Archive for the 'Grace' Category

The Apostle Paul’s Trip to Jerusalem

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Recently I had a conversation wherein the subject came up of the Apostle Paul’s ill-fated trip to Jerusalem. It was one of those instances where I had my own frame of reference regarding that incident and assumed the other person shared it, though as the conversation progressed things were said that didn’t quite mesh with my understanding.

It was two days before I remembered: there are two interpretations of Paul’s motivations in going to Jerusalem. One that he was bravely risking imprisonment and death for the sake of testifying to the Jews about the Lord, and the other that he was arrogantly stuck on going to the Jews, despite the fact he had specifically been called and “sent to the Gentiles” and in the face of all God’s warnings to him not to go.

I hold to the second opinion, and have for years, ever since I heard Col Thieme’s interpretation and exposition of the relevant passages.  In light of the conversation, though, I reread the section in Acts that deals with this, and came away more convinced than ever that this interpretation is the one most solidly supported by Scripture. However, recalling my own surprise when I first heard it years ago, I wondered if it might not be the standard opinion.

So I checked our commentary (Eerdman’s New Bible Commentary Revised) and discovered there that the author of the section in Acts did indeed hold to the notion that what Paul had done was the Lord’s will, despite all those warnings from the Holy Spirit not to go — from the Holy Spirit himself as well as  from numerous Spirit-filled brethren, including Luke, the Spirit-inspired writer of Acts, Philip the Evangelist, Agabus, already established as a genuine prophet, and Philip’s four daughters all of whom were said be be “prophesying,” ie, in this case giving a message from God (albeit one that is not recorded) — despite all these warnings, when Paul ignores them, the writer says, “We must not infer that Paul was wrong here…”

And I’m thinking… why in the world not? It sure looks wrong. Is there some reason to think that Paul was infallible? He was human like the rest of us. He had to be given a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him from getting arrogant (2 Corinthians); in  Romans 7 he lamented that the good things he wanted to do he didn’t and the bad things he didn’t want to do, he did.  In Galatians he says the flesh wars continually against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. Why would we think he was any “holier” than the rest of us and that it was impossible he could have made a mistake? Sure he was an Apostle, but he still had a sin nature.

Here’s the commenter’s justification for why “we must not infer that Paul is wrong” in this:

“These friends tried to dissuade him because they foresaw the risks to which he would be exposed at Jerusalem…”

This makes it sound as if it’s merely the friends’ human opinions and discernment that motivated them to speak, rather than God. That they had no opinion on whether God wanted him to go or not, merely that it was “risky.” But that’s not what Scripture says:

“After looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem.” (Acts 21:4)

That seems pretty clear. First the message itself: “telling Paul … not to set foot in Jerusalem.”

And second, the source of the message: “through the Spirit.”

The Spirit said to him, “Don’t set foot in Jerusalem.”

The commenter ignored this and focused, apparently, on the fact that because Paul was wanting to do a “good” thing (witness to the Jews), and was willing to give his very life to do it, and that, when he refused to relent despite his friends warnings and they said, “The will of the Lord be done,” this indicated their recognition that “Paul’s movements were divinely guided.”

That is, because he wanted to do a good thing, even if it meant his death, and wouldn’t be persuaded to abandon the plan, that must have been God guiding him. Even when a few verses earlier it says the Holy Spirit was telling him not to go there.

Perhaps the problem is the commenter is not taking into account the fact that there are three basic categories of God’s will: directive, permissive and overruling.

His directive will was “Do not set foot in Jerusalem, Paul.”

Like all of us from time to time, Paul had his mind set on his own good plan, and refused to heed God’s instruction to the contrary. He probably thought if only he could tell all those Jews in Jerusalem, (many of them no doubt former friends and colleagues) what had happened to him, if only he could show them how the Hebrew Scriptures overwhelmingly pointed to Jesus of Nazereth as their Messiah, they’d believe.

So God let him continue. Because there were many things Paul needed to learn, and many things we can learn from it as well. That’s God’s permissive will.

The same permissive will that allowed Abraham to go in to Hagar, Jonah to set off for Spain when he was supposed to go to Nineveh, and Adam to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We have volition and God will honor it.

Then there’s God’s overruling will where He just steps in and intervenes. In this case, it was when the Jews blew up in outrage as a result of Paul’s testimony and refused to listen to him further. At that point God moved in, motivating the Roman authorities to have him brought back to the barracks for questioning, at which point they found out he was a Roman citizen. From then on he was in their protective custody, all the way to Rome, which I believe is where God really wanted him to go. (Romans 15: 15, 16)

I love God’s impeccable timing in this, as well. In Acts 22 Paul gets up before the “Brethren” and starts out by reminding them all of his background, how he was born in Cilicia but brought up in Jerusalem, trained there under the best teachers, a Hebrew of Hebrews, blameless before the Law, yada yada.  Then he recounts his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus, and how he was blinded and went to Ananias who restored his sight and told him he was to be a witness for Him to all men.  After that Paul says,

“It happened when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I fell into a trance, and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’

“And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves understand that in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed in You.

‘And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him.’

And He said to me, ‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'”

Note that Paul is recalling what the Lord said to him in the Temple in Jerusalem back when he was first saved:  “Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.” And after Paul protested that surely his own personal experiences and reputation would convince them: “Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.”

I do not consider this to be a “coincidence,” but a HUGE CLUE as to what is going on and what the Lord wants.

He allowed Paul to repeat His initial instructions to him with his own mouth and then, the moment Paul repeated the part about being sent far away to the Gentiles, his Jewish audience erupted, cutting him off. End of Testimony.*

They started screaming and shouting and tossing cloaks and dust, until the Roman commander intervened and brought him back to the barracks.

That was all Paul really got to say to them. He never got to the Gospel, or the Hebrew scriptures. Mostly he talked about himself, not the Lord; about his amazing experience, which the Jews had no use for.

And even though on the next day the commander brought him back to the Sanhedrin “wishing to know for certain why he had been accused by the Jews,” he still got nowhere.

In that incident, he’d barely opened his mouth before the high priest ordered “those standing beside him to strike him.” At that point he got into a petty argument with said high priest (that “white-washed wall!”) about protocols of the Law, then tried to appeal to the Pharisees for support, based on his own former membership in their ranks. But that only led to another shouting match, wherein the Sadducees and Pharisees were at each other’s throats over whether or not Paul had seen “an angel or a spirit.”

Not whether he’d seen the risen Christ, not whether Jesus was the Christ, nothing but bickering about irrelevancies.

So once again the commander came to his rescue and from there on Paul witnessed to Roman soldiers and officers — Gentiles — while the Jews kept coming up with various plots to kill him. The entire episode was a wash when it came to witnessing to the Jews….

Thankfully God still had His hand on things (having known in eternity past that Paul was going to defy Him by going to Jerusalem) and used it to accomplish His will in spite of Paul’s disobedience.

Which is one of the coolest things about our God, and about this story — that even when we blow it royally, and Paul did, He’s always there to protect us from our idiocy, and then pick up the pieces and get things back on track. Often He uses our failures to accomplish His will in spite of us, and, if we let Him, in the process teach us much about ourselves, about Him and about His amazing grace plan for our lives.

….

*As I wrote this it occurred to me that the Lord was also telling Paul what He was going to do with him right there in that very situation — “send him far away to the Gentiles.” Not that Paul would have picked up on it at the time, merely that we can look at it and see that that’s exactly what He did.

The Stern and Shocking Way God Told Me to Discontinue the Comments

Yesterday I said the reason that I turned off the comments when I was back on Blogger, was because God had told me to do so in a “stern and shocking way.” In fact, He did more than tell me to turn off the comments, He pretty much told me to stop with all the accepted and prevalent ways Christians today are seeking to “market” their work: joining all the groups to cross promote, the blog writing, the cultivation of friendships for the purpose (if we’re honest) of selling our work as we help to sell theirs — all of it human systems, human effort, human personality and human strength.

This was, as I said, back in 2007, and the main event actually predated the moment I chose to stop the comments by several months. Even before then I’d been wrestling with it all, and He kept telling me what I was to do, but I kept ignoring Him. But finally He got a little more dramatic and that got my attention.

No, I didn’t “hear” His voice speaking to me in my office. Nor did a stranger email or show up on my doorstep with “a word from the Lord” for me. Rather it was one of those times when the Bible falls open and your eyes are drawn to a relevant passage.

Until then, I thought that sort of thing was only one step above asking God for help, then opening the Bible with closed eyes and pointing to something on the page, then looking to see what He has “told” you.

No, He wants us in Bible Class learning His word from a man with the gift of pastor-teacher, day in and day out so we can build a reservoir of doctrinal principles, concepts and verses in our souls. It is from this reservoir that the Holy Spirit draws His counsel. He can’t counsel us with doctrine or concepts we haven’t learned. (Unless we happen to be in Bible class learning the material and He very forcefully says, “PAY ATTENTION! THIS IS FOR YOU!!!”)

But this just goes to show you can’t put God in a box, though for the record, I was not using the Open-and-Point method. Instead as I said, I’d been wrestling with the problems that come from trying to join groups of Christians with diverse views on what exactly is the Gospel, or the Christian life, or the Christian’s purpose, or the manner in which that purpose is to be carried out. You’re supposed to be encouraging them, helping to sell their books and yet, you might just think some — even much — of what they have to say is heresy. Then what?

And as much as you take exception to their books, they are just as unimpressed with yours. So… what is this all about? Much is made of tolerating all views, but that doesn’t really line up with the Word of God, which often warns us to avoid people with views that do not line up with Scripture. (David’s example as stated in Psalm 101:3 is perhaps the most forceful on this matter — “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes. I HATE the work of those who fall away” — though the Apostles John and Paul both warn about men coming with false teaching.   2Jn 1:10, 2 Ti 3 and 6)

But even as I was conflicted in this area, I guess I just kept thinking… no, wanting to do it myself — even though He’d been trying to tell me otherwise for a long time. After all, wasn’t that the lesson from the purchase and subsequent publication of the Legends of the Guardian King?

But, as I said, the world is relentless, and so is my sin nature and everyone was doing it, so I continued to suffer and struggle and ask for guidance. Even as He continued to give me all sorts of verses and principles showing me what I was to do.

So one day in March I was sitting on the couch, fretting about all this, my Bible on the coffee table. It’s old, falling apart and has a tendency to slide around. Seeking  the passage in Isaiah about not going down to Egypt for help, I picked it up and started to open it, but somehow it slid out of my hands onto the table, opening itself to Joshua 8 — which is the section on the conquest of Ai.

That was just after the Israelites were entering the Promised land. Having already taken Jericho, they had moved on to Ai, which seemed a far easier conquest than their first city. Yet they failed on their first attempt, all because, it turned out, one man in the camp of about 2 million had disobeyed God’s command not to take anything from that which He had banned in Jericho.

I know that the OT stories are also illustrations of New Testament truths, and that all those Amalekite cities represented the world and its ways, so when I saw where I was, a chill ran up my spine.

The story starts in Joshua 2:24, 25: “Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in. And the LORD said to Joshua, “see, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its kings and the valiant warriors.”

It goes on to detail the Israelites marching around the city once a day for six days. Then, on the seventh day…

(vs 15) …they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times.

And it came about that at the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city.

And the city shall be under the ban (cherem – not redeemable, deserving of utter destruction: all must die); and all that is in it belongs to the LORD; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent.

But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, lest you covet them and take some of the things under the ban, so you would make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it.”

… (vs 21) And they utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.

As I said, like Egypt, Jericho represents the World — its treasures, its ways its power… God’s people were not to take anything from the world to enhance their lives or build their fortunes.

They followed His commands to the letter in the conquest of Jericho  — except for one man, Achan, who secretly stole a Babylonian robe, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold from the city and hid them in his tent. This is brought out in chapter 7 as they set out to take the next city, Ai.

Since Ai was sparsely defended, the men who spied it out recommended Joshua send only a couple thousand Israelites to take it. To everyone’s dismay, this group was soundly driven back, routed even, 36 of their number slain. When Joshua went to the Lord about it, he was told what had happened (Josh 7:10 – 15):

So the LORD said to Joshua, “Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face?

“Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things.

“Therefore the sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies; they turn their backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from your midst.

“Rise up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, for thus the LORD, the God of Israel, has said, “There are things under the ban in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you have removed the things under the ban from your midst.”

‘In the morning then you shall come near by your tribes. And it shall be that the tribe which the LORD takes by lot shall come near by families, and the family which the LORD takes shall come near by households, and the household which the LORD takes shall come near man by man.

‘It shall be that the one who is taken with the things under the ban shall be burned with fire, he and all that belongs to him, because he has transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has committed a disgraceful thing in Israel.'”

So Joshua did as he commanded and Achan was found out. He confessed his sin, and revealed where he had hidden the stolen goods as recorded in Josh 7:24,25

Then Joshua and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the mantle, the bar of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent and all that belonged to him; and they brought them up to the valley of Achor.

Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day.” And all Israel stoned them with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.

This is pretty severe, even offensive to today’s sensibilities… But it illustrates the displeasure God has with His people when they disobey His specific instructions, and especially when they seek to use the ‘things of the world,’ to gain what He has promised to give them.

Eye Saga Part 2: It’s Shingles

Yes, that is the diagnosis. I have shingles.

I saw my primary care physician on Friday, at 10:30am and after looking me over and hearing the tale, said he thought they were shingles after all. I just haven’t presented the symptoms in the normal way. The pain usually comes before the rash, and in my case, the rash came without any pain at all.

However, my eye is another story, because it is involved, too. In fact, THAT’S where the pain first showed up and that’s why it was devoid of any sign of symptom.  (Also why everyone thought it was dry eye, which is the most common cause of the symptoms I was showing.)

My PCP said I needed to see an ophthalmologist that very day and his office would see that I had one. Well, I ended up with an appointment, but it was with an optometrist after all. (In fact, I think it was the same one I would have seen the previous Wednesday, had I hung on to the 10am appointment.)

She was excellent. Inspected my eye thoroughly and agreed: it’s shingles, all right. She saw two “vesicles” on the outside of my eyeball, neither of which are likely to threaten loss of vision. One’s on the cornea, the other on the conjunctiva. There’s another on my upper eyelid.

Illustration from antranik.org

Illustration from antranik.org

The pain I felt in my eye for the last week, the weirdness of it, the way it would come and go, the kind of stinging, flash-like sensation of it, all this before any redness showed up, was the shingles affecting the nerves there.

But who would ever think that apart from the bumps on my forehead?

Anyway, I’m on meds now, and anti-viral and an anti-inflammatory, which come with their own somewhat unnerving side effects, but as I’m getting used to them, things are improving.

The pains have also moved to other areas on the left side of my face — the back of my tongue, in the temporomandibular joint, sometimes in my neck, on the top of my head, just to the left of the centerline — all consistent with the diagnosis.

And I can actually work on the computer for a bit without my eyes going completely bonkers.

I see the eye doc tomorrow morning, and the PCP on Friday. I’m hoping the meds will take care of it, but one thing I’ve learned about shingles is… who knows what it’s going to do.

I was feeling guilty because I didn’t get a shingles vaccine last summer when my PCP told me to, but he said the vaccine has a 60% success rate so it’s pretty much a toss-up whether it helps. A third of his shingles patients this year had gotten the vaccine, and ended up with it anyway. So there you go.

The coolest thing about it all was that when I went across town on Saturday morning to look at the new eyeglass frames I’d ordered two weeks previously, I stopped at Starbucks first for breakfast, took one of my new anti-inflammatory pills and drove on to the optician. While I sat in the waiting area, my heart suddenly seemed to be pounding in my chest, faster and harder than normal.

I grew alarmed. It was only 20 minutes since I’d taken the pill. Was this a side effect? Was I going to suddenly have a seizure? Collapse in a fit of anaphylactic shock?  I got up and went to speak to the woman at the desk…

And it turned out that she had shingles , too! Was just getting over it, in fact. How’s that for a “coincidence?” We had a fascinating conversation, and in the end I was much comforted, so I know that was a provision from my loving Father, reminding me He has everything in hand. As always.

Take My Yoke Upon You

A yoke of Oxen
Photo by Yann from Wikimedia Commons

“Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my load is light.”  ~ Mt 11:29

The theme of last week’s Oregon conference was slavery — our enslavement to the flesh and the world; our Lord’s becoming a slave to die for our sins so we may be reconciled to God; and our slavery to Him once we believe in Him and receive Eternal Life.  He’s bought us by paying a very dear price. He owns us; He is our new master (and a far better one that our former master, the flesh)

In the course of the teachings Pastor Farley brought up the yoke and this verse and pointed out that a yoke involves two oxen. When we take our Lord’s yoke upon ourselves, we are then yoked to Him.

I’d never thought of this verse in that way. I always thought of Him giving me a yoke and me pulling alone, while He held the plow or sat on the wagon with the reins.

But a yoke has two slots and is for two pullers.

So when we’re yoked to Him, we get to walk alongside Him, protected, guided, comforted, and most important, He does all the work, because He is strong and we are weak. That’s why it says his yoke is easy and his load light.

If only we would just believe that and live in it.

Just Ask For What You Need

One of the prevailing messages the Lord seems to be giving me of late is, again, to come to Him and ask, to let Him do the things He’s called me to do.  In everything, but particularly the writing.

A week or so ago I listened to a message Pastor John taught last year, wherein his words so closely echoed what I’ve been dealing with this year, that I stopped the tape and wrote it all down.

He said,

“I still get in these situations where I’m a little intimidated (Me: YES!!!! intimidated by the book I’m attempting to write.”  “I know there’s something I need to be doing with these people (the characters in my book!) but I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what I should say.  (EXACTLY what I had been moaning about and experiencing regarding the book) 

He went on to describe himself as someone who when there’s too many people around, tends to get overwhelmed, thinking he has to deal with everyone.  In my case, there’s too many characters, too many possible threads, motivations, scenes, conflicts… too many possibilities. It’s a good thing to have a lot of possibilities — it makes your work richer. But it can be completely overwhelming and intimidating.  Thus I could relate completely to what he was saying.

It happens to Pastor John all the time. And then he realizes:

“You know what? I don’t have to come up with a great creative solution here! All I gotta do is go to my Lord, my Father and say, “Hey. You know what I want and you know what you want. Now you just gotta put the light bulb on. And He does!”

Well, I was completely blown away when he said that. It was so targeted to my situation, so completely apropos and yet… I hadn’t been doing that.  I thought I had to figure it out.

So what was the next thing he said?

“I can’t tell you how long it was where I thought it was up to me, ultimately. Me figuring it out, putting all the energy into it and … fail, fail, fail. And I was miserable, walking around with a guilt complex, feeling inadequate, horrible.

“But the fact is, God the Holy Spirit is the one who’s behind this. This variety of gifts, this idea that this is something where you can relax and understand that Ephesians 2:10 says He’s already ordained the things for you to walk in. All you gotta do is show up with a heart that’s wanting to serve with the bible doctrine that’s already in your soul and walk. And walking isn’t hard. No one gets a prize because today I walked…

“No, it’s God who’s doing the heavy lifting here. Just say, “Yes!” and put one foot in front of the other. Be positive, go in the right direction, show up and have a desire and God will take care of the rest.”

And in today’s message, he brought all that around again. We’re to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, to abide in Him as He abides in us. We — I — can do nothing apart from Him. If I abide in Him and His words abide in me, I am told to ask whatever I wish and it will be done for me. And by this is My Father glorified.

Me abiding in the Vine and His words — His truth — abiding in me and then I ASK Him for what I need. This is pretty much the whole point, the whole deal.  That I come to understand more and more about grace — which is God’s unlimited capacity and desire to bless me — and the truth of who He is and then ask Him for whatever I need.

Like what do I do in the next scene? How am I going to get out of this corner I just wrote myself into? All the details that so intimidate, me, ask Him to show me. And I’m thinking that it’s important to be specific, rather than general…

So that’s what I’m hoping to do tomorrow. And I think I’ll just ask Him now to help me to remember that.

Asceticism

The Buddha as an ascetic

This post has been sitting in my drafts box for some time. I thought it was unfinished. In fact, I thought I’d barely started it and so had been ignoring it. Today I was moved to click on it, intending to see if there was something here I could develop, or if I should just delete it and move on.

Instead I was surprised to find an entire post, finished but for the final editing. And, oddly enough, it ties in to what I’ve been thinking and writing about lately in regards to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The original date on it was March 18, 2011, a kind of prologue thoughtwise to more recent ruminations. Here’s what I was thinking last year:

Most Christians are aware of the fact that they still have a fallen nature even after having believed in Christ. But how many of them have considered what this fallen nature is like beyond “bad,” “evil,” “selfish,” “prideful”  and “something that sets itself against God?”

My pastor has considered what it is like and taught us a number of things as a result of his studies. One of the big things about it is the fact that it has an area of strength (most of us have certain sins we’re not even tempted to commit) and an area of weakness (sins we fall into all the time). I think the area of weakness is pretty well-known, but the area of strength is something that doesn’t get as much attention. The area of strength is often the source of human good, which of course, is disgusting in God’s eyes, but often very attractive in people’s eyes.

In addition to an area of strength and weakness, the sin nature also has a trend, either toward lasciviousness or asceticism. Or, put more simply, some people trend toward self-indulgence and others toward self-denial and self-discipline.

Examples of the latter include the Flagellants I just posted about, as well as fasting, vows of silence and poverty, dietary rules, and one I find most amusing, the stylites… Eastern orthodox monks who lived on small platforms atop long poles for years, fasting, praying, and preaching, they believed that the mortification of their bodies would ensure their salvation.  Many Eastern religions embrace ascetic practices as well, with followers vowing never to use their left hand or right foot, restricting their diet, wearing neither clothes nor shoes as they moved from place to place, not staying in any one place so as not to get attached, etc. Clearly there is a strong tendancy in some sin natures to be abusive of self in the name of “holiness,” or just in the name of getting something they might want.

Few people in our day practice the type of asceticism I’ve just described (at least in the United States) but that doesn’t mean they don’t practice it in some other form. Exercise regimes, abstaining from certain foods or drinks, supporting “green” practices, abstaining from smoking, card games, dancing or watching movies, even practices associated with Lent all have to do with denying self certain pleasures in the interest of achieving “holiness” by our own efforts.

Unfortunately holiness is far from the result of asceticism. What it leads to is moral degeneracy, a state wherein a person is moral and often religious but thinks far more highly of himself than he ought. His self-denial and self-discipline,  his avoidance of the lascivious or self-indulgent sorts of sins (drug addiction, fornication, etc) make it seem that he is a better person than say, the woman working the corner down in the ratty part of town. Which is, of coures the point: to make of oneself a better person, a more spiritual person, purer, more enlightened than everyone else.

I’ve recently read several articles noting how self-righteous and holier than thou some people in the global warming/environmental movement are, how it has, in fact become a religion in itself to those who follow it. Michael Crichton was one of the first, or at least the most famous first, to point this out in a speech he gave to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco in 2003.  (Read it here) Ditto vegetarians, the defenders of animals and even those who eat only organic foods, pr so  claims an article on MSNBC titled “Does Organic Food Make People into Jerks?

In addition to the holier-than-thou syndrome, ascetism leads to legalism — not only in the sense of judging others, but of judging self. Not the judging of self where you confess your sins to God, but where you come up with a set of rules you have to follow so everything will turn out right; or so someone will be pleased with you or happy or at the very least not displeased; or perhaps a set of rules to follow so God will be pleased,  or so you can gain health or wealth or success or …  the list is endless.

And once you have your set of rules in place, you’ve created a launching pad for guilt and worry. You have these rules!  And you have to follow them; if you don’t, disaster will ensue! If you don’t, you can never have any peace. Who cares what God’s word has to say? You have your rules of what it means to be good or successful or responsible or compassionate or whatever…

Which means now you can also worry you might not follow them all, and then beat yourself up when you don’t.  And if there’s someone around who fails to follow them even more than you do, then you can focus on that person and beat them up instead of yourself for their infractions.

And it can all look very nice on the outside, while inside it tears you apart.

What a contrast to the life our Lord intends for us to live. A life of peace and rest, confident that we don’t have to follow our silly little rules, because in Christ we’ve already been made holy. By His work, not ours. There’s not one thing we can do that will make us one ounce holier than He’s already made us the moment we believed in Christ.

All we have to do is keep learning His Word which, if we believe it, will slowly transform our thinking into His.  Our new life in Christ is one that offers tremendous peace and freedom; why would we not want to live in it?

Amazing Love

This is my Easter Greeting for for my readers.

I found it on You Tube, uploaded by on Apr 17, 2008. Video from The Passion of the Christ, the song You are My King, written by Chris Tomlin,  the singer, Candi Pearson.

This presentation makes me think of all that He did, and just how amazing His love is. I cannot watch it without crying.


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Transformers (Revenge of the Fallen) Soundtrack - Steve Jablonsky


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