Freedom. Truth. Marriage.

My thoughts on these things. Feel free to leave feedback.

“Money is the root of all evil”

Some people say the Bible declares that money is the root of all evil. What the Bible actually says is, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Tim. 6:10)

This website explains it well.

Truth takeaway: Money isn’t evil. The love and worship of money leads to all kinds of evil.ThingsWeSaw

“The eyes are the window to the soul”

ThingsWeSawThis saying comes from the passage in Matthew 6:22-23 that says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

Eye contact often establishes a connection even in people who are just talking together. We can look into the eyes of our children, or our spouses, and see more than what they are saying verbally.  The passage in Matthew emphasizes that we need to be careful what we look at. David mentioned being careful what we gaze upon in Psalm 101:3. So did Job in Job 31:1.

At a place I used to work, we had to keep the TV on the news all of the time, in case a major event occurred. I found that when I watched the news, with all the controversy and commentaries, I got agitated and unsettled at the wrong going on in the world. I had to make a decision to not watch the news and avoid certain parts of the newspaper (I found the comics are pretty safe).

Truth takeaway: While not explicitly expressed in the Bible, the eyes’ connection to the soul is undeniable. It’s a good idea for us to guard what we read and look at.

What I learned in San Francisco.

This last week I took a trip with the family to San Francisco. If you know me, you know that I’ve typically considered California – particularly that part – the equivalent to Sodom and Gomorrah. So I went and I kept a wary eye open. Here’s what I came away with.

While I was running around the Bay Area and Northern California I saw no rainbow stickers on cars.  Of the other car decorations (Darwin “fish”, “Coexist” stickers) that typically cause me to bristle, I saw less in San Fran than I see in Ft. Worth. What I didn’t see: drag queens, a bunch of gays doing open PDA, hippies, or angry libs.  I also didn’t see some things I usually see in Texas. I didn’t see strip clubs. Nor billboards advertising strip clubs on every freeway. In Texas, if you travel any US or interstate highway for at least 60 miles you’ll drive by at least one “porn shack” (adult video store/theater). I didn’t see any of those either.  Also in Texas, if you go in a mens’ restroom (especially in public parks) you’ll find men who leave their phone numbers and sexual requests written on the bathroom wall. I never saw any of that either in Cali. The fact is, I see more flaunting of pornography, strippers, and homosexuality in North Central Texas than I did in Northern California.

The Bible belt appears to be less sexually moral than San Francisco.

I was really expecting someone to comment about my accent (especially as I realized how many times I say “fixin’ to.”)  Everyone I did talk to was friendly and helpful. Those that weren’t originally from Texas seemed cool with Texas. Whether in Tahoe City, San Francisco, or the wine country. The only person conscious of my accent or my home state was me.

It made me think of how things are in my Bible Belt town and Bible Belt circles. People that go to various churches in my town can’t even get along with other people from the other churches. That’s why we have 3 Southern Baptist churches that are all pretty much the same format. People within the churches can’t agree on what should be considered “proper” worship music. Think of some of the most controversial topics in evangelical circles:

Contemporary style vs traditional.
Hymns vs praise songs
Arminianism vs Calvinism
Cessationism vs Continuationism
Freewill vs Election
Once saved always saved vs Losing salvation
Us vs Them

All of these – All. Of. These. – are all different views that can be supported by Scripture and argued against by other Scripture. We consider ourselves the bearers of “real truth,” fortifying our doctrine with select verse and interpretations. Meanwhile we’re snuffing out our own light trying to throw water on the other side of the argument. None of those topics I mentioned are without flaws, holes, and misinterpretation. Yet we’ll stand our righteous ground like a Texan holds to his opinion about San Francisco without ever actually having gone there. And, like I was, we probably know we’re not really “right” but we can’t convince ourselves of that.

Am I making sense here?

Often what causes a negative opinion is a bad experience. Some people throw out spiritual gifts like healing and prophecy because they’ve seen them misused by charismatic churches. I’ve heard people who favor traditional worship dismiss contemporary worship because praise songs are repetitive.  Another cause of a negative opinion is when we read something that sounds agreeable then filter our Bible reading based on our new ideas. Then we feed ourselves only stuff we agree with, thinking our way is the ultimate truth. If the definition of “doctrine” isn’t “my opinion about what God says, as incomplete as it may be,” it probably should be.  After I’m done studying for this test for work, I think I’m going to pick an author who I usually wouldn’t and read one book of theirs.

Since when is it a good idea to develop a doctrine about the Bible, then try to place what is eternal and the very definition of life into our little doctrine box? Instead of tossing the pendulum back and forth, can we not just put it in the middle and leave it there? Or maybe, just maybe, we need to realize that the real Biblical truth lies somewhere in the middle of our polar views.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t know what we believe. We just need to realize that these hot buttons aren’t the complete picture and we need to quit hanging our faith on them. Just like it was completely silly for me to be so judgmental about another city’s culture. As I found out, where I’m from actually had the bigger plank of the place whose speck I ridiculed so much.

What’s dissolving the influence of Christianity in this country isn’t just Hollywood or liberals. It’s Christians trying to fit church and Jesus around what they want, and not what actually ispendulum.

Stopping to Re-Crew

W198336_10152272374215006_177255559_nhen a train goes across country, every now and then it changes crews. A fresh crew gets on and drives the train another several hundred miles. After 12 hours the crew gets government mandated rest. This way they’re fresh and rested before operating another train.

In a mens’ study our church did one of the questions it asked us to look at pertained to belief. One night the session brought up these: We often know something and then convince ourselves that we believe it. We may know something is true but our belief is what we act – what we live on. Many Christians cover the lies we believe with the knowledge we have acquired in church. With that, they say, it’s not possible to live contrary to what I believe. It is possible to live contrary to what I think I believe.

So my question to me (and you) is this: What do I really believe? About God. About his moral standards. About marriage. About…anything.

After a few weeks of digging deep for my own answers I’ve come to the conclusion. I need to keep digging. It’s time for me to step off the train and get some mandated rest. And get some answers.

I have a few more posts I’ve written that I’ll put up so they’ll publish. Once those are done this blog will be on hiatus for awhile.

Thank you for your understanding.

Are there pets in heaven?

This is a sensitive subject to many but I felt it really needed addressing from a Biblical perspective.

When you think of the reason why people love their pets one of the first things that comes to mind is unconditional devotion. They don’t desert us or talk about us. Even when they get angry and disappointed with us, they don’t hold a grudge. They are always glad to see us. They depend on us and give us something to care for – something we can pour into. We can be vulnerable with them without fear of being hurt. We often get attached to our animals for these reasons.

Ideally these are qualities we should be able to find in human relationships. Ask someone to picture the ideal friend or parent and you’ll get similar descriptions. We turn to our animals to get what people can’t or won’t give us. For many, people have hurt them so bad in the past, they prefer relationships with animals over people.  There was a house fire in the city I work in where a dog was rescued. A photo that went viral showed a chief fire officer affectionately comforting the dog. One commenter online said (paraphrase), “I would go in and rescue the dogs before I would the people.” Others echoed the sentiment. I’m glad I don’t have to depend on them to save my life.

Naturally, those we love we’d like to see in heaven some day. From that we buy in to the hope that there will be dogs and cats in heaven. (Notice that people rarely talk about other animals such as skunks and snakes in heaven). We love to think that the best thing about eternal life is those loved ones we haven’t seen, or would like to see – including our favorite pet.

Some verses suggest there may be animals (Isa. 11:6-9). There will be animal like creatures in heaven but the descriptions of them in the Bible are so beyond what we have here on earth it seems crazy to us – 4 wings, 7 horns, head of a lion, etc. etc. Yet no mention is made about our specific pets being with reunited with us. The animals in heaven may not be earthly animals that have died and came back to life. These may be whole, newly created animals.

Of all the creatures of the earth only humans received the breath of God. Only people have had eternity put in their hearts (Eccl 3:10-11). Only humans were made clean by God-incarnate coming to die just for us. Based on that I’m doubting any other created item (animal or otherwise) on this earth will be reborn to be present in the spiritual realm of heaven. There may be newly created creatures, but not ones dead on earth then reborn again.

If anyone reading this has ever spent time in prayerful meditation or worship, and experienced the presence of God, or heard the voice of God speaking to you, I can tell you there’s nothing like it. It’s a combination of admirable, fearful respect, and peace such that even if you were to fall over dead you’d be over-joyed; an all-filling unconditional love. There’s nothing like it. When we’re in his presence eternally no one else there will matter. I don’t think anyone is going to be overjoyed by seeing a pet. I don’t think anyone is going to notice their pet isn’t even there. Things that brought us comfort and joy in this life (close friends, loved ones, pets) won’t compare to being in God’s presence.

Truth takeaway: As humans we are eternal. There is no scripture supporting that our animals have eternal life. When we’re in heaven, we’re going to be so enamored by the presence of the Creator Himself, other created beings will be a much lesser part of our concern.

Freedom takeaway: When we realize how good we’ll have it in heaven, in the presence of God, just being there. Why get hung up on what won’t be? 1 Corinthians 2:9 says nothing has seen, heard, or entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love him.

For more reading and scriptural explanation on this check out this page.

 

“This too shall pass.”

While this phrase is often attributed to Solomon, it’s not actually found anywhere in Scripture. Upon researching it most sources say “this too shall pass” originated from medieval Persian Sufi poets. It’s often attached to a fable of a great king who is humbled by the simple words. This phrase first became popular in the 19th century. It was used by Abraham Lincoln before he became president.

Wikipedia has an article about it here.

Truth takeaway: Things will pass, good and bad. But thThingsWeSawe Lord, his Word, and his Kingdom will be forever.

“Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.”

Here’s another “Stuff We Say” that has been addressed by someone else better than what I could have. Here’s the link that explains the truth behind “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.” While this article is simply their interpretation and opinion, it’s one I agree with.

Truth takeaway: Yes, idle, lazy hands are “the devil’s workshop.” We are to be busy with God’s work. Sure sometimes we need to rest. Sitting around doing nothing will make it easier for us to be doing something we don’t need to be.

(Disclaimer: While I don’t agree with all the answers on Gotquestions.com, this is one subject that I felt they covered very well and truthfully.)

ThingsWeSaw

“Hate the sin, love the sinner.”

In our society and cultural debates these days, this one comes up often. I’ve used it a lot myself. To me, it just sounds “right.” But what sounds right to us and what the Bible declares as truth isn’t always the same. I was really eager to look into this saying to determine its truthfulness. The phrase itself is actually a quote from Mahatma Ghandi. So is it Biblical?

A lot of the time I’ll find one of these sayings. As I’m looking into the history of it and comparing it with the Bible I’ll find what others have said about it. This is one of those where I feel like someone has already explained it, and has provided good Scripture to support their explanation.

This link explains the truth behind “Hate the sin; love the sinner.” While this article is simply their interpretation and opinion, it’s one I agree with.

Truth takeaway: We tend to treat people based on what they’ve done wrong. This is wrong in itself. No matter how heinous the offense they’ve committed they are loved by God. The same God that loves you and me. Their actions/behaviors that are incited by the Evil One are to be hated, but not the people.

Freedom takeaway: If we could remember to see people the way God does – as children needing loved – how would we deal with those we’d normally shun? What would it be like to be able to deal with people without having disgust for their actions cloud our dealing with them or praying for them?

ThingsWeSaw

Idolatry in America – Are we guilty?

In the verse in 2 Chronicles 7:14 it says “…seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways;” I think this is where Christian Americans are falling short.

Last time, I said I’d get back to the matter of idolatry. Idolatry is letting anything else take priority in our heart, thoughts, actions, over God, his will and his commands. Idolatry is wickedness to God – a wicked way we’re supposed to turn from. Idolatry is also the opposite of seeking his face. We might ask, what do God-fearing Christians put before God?

Entertainment – When we know more about pop-culture and stars’ lives than what the Bible says about our life and the life of Christ.
Sports – When we know more sports stats than Scripture, and the conversation standing the line to receive communion is about the game later (yes I witnessed this more than once).
Political party – When our behavior towards the opposite party doesn’t exhibit fruit of the Spirit; our party views contradict the Word of God; when our ability to love and reach out to a member of the other party is clouded by anger and resentment.
Patriotism – Using worship service time to sing patriotic hymns to our country instead of solely to God; an attitude of praise, worship, and reverence to the flag.  I’m not knocking patriotism in and of itself. I am knocking the practice of using worship time to sing songs that are more patriotic (“National Anthem”, “America the Beautiful”) and less worshiping of God.

God does not share allegiance. God is not American. While he has blessed this country, he doesn’t owe the U.S.A. any special loyalty. He has a people and they are not Americans. Regardless of how God has blessed us, we have squandered that blessing by lifting up the flag and the nation of the U.S. over the Kingdom of God. And what we’re seeing is him slowly take that away from us. Our source of pride and true object of worship in our hearts is being removed. God doesn’t want “God and country.” He wants “God!”

Why should he answer our prayers? We ignore “lesser” sins while railing against other sins.  He condemns jealousy alongside homosexuality (Gal 5:19-21, Mark 7:21-22). Also, Christians are stereotypically unhealthy enjoyers of the Potluck, which is gluttony. In Isaiah 9:8-12 it tells the story of the tribe Ephraim. They were attacked and with arrogance and stubborn defiance essentially said “We will rebuild everything bigger and better than before.” Does this not remind us of America’s attitude after 9-11? God ended up punishing Ephraim because instead of repenting humbly and turning to him, they declared, “We will rebuild!”

This is a call to return to God. Not by pressuring our local politicians to have prayer in schools or posting the Ten Commandments in public. Return to God by fasting (yes, not eating – Matt 6:16, Joel 2:12). By seeking God’s forgiveness because we put God with country. Because we love our lives and freedom more than His will. Because our pursuit of personal happiness means more to us than giving our lives for the good of His Kingdom. Our very identity is in Christ . Our citizenship needs to reflect our eternal citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven. Not in the United States.

How do we need to live? Cast away everything that entangles us and dedicate our hearts – all that is us – for whatever He has us do (Jer. 24:7, 29:13, Joel 2:12; 2Kings 10:31; Luke 9:23, 10:27). No matter the cost. We do this as individuals first. Not for America but for the one who Created us.

Please prayerfully consider what I’ve said. Please consider what attitude God would have you hold on to. Thank you for reading.

 

“God wants me to be happy.”

How many times have we heard about, read about, or know someone who excused a decision by this phrase: “God wants me to be happy.”

Does he want us to be happy? Within the bounds of his standards, I believe he does. He wants us to find our happiness in Him. Unfortunately most of the time when people say God wants them to be happy, they’re pursuing happiness apart from God’s will for us.

Biblical happiness isn’t found in stuff of this earth – physical, material, or even emotional. Nowhere in the Bible does God look fondly on one who rebels against his standards. Including for one’s own happiness.

One word that conveys happiness in the New Testament is “makarios.” It’s usually translated as “blessed.” God does want to bless us. But that blessing is most often dependent on our obedience (Ps 103:17-18; Jn 8:31; 2Cor 7:15). “Makarios” is found in the the Sermon on the Mount, and the book of Revelation (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14). Another Greek word is “euthymei” which means “be of good cheer.” This is found in James 5:13. In the OT the Hebrew term is “ashre.” It means “blessed,” “happy,” “elated.” It’s found in 2 Chronicles 9:7. That will be all for today’s ancient language lesson.

God has often asked those that truly follow him to make decisions that will make them unhappy. Choosing not to deny Christ as you’re being martyred doesn’t sound very happy. There are times when exacting revenge on someone would’ve made me a lot happier than forgiving them. This idea of “I deserve to by happy because… And if I’m not happy, I should be allowed to do whatever to be happy. Nothing else matters,” is ridiculous! And I’m talking about born-again believers here.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter if someone else is going to get hurt, people will still think that God is blessing their decision. “But God gave us free will.” Yes, he did. We have free will, but it’s not without consequences. If you choose to have unprotected sex with multiple partners, statistically, you will get a non-curable STD. That’s a consequence of free-will. If you choose to be unfaithful to your spouse (even in an internet chat room) you may likely face the consequence of losing your family and home in an ugly divorce.

Truth takeaway: God wants us to be happy in following his will; staying within his standards. Because he knows that’s the the only place real peace and contentment are found. Outside of that, your happiness is irrelevant. What God really wants is personal sanctification (set-apartness) from us.

Freedom takeaway: By living a life where our happiness comes from walking with the Lord in personal holiness, we’ll be truly happy and blessed. We’ll be free from chasing happiness that leads nowhere.

ThingsWeSaw

 

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