February 2, 2007

Hi Bloggers,
Be kind and gentle with me this is my first time….Blogging.

So is this what you folks do? The time is actually 12:45 pm.

Welcome, Rick, to my little cyber playground. This is what we do in the midst of everything else we do! J And I have the blessing of a very nice group of bloggers who wander through here from time to time.

I read your blog on Choices and had a lot of questions.

I’m glad you took the time to read the epistle!

I’ll focus on this: We all have choices but sometimes we’re put in positions where our choices aren’t obvious or we are too young to know what to choose.

The first thought/verse that popped into my head regarding this statement is 1 Corinthians 10:13. “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And G-d is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

My question to you is this. Do you believe Paul was speaking truth when he stated that “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.”? Do you believe that G-d always provides a way of escape?

Do you believe that the testing of your character is found in the way you respond to difficult circumstances or in the way others around you treat you?

I think God understands that and sees beyond the sin.

Of course He does. He sees us “seated with Him in heavenly places.” He sees the end result through the mire of our flesh and sinful nature. Which is why He gave us the ability to study His Word and seek Him. Even if we aren’t able to fully comprehend everything He says to us we are always given the choice to respond according to the righteousness He has shown us. Even a small child is given the opportunity to repent and seek forgiveness for personal behavior that does not align to Scripture.

I’ve dealt with folks who have deep sin in their lives, sin which is very painful. Someone inflicted this pain on them which pushed them into a world or lifestyle they may or may not have chosen. And often times, in counseling them, you find they too have inflicted similar pain on someone else.

Free will. Do you or do you not choose your own behavior? When confronted with truth do you run away or do you embrace the truth you know and allow the Holy Spirit to “circumcise your heart” by dealing with the sin that you have embraced. Remember, Rick, I’m talking to believers here, not unbelievers who have not the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. They are lost in their sin and they are only doing what comes naturally to fallen man.

I read some stuff in this blog that concerns me and raises some questions.
Do we then kill them?

Well, I was referring to sexual abuse and a perpetrator who was both arrogant and unrepentant. According to the Torah, that is the penalty. I suppose the question I have for us all is do you or do you not choose to submit yourself to the entire Word of G-d? Do you see the “Law” or the Torah as bondage or as safety? Life or death?

And maybe it’s not as easy as saying, just get closer to God and stay away from it.

It’s as easy as saying and as difficult as living it out. I know from my life and the lives recorded in the Bible that when one does get close to G-d they will find themselves repulsed by the sin that used to be so enticing.

My mother is very heavy but telling her to just stay away from food didn’t work. If you told her that she’d feel condemned and probably run from God.

So we don’t tell people the truth because of an emotional response? Gluttony is a sin. It’s in the big lists all through Scripture. I’m not being harsh and judgmental here. I have struggled with my weight my entire life. As long as the people around me were encouraging and enabling my sinful behavior I wasn’t put in the position to challenge my own weakness. It wasn’t until a couple of friends dared to challenge my choices and risk our relationship that I was forced to deal. Do I obey the truth that I know? Or do I run from a G-d that wants good and godly behavior from me. Do I truly believe that G-d’s calling me to a higher level of obedience is a good thing?

As for “telling her to just stay away from food”? Well, if that’s the approach that you used it’s no surprise that she wasn’t receptive. Any success I’ve achieved in this area came from fellow believers who were willing to walk beside me and bear my burden along side me. I think that’s what I was saying in the “Choices” blog when I stated:

But Paul would show us a better way. Wouldn’t he? Patient, kind, gentle, not jealous or boastful, not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered, keeping no record of wrongs. Refusing to gloat over the sin of another. Taking delight in the Truth. Always bearing up, always trusting, always hoping, and always enduring. Without end.

But I think a lot of times, we in the christian community act as though people with issues just need to get over them.

I agree with you that the Christian community does choose to behave this way often. Which is why I said the following in the “Choices” post.

I suppose we could have compassion on those who aren’t able to cope with the same strength and purpose we possess. We could have grace for those who aren’t able to separate the person from the indiscretion. Identity from action. We could.

Or we could tell them to suck it up and realize that’s just how life is. If you want G-d badly enough you should be able to find Him regardless of my choices and my decisions.

We could do that. It’s rather disgusting when I realize that’s how we usually respond.

Think about your own issues (I’m saying this to me). Is it simply that easy?

Is obedience really that easy? If I know that I’m engaging in sinful behavior and I also know that G-d is calling me to live a life of repentance and holiness then it really is. I turn and walk away. And I refuse to look back and admire the sin from which I’ve been delivered. Our part is in the repentance, G-d carries us from there. He carries us often when we are kicking and screaming. Anyone who has children recognizes the struggle within a child to both obey and be independent.

It’s the whole free will issue, Rick. There is nothing in my life in which I’ve not been given a choice. Well, except for brown hair, brown eyes and being short. I was subjected to heinous abuse as a child. Yet I have not chosen to offend in that way. I’ve been treated like a second class citizen in church circles and disregarded by the very people who had, at one point, declared their support and affection for me. Yet I have still chosen to forgive them and love them regardless of their weakness. My parents have in their lifetime have not looked out for my best interest but opted to serve the community before protecting their child. But I don’t choose to parent that way.

What I see is a fundamental difference between you and I. You apparently believe, and please correct me if I’m mistaken, a persons behavior can be blamed on the influence of another even to the point of criminal and horrifically abusive behavior. I don’t. I believe G-d has given each of us responsibility over ourselves and a responsibility to others. If you would go back and read the “Choices” post again I hope you would see that I was addressing the responsibility that so many leaders in the body seem to have forgotten. Their example and purpose to encourage and bless the younger and weaker in the congregation.

I believe the issue with “club church” as you stated in your 2nd comment is this. Instead of trying to define our congregational setting by the parameters in the Word we’ve tried to create an environment where we feel good most of the time and are entertained the rest of the time. We’ve allowed 2 thousand years of tradition to superimpose itself over the clearly stated guidelines for fellowship outlined in the Law. We’ve allowed our governments to come in and begin to dictate to some extent what should be the definition of our gatherings. The board of directors and bi-laws are the basic requirement for any “church” that wants to maintain a tax-exempt status. We can’t talk about certain subjects from the pulpit because the fear of offending someone is more real than the impetus to speak the truth boldly.

Whenever the church runs into a snag they formulate a new policy, a new referendum, a new memo. Is it possible that this has happened because there are so few specific congregational issues discussed in the Renewed Covenant (New Testament)? Is it possible that in the corporate disregard of the Torah (Law) and the Tanakh (Prophets, etc) we’ve lost the guidelines G-d intended to govern our fellowship?

Rick, most of what I do here is try to spark conversation. Welcome to our little world and I hope I wasn’t too harsh or cut and dry for you. Some of that is personality, some of that is me seeking to subject my flesh and sinful nature to the truth I find in the Word. I change when I read something I don’t agree with in the Word. I change when I gain new understanding of a passage I previously believed I had “in the box”.

And some final questions for you… Is the desire for more grace evident because a person is searching for affirmation in a lifestyle they are aware doesn’t please G-d? Is the desire for more grace than we’ve already been given because we don’t understand the mercy and grace we’ve already been shown?

The only thing any of us deserve is hell. Every time we breathe, every time we gain a new depth of insight into G-d’s very nature through the study and application of His Word we are walking in grace. This is where I believe that the study of His Word is so vital. Only when we know the Truth can we be set free. Grace doesn’t set us free, mercy doesn’t set us free. Redefining the Word to fit more concisely into our world view definitely doesn’t set us free.

John 8:31-32

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

“…Hold to my teaching…” As an observant rabbi of the first century, a Pharisee and the perfect sacrifice according to the Torah, what, exactly, do you suppose His teaching was?