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Archive for February, 2010

Someone this weekend discussed the scripture Hbr 12:6 “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” There is a difference between discipline and punishment. God wants to discipline us, not punish us, and certainly not abuse us. Discipline teaches a lesson, while punishment demands condemnation for an action or misdeed. Discipline is positive. Punishment is negative. Abuse is an extreme form of punishment, where the punishment exceeds the crime, is unrelated to (or unassociated with) the crime, or where a person is punished without reason or unreasonably (ie because the abuser is angry and needs someone to “take it out on”)-abuse is misuse of punishment.

If something bad happens and we start running through our memories to see if we’ve done wrong, that’s not of God. When He disciplines us, He’ll also make sure we know exactly what we have done, and how to do better next time. There won’t be any vague “You’ve been bad. You are very bad,” condemnatory statements. That’s condemnation. Discipline, however, comes with love.

Rom 8:1 [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

If we are condemned, we fear. God doesn’t ant us to be afraid of Him! He’s our Father. He loves us. “The fear of the Lord” in the bible refers to a healthy respect for God. It means to honor Him-not be terrified of Him.

God wants us to learn from mistakes. He disciplines, because discipline leaves hope, faith, and trust in tact, and teaches a specific lesson. He disciplines in love. He isn’t waiting to strike us down for being human-for making a mistake or even for a deliberate “sin”. He loves us.

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I have heard way too many times that basically God just dumps trials and tests on us as Christians, because “he that the Lord loveth he chasteneth,” and “the trying of our faith worketh patience.”

God is NOT responsible for people’s lies, gossip, spite, malice, and so forth. God is NOT the author of confusion. So He doesn’t tell people to do those things to us, nor does He decide to “put us through” those types of “trials”. When people backbite, gossip, slander, or abuse people, those aren’t trials God has put on us. That isn’t God testing us, that’s people sinning against us! I don’t care who does them. It can be the pastor’s pet, his family, or him, it can be someone who talks in tongues daily or hourly, but when they do those things, it’s still not of God. It’s still sin.

It seems like the last few years people in churches I’ve been to have stopped blaming the devil and started blaming God for all the hurt they cause others. When will they ever take responsibility for their actions?

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Someone told me today that he had come to the conclusion that “Orthodoxy is a fragile thing, which can be good. If it’s false, it can be easily dropped, and broken. But if it’s true, it must be constantly maintained.” I wonder if I mis-heard him. Because if what we believe is false, it can be easily dropped and broken, yes. But that is when it must be constantly maintained. Only the false is fragile. The truth, like fire, should not be so easily snuffed out…

It was an interesting comment and an interesting line of thought. Should the truth need to be constantly maintained? I don’t believe so. Truth will flourish on it’s own. The false, the insufficient will be easily broken or snuffed out, yes. Something closely related to that has been bothering me lately. After nineteen years of believing a certain way and giving my life to it, I find myself wondering what I believe.

I’m not sorry for the positive things that came of my life in Pentecost, but I don’t believe what I did just two months ago. I told someone not long ago that I haven’t left Pentecostalism, I’ve just grown beyond it. That is very true. It was good in it’s place and time, but there are deeper, richer places in God, and I’m ready to explore those.

So was what I believed false, that it could be easily broken? I can’t answer that yet. Is my faith broken or bigger now? I’d have to say bigger. Maybe in answering the second question, I’ve answered the first. So again I come to the thought that I haven’t left Pentecostalism, but I have grown beyond it…

Only what is false must be constantly maintained, in my opinion. Truth will stand on it’s own, and falsehoods won’t tarnish or change it. Truth is strong, but falsehood is weak and easily broken. Systems that encourage people not to look beyond their group’s way of thinking are maintaining soemthing. But truth promotes growth, not maintenance.

The difference between falsehood and truth, to me, are like the difference between a spark and a bonfire. One can be easily snuffed; the other can burn for days without any human effort. So when I’m told if I miss a service that I’m “leaving truth”, when I realize that after 19 years that two months has totally changed my opinion on certain passages in the Bible… I have to wonder what I was maintaining all these years.

God made the mountains. He put the stars into space. He is truth. Truth doesn’t need to be maintained by humanity. Truth extends way beyond humanity. Who ever heard of maintaining a mountain? Or maintaining a star? So why, then, do we think truth must be fought over and maintained through such careful monitoring of every bit of information that passes our eyes? Truth will stand on it’s own. It isn’t fragile, and there is no need to maintain it.

There is no reason to fear that truth will break so easily. It should be treated respectfully, but even when left alone it will persevere. If a person is afraid that “truth” can be easily broken or lost, that is a very good sign that they are only maintaining an ideology, a mindset, or a thought pattern, rather than real truth and faith.

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The Lord is my judge
When I have need of a savior
He maketh me to go through trials
He leadeth me through many tests…

No one, NO ONE, should misread the 23rd Psalm that way. How often it happens though! Sorry. Had to vent for a minute. We should never slander God by saying that, when bad things happen, God is testing or trying a person. If God made people do some of the bad things they do, in order to test or try someone else, He would be participant in their sin! And God DOES NOT SIN. Above that, He is righteous, and will not tell someone to do what He cannot-so He won’t tell someone to hate, lie, steal, cheat, slander, malign, rape, or murder someone else. The line of thinking that if something bad happens, “God won’t put on us more than we can bear” or “God is just testing you…” is totally, utterly against the word of God.

Anyway, so in reality:
The Lord is my SHEPHERD
I shall NOT WANT
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures
He leadeth me beside the still waters
He RESTORETH my soul

David was being chased by an angry, jealous king. He had done nothing wrong. He had, in fact, slain a giant and in doing so he had stopped the Phillistines to a degree. He had played music to the king when he was troubled, to soothe his heart and mind. He sat at the king’s table and was his son’s best friend. But the king was angry and jealous of this young man. Then Samuel made it worse by anointing him to be king after Saul.

Saul was seething mad. David was sitting at the table with him, when Saul suddenly grabbed a javelin and threw it at him. No warning. Not exactly friendly territory, that king’s table!

Yet rather than fighting back, David ran. He left his home, his dad and brothers, and even his country. Did he discuss his problems involving the king? Sure. And there was nothing wrong with that. At what point did David draw the line in dealing with “God’s anointed”, then? In deliberately physically harming him.

Later, the same thought is echoed when Saul died. David killed the man that killed Saul, again because Saul was “God’s anointed”. The man thought David would be glad. That angry, jealous, murderous old man was gone. But David mourned for Saul, and for Jonathan.

There are several odd things in the story of Saul and David. After all, David was mourning the man who sought to kill him. He wouldn’t “touch God’s anointed” even though Saul himself was trying to “touch” David, who was also anointed by God!

I wonder if that’s what made God call David the man after His own heart? That attitude of seeing what God wanted someone to be, rather than seeing their present condition and their faults? And I wonder if that’s why God gave mercy to David, a murderous and adulterous king, when he needed mercy? Because he showed mercy, he was shown mercy.

And maybe it goes beyond even that. Saul was angry. Saul wanted David dead because of the murder in his heart. David wanted Uriah dead because he was afraid. What a vast difference in attitude. Saul had a murderous, jealous, angry heart. He never sought repentance. David was afraid. God took his fear, showed it to him, and said, “Yes, I know.” David saw himself as he was, admitted his sin, and repented. God could use that kind of heart. Even with his sin, in spite of his fear, God could use a man who was humble enough to admit his failures, even though he was king.

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When I would go to a pastor for advice or support rather than praying or studying the Bible for myself, or when I would feel that God wanted one thing, but would second guess myself due to something that was preached or something the pastor said, something was definitely out of balance. I put my health and others’ at risk by going to church sick and pushing myself beyond reasonable limits. I bent over backward to make a good appearance, and was afraid to say “no” to any suggestion that was made.

In service, if everyone ran, I ran. If they danced, I danced. If the pastor indicated we should shout, I shouted. But none of that was worship.

Worship is a way of honoring God. If a person is focused on what other people are doing or are expecting you to do, they are honoring other people, not God. Worship is a form of love. It is not a mechanical, directed display, but a focused, heartfelt expression of adoration.

God, I want to be a true worshipper. Let my focus, love, adoration and worship be on You. Not on what others are saying or doing and not on what anyone else expects or demands, and not on what actions I’m performing. Worship is not a science of specific words, moves and actions, but an intimate place where the words, moves, and actions cease to have importance, because all are outweighed by love. Teach me to worship.

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