Thursday, July 29, 2010

Attempting to stay out of ditches

     Confused. I guess that's what you could call me. I'm starting to rethink everything I ever thought or believed. Well...maybe not everything, but enough to make my head spin!
     When I was young, I really didn't know how to discern the Truth. When people told me something, I feared rejection, so I conformed to what they said. Instead, I should have been firm in my relationship with Christ and went to Him to see if what people told me was correct. When people touted a doctrine and made those who disagree practically out to be heretics, I should have went to Christ. People are not my Bible! If I go to Christ for direction isn't He able to keep me from falling into false doctrine???
     It's not that I'm doubting Christ is real, completely abandoning the way I live, changing what I believe, or abandoning all my convictions, rather, I want my beliefs to be solely based on Christ alone and done because of love for Him and my neighbor, not because of fear of man.
     So many friends as they grew up went from one ditch to another. They were ultra conservative (probably due to all the gossip if you weren't). Then, as they got older, they realized what they thought was a must really wasn't. So they abandoned practically everything and went into another ditch, going into pitfalls their parents were trying to help them avoid. To a certain extent, I don't care if they don't live a certain way if its because they no longer have those convictions. But, to just completely abandon beliefs without finding out what God truly does want is a sure way to go from one ditch to another. It's something I want to avoid.               
     It's hard finding a balance. One I'm praying I will find. For now, I'm taking it slow, praying to Christ and crying out to Him to show me the way, and walking very, very slow. I want to stay on the straight and narrow path, not in the ditch on either side.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Is there a difference?

Submission verses obedience. I had never really contemplated the difference between the two or even the fact that there might be a difference. Must be at least some difference. They are two different words. I stumbled across this blog's article and it got me thinking about it. Check it out:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Desiring God Alone

When your deepest desire is not the things of God, or a favor from God, but God himself, you cross a threshold. ~Max Lucado

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Prodigal God

I just finished reading the book The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith By Timothy Keller. This book discusses the Parable better known as the Prodigal Son. I really appreciated how the author brought out the father and both sons. Each are equally important and each son is equally lost. So often those who do everything right are frustrated because they do everything right yet life doesn't work out the way they think it should. This author really shows that whether fleeing to do your own thing or doing everything right out of self-righteousness that both are not what God is looking for. I found this book at my library so maybe you can too. It would be a good read. I really enjoyed it. (I actually read the book in one day!)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Final Thoughts on The Curse of the Standard Bearers

I really cannot encourage you enough to read these articles for yourself. It is so much better than my few highlights plus you'll get a better context. It can be found here: Year: 2007/2008

     All of Jesus' life was governed by His relationship with His Father in heaven, so His standards could be summed up in two categories. 1) Loving His Father 2) Loving others. These two standards could be combined into one: Love. That's how Jesus interpreted the Law of God. (Matt. 22:36-40; Gal. 5:12-15)

     In short the Holy Spirit using God's Word and love help us determine our speech and our actions. The True Image Bearer lives by the Holy Spirit rather than by standards. Paul admonished the Galatians a number of times precisely on this point. "This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" Gal. 3:2-3 "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. Gal. 5:25-26

     The Christian life is not governed by standards to control fleshly living (Col. 2:21-23). Instead, it is governed by the Holy Spirit internally motivated by love, the fruit of the Spirit. Paul understood that when people focus on standards to control fleshliness or worldliness, they become boastful because they think they are better than others.

     Study the Bible together.... and draw doctrine from the teaching passages, not historical accounts.

     (Others) need to see you trust them to the Lord while still loving them with no anger, manipulation, rejection, shame, or slander. If they experience any of these from you, it verifies that your position isn't Spirit-led, but Self-led.

     "But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler not even to eat with such a one." 1 Cor. 5:11 In this passage, the Holy Spirit set some standards for the church to apply to its members. So True Image Bearers must hold to standards corporately leading to church discipline. The ones listed by Paul in these passages are indisputable standards. Unfortunately, some misguided zealots in the homeschool and home-church movements add their own standards on disputable matters to this list of behaviours deserving disassociation. They reject or judge people who don't dress by their standards, have house mortgages, practice abstinence birth control, don't homeschool, listen to non-hymn music, etc, instead of loving them and encouraging them to press on to know the Lord.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Curse of the Standard Bearers Part 4, 5, 6, and 7

More great insights from the article by Norm Wakefield:

     (God's Guidance) will be through the inerrant Word of God, but He must also guide us in the interpretation and application of it. (How true! So often we think that when we search the Scriptures we can find the answers we need on the different issues. Little realizing that if God isn't the one guiding the interpretation and application we can really err. Think of the Scribes and Pharisees!)

     When the Apostle Paul wrote, "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) he was saying that God has taken not only our worst deeds, but also our best and most righteous deeds out of consideration. The new birth is 100% God's mercy!

     You belong to Jesus because God gave you to Him, not because of a decision you made or standards you keeps. (John 17:6) These gifts of forgiveness through His blood and righteousness through His perfect living are all that sets you apart from the most wicked sinner on the face of the planet and saves you from His wrath.

     Whenever the church worships anything other than the living Christ, it declines ~Pastor Robert Welch

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Curse of the Standard Bearers Part 2 and 3

Some more things I gleaned:

     The Standard Bearer feels content to learn the standards to be acceptable to God and others and then do them as a means of living for Jesus. The True Image Bearer, however doesn't view life as trying to imitate or copy the life of Jesus and live for Him, but seeks daily to find His life hidden in Christ and to experience Jesus living His life through them.

     The Scribes and Pharisees (the Standard Bearers of Jesus' day) elevated their interpretations of Scripture to the same level as the inerrant Word of God. They considered those who didn't live like they did to be heretics.

     (Standard Bearers) makes standards that are not explicitly given in Scriptures (like the Scribes and Pharisees) and promotes them as spiritual wisdom. (Col. 2:20-23) Image Bearers boast only in the righteousness of Christ before God, his standards are determined by (and flow out of) Jesus' standard: love for God and others (Gal 5:14)

     One of the reasons God does not bring people to see issues or interpret Scripture the same in a family, church, or community is for the purpose of making it evident who is a Standard Bearer and who is a True Image Bearer.

As I was thinking about this issue of Standard Bearers I was realizing how much of it flows from a fear of Rejection.  Even though I may not agree with everything in this book (after all it isn't the Bible!)I found this extremely helpful:

May you find freedom, peace, and joy in Christ and Christ alone.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Curse of the Standard Bearers

I've been reading through the series The Curse of the Standard Bearers By Norm Wakefield found here: Wow! I can identify with this series. I've experienced a lot of Standard Bearers in my life and unfortunately I've been one. I really encourage you to read the articles yourself for full context. Some things I found helpful from Part 1:

There is a subtle, yet significant difference between someone living for Jesus and Jesus living in them.

The true image of Jesus wasn't a life focused on standards, but a life focused on a relationship with His Father in heaven.

They (image bearers) don't think the Christian life is "living for Jesus", but instead it is "Jesus living in them." Gal. 2:20

To them (standard bearers) commitment to standards is the expression of their love for Jesus. However, they are not unlike the Pharisees in Jesus' day who viewed themselves as the "separated ones". In their zeal to be distinct in a complex, godless Greek culture, they established oral traditions (standards) and considered them not only equal to the written Law, but more important. Their judgement of others and lack of love, forgiveness, and grace was condemned by Jesus repeatedly.