Legalism

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Stone21

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Physical discipline is the only form of punishment.

So says some legalists. So says Stone 21 which Randy is refuting.

Don’t believe it? Ask Westboro. They flaunt those stupid signs which say, “God Hates Fags” and protest veterans’ funerals who die in combat. Why? Because they believe their death is the result of God meting out His vengeance and punishment upon American soldiers for America’s drift to okay homosexuality. While I have my personal belief about the morality of homosexuality (which is not the point of this post), I TOTALLY DISAGREE with Westboro that a soldier dies as punishment. In fact, I will go on record and say, “That is a bunch of crock!”

David committed sin with Bathsheba. The ramifications of that were felt down through the years. His loss of joy (not physical). The rape of his daughter by a heathen. The subsequent killing of that man by Absalom. The revolt of Absalom against his father. The eventual death of Absalom and David’s mourning. Chastisement and judgment comes in many and varied ways.

A wayward father who loses the love of his family. The drug-addled teen who loses his mind. The late night computer visits by a mom who decides to leave her family in the lurch. The devastation brought on by sin is ravenous but also different. No size fits all. Consequences of foolish choices happen.

The reality is this: no matter how discipline or chastisement happens it is a sobering thing.

This is one of my random posts from this book. What do you think?

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Piper

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

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I’m sure all of you have heard the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. To refresh your memory: Hamelin was a small town in Germany with a rat problem. A mysterious stranger showed and guaranteed he could remove the rats…for a fee of course. When he did (all but one), the mayor refused to pay him. So one day while the adults were in church, he came and played his pipe and all the children but three followed him, never to be see again.

It is from that story we get our phrase “pay the piper.”

When we use that phrase we are basically saying a person will get what is coming to them. They will have to pay the consequences of their choices.

Galatians 6:6-16 leaves no stone unturned in its language: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked; whatever a man sows that shall he also reap.” I’m not sure it can get much clearer than that. Tragically, we live our lives thinking we can make bad choices, bad decisions, bad actions, and get away with it. Not get caught. But it is not to be.

In this passage Paul talks about two laws which have consequences:

The Law of the Harvest (I’ll share more in my next post)

The Law of Legalism (Paul’s reason for writing the book)

This sermon is the official finish of my almost solid 9 month series on Galatians. I took a few side trails on special days (Mother’s Day and Father’s Day) but have spent the rest of the time unfolding this marvelous book. It is time to bring it to a close. I’d like to thank those who stuck with me through it all. The people at OVCF were marvelous. And I’d really like to thank many of you for your faithful prayers. I sensed them each week.

Rules

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

I spent the day driving to and from Lafayette, IN (Purdue University…or as his mom will say, “Purdon’t. She went to Indiana State so there is just a touch of friendly rivalry there. Just a touch).ย  All in all it was a pleasant day. The wicked storm which looked to be brewing north of us, which caused me to stop and try to tarp the items in my truck, largely bypassed us. The rain held off as we unloaded. Purdue students did all the unloading and transporting the luggage to his room. The lunchtime pizza was excellent.ย  Anthony’s girlfriend, Mallory, was a good sport and fun to have along (she heads to IU tonight). The drive home was uneventful except for a slow down of traffic due to a detour because of an Interstate bridge being worked on. I am now sufficiently tired and find myself wishing I could lay down but since it is only 5:10 p.m. that would not be a good idea. ๐Ÿ™‚

That means my brain is not firing on all cylinders at the moment. But I had a thought from Unoffendable I wanted to share. So I’m going to post it and let your minds give it some thought:

Rules are wonderful. Rules bring wisdom into our lives. They help us live better. They spare us from pain. BUT rules don’t change anyone’s heart, ever. Grace does. (p.167)

That saying alone is worth the price of admission to this book. If people (legalists) could only grasp that truth, maybe they would stop trying to force rules on people. Imagine the impact if churches and pastors and people grasped the real truth behind Brant’s statement.

Rules don’t change people. Grace does. No argument here. Any thoughts?

SAD

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

The house was strangely quiet last night. Oh, there were four adults there. We chatted away. We “pontificated.” We chuckled. We giggled. But the house was strangely quiet. The energy was gone. Let me restate that: the energy from the past week was gone. Jo and I took Braden, our grandson, back home yesterday. I drove the 4 hours one way and with barely a 15 minute turnaround drove the 4 hours back. Jo needed to be back by 5:30 for a 6:00 appointment. We made it at 5:25. But I digress. The energy, namely Braden, was gone. Amazing how an 8 1/2 year old can charge an atmosphere. His constant motion, constant activity, constant laughter, constant banter, lightened the room. I had never heard of LabRats before this week. He’s watched all episodes at least 5 times his mom says. We saw AntMan together Friday night and his description of it was video worthy. Tami (who didn’t go) was laughing so hard she was crying. He is certainly all boy. WOW the testosterone will have to work hard to keep up when he gets to that age. We will miss him for sure. (He also likes ice cream, which makes him ok in my book). ๐Ÿ™‚

Sad #2: We drove by a church with this sign:

“He pleases God best who loves Him most.”

Say what? I had to do a double take on that. I think Prestonwood Baptist Church just went from Grace to Law.ย  I believe they got it wrong. Maybe there is something there I am missing. I can see it now: “What do you mean? My love for God is more than yours. He likes me best!” Somehow I think Prestonwood got it wrong. What do you think?

My online presence has taken a hit over the past week. I apologize for reading but not commenting on too many of your blogs. I hope to get back to a more normal (whatever that is) schedule.

Contrast

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

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Big dog/small dog

Good wolf/bad wolf

Jekyll/Hyde

Law/Grace

It doesn’t matter how it is described or illustrated, the reality is we are a people of contrasts. There is both a good and a bad living within us. Galatians calls it “the flesh vs the Spirit.”

Thing is: they are incompatible. No matter what illustration you use. Like oil and water. Like me and cinnamon. Or me and Parmesan cheese. Or me and coconut. (Can you tell what I don’t like?)

The flesh and the Spirit will always be battling for supremacy. The sad part is when we came to Christ we are told “we are new creations-the old has gone and the new has come.” Why then do we still battle the old man? John Calvin may have said it best:

The spiritual life will not be maintained without a struggle…Disobedience and rebellion against the Spirit of God pervade the whole nature of man.

He is saying what I am trying to say: try as we may, we cannot live this life on our own, or under our own power. “Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world.” I John 4:4

By message Sunday is from Galatians 5:16-26. Talk about a passage of Scripture focused on contrasts! I don’t plan on spending a lot of time on the lusts of the flesh. Why draw attention to the negative? I do, however, plan to spend time talking about the contrast we all face/fight. All in preparation for an upcoming series on the Fruit of the Spirit.

I’d appreciate your prayers. Thanks. How is your conflict going? What would you use to describe it (see my first illustrations).

Stone9

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

I’m not a Jim Carrey fan so for me to ask if you have ever watched one of his movies is totally out of my “like” zone. But have you ever seen The Truman Show? Diana (the church’s office manager) and Ryan (the Youth Pastor) were talking about it once, plus I was working on sermon material which made reference to it, so I decided to buy it.

I was surprised how much I liked it. Not that it was a riveting action, shoot-’em-up-blow-’em-up kind of movie. I tend to like those kind. But the premise was an interesting one.

{Spoiler Alert: if you have never seen it-but hope to-skip this next paragraph}. Carrey plays Truman who unbeknownst to him has been on TV and his whole life from birth has been broadcasted to millions of viewers. To make a long story short, he finds glitches in the system which alert him to the sameness…to routine. Day after day everything is the same. Come to find out it is all just a giant movie studio.

But he tires of the routine. Same job. Same people. Same everything.

Sort of like many churches.

Change the order of service. Watch what happens.

Change the style of music. Watch what happens.

Change the dress. Watch what happens.

Change the teaching material. Watch what happens.

Many churches cling desperately to routine. Diversion…life change…is not in many vocabularies. But shaking things up a little can do wonders in getting people out of the doldrums. Here is what I wrote in my journal:

Diversion leads to growth. Prolonged routine can lead to stagnation. I like diversion. I get bored with routine. It soonย  becomes a rut, then gets cast in stone.

Break out! Get out of the rut! Live the adventure!!

This post is part of my ongoing random posts inspired by this book:

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Truth/Lie

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

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You don’t see them as much anymore as you used to (thank goodness). What? This bumper sticker:

HONK IF YOU LOVE JESUS!

It always amused me when I saw it on someone flying by me as if I was standing still. By the time I reached my horn they were so far gone I might as well have been honking at some other car (and making them mad).

Then they came out with another one that may have been just as obnoxious and even more crass:

TITHE IF YOU LOVE JESUS. ANYONE CAN HONK.

Do you hear the upchuck/gag reflex hitting about now? That’s me in response to that statement.

I’d like to add a twist to that sticker. I think it is more relevant:

TELL THE TRUTH IF YOU LOVE JESUS. ANYONE CAN LIE.

I know. Not a very good one but it tells the point of this Sunday’s message. There is hardly anything more important than telling the truth. We can shade it. We can cover it up. We can lie about it. But it will all come back to us eventually. I would personally have someone, no matter how much it hurt, tell me the truth than shade it, cover it up, lie about it or talk about me behind my back.

Paul’s defense against the abusers of grace is not a defense; it is an offense. He calls an Ace and Ace and a Spade a Spade. One of the ways he does that is to show the glaring difference between Sarah and Hagar; the child born by supernatural means (Isaac), and the child born by natural means (Ishmael). He points out the children were at odds. They still are. Sarah vs. Hagar. Isaac vs. Ishmael. Jew vs. Arab.

My Scripture Sunday is here. I’d appreciate your prayers and thank you ahead of time.

Stone5

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Peer Pressure…

Not just a kid thing.

When I was growing up I didn’t know what it was called but sure felt it. Peer Pressure. The pressure to conform. The pressure to be like everyone else, dress like everyone else, to act like everyone else. We all face it.

Athletes face it. Why else would they jeopardize their health with putting junk into their body?

Academics face it. Why else is the temptation to falsify and plagiarize so enticing?

Media people face it. (Ask Brian Williams)

Pastors face it. Yep, you heard that right. Those bastions of spiritual maturity. Those examples of “righteousness.” Those people with feet of clay. Yeah, those people. Why else do we compete and compare numbers? Why else are we susceptible to being a people-pleaser?

Easy. Peer Pressure. It is especially excruciating when one pastor wants to break free from the stereotype of “his clan.” I had a tough time with this myself. After being part of a church group for the first 25-30 years of my ministry, breaking free was tough. I was not well-known so that helped. But I was trying to shed years of doctrinal indoctrination and (my own) teaching for another path. One I felt drawn to. Shedding legalism. Shedding narrowness. Shedding a works-oriented belief system.

But trust me on this: it was not easy. What would my peers say? What would my friends say? What would my __________ say? (Left blank on purpose). Sometimes you just gotta do it though. Think Noah, Joshua, David, Daniel, the disciples, and a whole host of others.

Have you ever struggled with peer pressure? How? What did you do?

Stone4

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

I had totally planned on not posting tonight/today since I thought I would be in Indy with Tami (see previous post). But her plans changed so I had this on my mind and thought, “Why not?”

Question: how often do you think we preach/teach cultural (church) traditions as the norm and think it is biblical?

Answer: A ton!!!

Exaggeration? You may think so but I disagree.

When I read this stone in Randy’s book, my mind immediately flashed to a true story. I once heard of a college professor (of the school I attended) who took a mission trip to Russia. It came time for communion on Sunday and Russians use wine not grape juice. This professor refused to take part in communion because how “Wine should not be used at communion.” (I may have refused for another reason. As a total teetotaler I would have probably gotten drunk. Can you see those headlines: “Visiting pastor gets drunk”?) ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ The story, however, is true.

Question: how much of that was cultural/church tradition or biblical?

Randy makes an excellent point:

It is clear, and unfortunately so, that many beliefs, practices, and traditions in the Christian community are held to be valuable, not because there is anything inherent Biblical value in them, but simply because the former generation held them to be valuable. (p.33)

As much as I hate to say it…I can’t argue with that. We give these passed down traditions “godlike” status, as though God Himself passed them down from Sinai. It would be funny if not so sad. Consider how many things are passed down as biblical when they are nothing more than cultural/tradition: Clothing. Order of Service. Music (style, etc). Version of the Bible. Hair length.

Seems to me like we ought to be taking a good, long, hard look at what we preach/teach and ask, “Is this me or is this Biblical?” Wrestle with that for awhile.

This is an ongoing & random posting from 46 Stones.

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Before/After

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

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I can’t remember the name of the product but do you remember the commercial that took place in a junkyard where they did a before/after using a car wax?

We are inundated with before/after pictures of people who use weight loss products.

Our country before/after the Revolutionary War and Civil War is most definitely a study of contrasts. The contrast is striking.

This Sunday’s message is from Galatians 3: 23-29 and I’m focusing on the before/after picture of a person coming to Christ.ย  As you read these verses it is easy to see how Paul attributes trying to live according to the Law as being in prison and under a guardian. He uses some pretty strong words: “held captive” and “imprisoned” (hemmed in or cooped up). Talk about a vivid picture!

But he also spends even more time on the “After Christ” aspect. We are no longer under a tutor. The Law was never intended to be anything more than a temporary means of showing men their sin and leading them to the Savior. The incriminating tutor is gone and it has been replaced by a loving Teacher.

One of the greatest testimonies is someone who has a Before/After story. Some are more dramatic than others, for sure, but every Christ-follower has one. Tell your story.

Thanks for your prayers this weekend. See you late Sunday or sometime Monday.