Sunday, January 14, 2018

Why 501(c)(3) of Title 26?

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Two career changes ago I got to give money away through a 501( c )3 foundation – and there were multiple rules for how that should be done. Our particular foundation had to be doubly careful where the contributions went – or they could lose their own IRS ruling that allowed people/corporation’s donations to them not to be tax-deductible.

That has absolutely nothing to do with reading your Bible – except as an example as to why it is essential to have chapters and verses in Bible study.

Suppose I said to you that I’d like for you to read the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus in the book of John? I know (as most Christians know) that you could turn directly to chapter 3, and those sample people could tell you from their memory verse 16.

While speaking with someone wanting a donation from the foundation, I would explain they needed to comply with 501(c)(3). Rather than read the entire IRS code, or even Title 26, and figure out what was required, they could go directly to the section/paragraph/sub-paragraph of Title 26.

That’s why chapter and verse numbers are convenient – even though they are not included in the original documents. It is interesting to read the Bible without the inserted verse numbers – or arbitrary paragraphs. Yes, even paragraphs were not part of the original documents. Nor commas, semi-colons or periods. Today’s rules of grammar did not apply.

However, don’t you find them easier to keep track? At least of where you are? Even those pesky page numbers that are not original.

My thoughts on this were generated by someone who expressed a concern that doctrine is based on single verses. And I looked at that concept in a number of blogs. My favorite also mentions John’s third chapter, and this paragraph:

Read the chapter – not just that one awesome and beloved verse. Find out to whom Jesus was speaking, why the man came to see Him, the answers Jesus gave. Put the verse in context. It increases our knowledge when we do, but it doesn't change the message of the verse as it stands alone. As someone mentioned in another thought today, “It is what it is.”

No matter what verse(s) are posted in any blog or article, read them in context. In the above blog, I mentioned verses in Genesis, John and Revelation. To understand them, you need to read them in context. My personal preference is to read the Bible through at least once a year, which puts it all in context, even all the lists of names and genealogy in the Old Testament!

Since I won’t blog without scripture, here are two important ones – from that third chapter, and another about what to do with it:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Then do as well as the Bereans:

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:10-11)

Do not remove the verses from their context. Who is God? What is the world? How do we not perish? What is everlasting life? Go ahead – see if these things are so.

Friday, January 12, 2018

It’s Not My Job

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That’s a book my vice-president bought for his staff – years ago. But I applied it’s principles in a blog – also years ago.

The book was to help people understand software Process Maturity Levels:
    • Initial
    • Repeatable
    • Defined
    • Managed
    • Optimized
A recent discussion with Contrarian (his appellation, not mine) confirmed that maturity levels are constant processing. And, that we are all on different steps in our lives.

In my Christian life, I’ve moved through Initial – making my personal decision whether or not I can accept Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 as valid. I did, though others have their questions – I’m very firm that those verses are based on another’s experience with a Creator capable of being in contact with His creation. After that, other verses were more easily understood.

Too often I’ve found myself defending my beliefs – and that’s not my job. I should be able to explain why I have faith:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15 KJV)

But it is not my job to do more than share that. God has a job for me, but it is not to do more than answer what people ask.

Do be careful about asking, though, I have a tendency to over answer. And, when over-answering, it’s hard to remember what I said above: “… we are all on different steps”. Most people like where they are. It is not my job to be concerned about that – until they ask.

That does not change the basics of this blog, though – encouraging people to read God’s word, to get to know God’s Word. And I never lack an interest in reading His word.

It’s not my job to change anyone. It’s not my job to “educate” them. It’s definitely not my job to proselytize them.

Even though you haven’t asked (yet), here’s the top level of my job description:

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35 KJV)

If I can’t do that, I must return to the first, initial, step and validate my association with the commandment. If I can’t do that, I must change myself – or not be called one of His disciples. Please note that no where in that verse – or any other – am I entitled to tell another person they need to love one another. It’s not my job.

I’m still in the Defined level when it comes to biblical discussions. Researching to a core source seems to be a talent. That has served me well in two employment positions, but there are times to step away and allow learning to come from other sources – for good reason:

Remind the people of these facts, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God to avoid petty controversy over words, which does no good, and [upsets and undermines and] ruins [the faith of] those who listen. (2 Timothy 2:14 Amplified Bible (AMP])

If you must check to see that it means the same in KJV, be my guest:

Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. (2 Timothy 2:14 KJV)

There should be profit in words. I can pray it’s the same profit Paul mentioned in another context:

. . . not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:33 KJV)

Yes – that’s an awesome profit, an excellent goal – but not my job. God will take care of it as His word is shared. I believe that.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Who Is This?

I know - I haven't been posting here as often this year as in previous ones. I can find all kinds of excuses - and a couple of good reasons, but just wanted you to know that I have been sharing our Lord in other ways.

First has been our ladies' mission group, Together We Can Change Lives. We bring our change in jars (or baggies, or simply dump purses!), combining them with fundraisers through the year and provide assistance to missionaries our church supports: a home/school for boys; orphans in another land; homeless in our own area, meal and snack bags, clothing; warm clothing for Native Americans. We make a wide variety of handmade crafts, too, for a fall craft sale.

This year I choose to make zippered pouches, which didn't sell all that well until I thought of machine-embroidering names/words on them. First ones didn't sell well, and it wasn't because they were the first I made. Second batch did better, with words - first sold was "Mine." Worked well. Then I offered to personalize them - and I had to order a couple dozen zippers three time!

By our end of year sale in December, we had done at least one project each month direct to missionaries and raised over $3,000 in sales to provide funding for their projects. For me, that's a good year, even if I didn't post here much.

I did get some good Bible verses out on my Facebook account. Under my real name. I need to get one under Grammy Blick, too, I guess. The verses leading up to Christmas were my favorites because they pointed to exactly who that baby in the manger was, however, the .gif files won't load from my laptop, so here's what lay atop backgrounds:

And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? (Matthew 21:10 KJV)

People still ask that question - wondering why something 2000 years ago could possible be important today. Who would be interested in the birth of a baby when no one can prove it happened? Something to do with an old myth that goes back even longer, and needy people buy into it because their lives are miserable without hope. Why think about this? Just head to the mall or go online and get the shopping done. But other verses explain:

While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. (Matthew 17:5 KJV)

That's not the only verse where God speaks directly of His son, but it's just about my favorite. God inspired others to write of Him, too:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 KJV)

"The mighty God." Now, there's a verse to remember. The Child will be equal to God - and that will get Him killed. We can't celebrate Christmas without knowledge of the crucifixion and resurrection.

Still, once a year we may take time from that busy shopping season where we are expected to overspend and keep our faltering economy moving forward. When we do, decide what your answer is for the "Who is this?" Would you believe what God, prophets and angels said:

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, (Luke 2:9-13 KJV)

Or what God revealed to one man:

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 16:16-17 KJV)

That's what I believe.












Thursday, November 30, 2017

It’s Not Always The Bible . . .

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Photo taken by Raysonho – Wikipedia Commons


. . . that brings our thoughts back to where they should be. This morning it was a book’s paragraph, written by an author I’ve followed for decades.

Two characters in the book were discussing relationships with mothers, but in a Christian aspect, it is applicable in a number of relationships:

'"The problem is, your mother was someone who wanted to do everything by the book . . . and she could never quite bring herself to appreciate a daughter to insisted on coloring outside the lines. Mine, either."' she added quietly.'

I, too, am someone who sees things black and white. I've read the black and white:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23 KJV)

And am consistently reminded:

For the wages of sin is death;

Yet seldom reminded that particular verse continues with a promise:

but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 KJV)

So a trip back to those same black and white verses quoted by men who heard Jesus’ words, along with a question: Just what did Jesus do with people He called sinners?

Try Matthew 9:2-5, or Mark 2:5-9, or Luke 5:18-24 for the same story. Another is shown in Luke 7:36-50. Still another  in John 5:1-17. Another mentions the sinfulness, but doesn’t point it out to the sinner nor absolve her of it, just opens the door to her understanding in John 4:1-42.

So Jesus is more than capable of recognizing sin – He is in the business of forgiving sins. Christians don’t doubt that, and we expect Him to forgive ours. But after acknowledging that, what are we supposed to do?

Let’s start with the important commandments.  Jesus had been able to silence the Sadducees who believed this life is all mankind has – there was no heaven, nor hell. Matthew 22 tells how that was done, and follows with Jesus’ confrontation with Pharisees who depend upon their compliance with the Law to enter heave. Jesus condensed the Jewish law into two:

But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:34-40 KJV)

I can add a note that sometimes Christians get this, but too often we don’t when we believe another has broken them. We tell ourselves we have righteous anger because that other person has openly broken one or both of those two commandments.

May I remind myself (and you, along the way) that I am not to: 1) forgive sin;

For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. (Hebrews 10:30 KJV)

and 2) make anyone else regret their sin;

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: (Luke 6:37 KJV)

Study the fullness of the message in Matthew 7 and Luke 6, keeping in mind this one description Jesus gave of His followers:

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:35 KJV)

Monday, October 16, 2017

So You Want To Be A Foot?

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(My apologies for not knowing the source of this beautiful graphic)
There are many people in our world who will tell you that you can be anything you want to be – there are no limits to what you can achieve. All that is needed is to set and achieve goals, a step at a time and never, ever, give up your dream. You will read stories from and of people who have followed these instructions and are multiply-successful in all phases of their lives. I’m not refuting their stories at all.

No way I’d attempt to prove their stories right or wrong – it was theirs to live and to share.  But what if someone wanted to be a foot and instead should have been an ear?
Not familiar with that concept? Come see a few scriptures. Sunday’s sermon included verses from I Corinthians 12. Paul is writing to a church that needs a few lessons. Just as we still need a few lessons today.

Paul knew scriptures very well, and used Isaiah 52:7 in a letter to Romans:

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Romans 10:14-15 KJV)

There are a lot of people who feel they want to be the one to use their feet to preach Christ’s gospel of peace, bringing glad tidings of God’s redemption. But not all people should be missionaries – though all have a mission.  Take Paul’s examples in Chapter 12.

Paul is describing a single body – the total body of believers in Christ – being made of multiple parts. God has given us all gifts:

And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. (1 Corinthians 12:6-7 KJV)
Paul describes some of the gifts the Holy Spirit works within us. That does not make one “better” or “worse”, either. Whatever our calling, whatever our gift, wherever we work for our Lord, we still do it as one body:

If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? (1 Corinthians 12:15 KJV)

While there is a whole study in this one chapter, and I encourage spending time here, relating to ourselves and our own gifts from God, the final verse here leads into a beautiful chapter that applies to all:

But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:31 KJV)

Yes – the chapter showing the description and importance of Love.

So – what if you wanted to be a beautiful foot but your calling is simply to show love to all around you? There’s an answer in the Old Testament:

For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?  (Esther 4:14 KJV)

I do not wish there to be enlargement and deliverance from another place when I was placed for a specific time. What’s your opinion?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Reconciled

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Not yet called Christians, Jesus’ followers heard Him say:

Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mark 11:24-26 KJV)

There’s another example:

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. (Matthew 18:15-17 KJV)

One more:

Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. (Matthew 5:23-24 KJV)

Sounds as though it’s rather important. There are examples of this at work in the letters of the New Testament.  There the discussions are among those who were first called Christians at Antioch, and the word still applies to those who follow Jesus, God’s Christ.

I'm picking one I've been reading for the rest of this blog - Paul and John Mark.  Half the story of Paul and John Mark (yes, the Mark that wrote the book, and the nephew of Barnabas) is told in Acts 15:36-41.  It began with John Mark leaving "Paul and his company" in Acts 13:13.

The end of the story shows them reconciled in II Timothy 4:9-11, where Paul is giving closing instructions:

Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. (2 Timothy 4:9-11 KJV)

Here we see that Mark is profitable to Paul in continuing his ministry while Paul is in prison. They worked out a reconciliation.

But someone else moved away – this time Demas left, “having loved this present world.” The Bible does not tell what caused the rift between Demas, who in Colossians 4 and Philemon 1, is named as Paul’s companion, just as Luke and Mark are.

All those words, and the examples. Do they make an impression on us? Or do we not hold out a hand of reconciliation? Do we have to do it on every occasion? Let me leave that last question for the next blog. I need to spend time myself on this one. Rereading. Praying.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Extrapolate

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This has shown up several times across the web. The accompanying comments usually state a professor is wearing the T-shirt and had students that stated the second type was missing.

I thought there could be a lesson here and found a good example in John 3 while studying. The Pulpit Commentary discusses what scholars had to say about Jesus’ knowledge of Nicodemus’ reason for coming to Him:
A controversy has arisen on the point—Did our Lord, by these penetrative glances, manifest his Divine nature, assume a Divine prerogative, or exercise a lofty, penetrative human gift? Westcott, on the philological ground of the contrast in meaning between γινώσκειν and εἰδέναι, urges that the former word, used here, represents knowledge acquired by processes of inquiry and perception, as distinct from the latter, which is reserved for absolute and settled knowledge. Godet, on theological grounds, urges that the phrase refers to the human faculty of observation rather than to the Divine prerogative of heart-searching. There are, however, many other indications of this same thought-mastery, which the evangelists appear to regard as proofs of Divine power; so that I think the real significance of the passage is an ascription to Jesus of Divine power. The supernatural in mind, the superhuman mental processes of Jesus, are part of the proof we have that, though he was Man, he created the irresistible impression that he was more than man.
It helps to know the different connotations between γινώσκειν and εἰδέναι, but that goes very deep into theological studies.  While I find them interesting, no controversial discussions have changed my mind that Jesus is the promised Messiah, supernaturally created by God.

I believe Nicodemus “extrapolated”, or extended his knowledge of God’s work with the Jews to include Jesus’ actions, assuming the miraculous occurrences were a continuing trend of God’s intervention in mankind. I believe we can extrapolate across the centuries, based on the wide range of eye witness writers during that first century as well as the number of theologians who have studied those writings, that what we see of God’s work in our lives is a continuation, too.

Although there have been detractors and deniers, The Bible continues to be a best seller around the world. People read it, study it, pray with it, define their days with it, and best of all – share it with others. That’s all Peter and Paul did as they reached Jews and gentiles – witness to others their personal experiences with Christ.

Peter means to me that we can err and return. Paul means to me that we can be willfully involved in fighting Christ and meeting Him, follow in service. While I love reading Hebrews’ 11th chapter, that list of Judaic faithful, I love even better:

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 KJV)

We’ve had another two-thousand years to see additional faithful join that great cloud of witnesses. We’ve also seen some who failed, miserably, taking others with them. Stick with the full story of God’s gift to us – because He loves us. Read more in the Bible.