Monday, April 25, 2016

Buried Bothers

Written January 12, 2016.....

Sometimes I wonder why I bother. Things are just hard and the older I get, the harder they get.

And you didn't expect that?

No, of course not. I thought when I grew up, life would become easier. I mean, that's why kids are always in a hurry to grow up. Life is hard when you're a kid. Yes, you have someone to take care of you and you don't have to work. But there's a lot of learning going on and learning is difficult. It takes a tremendous amount of energy. Children sleep so well because they work so hard.


We think, when we're small, that when we grow up we won't be subject to all the learning, and rules, and frustrations of not being in control.

Ah, control.

We see these grown-ups going about their business, no one telling them what to do, hanging with friends, buying things. It all looks so ... awesome. "When I grow up I'm gonna..."

Isn't that normal?

Must be since every kid does it. 


It's an illusion. We're deceived into it and then when reality hits us... well, it is a bit like a train wreck. Is a train wreck for some. Life isn't easy as an adult. It is hard. You think every day about how great it was to be a kid and as a kid, you were thinking how great it would be to be an adult. There is never a moment when you say, "Ah, I've arrived. I've reached the place I was headed." 

Well, wouldn't that mean you're... finished?

Yes! You could sit back and enjoy all that you struggled to learn. 

No, I mean... dead.

You know, I don't get the whole "we can't be happy until we are in heaven" thing. Is that even in the Bible?


See I didn't think so. I've read it a few times and never found that.

You can be happy here. Why aren't you?

Because we spend our whole lives looking for something that simply isn't there. We are given this list of opportunities, goals and the behavior of the adults around us make it sound as if once we attain those that our problems will be over and we'll live happily ever after. It just isn't true.

Is that how you were taught?

....................Life was hard and unpleasant much of my childhood. I have a lot of good memories but so many more bad ones. The way out was to love God, get an education, marry a good man, get a good job. I did all that. I worked hard. 

And it didn't work?

Not so much. There were probably more good memories than bad ones. The road was just as hard. And now it is so much shorter and I've come full circle. I was never a very optimistic person to start with and as it turns out...

So, you got what you expected.

Well, we all do, don't we? I do think the dice are loaded, though. I don't think we have much choice in the matter of how things turn out. We know now that certain chemicals in our body, once out of balance, can totally derail a person. You can give them something to create balance but the truth is you've created a false balance. The body is still out of whack. Just stop taking the pill and you're back where you started.

This is a pretty negative post. 

Yeah, that's probably why it ended up in the draft file for five months.

Breaking the Law?

I watch the things that come down my Facebook stream and sometimes I am intrigued by some of the religious posts by my fellow Christians of the Apostolic faith. I'm Apostolic so I read these with interest and either amusement or shock. More often than not they are so typical of our group they are predictable and laughable. We're such a
mixed up, foolish bunch of people who think we're better than any other religion. There, I said it. In fact, there are so many sects of my faith that if you threw them all in a pot, the stew wouldn't be fit to eat.

For a while, much of the "discussion" was on legalism/holiness. Now, if you know any Apostolics, you know we cornered the market on this argument. Just ask any one of us and we can point fingers at someone who is one or the other. Just for clarification, you can break us down into fairly well-defined categories. Here's my personal description of some of these:
  • Pharisees (unbending rules that make you holy, cause it is all about the dress/hair)
  • Loose as a goose (no rules - cause they don't make you holy)
  • Cafeteria style (take it or leave it - rules but you pick the ones you want) 
  • Strain at a gnat/swallow a camel (rules but mine trump yours - similar to cafeteria only less forgiving)
The posts this week all boiled down to the Law/Grace argument. Cause among the "faithful" that's really the only argument you can drum up with any semblance of righteousness.

         "That doesn't apply anymore because we're under Grace. So I don't have to do that."
         "You can't eat, wear, do, see, hear, etc..."
         "But that's Old Testament and we're under the New Testament! That's not a sin anymore."

The Law/Grace argument has a long shelf life. Personally, I think it's pretty stupid. My views thus far offended many of you seconds after reading them. The rest recovered quickly and will use my statement to keep your views afloat. Cause that is what we do; we find a way to justify our position.

Let me just take a moment to push you off the boat. If it is in the Word, it is. If it isn't in the Word, you can't insert it. I don't care how you interpret it, it is what it is, what it is. The Old and New Testaments are Part 1 & Part 2 of ONE document. They are both relevant. They are both valid guides to the faith. I am always confused by people's inability to grasp this. The Pharisees see this and use it as a weapon to beat you to death. Virtually everyone else rips those pages out.

Am I a Pharisee? I hope not. I do believe in the Law. I don't believe in murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and cheating. The 10 Commandments must be followed and they are Old Testament laws. If you tell me the Law doesn't matter I question not only your faith but your character. You're a lawbreaker. A lawbreaker is untrustworthy in all his/her dealings. Furthermore, as such, you are subject to judgement. Not by me. By the highest court and the righteous judge - God.

"How can you say such a thing! You're judging me! JUDGING! JUDGING! You can't judge me! Only God can do that!"

In the first place, that isn't a personal judgement. It is simply the facts. So, get over it. I have an opinion on appropriate behavior and if you don't like it, oh well. But let me use the New Testament to clarify to those of you terrified someone is judging you. 1 Corinthians 6:2 Don't you realise that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can't you decide even these little things among yourselves?

If you read the whole chapter, you'll find he quotes the Old Testament Law as an example of what is allowed and what is not allowed in a believer's life. You can't throw out the Law just because it disagrees with your "personal beliefs". You can't pick and choose which laws you want. Let me use another New Testament Law.  James 1:10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

You got that, right? If you break ONE law, you are a lawbreaker and guilty of breaking ALL the Laws of God. This is why it is such a miraculous thing that only ONE Lamb was needed to deal with the sins of the world. He wasn't dealing with just one broken law. He was dealing with the whole law, of which the whole world - past, present, and future - was guilty.

"But that is OLD TESTAMENT! When Jesus died, those laws disappeared and we're not required to follow them! We don't have to pay attention to them anymore. They don't count!"

Show me a scripture that says the law was done away with? Show me one place where it says you don't have to obey the laws of God?

1 Timothy 1:8 & 11 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.

The law is for the lawless. If you are obeying the law, you're not lawless. The law doesn't apply to law abiders! Cause they're following it. But please note in that verse he uses "lawless and insubordinate" as if they're distinct from the "ungodly and for sinners". In fact, the whole verse is a list of the different kinds of lawbreakers, including anything that fails to follow "sound doctrine". Who but professing Christians would be following a doctrine? He's talking about more than just the unchurched here. He's talking about us all.

But... the Grace of God forgives us of our lawlessness and we bring our lives into line with the Law of God, not out of duty or obligation but an overwhelming desire to serve God. Once again we become law-abiding citizens of the Kingdom. The Law doesn't go away. It is still there, judging the lawbreaker for his lawlessness. Breaking any of God's laws makes you a criminal under the Biblical law. Even criminals may be citizens, lawbreakers but citizens.

As for not having to pay attention to the Law after you're born again, sorry, but you're wrong about that, too. Proverbs 28:9 One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination.

Ever wonder why you can't get your prayer heard? You might want to see if you're doing something illegal.  Yes, it is in the Old Testament and it isn't actually in the Books of the Law. This is an observation by one who should know. Solomon was a pro at lawbreaking. As a law abiding citizen of the Kingdom of God, you must continue to hear the Law and obey the whole law to remain a righteous citizen of the Kingdom. Remember James 1:10 above? If you break one of them, you've broken them all. And tell the truth, we all have broken at least one.

Don't go all silly and start telling me about animal sacrifices and smearing blood on alters. The New Testament is a codicil to the original Testament (will). It delineates what laws God expects us to follow, how we're to act, think, and believe. The old Priesthood is gone. The old priestly rituals of the Old Testament are gone, the animal sacrifice is gone. God revised the means whereby we could be saved. Instead of animals, he sacrificed his Son who is the new priest. God did not revise his laws. The verse in 1st Timothy reflects this continuation of God's laws.

I'm not going to debate the dress code here. God's law is pretty clear on what is modest and what isn't. Cover your nakedness. I'm not going to fix your hair, either. I've learned, as I told someone this week, that God is more concerned with the filthiness of our flesh and the corruption of our hearts than he is our closets and mirrors. If we get those right, God will do the rest. Anyone who ask God for direction and wisdom on how to live and is sincere about it, will receive it. The Law is the foundation for righteousness. If preachers had kept teaching Law instead of personal convictions, we'd have more law abiding saints in the pews and fewer squabbling ones on Facebook.

So, for all those Old/New Testament antagonists, get over yourselves! God's Law is the Whole Word of God, Old & New. For you to argue over this is simply stupid. And it is unBiblical! I refer you to this Ephesians 4: 2, 3, & 13 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;  . . . Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (I provide you with the full chapter for context below.)

What is important to God is not your petty theologies, but how you live in peace and unity of spirit with one another and that you be a righteous citizen of the Kingdom. I like that part that says, "with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;" We are to overlook our differences, to tolerate the annoyances and disagreements we have with one another on things that will not save us. We are to find the places where we can be unified in our spirit and let God fix the breaches so we eventually come to a unity of faith. Remember, a divided army can't defeat its enemies.

People have focused on the legalism label so they have a license to sin. Sin is still sin, whether you call it legalism or liberalism. You can wrap the Old Testament in a weighted sack and toss it in the ocean. It will still be Law. It was written in stone for a reason by the finger of God. You can't erase the Law. God knew that we needed rules to remind us of how to act because when sin came, we totally forgot. We're human.

The Law is  for the lawless. We were the lawless it was designed for. It is still designed to keep law-abiding citizens on the right path. It is for our protection. If your home is broken into, you resort to the law for aid. If someone makes an attempt on your life, you resort to the law. The law is ever with us, Thank God. Without the law, you have anarchy. And that is what has happened to many Christians. They've tossed the law and are living in anarchy because the law was painful. 

What I find as an enormous irony is so many people want the 10 Commandments reinstated to government buildings and schools and historical sites but they run around screaming "Legalism! Legalism!" when someone suggest they aren't living according to God's Law. The other side is running around yelling, "They're loose! They don't have any standards!" and gossiping, pointing fingers at them. No unity. No longsuffering, no forebearing in love. Because to do that would make it look like we are condoning their "sin". Grace baiters scream judging, Pharisees scream ungodly. Good grief.

It is no wonder the world mocks us and ridicules us. Forebearing is not agreeing. Longsuffering is not acceptance. Doing more than you have to do for God is not legalism. Doing less for God than someone else thinks you should is not liberalism. Learn the difference, practice the concepts. Obey the Law and become a law-abiding citizen. Let the Righteous Judge pass judgement on the rest. 

So, does this mean I'm a legalist? No, actually, I'm quite liberal in my view compared to many of my peers. You see, I know what the law says and I obey it. I know what liberty means, and it doesn't mean I can do what I want regardless of other's beliefs. I have lived all my life under a set of standards and I know that now matter what I look like, if my heart in not right, regardless of what I die wearing, I won't make it. That's a heavy thought. I also know that my liberty to do what I want doesn't mean I should.

The next time you want to accuse someone of legalism, how is that affecting your walk with God? Does it make you less a Christian? The next time you accuse someone of being loose, how is that going to affect your walk with God? Does it make you less a Christian? 

So why are you bickering over it? 

Ephesians 4 King James Version (KJV)
1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
20 But ye have not so learned Christ;
21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
27 Neither give place to the devil.
28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.