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Friday, July 26, 2013

Where Did You First Meet God in the Bible?

Have you ever heard anyone recommend where a new-believer should begin to read the Bible? I’ve heard various Gospels spokletteren of as the best starting point, as well as letters of Paul.

Have you ever wondered why, with a book so large, written mostly in chronological order, no one ever says “Start at page one?”

And with all those potential books to begin my own journey through the Bible, why then did I begin my study in Psalms? Those of you who know the Bible well will assume it’s because of the promises listed there and the worshipful descriptions of a loving and in-control God. But that’s not what first resonated with me. I was drawn in by the verses calling out to a distant and silent Creator who didn’t, at the moment, seem to care for His children.


Because that was the land I’d been traveling before I began my journey through the Good Book. Those were the writings I related most to, and it felt good to discover the authors had known my same confusion … yet they eventually found Him. That sounded good to me.

I often wonder about the people charged with compiling this vast array of writings. Did the same guy who wanted the detailed listing of the laws also beg to include Song of Solomon? Did the same group who wanted the Chronologies (of war) also require the story of Esther, the humble queen who saved her nation with only a word?

It’s hard for me to imagine a uniform group agreeing to the disparate styles joined of Holy Writ. And yet they did—with His guidance.

Think about all that is included inside its pages: Histories, genealogies, statistics, numbers of tribes and numbers of troops, prophecies, songs and poetry, love stories, war stories, war logs, rule books, parables and letters.

Is there any other book like it in the world? No!

Why is that? Because it was meant to touch each potential member of the Body of Christ right where they are at any given moment of their lives. There is something for everyone at every time! It speaks to those who love guitar3the creative arts, those who love to calculate, and even those who make lists. It’s for those who want to learn from the past, and those who speculate about the future. It’s for those who want to get lost in a romance, and those who map out family trees.

It’s not just for the tidy mother of 2.4 children living in a garden-flanked house surrounded by a white picket fence. It’s for people like me whose dust bunnies resemble tumble weeds :o). It’s for CEOs in mansions and prophets in slums.

We are all parts of the Body of Christ. Our wishes, our skills and our histories are distinct and integral parts of His working, just as are the varying writings of His Word.

That’s why most of us don’t start the Bible at page one—other than those who crave order ;o). The rest of us need to start where we are. He’ll meet you right there! I promise.

Where did YOU first meet God in the Bible?

Other posts you might like:

Lord of All Creation

Body Parts

Do-ers and Be-ers

Friday, July 19, 2013

Don’t Do What I Say!

Matthew 23:2-3 (NIV) “The teachers of the law and the Pharisee smoses2it in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” These are Jesus’s words.

Wow! I just read this verse as I contemplate writing a post about my blog fatigue, and once again, God gives me what I need to hear.

What’s blog fatigue? It’s the effect of having read too many Christian ministry blogs and feeling overwhelmed, and yes, even confused. Why am I confused? Because lots of folk can take one small verse of the Bible and dissect it to mean a myriad of things—sometimes things that contradict what the guy last week said it means. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes a simple verse can be more meaningful at different times (and circumstances) in our lives. And sometimes the author can bring meaning to a simple phrase we’d not seen if we hadn’t read the post (see MaryLu Tyndall’s post on Jesus’ words, “I Thirst”. Just LOVE this one! I will never look at these words the same again). But other times I wonder if the author is stretching something a little too far, wanting to stand out as more knowledgeable than they really are.

Yikes! I’m tired of trying to figure it all out. But what really bugged me is that I’m probably doing the same thing to my readers. Oh, no! The last thing I want to do is lead anyone astray. Doing that heaps one of those “Woe to you” statements from Jesus in the Bible and somehow I don’t want to be the recipient that!!!

The verse above caught my eye. Why? Not because I think you should do what I say, and not what I do. After all, I’m not a theologian and do NOT sit in Moses’ seat. Even more reason to ignore my words. I quoted this scripture because, in the end, all this writing I do, or that of any of the other bloggers, should lead you back to the ultimate resource—not us. The Pharisee’s words, from this passage, represent their teaching of God’s Word. This is what we need to follow. Not man’s word, nor even man’s actions.

So now that you’ve read my musings, should you ignore them? You’ll have to decide the answer to that question. I do not write so you think I’m wise and can impart that wisdom onto you. I write to point you Bibleback to the Bible. I hope you will not take anything I say as absolute truth until you evaluate it for yourself, using His source. I’m only human. I’d hate to be the mentor of anyone who wanted to better themselves, because if the student can only be as good as his master, you would not be shooting very high. I want more for you. I want more for ME. So let’s reach for God’s standards. They are good. How do I know this? Because He is Good … and He is wise!

So, though God can use us bloggers as empty vessels of His Will, don’t stop there. See what the Bible itself says. But don’t just look at one verse. Delve into its context, learn all the meanings of the words. You’d be surprised at the treasure you’ll find there. A story of Goodness, Righteousness, Mercy and Hope. A story of love poured out in the Wisdom, Knowledge and Power of our Father in Heaven.

Note: A great resource to find all the meanings of each individual word in the Bible is at MyStudyBible.com. I use this regularly, and Wow! It opens up a whole new world to God’s Word.

Other posts you might like:

Let Him Steal Your Show

What Brought You To Christ?

A No-Matter-What Kind of Joy

Friday, July 12, 2013

Is My Faith a Religion or a Relationship?

Last week I mused on the war of words in the Christian Community—how some churches are trying to separate themselves from others by changing the lingo. The members are substituting Religion with Relationship, and Christian with Christ Follower. Though, in that blog I said this doesn’t appeal to me, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with the new terms at all. I just feel we need to focus on how to live rather than how to say we live. THAT’S what tells people more about us than anything that comes from our mouths.

I know, I should talk. Here I am at my computer, using more words myself. Let’s all hope and pray they actually translate into action as well.

Anyway, this new lingo change prompts me to ask the question, is my faith a religion? I keep hearing from preachers, teachers and writers that it shouldn’t be. It should be a relationship. To answer this question I dusted off my old, hard cover Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, and looked up the definition of religion. Here are some of its meanings:

1) The service and worship of God or the supernatural.

2) Commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.

There was one separate definition that had “scrupulous conformity” in it, which certainly would not be how I view my faith at all. In fact I think God wants us all somewhat different, as in different parts of the Body of Christ. Scrupulous conformity only describes what some have turned their religions into. However, the other two definitions mentioned above could include a part of what my faith is. But only a part.

Now let’s look at the definitions of relationship:

1) The state of being related or interrelated.

2) The relation connecting or binding participants in a relationship.

3) A state of affairs existing between those having relations or dealings.

The worst thing you can say about the original definition of the word religion is that it is vague. It does not tell you about the greatness of God poured out on His children through both His wisdom and His mercy. It does not tell of the sacrifice made in His Son so that we would know eternal life in His Glory. It could be used for any religion from any culture with any belief, even to worship a tree.

It is incomplete.

But so is the term relationship. It could speak of Cinderella’s ugly step-sisters. It could speak of an abusive husband or a swindling business partner. It is not wholly good.

Does that mean I don’t think we should substitute religion with relationship? Actually, to me both are acceptable—though incomplete—words.

Yet, I must say, I LOOOVVVVE the word relationship. In fact, I liken it more to a romance, but that’s just me :o). I love to think of my God as my friend, my love, my protector. All those things I want the hero of a good love story to be.

But He’s more. He’s my Father, my Creator, my all-in-all, my King. He is worthy of my worship and devotion and I want to commit my life to doing His will (even if I mess up at it a lot).

So to answer the question in the title of this blog—Is my faith a religion or a relationship?

It’s BOTH  <shrug>  for me anyway :o).


Other posts you might like:

You Are Holy

Christ: The Perfect Romance


Friday, July 5, 2013

When Evil Says ‘God Is Good’

evilA few weeks ago there was a news story about a man who’d done something so horrific it shot ugly chills down my spine. I couldn’t fathom its reality. Can such evil really exist today? But what concerned me more was a report that the perpetrator of this horrific act had posted the following on his Facebook status the day before his arrest:

“God is good.”

Having read those words on many a Christian blog and used them myself, it made me think.

The Bible tells us there will be wolves in sheep’s clothing and false prophets to watch out for (Matthew 7:15, NIV). Hitler even had Bible verses, taken out of context, to support his evil agenda.

So what do we do to separate ourselves from those who perpetrate evil? How do we advance the Kingdom of God when it can be associated with such things?

I’ve noticed, recently, many preachers, teachers and writers work to separate themselves from the legalistic brand by changing the lingo. Certain words and phrases used by the Christian community had become overused without a full understanding of their meaning, or aligned with incorrect or incomplete theology. Words associated with legalism, like religion or religious, and to some, even Christian, have been replaced with relationship, Christian spirituality and Christ follower. For some reason this never appeals to me. I guess it’s because when I worked in day care (years ago) I watched kids turn the, then, new term “mentally challenged” into the same slur the old term had become, without batting an eye. Changing the language had only given those intent to misuse it more fodder with which to abuse.

Words are words and are only given meaning in how they are used. Webster is forever making new dictionaries to keep up with the changing contexts of its vocabulary. Words can be used well, but even new and pristine terms can be perverted by evil.

What, then, is the solution? How do Christians, who seek to livapple treee their lives according to God’s Word, separate themselves from those who misuse it? I’d suggest, rather than spending your efforts in developing, defining and using a new vocabulary, to take back the meanings God intended for those we have, and expressing them through our actions. Be the tree bearing good fruit (Matthew 7:16). Show others what it means to live as God intended, righteous lives, filled with His Truth, His Love, and His Grace.

It’s good stuff and others need to see how it works!

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8, NIV)

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:15-16, NIV)