and the integrity of our faith. The present crisis calls us to go deeper—deeper into our relationship to God; deeper into our relationships with each other, especially across racial, ethnic, and national lines; deeper into our relationships with the most vulnerable, who are at greatest risk.
The church is always subject to temptations to power, to cultural conformity, and to racial, class, and gender divides, as Galatians 3:28 teaches us. But our answer is to be "in Christ," and to "not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable, and perfect." (Romans 12:1-2)
The best response to our political, material, cultural, racial, or national idolatries is the First Commandment: "You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3). Jesus summarizes the Greatest Commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. This is the first commandment. And the second is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:38). As to loving our neighbors, we would add "no exceptions."

We commend this letter to pastors, local churches, and young people who are watching and waiting to see what the churches will say and do at such a time as this.

Our urgent need, in a time of moral and political crisis, is to recover the power of confessing our faith. Lament, repent, and then repair. If Jesus is Lord, there is always space for grace. We believe it is time to speak and to act in faith and conscience, not because of politics, but because we are disciples of Jesus Christ—to whom be all authority, honor, and glory. It is time for a fresh confession of faith. Jesus is Lord. He is the light in our darkness. "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). 

(This "fresh confession of faith" sounds good. It sounds pious. But it pulls Scripture out of context, it rips Scripture apart and it subscribes to heretical doctrine that isn’t taught in the Bible. At best these are well-meaning but Biblically ignorant church leaders, the blind leading the blind, and at worst they are wolves in shepherd’s clothing.  Either way, they misuse Scripture.  What makes them dangerous is that they throw just enough truth out there to look good, but they mix it with error.  They would be better to leave Jesus and the Bible out of their statement than to twist them to promote their agenda. It’s deceiving.)

Friday, June 08, 2018

She Judged Him Faithful Who Had Promised

“...she judged Him faithful who had promised.” This stood out to me today as I was reading in Hebrews 11. Faith is only as good as the object it is placed in.
If I have faith that my chair will hold me up and it breaks, leaving me on the floor, then we can safely say that my faith was faulty because it was placed in a faulty object.
God is faithful. My faith in God who is faithful anchors me solid in difficult times. God will never leave me in a heap on the proverbial floor. Everything I go through, He has designed it for my spiritual good and His glory. He is always faithful to His promises.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

“Where Trust Your Leaders” Ends

PCRBC Constitution 

"...great discretion is required, and therefore, the elders are not obliged to divulge to the members every detail but are to be trusted with the government of the church."

1689 Confession 

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his word, or not contained in it. So that to believe such doctrines, or obey such commands out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience; and the requiring of an implicit faith, an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience and reason also.

(James 4:12; Romans 14:4; Acts 4:19, 29; 1 Corinthians 7:23; Matthew 15:9; Colossians 2:20, 22, 23; 1 Corinthians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 1:24)

"Trust your leaders" ends when implicit faith, an absolute and blind obedience is encouraged and/or demanded when the evidence to do so points to the contrary.  

“Put the Best Construction on Things”

"Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men."

Titus 3:1-2 NKJV

It is interesting to me to see the verse above sitting in the same chapter as the verse below.

"Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned."

Titus 3:10-11 NKJV

What’s more interesting is that Paul is the author of Titus and 2 Timothy and he writes to Timothy the following:

"Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith;"

II Timothy 3:8 NKJV

Paul had some choice words for some people and it wasn’t gentle or peaceable.  Paul didn’t put the best construction on what the two men mentioned above did or those that were like them. Nor did he give the benefit of the doubt to Alexandria or Peter.

"Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works."

II Timothy 4:14 

"Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed;"

Galatians 2:11 NKJV

There are others but my memory escapes me.  The point is that yes, we are to speak evil of no man and we are to be gentle, peaceable and humble, but there is obviously a point, as in the examples above, where it is appropriate to call a spade a spade as Paul did.

The problem I see is that when a Christian calls a spade a spade, they are often called on the carpet for slander, not giving a charitable judgement or not putting the best construction on things and being divisive.

As Christians we are to be peaceable , gentle, humble and all these good things, but Paul’s example also tells that we should not put the best construction on things when the evidence points to the contrary. If it’s a spade, then call it a spade. I believe many churches are going down a merry path to apostasy because they are putting the best construction on things  they shouldn’t be.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Christian Liberty: What Is It?

 In Corinth there were those who believed they could eat meat offered to idols because an idol really isn’t a god, therefore it isn’t going to do any harm to you to eat meat offered to it.  There were others who were saved out of that environment of idols and eating meat offered to idols bothered their conscience. Paul was telling the Christians at Corinth that it was fine if they ate meat offered to idols, but if they were with someone whose conscience was bothered by it, for the sake of that brother or sister in Christ, it was better to refrain from exercising your freedom and offending them.

Christian liberty means to refrain from exercising my freedom to avoid wounding another Christian’s conscience.  It also means that I don’t force my freedom on another Christian whose conscience is bothered by that activity. In the passage below you will see that the whole purpose is for your fellow Christian’s benefit and good.  It’s thinking about the good of others over your desires.

 "Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that "an idol has no real existence," and that "there is no God but one." For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earthâ€"as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"â€" yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble."
1 Corinthians8:4-13

"All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For "the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof." If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscienceâ€" I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved."
1 Corinthians10:23-33

So, while the Christian is free to partake in "gray" areas, we are to be careful that we do not wound the conscience of those who do not feel free to exercise liberty in those areas.  It all has to do with loving your neighbor as yourself and thinking of their good over your own.

I’m finding that there is a lot of misuse of the term Christian liberty these days.  I have devised a 4 questions quiz to see if you can recognize the proper and improper uses of it.

So here is the test for you on the proper use of Christian liberty:

1.  Your friend takes mental health medications, but you believe those are bad for people and nobody should ever be diagnosed with a mental illness before the age of 30. It is your Christian liberty to tell your friend that he/she should not be taking those medications and that their doctor who prescribed them doesn’t know what he/she is talking about and you encourage them to drop them cold turkey.  Is this proper use of Christian liberty?  Why or why not?

2. You are a member of a church and are concerned, in light of the many sexual predator issues there are in churches these days, that there is nothing posted on the church website or in the constitution about how sexual predator issues will be handled by the church leadership should that issue ever come up. You bring it up to the pastor in hopes that he might bring it to the deacons and maybe even the church as something that should be added in.  Your pastor tells you that Matthew 18 already addresses those kinds of issues and that it is his Christian liberty to not do anything further about it and it’s your Christian liberty to disagree but not make an issue about it.  Is this a proper use of Chrisitan liberty?  Why or why not?

3. Your conscience doesn’t allow you to drink alcohol but your friend sees no problem with it.  You go to your friend’s home for dinner.  They refrain from serving wine with the meal so that you won’t feel uncomfortable.  Is this the proper use of Christian liberty?  Why or why not?

4. Your conscience doesn’t allow you to drink alcohol but your friend sees no problem with it.  You go to your friend’s home for dinner. You proceed to tell them it is wrong for a Christian to drink alcohol and that they are sinning because they do.  Is this the proper use of Christian liberty?  Why or why not?

If you want to answer the quiz questions, please do so in the comments below.  I’d love to hear your views!

None of These Things Move Me, But I Count the Cost

Have you ever been put in a position where you know the right thing to do but you also know that if you do it it will cost you? Jesus has something to say about that.

"Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions."
‭‭Luke‬ ‭14:27-33‬ ‭NASB‬‬

We must count the cost. What will it cost us to do what is right and to choose a clean conscience over not making waves with the status quo? Reputation? Friends? Sorrow? Sadness? Conflicting feelings? Tears? Broken heart? Discouragement? Disapproval? Loss of membership in a group? Feeling outcast?

"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."
‭‭Acts‬ ‭20:24‬ ‭KJV‬‬

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:37-39‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Yes, we might temporarily experience all the negative things listed above, but in the end we will have joy because none of these things can separate us from the love of God.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Devotional: The Lord Will Be Our Confidence

"The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens. By His knowledge the deeps were broken up And the skies drip with dew. My son, let them not vanish from your sight; Keep sound wisdom and discretion, So they will be life to your soul And adornment to your neck. Then you will walk in your way securely And your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden fear Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; For the LORD will be your confidence And will keep your foot from being caught."
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:19-26‬ ‭NASB‬‬

These verses are of great comfort to me this week. Wisdom, understanding, knowledge, sound wisdom and discretion are what God provides for us to keep us from going astray from Him.

He provides these things also so that we will know the wicked man when we see him and can escape from him.

When we exercise these things our lives He says we will walk securely and won’t stumble, we will be able to lie down and our sleep will be sweet.

We do not have to be afraid of sudden fear or of the onslaught of the wicked because the Lord will be our confidence. He will keep our feet from being caught.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Devotional: The Colt

"When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, "Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' you shall say this: 'The Lord has need of it.'" So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, "Why are you untying the colt?" And they said, "The Lord has need of it." And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it."
‭‭Luke‬ ‭19:29-35‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Most people don't say much about the significance of the donkey's colt in this passage. It gets lost in the story. I see several things regarding this colt that I think are important.

1. This colt had never had anyone on it's back before (v. 30). This means was not trained.

Have you ever tried to ride an untrained donkey? I remember at the Bible Camp I went to when I was a kid, they had a donkey there that wasn't trained. It was a favorite challenge of the kids to see how long they could stay on the donkey before he figured out how to get them off.

The fact that Jesus was put on an untrained donkey and was able to ride through the streets of Jerusalem without ending up on His backside in the street was a miracle performed by Jesus. It shows His power over nature and points to His Divinity.

2. Jesus never walked through through the village where the colt was tied. How did He know the colt was there? This points to the fact that He is all-knowing and another sign of His Divinity.

3. The owner of the colt asked why they were untying the colt, but he let them take it without objecting.

Are we willing to give up whatever He asks us to give up? It could be possessions, comfort, health, family or any number of things.

Did you ever think about the fact that sometimes God asks some to give up physical ability or health because that is the platform where He can use that person best to bring glory to Him and point the way to Him?

Think about Joni Eareckson-Tada. God asked her to give up the use of her arms and legs and deal with the complications that come with being immobile, because that is the platform where He could use her best for His kingdom.

What are we willing to give up for the sake of Christ if God should ask for it? I have to admit, that is a scary question to think about, but God said that His grace would be sufficient.

So it all comes down to this: Is God enough for me?

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Devotional: Surprising Picture of God

"As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. He said therefore, "A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, 'Engage in business until I come.' But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.' When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, 'Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.' And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.' And the second came, saying, 'Lord, your mina has made five minas.' And he said to him, 'And you are to be over five cities.' Then another came, saying, 'Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.' He said to him, 'I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?' And he said to those who stood by, 'Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.'

'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.'""
‭‭Luke‬ ‭19:11-24, 26-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I realize this is a large passage of Scripture above, but it's hard to just pick a small portion out when the whole story needs to be told.

My Journible asks the question, "(11-27) What does this parable reveal about God and His kingdom?" Here is my answer straight from my Journible:

"God expects His people to use what He has given them to increase His kingdom. Those who do well are given more responsibilities and those who do nothing with the resources He has given will have even that taken from them. God expects His people to be useful for Him and not just sitting on their hands doing nothing.

It also shows there will be a judgment day for those who reject God's reign in their lives. They will be put to death.

This is really a surprising picture of God. People want to paint Him as all-loving, all benevolent, saving everybody, a doting, spoiling Heavenly Father. That is not the picture I see here.

But at the same time, we must balance this picture with John 10, the tenderness of the Good Shepherd.

God is both a God of justice and a God of love. It depends on which side of the fence you are on in relation to Jesus Christ, whether you will have the weight of His justice come down on you or the tenderness of His love on judgement day."

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Devotional: Prophecy

"And taking the twelve, he said to them, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise." But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said."
‭‭Luke‬ ‭18:31-34‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus foretells what is going to happen to him but  his disciples don't understand any of it.  Sometimes that is how I feel about some of the obscure meaning of some of the prophecies in the Bible.

Here are my thoughts on verse 34 from my Journible:

"Sometimes it is best that we don't know (understand) what lies ahead. Not all Biblical prophecies are clear and if we really understood them clearly perhaps we'd be so focused on that, that we wouldn't live in the here and now and serve Him as we should.

It is too bad that some are so focused on their pet theories about Bible prophecy that they don't really focus properly on how they should live now. They are too busy making a name for themselves with all their books and conferences on what will happen in the future."

Yes, we should focus on the ultimate promise/prophecy of a place in heaven with God forever. That is one prophecy we are clear about. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the future prophecy debate of what this or that means that we lose sight of what our real purpose is. When we keep our eyes on the prize, the race is easier to run undistracted and we will live with a view to God's glory.

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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Essential Oils: Plant Therapy Sweet Orange

  Who doesn't like the smell of a sweet orange when you peel it?  That is exactly what Sweet Orange essential oil smells like.

From the back of the bottle:

Sweet Orange is most commonly known for its wonderfully uplifting and calming scent.  When diffused or inhaled, it can help with nervous tension, apprehension, or sadness.  When diffused, Sweet Orange oil also brightens and freshnes the air.  It can also help support normal function of the immune system. For topical applications dilute to 2-5%.

I can attest to the claims above.  It makes the house smell wonderful.  If you add Vanilla it smells like a Creamsicle.  Yum.  I keep an inhaler (see below) handy that has Sweet Orange and Vanilla in it.  It makes  a calming scent that takes me back to childhood and frozen Creamsicles. Nice for when I start getting stressed.

The links above are Amazon Affiliate links.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Quiet Day at Home

It is about 3:15pm on a rainy day.  This has been a wonderful quiet day alone at home.  Nathaniel is gone for a week, getting some training in self-development.  Rick's boss was in town today, so he didn't come for lunch like he usually does.  And of course, Sarah no longer lives here.  It's just been me and the dog.

I've been able to get a lot of writing done, have cleaned and reversed all the ceiling fans, prepped birthday cards to be sent later, done my Bible study and after I finish this post, I will clean out and organize my food container cupboard that barfs containers all over my floor every time I open the cupboard doors.

We learned that Rick has the beginnings of fatty liver disease.  So we are learning how to count carbs.  They say a carb restricted diet will help reverse this condition.  I guess I will be finding new recipes and setting up new menus based on carb counts.

Although I get frustrated with the internet and the time waster that it is, I am thankful for all the handy things it does.  I have an app on my phone that I can plug recipes into and it will spit out how many calories, fats and carbs are in the recipe.  This is such a headache saver!  I will be adding a lot of my existing recipes to this app so I can learn how many carbs they are per serving so Rick can stay within his daily limit.  What did people do before these conveniences!?

I'm learning the value of essential oils for a variety of things.  Rick has had a lot of back pain and I've been able to help him get past it with Rapid Relief Synergy by Plant Therapy.

It's really good stuff and it beats using Tylenol or Ibuprophen.  That stuff is bad for your body.

It's weed time!  I've spent hours burning weeds the last two days.  It's discouraging as I look out the window now that is been pouring rain all day and I see weeds popping up all over the place.  It's a losing cause, I'm afraid.  Thanks Adam and Eve.  It's your fault.

I'm thankful for this quiet day to work on writing and other items I needed to get done.  God is good.