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

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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

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

No harm in making nice…

First off: in this context, YES, there is.  There is eternal harm in this kind of “making nice.”

By this time, we’ve all see the headlines splashed across all kinds of media outlets: “Pope says atheists can go to heaven.”  If you happen to have somehow missed it, here are a few links:

Pope Francis assures atheists:You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven  (The Independent)

Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own consciences   (The Guardian)

Don’t feel like clicking and reading?  Here are two quotes:

Responding to a list of questions published in the paper by Mr Scalfari, who is not a Roman Catholic, Francis wrote: “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.
“Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”
-The Independent

Expressing the belief that it was important for Christians to engage in “a sincere and rigorous dialogue” with atheists, Francis recalled Scalfari had asked him whether God forgave those “who do not believe and do not seek to believe”.
“Given – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart,” the pope wrote, “the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience. There is sin, also for those who have no faith, in going against one’s conscience. Listening to it and abiding by it means making up one’s mind about what is good and evil.”
-The Guardian

Now, this isn’t the first time that Pope Francis has spoken out about the redemption of atheists, either.  Earlier this year, in May, there was some backlash over a homily that he gave.  NPR covered the story:

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class. We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all. And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: We need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: We will meet one another there.”

If this is not your first time skimming through my blog, I am sure you already know where this is going.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:6

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.  This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’  Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:8-12

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:18

He who is not with Me is against me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
Luke 11:32

If you try to be a “good person” apart from the salvation offered by Christ, it’s not good enough.  Sorry, no passing go and collecting $200.

There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
Proverbs 14:12, 16:25

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

But we are all like an unclean thing,
All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
Isaiah 64:6a

The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked,
Who can know it?
Jeremiah 17:9

So pretty clearly, we can do what seems to be right, and give it our best effort, but even that is nothing more than a filthy rag.  It’s a pretty desperate situation, this human condition.  Thankfully:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
John 3:16-17

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:5-6

Now one thing that Francis said, I do agree with, based on Scripture.

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge this: that if One died for all, then all died;and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15

But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.
Romans 5:15-16

So yes, I do agree that Jesus did die for everyone; those that were alive, those that are alive, and all that are to come in the future.  BUT- if we accept that, then we accept that fact that we were bought with a price and that we no longer live for ourselves, but for Him.

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Corinthians 6:20

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.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
Luke 9:23-24

“But why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do the things which I say?
Luke 6:45

But be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22

So clearly, apart from Christ, there is no salvation; no justification.  Yes, it is a free gift to all, but as with any gift, it must be accepted and then you are to respond accordingly.  With gifts from friends and family do you not respond with an attitude of gratitude?  Why would you give any less to God who offers you a gift that you could never hope to earn on your own, freely?

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul,
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
Psalm 19:7-8

So why do I cite these two verses?  Because of something that I recently became aware of; the belief by Catholics that the Pope is infallible, that he speaks for God.  That truly scared me.  Let me say this plainly: he is human.  Those verses about hearts being desperately wicked and the very best a person can muster being nothing more than filthy rags?  Guess what- they apply to the Pope as well!

O my soul, you have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart form You.”
Psalm 16:2

“Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you aide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
John 15:4-5

The only good in me is the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Even with His presence, however, I am still a fallible human.  It doesn’t matter how much time I spend in prayer, at church, or singing worship songs.  I will still screw up.  Are we then to take the word of a man that is supposed to be infallible, speaking in what appears to be opposition to a list of Scriptures within the Bible?

Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.
Romans 3:4a

When all these comments hit the news outlets and it seemed as though the media was taking Francis out of context, a Vatican spokesman, Thomas Rosica, quickly made a statement to try and clarify things.

“People who know the Catholic Church cannot be saved if they refuse to enter or remain in her.”

Now at this point, I will raise my hand to say that I know the Catholic Church.  I will never “enter or remain in her” because I know that my salvation is granted by the blood of Jesus Christ not a church of man.

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
2 Peter 2:1-3

So what I feel needs to be taken to heart here is that either God or man can be infallible.  Not both.  Compare anything you hear to the Bible to find the truth.

 

CPB

Two months and counting

Two months ago, I had dinner with a long time friend.  While she thought it would just be two friends getting together to enjoy food and small talk, I freely admit I had ulterior motives going into this.

There were some things that had been eating away at me for a while and I had finally worked up the courage to follow the prodding of that little voice in the back of my mind telling me that something needed to be said.  Whereas I will generally run away from any kind of confrontation, (especially any that does not directly involve me,) this time I was walking right towards it.

I’ve known her since elementary school.  We used to be in the same Girl Scout troop, and went to the same schools all the way through High School.  While we were not always the closest of friends, we were always able to talk to each other.  After High School, as oftentimes happens, we lost track of each other for a number of years.

Over a year ago, she tracked me down on social media and we started talking again.  Messages soon turned into texting which soon turned into regular phone conversations.  We caught up on what we’d done in our lives since High School and where we were now, what was going on in our daily lives, and all the small stuff in between.

It wasn’t too long before she mentioned that in the intervening years she had come to be a follower of Jesus, sometimes went to a good Bible teaching church locally to her, and when she was in my city, attended a church that my husband and I had been attending for a while before falling away from it for, (among other reasons,) a lack of content.

Awesome!  Someone else that I could talk Bible with and get a female’s perspective of different things on.

Several months ago, she ended up relocating to my city.  It took a while, but I was finally able to get her to come out to check out the church that my husband and I had found in the interim; an honest to goodness Bible teaching church with some amazing people to boot.  She was all smiles after as the three of us had lunch together, saying that she had enjoyed it and would “definitely come back again.”

Then she and a guy that she had been on-again off-again with, started talking again and soon, were ‘dating but not going to talk about it because that creates issues.’

Without going into all of the gory details, they were soon involved in a very dangerous relationship and soon essentially living together despite them both possessing their own apartment leases.  Not surprisingly, she suddenly had no time for church.  The amount we communicated dropped dramatically and it became clear that, in her mind, since she had a guy, everything was perfect and she neither needed anyone else, nor especially, God.

Therein lies where the feeling that came over me sprouted from concerning the need to talk to her.

As I mentioned before, I have been working my way through the Self-Confrontation course compiled by the Biblical Counseling Foundation for a while now.  During the few weeks leading up to the eventful dinner, verses kept jumping out at me and bringing to my mind my friend.  Eventually, I started writing these verses down on a note card.  Before long, I had a list of more than twenty verses and could not shake the feeling that something had to be said.  She professed to be a believer.  She was currently living in a very un-biblical way, and I felt as though I would be remiss to allow her to continue down this path without trying to help her turn back to God and do things His way.

And before you cite the core verses of the course, Matthew 7:1-5 asking who am I to say anything about how she lives her life, let me assure you that I have been there, done that, bought and then burnt the shirt.  I am not proud to admit it, but I have been where she is, and know too well the damage that comes from it.  Thankfully, God was strong when I was weak and has helped me past it.  Once I finally accepted that my attempts to run my life were in fact just ruining it and surrendered completely to His will, things began to fall into place.  I soon realized that I may think I know what I want, but He has better than I could ever dream planned.

So anyway, I continually prayed about this impending dinner and studied the verses I had on my note card.  It was clear there was a theme.

“But why do you call me, “Lord, Lord,” and not do the things which I say?
Luke 6:46

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We dwell come to him and make Our home with him.  He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
John 14:23-24

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.  He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him.
1 John 2:3-4

And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.
1 John 3:22

They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
Titus 1:16

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Romans 8:5-8

And the list goes on.

I had over 20 verses that I kept seeing over and over that did nothing more than bring her to mind.

So I tried as best I could to discuss with her that I was not judging either her or her boyfriend, but rather, doing my best to be a fruit inspector and that I felt there were several things that she should take a look at, pray about, and seriously consider.  I started by mentioning to her the fruit of the spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

I explained the importance of the fact that the word is fruit, singular, not plural.  That when the Spirit is present, all of those are as well.  Not just one or two.  And then I mentioned what she had told me about her relationship and how nothing pointed to any of the qualities of the fruit of the Spirit.  What she had told me about were lusts, strife, arguments, self-seeking, and the list goes on.

I told her that I had been where she was.  That I had thought I was doing fine running my life on my own, finding my own happiness, but that eventually I came to realize I wasn’t running it, but rather ruining it.  I pointed out to her that it’s not always that you immediately get what you want, but that by following God’s commandments and serving Him, He does provide what you seek.

And whatever we ask we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.
1 John 3:22

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

But of course, she didn’t want to hear any of this.  So far as she was concerned, they were going to continue their relationship as they were regardless of what anyone else had to say about it.

I conceded that in the end, it was ultimately her choice and I could not change anything, but that I would have been remiss had I not spoken up, and that I would continue to pray for her.

She stated that they were going to proceed with their intents to purchase a house, (all on her credit,) and would likely at some point get married.  She said that she was perfectly fine with her and her boyfriend seeking out their religious paths together and attempting to find their own way; that they didn’t need help.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:23-25

But by this point, it had become abundantly clear to me that she wanted nothing of what I had to say.  I will, however, give her credit for at least attempting to make it look as though she was listening and containing her eye-rolling for the most part.

As we parted, she said several times that she was not mad at me, and that the way I had addressed her was okay because I had not come off as “preachy and judgmental” as she alleges someone else had done with her when addressing the same things.  But I could see the truth.  She was pissed.  Maybe even livid with me.  But walking in, I knew that this was the likely response.  At one point, I had even addressed that with her stating that I knew what she was hearing was upsetting her but that in reality, she wasn’t mad at me but rather, mad at God.

So a few days ago was her birthday.  I hadn’t spoken to her in any depth since that dinner, and part of me wanted to reach out to he and offer to take her out to dinner for her birthday.

But I didn’t.

The lesson that I began, just days before her birthday, (which curbed my desire to reach out to her to take her out,) was on biblical responses to the sin of another.  Yeah, pretty directed, huh?

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner- not even to eat with such a person.
1 Corinthians 15:11

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.
2 Thessalonians 3:6

And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.  Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
2 Thessalonians 3:14-15

So needless to say, I left it at a message wishing her a happy birthday and nothing more.  I know that when this relationship inevitably combusts I will hear from her again, but until then, I can only sit and pray.

 

CPB