Easter

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Maundy Thursday

Published April 13, 2017 by thinkinbout

LastSupper

The last meal which He ate with them, the night before He died, was one which they would oft recall when He was crucified.

He talked with them and washed their feet; He gave them bread and wine, that in remembrance they might do the act which was divine.

“No servant greater than his Lord,” “No love so great as this”- The words of life preceding death Betrayed by friendship’s kiss.

So silver from Iscariot’s hand Has tinkled down the years; Man’s greed has hanged his guilty self And drowned his deed in tears.

By Alice Kennelly Roberts

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 three of Lent, and Why you need to understand the culture of the day to understand the Bible.

Published February 14, 2016 by thinkinbout

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Ever hear of a “Sunday Christian”? That’s what today’s reading in Jeremiah reminded me of. If you’re not familiar with the term, it means someone who attends church on Sunday but does not live a Christian life, or someone who doesn’t adhere to the faith, the rest of the week. I could rightfully be called the worst of the bunch.

Jeremiah 7:9-11 asks the following questions (CSB): “Do you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and follow other gods that you have not known? Then do you come and stand before Me in this house called by My name and insist: We are safe? As a result, you are free to continue doing all the detestable acts! Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your view? Yes, I too have seen it.”

Regardless of whether or not you murder or burn incense to idols, the point is, every time you (I) break one of the 10 Commandments or any of God’s law, we are acting like these ancient Judeans.  This is particularly true when it’s an habitual problem, a lifestyle. The verses above describe everyday living for non-believers,  but this is not to be- must not be– the lifestyle of a Christian. We are called to live a different lifestyle than the world. Does “being in the world, not of the world” ring a bell?

I also wanted to address some later verses from chapter 7 that can be applied to Genesis 22, where Abraham is told to sacrifice his son Isaac on an alter for God. First,  Jeremiah 7:31: “They (Judeans) have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Hinnom in order to burn their sons and daughters in the fire, a thing I did not command; I never entertained the thought.”

Now, Genesis 22:2: “‘Take your son,’ He (God) said, ‘your only son, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.'”

First, this is shocking. Maybe not to people who grew up in the church, because it’s a familiar story, and we’re taught it was to test Abraham’s love for God. Ok, yeah, but that doesn’t make it any less shocking to someone hearing this for the first time.

Second, Abraham obeys, but he also tells his son that “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering…” (v. 8). While God commands Isaac as a sacrifice, Abraham tells his son that God will provide a lamb-as if he had enough faith in his God to provide an animal instead of his actual son as the sacrifice. Sacrifices in ancient times were a sign of a deeper relationship with God, not just a sacrifice for sacrifice’s sake. It was a precursor to Christ’s all-atoning sacrifice later on.

Third, while this is shocking to a modern person’s ears, if you read the Old Testament, all throughout, God speaks of His utter horror at people killing their children as sacrifices for false gods (demons, really). Reading through the OT, you may wonder at the amount of prohibitions on child sacrifice, and the amount of times God says He loathes it. Child sacrifice, and adult sacrifice too, is found in many cultures of the ancient world: the middle east, the America’s, ancient Europe…and God detests it. What a horror. But to an ancient, child sacrifice would not have been out of the ordinary. So God commanding that Abraham sacrifice his child would not have been shocking to him. Remember, Abraham was called out from a pagan culture to be God’s own, so human sacrifice would not have been out of the ordinary for him. But Abraham trusted God to provide an alternative sacrifice since Isaac was his promised son.

And He did.

 

 

 

Blog 1 for Lent-Ash Wednesday

Published February 10, 2016 by thinkinbout

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I have a daunting goal: I want to blog each day between Ash Wednesday through Easter about spiritual things. Of course, having an 11 month old at home may render this impossible, but I’m still going to try.

I, at least right now, think I will mainly be blogging about my thoughts and reflections on what I’m reading in Scripture. That happens to be the book of Jeremiah…not very Easter-y or Lent-y, or Ash Wednesday-y, but hey, it’s where I’m at.

Today I read chapter three of Jeremiah, and a portion of the chapter deals with “true repentance.”  3:19-22 says, “I thought: How I long to make you My sons and give you a desirable land, the most beautiful inheritance of all the nations. I thought: You will call Me, my Father, and never turn away from Me. However, as a woman may betray her lover, so you have betrayed Me, house of Israel. This is the LORD’s declaration. A sound is heard on the barren heights, the children of Israel weeping and begging for mercy, for they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the LORD their God. Return, you faithless children. I will heal your unfaithfulness. ‘Here we are, coming to You, for You are the LORD our God…’

And, verse 25: “Let us lie down in our shame; let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the LORD our God, both we and our fathers, from the time of our youth even to this day. We have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.”

Can you not feel the emotion in God’s voice?? He wants to give His children good gifts, but they (we) constantly turn away. He, as the text says, longs, for us!! Have you ever felt that longing for someone?  Of course. Can you imagine God feeling that way for YOU and then turning away from Him?  Yes, I bet you can. Can you imagine longing for someone only to have them reject you? Isn’t it the absolute worst feeling in the world? That’s what we do to God all the time. Thankfully there is that one line that in verse 22 that promises if we return to Him He will heal us.

Contrary to what I have heard time and time again, Christians don’t believe that if you simply say you’re “sorry” about some sin or other, we can be sure that God will forgive us, and we can go on our merry way. That holds true ONLY if it is done with a contrite spirit, true repentance. Attrition is what most non-Christians seem to think we believe. They think we believe that a couple Hail Mary’s here, a simple, Oh, sorry I cheated on that test, there, will suffice. NO WAY. That is not true repentance, a sorrowful, deep, deep “sorry-ness” for your sin. Recognizing sin is the first step. One must understand that sin is a turning away from a perfect, holy, and just God to do what is deliberately contrary to His Word. And He only accepts a turning away from sin, a profound desire to leave it behind, as true repentance. Verse 25 describes true repentance succinctly.

So, in a way, this actually does tie in nicely with Ash Wednesday. In the days of the Bible, people would show their sorrow and repentance by putting ashes on their heads. Think Job or King David. It was a sign of deep, deep sorrow, but also of a truly repentant heart. That’s the sign we convey when we have ashes placed on our foreheads this holy day.