Friday, December 6, 2013
This fall I’ve listened to two men with whom I disagree on some doctrinal issues. There are scriptures I’ve read, studied and hold dear that their interpretation is 180 degrees from mine. Those are serious differences and I would enjoy an opportunity to discuss them in prayer, but I’m likely never to meet them.
The first is the Catholic Pope, Francis I. Much has been made in the media about his reaching out to people in love, for God is love. The Pope has been clear, too, that doctrine has not changed.
The second is Gerald Jeffers, an Apostolic preacher I heard first on Youtube, not aware of his existence before hearing him lead a congregation in “Oh Come Let Us Adore Him,” convincingly telling us that’s not a seasonal song – He is worthy for adoration every day.
The message I received from both men, that God has and does love us, is tied to:
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:17 KJV)
Please, before anyone starts in about the differences between their doctrines and mine, please focus on the scripture and ask our Lord what it means.
Consider Jesus’ ministry. Yes, He condemned sinfulness, then He forgave – even to the point of death. Are we teaching more condemnation than forgiveness? Are we doing more condemnation than we are forgiving? As evangelicals, is our approach based more on the event of salvation than the life of adoration?
The gospel, the good news, has always been:
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. (Luke 2:10-11 KJV)
Our Lord’s interpretation of the Law is succinct:
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 22:36-40 KJV)
Do we start with these commandments, or do we begin by telling someone they are a lost sinner. Both are truth – the gospel is true, and it is true that everyone of us is a sinner. Just as Paul, we are to know and share truth, all of it:
For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. (Acts 20:27 KJV)
Too often, I feel, we stick with the sinner part. That could be because we understand the awfulness of the hell we faced without God, and we celebrate our deliverance from it through His merciful forgiveness. We cannot, however, omit focusing on the reason we have that forgiveness. God loved the world – me, you, everyone in it – enough to provide Himself in His Son.
Not everyone will accept this gift, and that breaks my heart. It is, however, a personal decision. I cannot accept for anyone but myself. I can, and I do, present scripture and encourage everyone to follow Jesus’ commandments – love God and neighbor. Read His word. Know His Word. Come, let us adore Him, the one who is worthy.
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (Revelation 5:9 KJV)
Thursday, December 5, 2013
That’s a book by Lee Strobel. It’s available on Amazon.com for $1.99 right now and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Yes – it is written by a Christian. Yes – he writes of interviews with Christian theologians. Some reviews look upon that as a case of the blind leading the blind. I found it interesting to read a tiny bit about Strobel’s conversion, but more so about a Jew who looked beyond the Talmud’s view of Jesus and found himself following the teachings of a fellow Jew. Yes – the conversations were between Christians, but incorporated much information from others who do not believe in Him.
By now, you know that I have trusted, do and will trust Jesus as the promised Messiah, Son of God, my savior. And, I pray He is yours, too.
Back to talking about Christmas. There is a paragraph toward the end of the book:
So, ironically, it’s the evidence for Easter that provided the decisive confirmation for me that the Christmas story is true: that the freshly born baby in the manger was the unique Son of God, sent on a mission to be the savior of the world.That’s why we celebrate Christmas. The two events are not special unless they are both real. In other words, there is no reason to be exchanging gifts unless it’s part of celebrating God’s gift to mankind. There’s no gift to mankind without the resurrection. Somehow I think a number of people are ignoring both of them as they fight crowds for the best deal to add more stuff to the stuff we have and that we really could live without.
Strobel, Lee (2009-07-27). The Case for Christmas: A Journalist Investigates the Identity of the Child in the Manger (pp. 89-90). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
Lee Strobel has written other books. I’d suggest “The Case For Christ,” also on Amazon (for a bit more – but it covers more, too.) It tells Strobel’s reason for leaving atheism for Christianity. All of us come to Him by different testimonies, different witnesses. And, we’re all willing to talk about the journey, about Him and about the reasons we serve Him. It’s with us every moment of every day simply because life is eternal and we share it with Him.
Very few are offered the opportunity to face Him the way that turned Saul into Paul, but we’re all ready to share the good news with anyone willing – or eager, in some cases – to hear how much He means to us. As I see it, what he means can be summed in two verses:
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 KJV)
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15 KJV)
For me, that’s Christmas.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
The Plymouth colony’s harvest in 1621 is acknowledged as the example this county is celebrating today. A time when the colonists and the Wampanoags gave thanks together, feasting on their bountiful harvest. The colony could not have survived without Wampanoag help. The previous winter decimated the colony.
For more information on the Wampanoag way of life, check the Wampanoag Homesite on Plimoth Plantation. For more information on early colonial villages, check the 17th Century English Village on that same website.
I found it interesting after learning my children’s 10th great-grandparents were part of the Massachusett’s Bay colony, arriving in 1630 – relative late comers.
The good will between colonists and Native Americans did not last. Though the concept of Thanksgiving after harvest did last, it was not considered a national holiday until President Abraham Lincoln signed it into existence in 1863. An attempt to unite a warring nation? Or a recognition that we should follow the Bible’s admonition:
So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations. (Psalms 79:13 KJV)
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (Ephesians 5:20 KJV)
Thanksgiving, 2011, I gave thanks for two in-laws, my son-in-law’s sister and my granddaughter-in-law; one a nurse, the other a doctor in physical therapy. They confirmed my initial concern that my Beloved Husband was in the first stages of a myasthenic crisis. That his labored breathing was not a heart attack, but the cessation of the involuntary muscles associated with breathing. His first air ambulance, a week of ICU, changes in medicine – and yet it happened again in February. Still more changes in lifestyle, only to have a septic infection in July. 2012 was a difficult year.
This year has been better, and for that I continually give thanks. Many of his symptoms have lessened. Prayer, along with having the right doctors at just the right time (again, part of answered prayers!) and he spent Wednesday making pies for the thirty participants in this year’s Thanksgiving celebration at our home.
It’s a potluck, everyone responsible for a dish, so we’ll have a variety of food as well as people. All three of my children, their spouses, their spouses’ parents, some grandchildren, great-grandchildren, siblings, etc. We are a diverse group. Many will give thanks to God, some will simply be grateful in their own way. There will be a blessing before the meal is served thanking God, in Jesus’ name, for all He has done for us. That prayer will include several specific requests, thankfulness for those who prepared the meal, a request that it be used not only for nourishment but that we will be of service to our Lord. There will be a few silent prayers for those who do not know Him to understand His love, grace and mercy. Please join with us in those specific prayers.
Join with us as we follow Jesus’ words about the greatest harvest:
Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. (Luke 10:2 KJV)
Sunday, November 24, 2013
I went looking for a photo that captured the thought of old and new after a Sunday School class last week that taught: God does not change.
There is no “God of the Old Testament” versus “God of the New Testament.” God has not, does not, change. Some may see incompatibility between the law of the Torah and the grace of the gospels, but God remains the same in both.
We read in the Old Testament of prophecies of doom, which were fulfilled to unrepentant Israel. We tend to ignore the restorations when God’s commandments were followed. We read in the New Testament of grace and forgiveness, and take those as license to do as we please for God no longer punishes. We hear preachers tell only of a merciful God who loves all mankind, not willing that any should perish. We neglect the surrounding verses:
But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, (2 Peter 3:7-11 KJV)
God is just. God balances mercy and justice. He expects men to be holy:
For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. (Leviticus 11:45 KJV)
Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:16 KJV)
God does not change:
For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6 KJV)
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8 KJV)
Why are we not seeing consequences today as there were in the time of the Judges, the Kings? Perhaps we relate a bit differently - we know more, we've been given more - more is required.
The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:46-48 KJV)
This is but a small portion of the scriptures and that lesson – there is so much more to be studied. Do you have a few moments to spend with Him? With His word? With Him in conversation? Or, as Genesis 3:8, when He comes to walk with us, do we hide?
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
I have been feeling a need for a change. Couldn’t put it into thoughts for a while, then ran across an article yesterday about adoption.
I know something about adoption – I married an adoptee, and I became one:
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (Romans 8:15-16 KJV)
Most people, especially those untouched by adoption, do not understand that it is a life-long process. Adoptees remain adoptees for the remainder of their lives. That is the blessing Paul writes of when he says we receive the Spirit of adoption, that we no longer cry to God, we cry to our Father as His children. That relationship can neither be described nor understood, but it is experienced.
The earthly adoption, though, fluctuates. More so today in our country with the ease of divorce and lessening of marriage commitments. We need to take adoption seriously. The American Adoption Congress has a page about certain adoption myths. First myth is:
Only a small number of adopted persons want to know their birth information.The second myth is:
In a study of American adolescents, the Search Institute found that 72 percent of adopted adolescents wanted to know why they were adopted, 65 percent wanted to meet their birth parents, and 94 percent wanted to know which birth parent they looked like.
Most birthmothers want to forget the past and not have "old wounds reopened."Seeing my mother-in-law throw her arms around her son 37 years after their separation confirmed this myth’s error.
So, what does an earthly adoption have to do with a heavenly one? There are myths around both. One should be understood to help understand the other. There are stories in both that would take a book to explain, not a web page – and that’s what I need to be doing.
I have neither the time nor inclination to do both. I started on the family adoption story last year, but obligations took me from it and the beginnings were lost when I changed computers. For some time now, I’ve felt very strongly that the story needs to be told. Family members have asked about it, and only a couple of us kept copies of correspondence during the search and the reunion.
And, there’s much more to the story than my husband and his brother’s adoption and reunion – the loss of family continuity and the reconnection. To write it down for my great-grands and even their children to understand will take more time than I’ve given to it before.
So – after much prayer, I believe this is as good a time as any to step away from this blog and begin the story. I will most likely drop back here time to time, leaving a Bible verse or a progress status. If you want to know something in between, feel free to drop me an e-mail at GrammyBlick(at)gmail.com – just change the (at) to the @ sign.
While I’m busy elsewhere, please pick up a Bible, find a scripture you like and share it with me. That would be greatly appreciated!!
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Several of the tables at our Ladies Meeting Monday were decorated with cornucopias. Not as filled as this one is, but plenty of fall related items to indicate a good harvest.
Our pastor’s wife prepared a lesson for us that began with Mephibosheth’s story from 2 Samuel 9, where David was looking for a descendant of Saul’s:
And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet. (2 Samuel 9:3 KJV)
It is a very interesting story, from the time of Jonathan’s death through Absalom's betrayal. I should have paid better attention to the rest of her lesson, but I got stuck at the first example she gave – of how we got there, to the meeting that night.
We all came by car – not one of us lives within walking distance of the church, unless you count walking by miles instead of blocks. Some singly, some carpooling. It was sprinkling, forecast to turn cool, and we were all dressed warm enough to handle the change in weather. We all brought food – container after container of soups, guaranteed to make things warmer. Obviously, we had the finances to provide all of these things, we were blessed to have what we need to come to this place at this time.
That’s where the thought process went off on it’s own – we had just covered the basic necessities to reach this destination. What about our meeting with our Lord? How did we get there? What was necessary to bring us face to face to the question Pilate asked:
… What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? (Matthew 27:22 KJV)
In the Old Testament, God spoke directly to people. In the New, He walked with them, explaining in parables the kingdom to come. He spoke to disciples, saying:
And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19 KJV)
And, they did. One after another. Others saw the crowds, heard the rumors, saw the miracles and they followed Him, too. Not Paul. He created havoc:
As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. (Acts 8:3 KJV)
Then, he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul got there by fighting against Christ and His church.
Not me. I got there – meeting with Jesus – at Immanuel Baptist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma when I was a teenager. I had spent a few years in Sunday School; attended Girls Auxiliary; sang in the choir – but one Sunday night was different. I got there by realizing I was on the outside of an inclusive group. What it took to get me there was a lot more than a few verses, a couple of sermons or friendly questions from friends or family.
I realized I was missing something important. How did you get there? Or, are you there, yet?
Monday, November 4, 2013
Last week I wrote about a Roman centurion and his faith. I’d like to go back to that eighth chapter of Luke and look at one verse:
And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. (Luke 7:2 KJV)
This past year I met a couple who were preparing for their deaths. At first, her cancer diagnosis was their concern, until he was diagnosed, too. Different cancer, same prognosis.
Although I had seen them in our community, not until they came to our church did I learn more of their story. No, I can’t go into the story here, but there is a small connection, because they were sick, knew they would die and were ready to die. Not everyone alive today realizes that we will all die. That’s a given based on the totality of human experience. The question is, are we ready?
I’m not, looking at it in a physical way. My health is good for my age. While there are small problems, none have shown any indication of being serious. I regularly have those small problem checked by a doctor, too..
I am, however, ready in a spiritual way, which we all should consider. Unless there is absolute proof that there is nothing following death, as Sadducees believed, according to Matthew Henry:
There is no future state, no life after this; that, when the body dies, the soul is annihilated, and dies with it; that there is no state of rewards or punishments in the other world; no judgment to come in heaven or hell. They maintained, that, except God, there is not spirit, nothing but matter and motion. They would not own the divine inspiration of the prophets, nor any revelation from heaven.Of course, that cannot be proven, any more than proof can be given that not only does God exist, but He has communicated with His creation.
Which scenario provides an individual comfort? For some, it is very comfortable believing when life ends, there is nothing more. For others, God is personal and active in their lives. Those two choices led to Blaise Pacal’s wager. The wager is rather wordy, and there are numerous equations and philosophical questions, but it really comes down my Ohio Sister-in-law’s one-sentence comment on her decision:
I’d rather live my life believing God exists, then die to find out He didn’t than to live my life not believing, and find out He does.We can’t make this decision based on head or tails of coin toss. It should be done with prayerful consideration and study. It’s a life changing proposition, similar to the offer Joshua made to those who followed him across Jordan:
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15 KJV)
There are other things we might choose over the Lord, but we all make the choice, one way or another. I did not choose for my house, but I am eternally grateful those of my house have made the choice to serve the Lord! Ask us about it – we’re always happy to share.