Friday, July 29, 2011

Rules & Creeds

What is the number one reason church's and religion in general are divided today? Difference of opinion regarding creed (beliefs). We all interpret the bible differently. Some of us read it literally and take it for what it was when it was written. Others pull verse by verse and think it is a rule to be followed. There are extremes in either direction.

There is so much separation among God's people because we can't agree to disagree and come together - God wants us to be unified! We all have one thing in common, and it is the IMPORTANT thing - our belief in Christ.

I came across a denominational group - the Disciples of Christ. They set an awesome example. For modern disciples the one essential is the acceptance of Jesus Christ as our savior and obedience to serve him. There is no requirement to give assent to any other statement of belief or creed. Nor is there any "official" interpretation of the Bible. WOW! You mean we can really just come together unified through our simple and sole  belief in Christ our savior? And not have doctrine and creed shoved down our throats? Who-da-thunk it?

 I think all church's should follow this example. What does God want? What is he really after? Our hearts, our belief in him! Our love for him and for one another. If we could set aside our differences, the man-made religion, doctrine, and creed... we all have one common goal to get to heaven, and we all love Christ!

God doesn't want us to be divided by religion, creed, race, gender, sexual orientation, *insert difference here.* He want us to be unified in his name.

Now I beg you, brothers, through the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been reported to me concerning you, my brothers, by those who are from Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you says, "I follow Paul," "I follow Apollos," "I follow Cephas," and, "I follow Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized into the name of Paul? (1 Cor. 1:10-13)

What, then, do Christians actually believe in? What is the basis of Christian faith? Is it the Church, Tradition, or the Bible? Answer: It is neither the Church nor Tradition nor the Bible:
  • Even the Protestant Christian does not believe in the Bible, but in the one to whom the Bible bears witness.
  • Even the Orthodox Christian does not believe in Tradition, but in the one whom Tradition hands down.
  • Even the Catholic Christian does not believe in the Church, but in the one whom the Church proclaims.
Remember... Do not put your faith in man - man will fail you! Put your faith and trust in God alone. When no one else is true, he'll still be loving you...

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    Black teen mother not allowed to be valedictorian

    Kymberly Wimberley is a black teen mom who earned the highest GPA in her class in McGehee High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. But she wasn't allowed to be valedictorian. 
    The school's administrators were afraid of a "big mess" if was Kymberly was recognized as the top of her class, according to a lawsuit filed this month -- so the school appointed a white student with a lower GPA to be "co-valedictorian."
    A member named Bee Lavender, once a teen mom herself who's now a successful writer, thought the school's treatment of Kymberly was "categorically unfair." According to Bee, "Kymberly earned the right to be sole valedictorian of her school." So she started a petition on to demand Kymberly's school recognize her for having the highest GPA. 
    Teen parents are routinely discriminated against and face significant institutional barriers to education. While teen mothers are often expected to fail, Kymberly Wimberley defied both the odds and the stereotypes. 
    She went back to school a few short weeks after having a child, and worked hard to achieve high grades in advanced placement classes. Without faltering or failing, she achieved higher scores than any of her classmates.
    Unfortunately, Kymberly's case is not an isolated incident. She alleges the school had a pattern of academic discrimination against other black students, including discouraging them from taking advanced courses. She just filed a lawsuit against her school asking for recognition, and your voice can help push the school to do the right thing for Kymberly.
    McGehee High School can set the record straight. Please sign the petition demanding the school recognize Kymberly as the sole valedictorian of her class. 
    Thanks for being a change-maker.

    Walking in God's Love

    A big thanks to "An Eye for Redemption" for helping me find the words to express what has been on my heart for a while...

    You said it best Kansas Bob - "I am convinced that Jesus was all about showing us love in a way that man had not seen before. Possibly when, like Jesus, we are moved by compassion for others we will step outside of our comfort zone ... and walk in His love rather than our rules"

    God-like loving! He loves us so much that he sent his son to die for us on the cross so that we may be saved by grace! Is that not truly awesome? God wants us to follow Christ - and lead by his example. People should look at us and see God through our daily lives - our actions - our love.

    1 John 3:20-25

    New King James Version (NKJV)
    20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us[a] commandment.

    Getting Back Into my Study... Today: Genesis 19

    So I've been slacking on my study again... but I'm starting back. I've started off with topics that usually cause a heated discussion, or "the issues" because they are so prominently debated today - and I want to see for myself what the Bible really says on these topics. In the end I hope to make it through all scripture.

    Today I continue my study on the scriptures utilized to by religious doctrine to condemn homosexuality. I started with I Corinthians 6:9-10 here... today I want to look at the story of Sodom and Gomorrah - Genesis 19 is one of the most commonly cited of the half-dozen anti-homosexual "clobber" passages in the Bible.

    Unfortunately, the real names of Sodom and Gomorrah were not preserved. Sodom was derived from the Hebrew word "S'dom," which means "burnt." Gomorrah is derived from the Hebrew word "'Amorah," which means "a ruined heap." These appear to be place names which were assigned after their destruction and were not their original names.

    Genesis 19 is totally unrelated to consensual same-sex sexual behavior. It is obvious that Lot wanted to protect the angels from the city mob. The people of Sodom, having recently been under attack by foreigners, might have been worried that the angels were really military spies. The mob might have wanted to humiliate the strangers with homosexual rape which is as abhorrent as heterosexual rape. The male-on-male rape that the angels were threatened was not a act of romatic attachment or lust; it was a common method of humiliating men in that era. Lot indicated in Genesis 19:7 that whatever the mob intended to do to the angels, it was "wicked."

    bulletD. Bartlett: "Many of the Bible's stories don't mean what they seem on their face. Many mainstream scholars say it [the Genesis passage] is about hospitality and how to deal with the messengers of God. If it does refer to homosexual behavior, it's homosexual rape. They don't just want to lie down with them voluntarily; they want to rape the angels."
    bulletR Kimelman: "In the Mideast then, once a man has entered into your home, your responsibility to his protection is your primary moral obligation, even if it's at the expense of your own daughters. The Bible is recording a story; it is not mandating behavior."
    bulletJ.K. Nelson: "If you read it literally, in its English translation, without considering its context, one could say the Bible condemns homosexual activities. When we look at the Bible and try to draw moral rules for living, but we take it out of the context of the time when they were written, we do them a great injustice."

    Awesome Question!

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    How Do You Interpret Scripture & Approach The Bible?

    How do you interpret the Bible? Do you take an analytical approach to the text? Do you take a holistic approach to the text? Do you take a literal approach to scripture? Do you just see scripture as something to prove your opinions or views on different topics? Is it important how people approach the Bible? Is everything in the Bible to be taken literally? Why or why not? Is there danger in using scripture to prove points of a opinions? Why or why not? Is there more than one way to approach scripture? How do you approach the text? How should we?

    What do you think?
    Share your thoughts.
    posted by preacherman @ 9:40:00 AM

    I thought this was an awesome question... personally, here is my answer, and part of it stems from last night's bible study class:

    Awesome question. I try to take a literal approach to the bible (in order to avoid twisting & misinterpretation of the text). When I study I do a comparative study - I have the Access Study Bible (NRSV), my KVJ, and I have a free download version of a interlinear greek/hewbrew bible. I'm just beginning my study... I try to follow this outline for an unbias study:

    I don't know if scripture should be used to prove our opinions. Christianity is just a religion, created by man, divided many times over... the Bible was penned by man, I do not think it is without error 100%. The ONLY version that may be the actual inspiration of God is the original hewbrew & greek texts... but even that is speculation (in my opinion.)

    What I take from my faith and from the Bible is this: We should live our lives as morally as we can and follow Christ's example. We should show God's love - not judgment and condemnation. We shouldn't focus so much on fixing other people's lives, but instead fixing/working on our own lives. LEAD BY EXAMPLE.

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    Take Care of God's Temple

    We know the devil will do whatever it takes to discourage us from doing what pleases God. So if you get someplace and are faced with difficulty and maybe even some less than welcoming words, remember that you must be in the right place to do God's work, because the devil is trying to get you to leave. I've dealt with this a lot - instead of finding encouragement, I've found discouragement in places that I didn't expect it. But we are all human, and even our camp and church is run by humans! The devil uses whatever he can to try and pull us away from God's will...

    Hi! I'm Sarah. I'm 5'4" and 99 lbs... I just joined the exercise group at church. What could I possibly have to lose at an exercise group? Nothing, but I have a lot to gain! *I'm so punny...*

    We should always take care of God's temple. Our body is the literal, physical temple of the holy spirit. Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. John 2: 19-21

     My poor temple may look healthy, but it is falling apart! I've been very out of shape since the birth of my children. Sure the baby weight just fell off, but the muscle and strength didn't instantly return. I have to build it back. People always ask why I worry so much about eating healthy or want to exercise (like a skinny person doing this is just wrong...) I know heavy people don't like being stereotyped, and well neither do I. I have every right to want to be healthy. Just because I can go eat literally anything and not gain a pound doesn't make it any more healthy for me to constantly eat McDonald's, fried foods, greasy foods, etc all the time.

    People get just as much crap these days for being skinny, as other people do for not. I've dealt with crap all my life for being a toothpick. But you know what, God made me. He made you. He made us all who we are! SO THANK HIM FOR IT. And take care of what he gave you!

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Our Underappreciated Savior

    Matt 26:67 Then they spat in His face and struck Him with their fists; and some [f]slapped Him in the face,(C)

    "We all face bitter experiences... it is actually a blessing to be under-appreciated - Jesus was the most under appreciated Savior but those who had open hearts saw Him for who he is and this is a growing experience, as frustrating as it might be. God will vindicate you if you just leave it in His hands and soak in His presence as much as you can, and the bitterness will be replaced with His hand-print. "

    This was a wonderful response I got from a fellow sister in my Christian Mom's forum. It was a great reminder that the work of a disciple is never easy. We will face trials, and hurts. We will be spat on and slapped in the face. 

    Discouragement is the devil's best weapon. He is out to destroy us and to make us grow weary...

    Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 

    2 Thessalonians 3:13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.

    I do not know what is to happen next, but I do know that God will guide us and that if we are patient, he will show us the way.  

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    The Only Blood Thicker than Water is Jesus'

    This week has been a struggle. The devil seeks to attack anything that is done in God's name. I've had to face some pretty harsh realities in my own life this week... blood is not thicker than water. Accept for Jesus' blood. The blood that was shed covers all. It forgives all, even if other people don't.

    Growing up I dealt with issues of being accepted. I consider myself a pretty strong person with all I've gone through in life, but I can be broken. And this week my heart has shattered. I looked forward to this particular week all year, ever since last July. As it got closer things started to arise that discouraged me, and I tried to not let them deter me. I put them on the alter last Sunday morning and asked God to take care of them.

    I've wanted so badly to grow certain relationships in my life, but it's hard to strengthen relationships when the other party doesn't want to do anything more than talk about you behind your back. My life wasn't perfect when I came here, but everyone has pasts. I think I've done a pretty darn good job turning things around, but some people will never get over the way things used to be. I think either way I can't please them... maybe it is jealousy of who I've become, and the relationships I've grown since my total 180. But it's hard to say for sure. To me it is sad that instead of trying to grow closer, they'd just rather push me further away. I'm still not perfect, but I know how hard I try, I know my heart, and most important I know that God knows my heart.

    A lot of things that have happened this week and weekend have forced my hand. My husband and I have some pretty tough decisions to be made in the near future. But I believe God has brought us to this point, and will lead us into the future unknown.

     To the people I love dearly, what is coming soon it has nothing to do with you, and I hope it doesn't change anything with any of you. This is a very hard move to make. Part of me wants to stay where we are at, there are a lot of people there I love & that I know care about our family a lot, but at the same time there is a lot of crap going on that I think it would be best that we move on.

    This isn't set in stone yet - I'm going to give God some time to show me the way to go.

    Godly men stick up for people, not make fun of them.
    Godly men honor women, not belittle them. 
    Godly men love their gay and lesbian neighbors, not ridicule them. 
    Godly men celebrate femininity, not trash it.
    Godly men own their sexuality, not flaunt it. 
    Godly men pursue peace, not dismiss it. 
    Godly men rise above violence, not glorify it. 
    Godly men build up the Church, not embarrass it. 
    Godly men imitate Christ—who praised the gentle and the peacemakers, who stood up for the exploited and abused, who showed compassion for the downtrodden,  who valued women, and who loved his enemies to the point of death.

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    Til Death Do Us Part

    I am so thankful to have a strong marriage. This article is a great reminder that marriage isn't always easy. But if you make up your mind up front that divorce is not an option, and you force yourselves to work through any situation, then you will have a stronger marriage. Adam and I said from day one there are only two things that would force us into divorce, and that is adultery and abuse. Neither of which will happen because we know and trust each other. Neither of us are perfect, far from it. We have our faults, we have our arguments, but we communicate and get through them, and we don't just bail when things go "for worse." 

    His family was concerned about him marrying me for many reasons, one being all the divorce in my family, but I am breaking that vicious cycle. If anything, I learned from some of my family what NOT to do. 

    When the going gets tough, the tough PUSH THROUGH IT. 


    Have these words ever crossed your mind or come out of your mouth: “I just can’t take it anymore!” “We’ve grown apart;” “I love you like a friend, but I’m not in love with you anymore;” “You aren’t the man/woman I married;” “Things change”?

    The crazy thing is, many happily married people will tell you that they too have experienced some of these feelings. Sometimes you feel like you can’t take it anymore. Other times you may feel distant to your spouse. Over time mates do change. Do all these things have to shake the very foundation of your marriage? The answer is no. What makes it possible for half of all first time marriages to survive? Marriage experts have found that couples that make their marriage work make a decision up front that divorce is not an option. Although many couples who end up divorcing have challenges, the reality is, their marriage probably could have been saved and in the long run been a happy one. Their fatal error in the relationship was making the mistake of leaving their options open. If the going gets too tough, in their mind, divorce is always a way out. It might surprise you to know that research shows that divorce does not make people happier. Does Divorce Make People Happy? Findings from a Study of Unhappy Marriages conducted by the Institute for American Values found that:
    • Unhappily married adults who divorce or separated were no happier, on average, than unhappily married adults who stayed married.
    • Unhappy marriages were less common than unhappy spouses. · Staying married did not typically trap unhappy spouses in violent relationships.
    • Two out of three unhappily married adults who avoided divorce or separation ended up happily married five years later.
    The bottom line is, you have to make a decision to stay at the table and be committed to making the marriage work. There are some things you can do to keep the vow you made…until death do us part.

    Learn skills to help you keep your marriage on track. Research continues to show that couples who learn how to talk to each other, resolve conflict, manage their money, have appropriate expectations of the marriage, and build intimacy are significantly more likely to keep their marriage on track over time.

    Understand that the grass may look greener on the other side, but you still have to mow it. On the surface someone may look better than the one you are with, but the reality is even beautiful sod eventually has onions, crabgrass and clover if it isn’t properly cared for. In most cases, people who have jumped the fence will testify that the grass is not greener, just different.

    Learn how to resolve conflict without threatening to leave the marriage. All couples have spats. Some yell, others talk things through. The common denominator for couples who keep their marriage on track is learning how to disagree with the best of them, but leaving the marriage is never an option.

    Stop using divorce as a crutch. Instead of throwing in the towel when the going gets tough, consider it a challenge to learn as much as you can about your mate and how you can effectively deal with adversity. Make an intentional decision to love the one you are with.

    Keep the big picture perspective. Sometimes it is hard to see the forest for the trees. One woman described her 65-year marriage to a group of young people. She shared about 7 years throughout the 65-year span that were really bad due to work conditions, children, no time together, the husband working out of town for a couple of years, etc. In the end she asked herself the question, “Would I really want to trade 58 good years for 7 bad years?” The answer was a resounding No! All marriages experience trials and tough moments. Don’t trade years of history for a couple of bad months or tough years.

    Make a plan for your marriage. Going into marriage without a plan is like playing a football game without memorizing the playbook. If you are going to win, you have to have team meetings, set goals, learn and relearn skills, learn how to lead and follow, and share responsibilities. You both need a copy of the playbook. If you want a “til death do us part” marriage you have to learn the plays so you can execute them correctly. That takes time. You have to learn to adapt the plays when situations change. You know there will be times when you will have a few setbacks, but you continue to move toward your goal line and even score a few touchdowns. You can’t do it by yourself. It takes your teammate to block for you, throw the ball to you, help you up when you fall down and encourage you when the going gets tough.

    It has been said that individuals win games, teamwork wins championships. Make it your goal to have a championship marriage.