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Avoiding the Guard Rails . . .

13 Sep

I have spent a large percentage of my life living by an application of Biblical truth called “avoiding the guardrails.”

This application uses the analogy of a highway, let’s say a mountain highway. It states that, while curving along a banked highway, no one wants to hug the shoulder/guardrail, lest he spin out of control and crash down the mountainside. On a highway, it is preferable to stay near the centerline. Preferable and far less dangerous.

The application is thus plain that, in matters of choice, we should stay as far away from sin as we possibly can, not walking/driving along the edge over which we could easily vanish if we get caught up in sin’s pull.

Some circles even teach that the law exists to be the guardrail in our lives. Live with an eye to the law, staying far, far away from where one would crash headlong into its restrictions, and one will live safely.

Only, is that true? Do people who keep next to the centerline fare better than those who stay next to the guardrail?

My experience teaches me that the guardrail does not function in a Christian’s life in the same way as a highway guardrail functions when he is out driving.

In fact, Christians who stay next to the guardrail may very well crash through it eventually, but that is very seldom an accident, from what I have observed. It is usually a slow, intentional drift toward the mountainside, often due to eyeing the law long enough that they get fed up with it and want to leave it behind.

On the other hand, there are people who suddenly crash through the guardrail. But often, ever so often, they were the very people who seemed to be hugging the centerline until that very moment. They spin out of control in one fluid motion, having a head-on collision with the guardrail and vanishing down the mountainside in a flaming explosion.

Why?

I don’t know, but I surmise that they were only hugging the centerline out of a sense of duty and they, too, got fed up eventually. They may have used the most pious words of anyone around but who can know the heart of another?

There are far too many people of pious words and acts who are seemingly serving the Lord one minute, then caught in a very public sin like an extramarital affair the next minute.

Sin has a powerful pull and if the law and the sheer strength of our own personality are the only things keeping us from driving headlong into sin, we aren’t going to stay out of it for an entire lifetime. No one is.

The Holy Spirit is the powerful One who can keep us from sin but, ironically, focusing on the guardrails can distract us from focusing on Him. Too much attention to the law can divert us away from the very One who can protect us from the pull of sin.

What does the Word say? God has richly given us all things to enjoy (I Timothy 6:17). That looks to me as though God intends for us to enjoy most things in this world, while giving thanks to Him for them. Cultivating a grateful heart, as they say.

He has given us His restrictions pretty plainly in His Word, too, but they are not many and they are not grievous.

For example, Jesus taught us that sexual expression belongs within marriage; there is no place for lustful thoughts outside of marriage. He didn’t give us a continuum or guardrails. He simply told us to not do it. To Jesus, there was no difference in heart attitude between the person giving a married person a flirtatious wink or someone giving that same married person a stolen kiss. Don’t go down that road of lust at all.

But Jesus left us many, many areas that are not forbidden.

I submit that too much focus on rules and on denying oneself, even with making up new rules that go beyond what God has said, is a dangerous game of trying to drive along the centerline while staring sideways at the guardrails.

I don’t recommend it.

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Beautiful Story of a Prodigal Recovered . . .

2 Jul

Beautiful Story of a Prodigal Recovered . . .

I just love this. I think all true believers have a story with some resemblance to this one.

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Resentment, an Infection we Need to Treat Aggressively!

12 Mar

Resentment, an Infection we Need to Treat Aggressively!

I love Paul David Tripp’s writing. He readily confesses to being an introvert being used for God as an introvert. I find his analysis incisive!

In all of his discussion of ways we confess the sins of someone else, he understates the obvious fact that we can’t confess the sins of someone else!

Things like that make his writing delightful to me, and help me see how to use it in my own life!

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Sad Story of Decades of Exploitation of the Disabled . . . in Iowa!

11 Mar

Sad Story of Decades of Exploitation of the Disabled . . . in Iowa!

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The Discussion of Sexual Orientation as Analogous to Race

25 Feb

The Discussion of Sexual Orientation as Analogous to Race

More voices on the comparison of sexual orientation to race . . .

vs. race

Somewhere in Time . . .

24 Feb

Due to the month of run-up to the Oscars on Turner Classic Movies, I have just viewed (binge watched) 29 movies since the beginning of February.  It is not always possible to get so many Oscar-nominated movies so easily within the same month, so my husband and I have taken full advantage of that on TCM, and plan to do that every year from now on.

I just saw “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” for the first time–it reminded me of a handful of similar movies like “Ghost” and “Somewhere in Time.”  Also, “Berkeley Square,” another oldie which I saw earlier this month.  

Beautifully romantic, these movies perfectly portray the Greek philosophical teaching about the nature of the afterlife, as two disembodied spirits spend eternity together (or borrow bodies to be together again on earth, as “Ghost” portrayed).  

Beautiful and romantic but not in line with Christian teaching.  

You see, we will live again in these bodies.  The bodily resurrection was taught in Judaism all the way back to the book of Job (possibly the oldest book of the Old Testament).

So disembodied spirits will not wander the empty spaces eternally, enjoying the sharing of ideas together.  Our real, resurrected bodies will be able to touch each other again.

They will be glorified bodies, but our own bodies nonetheless.  This is consistently taught throughout Scripture.  It is only because we have listened more to the Greeks than to the Jews that we don’t get that.  

Our faith came from Judaism.  We would do well to read their Scriptures/our Old Testament.

Yes, Jesus did say there will be no marriage in the afterlife.  He gave the example of five brothers all marrying the same widow (the first one married her when she was a maiden).

In some wise way that is beyond our understanding, the marital relationships many of us need to have now will not be needed in eternity.

It is not just that God could not figure out which brother gets the widow.  That was the dilemma presented to man to make him think.  God could have figured out a way to deal with widows, had He seen that it was best for us to have marriage in the afterlife.  

So, by faith, we hear that He does not have couples as part of His plan for eternity, but He does have the marriage of Christ to His bride, the church.  

Oh, great mystery!

I am sure when it is revealed to us, it will be so wonderful and wise we won’t even be able to describe its splendor.  

We will dwell with Christ, who is already in a glorified body, in our glorified bodies.  

Forever.  

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Elsa in “Frozen” and Using our Talents for God

24 Feb

Elsa in “Frozen” and Using our Talents for God

I haven’t seen “Frozen” yet. Now I can’t wait to do so.

Yes, I am the one who watched old movies with my dad, my grandmother, and my cousins growing up.

I didn’t go to the movies much prior to the 1980’s because I was a serious student who was always studying (to become valedictorian of my high school class; to graduate college Magna cum Laude–I had to earn that stuff as it didn’t come naturally to me!).

As a junior officer in the Navy, I probably saw 50-75% of the movies that came out in the 1980’s. Light-hearted comedy fare was my favorite.

I then settled down to marriage and motherhood and mostly saw only the Best Picture nominations in the 1990’s.

I have hardly even seen the Best Picture nominations since 2000 as I regard today’s movies as largely a wasteland of form over substance.

So I get excited when I see bloggers swooning over a new movie that can lead to deep discussions, even theological discussions!

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There are a Thousand Posts Saying a Husband Has to Earn His Wife’s Respect; This One Disagrees

23 Feb

There are a Thousand Posts Saying a Husband Has to Earn His Wife’s Respect; This One Disagrees

The nature of respect and love within marriage; if it has to be earned, it is not respect, it is not love.

Some thoughts from Matt Walsh, who always has something interesting to say.

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How We Church People Undermine Marriage!

21 Feb

How We Church People Undermine Marriage!

Three very good points here about how we teach children that marriage is not very important after all . . .

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How to Set your Son up to be a Porn Addict . . .

14 Feb

How to Set your Son up to be a Porn Addict . . .

Shortened version of an earlier post, showing us by dramatic negative example how to porn-proof our homes and our families, especially our sons.

In an era when most seminaries don’t ask their students whether they have viewed porn, but rather how often they have viewed it, we must remember that this can easily become an addiction.

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Answering the Believer who Thinks He Can Worship Just as Well Individually

13 Feb

Answering the Believer who Thinks He Can Worship Just as Well Individually

Donald Miller may be the most well known purveyor of the belief that we can worship just as well by ourselves, wherever we may happen to be on Sunday, as we can at church, but he is by no means the only modern Christian who holds this belief.

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A Severely Autistic Man Has Private Worship Services at Home

10 Feb

A Severely Autistic Man Has Private Worship Services at Home

I was prepared to disagree with the decision to have home worship for this man with autism . . . until I saw how big he is and how aggressive he gets.

God bless the team of autism caregivers who have tailored their church services in the home for this brother in Christ.

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Stagecoach: When a Woman of Bad Repute Finds God’s Love

4 Feb

When a Woman of Bad Repute Finds the Love of God

The other night I saw the movie Stagecoach for the first time. It was not only an action Western that served as the vehicle conveying a young John Wayne to stardom. It was also a complex character study of a cast of diverse people who end up sharing a stagecoach west through dangerous Apache country.

Writers and directors can do lots of wonderful things when they throw together diverse people who would not normally meet. This has been done in lots of movies (Bus Stop, Key Largo, etc.).

In this particular movie, John Wayne is Ringo Kid, a prisoner who has escaped but who has a heart of gold. He was imprisoned for being in the midst of a blood feud between two families. He has a year or so to go on his sentence and willingly goes back with the marshall who is on the stagecoach . . .

Meanwhile, he falls in love with a woman of ill repute who is on the stagecoach. His love, in a Hollywood way that comes very close to presenting Christ’s redemptive love, turns her around and makes her a woman who will be a good wife for him when his sentence is finished.

As the above blog post shows, when a sinner collides with the love of God, freedom ensues, just as it does when the sinful woman in the movie comes in contact with Ringo Kid’s love.

Love, God’s love, even as reflected in imperfect man, is the strongest force in the universe.

It is love, God’s love and God’s grace, that make us whole. What the law could not do for us, God did, by loving us through Jesus Christ.

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Learning to Lay Down our Preferences . . . For the Greater Good!

31 Jan

Learning to Lay Down our Preferences . . . For the Greater Good!

It remains one of my greatest joys to see the Church of Jesus Christ working together and loving each other, despite the vast diversity therein.

It remains one of my greatest puzzles to try to understand how, sometimes, people can sit one seat away from each other in church, then spend the week savaging each other behind each other’s backs.

What is worse, sometimes people can equate their snarkiness and sarcasm with spirituality. Well, it is spiritual all right, but not of the place we strive to enter at life’s end . . .

But at the end of the day, I will take my church and its people, warts and all. God knows what He is doing there and why He put us together.

I am not the only person who has a familymember struggling with OCD or another life-dominating condition. It is easier to struggle alongside others who understand what it is to struggle . . . and might even have suggestions that help in my struggle.

It is better to be around people who remind me that nothing is too hard for God, even when it is too hard for me.

Who encourage me to come back to fight another day!

I am convinced that the biggest killer of fellowship and, really, of hope itself is comparisons. Especially within the Body of Christ.

God told us not to compare ourselves to others but the human race is blighted with this tendency.

I am learning, as I age, that I can’t stop that happening. I can gently point it out. I can gently refuse to join the conversations that start that way. And I can gently just leave people alone when they pick at me or others, realizing that it is not really all that important to stop them from comparing themselves to others and trying to come out favorably. Does that really harm me? No.

I love the verse that tells us to agree with our adversary on the way lest worse things happen than her accusations. I am learning to do just that. If someone is picking at me, I ask for specifics. There may be some. Or maybe not. But I won’t know if I don’t ask. And if there are specifics, God can show me whether they have some validity or are just a figment of the other person’s imperfect imagination.

What do we have to lose, other than our defensiveness? And isn’t that a good thing in the end?

I love the Body of Christ.

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The Dark Underbelly of the Super Bowl

30 Jan

The Dark Underbelly of the Super Bowl

Enjoy your parties this weekend, guys and gals, but don’t be naive.  There is still a lost world out there that needs Jesus.  

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