Saturday, May 27, 2017

Forgotten Standards?

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

This began as a Facebook status...then I thought, no, it should be a Note...nah, let's do a blog post...
The 3 + 1 reading had me beginning James today. Chapter 1. I'll be honest, reading along, I began to wonder if modern American Christianity has forgotten that this book is in the canon...

... each one is tempted when, by his own evil desires, he is dragged away and enticed. ( v. 14b)

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and accept the word planted in you, which can save you.  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (v. 21-22) 

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. (v. 26)

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  (v. 27)

I've taught James a number of least three different class years of Christian Women's Job Corps,  in a ladies' small group at church, and I linked up the notes in the blog a few years back (see sidebar, 'Previous Bible Studies'). But this time, James' use of the word 'religion' caught my eye...what did he mean by 'religion'?  

They are variants of  the word threskia - Strong's 2356 - which means 'Religious worship, especially outward ceremonies; religious discipline, religion'.  It's only used two other times in the entire New Acts 26:5, Paul, giving his testimony, states '...according to the the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee,' and  in Col. 2:18, where Paul warns against being influenced by folks who 'delight in...the worship of angels'.

'Religion', then, is not a hot topic in the New Testament.  James' use of it here really doesn't involve the  concept of  'accepting the word planted in you, which can save you'.  In fact, it's really not talking about salvation at all, but of just going through the motions of religious activity for personal gratification.   I could paraphrase it this way...

'If anyone considers himself successful in his adherence to the rituals of worship, but doesn't watch his in to the temptation to put people down, curse, gossip,  break confidence, lie, etc... he's just fooling himself and the rituals are meaningless. The disciplines that God considers pure are to take care of widows and orphans and to refuse to be influenced by the culture that dishonors Him.'

 Worship, then, is best expressed by caring for others and by resisting the influence of those who do not fear God.

Where, then, does the current philosophy that insists that Christianity must change to suit the culture fit?  Christianity cannot be separated from Christian morality.  It just doesn't work.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Summer Study: Galatians

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I have an itch to do another study and decided to dive into Galatians, one of my favorite books, for the summer.

Paul writes an alarmed epistle to the believers in Galatia;  other teachers had followed him and were confusing the new believers with doctrines based on human achievement and religious activity.  The churches in Iconium, Lystra, Pisidian Antioch and Derbe were in the region of Galatia, cities Paul had visited on his first missionary journey and the believers there were dear to him.

Paul wants to settle the issue for them regarding the doctrine that was being propagated by a loose group of folks Bible scholars frequently refer to as 'Judaizers'.  The essence of their teaching was that Gentiles who wanted to follow Christ must be circumcised as Jews and follow the Law of Moses as the Jews did.  Paul had been present at the discussions in Jerusalem recorded in Acts 15, and knew that those requirements went against the prayerful decisions made there.   His argument is historical, logical, and passionate, using some strong language.

It's a good study to consider today; a reminder to believe what was approved and taught from old.. we are saved by grace into freedom to serve in love.

Here's the syllabus:

6/2 - Gal 1:1 - 2:10
6/9 - Gal 2:11 - 21
6/16 - Gal. 3:1 - 14
6/23 - Gal. 3:15 -25
6/30 - Gal. 3:26 - 4:7
7/7 - Gal. 4:8 - 18
7/14 - Gal. 4:19 - 5:1
7/21 - Gal. 5:2 - 15
7/28  - Gal. 5:16 - 26
8/4 - Gal 6:1 - 18

That's just my first breakdown into what appears to be reasonable sections; if I'd planned ahead a little better I'd have a blurb statement for each but, since the inspiration just hit, I'm going to leave the blurb for the discussion.

So, if you're interested, grab a 4-color pen and join me in a study of Galatians this summer!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I posted this as a Facebook Note last year and thought it might be worth a repeat...

For every woman who has ever...

Rocked a baby that refused to sleep...and then kept rocking when sleep finally came, just because the moment was too sweet to end.

Bandaged bloody knees and fingers, or put ice on bumps and bruises, or rigged steam tents in the bedroom to ease that non-stop cough, or sat in doctor’s offices and emergency rooms when the home remedies were insufficient...and held the child for the shot, with tears in her own eyes, or gritted her teeth and kept trying until the medicine went down.

Found an exuberant mess where no mess had been just minutes before, often at the most inconvenient moment.

Made pancakes in the shape of Mickey Mouse.

Taught a child to whistle, to cut snowflakes from a folded piece of paper, to bake cookies, to feed a pet or to blow bubbles.

Sat in car pickup after day after day....

Helped with the school Christmas party.

Sewed costumes for a school play

Gone through the stack of flash cards. Again.

Gone to Wal-Mart at ten pm for poster board for the project due tomorrow.

Taken the forgotten lunch to school. Again.

Explained the facts of life.

Read aloud to a kid. Or a group of kids.

Stayed up making goodies for the bake sale.

Manned the class booth at the PTA fall festival.

Sat through two hour award ceremonies to see one little second grader get a certificate for maintaining a B average.

Stood firm on a principle in the face of teen angst.

Watched that new driver back out of the driveway and head down the road alone for the first time.

Cleaned up after a sleepover.

Walked into a newly empty bedroom and turned off the fan that the fledgling left on after packing up and heading to the dorm or the new apartment.

Prayed for a kid, hugged a kid, was kind to a kid, taught a kid or gave up something to make a kid’s life a little better.

God bless you all on Mother’s Day.

And an especially Happy Mother's Day to my mom...who did so much for me!  Love you!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Mental Hairballs

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

We have a cat.

A cat who sheds prolifically.

Evidence is all over my black knit clothes, the sofas, the chairs, folded laundry left overnight in a get the picture.

I buy lint rollers by the case at the local buyer's club.

I also buy 'hairball control' cat food. Because hairballs are gross.

However, despite brushing and brushing and the not-so-cheap kibble, hairballs are a fact of life with this kitty.  They still get hacked up, hopefully not on the still-newish carpet, and they have to be cleaned up.  Some take more cleaning than others and sometimes there's a shadowy spot that never quite comes out.

Yesterday I  caught myself saying something I really didn't want to say.  As in, I'd lectured myself at various times about expressing that opinion.  Don't do it.  No point in it.  It can only upset folks.  And you're making too big of a deal about it anyway.

I did well.  Until yesterday. And the opinion came flying out of my mouth without so much as check at the door.

Fortunately, due to the circumstances, I don't think very many folks heard it.  And it wasn't a horrible, ugly thing...just an unnecessary thing.  But I was upset with myself just the same.

And I suddenly realized what I'd done is hack up a mental hairball.  Something that had collected over time until the  moment arrived when the brain couldn't process it any more.  So out of the mouth it came.

And, like some actual hairballs, I was fortunate that 1) it didn't appear to land on the newish carpet and 2) it didn't make a horribly big mess.  Sort of like one that lands on the linoleum in the kitchen and can just be sorta wiped up and tossed.

I have had much, much worse messes to deal with.  But that really didn't help my disgust at this one.  I'm tired of dealing with them.

So I does one neutralize mental hairballs? They are an irritant; demanding attention.  Distracting.  They need to go away them vocabulary and air time is not the way to do it.

It takes an act of will to do the 2 Corinthians 10 thing...take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.    See, that hairball needs to dissolve in God's grace.   I can't, by force of my own will, make it go away.  In fact, the more attention I give it the uglier and more irritating it gets.

It was kind of a revelation that we get rid of those things by releasing them to God.  Not focusing on it at all...but focusing on Him.  Those ugly opinions, gossipy tidbits,  self-justifications...all of that stuff...will fade right out when they're not given attention.  Taking a thought captive means cutting off its source of strength...which is our very own focus.

It's hard. But God gives us His grace to do hard stuff.

And it's less hard to turn it over to Him and focus on His grace and His beauty than it is to clean up the mess and get rid of the stains when those things are dealt with in the natural way.

Just sayin'.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Master's is DONE!

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Three weeks is long enough to go without posting...something...

I have officially finished my online master's degree.

I feel like I should put an asterisk by that, with a footnote stating that I don't think I did coursework comparable to attending a brick-and-mortar campus.

I think the institution from which I am receiving the degree is changing and plans to make much use of social media to increase the workload, so I probably got through easier than those who will follow.

Not sure how accomplished I feel.

The only class that was a drag was the one in which I had to read a handbook of weddings and funerals.

The wedding ceremonies were nice, and some had very touching, creative bits.

But there were way more funeral samples.  How many funerals can you read before a dark cloud descends?

Some were about aged saints who went home to glory and left grand legacies.  Those were inspiring.

But the rest...oy.

Was glad to finish that one.

The textbook I was least impressed with was the last overview of the entire Bible and Apocrypha.

The author wrote two or three points that were just plain wrong.  As in, I don't know how those statements got past a proofreader.

But more than that, he couldn't seem to decide if he were writing to give evidence that the Bible is accurate or to cite folks who wanted to logically explain why it was inaccurate.

It felt...mushy.

Still, there were some good insights so it wasn't a total washout.

By and large, the year of study was good for me.  I commented to a friend that even if I have no benefit to either my career or ministry, I'm glad I did it because of what I gleaned personally.

And, as it turns out, there's going to be a 'graduation ceremony' during 3rd service on May 21. There have been a few folks who have finished varying levels of work and the head of the online school is coming, with full academic regalia, to confer degrees and such.

Not sure if I'm going to be in cap and gown (I don't even know what the protocol is for Master's level headgear) or not.

But my grad fee is paid and all is in order.

My creative had kind of shut down during the push to finish.

Hoping it has had a nice break and is ready to come back online now.