27 Ways to Be a Modern Man (According to the NY Times)

The New York Times published an article detailing what they think makes a “modern” man.  Most of their “definitions” are benign, and some I even agree with (such as the bit about not cutting fat off your steak and eating the entire thing).  One in particular struck me…

25. The modern man has no use for a gun. He doesn’t own one, and he never will.

Wow.  That isn’t just a philosophical bungle, it is flat out a denial of man’s role as the defender of his family, and of the physically weak.  Luke 22:36 expressly records Jesus Christ instructing his closest disciples to sell their cloak, their most prized personal possession and their identification of status in Jewish society, and purchase a sword.  With Christ there are always multiple interpretations of what He said, but one cannot ignore the very literal words spoken in order to read into a statement what you want to see.  Sell your clothes… buy a weapon.  Not a spear, or a bow… a sword.  The sword was the equivalent of the modern firearm.

Jesus Christ instructed his followers to arm themselves so that they could defend themselves and each other.  There are other deeper meanings as well, but let’s just stick with the literal words spoken because it seems that the New York Times just said that Jesus was wrong because according to them, a real manly man doesn’t need to have the ability to defend themselves or someone else.  Considering the source I shouldn’t be surprised.  Don’t mind that, if not for someone with a [gatling] gun, that joke of a paper would have been burned to the ground by a riotous mob back in the 19th century.

I argue that the NYT is flat wrong and here is why…

“The Gun Is Civilization” By Maj. L. Caudill, USMC (Ret)

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that’s it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force.

The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.
There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we’d be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a [armed] mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger’s potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat – it has no validity when most of a mugger’s potential marks are armed.

People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that’s the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.

Then there’s the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser.

People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don’t constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level.

The gun is the only weapon that’s as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply wouldn’t work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn’t both lethal and easily employable.

When I carry a gun, I don’t do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I’m looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don’t carry it because I’m afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn’t limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation… And that’s why carrying a gun is a civilized act.

By Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret.)

Advertisements

Deepest Darkness

By now everyone in America is aware of the tragic events in Charleston the other day.  Since and in the coming days we as a nation have choices to make.  We will choose to judge, hate, fear, legislate, and either draw closer to or push away others.  We will either fall victim to the fear of similar events in our own communities.  Churchgoers will look over their shoulders more often and watch outsiders critically out of fear.

fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41;10

We have already seen politicians trying to leverage the blood of these men and women for their own particular myopic view of what’s wrong with this country – namely what they think is the over-proliferation of guns despite the statistics that demonstrably have proven that more guns has not led to more crime, but rather the marked decrease in violent crime.

Others will grab on to the killer’s racial motives and say that this is an example of the extreme racism prevalent within society.  They will say that this is a more common problem and that this particular tragedy is just the latest example of it.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[a] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

These knee-jerk reactions don’t capture the problem though, and it is the problem we all have.  We live in a world of darkness, of hate, of violence, of evil, and sin.  But, the good news is for all of us, and that is that the brightest light is possible from the deepest darkness.  It is in fact not only possible, for God uses evil for ultimate good.

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
    for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
    and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
    and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74     that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75     in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
    whereby the sunrise shall visit us[h] from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Luke 1:68-79

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

Psalm 139:11-12

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

The righteous man perishes,
    and no one lays it to heart;
devout men are taken away,
    while no one understands.
For the righteous man is taken away from calamity;
    he enters into peace

Isaiah 57:1-2

While it is tragic that people had to lose their lives, we should rest assured that they died at peace righteous and redeemed.  What an evil men wrought God will turn into something beautiful – and I suspect that it will begin today, with love, not hate, politics, or legislation, in Charleston.  From deepest darkness the light of Christ shines brightest.

Pray for those left behind, thank God for the grace that covers us all, and praise Jesus for reaching though time and gathering all sin to himself so that all men, women, and children of all ages and all nations are redeemed in the Father’s sight – even the man holding the gun the other night.

Echoes of Grace

We are so ridiculously attached the law.  I don’t mean the Law as laid down in scripture, but in our own adherence to the law that we establish in our own lives.  It gives us control, or at least, we think it does.  We use our concept of law to set expectations for others to live up to in our eyes.  We all do it, in every aspect of our lives.

We drive with the expectation that other drivers understand the laws of traffic – drive on the right side of the road, stop at a red light, don’t recklessly speed, and yield to traffic when merging or turning.  When someone violates the law, we expect consequences.  Our need for justice demands them – when someone passes us over a double yellow or tailgates us because we’re not going fast enough or runs a red light in front of us, we all look around hoping that a police officer is nearby and noticed so that the person who broke our expectations of adherence to the laws of behavior on the road is caught, made to feel guilty for what they did, and then punished appropriately with a ticket.  Civil society on the road demands adherence to the law because it allows society to function with appropriate actions, reactions, and consequence for failure to behave appropriately.

12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

1 Timothy 1:12-16

God has given me an insight into grace recently, and how to apply grace in my own life.  How can you show someone grace?  How can you help someone understand it when the world at large does not offer grace?  The world offers small-L law and demands adherence so that the world can continue to function smoothly.

Consider Christ’s command to turn the other cheek.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,[a] let him have your cloak as well.

Matthew 5:38-40

Obviously Jesus spoke in multiple layers, like an onion.  Let me peel this back a bit.  Obviously Christ is changing the old law from one of pure, equal justice with appropriate punishment for offense with regard to physical pain and injury caused by one’s action, but he also is changing the old law.  He is providing an insight at grace for us, one more beautiful when you really consider it.

When we sin against God, we slap Christ in the face, because Christ carried our sins to the cross so that we may have reconciliation with God.  God’s justice requires adherence to the Law, which we have failed miserably at keeping, but Christ adhered to perfectly.  When someone sins against us, either violating God’s Law or man’s law (our own expectations whether personal or civil), it is a slap in the face to us.  Our first reaction is to spring to our feet like an NBA player and hold our hands out and look for the ref to call a foul and get awarded our free throws for the perceived wrong.

When we are slapped we have many ways to respond: fight back, demand justice in order to feel whole again, or offer them grace.  We are really really really good at the first two and horribly bad at the latter.

What we have to ask though is cliche.  What would Jesus do?  Would Jesus hold out his hands and demand an apology?  Would Jesus call for a foul?  Or would Jesus turn the other cheek and offer you another chance to get it right?  Isn’t that what grace is?

Somewhat.

Grace isn’t just the opportunity for the offender to try again, but it is a gift from God in another way.  Grace is something that the victim can cling on to in order to feel whole again as well.  By offering grace, turning the cheek, forgiving without apology (a tit for tat exchange – withholding forgiveness isn’t Christlike whatsoever), and providing an alternative to justice for small-L law, we can be relieved of the burdens of justice on the aggrieved.  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  We didn’t ask for mercy, grace, and forgiveness, but it was given without precondition.  What better way to demonstrate grace and the gospel, but to turn the other cheek?

This turns our demand for justice and reparations on its head, and isn’t that exactly what Jesus said he would do?

Grace and mercy.

No! Non! Nein! Nyet! NO!

You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.

Pope Francis

I have a serious problem with this statement.  God is Just.  God MUST be just or He is not completely perfectly righteous.  If someone doesn’t believe in God and doesn’t seek the walk of faith, then they have no part in heaven.  It seems completely unfair since not everyone has a chance to hear the Gospel, but God is just.  His law is not negotiable, nor does it make special exceptions or exemptions for acts of good conscience.  You can not work your way into God’s grace and mercy because we are unrighteous, unholy beings and everything we do on our own is tainted by our sin-state.

This thinking that we have any say in our salvation aside from acceptance of and adoration for the Savior Himself is the essence of sin itself – it is selfish pride – that we can be good enough!

Ha!  If it came from someone lesser, it wouldn’t offend me as much… but still… I’m sorry if you like Pope Francis, but on this HE. IS. WRONG.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

Loving Your Neighbor

~ Radical thoughts to follow. ~

So many Christians these days are stuck in thinking of God as the almighty Creator of the universe, the final judge and authority on everything good, and they fear this powerful deity enthroned in unfathomable power.  They get so caught up in the God who utterly crushed Sodom and Gomorrah, caused the ground to swallow up disobedient men whole, and sent bears to maul dozens of “youths” in response to a curse by His prophet after their “teasing” of him.  If that is the God you know, you are missing Him… essentially in a forest for the trees moment.

Now let me get this straight – the God I’m talking about did all of those things, but He is so much more.  The God I’m talking about is not vengeful and destructive – He is creative, He is merciful, He is loving.  He is not hovering somewhere up in space ready to cast down lightning and hurl giant hailstones at you if you stumble and fall in trying to serve Him.

This is why the concept of God the Father is so important.  Think to your own children if you have them.  As a father, we only want the very best for them.  We teach them, guide them, influence them, discipline them, and love them as much as we can before we turn them loose on the world.  God the Father is no different, except that He doesn’t want us to ever get turned loose, but rather to turn back to Him – to love Him in return and to become not just His child, but rather also His friend.

Few men in the Bible were ever credited as friends of God – Abraham, Moses, David. These men didn’t go on and do measly things either. Abraham is the forefather of two great peoples – Jews through Isaac (by extension Christians) and Muslims. Moses became the first civil rights leader the world has ever seen – he led an entire nation from slavery to freedom.  David established Israel as a nation-state and also provided the family lineage for the Son of God to be born with a royal bloodline.  These men also give us a stark contrast though because of their friendship with God – Moses talked God out of destroying the idol worshiping Israelites, but He also repeatedly angered God as well to the point where he was forbidden from entering the Promised Land at the end of the decades-long journey to freedom.  David had a man killed because he thought his wife was smoking hot and wanted her for himself.  Neither of these men were perfectly moral, but they sought and loved God for who He was and unconditionally on their parts.

It is friendship with God that brings with it God’s unconditional mercy.

Instead of fearing God because of His righteousness, power, and judgment, we should strive to befriend God because He is right there waiting for us to do just that.  It’s all that He wants as our Father…. the absolute best for us.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

Matthew 22:37

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace Revisited

I originally wrote this in October 2012.  In light of my last two days’ writings, let’s revisit it.

Have you ever contemplated what grace really is?  Grace is not an abstract concept, but a fundamental reconstruction of mans’ relationship with the Almighty.

Imagine when you die and go to stand in judgment before God.  Your sins and shortcomings will be laid before you, down to very last.  The case against you is ironclad, even if you are a “good” person.

This is the point of the law – the Ten Commandments, the Levitical Law, all of the guidelines for living contained within the Bible – they are an ideal to strive for, but we ultimately will fail because we are human.  We are not holy, nor perfect, and we cannot approach God in any way because of even the tiniest sin.  God’s infinite righteousness and holiness would obliterate our very existence like a candle’s flame being blown out because we have sin in our hearts.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23

Here is where salvation gets interesting.  You and your attorney (the Risen Christ, if you have Him as your Lord and Savior) will not plead for mercy.  Here is how I have heard this characterized.

God: “How do you plead?”

Christ: “The client pleads guilty your Honor.”

God: “The penalty is death then.”

Christ: “Your Honor, Father, the penalty has been paid.  I, Your Beloved Son, have paid it in full.”

God: “The Lord God is Just.  Since the penalty has been paid, no further debt is owed.  Your record is forever sealed and expunged.  Welcome good and faithful servant and enter your rest.”

(I’d like to think that, upon that announcement, the entire heavenly courtroom full of angels erupts into raucous cheers and celebration.)

God loves justice.  He said so directly in Isaiah.

For I, the Lord, love justice.

Isaiah 61:8

There must be justice for the actions you took as an enemy of God, as a sinner.  God will not show mercy at judgment, but rather He will exact full punishment on sin.

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.

Romans 8:7

If the story stopped here, we’d all be royally screwed. Again, THIS is the point of the law in the first place.  The law shows us how we fall short, it shows us our need for forgiveness, for grace, for mercy, and for resanctification.

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

Galatians 5:4

We thankfully have a Savior.  He came, lived as one of us – fully God and fully human at the same time.  He surrendered His glory, His will, and His preeminence so that He could serve as the payment of debt for all sin.

We do not rely on the mercy of the Court, but on the fact that Christ already paid the debt you owe.  God is just.

What are you going to rely on?  Mercy or grace?

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2

Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

1 Timothy 1:13-16

Christ has mercy on you.  He created you.  He came to reconcile His creation to Him.  You might be just a speck in the grand scheme of things, but the Creator of the universe paid your debt.  The payment is grace.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

John 1:1-4

The whole concept of the entire Bible, is to convey to us that we are recipients of grace, not mercy.  There will be justice in the end.  There has to be because God is just.

So what is it for you?  Grace and the chance to hear Christ stand up and say “I have paid his debt in full?” Or throwing yourself on the mercy of the court at the very end?

The reason I have such a problem with people picking and choosing what they want to believe out of the Bible is that they are trying to make themselves more comfortable. They are trying to remove the scary part of the grace equation from their consciousness, because to admit that you are as good as shit in a sewer and unable to emerge from it on your own is a scary, unpleasant place to be, and it is even scarier when you consider that every single person who ever lived, except One, was in the same place as you.  The good news is that the One reached down into that muck and all you have to do is take His hand.

That is grace, because

GOD   IS   JUST.

The Law and You

Yesterday, I wrote what even I consider a pretty scathing piece, but when it comes to the eternal and constant truths of creation and the Creator, I get my cackles up pretty easily.

What I want to use today’s hopefully shorter entry is to address some of the arguments that were presented to say that I was being hateful, or that perhaps I was picking and choosing which laws to follow from the ancient Levitical laws.  More importantly though, I want to redirect the focus of this conversation from the subject of yesterday’s writing, the author of the Momastery blog, and the topic of that writing – homosexuality and the Bible – and bring it back to what all of this is truly about – Truth, Grace, and the Living God.

So let’s take care of the quick and easy stuff first – Levitical Law.  One of the criticisms of my writing yesterday was that I myself was picking and choosing which Levitical Laws to follow and which to ignore.  On it’s face, this criticism has some merit, but when we take the scriptures as an whole, we have to look at these ancient laws differently than we do even the ten commandments.

John Calvin posits that We must attend to the well-known division which distributes the whole law of God, as promulgated by Moses, into the moral, the ceremonial, and the judicial law. Francis Turretin further explained The law given by Moses is usually distinguished into three species: moral (treating of morals or of perpetual duties towards God and our neighbour); ceremonial (of the ceremonies or rites about the sacred things to be observed under the Old Testament); and civil (constituting the civil government of the Israelite people).

Let’s go further back though, Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote We must therefore distinguish three kinds of precept in the Old Law; viz. ‘moral’ precepts, which are dictated by the natural law; ‘ceremonial’ precepts, which are determinations of the Divine worship; and ‘judicial’ precepts, which are determinations of the justice to be maintained among men.

Even Saint Augustine, over 1500 years ago, made the differentiation clear, For example, ‘Thou shalt not covet’ is a moral precept; ‘Thou shalt circumcise every male on the eighth day’ is a symbolical precept.

In Genesis 17, God and Abraham made the first covenant between man and God of which circumcision was a symbolic (or ceremonial) distinction between the people that would be later known as the Jews or Hebrews. God and the Hebrews further reinforced or reinstated that covenant in the desert after the exodus from slavery in Egypt, much like our own covenant with Christ after we are baptized and profess our faith.

The law was put in place for a people He had just exposed His greatness to through the devastation brought upon Egypt in order to secure their freedom, through the parting of the sea in order to secure their safety, and then through the physical presence within the columns of cloud and fire that guided them through the desert, and the experience of the entire nation at the foot of Mount Sinai.

In contrast, we as believers, have a personal relationship with Christ.  We have been sanctified and reborn into this relationship.  Based on this change in status, the law (which is in place to convict unbelievers of their sin state).

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

Romans 3:19-20

So what responsibility do we have to the Levitical Laws then?

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Colossians 2:16-17

Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh.May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.

Galatians 6:12-15

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Colossians 2:8-12

I would also encourage you to read the Romans 3 for more on the laws.  Now, the next logical step would be to argue that if the Levitical Laws were fulfilled by Christ and we are no longer bound by them, than all of them are null for a believer.  This is a mistruth – the moral laws as explained by Calvin, Turretin, and Aquinas are still valid.

But wait… we have died to the law and been risen with Christ.  Yep.  We are incapable of fulfilling the laws of God because they are perfect and we are not.  Christ fulfilled the law and has infinite righteousness is given freely to all in order to free us from the wages of sin (death).  So how do we rectify what parts of the law still apply and what parts we can do away with?

First – read Romans 1.

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:7-8

Now, consider this:

The acts of the flesh 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.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:19-23

Now, it doesn’t take a theologian to marry the two concepts.  If the mind is governed by the flesh and the acts of the flesh are obvious, then by not leaving the life of sin, the logical next step is clearly spelled out as you are trying to play both sides – you saying you believe in God while acting in open rebellion to Him.

A person, truly trusting and placing their faith in Christ, not only is saved, but begins to abhor sin and to purge it from their lives – this is not an easy or comfortable thing to do because it forces us to carefully examine ourselves.

My ears had heard of you
    but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
    and repent in dust and ashes.

Job 42:5-6

Here’s the real crux of what I’m trying to get to and taking a length time to get there (my apologies).  If you are feeling comfortable when you read the Bible’s moral laws, you have a problem.  Those laws are meant to convict us – to show us that speck in our eye where we need to improve. I highly encourage you to look more into this topic at Freedom from Sin, which will much more eloquently explain this topic.

The question I want to leave you with today is this – should Christianity be comfortable?

Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

Matthew 19:23-24

 

There is One Truth – A Response to Momastery’s “I love Gay People and I love Christians. I Choose All.” and “A Mountain I’m Willing to Die On”

My wife brought a fellow blogger’s posting to my attention – in fact two such posts (one from back in 2010 and another from two days ago).

I wrote on this topic extensively a few months back, but I’m back for another crack at it because of the above two entries into the public consciousness.

What brought me back to the topic of gay marriage is not a change of opinion or heart (both of which would rely on my own faulty human emotions and reinterpretation of The Holy Word of God and the very meaning and Truth behind the words contained within).  What brought me back is the concept I see littered throughout those two pieces I linked above – that of a re-definable God.

Let’s settle something right now.

God is not human, that he should lie,
    not a human being, that he should change his mind.

Numbers 23:19

He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.

1 Samuel 15:29

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

I the Lord do not change.

Malachi 3:6

God is immutable.  The God of the Old Testament is the same God as the New Testament.  God, Spirit, Son – all are the same since the beginning of the frame of existence that we call time.  The metaphysical aspect of this concept is that the Triune God exists at all points in time simultaneously so if God changes, then there can be no true god as the concept would then be bound by a dimension of the universe that he created.

The author of those pieces I linked above does not seem to understand this fundamental concept about God and is prescribing a course of behavior completely at odds with the Word of God. This is a particular dangerous thing to do.  While there are some who read what this woman writes with a grain of salt and strong understanding of scripture and are able to test what she says (and what she says is sometimes right and true, which makes it all that more insidious).  Someone without a scriptural understanding and lens to measure her opinions over, they are incapable of spotting the inconsistencies and omissions of scriptural truth.

By biggest problem lies in these quotes:

Your parents are Christians who carefully choose what we believe and follow in the Bible.

No. No. No. No! This is the biggest lie that Satan has managed to interject into the world and deep within believers that must be rooted out.  You do not get to pick and choose for yourself what is Truth.  That is your pride speaking.  That is you saying that you know better than God Himself.

What I’m trying to say is that each Christian uses different criteria to decide what parts of the Bible to prioritize and demonstrate in their lives. Our criteria is that if it doesn’t bring us closer to seeing humanity as one, as connected, if it turns our judgment outward instead of inward, if it doesn’t help us become better lovers of God and others, if it distracts us from remembering what we are really supposed to be doing down here, which is finding God in every human being…

STOP!  Finding God in every human being?  Okay… problem.  BIG BIG PROBLEM.  You can see the finger of God in every person, every creation, but you cannot find GOD Himself.  We are made in His image – that’s it.  Purge this thought from your mind now because it will grow like a cancer and pervert your understanding of God’s nature and the nature of our relationship with Him.  Do not assign your personal pride to another person.  All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

God gave you the Bible, and He also gave you your heart and your mind and I believe He’d like you to use all three.

Well, that almost sounds like a good idea.  I wonder what scripture says about the heart.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil.

Proverbs 3:5-7

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”

The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?

“I the Lord search the heart
    and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
    according to what their deeds deserve.

Jeremiah 17:7-10

For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

Matthew 15:19

Well then, sure seems like judging by the heart is a bad idea – it is easily swayed and emotionally led.

Shifting gears here a bit – when you redefine words you change their meaning to you, but not the meaning when they were written, nor the intent of the author.  The author of Momastery relies on these redefinitions to validate her opinion.  She relies on scripture’s call to love, but she badly misunderstands the various types of love.  And here is where she falls into a terribly tenuous place for her – because of her platform and audience, you could consider her a teacher.  I have a tiny fraction of the same audience, but I hold myself as God will upon judgment – as a teacher as well, and for that reason I carefully reflect on scripture, context, and pray upon every word I write so as not to lead someone else astray unintentionally.

Let me try to set something straight here.  Like I said, not everything the author said was wrong, and that’s why it’s difficult for some to separate the truth from it and discount the rest without a strong scriptural understanding.  We’re going to head back to the immutability of God.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

This is the Gospel.  This is Truth.  God loves every one of His creations – mankind – that He Himself, through Christ, offered the only pathway to righteousness through the crucifixion and resurrection.  This God is not a different God from the one who wrote His laws in stone on the mountain in Exodus or provided the remainder of the Law.  Remember – God is constant and unchanging.  The God that rained fire down on Sodom and Gomorrah, sent the plagues on Egypt, and struck down entire armies is the same God who became man two millenia ago.  God is fearsome in His might, majesty, and absolute demand of perfect adherence to His law.  God – pure goodness, pure love, and holiness unblemished in even the slightest way – cannot tolerate sin, even the tiniest one because it is a corruption of the image of God and the bearer of that corruption cannot survive an encounter with the pureness of God.  So the author is neglecting significant chunks of scripture in order to justify their understanding of God and sin.  She discounts Levitical law and various points in the bible where sexual immorality, sodomy, and unnatural relations are expressly prohibited as sinful and meriting death, but forgets that God is unchanging.  She, and so many others, want God to change because it is IMPOSSIBLE for man to follow all of the law without Christ, and that is not unexpected – Christ never promised an easy path – but to use your public pulpit in order to spread mistruths… well scripture has a lot to say on that as well.

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute….

2 Peter 2:1-2

…these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.

2 Peter 2:12

they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.

2 Peter 2:18-21

When you deviate from the perfection and completeness of scripture and begin picking and choosing in order to validate your own opinion, you are acting out of pride.  That in and of itself is bad, but to spread your word as truth rather than The Word and The Truth, you are supplanting God and essentially telling Him that He is wrong and spreading that understanding to others and potentially causing them to fall away from God also.

Now, I will briefly touch on a few things that she got right.

God loves all mankind. Yes, absolutely, otherwise redemption would have been withheld from us.

We are not to judge others or condemn others. Judgment is reserved from God alone and Christ alone is our intercessor.

We are to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Absolutely.  We’re all in the same boat – we’re all sinners hopelessly lost and in need of the grace and mercy of God, our Father and Creator.  But the author fell short again here… I will end this session with a question – do I truly love my neighbor if I tolerate and celebrate his or her lifestyle if it is sinful?  Am I doing them any eternal favors, by not bringing them into the saving grace of Christ which will free them from the bondage of sin?

 

 

Yearning to Breathe Free

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore
Send these, the homeless and tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Inscription on the Statue of Liberty

One of the first things people used to see when they emigrated to these United States of America for decades was the gleaming statue in New York Harbor.  What most people saw was the start of the new life.  They were close to the truth, and millions of men and women have looked on that statue and been reminded of the costs of liberty and the responsibility we all share to ensure that it never dies from this Earth again.

It never will.  That statue welcomed those immigrants in days past as a beacon of hope at the end of a long journey.  Read that inscription again, but instead of Lady Liberty saying it… imagine them as the words of Christ.  In fact, He often said much the same things…

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:17

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Luke 19:10

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore
Send these, the homeless and tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.

Thomas Jefferson

Perfect Pitch

Sometimes I do my best thinking while I’m in the car.  This is my private time with God usually as two young children fill my ears and attention when I’m at home, and when I’m at work, it’s hard to focus for long stretches of time on Him.

Today a strange metaphor came to mind during this time that I want to share with you.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4

The trials in life are kind of like individual pitches in a baseball game.  Each pitch is an opportunity.  The pitch – fast, slow, sliding, curving, or sinking – must be quickly discerned (May the Lord help you if you’re facing a knuckleball thrower because it can do all three at the same time if that’s the case!).

Each of those trials is capable of blowing right by you untouched into the catcher’s mitt and striking you out at the plate.  Equally, each of those pitches represents an opportunity for you to individually shine.

Before you step in the batter’s box, you get your signal from the third base coach (the Spirit) who in turn is relaying the expectations and the game plan from the manager (God).

You step in the box and the pitcher starts his wind up.  Your eye tracks the pitcher’s arm and watches for the ball.  If your vision is clear then you can see the ball’s seams and “read the pitch.”  The spin and release point tell you whether it’s a sinker, slider, fastball, changeup, or curve and give you a fair idea of whether the pitch will be a ball or a strike.  Then and only then do you decide whether you should swing.

What makes the “read” hard for mankind is that our vision is not clear.  It is clouded because of the obstructions of sin, doubt, and unfaithfulness.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:3-5

When you can’t see the pitch, rarely can you hit it, and when you do, you usually hit it on the ground or pop it up sharply and get yourself out easily.  How can we see the pitch, the trial, for what it is and recognize what God wants us to do with it?

We have to admit our faults.  Our vision sucks.  His vision is perfect.  When we accept Christ into our hearts and place our faith in Him, He will start to heal our vision and turn it into His.  By trusting our coach on when to swing for the fences, to hit for contact, or to bunt as part of the game-plan, our vision will improve more as we know what pitches we should be looking for when we step up to the plate.  Our chance to really shine and put the ball in play increase as a result.

The pitches start coming.  You might hit a solid base hit, drop a bunt, hit a home run, or get yourself out on strikes, but even if you do, there will be another chance soon and you’ll get to step into the box again and look for your pitch once more.

 

LadyRaven's Whisky In A Jar - OH!

Coffee? Tea? Whisky! - Aspirin anyone?

Stately McDaniel Manor

Culture, Politics, Firearms, Education, Literature, Philosophy, Music, And Other Musings

High Heels and Handguns

This princess is armed- The prince can't always be there to rescue you

Sheeple: People unable to think for themselves

Here to help educate the Sheeple before the slaughter

Fellowship of the Minds

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

Reality Check

American Patriot's Reality Check

The Firewall

Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it

Freedom Is Just Another Word...

Rules?? What Are rules? I don't need no stinking rules!!!

Evil of indifference

"Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men. " from Boondock Saints

The Radio Patriot

Because I have so many words...

Eatgrueldog

Where misinformation stops and you are force fed the truth III

Reality Of Christ

Christian, End Time, and Conspiracy News!

DAYLIGHT DISINFECTANT

DAN SANDINI'S NEWS OUTSIDE THE MAINSTREAM

WR2A: The Line In The Sand

We Are the Second Amendment, and you cannot stop that.

The Longwood Institute

A site dedicated to the appreciation of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness along with the responsibilities these God-given unalienable rights invoke.

Ten Smiths Blog

What does the Declaration of Independence really say?

Short Little Rebel

Because loving Christ is the most rebellious thing you can do

Deaconmatson's Blog

observations from America

America: Going Full Retard...

Word: They are acting. They are creating. They are framing their reality around you. And we … we bark at the end of our leashes. Our ambition for freedumb is at the end of our leash.