Friday, August 31, 2012

The New Covenant - The Law of Christ

"The fact that the Mosaic law has been terminated does not mean that there is no law in this age of grace even though the nature of this law is quite different from the standpoint of incentive, motivation, and means. In fact, the epistles speak of “the perfect law of liberty (Jam. 1:25), “the royal law” (Jam. 2:8), the Law of Christ (Gal. 6:2), and the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:2). This consists of the many imperatives found throughout the epistles which comprise this law. These too cover all areas of the believer’s life to direct him in the will of God in today’s world.
The moral principles embodied in the law of Moses Paul calls “the righteousness of the law” (Rom 8:4), and shows that such principles are the goal of the Spirit-directed life in the same context in which he teaches the believer is not under the Mosaic law (Rom 6–8).8"

Beyond all that has been said…, there are still other duties which the earnest believer would do well to consider: duties toward the lower creation; responsibilities with regard to human government; special duties devolving upon particular classes, such as the unmarried, husbands, wives, children, servants.

Nothing Holy About Hatred - Press Release August 2012



Leading faith and interfaith organisations in the UK are pledging against homophobic bullying and violence.  Organisations such as the Islamic Society of Britain, City Sikhs, 3 Faiths Forum and many others have left messages of support on the Nothing Holy About Hatred campaign website, to speak out against hatred and homophobia from their own faith perspectives.

Organisers of the Nothing Holy About Hatred campaign are asking leaders and authority figures from different faiths and denominations to join with their congregations, members of the LGBT community, and other supporters, to take a simple pledge against prejudice and hatred towards LGBT people; something that many faith communities have never spoken publicly about before.

Dilwar Hussain, president of the Islamic Society of Britain and Head of the Policy and Research Centre at the Islamic Foundation, is among those who have taken the Nothing Holy About Hatred pledge, leaving the comment:  Love, mercy and compassion are at the core of all of our faith traditions – whatever moral position people may take on same-sex relationships, there is no excuse for discrimination or hatred. There is nothing holy about hatred!

The campaign highlights the damage that homophobia causes -including bullying, intimidation and violence- and the high levels of self-harm and suicide amongst LGBT youth.  The Lesbian and Gay Foundation has reported that 73% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people have experienced prejudice, discrimination and harassment, and the School Report 2012, recently published by Stonewall, showed that over half of all gay young people are bullied at school.  The campaign exists to raise awareness of these issues, arguing that people of faith need to do more to tackle them within their own communities. 

Rabbi David Mitchell, Reform Rabbi and Jewish Educator based at West London Synagogue of British Jews left the following pledge: On behalf of my congregation I’m honoured to sign this pledge. There is no place for homophobia in this day and age.  An individual’s personal religious beliefs can never justify their acting in ways that denigrate, demean and emotionally damage others. Thank you for launching this important initiative.

And from the Sikh community, Jasvir Singh, Director of City Sikhs pledgedAs a Sikh, I believe that all people should be treated equally and without discrimination. Homophobia is wrong. Regardless of what one’s views are about homosexuality from a religious or doctrinal basis, homophobia itself can never be defended. Discrimination should be fought wherever it may be, and whatever form it may take, and I am glad to be able to support this project.

British Muslims for Secular Democracy, Faith Matters and Rene Cassin are also among those who have taken the pledge, as well as a number of rabbis, priests, community leaders and people of faith.  The campaign is backed by Phoenix, a group of professionals, thinkers and activists from a variety of religious, non-religious and ideational backgrounds, who aim to create safe spaces for dialogue around issues which are often seen as contentious or difficult to address.
To find out how you can support the campaign, visit the campaign website, the campaign’s Facebook page or the campaign’s Twitter feed and take your own pledge against hatred and homophobia within your  community.  Supporters are also welcome to share their personal thoughts on the subject including via photos, videos, blog posts and more.

Nothing Holy About Hatred can be found online at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at or emailed at

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Love & Compassion - Battling Intolerance & Hatred

My Personal Background

As a child, I wasn't really guided on how to handle people... I didn't have regular conversations with my parents about faith, religion, etc. I do vaguely remember hearing them say at least once that racism is wrong. So I knew they wanted me to know that it is not right to discriminate. Up until the 4th grade, I went to church periodically - my parents didn't take me, they sent me with a lady from my brother's church, or I went with my best friend Val to her family's church, and sometimes her brother's church. Being young and easily distracted, I didn't really grasp the stories - though I vaguely remember being taught about basic bible stories (Jonah, David & Goliath, etc.) and singing Father Abraham.
My mom remarried when I was in 4th grade, and my stepdad took me with him to church, and mom went sometimes. She, nor I, really felt comfortable in a Pentecostal church with all the speaking in tongues, falling on the floor, etc. Just not our cup of tea. But while she wouldn't go, I still got drug, and I dreaded it not just because of the weirdness, but because it was just another place I didn't feel accepted or welcome. I didn't get bullied there like I did at school, but I didn't have anyone to hang out with either. I was always a loner. I didn't really get involved in a church and get a fire in me to learn about the Bible and God until I moved to Georgia and got involved in my half-sister's church, where her dad preaches. But it was hard, because I felt like I was ill-equipped because I wasn't "raised" on this stuff - the stories weren't drilled into my head - I wasn't familiar with the bible and struggled with reading and understanding it because of the old english language most versions are written in, and everyone always said the King James Version was the "true" version... yet according to most church's, "all versions are inerrant"... thinking about it now, maybe they wanted us to read the KVJ because of our lack of ability to fully understand it, so that made it easier to teach it their way... they also pushed the NIV alot - but I've personally found this is one of the most mistranslated versions out there. They purposefully change the words in the clobber passages to homosexuality so no one will even question if that's the meaning or not...

Anyways... back on track... I listened intently to their teachings, and for a while got sucked into the whole "right-wing fundamentalist" way of thinking... This church considers itself non-denominational, but is a part of the Southern Evangelical association. And of course, non-denomination doesn't mean they don't hold a specific set of "standards" or doctrine. I heard a lot of preaching about sin, how to obtain salvation, that we must right our wrongs, etc. But I also heard negative remarks towards liberals, abortion, homosexuals, atheists, and basically anyone who didn't believe the same way they did. This hit a nerve with me, and not in a good way. I started to question the teachings I'd become so wrapped up in, and I started reaching outside the church for my own understanding of God and the bible. Since I had such a difficult time understanding the bible in its old English format,  I started browsing the web for other views. I was involved in a debate one day over gay marriage, and "saw the light." I came across that explained both the conservative and liberal view of scripture. I discovered where I could review different versions of the Bible, and eventually came across The Message, which was written in plain English and in a way that I could understand and relate in today's time.

Someone had told me to "read & re-read Romans" because of my POV on gay marriage, and that "it's about not accepting sin." Yeah ok, so I started with the book of Romans, and I'm to chapter 5, but this book is not about teaching us to "not accept sin" nor does it teach us homosexuals are sinning because of their sexual orientation - in fact it doesn't talk about homosexuals, it talks about unnatural homosexual actions (straights performing gay practices), and teachings of Romans are intended for believers, or the religious, to learn how not to live in sin nor to criticize others. So I wondered, how many other scriptures are so loosely translated? I've reviewed Sodom & Gomorrah in Genesis - also not what I was taught. I'm slowly making my way through the clobber passages and I'm discovering a whole new & amazing point of view on God, the Bible, and my faith.

Love & Compassion; Religious Tolerance
  "Religious tolerance means to refrain from discriminating against others who follow a different religious path. Tolerance is more difficult to maintain when you know that your religion is true and their religion is wrong."- Anon

"Religious tolerance is not religious indifference. It consists of valuing the right of another person to hold beliefs that you know absolutely, and without a doubt, to be wrong." - Anon

First off, no one knows their religion is true and the only right one - only God knows all of the truth, and the proof is in the puddin' - even different denominations of Christians have different interpretations of the bible and doctrine. They  can't all be right, and I'm willing to be they've all got something wrong... And the way I see it is if the religion is teaching hate, intolerance, oppression, etc... it's probably not right. Why would God create us to be at war with each other, to hurt each other, to destroy each other and ourselves? And the bible instructs us (in the book of Romans - see chapter 6:13-16 ) that it is not your religion that gets you right with God. Your faith in God is what sets you right.We are told that even the Gentiles (defined as non-Jews, synonym: Pagan) who naturally live by God's laws without religion, can inherit the kingdom of heaven through salvation. (Romans 2)

Also, God specifically instructs us not to criticize others (Romans 2:3-5). He doesn't want us to be intolerant of people who are different or without. In fact, we are instructed to reach out to the poor... and that by "placing the homeless man in the back row and the rich man in the front" (James 2) you have segregated God's children and proven that you are judges who can't be trusted. 

So by turning someone away because they don't meet the church's criteria, you have practiced segregation, discrimination, and you have judged another. God teaches that we are to show love & compassion to all mankind. He instructs us to love thy neighbor our ourselves, and even to love our enemies. God made every one of us - he made each of us distinct and none of us are the same. Our differences are made by God! He crafts each and every one of us - none of us are self-made.

Proverbs 14:21
It's criminal to ignore a neighbor in need, but compassion for the poor—what a blessing! 

Ephesians 2: 9-10
No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.  

Religious Tolerance in the Bible
The prophet Micah prophesied about a coming time when nations will stop making war. The various peoples of the world will live in peace and pursue their different religions, each worshiping their different Gods and Goddesses. Meanwhile, the Jews will continue to follow Jehovah. His prophesy came to pass for the known western world during the Roman Empire where religious were generally tolerated (except for the intermittent persecution of Christians). However, late in the 4th century CE when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, persecution of non-Christians became the norm. -

Micah 4 (The Message)

The Making of God's People
 1-4 But when all is said and done,
   God's Temple on the mountain,
Firmly fixed, will dominate all mountains,
   towering above surrounding hills.
People will stream to it
   and many nations set out for it,
Saying, "Come, let's climb God's mountain.
   Let's go to the Temple of Jacob's God.
He will teach us how to live.
   We'll know how to live God's way."
True teaching will issue from Zion,
   God's revelation from Jerusalem.
He'll establish justice in the rabble of nations
   and settle disputes in faraway places.
They'll trade in their swords for shovels,
   their spears for rakes and hoes.
Nations will quit fighting each other,
   quit learning how to kill one another.
Each man will sit under his own shade tree,
   each woman in safety will tend her own garden.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so,
   and he means what he says.
 5Meanwhile, all the other people live however they wish,
   picking and choosing their gods.
But we live honoring God,
   and we're loyal to our God forever and ever.

Jesus' disciples rejected and criticized a healer who was exorcising demons in Jesus' name, but wasn't a "Christian" follower. Jesus then criticizes his disciples and accepts the healer because he is doing good in his name.

Mark 9:38-40
The Message (MSG)

 38John spoke up, "Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn't in our group."
 39-41Jesus wasn't pleased. "Don't stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down. If he's not an enemy, he's an ally. Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice. 

Luke 9:49-50
The Message (MSG)
 49John spoke up, "Master, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn't of our group."
 50Jesus said, "Don't stop him. If he's not an enemy, he's an ally."

Other examples of Jesus' tolerance:

Jesus refused to curse non-believers. (Luke 9:52-26.)

Jesus treats a Samaritan women with respect.  (John 4:7-27.)

Religious Tolerance: 

Christians treat Jews with respect. (Acts 17:10-13)

Non-Christians who follow God's law will be accepted into heaven. (Romans 2:14-16.)

Also, Paul instructs to avoid offending followers of other religions. (1 Corinthians 10:31-32.)

The more I think about it, the more I think, why would anyone want to focus so much time and energy into playing "keep away" with basic human rights? They put a "positive" spin on it and call it "supporting or defending traditional marriage" - but that doesn't change what it is. It's anti-gay, it's intolerant, and it's discrimination - it is the civil rights movement of our time. And just like the "Christian" groups who used twisted, cherry picked, and loosely translated scripture to support slavery... and to support the oppression of women.... and to claim interracial marriage wasn't right either... today they are using it to support the oppression of gays and are denying them the legal right of marriage. How are they denying it? There are active political groups campaigning for the "Defense of Marriage Act" and when someone goes to the polls to vote for something like that, or to vote against the legalization of gay unions, they are denying those people their rights.

They talk about preserving "traditional marriage" as according to the bible... well first of all, traditional marriage in biblical times was not what we see as marriage today. And secondly, heterosexuals are doing a pretty poor job of preserving their own marriages to be worrying about someone else's... how about worrying about the log in your own eye before telling someone else to remove the splinter from their eye.

Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
Matthew 7.1-5 MSG

The OT Law & The 10 Commandments - How do they effect us now?

So as we've learned in the book of Romans so far, the grace bestowed upon us by the death of Christ saves us from the deeds of the OT law, also known as the Torah. 

The Law of the Bible include Natural Law (NT), the Law of Eden (OT), The Law of the Patriarchs (OT), The Law of Moses Given to Isreal (OT), Human Law as Prescribed by Man (NT), The Law of Christ (NT), and The Law of the Kingdom (NT).

The types of things from the Old Law we have been saved from  by Christ are the following:

1. When to Stone your Children - there were specific instructions in the OT to stone children when they were stubborn and rebellious (Deuteronomy 21:18).

2. When to Marry Your Sister-In-Law - if the husband dies, the brother is to marry the wife of the deceased brother.  (Deuteronomy 25:5).

3. When to Stone your Entire Family (Deuteronomy 13:6-8).

4. If a Girl is Raped She must be Stoned with her Rapist (Deuteronomy 22:23).

5. How Long to Hang Somebody (Deuteronomy 21:22).

And this list goes on and on, and on - there are 613 commandments in the Mosaic Law ... for a complete list of these OT Laws, click here.

The Mosaic Laws were given to Israel to govern their life as a nation in order to experience God’s blessing under the Abrahamic covenant. A system of rules may be tailored for different times, groups of people, or purposes.

The original 10 Commandments also appear in the New Testament, so they are still considered to be upheld under Christ.

Ten Commandments in the Old Testament Ten Commandments in the New Testament
1. “You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3 1. “You shall worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Matthew 4:10
2. “You shall not make unto you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: You shall not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my Commandments.” Exodus 20:4-6 2. “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” 1 Corinthians 10:14
3. “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7 3. “That the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.” 1 Timothy 6:1
4. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labour, and do all your work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11 4. “For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day as follows: On the seventh day God rested from all his works, There remains, therefore, a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who enters God's rest has himself rested from his own works, just as God did from his.” ISV Hebrews 4:4, 9-10. See solid New Testament basis for Sabbath Keeping below.
5. “Honour your father and your mother: that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God giveth you.” Exodus 20:12 5. “Honour your father and your mother.” Matthew 19:19
6. “You shall not kill.” Exodus 20:13 6. “You shall not kill.” Romans 13:9
7. “You shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14 7. “You shall not commit adultery.” Matthew 19:18
8. “You shall not steal.” Exodus 20:15 8. “You shall not steal.” Romans 13:9
9. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.” Exodus 20:16 9. “You shall not bear false witness.” Romans 13:9
10. “You shall not covet your neighbour's house, you shall not covet your neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is your neighbour's.” Exodus 20:17 10. “You shall not covet.” Romans 7:7


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Way of the Spirit, Not the Law - Romans 5-6

Through Christ's death, we are no longer tempted by the old Law to rebel against it. We are no longer required to believe in God because of fear, but to choose to believe in God because of faith in an awesome gift.

"1-2By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise."

Photo: Romans 3 :23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 3:24 But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 3:25 God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat accessible
 through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed. 3:26 This was also to demonstrate his righteousness in the present time, so that he would be just and the justifier of the one who lives because of Jesus’ faithfulness. 
Romans 3 23-26 God's grace is open to us at all times. He never closes his door to us, even when our door may be shut to him. All we have to do is enter through faith and be set right by God, all because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Ask, and you shall receive.

"9-11Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we're at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!"

 You aren't expected to be 100% perfect the rest of your life... you should strive to live a good life by God's standards,  but you are no longer tied to God's law like the OT - the punishment is no longer death, but the gift is life! Instead of giving us a spanking, God has decided to use positive reinforcement. ;-) 

"12-14You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we're in— first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn't sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it."

When Adam sinned, punishment was death instead of everlasting life. And this wasn't just for him, but for all mankind. But when Jesus went to the cross, the opposite happened. His sacrifice gave us the gift of life, through faith in him.

"20-21All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn't, and doesn't, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it's sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that's the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end."

Many humans rebel against a bunch of rules by nature... we try to outlaw marijuana, people still smoke it... as teenager we go through that rebellious stage - the more rules our parents tried to enforce, the more we tried to break away and got in trouble. But if they apply grace, and use positive reinforcement - like we know we get to go out on Friday night with our friends as long as our room is clean, or when we were little we got a treat at the grocery for good behavior... God has done the same thing by sacrificing his son for our sins, and giving us the gift of grace.

Romans 6 - "1-3So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we've left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn't you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!"

Well, we knew that if we screwed up, we didn't get to go out on Friday night or get a treat at the store... the same with sin and God. Just because he extends us grace doesn't mean we can just go live an intentionally sinful life. The gift is a reward for trying to live a good life through faith in Christ. And when we got saved, or baptized, we left our old ways behind when we asked forgiveness. The Law isn't completely abolished -the New Testament makes it abundantly clear that the believer in Christ is not any longer under the Mosaic law in its entirety… Indeed after having been delivered from the law, to deliberately place ourselves once again under its [control] is said to be “falling from grace.” - however to define sin there must be some sort of law. Just because we have grace, doesn't mean we can sin. Long before the law was given to Moses, it was utterly wrong to do evil things.

"12-14That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don't give it the time of day. Don't even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you've been raised from the dead!—into God's way of doing things. Sin can't tell you how to live. After all, you're not living under that old tyranny any longer. You're living in the freedom of God."

The ways of sin should not even be included in your life. Live in the new freedom you've been given. Strive to live by God's standards and love others. Don't criticize or judge, show compassion. Be tolerant and don't offend others. Don't lie, cheat, steal, kill ,etc... but do so because you know it is right and because a life in heaven is your reward for not doing evil. Plus remember, we are all on this earth together - God created us all. Treat each other with the same respect you wish to receive. And remember, no matter how hard you try you are not perfect - which is why God gives us grace. Extend that grace to others and don't pass personal judgement on another for their sins or mistakes in life.

And don't push your religion on another. If you are going to live by your religion, that is wonderful -  to fellow Christians - in order to justify yourself with the word of God you must educate yourself fully on his word and follow every aspect - and don't just take the word of preachers in the church - we are warned of false prophets. Don't loosely translate the word verse by verse - but listen to what the writers are telling you as prophets and disciples of God. If you use a single verse to backup your claim, make sure it still means the same thing in the original content you pulled it from. And don't use it to hurt others - God does not want us to hurt people, especially with his word! God's greatest command is love.

 "15-18So, since we're out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we're free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it's your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you've let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you've started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom.
20-21As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn't have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you're proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end.
 22-23But now that you've found you don't have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God's gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master." 

We are taught in the NT that the old covenant of the Mosaic Law was temporary, and has been replaced by the coming of Christ. This doesn't mean we are free to do whatever we want - a new covenant is established in the NT.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

False Prophets & Destructive Opinions - 2 Peter 2 1-9

So today's post comes from 2 Peter. I was working on Romans but couldn't bring myself to concentrate, and then I saw this verse posted and it struck a nerve. I just read another post yesterday where all one commenter had to comment was that the writer was a false prophet - but he wasn't a false prophet because his points did line up with the context of scripture. His points just didn't line up with what said commenter had been taught.

"But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive opinions. They will even deny the Master who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Even so, many will follow their licentious ways, and because of these teachers the way of truth will be maligned. And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced against them long ago, has not been idle, and their destruction is not asleep."

 The message states it like this:

" 1-2But there were also lying prophets among the people then, just as there will be lying religious teachers among you. They'll smuggle in destructive divisions, pitting you against each other—biting the hand of the One who gave them a chance to have their lives back! They've put themselves on a fast downhill slide to destruction, but not before they recruit a crowd of mixed-up followers who can't tell right from wrong.
 2-3They give the way of truth a bad name. They're only out for themselves. They'll say anything, anything, that sounds good to exploit you. They won't, of course, get by with it. They'll come to a bad end, for God has never just stood by and let that kind of thing go on."

Sound familiar? Sounds like a prophecy to me that has been fulfilled in our society today. Look at a large part of religion around us today.  Destructive opinions, lying religious teachers, destructive divisions... putting you against one another.

Let's look at the first one - what are some of the things that several of the Christian church's today are preaching, and are not what the Bible actually teaches us? (Note, I said several - not all church's preach these negative opinions.)

1. First off, most religions constantly pushes that they are the only way. Faith in God is the way. Religion is not. (Romans 4)
2. Many folks would put their person religious beliefs at a level of "importance" over human rights for other individuals or groups. They do this because they are taught this in "church." But if one studies the biblical passages closely, they will learn this is not God's way. Do unto others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:31

Human rights are often held to include the individual's free access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It includes equality before the law. Also important are the freedoms of thought and expression -- including religious freedom. Religious freedom, religious tolerance and human rights are interrelated. Countries that exhibit religious tolerance will generally extend religious freedom and rights to persons of all faiths. -

Another thing to look at is lying religious teachers - these false teachers typically interpret the bible in a loose or "authoritarian" sense. An example is the TGC (The Gospel Coalition) who admits openly to "loosely translating" scripture, and admit to doing so inconsistently (only when it suits them.)

Next we'll look at the concept of destructive divisions and putting us against one another. Look at the divisions within the church. The number of denominations with different beliefs that no one can agree upon, the number of times individual church's split and go opposite directions for negative reasons. Look how many Christians are against other people or groups who don't meet their lifestyle expectations or match their belief system... and they twist individual bible verses to validate their intolerance.

This is what people see - and this is a terrible misrepresentation of God and faith, giving the way of truth a bad name. And as the bible states, these people are out for themselves - to exploit you. And Peter continues...

"4-5God didn't let the rebel angels off the hook, but jailed them in hell till Judgment Day. Neither did he let the ancient ungodly world off. He wiped it out with a flood, rescuing only eight people—Noah, the sole voice of righteousness, was one of them.
 6-8God decreed destruction for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. A mound of ashes was all that was left—grim warning to anyone bent on an ungodly life. But that good man Lot, driven nearly out of his mind by the sexual filth and perversity, was rescued. Surrounded by moral rot day after day after day, that righteous man was in constant torment.
 9So God knows how to rescue the godly from evil trials. And he knows how to hold the feet of the wicked to the fire until Judgment Day."

False prophets who preach judgement, intolerance, criticism of others... who preach the gospel in a loose sense, out of context... who divide us and cause us to argue and bicker through childish debate... they will be held accountable by God. They are no better than those who were destroyed with Sodom and Gomorrah - isn't that irony... a clobber passage these false prophets use to judge and criticize others is actually who they are compared to by Peter.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Do you Honor Your Spouse's Love Language?

What is your spouse's Love Language? Do you know, or are you looking at me like "what's a love language anyway?" I've listed the "5 Love Languages" from below. You will most likely see one, or more, that describes your Love Language, but what about your spouse? Chances are you don't speak the same Love Language - and if you don't know your spouse's lingo, then you are more than likely trying to show love through your own - and if it is different, this may not be working out too well. :)

  • Words of Affirmation
    Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
  • Quality Time
    In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
  • Receiving Gifts
    Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.
  • Acts of Service
    Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
  • Physical Touch
    This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

    You have to honor your spouse's Love Language... my husband and I didn't really understand this either. Adam's Love Language is Physical Touch, and mine, is not... so I had a huge issue when my husband was always so touchy feely, and I got irritated by it. I just thought it was a "man thing" having to do with wanting sex all the time... when it turns out it is his way of expressing love - which is how he should receive love from me, but not necessarily how he should show it to me. And when I didn't want to be touchy feely, he didn't understand why I didn't want to show him love... and he felt nagged to help around the house. My Love Language falls a little bit in every other category, but mostly Acts of Service. I feel actions speak louder than words - but I don't mean physical, touching actions... I "feel the love" when my husband helps me around the house or with the kids, or when he wants to spend quality time with me that doesn't have to result in sexual time. 

    Now that we've learned how each other feels love, we've learned to deliver love to one another in each other's language. When my husband speaks to me in my lingo, it makes it much easier for me to respond in his. 

    Learn Your Love Language: Love Language Assessments

Friday, August 24, 2012

God Made Me - I Wish People Could See That

I wish more people would actually care about why someone is who they are or thinks the way they think... people, especially those closest to us, are just always so quick to judge... you would hope the people closest to you would actually love you enough to want to understand you, not make you into something you aren't.

We live in a society that just thrives on judging others. All my life I've felt judged, bullied, like I just didn't fit, or I wasn't good enough... But I know I'm not the only one who goes through this at some point in their lives, if not all their lives. There's nothing wrong with being different from what other people expect. God made every one of us who we are, and he didn't use a cookie cutter.

Just because someone is different from you doesn't mean they're bad or evil. God decides what is sin and who is sinning. He is the judge. A different point of view on an issue is not a sin. A different lifestyle is not a sin. A different set of beliefs is not a sin. We are all just trying to figure out life and this world we live in. One set of beliefs or religious views isn't the 100% best. No one has it right. But the one commandment we should all be able to follow is to love one another.

This society we live in makes me so sad... it's depressing the way we all treat each other. People are so wrapped up in their "world views" that they forget to care for one another... to try to live in peace and harmony. And you can't oppose something and have a meaningful conversation about it... you just chewed up and spit out for why you are wrong... but people are so wrapped up in their personal bias that it's my way or no way... We don't have good meaningful conversations any more. We just bicker at each other - what the heck is a rational debate anyways?

I'm at the point I know a good chunk of my own family doesn't even really care, not just about my views, but about me in general (not all of them, but I get more loving feedback online from the ones hundreds of miles away, than I see or hear from the ones close by.) And when I do see most of them, it's usually for seeing my kids, not me - what am I, chopped liver? We stopped attending our old church to attend a new one - how many of them have checked on us to see how we're doing and what we're up to? A lot less than the amount of people I'm sure are sitting around on Sunday gossiping about it.

You ever feel like you're constantly looked at as a misfit or a child? Like what you think or say couldn't possibly hold any merit because people can't stop basing "who you are" off of your past... heaven forbid someone try to get to know you once you've grown up. Like we'll always be who we were... but none of us started out living right, and none of us live right 100% even now... we are all still growing and learning...

There's nobody living right, not even one,
      nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God.
   They've all taken the wrong turn;
      they've all wandered down blind alleys.
   No one's living right;
      I can't find a single one.
   Their throats are gaping graves,
      their tongues slick as mudslides.
   Every word they speak is tinged with poison.
      They open their mouths and pollute the air.
   They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year,
      litter the land with heartbreak and ruin,
   Don't know the first thing about living with others.
      They never give God the time of day

You ever just feel like it's you against the world? Outcast? Like you don't deserve to be a part of something because you just don't fit?

Update: God is so good. We had an awesome church service about Spiritual Balance, which is where I seem to be struggling. Also, I was reading Romans 4 over the weekend and this verse really perked me up:

 6-9David confirms this way of looking at it, saying that the one who trusts God to do the putting-everything-right without insisting on having a say in it is one fortunate man:

   Fortunate those whose crimes are carted off,
      whose sins are wiped clean from the slate.
   Fortunate the person against
      whom the Lord does not keep score.
Do you think for a minute that this blessing is only pronounced over those of us who keep our religious ways and are circumcised? Or do you think it possible that the blessing could be given to those who never even heard of our ways, who were never brought up in the disciplines of God? We all agree, don't we, that it was by embracing what God did for him that Abraham was declared fit before God?

 10-11Now think: Was that declaration made before or after he was marked by the covenant rite of circumcision? That's right, before he was marked. That means that he underwent circumcision as evidence and confirmation of what God had done long before to bring him into this acceptable standing with himself, an act of God he had embraced with his whole life.

The Christian Argument for Traditional Marriage - Genesis 12-25

So before moving on to Romans 4, I decided to go back to Genesis 12-25 to study Abraham in order to learn more about him (as the first question in Romans 4 is about Abraham and his relevance to all Paul was teaching.)

Abraham and his wife Sarai and nephew Lot had just been kicked out of Egypt for deceiving the Pharaoh by claiming Sarai as Abraham's sister so that Pharaoh took her as his wife (and then Abraham got very rich.) Mind you, the context of this is that Abraham was afraid of being killed if they knew Sarai was his wife to begin with, so he asked her to claim she was his sister... so the marrying of Sarai to Pharaoh and riches were a result, but not necessarily an intention. (But see how that can get twisted around?)

Abraham and Lot have gone separate ways to have room for all their possessions, and then a bunch of war breaks out among kings...

Lot gets kidnapped and so Abraham rallies all his servants to go after him, recovering him, his possessions, the plunder the kidnappers stole, and a bunch of other people.When Abraham gets back, the King of Sodom offers him a bunch of the plunder, but he refuses it.

 God tells Abraham not to fret, and that his reward will be grand. God promises him a large family when Abraham expresses his concern that his servant will inherit everything - but asks him to sacrifice several animals to Him.

When Sarai hasn't yet produced a child, she tells Abraham to take her maid, Hagar, as a wife and sleep with her to produce a child. (Traditional marriage as defined by Christians today? I think not... here's wife #2.) So Hagar gets pregnant and runs away because of Sarai's abuse, but God tells her to go back and that he will give her a large family.

When Abraham is 99 years old God tells him again he will give him a large family and make him "father of nations" - this is also when his name gets changed from Abram to Abraham, and then tells him Sarai (changed to Sarah) will bare a child in one year... God instructs him to circumcise every male as a mark of God's permanent covenant.

God then tells Abraham he is going to destroy Sodom for all the sin. Abraham asks Him, that if there are 10 decent people there, to spare the city, and God says he will spare it if there are. Two men arrive at the city and Lot offers them a place to stay. Some men of Sodom try to break into Lot's home to attack and rape the two men - Lot tries to offer him his daughters but they refuse and threaten to harm all of them if he doesn't let them pass. The two men (angels of the Lord sent to destroy Sodom) struck them blind leaving them laying in the dark, locked out of Lot's home. The two men then tell Lot to take his family and run before the destruction of the city.

So here we are at Genesis 19 - another "clobber passage." Many believe that the story of the men wanting to rape the two men is good reasoning to condemn all homosexuality. But these were not acts of love, these were acts of vile and hate, with intent to rape and harm the two men.

"Saying that the last recorded acts of the Sodomites -- the demands for same-gender sex -- are proof that they were destroyed for homosexuality is like saying that a condemned man cursing his guards on the way to his execution is being executed for cursing the guards. Sodom was judged worthy of destruction before the incident with Lot and the angels." Inge Anderson

 Chapter 19 ends with Lot and his family living in the mountains... his two daughters fear they will never bare children, so they get Lot drunk and both sleep with him and get pregnant. During these times, incest was not an issue - there was a need to have relations with close relatives in order to grow the population. One of the main reasons we have such an issue with it today is because of the break down in the gene pool and it causes birth defects and deformities.

In Genesis 20, Abraham again tells a king that Sarah is his sister. But when this king goes to take her as his wife God stops him and warns him she is a married woman... and says He knows the king's intention was pure (not knowing she was Abraham's wife because they both told her her she was his sister) but he is trying to keep the king from sinning against Him. So now in this verse, it is a sin for the king to marry this married woman, and would mean certain death for his entire family if he doesn't give her back right away. But during these times, women were look at as property. So it was OK for men to marry multiple women, but women did not have multiple husbands.

When a servant of the king asks Abraham why he did it, he explains that he "assumed that there was no fear of God in this place and that they'd kill me to get my wife." Also, he explains here that Sarah is actually his half-sister.

God visited Sarah as he said he would and she became pregnant at 100 - mind you I like this story because this is where I got my name... My mom was older (not 100, but closer to 40) when I was born and I was a surprise because she was told she wouldn't have any more children after my sister was born. (Just a useless but fun fact, moving on.)

One day, Sarah see's Hagar's son poking fun at Issac... so she tells Abraham to send them away. Abraham doesn't want to, but then God instructs him to listen to Sarah and that He will also give this son many nations.

Next, God tells Abraham to sacrifice Issac. Abraham does as he is told and takes Issac to be sacrificed. God's angel stops him right before he can kill Issac and says "Don't lay a hand on that boy! Don't touch him! Now I know how fearlessly you fear God; you didn't hesitate to place your son, your dear son, on the altar for me." 

 Abraham's loyalty to God has been tested, but he does not fail.He also learns that his brother has had 8 sons by his wife, and 4 by his concubine.

Sarah died at age 127. Abraham buried her in a cave he bought from a Hittite, which would also be his burial plot. Abraham instructs his servant to make sure his son Issac gets a wife from his homeland, but not to take his son there (and if the woman would not leave, the servant would be free from this oath).

The servant goes, and when he arrived he prayed that God would show him the woman to be Issac's wife. Then Rebekkah came and his prayer was answered. Rebekkah was the daughter of Abraham's brother, so Issac's cousin. The servant was very grateful to God for this. When he tells Rebekkah's family the story, they know it is from God and they send her with him.

Abraham remarried to Keturah and had 6 sons by her. He still gave everything he possessed to Issac. While he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons he had by his concubines, but sent them away. Abraham died at 175.

So looking back at one of the first families in the bible, Abraham the Father of Nations, we see that what is claimed as"traditional marriage" in a biblical sense, is not indeed the tradition shown during these days of the Bible. During these times, men have multiple wives and concubines. The traditions of marriage has changed drastically over the many years.

Women are no longer property, and are no longer bought. Women are no longer selected from a specific lineage or nationality. Women will no longer be put to death for not being a virgin prior to marriage. Men only marry one woman now, but it was not always this way. Men no longer have concubines. Men had children with many different women. Men used to marry their close relatives.

I've put a little cartoon to the left - it is meant to be humorous, but it also make a valid point here since that is how it was done during those times... are we preserving traditional marriage?

This is just one example of many in the bible (for a more collective list of other examples CLICK HERE), but the marriages in the bible don't reflect what we consider "traditional" or "biblical" marriage today. And pulling a single verse out of this entire story that doesn't reflect "one man one woman" nor does it specifically discuss the issue of homosexual orientation, just to back up the right-winged view that gays shouldn't marry, is pure hogwash.

***Disclaimer: This post is a recollection of my thoughts and reflections as I study and learn these passages for myself. There is no intent of "pointing fingers" or condemning sin. If you feel convicted from reading my post, then I recommend you study these passages further yourself for further confirmation, don't take my word for it - I'm just sharing what I've personally learned with hopes that someone will be inspired.

PS I hope I live to 127. That would be awesome.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why am I an Ally?

So you're probably wondering, what is an Ally???

An Ally is a person who is a member of the dominant or majority group who works to end oppression by supporting and advocating for the oppressed population.

Allies to racial, ethnic and religious minorities and women have been remarkably effective in promoting positive change in the dominant culture. Only recently has their instrumental position been extended to sexual orientation and gender identity. The past few years have witnessed the development of heterosexual Ally organizations which have helped to make the culture of campuses or workplaces more accepting of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons. 

So Why am I an Ally?

First of all, I believe a lack of acceptance and an attitude of intolerance is one of the biggest issues our society faces, and one that has been the root cause of some of the most tragic events in history. Personally growing up with a lack of acceptance and being bullied daily in school to the point of skipping school and lowering my grades below my potential and feeling extremely down about myself, I personally understand the results of bullying and harassment.

In today's society we have seen kids drop out of school, suffer from anxiety or depression, or even commit suicide because of bullying. And the bullying isn't just in our schools... it is in our communities, and even in our church's. If someone is different in any way, they fear expressing themselves or being who they are for fear of being judged, labeled, bullied, or harassed. These kind of hostile surroundings, where everyone is more worried about not becoming a victim then they are about doing well in school or life, is not conducive to a healthy learning environment or a healthy person.

I have never been in support of discrimination of another human being for any reason. I was raised that racial persecution is wrong... well this isn't any different. 

And I am an Ally as a Christian heterosexual because I am against the twisted dogma that we should "not put up with sin" and that "the bible doesn't condone homosexuality (orientation)" or that  "we should up hold traditional marriage." I don't even agree with the religious use of the term traditional marriage nor that the Bible blatantly states homosexuals should not be allowed to marry. In fact, my goal with my blog is to debunk this whole "homosexuality is against the bible" hogwash as I read and study the passages for myself.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” I don't want to take the side of bullying ever. Allies are in the position to be the change. And it is time we learn from our historical mistakes (killing Indiana, slavery, the oppression of African American citizens & women) and get past this "hodgepodge" of the never changing sanctity of marriage (interracial marriage was once oppressed by religious groups) and consider the fact that the "sanctity of marriage" has already been destroyed enough by straights who commit adultery and divorce one another. We've done a pretty shabby job of preserving that one ourselves.Not to mention "traditional" marriage as we see it today, is not even the way it was done back in historical and biblical times.

But even well before the point of marriage, you deal with children, teens, students. Struggling with the idea that they are gay, the idea of coming out in such a critical world, and some of them being raised religious and who are Christians - even trying to "pray it away" like it's something they can fix or heal.

Becoming an Ally is something I would encourage everyone to do. You may face some challenges, but in the end you would be doing the right thing. Remember, there is nothing holy about hatred or oppression.

“I believe there’s Nothing Holy About Hatred.  I am against homophobia, racism, oppression, and the bullying, violence and damage it causes have no place in my community.”

God's Truth Prevails - Romans 3

In Chapter 3 of the book of Romans, Paul is continuing his letter to the Jews of Rome. Chapter 2 left off talking about how your religion is no good if you don't live a Godly life- and that a non-circumcised (or we could consider this non-religious, as this was reflected at the Jews) person who accepts God through faith and lives a Godly life is just as good or even better than someone who is a part of organized religion but doesn't live a Godly life.

So beginning in Chapter 3, Paul raises the rhetorical question to these Romans, that (and I'm paraphrasing a bit here) "what does it matter whose a Jew and who isn't then? Who has been trained in God's ways, and who hasn't?"
Photo: We had a picture of this sign on our page for a while, but it was removed because there were suspicions that it was a fraud.  Fortunately, it wasn't.  Yes we are aware that we can't exactly say who God prefers, and some may comment that God loves everyone equally.  However, I personally feel that it is a nice gesture towards Atheists and other non-Christians. ~rr
"First off, there's the matter of being put in charge of writing down and caring for the holy scriptures." If someone is going to be responsible for recording the scripture, then they need to be living a Godly life and be trained in God's word. A non-religious (in this case non-Jew) person can accept God and live a a Godly life - but if they are not trained in the word of God then how can they be responsible for it?

I'm going to point out here some of the issues of our time... first off we have too many Christian believers who take on the responsibility of "spreading" God's word when they aren't even accurately trained in it - I don't claim to be 100% trained in God's word, but I am working on it, as these posts are commentaries as I study the bible for context and accuracy. Those who use biblical scripture to back their condemnation of others is a prime example. These people are not properly versed in God's word - if they were, then they wouldn't be using Romans as a Clobber Passage, and would understand that it is intended to show them not to judge others. Most of them have just taken another man's word that this is what it says... and then when they go to read it for themselves, most of the time they are already won over to one biased side that they refuse to read with an open mind and heart in order to comprehend the true context and intent of the passages. And in addition, we are mostly reading from versions written in older English dialects that make it harder to understand, and a lot of people don't take the further time and study needed to fully grasp the meaning behind those hard to read words. (I'm just as guilty, and now that I've learned this I just want to share what I've discovered.)

 So going back into Chapter 3... Paul continues his letter, talking about how God's truth always remains the same. "The whole world can be lying through their teeth, but God keeps his word." God is always faithful. His truth will always prevail even when people lie and twist the truth. More and more people are starting to see through all the dogma and twisted versions of the truth we see in organized religion today. More of us are starting to question when something just doesn't "sit right" within the teachings of the church, and are opening our minds more to accurately studying God's word. We've run into a huge problem when our religious leadership has become so corrupted (and not always intentionally) with twisted version's of God's truth and are so easily spreading these fallacies through doctrine. When we're listening to sermons about other people's problem with sin, negative remarks about different lifestyles and religious/non-religious people/ideas that don't conform to that church's belief system, and watch those same leaders leading lives full of intentional sin, we have a huge problem. None of us are perfect by any means, but leaders of our church's are supposed to be accurately trained in God's word and living Godly lives, per the scriptures.

And no one starts out living right, we are all born sinners...
"There's nobody living right, not even one,
      nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God.
   They've all taken the wrong turn;
      they've all wandered down blind alleys.
   No one's living right;
      I can't find a single one.
   Their throats are gaping graves,
      their tongues slick as mudslides.
   Every word they speak is tinged with poison.
      They open their mouths and pollute the air.
   They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year,
      litter the land with heartbreak and ruin,
   Don't know the first thing about living with others.
      They never give God the time of day."

And the bible goes on to make it clear that "whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place!" So as covered in my previous post on Romans 1-2, Romans 3 continues to support that these scriptures are not to be pointed at others, but are intended for his followers! How much "pointing of scripture" do we see going on in our society today? Look at our political issue debates. The Republican party has become the religious party. People are slinging God's word left and right to make their points by pointing fingers at the opposition. How many of us see someone else doing wrong, or even what we perceive as wrong from spoon-fed religion, and pulled out our bible to say "SHAME ON YOU???" (Raises her hand in shame, I have...)
I've been down this road... it's not a good road. It's a road of trying to justify nastiness and hate through condemnation and stone throwing - and we refuse to see it that way, but it is what it is, and the bible even tells us this. "And it's clear enough, isn't it, that we're sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else? Our involvement with God's revelation doesn't put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else's sin."

 But God has set things right! Paul goes on to say how in their time, Jesus went to the Cross. And he closes this chapter with the fact that just because we now shift our focus from what we do, to what God does, this doesn't cancel out our careful keeping of the rules and what God commanded. "What happens, in fact, is that by putting that entire way of life in its proper place, we confirm it." 

 ***Disclaimer: This post is a recollection of my thoughts and reflections as I study and learn these passages for myself. There is no intent of "pointing fingers" or condemning sin. If you feel convicted from reading my post, then I recommend you study these passages further yourself for further confirmation, don't take my word for it - I'm just sharing what I've personally learned with hopes that someone will be inspired.