Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Another Guest Post

To be honest, I am considering either changing this blog or creating a new one. Lately I've been more introspective and wanting to be a bit more generalized. I don't know yet.

Anyhow, you can find my second guest post revealing my heart at http://randomlychad.com/2013/11/its-not-just-divorce.html today.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Forgiveness - My First Guest Post!

I know I haven't been very diligent at posting lately, but when I don't have anything to write, I don't write.

I'm considering, though, starting a second blog that is a bit more general than this one. It's inspired by one a friend of mine writes. In fact, he asked me to write a guest post for him last year, and I finally got around to doing it.

You can read my guest post on forgiving my father here, at Randomly Chad.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Good Grief!

Someone close to me recently lost a cousin to cancer. It was a multi-whammy for her, since she herself was just decreed "in remission" from a different type of cancer, but more so because she had been very close to this cousin for most of her life.

The thing that surprised me, though, is that she was afraid of admitting that she was grieving!

It seems that a particular church (for which I have little respect, based on what she had been taught there for too many years) shamed those who actually didn't "celebrate" when a child of God passed away. Grief, it seemed, was either a sin, or something not to be felt by a Christian.

I have no idea where they got that bit of theological illogic, but it certainly wasn't from a thorough reading of Scripture.

Consider †his: if Jesus did something, it's nothing that should bring shame.

So when did Jesus grieve?

The shortest verse in the Bible, in just about all English translations of which I am aware, is John 11:35. Even the usually-wordy Amplified Bible keeps it at 2 words. (If you're interested, Bible Gateway can show you how all of its English translations render this one verse.) "Jesus wept." Simple enough. But why did He weep? The full story is found in John 11:1-44. This is the story of Lazarus, brother to Mary and Martha, a family that was near and dear to Jesus' heart even though they weren't part of his traveling band. You probably know the story. Lazarus had died, Jesus chose to wait to go there, and when He did, He brought Lazarus back to life, making his name synonymous with restoration of life.

Jesus wept!

Why did Jesus do that? "Certainly" it couldn't have been because His friend was dead. After all, He seemed to know that He was going there to restore him to life. Perhaps it was due to the strong feelings of his sisters and other friends, including the one that came to bring Jesus to them.

Or maybe it's the obvious answer: Jesus grieved for his friend.

Sound wrong? Too bad. We're not to judge what the Bible says based on our own preconceived ideas. One of the reasons I started this blog was to challenge those preconceived ideas that don't really match what Scripture says. This is one of the big ones, though I pray it's not as common as I fear it is.

 Christians are called to joy, but that doesn't mean insane laughter or happiness or any of the other bits of garbage emotionally-driven churches try to push. There are times of sadness. There are times of grief. There are times of trial and emotional depression. There are even times of anxiety and distress. Jesus went through all of these. Why do we think we won't? Why do we think we shouldn't?

Grief is normal. Grief is even healthy. There should be no shame accepted or poured on those who grieve the loss of a Christian. Even though we know we will see them again, the forced separation that will remain for the rest of our own lives is not a situation we can just push aside. As temporary as it is for Christians, the separation caused by death is the second greatest separation we can experience. (The first is when God isn't in us or the loved one, making the separation eternal.) Consider †his: death is not a separation we were intended to endure. Such separation came about because of sin. Sin causes even greater grief, in more ways than one.

So don't put shame on those who grieve. Put the shame on those who reject grief and those who grieve.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

"Giving an account"


OK, maybe it’s just me, but years ago I recall someone teaching on Romans 14:12 and getting seriously scared about God. No, I’m not talking about the fear of the Lord that’s the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 15:33). I’m talking about getting so scared of what He will do when we first meet “eye to eye” in Heaven that I obsess about every little thing here on Earth.

In case you haven’t already looked at the verse using the little popups, it reads in the ESV:
So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Add to that Matthew 12:36, which reads:
I tell you, on that day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.
Mix well with tons of legalism, and you get one paranoid Christian!

Once again, though, chopping up the Bible into little bits and trying to piece them back together into what I call “Scripture Slaw” produces an inaccurate representation of God’s truth. Take a look at all of Romans 14 to get the context, as well as more of Matthew 12.

Consider †his: giving an account of what we did doesn’t remove God’s view of our lives as though we lived Jesus’ life.

We have no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1). Even though we still sin, God’s grace reigns. (That’s not a license to sin, though, as Paul addresses elsewhere in Romans, 1 Corinthians, and other letters.) The judgement those in Christ go through won’t include a stern-face God shaking His finger at us like naughty children, demanding we squirm as we try to given an excuse for the inexcusable, as we are shown our failures when our best wasn’t “good enough.”

This particular fear was something I have had for decades, I just recently realized. I don’t recall what false teaching I heard early in my days in Christ that supported this thought, but it has partially paralyzed me spiritually until recently.

Normally a “good blogger” would ask a question to engage comments from the readers at this point. All I’m going to do this time, though, is ask you simply to consider what I’ve said, and ask that you pass it on to those who might be stuck in the same trap as I’ve been. Also pray for them, and for me, for continued freedom from this paralysis of fear. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Hating Homosexuals and Hens


So today’s the “big day.” Today is the official Mike Huckabee-generated Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. Lines have been reported all over the place, many times out the door, in some cases even down the road (cars waiting to drive through or park, that is).
For those who may have tried to ignore it all, the fast-food chain’s president recently came “out of the closet” and proclaimed support of traditional marriage, i.e., one man and one woman (presumably both born that way).
Many have reacted to this so-called “hatred” with … well, hatred.
What hatred?
Apparently it’s OK to hate and be intolerant of those who disagree with you and your “love” and “tolerance.” But only if you agree with something the Bible says, and I agree with the world.
Consider †his: isn’t that what Jesus told us would happen anyhow, in John 15:12-25 and Mark 13:9-13?
The problem with, in this case, the supporters of same-gender marriage is the same problem that people who support any type of sin (and, yes, sorry, practicing homosexuality is just as much of a sin as adultery, fornication, lust, lying, murder, and — oh, yeah — hatred) have. They want to do something that God says isn’t a good thing to do.
That’s nothing new. John the Baptist told Herod that his marriage to his cousin-in-law, Herodias, was wrong. Herod locked John up (Luke 3:18-20), and Herodias’ hatred of John is what caused her to compel Herod to have him beheaded (Matthew 14:1-12 & Mark 6:17-29).
That was back then, though. Now we “know” that we are, at best, evolved animals. As the script for one old computer game said, “we are chemical processes, and nothing more.” So why shouldn’t we just let “love” (which is itself a chemical process for reproduction, so we can also call it “lust”) be “right?” That’s how we’re made, after all.
Hopefully everybody sees the sarcasm in the previous paragraph.
Now, I know all too well how body chemistry can mess up the mind. I have been diagnosed with depression, panic disorder, general anxiety disorder, and I have the symptoms of several other disorders that make the term “too blessed to be stressed” sound like an alien language to me. Does that mean that I claim anxiety is not a sin, even though passages such as Matthew 6:25-33, Matthew 10:19, Mark 13:11, Luke 12:22-31, and Philippians 4:4-7 seem to say otherwise?
Nope, I’m not claiming that my body doesn’t make me sin. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it’s not a sin if my physical body produces hormones that cause me to act a certain way. Maybe it is a sin, but grace covers those sins, too.
Whatever the case, my desires and my body do not determine what is sin. God alone does!
Both sides need to stop hating the messengers. The “tolerant” are deceived. Their father is the father of lies (John 8:43-45), and they proclaim his message. Some will turn and see the light, while others never will. Some follow Christ, yet still support those who claim to be homosexual.
I need to make one thing clear at this point. I just said that some claim to be homosexual. The claim often simply mean they are tempted with same-gender attraction, but do not take it beyond that, just as many are tempted to lust after the opposite gender. Temptation is not sin. I do not have the right to accuse anyone who claims to be homosexual of sin. I can tell them what the Bible says, but the choice is still theirs to make, just as it is my choice to fall where I am weak. Many are confused. Some want to throw their blatant sin into the face of anyone who disagrees with them, though, demanding acceptance their way. Sorry, no can do.
So how is all this going to play out? This will eventually die down, and the haters will seem to have a victory, then drag everyone through the mud with the next big thing that feels good with no true godliness. It’s in our nature. Just as chickens lay eggs, the unrepentant sinner will find something else to stir hatred. One day, though, the consistently unrepentant sinners will have egg on their faces as they discover that they don’t rule the roost after all.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Gospel for the Middle: A Synchroblog


Today I’m taking a “synchroblog” challenge from Frank Viola. The idea is to repost his hypothetical, but quite realistic, scenario, then write your answer to the question at the end.
Before I do that, though, I should note that this scenario is anything but hypothetical to me. I was Fielding for the first 2 years of my life in Christ. My mother still is.
After I present my answer, I’d like to hear your own response to the question at the end.
So, here’s the scenario:

The following exercise is from the synchroblog at http://frankviola.org/2012/07/09/gospelforthemiddle
Fielding Melish and his wife Felicia have two children, ages 10 and 6. They live in a very remote part of Maine, USA. They are surrounded by extended family, none of whom are Christians. The nearest churches are one hour away, and by all evangelical standards, none of them are good. These churches are either highly legalistic, highly libertine, or just flat-out flaky.
One of Fielding’s cousins is a practicing Christian. They see each other once a year. Fielding’s cousin has shared Christ with Fielding many times over the years. Whenever they’ve talked about spiritual things, Fielding shows interest.
Felicia grew up in a Christian home. She’s received Christ, but she isn’t evangelistic and is overwhelmed with working long hours and raising two small children. She would love to find a church nearby for the spiritual support and instruction, but none exist.
Fielding has no college education. While he is capable of reading, he is not a reader. He doesn’t use the Web either. He’s a man who works with his hands, both for his career and for recreation. He’s an “outdoorsman.” He hunts, he builds, he does manual labor, etc. In his spare time, he helps his elderly parents with various building projects.
Fielding is not an atheist. Neither is he an agnostic. He believes in God. He believes Jesus is the Savior of the world who died for our sins and rose again from the dead. He hasn’t fully surrendered his life to Christ, but he is not sure what that looks like exactly. His children know a little about the Lord, mostly because of what their mother has taught them.
Recently Fielding asked this question:
When I’m with my cousin once a year, I want to learn more about God. But when I come back home, and I’m around everyone else, my mind is off of God, and I am back to working, raising my kids, and helping my parents. Someone needs to come up with a solution for people like me . . . people who are in the middle. (By “in the middle,” Fielding means someone who believes in Jesus, but who isn’t fully absorbed in the faith yet either. They simply don’t know enough nor do they have any spiritual support system around them.)
Relocating is not an option for Fielding and his wife. Even if they wanted to relocate, they don’t see a way they could do it financially.
Remember: Fielding and his wife don’t personally know any Christians. None of their extended family or coworkers are believers either. And the nearest churches (which are an hour away) aren’t recommended.
Question: If you were Fielding’s cousin, how would you instruct him and his wife the next time you saw them?

Before I answer, I have to make a few assumptions here (since I’m an engineer, I have to list them):
  • By “extended family,” I assume Fielding’s cousin is not among them, though his parents presumably are. The cousin isn’t close enough to see the Melish family more often than once a year.
  • Fielding doesn’t use the Web, and may resist using the Web.
OK, with that, here’s how I’d see the conversation between Fielding and his cousin going:

Cousin:You know, Fielding, I’ve been thinking a lot about something you said last time. You said you and Felicia would love to find a church in your area.
Fielding:Yeah, but you seem to like any of them near us. (laughing) Seriously, I see why you don’t. Felicia isn’t too thrilled with that idea, either.
Cousin:From what you’ve said about them, I don’t really think they’d do you much good. I know you don’t like the Internet…
Fielding:No way! Besides, our computer is so old, I don’t think anything new would work on it.
Cousin:It might, but you’re probably right. All the churches I can think of use stuff that your old machine won’t run well, if at all. They block folks like you who don’t want to upgrade, or can’t afford to.
Fielding:Yeah, have you seen the prices for the new models?
Cousin:Too often. But, hey, you can play CDs and DVDs on something, right?
Fielding:Well, yeah, but it’s hard to watch a DVD while I’m out in the workshop.
Cousin:How about an audio CD? Like an audio book?
Fielding:I don’t know. It can get pretty noisy when I’m out there, although I guess I could crank the volume up a bit.
Cousin:Here’s what I’m thinking. Our little church doesn’t record their services yet, but I’m thinking about asking them if they would let me do it. I’d like to tap into their sound board directly, but something with a microphone would work, too. I could record the pastor’s message each week, burn them onto a CD, and mail them to you for you to hear.
Fielding:That’s a little impersonal, isn’t it? I mean, what if I’ve got a question about what he says? Or what if I don’t agree with something he says?
Cousin:That’s a good point. Maybe you could write them down and mail them to me, or to my pastor, if he’s willing?
Fielding:I’d rather ask you. I don’t mean any offense to your pastor, but I don’t know him. You know I don’t have a college education, either. I wouldn’t want to look stupid to him.
Cousin:You wouldn’t, but I understand.
Fielding:The big problem is having the time to do all that. I’m so busy with Mom and Pop sometimes that I don’t even have time to be in my workshop. I guess I could listen to the CD in my car, but if the road’s noisy, or the kids are, I wouldn’t be able to pay attention.
Cousin:True. Some of the roads you have to take require undivided attention. How about you and Felicia take an hour once a week, like you would if you were in a nearby church, and listen to the CD?
Fielding:That would take care of that problem. I guess we could carve out some time like that. I could also watch some of those television preachers.
Cousin:Um, not all of them are that great. I can give you some suggestions for those to watch for, and those to watch out for.

For the record, this isn’t how my mother and I have handled it. God found us outside of a church setting (or, rather, in spite of a church setting), and that was that. She learned how to get by without any substantial “support system,” while God provided several through halfway-decent churches, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in college, and so forth. The area where we were all “born and raised,” though, sounds too much like the Maine setting of this scenario. Mom had tried to get a home study led by a Calvary Chapel pastor from 60 miles away, but there wasn’t enough local interest to make it worth his trip.
So how would you address Fielding’s situation?

Monday, July 09, 2012

Your Turn: Commands vs. Requests


One of the purposes of this blog has always been to make people think about what they believe, and where their assumptions about their faith come from. I’ve never wanted anyone to doubt their faith or their salvation, but I do want to encourage people to think for themselves, rather than rely on what some preacher or nutcase has said, or what they learned from their youth.
Sometimes, though, there are topics I have problems with myself. I don’t have the responsive readership of the “big-time blogs,” so I rarely get much discussion. That’s disappointing to me, because I don’t want anyone to think I’m always right. I don’t want to be the misleading nutcase!
From time to time, I want to put forth a question or topic I’d like to hear about from others.
Today’s topic for discussion: how does God treat a “command” to His children differently from a “request?” Also, does God make demands of those who are saved?
Now, in this, please note that I’m speaking strictly on those who are saved. I’m also assuming, contrary to what some churches teach, that God doesn’t toss us into the line for the direct bus to Hell if we have a lustful thought or request Him to condemn someone by accident. I assume that, though God “cannot look on sin,” that He sees Christ’s sacrifice instead of our sin. (Habbakuk 1:13 seems to be the main verse for that one, though in context it indicates that God cannot look on sin and not punish the guilty ones, which would be Christ for those who have accepted His sacrifice)
My problem is that I cannot see the essential difference between a “command” (as compared to a “commandment”) and a “request” or “desire” as far as the believer is concerned. If we are right with God, we will want to do what He wants. He shouldn’t have to command; a request should be sufficient.
Is there some sort of earthly “punishment” if we do not obey His commands? Do we lose our salvation?
I’d like some discussion on this. Please do support your comments from Scripture, and discuss the topic or comments, not the people making the comments.
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