Blog 9 of Lent

Published March 19, 2016 by thinkinbout

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Ok, well that whole attempt to blog each day of Lent went out the window real fast. That’s ok though.

Tonight I want to write about something that is on my heart, not something I read in Scripture. It’s about the proper attitude for a Christian. These days, negativity, hatefulness, rudeness, and intolerance abound. It is so very easy, and often much more desirable, to have one of the above attitudes. This has been on my mind due to the political climate in America right now. The political strife is probably a better way to term it. And that, in turn, made me think about the nasty attitudes we see everyday.

One of those nasty, and unfortunately growing, attitudes is entitlement. Entitlement is the opposite of humility. Humility is growing more and more rare. Listen to me: You CANNOT please God and not be humble. Everyone, it seems, feels entitled to something, and when they don’t get the desired result, they get mad. They get mean. They sometimes lash out physically and hurt people without a prick of the conscience. If someone flips you the bird, you feel it’s ok to hurt them. Someone’s wearing “awesome” new shoes, and you think you deserve them, so he’s killed for a PAIR of SHOES. This happened a couple weeks ago in the city where I live. Let this sink in. A TEENAGER WAS KILLED FOR A PAIR OF SHOES.

Someone’s rude to you, you’re more rude back. It just escalates.

It’s the opposite of humility.

Do you know how many times the Bible mentions humility? It certainly is a big deal to God. I’m only going to mention 3 here:

Philippians 2:3- Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. …

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

A thankful heart, a servant’s heart, and a humble heart are what are pleasing to God.

Also, going back to the political climate, I am shocked at the vile comments I see on Facebook about candidates in these people’s own preferred party. I am in a bunch of conservative groups on Facebook, and after each of the Republican candidates who have dropped out, many of the members of the FB group make cruel, hateful, abhorrent comments about that candidate. I have seen the most vitriol saved for Marco Rubio. After reading such detestable comments, you’d think it was a liberal saying these things. Let me gently remind you that whatever you do for the least of these you do to [Jesus]. That includes names you call people. That includes how you treat people. When you insult or comment that this loser should have dropped out sooner and curl up and die, you are saying this about a sacred soul created in God’s own image. In essence, you are saying it to God Himself, and that must be repented of. That goes for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump too.

Blog 8 of Lent, and, Why understanding the history, culture and language of the Bible is important!

Published February 27, 2016 by thinkinbout

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This is an important one. This is one that I have often heard twisted maybe more than any other piece of Scripture, and one in which people claim shows St. Paul’s sexism. They couldn’t be more wrong.

First, I’ll copy and paste this email I sent to myself a decade ago (don’t know who wrote it), and then add my thoughts. I have also heard a sermon about this from Michael Youseff, but unfortunately I do not know the title of that sermon. Anyway, the sermon and this piece concur.

“Should Christian women avoid wearing jewelry or braids?

I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
—1 Timothy 2:9-10, NIV
These verses might throw you for a loop if your Bible-reading plan calls for an arbitrary number of verses a day. But if you read the Bible a book at a time and you have the ten minutes it takes to read this epistle all in one chunk, you notice two things: First, that the entire second chapter deals with the worship service, so Paul is not talking about how women should dress when they go grocery shopping. Second, that Paul addressed this epistle specifically to Timothy, not to us. We are reading this epistle, so to speak, over Timothy’s shoulder:
To Timothy my true son in the faith
—1 Timothy 1:2, NIV
Therefore, if we apply this passage directly, without taking the context or Timothy’s immediate needs into account, our interpretation isn’t biblical.
Every time I go to the mall and see how the people are dressed, I wonder how we could have had a shipwreck this far inland. But even in this age of fashionable grunge, clothing says a lot about you. For example, it is fairly safe to presume that a man dressed in a tuxedo is probably not on his way to the harbor to unload a ship. And a woman who is standing on a street corner in a bad neighborhood at night in fishnet stockings, a clear vinyl skirt, and too much makeup, is not likely to be a nun. So if I were a modern apostle writing to the pastor of a church located near a red-light district, I would say, “your women should not be wearing fishnet stockings and clear vinyl skirts.” By that I would not mean that if fashion changes and fishnet stockings become respectable, you should still not wear them, I just mean that however the entrepreneurs of the horizontal industry should happen to dress, you shouldn’t.
However, the situation wasn’t quite that extreme for Timothy. In those days, braids and jewelry were ostentatious, beauty-pageant type things. Paul’s concern was not about braids and jewelry, but about vanity and ostentatiousness. It’s important not to turn the worship service into a beauty pageant, because women would spend all their time competing and none of it worshiping. It can send the poor women home in tears and puff the rich women up with pride, and this is not supposed to be the outcome of Christian worship.
So I think we should interpret Paul as giving specific instructions to Timothy that were applicable to his immediate needs and circumstances, from which we should derive the principle that Christian women should dress appropriately—neither too severely, nor too wildly. Paul did not speak of men, not because the principle does not apply to them, but because men’s clothing wasn’t the problem in Timothy’s church and Paul’s immediate purpose was to address Timothy’s needs. We should apply the same rules to men, because the underlying principle is applicable everywhere and to everyone. We should all dress modestly and appropriately, not sticking out in one extreme or the other.
Well, that’s what Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:9—what we should not wear. In 1 Timothy 2:10, Paul talks about what we should wear. And this brings to mind the popular saying that you are never fully dressed without a smile. I suppose that would be true for us if we were secular people, because we live in a shallow society that shuns people who are sad. If we are secular people, concerned only about getting ahead, we should always smile, so that we won’t suffer any disadvantage. But if we are Christians, we have something better than cheerfulness—we have the love of God, which is so strong we don’t need to plaster our faces with fake smiles, and we do not need to avoid sad people. In fact, Jesus sent us to seek them out and lift them up.
A doctor is never fully dressed for work without a stethoscope, nor a mason without a trowel, nor a carpenter without a hammer. A Christian is never fully dressed without the good deeds that are appropriate for those who profess to worship God.”

The people who claim that Paul was sexist do not understand this passage, and that is too bad. In fact, in high school especially, this was brought up and flung in my face to make me doubt my faith, or to show me that my religion was one of oppression of women. But they didn’t understand the times. They didn’t understand that these particular women to whom Paul was writing were dressing up for one another and that was taking focus off worship. Women like to dress up. If I could wear a ball gown and glitter everyday, I would. But church is not a time for dress up, it is to be a time of focus on God. Attention should be on Him and Him alone.

Blog 7 of Lent: Being Born Again

Published February 27, 2016 by thinkinbout

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As I sometimes do, I am again blogging someone else’s words. Unfortunately I cannot give credit where credit is due because I emailed this to myself 8 years ago and neglected to copy and paste the name of the author.

“To be Born Again is not an exclusive “New Testament” Message, this was already been revealed by YaHWeH in the “Old Testament” (Tanakh in Hebrew).

To understand this better let us refer how John (Yochanan in Hebrew) narrates the discussion between Yeshua HaMashiach and Nicodemus regarding how a man can enter the Kingdom of YaHWeH .

John 3:3-7: “…Yeshua answered, Amein, amein, I say to you, Unless a man is born of water and the SPIRIT, he cannot enter into the kingdom of Elohim . That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is BORN OF THE SPIRIT is SPIRIT. Do not marvel that I said to you, YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN. The SPIRIT breathes where He desires, and you hear His voice, but you do not know from where He comes, and where He goes; so is everyone who is BORN OF THE SPIRIT.Nicodemus answered and said to Him, How can these things be?”

Notice how our Messiah replied to Nicodemus in John 3:10 “Yeshua answered and said to him, ARE YOU THE TEACHER OF YISRAEL AND DO NOT KNOW THESE THINGS?” As a teacher of Israel , Nicodemus should have recognized what the Messiah meant about how one is to be born again, for this is what the Prophets have written long ago in the Tanakh (Old Testament)

We are Born of the Spirit when YaHWeH gives us a NEW HEART and a NEW SPIRIT. “And I will give them one HEART, and I will put a NEW SPIRIT within you. And I will remove the stony HEART out of their flesh, and will give them a HEART of flesh, so that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances (TORAH, Word of YaHWeH), and do them. And they shall be My people, and I will be their Elohim.” Ezekiel 11:19-20

Deuteronomy 30:6 “Moreover YaHWeH your Elohim will circumcise your HEART and the HEART of your descendants, to love YaHWeH your Elohim with all your HEART and with all your Soul, SO THAT YOU MAY LIVE.” Circumcision is a covenant. In the Hebraic culture, to be in covenant means to have a relationship and agreement. YaHWeH desires to have a relationship with us – He desires to Circumcise our Hearts, and with this Covenant Relationship we gain LIFE.

Through this Covenant Relationship we shall know YaHWeH and His Word: “Behold, the days come, says YaHWeH, that I will cut a NEW COVENANT with the house of Yisrael, and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I cut with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which covenant of Mine they broke, although I was a husband to them, says YaHWeH; but this shall be the covenant that I will cut with the house of Yisrael: After those days, says YaHWeH, I WILL PUT MY TORAH (WORD OF YAHWEH) IN THEIR INWARD PARTS, AND WRITE IT IN THEIR HEARTS; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people. And they shall no more teach each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know YaHWeH; FOR THEY SHALL ALL KNOW ME, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says YaHWeH. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:31-34

Furthermore, having faith in the Word of YaHWeH is part of this Covenant Relationship as Prophet Jeremiah wrote, and according to David, the Word of Elohim converts a person, “The TORAH/Law of YaHWeH is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of YaHWeH is sure, making the simple wise.” Psalm 19:7

Rabbi Cephas (Apostle Peter) concurs: “having been BORN AGAIN, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the living WORD OF YAHWEH ELOHIM, and abiding forever.” 1Peter 1:23

And so to conclude, the Message of being Born Again is as old as the Tanakh (Old Testament), it is not an exclusive “New Testament” Message.”

Blog 6 of Lent: Worthless Religion

Published February 22, 2016 by thinkinbout

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Today was the first day in months I’ve actually been able to attend a church service because I wasn’t scheduled to work. And it was glorious. Besides the fact that my 11 month old made a lot of noise and had to be taken out of the sanctuary a couple times, just sitting in the pew listening to the organ music was exactly what I needed. In my teens and 2os I preferred contemporary worship, but now I enjoy that “old time” music, and a choir that wears robes.

Today I actually won’t be writing about anything in Jeremiah, but a passage from the first chapter in Isaiah.  Today at breakfast my husband asked, “Would you walk non-stop for 24 hours to reach [a place of pilgrimage]?” I knew what he meant, since he has told me about his journey before. He is from a country in which there has been a “Marian apparition” (a place where Mary has appeared to a person or persons, and where a miracle has supposedly occurred. Note that not all places that claim to have Marian apparitions have been approved by the Catholic Church).  Anyway, hubby has made this pilgrimage twice. He told me he walked all day and night to reach it, and he told me of the many pilgrims who even walked there on their knees as a sign of deep devotion. Now I am not Catholic, so I don’t know if that means deep devotion to Mary, God, or maybe it’s considered devotion to the whole Church as one, I don’t know.

Medjugorje

“Would you walk non-stop for 24 hours to reach [a place of pilgrimage]?”  No.

Hubby: “I did, and when I reached The Virgin (statue), I promised her I would never do it again [because it was so grueling]. Then I did do it again and I promised her one more time that I would never do that again.”

To my ears, that sounds funny, promising a statue something. I understand that he didn’t see himself as making a promise to the statue itself, but to the Mary herself in a prayer, or something, but that’s not the point.

He continued, telling me that making that trek, volunteering in a various places, doing “good,” left him feeling empty after the fact. Walking that distance, not once but twice, certainly is an accomplishment-a big one! Talk about devotion-to good works! That left me thinking about Isaiah, specifically about worthless religion and good works that are nothing but “rags.”

Isaiah 1:11-15 (CSB): ” ‘What are all your sacrifices to Me?’ asks the LORD. ‘I have had enough of burnt offerings and rams and the fat of well-fed cattle; I have no desire for the blood of bulls, lambs, or male goats. When you come to appear before Me, who requires this from you-this trampling of My courts? Stop bringing useless offerings. I despise your incense, New Moons and Sabbaths, and the calling of solemn assemblies-I cannot stand iniquity with a festival. I hate your New Moons and prescribed festivals. They have become a burden to Me; I am tired of putting up with them. When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will refuse to look at you; even if you offer countless prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.’ ”

God instituted these festivals and sacrifices to Himself in years past, and you can find guidelines for those in Exodus, Leviticus, and probably Deuteronomy, though I’m not going to check at the moment due to time constraints. The footnote in my Bible says this: “The Lord directed the people of Israel to build the tabernacle (Ex. 26-31), established the theological significance of the sacrifices (Lv 1-6), and appointed the nation’s festivals (Ex 34:18-26; Lv 23). But here Isaiah, speaking in the Lord’s name, appears to condemn these God-ordained institutions. Israelite prophets typically expressed themselves in extreme language, so attuned were they to the Lord’s sense of betrayal by the people He had chosen. The institutions of Israelite worship were designed so that the people could sense God’s presence in their midst, confess their sins, and renew their covenant relationship. They were to participate in these feasts in a heart-felt celebration of His past acts of grace. But the nation had grown careless; its worship had become shallow, carried out as popular custom-a casual ‘trampling’ (v. 12) of the courts of the Lord. There was a profound disparity between the people’s professed loyalty to the covenant and the ‘iniquity’ (v. 13) and injustice (v. 15) they tolerated in violation of that very covenant’s precepts. Under such conditions, it is hardly surprising that the Lord found their offerings ‘useless’ (v. 13) and was disgusted by their prayer, incense, festivals, and other religious practices. God does not condemn the practices of worship He, Himself, has instituted, only the false motivation that distorts them. He welcomes worship from those who repent of their sins and come to His house to glorify His name.”

I wanted to mention one more verse of Isaiah before ending this post. It is Isaiah 64:6: “All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment; all of us with like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.” The footnote says: “Isaiah strikingly compared the ‘righteous acts‘ of the people to a polluted garment…ritual uncleanness kept a person from entering the place of worship or from beholding the face of the Lord…Even despicable human beings can do a few good things for people they care about, but God does not look on their good deeds with favor because their motivation is corrupt and self-centered. In this passage, the people were confessing their sins, admitting they did not listen to God (v. 4) or call on His name (v. 7). They realized that the good things they did- their own righteousness- could never compare with the righteousness of a holy God, which is infinitely greater.”

If you’re not in right relationship with God, “good works” are not looked upon by God as righteous acts. He Himself has paved the bridge for that right relationship and those good works through Christ alone.

 

 

 

Blog 5 of Lent: Tattoos, and why understanding the culture of the Bible is so important.

Published February 17, 2016 by thinkinbout

How much do you love these uncreative titles for these blogs? 🙂

I don’t have any tattoos, but in my 20s, I sure did want a bunch. I never could afford one though, so it never happened. Of course, I always had Leviticus 19:28 (NIV) in the back of my mind: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” So maybe that was a deterrent too, but I think mostly it was because I couldn’t afford it.

I found this video that explains the verse and, again, why understanding the culture of the Bible is so important.

 

 

Blog 4 of Lent

Published February 16, 2016 by thinkinbout

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I’m afraid that I don’t know what to write about tonight. I really have writer’s block or something. So….I’m going to copy something I read today instead of thinking up something on my own. It’s an article about the Baha’i faith, which I have never researched, and don’t have a great deal of interest in, probably because I don’t know anyone who practices this faith. But it is a popular religion, and I have seen a place of worship locally (I don’t know what you call it. A temple? A church? I have no idea)

This is an article titled “How Does Christianity Relate to the Baha’i Faith?” by Douglas R. Groothuis.

“The Baha”i religion began when a Persian man calling himself Baha’u’lah (Arabic for “the Glory of God”) declared in 1863 that he was the latest revelation of God. Indeed, today several million Baha’is worldwide believe that Baha’u’lah (1817-1892) was the latest in a long line of ‘manifestations’ of God and that he fulfilled prophecies from the world’s religions, including the biblical prophecies concerning the second coming of Christ.

Baha’is assert the unknowability and oneness of God, the unity of all religions, the unity of humanity, and the unity of science and religion. They believe that Baha’is will eventually lead the world into a state of global harmony. Baha’is claim that all major religions were inspired by God and that they develop in a progressive manner. Baha’u’lah, they say, will not be succeeded by another manifestation until a thousand years after his death.

The Baha’i religion, despite its lofty goals, is incompatible with biblical Christianity and lacks evidence to support its claims. All religions cannot be from God, since they contradict each other on essential truth claims. The teachings of Buddha, for example, exclude a personal God. But Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all believe in a personal deity. Baha’is attempt to account for these discrepancies in two ways.

First, they claim that religious truth is relative to historical periods. This argument fails because it makes God unable to reveal even the most basic divine truths consistently. Moreover, if God is unknowable, as Baha’is claim, then there is no basis for any divine revelation (knowledge), Baha’i or otherwise.

Second, they argue that the original teachings of the world religions (except the Baha’i religion) have been corrupted. For example, [they claim] Christianity never taught that Jesus was uniquely divine and that He physically rose from the dead. These were later distortions. Baha’is deny these well-attested facts because the facts would place Jesus in a position far beyond what Baha’is allow for a manifestation of God (Rm 1:4, 1 Tm 2:5). But neither history nor logic support these revisionist claims.

Christians should challenge Baha’is to read the New Testament for themselves and to investigate the many reasons for its reliability. They should also challenge Baha’is to consider that their doctrine of the progressive unity of all religions has no logical or factual basis and can be held only on the purported authority of Baha’u’lah, who, unlike the resurrected Jesus, died and remains dead.”