If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

I’ve never watched a single episode of Duck Dynasty.  Sure, I have heard of it and believe I have a fairly good understanding of the basic concept.  But it is never something that appealed to me because of what it is at it’s core: another reality tv show that is driven by drama.

But now, with Phil’s recent comments hitting the news outlets, everyone has an opinion about not only the show, but the family members as well.

While I feel that some of his comments could have been a bit kinder, I completely agree with the core of what he said.  And something we all need to remember at this time is that our tongue does not come with a backspace.

How can I say that there’s nothing wrong with what he said, only the delivery?  Because it’s right here in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

It’s right there in the Bible.  It’s not one man’s opinion, and it certainly isn’t inflammatory hate speech.

I have friends that consider themselves as part of the “LBGT” community.  Frankly, I personally, don’t see that affiliation as something to point to as a sign of strength or a good thing.

Hear me out.

If sin is sin, and all sin is equal, as the Bible states, then we need to look at this through a lense different that what society often says is “right” and “decent.”  If homosexuality is sin, as the Bible says it is, and lying is also sin, as clearly stated, then why is a rainbow badge seen as a good thing?

What am I saying?

Remember back to when you read through the Scarlet Letter in school?  I’m talking about the letter that Hester had to wear day in and day out.  She wore her sin in a manner that was visible for all to see and thereby ridicule her for.

In essence, I see that as the same thing as people that flock to the “LBGT” banner.  They’re just wearing sin where it’s visible for people to see at the very core of the matter- (not getting into what the movement is working towards, just what it stands for.)

I was a liar.  I haven’t gone out to sign up for the Local Liars Club.

I was an idolator.  I don’t have a badge on social media that shows my support of Idols Inc.

I was a fornicator.  I do not have to walk around wearing a scarlet A.

Rather than trying to create controversy where there is none, it’s time to start looking at what the above passage truly says.  It’s not a message of hate, but rather, one of love.

I’m a sinner.

You’re a sinner.

Everyone is a sinner.

Rather than labeling people by their sin, it’s time to start looking at them as a creation of God, loved by Him, and in desperate need of His grace and mercy.

CPB

Soulless creation???

I’m an animal lover.  I’ll just get that out of the way right now.  I was raised with cats and often quip that I was raised in the way of being a “crazy cat lady” from my youth, (although I will assert to this day that I am still one cat shy of “crazy.”)

So with this kind of history, when someone looks at me and says that animals ‘don’t think, they don’t feel, and they don’t have souls,’ I know in my heart that it’s untrue, but until I sat down to work on a project this morning, I didn’t have the scripture to back up what, to this point, had just been my ‘opinion.’

To give context to the following, my mother had recently sent me an e-mail about an upcoming video addressing “Our Pets in Heaven?”  Asserting that she was planning to get a few copies, she had me curious so I clicked the link.  I’ll say it was the animals with photoshopped wings that turned me off to the video, rather than the fact that it included an “animal behaviorist” in among the Bible scholars slated to address the topic.

So when I replied back with what was essentially a “thanks, but no thanks, I have all the verses I need to settle this issue for me and don’t need a video for that,” I shouldn’t have been surprised when I got the reply back of “can you send those to me?”

Since I had first had someone look me in the eyes and tell me that “animals don’t have souls,” I’ve been highlighting those verses in my nightly reading, (Bible in  a year,) but unfortunately, it is an app on my cell where highlights are not searchable.  While I have transferred some to my paper Bible, I had not transferred all of them and so, was not in a position to readily provide the list of verses I had found that established that not only do animals have souls, but they know that there is a God and even cry out to Him!  Not only that, but He hears them as well, and they absolutely will be in heaven!

So after several hours of searching and reading and cross referencing, here’s the list I have compiled so far- just so that I don’t lose it and have it for easy reference later.

“And should I not pity Nineveh, the great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left- and
much livestock?” Jonah 4:11

Your righteousness is like the great mountains; Your judgments are a great deep; O Lord, You preserve man and beast. Psalm 36:6

(In the NLT translation, the last line is: You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.)

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Colossians 1:19-20

(notice “all things” not just “men”)

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. Matthew 10:29

A righteous man regards the life of his animal, Proverbs 12:10a

“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; and the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; and the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind? Job 12:7-10

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox, the nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11:6-9

“Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed. Exodus 23:12

For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. Psalm 50:10-11

“Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. Genesis 1:30

(“life” in this verse is the Hebrew נָ֫פֶשׁ pronounced neh’-fesh. The first listed definition for it is “a soul.”)

that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on the earth- in Him. Ephesians 1:10

(again, things instead of man or mankind.)

“And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth.” Genesis 9:9-10

In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, with the birds of the air, and with the creeping things of the ground. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth, to make them lie down safely. Hosea 2:18

I said in my heart, “Concerning the condition of the sons of men, God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like animals.” For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. Ecclesiastes 3:18-20

(by the way, the same “breath” that we have here, is also translated “spirit.”)

The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. Psalm 145:9

Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7

“Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens, or lurk in their lairs to lie in wait? Who provides food for the raven, when its young ones cry to God, and wander about for lack of food? Job 38:39-41

(That’s God answering Job out of the whirlwind, by the way- establishing the even ravens, which are sometimes used to symbolize evil, even cry to Him and He hears!)

And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Revelation 5:13

(again- creature.  Literally, “every created thing.”)

Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all the depths; (…) Beasts and all cattle, creeping things and flying fowl; Psalm 148:7 & 10

The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their food from God. Psalm 104:21

It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 1 Corinthians 15:44

(Go back to 39 for full context; alternately translated “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”)

“And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'” Luke 3:6

CPB

Faithful or religious?

re·li·gious adjective \ri-ˈli-jəs\

: of or relating to religion

: believing in a god or a group of gods and following the rules of a religion

: very careful to do something whenever it can or should be done

faith·ful adjective \ˈfāth-fəl\

: having or showing true and constant support or loyalty

: deserving trust : keeping your promises or doing what you are supposed to do

Earlier today someone posted the question to me as to whether it is better to be faithful or religious, or if they were in fact the same thing.

My knee-jerk answer is absolutely it’s better to be faithful, and no, these two are not synonyms despite many seeming to use them as such.

Of course, I will explain.

Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints! For the Lord preserves the faithful, And fully repays the proud person.  Psalm 31:23

Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.  1 Corinthians 4:2

There are over 130 uses of the word “faithful” within the Bible.  Most, as expected, refer to the faithfulness of God to His people and in keeping His word.  The remaining uses of the word refer to those that are found to lack faithfulness and therefore require chastening from the Lord, or those that are found faithful to reward.

His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’  Matthew 25:21

Conversely, if you search for uses of the word “religious” within the Bible, you will come up with a whopping four uses.  Two if theses that came up in my search are not even Scriptures but rather, headers that were added within the chapters for ease of use and reference.  That leaves a mere two verses!  The first one is in Acts 17 where Paul is addressing the Athenians to share the Gospel, stating that he knows them to be religious in all things.  The second drives home the difference between faithfulness and religion though:

If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless  James 1:26

That verse alone is pretty clear.  But when one takes a step back to look at the verse before, it becomes even clearer:

But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.  James 1:25

So we’re admonished to “continue in” and to be “a doer of the work.”  Sounds like that could just as easily be translated as “be faithful” if you ask me.  Followed by a warning not to rely on being religious.

So why’s being religious a bad thing?

While it is now recognized as a word that refers to things pertaining to a system of beliefs and of faith, but one cannot overlook the fact that it also refers to a methodical system for doing something; a ritual if you will.

Before I go further, let’s take a look at the word used in Acts 17:22 in the original Greek.

δεισιδαίμων at best is pious or religious, at worst, superstitious.

I am religious about my morning consumption of coffee.  If I do not consume adequate amounts, I find it hard to type straight at times, and type much slower than normal.  This can border on a superstition in that it is my belief that coffee helps me communicate better earlier in the morning.  The thing with superstitions is that they are beliefs held by people which are not necessarily based on fact.  I can assert to my coffee consumption being a religious action/ superstition because I know there have been many times where I did not consume caffeine in the morning and yet, was able to type and communicate just as normal.

Yet on the other hand, I strive to be faithful in my attendance at church, my daily reading of the Bible and in prayer.  Rather than just following a hollow routine, it takes effort to be consistently faithful.  It’s a conscious decision.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  Luke 9:23

It’s a daily choice that you must make when you wake up.  Are you going to go through the day, filling it with motions that in the end are meaningless, or are you going to chose to stand for something more?

Matthew West: The Motions

CPB

Thank you

Thank you, Abba, for freeing me from my past.

Thank you for gifting me divine forgetfulness so that while I retain the lessons learned, any shadow of an event from my past no longer triggers the emotions that were associated with those events.

Thank you, Lord, for helping me to see others through Your eyes instead of only through proud, judgmental human eyes.

Thank you for helping me to learn when and when not to speak.

Thank you, Lord, for knowledge and wisdom.

Thank you for not giving up on me and for choosing to use me to potentially help others.

Thank you for loving me.

 

CPB

I’d prefer sticks and stones

We all know the school yard saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”  It’s a lie.

When bones are broken, they heal.  In most cases, there is no residual sign of there ever having been a break.  The same cannot be said true of words.  While words leave no physical sign of their presence, (talking long term signs, not crying for a few minutes, etc,) there is also nothing that can directly be done to heal and repair the damage.  Once they’ve gone out, there is no recall button, and you most certainly cannot delete the experience from the memory of another.

But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
James 3:8

So what’s got me riled up over something that seems so obvious?  I was the recipient of a message recently that caught me very off guard, set me on edge, physically upset me, and sent me questioning myself.

So, before I post the message itself here, a little background info.

My husband’s grandmother is on social media.  She got a tablet earlier this year and so, initially got sucked into it by the flash games, but eventually took to it due to the ability to ‘check up on people’ (paraphrase of her words, not mine.)  At some point in time, we ceased being “friends.”  Being part of the generation that was raised with technology, I am comfortable enough with social media to understand the ins and outs; how to “unfriend” from news feed or from their page.  Using something for an extended period of time will foster such a level of comfort and understanding.  So when it became clear to me that we were no longer “friends,” it seemed fairly logical to me that the “unfriending” likely happened on her end.

Now, I have heard of the “bug” that randomly “unfriends” people.  In some digging, however, I am not so convinced that it’s as rampant as some wish to claim.  (It does make a good cover for those that genuinely wish to stop seeing posts that they deem annoying but do not wish to deal with the confrontation that may come from being called on “unfriending” when the other party asked what they did and wishes to make amends.)  In this situation, I never doubted that it was an accident, regardless of how it happened.  Never once did the thought that it was actually malicious cross my mind.  I’ve known her nearly as long as I have my husband and have always gotten along with her.  So I didn’t think there would be any harm in joking with her some about the event before confirming the resent “friend” request.

I see that you want to be friends again… but I’m not accepting until you tell me what I did to make you remove me in the first place.

I’d think that anyone that has known me for any amount of time, would not take that as serious under any circumstances.  Putting aside the fact that the use of the emoticon with the tongue (by internet protocol) makes the joking intent clear to anyone that has been online for any length of time.  Evidently I was gravely wrong because two hours later I received her response.

I did not remove you! I have two friends that I didn’t request to be friends but somehow a request was sent them when I was scrolling their pages. These things happen which I’m sure you know. If you’re done with me that’s your choice but I won’t play these kind of games with you when the person who would be hurt and put in the middle is [my husband].

Once I read that, I remember blinking a few times and putting down my cell as my stomach churned. I had been hungry moments before, (logical since I hadn’t eaten all day to that point- about 2pm,) but that hunger had evaporated.  For the first few minutes it felt as though I had just been kicked in the gut.  I didn’t know what to think or say.  Eventually I told my husband about it and read her comment to him before telling him how her response made me feel.

Within a few minutes I was asking him if I was wrong.  Was I the one that, in fact, was overreacting?  Was I the one that was making this into a big deal?  Was I seeing something where there was in fact, nothing?  He reassured me that it wasn’t me, but that wasn’t enough for my brain.  It actually wasn’t until yesterday afternoon that it seemed to finally click with me as to why this affected me so much.

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
Matthew 12:34b

Hate to admit that it took me almost 24 hours to realize that was the heart of why her response hurt me so much.

To elaborate, I realized that the person that I thought I presented to the world is one that is loving, easy going, friendly, quick to take an opportunity to joke and consistent.  Her response made me realize that clearly, that’s not what she has seen from me, evidently.  It seems that she has instead, seen someone that is judgmental, quick to cut people off entirely, spiteful, derisive, and looking to drive a wedge between my husband and his family.  I spent the most of yesterday questioning whether or not my own view of myself could possibly be so far askew from the reality of what she experienced.

For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
1 Corinthians 11:31

In the end, the only thing that I found going through my head was:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24

And suddenly it made sense to me why it was the man that had to do the leaving.  Women are drama.  (Okay, stop laughing, I know it’s obvious.)  But truly, where there are women, there is drama.  But if, by chance there is none, just give it time and they will create it.  Bringing a new woman into a family structure creates a power struggle where each one must complete against the others to assert their power and importance.  Especially when there is a man that is being “competed” for.

But God directs the man to step away and be joined with his wife.  Not to have her mesh into his family, but to have him create his own family with his wife (the two become one,) thereby becoming more a part of her family than it appears she would become of his family that he left.

So before long, I understood that the problem was on her end.  She had an issue with me where I saw none.

Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Matthew 5:23-24

I want to be reconciled with her, but right now, I truly am not sure how to go about that.  Later in the evening after getting her message, I wanted to reply, but I felt I needed to gird my tongue or well, in this case, fingers. (Proverbs 21:23).  I couldn’t bring myself to respond directly to her comments because escalating things is not something I ever care to do, but I also felt that I couldn’t reply with anything along the lines of, ‘I’m not sure you realize what you’ve said, but know you’re forgiven,” because I felt that that as well could escalate things.  So I remained silent and just “confirmed” the request.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about how last night would go.  It was Bible study, which she had her husband have only rarely missed since starting to attend.  Since she has not always had the best concept of appropriate times and locations for discussions, (she once delayed a women’s Bible study class for several minutes to tell me about a discussion she had with her husband about kittens my husband and I had been fostering,) I was concerned that she would wish to do the same thing last night to clear the air.  While I wasn’t concerned so much about getting things cleared up, I didn’t feel it was something that needed to be discussed in front of close to 20 other people.  Of course I went to God with my concerns, and it turned out I was worried for nothing; they didn’t show up last night, and there was, (I guess not surprisingly,) not text to say they were not going to be there.

Tonight is another women’s study.  As things sit right now, (after last night,) I would be surprised if she shows tonight.  Right now I am concerned that she will use this perceived “issue” as an excuse to not attend Bible study or even church.  Nothing and no one should ever be able to come between your relationship and your obedience to God.

I will say though, that I have already witnessed some good coming from this.  My husband called me this morning just before 6:30 am.  He begins work then, so you can imagine my first question of “What’s wrong?”  He expressed that it seemed as though this whole thing with his grandmother was affecting him physically and asked for me to call her to try and work things out.  I told him that I had thought of going over to their house to talk to her face to face, (because I was concerned that, if she could so easily misunderstand an online communication, I was concerned that the same could happen over the phone,) but I didn’t feel that would be received well.   He concurred, suggested calling to see if it was okay for me to go over and talk to her, and then recanted.

He started to open up about his own frustration with his family; not just his grandmother, but his own mother as well.  He explained how their obsession with protecting him and trying to make sure that nothing hurt anyone within the family was actually causing more pain.  Then he said that he personally (not wanted,) but needed to talk to her about it.  I hadn’t thought it possible, but in that moment, I think I started to love him a bit more.

but, speaking the truth in love,
Ephesians 4:15a

We cannot hide in a hole our entire lives, afraid of causing a hurt or for fear of being hurt.  Hurts will happen in this life.  We are all human and we all make mistakes.  They are unavoidable.  What makes the difference is how one responds.  Will you lash back, or will you seek to cover the transgression with love, showing compassion and continuing on?

He who covers a transgression seeks love,
But he who repeats a matter separates friends.
Proverbs 17:9

Because hurt is inevitable, that is not permission to conduct yourself as the bull in a china shop, (despite Mythbusters debunking).  We should always still conduct ourselves in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord and shows love for others.  But you must still live and fulfill the mission that God has for you.  Just pack a box of band-aids.

 

CPB

 

Must be counter-intuitive

I’m having one of those nights were it’s very hard for me to not seek someone out just so that I can rant about what’s rolling through my head; what’s been rolling through my head most of the day.

Yes, I am going to “pick on” Catholicism yet again.  (Blame Yahoo for running another story about Francis’ latest statement.)

“The Church, all of us should divest ourselves of worldliness,” a visibly emotional pope said, adding: “Worldliness is a murderer because it kills souls, kills people, kills the Church.”
“Without divesting ourselves, we would become pastry shop Christians, like beautiful cakes and sweet things but not real Christians,” he said.

So, I know that this is going to sound insane but, for the sake of argument, let’s consider this thought.

Lead. By. Example.

I am not saying that I do not agree with his statement that the things of the world should absolutely not be the focus of the church.  I agree entirely with that.  My complaint is that it is fine and dandy for him to say anything he wants from his position of power and influence.  I will even commend him for staying in a cheaper abode than the palatial residence usually enjoyed by the Pope.

But just not using it, does not mean that he is working toward a church that has left worldliness behind.

A much louder statement would be a papal decree ordering that all gold, silver and gemstones be stripped of the idols within each and every Catholic church around the world so that they may be used in tangible expressions of love to those that are hurting and in need.  I have no doubt that between Compassion International’s Water of Life filter and the worldly contents of even just a few cathedrals virtually everyone on the globe would have clean drinking water, (unless for some reason, they refused the gift.)

Words are empty without actions to back them up, and if you want someone to follow, then you must first be willing to lead by example.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
1 John 2:15-16

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
Matthew 6:24

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1

 

CPB