Saturday, August 26, 2017

Ok. It's a rant.

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
And a rant, well, tends to ramble.

It's been brewing since something jumped out at me from my Facebook newsfeed a few days back:

True Christians will denounce the sin of racism!

Now, to be honest, I don't remember who posted it, other than I recollect being surprised at it because this wasn't posted by someone who normally discusses how a Christian life is properly lived out before God.

And, you know, what I have been hearing, for the past year or so, mostly from the non-active-Christian portion of my newsfeed either  by posted links, memes or statuses, is that Christians have no business denouncing sin.   < sarcasm> Because, you know, Christians are just hypocritical bigots who follow a bunch of man-made, white-priveledge, homophobic, archaic rules that benefit them and nobody else.< /sarcasm>

So I was somewhat surprised that now, all of a sudden, Christians are expected to denounce sin.

Or at least the politically correct sin to denounce.  That one is okay.  Denounce away.

Of course racism is a sin.  Christianity, above all religions, is, at its core, racially and ethnically inclusive.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,...there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3: 26, 28)

But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.  For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2:9 -10)

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit -- just as you were called to one hope when you were called -- one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  (Eph. 4:3-6)

Hatred is a sin. Wait.  I didn't say that right.  Hating people is a sin...there are some things that are properly hated. There are things God hates.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft;  hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like.  I warn you, as I did before,  that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.  (Gal. 5:19-21)

So, are we not to denounce the other things that God hates?  The other sins that we commit?  Those things in that Galatians list that will keep people from inheriting the kingdom of God?

No?  Just racism?  Doesn't that sound just a little bit, oh, I don't know...inconsistent?

Has anyone noticed that meanings of the words have been twisted around and turned upside down and inside out and now nobody knows what they mean?

I thought 'Hate' meant that you actively wish something destroyed, undone, obliterated...but apparently it now means that you disagree with someone.

I thought 'Love' meant that you hope and work for another's long-term good, even if they don't always agree with you.  But apparently now that means you will support and accept anything that the other person wants to do, so long as it makes them happy at that moment.  And, of course, if you don't...or if you disagree with them...then it's 'hate'.

Whose idea was it to mess with the meanings of words???

Some folks seem to have forgotten that freedom of speech does not include an obligation for anyone to listen.  Just because someone is spouting ugliness doesn't mean you have to get in there and throw it back at them.  Sometimes the best way to get such attention-demanding obnoxiousness to go away is simply to yawn and turn your back and refuse to be the audience.  Sharing an outrageous post with an indignant comment really only gives it more exposure.  I mean, look at the last whatever you shared on FB...what is more prominent, the thing you shared or your comment about it?  See what I mean?

One of my favorite reads is CS Lewis's Space Trilogy...and the final book, That Hideous Strength is nearly prophetic.  Especially in the bit about how the press was manipulated.  The same organization was behind the news in both the liberal and the conservative press in order to jerk the chains of both.

News bites from either side of OUR political spectrum seem to be following that pattern now; one prints only what the other omits and neither presents an accurate picture of what actually happened.

Anything can be edited to say, well, anything.  Both political camps are crackerjack editors.

How does one be a true light in such craziness?  When even folks who claim to follow Christ can't stomach to hear what He said?

These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.  I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive but you are dead.  Wake up!  Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.  Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.(Rev. 3:1b - 3a)

We best denounce racism by working for the kingdom alongside our brothers and sisters of all races and skin tones, and there are those who have been doing that for years.  One body, one Spirit, one Lord.

I don't know if that will appease the person who put up that post or not.  But it really doesn't matter either way.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Toe in the classroom water again...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

It's been 3 years since I last taught a class.

In that time, I've completed level one and level two of the Elijah House School of Prayer Ministry, attended the DIVE worship school and a DIVE songwriter's conference and completed an online Master's degree.

None of which I could've done had I been teaching three classes of teen girls every week.

But I get the 'contact us' forms that folks fill out with questions, comments and requests, and we recently got the latest in a series of requests for an evening beginning Bible study; this one requested a ladies' study.

I did a little checking; the women's ministry suggested I talk to our Life Group (small group ministry) pastor.

I asked him to keep me in mind when we get to the new building...whenever that happens in the next I know we're going to be launching a good number of study/education type classes once we have the space (and we WILL have space...we're renovating a recently retired high school.  We will have LOTS of classroom space).  I figured it'd be at least six months to a year before that came to pass; lots of time to construct a syllabus and build a curriculum.

But he got excited that I was interested in doing that and...gulp...the 6 - session class begins next Thursday night at church.  I've got, I think, 7 ladies (it was offered co-ed, but so far only ladies have signed up), which is good for the 'let's build the curriculum' class.

It's offered as a 'Bible Study for Beginners' and I'm going to teach three simple strategies/ methods for personal Bible study.  My goal is to give them a strategy and tools to be able to read and study the Bible for themselves...and get them inspired/excited about doing so.

That's basically what I did at various points of teaching my teen classes over the years; it shouldn't be such a stretch to share that info with adults.

So, ya wanna tell me why I have butterflies about it?  :-)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Blogging Bible Study week 10 - Galatians 6: 1 - 18

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I'm second guessing my decision to cover all of Chapter 6  in one discussion; it seems to me to be a collection of last-minute thoughts Paul wanted to share with the folks in Galatia.  He's communicated to them the message that he felt compelled to share, but, you  know how it is when you're conversing with someone you don't see often -- there's always a few other points that need to be made while you have their attention. 

So it is with Paul.  Chapter 6 is not so much a straightforward argument, as it has been throughout the book, but a collection of choice morsels to ponder.  And each of those morsels could be a complete teaching in and of itself.  But I have determined to stick to the syllabus, so buckle up for a kind of bounce-around discussion...

He begins with church discipline...what do you do when a member of the body falls into sin?

The spiritual folks should restore that person gently, he instructs. But there's a out, lest you be tempted yourself.

That's a real danger.  Sin is sticky stuff, and it's designed to trap humans.  Think of the big names of years past, who, in their work against it pornography, addictions, whatever...fell into that very behavior themselves.  It was shocking, because they worked so hard against it.   It's a serious danger, and we need to take it very seriously.  Verse 3 -- if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  We truly are nothing...we don't have the ability, in and of ourselves, to deal with such things.  Only through the grace and power of the Spirit can we fight those battles.  Doing it for the wrong reasons, with the wrong motives, from a position of self-deception that we can handle it is the recipe for disaster.

There is a bit of a conundrum: in verse 2, Paul writes, Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ; and then in verse five he turns right around and says each one should carry his own load.  Um....

So, to the lexicons...

'Burdens' in v. 2 is baros -- which means 'weight' but can also mean a load, abundance.  IE, something that 's too much for them. 'Load' in v. 5 is phortion - which is primarily 'an invoice' but can also mean a burdensome task or service, which hit me as the idea that it is an obligation one must fulfill.  Here's my take: if you see a fellow believer struggling to carry a burden that is clearly too much for them, help them out.  But there are duties and obligations that you alone can fulfill and you need to take care of those.  The context for that is in not comparing oneself to others...what they are doing or not that we don't judge ourselves as better or more oppressed or any other comparison, because we truly don't know what's going on in all aspects of another person's life.  Don't let your obligations slide because of how you perceive another person handling theirs.

There are a few more last minute instructions.

Share good things with those who instruct you well.  (Comments are good things,

He points out that reaping follows sowing, and what was planted is what is yielded. This logically leads to one of my favorite promises:
Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Verse 9)
This implies, of course, that we should do good every time we have a chance and be especially looking to do good to those who are also believers.

But Paul can't say good-by without one last comment on his main topic; he marvels at his handwriting, which reminds him of why he was so urgently compelled to take up the pen himself.  He states that those folks who are trying to get them to follow the Jewish rules are doing it not because they really care about the Gentiles who are coming to the faith, but because it's the politically correct thing to do amongst their cronies and they can brag about the number of converts they've made.  Paul, on the other hand, is not interested in bragging about anything, except what Jesus has done.  And he sums up his argument one last time:

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. - v. 15.

I'm going to wander off into a bit of commentary here, because I see so much of this kind of thing today.  How many people came many were baptized...etc.  Now there's nothing wrong with folks coming to an altar, or being baptized, for sure, but there are people who put their confidence in those actions, rather than in what Jesus did, just as those Galatians were putting their confidence in following the Jewish laws.  Those things, in and of themselves, really don't mean anything.  Because what counts is a new creation.  Did the person really yield themselves to follow Jesus?  Or were they just going through a religious ritual?  Hard questions...but they matter.

...what counts is a new creation.

And Paul leaves his readers to ponder that.

Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God...The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Yes and amen.