Saturday, April 21, 2012
Wow. I'm always convicted when I read James and I always find something new. Here are some of what has really touched me and reminded me what I should look like as a Christian,( but not what I DO look like as of now). James 3:13 " If you are wise and understand God's ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom." Now, I always think of good words as taking care of those around me that have needs, or doing kind things for other,( going that extra mile). But it's not ONLY that. In James 2:21-24 says, " Don't you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: 'Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.' He was even called the friends of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone." So here we have the concept that 'good works' is also stepping out on faith in obedience to God. Now we continue with the last thing we left off with, which was wisdom. James 3:17, " But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to help others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere." Noow, There was mention in part of the passages above that wisdom is being a peace maker and a bit further down it is mentioned that those who are not peacemakers are jealous and envious. James 4: 2,3 says, "....Yet you don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are wrong-you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! don't you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friends of the world, you make yourself and enemy of God." Well then, from jealousy and trying to be a friend to the world, we move on to how we speak of each other,( tying right back in to peace makers and living honorably and humbly). This passage is always a 'shame on you' passage for me. James 4:11, " Don't speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God's law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you...". Yikes. We are not to sit around and look at others to 'make sure' that they are following God's law,( loving Him and others). Hmm, that's a hard one. How do you juggle that with the verse that says we are to judge the Body to help each other not fall into sin, or to repent of it if we have? I think maybe we are talking heart motives here. One way is trying to judge in a prideful way and the other is looking at what's going on in the Body through God's eyes/law and trying to keep each other accountable. Anyway, these passages are so beautiful. Truly worthy goals to attain to with God's help. Let's keep traveling this narrow road and keep our eyes on Jesus. He will perfect us, if we let him.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
So in the Bible times when God spoke of sin, the obvious was that if you lived a lifestyle of sin you were not living a life pleasing to God. Now, here we are in these times, and we have things that they didn't have back then. How does God's word on sin apply to where we are now? The next obvious is that sin is still sin, but what has changed, from my perspective is this: Even though we may not commit the sins ourselves, we watch others commit them as if it's not a big deal. O.k., yes, I'm gonna go over the same idea again that I've touched on so many times before. But, it's a big deal to me. If I wouldn't commit adultery, why would I watch someone else do it on TV or read it fleshed out in a book? If I don't want my mind to be filled with disrespectful and disobedient behavior, then why would I listen to music that promotes that type of attitude? I've listed other examples of this in another blog, so I won't spend too much time here. Another thing is that we are completely bombarded by a culture that tells us that it is all about ourselves. So, what about the money we spend on cute clothes, mani/pedis, techy/game stuff, vacations, and so on? Is our self-centeredness a sin? The Bible says that idolatry is wrong, and when we put ourselves before God's work, or His call on our lives to serve and sacrifice, then I do believe the Word calls that sin. And we pride ourselves on having our own convictions and not letting someone else tell us what is right and wrong. We are all in different stages and places of life, with different things that tempt us, distract us, and stumble us. So, what do we do? Do we obsess about every little thing? We don't want to feel overwhelmed with trying to follow an endless amount of meticulous rules,( the rebuke Jesus gave to the Pharisees was about that very thing-instead of loving God first and then hashing out what that should look like in our lives, they tried to promote living perfect lives by a set of rules in order to be acceptable) but we do want to progressively reject all things that are not good for our walk and our testimonies. We do the introspective self-analysis with God as the One who shines light on those things of the world that we have let in, grown comfortable with, feel entitled to, and are becoming idols and strongholds. I keep saying these same types of things because I think we really have become luke-warm in the way we deal with the sinfulness of our society/personal lives. Putting God in first place is a really serious thing that takes serious denial of self and all things flesh. It's a big idea to really wrestle with, and there are so many areas of our lives that this search for idols and compromises deals with. But again, if we love God and obey His commands, then we will let that love and desire to please Him lead us to always and continually be our adviser on what we do and what we don't. So, when you decide that something is fine for you, and if Christ himself were with you in physical form and you still feel that you are totally fine and lined up with God's will and His Word, then there's nothing to worry about. But I have a sneaking suspicion, that none of us are in that position 100% and that means we need to constantly engage ourselves with opening up every aspect of our lives to God, holding back nothing and letting go of everything He demands us to let go of, from how we spend His money, how we spent His time and how we try to make our own plans with the lives He gave us. I'm really hearing God opening up some more places in my life where I'm not dealing with stuff; where I'm trying to keep it hidden in the attic because I know it's gonna be really tough doing what He wants. I hope though, to be one who will not ever stop weeding out the bad and unhealthy so that God can do more in me, and so that I'm not complacent, compromising, or afraid to stand against the 'accepted' norm of this day and age.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
If God is our healer, do we need doctors? If the Holy Spirit is out Counselor, do we need godly counselors/psychologists? Did God call some to study the body, it's workings, it's diseases and cures? Did God likewise call some to study the mind, it's workings, it's diseases and cures? We know the root of both physical and mental/emotional ailments stems from the Fall of man in the Garden. And we know that when we pray in faith for God to heal us body, mind, and spirit, that he definitely can and does. We also know that God has used doctors and counselors/psychologists to help people. Are these fields of study entered into by Christian men and women meant to only serve the unbeliever as a tool to plant seeds or bring them to Christ? Or only for those believers with little faith? I've learned things from people in both fields,( some speak truth even though they are not Christian because truth is truth, you know?). Would God have revealed those things to me had I not gleaned that knowledge from those different sources? I don't know. Is it possible to be mislead by the info that we get from people in either of these studies,( as well as from any field of study honestly)? Most definitely. Does God use people in these fields to touch people, bring them closer to being healthy and whole? For sure. But do we lean too much on this wisdom of man, instead of putting our faith to practice? I would say most likely yes. Should we discount the effectiveness of Christians who pursue these fields? That's probably casting judgement, for if they are following a calling God has placed on them, who are we to say they're wrong? Are many of the teachings of these fields wrong, or twisted? Again, for sure. But the Bible says to take the good and leave the bad. If we have Holy Spirit discernment in studying worldly knowledge, we can see the truth from the lies or research until we find the truth...going back to Scripture for as much as we can. We can all make personal decisions about these areas, talk about why we feel one way or the other, but ultimately and as far as I can tell from Scripture, I don't see any black and white teachings. I think as our faith grows, we may not need to seek out counsel and medical knowledge as much because we will see God revealing himself to us, and also showing us unhealthy things in our mind and spirit as well as healing our physical bodies. So, lots of questions that I didn't have a pat answer for. Some thoughts for us all to ponder, and prayer to make wise decisions of our own that please God. But as a last thought...we don't question that God puts into each of us a desire to learn about different aspects of His creation and in so doing, entering different fields of study that correlate to our curiosities/interests,( i.e. the fields of Science and Archeology). I don't hear as much fuss about Christians in these fields even though they are full of untruths because of agenda, as I do about people entering fields of psychology. And it's funnier that we have noooo problem with people studying the works of the body and how to cure it of problems, but that some in the Body would like to basically say it's wrong to go to a doctor because our healing should come from God. I've heard explanations from both sides and understand the points they are trying to make, however, I just can't see solid biblical proof of one side or the other. I see examples of men of God who were sick physically and God did not heal them either right away or at all, but don't know of any doctors who were used in possibly treating these people, but of course we see lots of miraculous healings. And I see also examples of God giving counsel to others in distress,( or who are going the wrong way and their sin is causing relational problems) through people, but also through angels and direct revelation . The main point is that we trust God and don't lean on our own understanding. God allows us to discover truths about His creation and it's workings,( including ourselves as humans) to point us in His direction, but we must not make the understanding of those truths 'the thing' and exclude God Himself, who is the Source of all the truths we know. :) Hope this wasn't too confusing and hope that you understand that I don't have a side that I'm trying to promote. I am just musing out loud because this is a subject that comes up a lot lately, and with different people.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Paul says, " My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church is already been started by someone else." Romans 15:20. This is veeery interesting. In the N.T. there was only one church..no denominations. So, if a church had been started in a town or an area, no other apostle needed to stop there to start another one. Today of course, we have all these splits in the Body because of doctrinal issues, so I guess each denom feels that even though there might be 4 other types of churches spreading the Gospel to a community of people, that the other churches aren't doing it 'right' or well enough and they move in too. I'm not too big on that whole mindset. Then starts the 'hit and run' method. Each church vies for attendees, so they send out tracts and flyers and all sorts of advertisements and set up all kinds of fun and eye catching events. Would it not be better if a church would find out whether their presence in a place is actually needed before they set up shop? Because there are lots of little places that the churches totally miss. Areas where people are not being evangelized for Christ. I just thought this was a really cool passage of Scripture and something to really think about.