Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Please Pray for Me Today

I can really feel something tugging at me, working on me. I'm dealing with some frustrations in my life. It is not where I want it to be. I have a wonderful family - but I want more time with them. I have a good job - but it's not what I want to be doing. I want to be doing more for God, studying more about him, but I can't find the time. I'm exhausted. Restless nights.

Right now I'm listening, over and over again, to William McDowell's I Give Myself Away... this song is my prayer right now. It has me in such a spiritual place right now... I can really feel my heart being tugged with this one.

Here I am.
Here I stand.
Lord, my life is in your hands.
Lord I'm longing to see
Your desires revealed in me.
I give myself away.

My life is not my own
To you I belong
I give myself, I give myself away.

I didn't realize how much this was all bothering me, until Ms. Jeanine told me she could see frustration in my eyes... in my soul. And she's right.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Comprehensive Study of I Corinthians (KJV / NRSV) Part 1 (Ch. 1-4)

Introduction: In I Corinthians Paul combines instruction with exhortation. The church at Corinth had bee started by Paul only a few years earlier, and much of the letter deals with questions that arose within the congregation as it sought to live out the demands of the gospel within an urban setting. But the letter does more than provide additional information from their founding apostle.It also encourages the church to be more unified in its internal dealings and to put its leader in proper perspective. They are asked to recognize Paul's unique authority and his right to instruct them about their faith, but also to see him and other figures, such as Apollos and Peter, as coworkers in a larger enterprise, in which God is the main player. First Corinthians may be seen as a pastoral letter addressing very practical questions of congregational life.

First Corinthians was written in the early 50s during Paul's extended period of mission and ministry in the Aegean region. Paul probably wrote the letter from Ephesus, a major city across the Aegean from Corinth. The letter in its present form may consist of shorter letters or notes sent on different occasions. Prior to the writing of the letter, Paul has received reports of friction among the members (1.11-12). He also knows of incidents that require his attention (5.1-2). He has received at least one written communication from the Corinthians asking for instructions and clarification about a number of points (7.1), and has already written them at least once (5.9). Thus when we read I Corinthians we are joint a conversation that has been going on for some time. 

Reading Guide: The letter exhibits the standard features of a Pauline letter: opening greeting (1.1-3), thanksgiving (1.4-9), body of the letter (1.10-16.12) and benediction (16.13). Structurally it divides into three parts. In the first section (1.10-4.21) Paul warns against division and quarrels, and he spells out what it means to be a "church of God" (1.2). The second section (chs. 5-6) deals with a case of serious sexual impropriety and internal legal disputes.  The third section (chs. 7-16) takes up the Corinthians' questions. The repetition of "Now concerning..." (7.1; 8.1; 12.1; 16.1) suggests that Paul is taking up their concerns one by one and making a serious effort to provide thoughtful responses that would suffice until his next visit (11.34).

Resource: The Access Bible (NRSV)

I Corinthians beings with a salutation from Paul to the people of the Church of Corinth. He is thanking God for them, for the grace that has been given to them through Christ's death. This opening greeting reflects the basic structure of greetings used in ancient letters. The writers of the letter (Paul and Sosthenes) address the church of God that is in Corinth and wish them grace and peace, standard forms of greeting among gentiles and Jews. Paul's letters usually being with an extended prayer (cross reference Rom 1.8-15; Phil 1.3-11). In a reassuring tone, he introduces themes developed later in the latter. All, not just a few have enough speech and knowledge to be confident of their faith (compare 8.1-3). Nor do only an elite few experience spiritual gifts (chs. 12-14). Everyone who has been strengthened by the testimony of Christ, the preaching about Christ, continues to be strengthened by God. The prayer looks forward to the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, when Christ would return (ch. 15; 16.22).

Now here is an interesting passage... the division of the church. Paul instructed the church that God did not want to see division among them... should we not apply this to the church today? Because there is more division today than ever, and we are rapidly separating further. Christ is not divided - and we should be unified in his name. Full divisions had not yet occurred in Corinth, but quarrels have. Chloe's people, members of her household, are mentioned nowhere else. To belong to someone means looking only to that person for spiritual guidance. Apollos ministered to the Corinthian church after Paul's founding visit (3.5-6; Acts 18.24-19.1) and is now with Paul as he writes this letter (16.12). Whether Cephas (Peter) had actually been in Corinth or was only known by reputation is not clear. Chrispus was a prominent synagogue official (Acts 18.8), and Gaius hosted Paul and the Corinthian house church (Rom 16.23). The household of Stephanas later receives high praise from Paul for devoted service to the church (16.15-18).

God's wisdom and strength is greater than any man. Man should not boast, unless he is boasting in the Lord. Seen one way, the story of Christ's death, the message about the cross, seems foolish. Crucifixion was a shameful way for anyone to die, especially someone embodying God's hopes. Jews and Greeks represent two ways of knowing or relating to God - demanding signs and desiring wisdom. The one stresses dramatic displays of power by God, the other gradual, intuitive learning about God. The cross, however locates God somewhere else, at the intersection of human foolishness and weakness. 26-31: The Corinthians themselves prove God's power and wisdom. The Corinthians' own call shows God's capacity for upsetting human expectations. To boast in the presence of God suggests arrogant behavior (compare 4.6; 5.2). To boast in the Lard is to recognize God as the source of life in Christ Jesus (v. 31; compare Jer. 9.24).

Paul, in weakness and fear, proclaimed Christ's crucifixion. He did not boast with wisdom, but spoke a demonstration of the Spirit and power.

The next passage is interesting. It talks about speaking God's wisdom secret and hidden - because none of the rulers of the age understood it (or they would not have crucified Christ.) He goes on to tell the church that those who are nonspiritual do not receive God's gifts. He explains that those who are spiritual perceive all things and do not allow themselves to be subject to scrutiny of others.Our faith should not rest on human wisdom, but on the power of God.Paul's preaching illustrates God's power. Here Paul recalls his founding visit (Acts 18.1-18). Mystery of God is not a puzzle but something hiding that God can reveal (compare Rom 16.25-26). The alternate reading, testimony of God, suggests that God bears witness through Paul's preaching. Jesus Christ, and him crucified includes both Paul's preaching and manner of life (compare Gal 2:19-20.) Demonstration of the spirit and of power: Paul saw himself as a channel for the Holy Spirit exerting power (I Thess 1.5; 2.13). 6-16: Wisdom for the mature. Now Paul speaks of wisdom positively. This age and the rulers of this age refer to Paul's world and those who control it, probably heavenly forces rather than earthly rulers. 9: As it is written: Paul mixes several OT passages (Isa. 64.4; 52.15; 65.16). 14: The unspiritual, or natural, person is a two-dimensional figure living in a three-dimensional world. 15: The spiritual person is guided by God's spirit. 16: Isa 40.13. The mind of Christ, guided by God's Spirit, seeks what is truly God's. (v. 11; Phil 2.5-11).

Paul or Apollos are simply servants of God, there to deliver a message. They are the layers of the foundation, the teachers. But Christ is the foundation. And the people of the church are the building. These metaphors remind us that Christ is our foundation. His servants (delivers of the word) are the builders. It is our job then to build our lives, with Christ as our focus. If we do not focus on Christ, we may get burned. We may then suffer loss, but we can still be saved (some of us have to learn the hard way.) Rightly viewing God's servants: Like infants, people of the flesh think only of their own needs and self-interests. Jealousy and quarreling are among the desires of the flesh (Gal 5.20). The emphasis throughout is on God's initiative. Paul experienced the grace of God when God called him. Starting churches was like laying the foundation of a building. The Day of judgment is often envisioned as destruction of the world by fire. The building metaphor now becomes specific: God's temple. You refers to the congregation. In 6.19-20 the individual's body is a temple. Rather than following human leaders who claim to be wise, belonging to Christ gives them all they need.

To God, wisdom of the world is foolishness. Paul continues teaching that our bodies are God's temple, and should anyone try to destroy God's temple, he will destroy them -- he will protect us!

Judgment from other people should be considered a very small thing. Judgment day will come, and all that will matter is God's verdict. Paul states that as God's apostles, they are steward's of God's mysteries. He stated that he thought God displayed them as last of all, as though already sentenced to death. He does not want the church to feel ashamed, but wanted to reprimand them as a loving father figure through Christ. More important than their personal characteristics is how ministers relate to Christ and God. Servants and stewards are roles defined by superiors. Some where sitting in judgment on Paul. The Lord establishes the true perspective for judging behavior. Paul expects the Lord's coming soon. Judgment is a time of unveiling secrets. The meaning of the saying is uncertain; it may refer to 1.31. Puffed up suggested an inflated self-image that leads to boating. The alternate rendering makes more sense. This ironic language applies to the "spiritual people" who claim superior wisdom. Apostles are like prisoners of war, last in the victory parade, a spectacle to everyone. The missionary lives a vagabond's existence. Starting churches was like having children. As their father, Paul expected the church to imitate his behavior. The alternate rendering "am sending" is preferred, since Timothy is apparently still with Paul. "My ways in Jesus Christ "are what Paul taught and how he behaved. My ways in Jesus Christ are what Paul taught and how he behaved. Arrogant behavior is a root problem in the church.

To  be continued...


The Access Bible (NRSV)

http://www.biblegateway.com (KJV)

http://www.devotions.net/bible/00bible.htm (NRSV)

Today's Interesting Study: Discipline

"Regardless of governmental laws, God's law states that spanking is necessary for the proper development of a child." La Vista Church of Christ, Omaha NE

If corporal punishment advocates are correct, then the abandonment of spanking will significantly increase violence and criminal activity among the next generation of adults. Society will become more violent. More people will be victimized. We will have to build additional jails to hold all of the criminals.

If corporal punishment opponents are correct, then the abandonment of spanking will greatly decrease youth rage and criminal activity among both teens and adults. Over the longer term, levels of clinical depression, clinical anxiety, alcohol and other drug addiction among adults will also decrease.
So I've recently stepped over the line on spanking, and we are using it less... my husband still backs it 100% because it was how he was disciplined and it worked... he says his sister turned out the way she did because she wasn't spanked, but I am seeing it more as lack of discipline in general. It was much more than just not getting a whack on the butt. And the same goes for my upbringing.

One, God's law does NOT state that spanking is necessary for the proper development of a child - what a bunch of hog wash. If you are going to spank your child, and that is what works for you (general you), that's fine, but do not use "God's law" to say not spanking a child is a problem and that children who are not spanked end up in more trouble. 

What God's law states is that DISCIPLINE is necessary for the proper development of a child (123 Magic for Christian Parents). Children who are not disciplined properly or at all are the ones who end up in trouble. Discipline does not translate to only spanking... I have almost finished reading the book 123 Magic for Christian Parents, and while we do still sometimes revert to spanking, I have found that the methods in this book are actually more effective, and do not have to involve popping my child. 

The scriptures referencing discipline are listed below...  the main words are are discipline, correction, and chasten (which means restraining or moderating; punish or discipline). This does not translate directly to spanking, it means what it means. There is much more to discipline than busting a child's behind.

The following quotations  come from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible:

bulletProv 13:24: "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (diligently)."
bulletProv 19:18: "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying."
bulletProv 22:15: "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him."
bulletProv 23:13: "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die."
bulletProv 23:14: "Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell (Shoel)."
bulletProv 29:15: "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame."
An additional verse from the New Testament is occasionally cited as justification for physical punishment of children:

bulletHebrews 12:6-7: "...the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?"

Monday, June 20, 2011

Interesting... my study begins, slowly... I Corinthians 6:9-10

I am starting off with this brief study while I wait for my new study bible to arrive. :)

I decided to compare I Corinthians 6:9-10 in three versions today... the KVJ, NIV, and NRSV. This verse is one of the most controversial when discussing homosexuality (you will learn quickly I am an advocate for gays not going to hell, JUST for being gay...) I don't know why this topic is so prominent with me, I'm straight as an arrow with a wonderful husband and two kids. It is the subject of hate that gets to me... I was bullied growing up, so the bullying and condemnation gays receive sits close to my heart... and when I get on a topic and need to prove a point, I kind of stick with it a while. Don't worry, this blog will explore ALL of the bible... this was just a starting place for me!

The NIV, being one of the newest versions, actually uses the word homosexual in its context:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

New International Version (NIV)
9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
  1. 1 Corinthians 6:9 The words men who have sex with men translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts.
Yet, if we look at the NRSV it read:

I Corinthians 6:9-10

 Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. 

Now here is the most interesting part of this is the word sodomites. The definition of sodomite is a person who engages in sodomy
So we look up sodomy, and it's definition is sexual intercourse involving anal or oral copulation.
Hmmm... how many heterosexuals (I know not many will actually admit it) enjoy one of those two things? It is not just a homosexual act... and we need to remember, that when the Bible refers to Sodomites, they are referring specifically to Sodom and Gomorrah.

Oh, it gets better... lets move on to KJV (the first English translation of the bible, the one deemed the most valid):

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

King James Version (KJV)

 9Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
 10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Do you see it? Or rather, NOT see it? I do not see one word in that verse that refers to sodomy or homosexuality...

According to an article written by Paul R. Johnson for “Second Stone” magazine titled "A New Look at Arsenokoitais" (1994 January/February issue). In this article he wrote:
"The Greek compound term arseno-koitais literally means ‘the male who has many beds’. The word arsen means ‘male’, the adjective o means ‘the’, and the term koitais is defined as ‘many beds’. Thus, the entire phrase means a male with multiple bed-partners; a promiscuous man. Everywhere that the word koitais is used in the plural in the Bible denotes promiscuity. However, when the same word is used in the singular form, the Bible gives approval because the singular denotes monogamy."

Finally a literal description of the word that makes sense! Furthermore we can clearly see the ‘lifestyle’ of the people of Sodom in these passages. Translated in this manner, these verses now fit in with the rest of the Bible (e.g. the Law of Love).

What does "arsenokoitai" really mean?

Nobody knows for certain."Arsenokoitai" is made up of two parts: "arsen" means "man"; "koitai" means "beds."

Although the word in English Bibles is interpreted as referring to homosexuals, we can be fairly certain that this is not the meaning that Paul wanted to convey. If he had, he would have used the word "paiderasste." That was the standard Greek term at the time for sexual activity between males. We can conclude that he probably meant something different than people who engaged in male-male adult sexual behavior.

The study continues... next on my list is to compare the Hebrew text, and to attempt to understand the ENTIRE context of the  book of I Corinthians, not just one or two verses that indoctrinated folk like to take out of context. 

Stay tuned!

Statement of Faith


Religious Views 

I'm not highly religious. I am a woman of faith and have a relationship with God that I work on every day. I was a sinner, and am saved by grace. My biggest issue with religion itself is that it is man organized, hypocritical, and it forces a set of specific, indoctrinated beliefs upon other people - none of which can any religious people can actually agree on as a whole - and I don't believe any one of us us have 100% right. It's not about a religion, it's about a relationship with God. (Read Romans) Your creed/beliefs are not what is important, it is about your love for God & how you live your life. We attend Harvest Church, which is a United Methodist church, and we love it there! http://www.harvestchurch4u.org/

The following is a statement of my faith and beliefs... this is not complete, and ever growing (and possibly changing!) as I study the word more closely for myself.

God is creator and ruler of the universe.
Jesus Christ is the only son of God.
The Holy Spirit leads, sustains and empowers believers.
The Bible is God’s word for all mankind.
Salvation is the forgiveness of our sin and a gift from Jesus Christ.
A Christian is a person who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord.

Bibliology – The Study of the Bible

Inspiration & Inerrancy of Scripture
The bible is a sacred text - God's word - however I do not believe every version is unaltered or without error. I do not believe we are supposed to "interpret" every individual verse in scripture, also known as loosening of scripture or authoritarian way of reading scripture. By doing this one misses the mark on what the gospel is all about. I believe the entire passages there are the lessons, or parables for us to learn from. I believe that reading each verse individually in an attempt to validate a point of view risks taking it out context and not what God and the writers intend for us to do.

Trinity – The Godhead, three persons, one God

The Existence
This paradox teaches that God is one God in three separate persons – Father, Son (Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit.  These are separate persons but are equal in every way possible from deity to will.

God the Father (Yahweh)

God is uncreated and eternal.  There has never been a time that God did not exist.

God cannot sin.   He is the righteous standard and has the right to condemn all how do not meet his standard of righteousness.

While God is love, he is also a God of wrath.  He will exercise his wrath on the unrighteous who are without Christ by condemning them to Hell. God is a righteous judge, and he does not need a jury - it is not our place to judge or condemn anyone. 

Jesus Christ – The only eternal Son of God

Jesus Christ is not created.  He is equal with the Father and is eternal.

Virgin Born/Incarnate
Jesus Christ was born of a virgin.  His mother’s egg was fertilized by God the Holy Spirit therefore he did not have a human father making him divine and equal to the Father in every way.  However, he is still a man in every way.  He is 100% God and 100% man thus making him a true God-Man.

As mentioned above, Jesus Christ is fully God in every way thus possessing every attribute of God.

Jesus Christ cannot sin because He is God. Therefore if He did sin, his death on the cross would have been in vain because He would have been condemned to Hell with the rest of man and it would have proved Him an impostor and not God.  However, since he lived an exemplary, sin-free life, he was the perfect sacrifice for man’s sin.

Jesus Christ bodily resurrected from the dead three days after his crucifixion on the cross.  This was to defeat death and sin and to prove his deity.

Shortly after his resurrection, Jesus Ascended to Heaven and sat down at the right hand of the Father to make intercession for each and every believer on our behalf.

Holy Spirit – The Third Person of the Godhead

DeityThe Holy Spirit is also fully God in every way possessing all of the attributes of God.

Convictions of SinThe Holy Spirit convicts each man of his sin.  When a unbeliever sins, the Holy Spirit convicts him of his need of a savior, when a believer sins, the Holy Spirit convicts him of his specific sin until the Child of God repents.


Definition and Condemning Factor
Sin is any action or choice that is in direct violation of God’s character or commandments.  No sin is more or less than another (aside from blasphemy). If we choose to ignore God and his convictions in our lives, we will be judged accordingly.

All Have Sinned
Yes, all have sinned. But we WERE sinners, and are saved by Grace. By God's grace, we can strive to walk without sin (but may falter at times.) But because we believe and have faith in God, we are forgiven for our sins.


Method and Means

Salvation is by grace through faith in God.  Good works alone will not earn salvation. 

Eschatology – The Return of Christ

The Return of Christ
Jesus Christ will return to Earth before eternity begins to set up his earthly kingdom for 1000 years.

Political Views 

I don't associate with any specific party nor vote based on party.(Taken from a quiz that hit the nail right on the head - politicalquiz.net)

Conservative/Progressive score: 7/10
I am considered a social moderate. I think the progressive movement is overall well meaning, but sometimes it goes too far. On issues like abortion and affirmative action, I see the negatives of both extremes.

Capitalist Purist/Social Capitalist score: 6
I am a Moderate Capitalist. I support an economy that is by and large a free market, but has public programs to help people who can't help themselves or need a little help.

Libertarian/Authoritarian score: 8
I'm a Moderate. I think that we all have certain inalienable rights that must be protected, but that sometimes laws need to be made to protect the majority's lives or quality of lives. I support the second ammendment. I am against illegal drug use or public pornography because of its possible harmful effects to society.

Pacifist/Militarist score: 7
I'm a Moderate. I think that in very rare occasions, the United States should invade a country in order to make the world better by spreading democracy or ending a tyrants rule. I also think that defense is very important, and we shouldn't lower the defense budget. I think that, while the Iraq War probably was a mistake, that we can make the world a better place by sticking with it and spreading democracy in the middle east.

Overall, I would most likely fit into the category of Moderate.

The Issues

Equal Rights - LGBT
I support equal rights for any human being. I do not support discrimination or prejudice against any group of people. Religion has been used for years to support or "excuse" intolerance and bigotry.

Abortion (government involvement)
I am Pro Choice. I have learned with an open mind this does not mean pro abortion or death. I believe in personal responsibility and limited government. I do believe life begins at conception. Personally, I would not choose an abortion unless it was a definite life or death situation for either of us, and even then the decision would not be easy.

I am for immigration - done the right way through legal channels.

Death Penalty
While I do not think of it as inhumane, or cruel & unusual punishment (the punishment fits the crime), every execution risks taking an innocent life. People have been wrongly accused for ages.I do not support the death penalty without undeniable physical evidence.

Religion & Government
I do not think any one religion should "fuel" our government & laws, as we live in a country of religious freedom, and that means any religion. As an example: By not "allowing prayer in schools" this does not stop a religious person from praying in school. It ceases group prayer when not everyone may believe the same thing. It is about tolerance for all organized religions. I'd rather teach my children tolerance, and love. A "moment of silence" allows for all to pray or think or meditate, etc.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Judge Lest Ye Be Judged

So this morning I was watching Tyler Perry's House of Payne... the 13 year old kid brought home his girlfriend, also 13. She was pregnant. And the uncle on the show is like "awe hell naw" - this show is meant to be humorous. Anyways, here he is passing judgment on this  young girl, the parents freak out until they find out their son isn't the father, etc. The uncle sits there treating her like the scum of the universe.

Later on the mother comes to pick the girl up, and we find out she was raped  by her stepfather. OUCH. And she has kept the baby... pretty noble sacrifice I think.

This situation reminds me so much of how many holier than thou Christians try to act. So quick to judge a situation one knows little to nothing about. Matthew 7:1 clearly states: 1Judge not, that ye be not judged. Now I'm aware of the entire passage, and that many times this passage is taken out of context for the left to say Christians aren't supposed to judge.

I get that the bible doesn't say specifically we aren't supposed to judge PERIOD - it says we shouldn't judge hypocritically. However, taking a more middle-of-the-road stance on the bible, that it is transcribed by man - possibly inspired by God - and that the translations could be erroneous, and that the scriptures are taken out of context a lot, I prefer to think God wouldn't want us to sit around and judge anyone. It is God's place, not mine, to pass judgment and to convict. And so, for my personal beliefs, I choose to not pass judgment on anyone. Especially when I don't know the whole story. I'd rather er on the side of caution, taking a more loving approach. And personally, I find it rather hypocritical to talk about God's love, and being Christ-like, and then turning around to pass judgment, convict, or condemn someone. I also see a difference in judging one another, and talking to someone about Christ in a loving way... a way that doesn't condemn them, but allows the opportunity for God to convict them as he sees fit.

1 John 4:7-10

4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God. 4:8 The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 4:9 By this the love of God is revealed in us: that God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him. 4:10 In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Christianity Doesn't Have to Be about Organized Religion & Spoon-fed Doctrine!!!

Christianity should be about your personal beliefs & relationship with Christ. Not organized religion, "the church", or doctrine of any kind.

My faith is about my walk. My life. My heart. My soul. Do I care about my loved one's and friend's souls? Yes I do. Is it my place to judge or convict them? Absolutely not, it is God's. The best thing I can do is set an example through my walk and my life.

Does that mean I should never approach them, in a loving manner, about things I see them doing that could potentially hurt their relationship with God? No it doesn't. We don't need to shove our beliefs down others throat, but that doesn't mean we can't talk to people about Christ and about right vs wrong. We just need to remember that we live in a diverse culture with many different belief systems, and we don't all see things the same way. Sometimes we have to try to meet in the middle, or simply agree to disagree.

In the end only God know the truth. It is up to us as individuals to live our lives the best we can and strive to live as Christ would. To show the LOVE that Christ would. So many church's today are so sucked in to spoon-fed doctrine and show so much hate. I recently red an article about a church who make a mentally disabled child leave because he was a distraction. I know Jesus would never show up in that church, because he too, with his dirty feet and blood stained hands would be a distraction and would not be welcomed in a place like that.

We are to be loving and accepting of all - black or white, man or woman, gay or straight... and shoving scripture down their throat is not the answer. I do not believe the bible is without error. It has been transcribed, translated, and re-translated multiple times by MAN. Man is fallible. God is infallible - but he did not write the bible.

It is a history, a recollection of biblical days and the days Christ walked this earth - each book a written account of how each MAN recalls it. Sure they were inspired to write it - isn't any author?

We (general we) read too much into the scriptures. We take them out of context. We twist their meanings. We let them run our lives, when we should be letting God take control. We should be united. Not separated. We should show compassion, not hatred.

We would lead a lot more hearts to Christ if we set aside our differences, set aside organized religion and doctrine... and just figured out how to coexist, get a long, and love one another for who we are.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Waiting on You Lord

I know I tend to let things get under my skin a lot... things that I think aren't right, but then who is to say what is right accept God.

Lately, VERY lately, like this week... I've been kind of second guessing myself on something. This morning it was eating at me like the plague and I couldn't get it out of my head. Until I stopped, and I prayed. I felt like I didn't have time to pray this morning... I was in such a hurry to get out the door...  but I just stopped briefly enough to hand it over, and I immediate felt at peace, and felt his answer: wait. I don't know what he has in store. I can't let my personal wants get in the way of what God may have planned.

Whatever his plan is, I will wait. It was hard not to take something personal, considering the past. But with that behind me, I will look to what God does in the future. I give myself away, so that God can use me.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Different Point of View: Christianity and Homosexuality

Okay. So this may step on some toes, but honestly I don't care. I have a different POV on the subject of homosexuality and the bible. Politically you can consider me middle of the road. I'm not far right or left on all things. I don't think one side is always right on everything. I used to lean far right on a lot of things, until I opened my mind more and started thinking more for myself. My personal views towards the inerrancy of the bible and the concept of homosexuality leans more towards the liberal side. In the end: only one being knows the truth, and that is God.

And for those of us (general us) heterosexuals who sit around and say "it's just not natural..." How do you (general you) know? Are YOU a homosexual? How do you honestly know how they feel inside? Ask just about anyone who is gay, and mostly they will tell you they would not CHOOSE that lifestyle if it were simply a choice -  they wouldn't choose it because of all the ridicule and hatred that is spread towards them because of it. I know when I get to heaven and face God's judgment, I don't want to be judged as being hateful, judgmental, or an oppressor.

And how can Christians sit around and preach all this love and non-judgment, and then sit there and openly judge someone who is gay, calling them unnatural? Teaching about focusing on our personal walk with God - keeping sin out of our own lives, and not worrying about what others are doing and how that effects their own lives with God... does that not apply to homosexual people? I think it should apply to everyone despite their differences.

We have become so "religious" and "indoctrinated."And you'll excuse me if I walk away from the doctrine of the church... a group of overly religious people who have separated into so many different denominations because they can't agree to disagree on the issues. Is that really what God wants of us? Personally, I think we should be ashamed of ourselves.

Honestly, when comparing liberal and conservative views several years ago, I would have just sneered at their view and said they can't possibly be right. But now I look at it, and their more open minded approach shows more of the love of Christ than the conservative POV, in my honest opinion. Conservatives focus so much on the condemnation of these people. Did it ever occur to them that one, we shouldn't take these passages so literal, and two, it really could be a mistranslation?

The original bible - the inspired word of God - is written in another language. It was transcribed by man to begin with, so there is always room for MAN'S error. God is the only perfect being, and he did not physically write those pages himself. And then it was translated by man into how many different versions? (We go back to the concept of split denominations... they keep re-translating the bible into a version that better fits their doctrine.)

Every religion on this planet was created by man. Every holy book was written by man. I believe that we cannot literally take it word for word, verse by verse, as a rule book.

Lets look at the difference between conservative and liberal views on the subject:

Reference: http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bibc1.htm 

Conservatives often use the New International Version (NIV) or King James Version (KJV) versions of the Bible, although the popularity of the New King James Version (NKJV) and English Standard Version (ESV) translations is growing rapidly. They generally interpret passages literally, and believe that Paul was inspired by God to write epistles which were inerrant.  The KJV condemns "abusers of themselves with mankind", which criticizes male-male intercourse. However, the NIV appears to go well beyond the content of the original Greek by attacking "homosexual offenders" -- that is, both gay males and lesbians.  Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christians generally believe that this verse condemns all homosexual activity. They view it as valid today as it was in the first century CE. Verse 6:11 seems to imply that once gays and lesbians become saved, then they will no longer wish to engage in homosexual activities. They will presumably become heterosexuals.

From a forum on homosexuality and the Bible in the Philadelphia Inqurier: 
bulletA. Mohler: 'I believe it explicitly relates to homosexuality. It has been understood that way in the Christian Church from the earliest era.'
bulletT. Crater: 'It [malakoi] can have a meaning that's not carnal. But the way it's used -- it's embedded in the same context with adultery -- it's pretty clear what the meaning is...A hallmark of Evangelicals is that we take a literal, normal, face-value interpretation of the Bible. Some people attempt to keep some form of Christianity and hold on to homosexuality, too. It leads to strange interpretations of the Bible.'

Liberals generally do not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. They believe that Paul was writing from his own knowledge and experience. Further, they often believe that only some of the epistles attributed to Paul were actually written by him; they regard other epistles as later forgeries. During the 1st century CE, even an educated person like Paul would know very little about human sexuality, compared to present-day sexuality researchers.

bulletJ. Nelson: 'Paul used the Greek word malakoi. They translate it as effeminate and so on. It could mean that; it might not. It can mean soft. Paul was a Jewish theologian. Someone from a Jewish background would consider that behavior unacceptable. Many Greeks did not.'
bulletD. Bartlett: 'There's considerable debate over what the Greek words mean. We just don't know. I've read most of the debate, and I don't know.'
bulletK. Stendahl: 'When people come to me -- deeply Christian people -- and say, 'This is the way I am created. This is how God made me, how He makes me feel love,' I have to respect that. We know many things people [like Paul] did not know at that time. One should read the Bible with some kind of reason.' 

About "malakoi:"

The original Greek text describes the two behaviors as "malakoi" (malakoi). -- some sources quote "malakee" -- and "arsenokoitai" (arsenokoitai).

"Malakoi" is translated in both Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25 as "soft" (KJV) or as "fine" (NIV) in references to clothing. It could also mean "loose" or "pliable," as in the phrase "loose morals," implying "unethical behavior." In the early Christian church, the words were interpreted by some as referring to persons who are pliable, easily influenced, without courage or stability. Non-Biblical writings of the era used the world to refer to lazy men, men who cannot handle hard work, and cowards.
[John] Wesley's Bible Notes defines "Malakoi" as those:
"Who live in an easy, indolent way; taking up no cross, enduring no hardship. But how is this? These good-natured, harmless people are ranked with idolaters and sodomites! We may learn hence, that we are never secure from the greatest sins, till we guard against those which are thought the least; nor, indeed, till we think no sin is little, since every one is a step toward hell." 
One knowledgeable but anonymous reviewer of our web site said that "Malakoi" really means:
 "... men not working or advancing ideas so as to concern themselves with love only. Not working for the good of the whole....Our present culture has all sorts of connotations associated with the word 'effeminate' that simply don't apply [to Paul's era]."
It would seem that the word "effeminate" can only be regarded as a mistranslation.

About "arsenokoitai:"

This word appears to have been coined by Paul himself.  The first use of the word is found in his epistles. Its precise meaning is unknown. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Light a Lamp Upon my Path

Do you ever feel like you are meant to do something more? Something greater? I know I am. I have so many dreams, talents I want to use. The thing is I know I want to use them for good - to help people. I'm having a hard time figuring out which road to follow.

I love music. I really don't think I am good enough to go career there... but I love the fact I get to sing with the praise team at church.

I love photography and design. This I am hoping will bear much fruit as a business venture -- but I still haven't determined how to use it to help others... which  I want it to do.

I've always thought about going into counseling, or even law... but I no long have the available time or patience for a new degree of either nature!

Lately I've thought about getting a part time job using my money managing skills to help others financially... I have all these ideas and ventures, but I also want more time for my family, so I know I can't possibly pursue them all. Or can I...

Truth and Lies

Hebrews 6:18 - "So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie." (NLT)

 God is a truthful being. He cannot lie. HIS truth shall set us free. Recently a friend of mine is going through a terrible hardship, and it is surrounded by lies of man. I want to ask us all to come together and pray for God's truth to come through, and for this situation to be rendered, and for God's will to be done. The devil is hitting this one hard.

1 Timothy 1:19 - "Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked." (NLT)

Proverbs 12:5 - "The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful." (NIV)

It is important that we all remain strong in our faith, no matter what is thrown at us. Deceit is wicked, as the wicked are deceitful. To my friend I want to say: your faith is being tested by wickedness. DO NOT give in to evil. Your faith is strong, and with faith comes God's blessings. And remember: Proverbs 11:3 - "Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people." (NLT) They will be rightfully judged.

We should pray for those who spread such hate against us. We should love our enemy. As much as we want to hate and curse our enemy, the best thing we can do is lift them up to Christ.

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who hurt you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." Matthew 5:44 NKJV