Archive | September, 2014

When we tell someone that a promise in God’s Word isn’t for them . . .

30 Sep

“Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:18-20)

I admit it. I was for many years one of those who would do my morning devotions by taking my finger and sticking it into the Bible somewhere. Well, not quite that bad, but close. Kind of like using the Bible as tarot cards or a ouija board, only not even that organized!!! God forgive me (and He has!).

What I see as an opposite extreme though is the tendency of some (even in my own denomination) to overcontextualize (I think) every passage of Scripture, with subsequent claims that “those promises belong exclusively to the Jews” or even “those promises only belonged to Jews in the Old Testament.” When this happens, much of the Bible becomes nothing more than a history text, informing us of situations and promises that once existed but don’t anymore!

The above passage has been referenced, in context, to refer to church discipline, the subject of Matthew 18 (although, in all fairness, the chapter breaks were not divinely inspired).

The passage is then further parsed from Greek to say that what we bind on earth has already been bound by God in heaven and what we loose on earth is already loosed by God in heaven. In other words, we are merely pronouncing realities which God has already ordained. We are not ordering God around by binding and loosing various things which He must also do once we have done it!

Okay, I get that.

But then the verse about Christ being in the midst of two or three gathered together in His name. Does that have conditions applying *only to a church discipline situation? Where? And, if so, how cheerless. He will be in your midst when you are disciplining another believer but at no other time? Very grim, that.

That is just one example where narrowing down the conditions of a promise in God’s Word (not necessarily supported by the text because, although this verse applies to the church discipline situation, there is nothing in it to say it *only applies in that situation) can result in a sense of despondency in Christians who are seeking to follow God’s Word in all its fullness.

God’s Word becomes a depressing tool, full of conditions God requires of us but devoid of most of the promises that we might have once thought applied to us in a very open and wonderful way.

I am not a Sunday school child anymore so I no longer sing “every promise in the Book is mine.”

But I also don’t think that *none of them apply.

What say you, wise ones?

P.S. I also believe that it might be a particular bane of seminarians everywhere to “look for the loopholes” in every promise first. While the believer in the pew may *overclaim promises from God’s Word, seminarians seem to eventually become those grim, cheerless people who go around explaining that *none of God’s promises really apply to us in the way we think they do. That seems to be a seminarian’s default setting.

He’s Not Scary, He’s A Little Boy

29 Sep

Awww, sweet Jameson’s story.

Jameson's Journey

We’ve had some encounters recently that have inspired me to write this post.  This is something I hope everyone reads and shares.  This is a message that doesn’t just pertain to Jameson, but to all children who are made fun of and singled out for their differences; and I am pretty sure their parents feel the same way I do.

I want to begin by saying that I don’t hold anything against these children, or their parents.  I understand that it can be extremely awkward when your child is the one making fun or being mean to another child.  But, the next time this happens I hope these parents do more.  Because although I cannot take offense, I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt.  It does.  It hurts to see my child be made fun of, knowing that this will be a big part of his world…

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Avoiding the Appearance of Evil . . .

24 Sep

What is avoiding the appearance of evil (a Biblical phrase) and what is it not?

Those of us who have heard this phrase and have used it to calibrate our lives might be surprised to find that it does *not mean avoiding that which *appears to be evil (because whose judgment do we use for that?) but rather it means to avoid every place where evil *appears.

If we are in a place where an orgy is breaking out, we need to get out of there.

If we are in a place where a pornographic movie is being shown, we need to leave.

If we are in a room thick with marijuana smoke, we should make a quick exit.

If we don’t use the correct definition of “appearance of evil” we can end up calibrating our entire lives by the perceptions of the person in the room who has the dirtiest mind.

Think about it. Just say you are walking into church one morning and there is a troubled but vocal person there.

What might she see as you cross the room? Whom did you not greet? Could she portray that as you ignoring those people?

Whom did you greet? If any of those people were men who are not your husband, what might this observer see? Did your eyes seem to linger a bit too long on one of them as you exchanged a joke? Did your eyes brighten a lot as you shared with one of them about the Lord’s goodness? From across the room, could this person have seen the possibility of an illicit romance?

See where I am going with this? There will *always be at least one person everywhere we go who is famous for “reading into” the actions (or omissions) of others. If we let this person’s mind determine for us what evil is and is not, we will spend our lives in fear of being falsely accused, doing nothing most days in order to avoid the possibility of something we do being wrongly construed.

And, in the end, our avoidance is futile anyway, because a person determined to find fault in us and to start rumors about us will *always meet her goal, even if she has to makes something up out of whole cloth.

We need to avoid actual sins and places where a whole lot of sinning is occurring.

Avoiding the accusations of a rumormonger is probably impossible. Don’t spend too much of your life and effort worrying about it.

The Dangers of Trusting Wikipedia

22 Sep

Wow, an author is told he is not a sufficient authority on his *own novel by Wikipedia standards. Be careful out there, folks.

101 Books

I use Wikipedia a lot. It’s one of my main sources of information while researching information related to each of the books I read.

But I always take an extra step. If Wikipedia doesn’t have a source, if it doesn’t link out to some other respectable site that provides the same information, then I won’t use it in that case.

So there are definitely dangers in trusting Wikipedia, and here’s a great example why:

Recently, Philip Roth (read my review of American Pastoral) wrote “An Open Letter To Wikipedia” in which he spelled out his experience trying to change a piece of faulty information in an entry about his novel, The Human Stain.

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Growing up Neglected . . .

22 Sep

http://www.tarabarthel.com/the-most-scared-i-have-ever-been-in-my-entire-life/

Tara’s voice is an important one for those of us who have *not experienced neglect as a child.

There are legions of children/young adults out there who have. It helps to know a bit about what they have experienced and what they might feel.

The Blogs Speak . . . on Gay Marriage

22 Sep

http://www.andrewtwalker.com/2014/09/18/a-very-brief-reply-to-brian-mclaren/

This conversation is worth having, if people are honest about examining the Scriptures.

Why Christianity in America is Declining

18 Sep

Thanks, brother Mike Lee. I needed this challenge this morning.

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