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My Thoughts

Adventures in Faith

Author

Ray

82, happily married for 58 years, 6 grandchildren and 3 great-grandson. I enjoy pistol competition, photography, and computers

A STRANGER TO TRUTH?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 10-22-2020

I am right.  If you disagree with me, you must be wrong.  Since there are no absolutes, my truth is correct unless you are strong enough to take my place.  Then your truth becomes the right absolute truth.  How long?  As long as you protect your back!

Most people become as defensive as Archie Bunker when someone presents anything contrary to their view.  A televangelist does not believe his message is contradictory even though it is different from another TV preacher.  Churches do not believe their doctrines are wrong because they are different from their neighbors.  Few will state that their belief and practice is “a bald-faced lie.” 

We will defend our beliefs to the point of death.  If others insist that they are right, and we are wrong, the claim is that some of their teachings originated with the devil.  One’s truth will cause him to dig in, defend his view, and destroy the destructive and divisive lies of the devil.  This truth outweighs friendship and even family ties.

Is that you?  There is merit to some of those statements.  Who wants to be guilty of believing something untrue, much less be practicing it?  Who desires to lose his battle against what is false?  Who wishes to be aligned with the devil?  The problem has roots that go deeper than we would like to acknowledge.

All of us can point a finger at someone who is “a sinner.”  Our charge would be correct.  However, we also need to understand that we have a sin problem too.  If you believe your sin is a “nice one,” but the other person’s action makes him a lot worse than you are, you could be partially right while also wrong.  Some sins have more consequences than others.  For example, murder removes life from another.  While gossip may not remove life, it may destroy a person’s reputation or kill a friendship.  Some gossiped about Paul’s actions, which led to his arrest (Acts 21:20-21).  Yet, sin has eternal consequences, whether considered “nice” or “terrible.”  The ultimate reward for engaging in sin and refusing to repent, is eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23).  The Hebrew writer also points this out in 10:39.

Since most people don’t want to be wrong, a defense is often justified.  One person’s sin may be revealed by another.  In defense of his actions, rather that admit the wrong doing, that person introduces an activity which is equal or worse which the accuser’s friend does.  If the person allows his friend to engage in sin without his reproach, he would be guilty of hypocrisy.  Consistency would demand that the accuser also condemn his friend.  Not wishing to lose that friendship, or have his friend to reveal his shortcomings, he ends his false piety.  This allows both friend and foe to continue in their misdeeds without correction being introduced.  It also includes the accuser in sin by ignoring its continuation.

Paul is known for his dedication and work ethic as a Christian.  Yet, he admits he is a sinner (Romans 7:7-11, 13-16; 1 Timothy 1:15)).  The converted Simon admitted his wrong actions and asked for prayer (Acts 8:19-24).  Peter’s sin caused him to weep (Matthew 26:75).  God could write volumes about our transgressions.  Yet, we understand our problem and bring it before the Lord, recognizing He will forgive and forget.  We may then share this Good News with others.

I’m a sinner.  I asked the same question Paul did, “Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?”  (Romans 7:24).  I discovered his answer and made it mine.  “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25)!  Sometimes one believer needs to help another as Paul did with Peter (Galatians 2:11-16).  If not, the error could have spread and been worse.  Sometimes you do not get in another person’s face but live the truth before him (Acts 21:20-26).  Sometimes events do not demand that a person’s sins be broadcast, because there is a better solution.  Jesus did not remind the woman that she was an adulteress (John 8:4-11).  He did not tell Peter, “I told you so” concerning his denial and language (John 21:15-17).  We do not need to be reminded that we are sinners, just encouraged to accept the cleansing of Jesus. 

If truth is not absolute, then no one ever tells a lie.  What is right for you, is right unless you do not want it to be.  What is wrong for you, is wrong ONLY for you.  Of course, another person’s “right” may get in your face, or yours may insult him.  As long as you are the Supreme Ruler of the world, you are always right.  You are never wrong.  You cannot be judged.  You cannot be corrected.  That is until someone craftier stabs you in the back and takes your place.  Then, that person’s actions would be absolute until his unfortunate demise!   

So, as Pilate asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:38).  If truth is absolute, then the possibility exists that one must know and follow it to live a truthful life.  Since we are all sinners, what is the answer to our fallibility?  Could it be Jesus?      

HAVE YOU EVER EATEN CROW?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 10-19-2020

Have you ever heard a preacher admonish, “Don’t take my word for it. Go to the Bible and see what it teaches”? Good advice, right? Followed? No. It is seldom followed by the audience it is given to nor by the one who states it. We have accepted things stated from the mouths of those we love and trust. Why? Because we believed they knew, believed, taught, and practiced nothing but the truth. If that belief were always true, neither the preacher nor his audience would ever teach anything wrong! Perfection would be our reward for strict adherence to their instructions. Do honest, sincere preachers never teach error? Like most, we believe our statements are true because we believe they are based upon biblical truth. If everyone is following truth, then why so much disagreement?

Inconsistencies are not usually one-sided. Desire for freedom in one form or another often has its extremes. We live in a world that reveals its own imperfections and lives with the consequences created by those desires. The American Revolution was born out of that desire. If Jesus’ teaching on turning the other cheek had been our foundation in the 18th century, we would still be speaking English with a British accent. Justification becomes our path to right our wrongs even if we are wrong in making them right! Today some believe destruction of statues erases whatever errors our forefathers created and justifies the present riots and destruction. The salvation course being followed is to raise from those ruins a perfect union better than heaven itself. Any movement that builds a foundation based upon sin will limit freedom rather than grant it. History may overlook millions of deaths as steppingstones to power and privilege, but its rewards are always limited to a few. Societies often seal their doom by following such a course.

Those in the past who preached segregation, or second-class citizenship for women, or any other false notion, cannot be erased because it is part of history. Despite their error on those subjects, those individuals were not wrong in everything they taught and practiced. We will make our mistakes which hopefully our children and theirs will not copy. Actually, they will make their own! Mankind has not been perfect since the events of Genesis 3. WWI and II were fought to keep our freedoms. Yet, millions of innocent people lost their lives because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Imperfections are not a respecter of persons. Able was offering his sacrifices with a good and honest heart. He could not control Cain’s jealousy nor hatred. He lost his life due to his brother’s lack of perfection. Bible believers like Jesus’ apostles had their flaws. God added Pharisees to the saved and some of them were a big nuisance years later (Acts 11:2-3; 15:1,5). Yet, they thought they were standing up for God’s 1,600 years of teaching. Sometimes we think we are doing God’s will, when in actuality we are far from it. Rather than admit we have been wrong, we refuse. Why? Because we don’t want others to know that we have been guilty of eating crow!

LIFE IS PRECIOUS!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 10-15-2020

Life is precious.  The brevity of life affects us all.  People respond in different ways.  For example, when the news is bad, some turn to alcohol.  Some collapse.  Some go into denial.  Some wear a fake smile and respond with nervous laughter.  Some become like zombies needing direction and stability.  Some blame God.  Some curse God.  Some will thank God for His blessings and speak to Him as their friend.  Some believe God is punishing them.  “Why” is often used in their vocabulary.  Some withhold any negative news from family to eliminate grief.  Some family members resent this information being withheld from them.  Some want to know how much time they have left.  Others do not want to know.  Some feel guilt because they were not a better spouse, parent, child, sibling, or friend.  Some add up all their good points to impress God because they are hoping for an unhindered entrance into heaven.  Some recognize the huge gap between reality and their lack of perfection.  Some are fearful that God’s grace is not sufficient to cover their sins.  Some are on the verge of having a nervous breakdown due to their imperfections.

Some are putting their trust in church membership.  Their attendance and contribution will speak in their defense.  Some see the Father as a judgmental Deity scrutinizing every action in a negative way.  Some view God as a loving Deity who is blind to everything they did because their sinful actions had no bearing on their judgment or salvation.  Some believe they have crossed every “T” and dotted every “I” and God owes them their salvation.  Some believe God has a one hundred room mansion just waiting for their occupancy.  For some, Jesus is their Savior, Lord, and friend.  They know they are not perfect but understand that the blood of Jesus keeps them continually cleansed.  God loves them, has redeemed them, and enjoys fellowship with them.  This relationship is so personal that they speak of God as “Abba Father” or “daddy, Father.”  The fellowship God had with Adam and Eve before their disobedience is now restored and believers may now enjoy walking with God through Jesus.

We are reconciled!  We are justified!  Life is precious because we may now belong to Jesus!

AN UNPOPULAR CHURCH FAMILY!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 10/08/2020

Corinth had more problems than you could shake a stick at.  We worked with a congregation once that had a problem before we arrived.  We were not informed about it.  Five years later a problem cropped up again which was not solved.  After we left, the solution for that problem was to sweep it under the rug.  Today, a congregation of 300 is down to less than fifty people.  Yet, Corinth was much, much worse than that. They had multiple problems.  Each was sufficient to ruin their reputation and render their influence ineffective in that pagan city.

One family decided to seek help in solving those problems.  It was the Chloe family (1 Corinthians 1:11).  Human nature being what it is, how did those families who were involved in those sins feel about that one family snitching on them?  Did the prophets who did not favor that family’s actions charge them with gossiping?  Did the Chloe family find that they were no longer appreciated but viewed as enemies of the church?  Did former friends treat them coolly by refusing to speak or greet them?  Were slurs and innuendoes continuously hurled at them and their children?  Did those members who agreed with them suddenly distance themselves to keep from suffering the same fate?  Paul does not discuss the Chloe family’s situation nor the negativism they were subject to by the rest of the congregation.

Most ministers when preaching through the Corinthian letters, enumerate their unscriptural attitudes and practices.  Most would rather eat dirt than to serve in a congregation like the Corinthian church.  If such a congregation existed in one’s area today, the other pulpit and church bulletins would condemn them as unsound.  Withdrawing fellowship from that congregation would be followed as biblically appropriate and demanded.  If another congregation had anything to do with them it too would be marked and condemned.  Any congregation that lost a member to them would be condemned.  If the Chloe family left the Corinthian church and attended a “sound” congregation, they would be welcomed and honored for their stand for truth.”  They did not see that as a scriptural option.

What do you do with a family that refuses to leave a congregation that has been and is involved in biblical error?  Would the wise course not be to “flee” rather than flounder in sin?  Would one not be guilty of practicing sin by remaining in that sinful condition?  Today, yes.  In the first century?  No.  Would a person’s refusal to leave prove that he was a wayward person who no longer loved the truth?  Paul didn’t think so.

Was the Corinthian church in error?  Yes.  Did they need correction?  Yes.  Question: How much error must a congregation be involved in before it is necessary for a person to leave it?  Answer: the Chloe family still had their membership in the Corinthian assembly despite its immersion in sinful views and actions.  This had been going on for months.  Notice the New Testament pattern God is giving to us through the Chloe family and Paul’s response.

1. Was Corinth described by the Holy Spirit as “apostate” or “unsound”?  NO.

2. Did Paul tell the Chloe family to leave and established a “sound” church?  NO.

3. Did Paul continue to address them as “the church of God” (1:2).  YES.

4. Did Paul dissolve the eldership and have the prophets (preachers) fired?  NO.

5. Did Paul inform those who were “of Paul,” “of Cephas,” and “of Apollos” that they were apostates and only those who were “of Christ” were the true assembly?  NO.

6. Did Paul inform them that they were no longer “the body of Christ” but had reverted to being citizens of the kingdom of Satan?  NO (1 Corinthians 12:27).

7. Did Paul inform them that the Holy Spirit had abandoned them, and that God was no longer indwelling them?  NO.  (3:16; 12:8-11, 28-30; 14:12).

8. Did Paul inform them that they no longer belonged to God and their purchase had been forfeited?  NO.  (6:19-20).

9. How close to perfection must a 21st century congregation be to keep from being identified as apostate or no longer be recognized as the church of God in the eyes of God?

10. What congregation in your area is perfect in doctrine, practice, and membership?

Preachers will often use 1 Corinthians 1:2, 8-10, 3:16; 6:19-20; 14:34-35, 16:1-3 and other passages to show what a “sound” church must do to merit that description.  Yet, those commands are given to a congregation which was not described as apostate.  If we describe such a congregation as unsound or apostate, would we not be guilty of doing what neither Paul nor God did to Corinth?  If one refuses to follow the example given by Paul and God, would that person not be equal to those who were members of the church in Corinth?  In Oklahoma and Mississippi, we called that “hypocrisy.”

Today, churches withdraw fellowship from other congregations because the one identified as “unsound” because it refuses to continue to honor one or more nineteenth century traditions being practiced by the objectors.

As off center as Corinth was, neither Paul or the other apostles, the Jerusalem congregation nor its elders, nor other Jewish or Gentile assemblies, nor God Himself withdrew fellowship from them.  If there are perfect congregations today, their identity is unknown.  N.B. Hardeman once acknowledge that all congregations are in one of three conditions.  1) Going into a problem, 2) in a problem, or 3) coming out of a problem.  All three positions indicate imperfection.

Since two letters were written to the church of God in Corinth, it appears to be a New Testament pattern.   Perhaps we have not discovered what that pattern is.

FOR EVERY ACTION. . .

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 10-05-2020

Time changes most things.  Looking in the mirror at age 84 is a lot different than when it was 1954.  Biblical words like “thee” have changed to “you,” but not without controversy.  God forgives and forgets.  Humans often cannot make that transition.  If we recognize that change may cause adverse effects, we will attempt to choose the positive when it appears to outweigh the negative.  For every action there is a reaction. 

First century disciples assembled from house to house.  Some gathered in one of the Temple courtyards, but persecution stopped that.  Paul taught in a school, but that was temporary.  House to house assemblies happened even when a congregation’s numbers reached into the thousands (Acts 2:41; 4:4).  Such meetings are dismissed by some but the recent pandemic has forced us out of our church building and returned us back to those New Testament assemblies.

The third century church decided the first century way of spending the contribution could be used to buy property and build a meeting place.  Remember the 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 contribution was for benevolence outside the local church’s area.  Uninspired men decided to broaden what the collection could be spent on.  Remember, for every action, there is a reaction.  About 200 years after the first century, man decided the church would be better suited meeting under one roof.  Keep in mind that the 8,000 plus Jerusalem congregation did very well meeting all over the city in multiple assemblies.  So, a congregation was divided into multiple assemblies, each with its own meeting place and congregational leadership.

Despite Corinth’s inspired personnel it drifted into error.  It is not surprising that later assemblies, without those miraculous gifts, did the same thing.  Man decided to add his own church order of leadership.  A special class arose referred to as “clergy” or priests, with each directed the membership who were classified as the “laity.”  The name this movement used to describe itself was “the universal church.”  Rome became the seat of its authority.  Later that church would have its rebels like Luther, Zwingli, and others.  They were classified as apostates.  The two separate religious groups were divided into the true original church and the other was classified as Protest or Protestants.  Within a few centuries more denominations appeared giving each believer a choice in what he would accept as faith.  Most Protestants decided that each divisions was not essential to his salvation, although loyalty was expected.  Each developed a specific doctrine that made it different from his neighbor’s.  Each non-essential church member thought his belief and church was closer to the truth.  Each faith accepted the idea that it needed a church owned edifice.  If the Universal Church had its building, Protestantism deserved one too.

With over 1,000 different denominations today, it is difficult to list the many doctrines that each has introduced about the church building.  Each one’s action has resulted in a different reactions.  A few of those are related.

Some came to believe the church building inherited a holiness which blessed those who entered its doors.  Even songs used by most of the differing groups included the idea that as we sing, “We are standing upon holy ground.”  Some who sing those lyrics believed that this holy nature resides in their building.  To be present was to receive that holiness.

Rules were manufactured by man to keep the building interior holy.  The idea was created that nothing profane may be practiced therein.  The interior was designated as the sanctuary.  This was where the laity came to be sanctified.  It was where one came to receive Deity’s blessings through God’s anointed clergy.  Since God was there, one came into the sanctuary humbly and quietly to show his respect for the Father.

Due to man’s respect for God, multiple rules were developed to keep His sanctuary holy.  Decisions were made to separate the holy from the profane.  This view was developed over property rather than the biblical sanctuary of God.  Believers are the true sanctuary that must be holy.  Brick and stone cannot enjoy those attributes.  Following those manmade rules, some would not allow weddings in the building because the ceremony was not considered “worship.”  Others allowed it because they thought the ceremony with its music was a God ordained service.  Some who would not accept the service as worship, allowed it if the wedding party used their minister, and conformed to that church’s belief on what was proper worship in their building.  For example, one lady was extremely upset with her church for allowing a brass and string section to perform during worship.  She claimed that only the piano and organ were authorized to do that.  Bringing food into the auditorium or sanctuary was forbidden because it was for worship only, and a common meal was forbidden.  Some will not use the word “sanctuary” to describe the auditorium yet use “sanctuary rules” to keep it holy!  For every action, there is a reaction.  Those created by man are not always good.

Are church buildings sinful?  I have not made that claim.  However, no matter how ornate, it is just a building for a bunch of folks to meet in and do what they believe.  If one believes he must be in that building to make points with God, his thoughts are pointless.  If he believes he must be in a church building to be in God presence, he has been deceived.  God dwells IN His people (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).  He is there 24/7.  To limit God’s presence to 1-4 hours each week in a specific location is to worship a limited god that is unworthy of our devotion.  Since God dwells in the believer, God is with you wherever you decide to go.  If a disciple is meeting at the building with others to edify and be edified, then that room does not benefit from what those people are doing.  Edification benefits people.  Brick and wood cannot enjoy nor hate what humans do.  If one is strengthened as a disciple by outstanding architect or stained windows rather than edification, his purpose is woefully wrong.  Corinth had that problem due to their divisiveness (1 Corinthians 11:17-22, 33-34).

For every action, there is a reaction.  To keep the reaction right, one must work on the “every action.”      

THE PERFECT CONGREGATION?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 09-28-2020

Despite the false teachings and erroneous practices going on in the church in Corinth, when Paul addressed them, he described them as “the church of God.”

If a congregation near us was guilty of teaching and practicing the false doctrines the Corinthian church was charged with, would we use Paul’s phrases in describing them?  An honest answer would be “NO.”

As we read that first letter, we discover the serious charges made by Paul against them.  Despite those negative things being addressed, only the member described in chapter 5 was withdrawn from.  Since withdrawal is not mentioned for anyone else in the congregation, there seems to be a contradiction.

How can God fellowship a congregation that we would avoid today?  If He ignored their error, would He not be a party to their sins?  If He forgave them before they repented and prayed, would that not have involved God in their transgressions?  If sin causes an individual or congregation to be cast out of fellowship with God, why is only one person withdrawn from?

Is it possible that a congregation like Corinth can be continually cleansed by the blood of Christ despite their engagement in false practices?  If a congregation must be free of all sin to remain in fellowship with Yahweh, where is that specific church?  If perfection is not achieved and held by any assembly today, how can that congregation be the New Testament church?  Did God give us “nice sins” which allow Him to ignore our congregational sins but not permit Him to do so with another assembly?

The Corinthian church was involved in the sins described by the Chloe family months before reporting it to Paul.  Was the Holy Spirit still indwelling them during that time period?  According to Paul, “Yes”!  Did God withdraw from the entire membership?  No.  If not, why not?

For some, “A sound church” is one that has a certain number of beliefs and practices which that group classifies as faithful.  If we possessed those specific items, we are accepted by them as a true body of Jesus.  If we have additional practices which that group does not possess, we are accused of adding to God’s word which makes fellowship impossible.  If our teaching and practices are less than their valid number, we are guilty of binding things which God does not require. 

Some define “Unity” as being obtainable when all others precisely believe, teach, and practice as they do.  If we surrender, then they may scripturally fellowship with us and unity will be achieved.  This presents a problem which some refuse to recognize.  Whose list of “soundness” is the correct one?  If one congregation’s list has 40 requirements, but another is only 39, may the 40 rule one fudge 1 requirement in order to have fellowship?  Which requirement may they ignore because fellowship is more important than that rule?  Would that not also involve both assemblies in a problem?  How many other rules may be surrendered to have unity?

The Corinthian church was guilty of how many things?  What New Testament congregation was the pattern of perfection to be followed?  Was Philippi the shining example?  If so, Philippi was in fellowship with Corinth.  Shouldn’t that fact be our biblical pattern?  Who are the Philippi congregations today, and which ones are Corinth?  

For some, the Lord’s supper each Sunday, is an identifying mark of a valid congregation.  Corinth partook, yet Paul told them that it would be better if they had stayed at home.  So, one may partake yet need to stay home.  Yet, he still referred to them as “the church of God” and “the body of Christ.”  He recognized that God still indwelt them because the Holy Spirit continued to gift them.

Since sin keeps us from being a perfect congregation, do we not justify our sins in order to claim “soundness”?  The problem is each congregation makes up its own perfectionist rules.  Then each decides how close another congregation is to their rules and if close enough, fudges a few so they may enjoy fellowship.

Since we would not fellowship Corinth as they were before they attempted to correct their faults, would that not make us guilty of refusing to follow the pattern that Paul and the Holy Spirit gave!  There is a pandemic of sin in the world today, so, stay biblically safe!

IF I . . . I WOULD DO IT THIS WAY!

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 09-21-2020

“If it was up to me, and the elders would listen to my suggestions about what we ought to do, you would see growth, harmony, and spirituality like you’ve never seen it before.”  Has the devil ever entered your head with such thoughts?  Preachers are not above such, nor are elders, deacons, and members.  Humans have complained since Eve conversed with the serpent (Genesis 3:1-7).  We do the same today without the serpent’s input.

Paul entered a meeting with the Jerusalem elders reporting on the spread of the gospel.  Surprisingly he was blindsided with, “They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs”  (Acts 21:20-21).  It was a lie!  That is gossip’s trait. 

That same speech today would be, “I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, but there are a lot of members who are upset with . . .”  Why didn’t those elders in Jerusalem confirm whether this report was truth or false?  Why spring it on Paul?  Why not produce the names of those who originated this lie?  Why not tell those gossiping members that they were guilty of sin and needed to repent?  Why burden Paul’s shoulders with it when it was their responsibility to correct it?  Why?  Because we are human, and we would rather take the easiest path so we will not be the troublemaker but someone else will take the fall.

Paul also took the easy way out.  Rather than object and expose those who supported that lie, he complied with their solution.

Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved.  Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law” (Acts 21:24).

Paul proved the gossip was a lie.  Yet, God did not require him to do so.  It was the responsibility of those who told the lie to test it rather than swallow it.  It was the responsibility of the elders to test the veracity of the gossip, but they refused.  Why?

Perhaps the gossip came from those who were not enamored with Paul nor his work.  Remember, it was Paul and Silas that debated the Pharisee Christians who believed Gentiles needed to be circumcised in order to be “real” or valid Christians (Acts 15:1, 5).  When some refused to follow the decision of the apostles and Jerusalem elders and continued to bind it as gospel, Paul wrote to the Galatian church with this statement,

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– which is really no gospel at all.  Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.   But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!   As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!”  (Galatians 1:6-9; Acts 15).

Truth does not always make friends nor influence people.  Some in the Corinthian church refused to accept Paul as a real apostle (9:1-5).  They did not think much of him as a preacher (1 Corinthians 4:10-21; 2 Corinthians 10:10).  Perfection has its price and mankind cannot afford nor pay it!  So, he substitutes and blames others.

Humans see the alluring fruit dangling before them, and some believe it is their God given right to lead others to their perceived perfection.  The problem is that often those perfect solutions end up coming from the wrong source.  The result is negative rather than positive, usually leading to hurt feelings, more gossip, strained fellowship, and sadly to division.

Paul asked the Galatian saints, “Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?”  (Galatians 4:16).

THOSE OLD PEOPLE!

My Thoughts. . .

Wednesday, 09-16-2020

I can remember when I was in the third grade watching those who were in high school walk by.  My thinking?  I thought they were really old.  Then, there was my mom and my grandparents.  Mom was in her thirties and the grandparents were in their fifties.  I thought they had one foot in the grave with the other on a banana peel!  My mom died in 1995 at the age of 79.  During that 49 years my perspective on age began to change.

I never had any serious health problems during my years.  When I was young, I was diagnosed with Rheumatic Fever.  Yet, it did not cause me any of the problems that went along with its name.  My grandparents and parents died prior to their 80th birthday.  I observed that birthday closer than the others.  Yet, it passed, and I jumped from the 70s into the beginning of the 80s.  Then a close friend announced with surprise, “I can’t believe you are 83.”  I suddenly realized that it took effort to get down on my knees to retrieve something, and just as much effort to get back up.  My right hand did steady my left one, but by itself it was shaky.  Not good when trying to hit a target 10 yards away while shooting a pistol.  But these were little announcements that I was entering that “old person’s” stage.

I believe my black hair began to morph on me during my sixties until it washed out all the black except for my black eyebrows.  Even they are sprouting a number of white ones.  I punish them by cropping them as much as possible.  Forget the moustache and beard.  Both of them are traitors!

The last trip to the dermatologist rewarded me with his announcement, “I see you have several skin tags.”  Skin tags?  I had more than I either wanted or needed!  He recommended a 14-ounce bottle of medicated moisturizer that insurance will not share the cost on.  It does help or the drugstore could keep it.  I complained to my ophthalmologist about neck pain while at the computer screen.  A few $20 bills solved that with new eyeglasses which made computer work enjoyable.

Mirrors begin lying to you.  That cannot be me staring back at me.  How did my grandfather, who has been dead since 1953, escape the grave to be looking at me?   Why is it if a rain drip hits my arm, I develop a large red bruise there?  Someone has slipped around and added extra weight to everything I used to pick up.  I still have my hair, but it seems to have a mind of its own.  It knows all the points of the compass and takes delight in pointing them out to me. Today is the 16th and I have said goodbye to 83.  It still seems like yesterday when I was 8 years old and watching those high school students and thinking, “They must be really old!”  

WHO DO YOU LOVE BEST?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 09-14-2020

Jesus said if someone slaps you on the right cheek, “offer him the other one too” (Matthew 5:39; Luke 6:29).  He also said if someone sues you for your coat, also give him your cloak (Matthew 5:40).  Why?  Jesus’ reply was, “Don’t resist an evil person”! (Matthew 5:39).  Of course, that is not the full context.  Jesus started with, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’” (Matthew 5:38).  The basic message is, do not be someone who seeks revenge.

Most today would jokingly state, “I’ll do what Jesus commands and offer both cheeks, but if that person stays in my face, he will be picking up his teeth from the sidewalk.”  Recently, a mayor of a city that was experiencing “protesters” advised his citizens “To surrender to them anything they demand.”   Some well-meaning believers thought that advice was rooted in Jesus’ words.  Were they right?   They would be IF one understands Matthew 5:28-42 in the limited way given above.

Jesus quotes from the Law of Moses about an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.   Most believe this law stated: “You slap me.  I will slap you.  You take me to court.  I’ll take you.”  The statement is found in three different context: Exodus 21:22-25; Leviticus 24:19-20; and Deuteronomy 19:15-21.  The reader will notice the context is different in each.  Jesus mentions a soldier requiring a Jew to carry his load for a mile.  Jesus says carry it two.  Your attitude goes the extra mile!  So does your impression.  Rather than exhibiting resentment, you exude the privilege of helping a soldier serving far from home.  Why?  You are a child of a different King and Kingdom (v. 45).  Is this a law for all occasions and cultures?  Some think so.  Others modify it according to their culture.  There are other alternatives taken which are positive but dismiss the context involved.  The following examples are given as actions by readers who believe they are doing what Jesus commanded.

VIEW NO. #1: Someone breaks into your house, but you do not defend yourself or your family.  If the individual wishes to rape your wife and daughter, you stand aside and consent without objection.  Are you not obeying Jesus by turning your other cheek?  At least you are.  What about the two female family members?  When finished with his ungodly actions, he continues by cutting their throats.  Your response is to follow Jesus’ instructions by turning the other cheek to your adversary.  He takes what he desires.  You turn the other cheek.  When officers arrive, you turn the other cheek by not identifying the culprit.  When he is caught in another crime, you do not testify against him because you continue to turn the other cheek.  Your justification?  You love his soul and do not want to stop his threat by shooting him, which would not give him a future opportunity to become a Christian.  Did you love your wife and daughter less?  Yes, you did!  But your justification is that they were Christians and went to heaven.  If you shot and killed the invader, he would lose that opportunity.  You would be keeping him from that salvation!  So, your resistance was to grant him his freedom to do whatever he desired.

VIEW NO. #2: Someone kicks in your door to rape, murder, and rob.  You have a 12-gage shotgun.  When he comes through the door, he receives a full load of Number 2 shot in the face.  He falls back but is dead before his body hits the floor.  You love your wife and daughter more than you loved him.  You also love the people who would be his next victims.  Some of them may not be Christians, but you would be giving them the opportunity to become believers later, rather than allowing this criminal to murder them.  You loved him less than your wife and family, as well as all of those intended future victims.  There is a law called The Castle Doctrine which allows a person, in his home or vehicle, to protect himself, family or friends.  Each person has the right to decide whether he will or will not use a weapon to protect himself.  Using a pistol or rifle to stop a criminal from doing his evil deeds is not for the purpose of killing him, just to stop him from hurting you and family.  When the homeowner protects himself and others from a criminal’s action, he is the lawful one.  He is protecting the lives of law-abiding citizens.  By using a firearm against the criminal, he is aiding law officials and others.  He keeps that criminal from causing a future officer to lose his life.  He is also protecting those people that the law breaker would have visited if you had not stopped him.  In fact, his actions will keep you from having to make the decision whether to protect your family or allowing him to molest and murder them.  The choice is yours.  Talk it over with family though, they may feel differently and wish to use your firearm to protect themselves.

C

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 09-14-2020

Jesus said if someone slaps you on the right cheek, “offer him the other one too” (Matthew 5:39; Luke 6:29).  He also said if someone sues you for your coat, also give him your cloak (Matthew 5:40).  Why?  Jesus’ reply was, “Don’t resist an evil person”! (Matthew 5:39).  Of course, that is not the full context.  Jesus started with, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’” (Matthew 5:38).  The basic message is, do not be someone who seeks revenge.

Most today would jokingly state, “I’ll do what Jesus commands and offer both cheeks, but if that person stays in my face, he will be picking up his teeth from the sidewalk.”  Recently, a mayor of a city that was experiencing “protesters” advised his citizens “To surrender to them anything they demand.”   Some well-meaning believers thought that advice was rooted in Jesus’ words.  Were they right?   They would be IF one understands Matthew 5:28-42 in the limited way given above.

Jesus quotes from the Law of Moses about an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.   Most believe this law stated: “You slap me.  I will slap you.  You take me to court.  I’ll take you.”  The statement is found in three different context: Exodus 21:22-25; Leviticus 24:19-20; and Deuteronomy 19:15-21.  The reader will notice the context is different in each.  Jesus mentions a soldier requiring a Jew to carry his load for a mile.  Jesus says carry it two.  Your attitude goes the extra mile!  So does your impression.  Rather than exhibiting resentment, you exude the privilege of helping a soldier serving far from home.  Why?  You are a child of a different King and Kingdom (v. 45).  Is this a law for all occasions and cultures?  Some think so.  Others modify it according to their culture.  There are other alternatives taken which are positive but dismiss the context involved.  The following examples are given as actions by readers who believe they are doing what Jesus commanded.

VIEW NO. #1: Someone breaks into your house, but you do not defend yourself or your family.  If the individual wishes to rape your wife and daughter, you stand aside and consent without objection.  Are you not obeying Jesus by turning your other cheek?  At least you are.  What about the two female family members?  When finished with his ungodly actions, he continues by cutting their throats.  Your response is to follow Jesus’ instructions by turning the other cheek to your adversary.  He takes what he desires.  You turn the other cheek.  When officers arrive, you turn the other cheek by not identifying the culprit.  When he is caught in another crime, you do not testify against him because you continue to turn the other cheek.  Your justification?  You love his soul and do not want to stop his threat by shooting him, which would not give him a future opportunity to become a Christian.  Did you love your wife and daughter less?  Yes, you did!  But your justification is that they were Christians and went to heaven.  If you shot and killed the invader, he would lose that opportunity.  You would be keeping him from that salvation!  So, your resistance was to grant him his freedom to do whatever he desired.

VIEW NO. #2: Someone kicks in your door to rape, murder, and rob.  You have a 12-gage shotgun.  When he comes through the door, he receives a full load of Number 2 shot in the face.  He falls back but is dead before his body hits the floor.  You love your wife and daughter more than you loved him.  You also love the people who would be his next victims.  Some of them may not be Christians, but you would be giving them the opportunity to become believers later, rather than allowing this criminal to murder them.  You loved him less than your wife and family, as well as all of those intended future victims.  There is a law called The Castle Doctrine which allows a person, in his home or vehicle, to protect himself, family or friends.  Each person has the right to decide whether he will or will not use a weapon to protect himself.  Using a pistol or rifle to stop a criminal from doing his evil deeds is not for the purpose of killing him, just to stop him from hurting you and family.  When the homeowner protects himself and others from a criminal’s action, he is the lawful one.  He is protecting the lives of law-abiding citizens.  By using a firearm against the criminal, he is aiding law officials and others.  He keeps that criminal from causing a future officer to lose his life.  He is also protecting those people that the law breaker would have visited if you had not stopped him.  In fact, his actions will keep you from having to make the decision whether to protect your family or allowing him to molest and murder them.  The choice is yours.  Talk it over with family though, they may feel differently and wish to use your firearm to protect themselves.

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