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Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

Voice

‎[to God:] 

“Then call, and I will answer; 

or let me speak, 

then You respond to me.” 

~ Job 13:22

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Media (books and movies) should not be censored.  Original authors may censor their own works, in a sense, by omitting immoral content.  Should this resolution be adopted, there would be no fast-forwarding unwanted scenes in movies.  Ideally there would be no need to fast forward, since creators of media would not put inappropriate things in their works.  But this highlights a clash of values, where the artist and consumer may not agree on what is appropriate.  Refusing censorship increases freedom.  As a consumer, you have the freedom to reject a whole work – but you should not take someone else’s work and chop it up to use for your own ends.  This applies market pressure on producers to only present works whose content is not morally objectionable.  Ratings could be helpful in deciding ahead of time whether to watch a movie or read a book.  Or ratings could be a form of censorship, especially as the government limits audiences based on ratings.  Governments having the right to censor gives them too much power over the education of the populace.  Movie ratings of R and NC-17 have legal restrictions associated with them.  The government also controls who is sold “mature” materials.  Does it control who views them?  Is there a legal penalty for, say, parents letting their children view NC-17 films?  Individuals are welcome to censor for themselves, or for children, so long as they censor in whole.  Why is censorship a bad thing?  Objectionable content and explicit material sometimes get an idea across in the way the creator thinks is best or most powerful.  Explicit material negatives may outweigh the positives of being exposed to a new idea, for some consumers.  Also media tends to be complex with multiple subpoints versus one whole idea – so you may only be censoring a subpoint by fast forwarding one scene.  How do we judge criteria for including (whether the idea is important enough to be presented via explicit material)?  If the consumer is to make his own judgment call, how can he before viewing the piece and seeing how the scene ties in with the entirety?

Proverbs says*: the righteous foresee danger and take precautions. The fool goes on and suffers the harm, so we ought to prepare to live in third world conditions.  Third world conditions are defined as being without running water, electricity, plumbing, or transportation systems (for some examples).  The reason we should be ready is to survive and to help others survive.  We need to plan, to figure out what will be the most effective means of survival.  Stockpiling food is probably not a good long-term strategy.  Stock-piling guns so we can take food from other people or to hunt for more food was suggested, arguing that there is a concentration of food in the city that would not quickly run out.  But there is a difficulty of transporting food from where found and grown to where people are gathered in cities.  So maybe we should spread out, buy several acres and start a commune.  It would need to be protected well, grow food, raise goats and chickens.  And if the goal is survival, we might want to make sure that the members have skills needed to contribute to the commune (and exclude those who wouldn’t be assets).  Is this a realistic foreseen danger, that our country will suffer third world conditions?  Why should we believe that the prophets foreseeing this danger are righteous (or prudent as in the verse) and that we ought to follow their “wisdom”?  Reasons for suspecting upcoming danger are: specialization of skills, and the direction of our economy.  Is prevention possibly more important than preparation, and how should we balance these in priority with limited time?  Are we putting too much emphasis on one proverb or teaching?  Is not the proverb referring to an imminent danger seen just ahead – not a risk of possible danger?  How would we do this and store up treasure in heaven?  There are other benefits of preparing skills that could be useful even if the danger does not come to pass.  It would be unwise to not prepare at all.  What about “seeking first thekingdom ofGod” because our heavenly Father knows our needs?  The ability to produce necessities could help neighbors, whom we are commanded to love.

*Proverbs 27:12 (NLT, closest I could find to what was quoted in the resolution) says: “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”

A healthy marriage is one that fights… WELL.  Fighting well is defined as with respect but no violence and without avoiding the conflict.  Never fighting is bad.  An assumption was made that there will be internalization of an offense, leading to growing bitterness, if it is not addressed between them.  The other extreme is that of violence, doing injury to one another.  A good marriage is in the middle, acknowledging and dealing with disagreement as a couple.  If the wife is obedient, isn’t there no fighting?  How does fighting well contribute to the purpose of marriage?  If conflict exists, married couples must deal with it well.  But is the existence of conflict a sign of a good marriage?  How frequently should conflict arise to prove a good marriage?  Is fighting the best way to deal with it?  Is conflict sinful?  The debaters speaking seemed frequently to assume that conflicts arose when one person sinned against another, but are there other reasons for conflict?  Is fighting sinful?  When you fight you have to work through a disagreement.  Repentance (of sin if there was sin causing the conflict) is more important than fighting. Why doesn’t the wife just submit as a way of dealing with it?  A wife should sharpen her husband (as opposed to always being silent and never expressing a dissenting opinion).  An example was given of a polygamous marriage in which one wife is sharpening her husband because that is the sort of relationship they have, but the other wives are to submit quietly and contribute to the household (think Jacob and his four wives, Rachel being the one he really wanted the emotional relationship with).  Assuming there is conflict, fighting badly and avoiding the conflict would not, either one, be productive responses.  A good marriage is one that communicates, that works as a team, and those virtues are hindered by the bad extremes of dealing with conflict.  A couple should decide in conference whether an issue is worth fighting about, and if not, let it go.  Allowing bitterness to grow (through avoiding conflict or not) is sinful.  It is a spouse’s spiritual duty as a Christian ‘brother’ to confront sin.  But it is less important to fight about non-sin.

Entertainment is wrong.  Entertainment defined as anything you do simply for pleasure or fun.  If you have more purposes, it is not entertainment.  Entertainment has unintended benefits.  Why would it be wrong?  It distracts from beneficial behavior.  It causes people to ignore good works.  It selfishly seeks gratification.  Laziness is bad.  Could we just say that entertainment shouldn’t be placed above something more beneficial?  Should people always do the most beneficial thing?  Being conscious of your motives is essential.  Are there other restrictions on fun or pleasure besides motives – extravagance of spending, content, frequency?  There is such a thing as Christian pleasure.  We are not choosing between something fun and some good work, but good works that can also be fun – or at least bring us pleasure as we honor God with our lives.  Friendship is impoverished when people cannot connect on pleasures and interests.  Does this resolution lead to justifying entertainment by adding other motives?  Or do we add entertainment to other central motives so that we get enough fun in?

In the following resolution, ‘Church’ is defined as the assembling of Christians as described in the New Testament.  Because Pigfests are so much like Church, we should let women be silent.  (This was my resolution, and as a female, I refused to say anything more after this for fifteen minutes.  A few women continued to contribute, but the debate was mostly carried by the men present.)  Pigfests are not enough like Church, in that they are not claiming to be church; only then could rules about Church apply.  Churches, definitionally, have leadership structures that Pigfests lack.  Is women’s silence useful for something in particular?  (after a pause in conversation) Things get decided faster!  The New Testament says that where two or more believers are gathered, that is Church.  So if Christians are driving in a car, the women shouldn’t talk?  If only two Christian women are present there would be no talking?  That would make for less gossip (though men gossip also).  Is a Pigfest more like church than those (in car, 2 women) gatherings?  New Testament Church was a gathering devoted to doctrine, teaching, and reading the Word of God.  New Testament church gathered for edification (one of the stated purposes for Pigfests).  New Testament Church is for worship.  Where is the verse about women being silent?  There is a scarcity of conversation when men who are used to women participating are faced with women being silent.  1 Corinthians 14:34 was read: “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.” (NKJV)/“Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.” (NIV)  The verses assume that women are present, listening.  A husband or father can benefit in at least two ways from the “asking at home” in verse 35: 1) He needs to pay extra attention to be able to answer, 2) The man has the responsibility to participate at Church, whereas the woman just observes and has a more objective perspective.  These two perspectives are joined at home through the personal interaction with the women who saved up questions and thoughts.  How do unmarried women get their questions answered?  (In jest, it was suggested that unmarried women did not belong at church and should be out finding husbands instead.)  Unmarried women can learn from fathers.  Most “churches” in theUnited States let women speak.  Does silence mean what we think?  Why ‘let’?  Corinthians also says a few chapters before that women praying and prophesying in Church should have their heads covered, allowing speaking in some circumstances.  Both passages deal with subjection and are perhaps driving at a deeper concept that would be applicable at Pigfests.

Churches should draft all attendees to serve in preschool nursery care during service.  (My summary is not based on notes for this one, but on memory of segments caught while I was preparing dinner in the adjacent room.)  Assumes churches have nurseries.  Give visitors a few weeks before requiring them to serve.  Should service be determined by gifting, desire, request of elders/deacons, or by mandatory rule?  What are the dangers of having someone who is not a Christian or who knows nothing about taking care of children serving in those ministries?  Why are parents often expected to serve when they’re the most burnt out?  Specifically mentioned was the class of empty-nesters and older people who could be a help to young parents.  Parents need a break from children.  Why this ministry above others?  Evangelizing children is so important because you are so much more likely to get a conversion from people before they reach adulthood.  And the kids are ready to be learning truths about God and stories from the Bible that will benefit them their whole lives.  But is that what Church is for?  The same people tend to serve in many ministries and get burnt out, but a draft would ensure that those accustomed to coming to church as only consumers would contribute.  (Again, I apologize for not having more detailed notes.)

Fasting is bribing God to do what you want Him to do.  Does it always work – that God gives us what we want when we fast?  The Bible does say, of fasting, that God rewards what is done in secret.  But that reward might not be granting what we ask.  Bribery is wrong when it perverts justice.  Fasting is different from prayer.  It puts us in the mindset or mood to accept God’s will.  But people in the Bible initiate fasting when they really want something (example of Esther).  Are there other motives than asking God for something?  Should we fast merely to be open to find what God’s will is?  The act of fasting, apart from God “answering” in some way, practices self-denial and being open.  The hunger is a reminder that we are hungering for other things.  It helps us remember to pray, to practice for or relate to famine and starvation in the world.  Jesus talked about praying in secret and fasting in secret, not seeking the praise of men.  Jesus’ disciples did not fast, Jesus said, because they had the bridegroom with them.  So fasting is an appropriate response when separated, a sort of mourning.  Is Jesus with us now?  Matthew 6 contains Jesus’ teaching on fasting.  Feasting is the opposite of fasting.  Jesus also said that some demons came out by prayer and fasting.  Why did Jesus fast for 40 days?  Does the Old Testament Law have instructions for fasting, especially why?  Was there some tradition of fasting when separated from a bridegroom?  Husbands and wives, in 1 Corinthians 7, are allowed to be separate from each other only for a time of fasting.

Premarital sex is not wrong; you just have to marry the person.  Is marriage, then, to be seen as a penalty?  Paying the dowry was also required by the Old Testament law.  Fornication is often forbidden in the Bible.  The Hebrew and Greek words translated fornication are mostly associated with harlotry, or descriptions of sexual immorality or sin which would include the other sins listed in the Old Testament Law: incest, homosexuality, beastiality, rape, and adultery.  Is a male paying for dinner sufficient payment for relations to be considered prostitution?  If the woman cooks a man dinner, is she paying him?  What is the penalty in the Mosaic Law for visiting a prostitute?  Is almost barely permissible really “ok”?  What if the woman doesn’t want to marry the man?  Are they then sinning?  If the father refused, in the Old Testament, they didn’t have to marry.  It is not beneficial to prove that unwise things (as being debated: premarital sex) aren’t sinful.  Would the couple be sinning if they repeatedly had sex before they were married?  Is there a time limit before they must marry?  What is the impact of telling people they’re sinners if they aren’t sinning before God?  There are positive instructions in the Bible to keep our bodies pure, not prostituting them.  Women, at least, are also told to be chaste – and what is the definition for that?  The Old Testament allowed a man to annul his marriage if he discovered that the woman he married was not pure – not a virgin.  Is it a fair argument that because the Mosaic Law does not treat premarital sex with the same consequence (death) as other sexual sins, that it is not immoral or sinful?  The law about requiring a couple to marry is a protection for a woman, who gets one chance to choose whom she marries.  It is better, Paul said, to marry than to burn – not to give in to the burning and then get married.  What are we doing to teens who engage in this behavior but are not encouraged to marry?

*A Pigfest is 15 minutes long, and I am glad that such a topic cannot be thoroughly explored in that time.  Pigfest topics often spur further conversation, study, and debate after the party has ended.  I am aware of many such discussions and investigations following this particular resolution.  In the interest of spurring people on to holiness, I am adding some notes that were not covered in the debate.  1) It is almost impossible for premarital sex to occur without sinning in some other way – especially in dishonoring parents.  2) If Jesus’ relationship with the Church is to be well-pictured by weddings and marriages of Christians, then there will be abstinence until marriage.  Abstinence also accords with the way God instituted marriage.  3) As our ceremony and vows are not described in biblical accounts of weddings, it is hard to determine what constitutes a marriage before God.  However, the act of intercourse, it is made clear by the law in question, is not sufficient to make one married.  4) The biblical understanding of harlotry comprised more than our modern understanding of prostitutes for hire; it very likely included all premarital sex.  5) Christian virtue calls for purity, self-control, fleeing youthful lusts.  6) Marriage that is supposed to be a life-long commitment, recognizing submission as ordained by God – not governed by force or passion – is not starting out on a good foot if it is begun in insubordination to parents, giving in to lusts, and letting self control rather than be controlled.  7) We ought to hold Christians to the high standard of God, and in the New Testament era, to exercise church discipline on those unrepentant about their sin – so long as we identify sin for what it is.  8) Christians should be clear on the source of their understanding of what constitutes sin.

Betrothal should last at least one year consisting of spending a lot of supervised time with no physical intimacy.  Why so long?  Can you back out of a betrothal?  Parents would be more comfortable giving their child in marriage after such a year.  In that year a couple could learn about conflict resolution and be more mature about their relationship.  The goal would be less divorce, discovering compatibility.  Pre-arranged marriages (which had basically no interaction before the wedding) also have less divorce and are more mature, since they start with a commitment to work through the marriage.  Short engagements save you from temptation.  Should we be saved from temptations?  Long engagements enable you to save money for a wedding.  It is possible (preferable?) to know people well before you get engaged so that you wouldn’t need a year-long betrothal to get to know them.  Shouldn’t Christians just be able to have a good marriage with anyone else who is a Christian?  Why do we need all these conditions and preparations?  (For example, arranged marriages work in many cultures.)  Parents know their kids well.  Who better to decide whom they should marry?  God might know better.  It would be beneficial, in the proposed betrothal situation, to have that support and accountability that comes from the supervision.  But wouldn’t such support and accountability be just as useful if it were instituted at the beginning of a marriage?  Should community help (not supervision) end at the wedding?  Church discipline should be an option for divorce or marital problems, a further example of accountability after the wedding.  There is value in a vow.  Following people with church discipline (the only way to effectively do it in this age of church choice and denominations) can get you sued.  Do the right thing anyway; help couples to have a good relationship and hold them accountable for sin.  A show of hands revealed that there was almost unanimous support present for short engagements.  When people get married for love, then the ‘butterflies’ go away and they don’t feel like being married any more.  (Would the butterflies go away because of the year-long highly supervised, get to know each other very well betrothal?)  Some husbands ‘testified’ that the butterflies haven’t gone away.  Awwww….

Gluttony is one of the most prevalent and least talked about sins in America.  The silence is surprising given the number of health problems related to gluttony.  Gluttony is defined as desirous of food to the point where you put it above God.  How would it be put above God?  Testimony was reported of one whose “soul reached out to eating food,” that it was a focus of his life.  If gluttony was so prevalent, more people would be 400 pounds.  But there can be gluttony even in a culture with much higher risks of suffering starvation.  Gluttons desire to eat – and they aren’t picky about eating good food; in this way as in other ways, it is similar to drunkenness.  It is, however, harder to tell when a person is being gluttonous.  Obesity or lack thereof is not proof of gluttony – or of not being a glutton.  It is not gluttonous to occasionally, at feasts (think Thanksgiving), eat too much.  Why does our culture address it – when it does – as a health issue or a corporate issue instead of as sin?  The main verses addressing gluttony were found and read, particularly those in Deuteronomy and Proverbs.  Bulimia – partaking without consequences of nourishment – might be related to gluttony, though it is likely associated with other mental health (spiritual?) issues more.  If someone struggles with gluttony, it should be treated as sin – and deliverance should be sought by acknowledging it to be sin.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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A friend recently asked an interesting question on his Facebook status.  He said “Are spiritual gifts rewards?”  What followed was a discussion that went a certain way because of the things that his friends had been thinking about.  It wasn’t a simple, abstract, objective discussion.  I have been reading Andrew Murray on the Holy Spirit, and it is frustrating me.  He teaches that we are utterly dependent on God, and that we ought to wait on His power and guidance instead of being self-directed.  But he also says that the reason many Christians have not received a Pentecostal manifestation and ongoing filling of the Holy Spirit is because they do not want it, have not surrendered to it.  I don’t like this because it puts the gifts of God out of the realm of grace, leaving people feeling anxious that though there is a gift they want and which God wants to give, they must do more to persuade God to give it to them.  They must be doing something wrong.  But are they under conviction about any sin?  Does God not hear their pleas for deliverance from sin, for power to be God’s vessels in the Church and the world?  Does He judge them as insincere who cry out for this gift?

 

But maybe God doesn’t always work in bursts like that.  Maybe He doesn’t want our goal to be the acquisition of some particular gift.  When I searched deeply for what really bothered me about Andrew Murray’s teaching, I found that I believe God wants daily faithfulness, that He sanctifies us as we follow Him.  And my Facebook friend pointed out that in this life the sanctification and maturing will not end.  We should not be content – Andrew Murray advocates discontent with our mediocre spiritual experiences.  But even if our experiences are not mediocre, we shouldn’t be content.  We shouldn’t ever feel that we’ve reached our own ideal of spiritual intimacy, so we need not desire or pursue any more.

 

This brings to mind Philippians 3:12-14, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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The Bible talks a lot about sacrifice, about waiting and hoping. But lately I’ve been thinking about how it talks about rewards and reaping and feasting. I don’t have any specific questions except: what do you know about those?

 

UNFURL: “…he bore a tall staff, as it were a standard, but it was close-furled in a black cloth bound about with many thongs. ‘It is a gift that I bring you from the Lady of Rivendell. She wrought in secret, and long was the making. But she also sends word to you: The days now are short. Either our hope cometh, or all hopes end. Therefore I send thee what I have made for thee. Fare well, Elfstone!’ ”

“Behold! Upon the foremost ship a great standard broke, and the wind displayed it as she turned towards the Harlond. There flowered a White Tree, and that was for Gondor; but Seven Stars were about it, and a high crown above it, the signs of Elendil that no lord had borne for years beyond count. And the stars flamed in the sunlight, for they were wrought of gems by Arwen daughter of Elrond; and the crown was bright in the morning, for it was wrought of mithril and gold. Thus came Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elessar, Isildur’s heir, out of the Paths of the Dead, borne upon a wind from the Sea to the kingdom of Gondor…” – JRR Tolkien, The Return of the King

 

FRUIT – “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 15:5

 

FULFILLMENT – “He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.” – Psalm 145:19
“For I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” – Luke 22:16
“But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.” – John 17:13

 

REAP – “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.’ – Psalm 126:5-6
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” – Galatians 6:9

 

PERFECT – “YHWH will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O YHWH, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.” – Psalm 138:8

 

BURGEON – to begin to grow, as a bud; put forth buds, shoots, etc., as a plant. (dictionary.com) “For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord YHWH will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” – Isaiah 61:11

 

FINISH – Jesus is the finisher. He does finish. “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2
“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” – Philippians 1:6

 

CULMINATE – “And the 2nd day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. So they did 6 days. But it came to pass on the 7th day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the city 7 times in the same manner. On that day only they marched around the city 7 times.

And the 7th time it happened, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people: “Shout, for the LORD has given you the city!”… So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.

Joshua 6:14-20

 

CONSUMMATION – completion. perfection; fulfillment. (dictionary.com)
Not an ending, though… Sometimes completion is a good place to start. Congrats to my cousin and his new bride!

JUBILEE – “His deep desire was for forgiveness; He longed to see their liberty & His yearning was embodied in the Year of Jubilee. At the Lord’s appointed time His deep desire became a Man, the heart of all true jubilation & with joy we understand: in His voice we hear a trumpet sound that tells us we are free! He is the incarnation of the Year of Jubilee.”

“And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.” – Leviticus 25:10

 

FEAST – “And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.” – Exodus 34:22

FEAST – “And in this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees… And it will be said in that day: “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” – Isaiah 25:6, 9

FEAST – “Then he said to me, Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God.” – Revelation 19:9

 

CELEBRATE – “Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps.” – Nehemiah 12:27

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Fifteen adults and ten kids filled the house of my friends and long time fellow Pigfesters for a Pigfest of their own this weekend.  There was a craft project (pig masks) for the kids, and plenty of farm-fare for our feast.  Lasting about four hours total, we covered five full-length debates and two miniature ones (something introduced last year at the Pigfest of June 2010).  The three guests who had never before participated in a Pigfest all jumped in with the appropriate gusto.

 

The so-named “Great Commission” applies only to the 11 original apostles, and as it is poor hermeneutics to force its expansion to all Christians, we ought to demote its greatness.  (Mark 16:14-18) was read.  Evangelism would still not be out of order, but it is not – as is commonly preached to believers – commanded to everyone.  “Those who believe” in Mark’s account of Jesus’ final command would then refer not to all who are likewise preaching the gospel, but to those who have received the apostles’ message with faith (certain signs are predicted to “follow those who believe.”)  Both Matthew and Mark specify that Jesus was speaking to the eleven apostles when He gave the commission.  Did Jesus expect only those eleven men to reach the whole world, as the commission instructs?  The biblical concept of “whole world” could have meant merely Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles (everyone else).  Also it could have meant the known world – evidence is that Paul (an apostle who was not one of the eleven) was seeking to take the gospel to Spain because it was one of the ends of the earth.  Christians with callings besides evangelism are not failing when they don’t preach the gospel, if this commission does not apply to them.  Are we exalting the command we’ve appropriated and exaggerated over other commands or callings?  Did the “Great Commission” apply to Matthias, who was selected to return the number of apostles to twelve; and if so, does that mean the command and promises applies to all who, by authority of or recognition by the original apostles, succeed them – or even to all who have the calling or gifting to apostleship?  Does not the command itself, to make disciples, indicate that the converts are to become like the apostles and thus inherit their mission?  When Jesus says “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,” is this very instruction exempt?  Essentially, whatever is preached today in evangelism is the apostles’ very teachings (or at least those recorded in Scripture) so that in a way it is still those men who are being used by God to fulfill this commission.

 

Fathers should work outside the home, because it is more efficient.  Not all dads, though, are inefficient working in the home.  Different occupations and different house layouts and different family styles would change the efficiency of working from home.  For example, working at home would function better if the work was done in the downstairs shop or in the smithy across the yard or the fields behind the house.  If women and children would leave the men alone while they’re working, instead of taking advantage of their presence as though the men had nothing else to do, more work could be done.  However, women have much work to do around the house that they manage to get done despite the presence of children – and, where applicable, of husbands (who sometimes by their proximity can cause as much distraction and hindrance as children).  When men are home they have the advantage of not missing out on their families.  If some milestone is reached, he can witness it or participate in it.  But he would be sacrificing socialization with other workers, other fathers and husbands, that he would typically get at work.  Also the possibility of distraction – and distance from the other people working on the same project or employing the man – does make his work less efficient.  There is value in kids seeing dad work.  Are they going to be brought “out of the home” to witness that – or even to participate in it?  It seems to be assumed that more is better in time spent with family, but there can be a limit reached after which it is healthier for the family relationships for each member to get out, to be around other people who have nothing to do with their family.  Working outside the home is an opportunity for that.  (It was interjected that the same could apply to women, needing breaks, and a weekly activity like MOPS was suggested – though that usually involves considerably less time away from the family than a man’s career would.  Maybe men should get out of the house only once a week, like the women?)  It is a concern that the children of men working from home are getting used to an unrealistic world that will not always be available to them (Mommy and Daddy won’t always be around to give them attention and help, and it is not likely they will be able to find jobs with such flexibility to allow them to be home with their families most of the time either.)  Agrarian societies are more ideal, a blend of working as a family and having access to home but also getting out of the domestic environment.  Are we going to revolutionize society back to a work structure that would be more ideal?  Is it worth it to try to live like agrarians when the jobs we have are technology- and information- based?  How much does the marriage relationship of wife as helper apply to a husband’s work?  Could he benefit from having his wife’s help in his work?  Or is the wife’s help limited to raising the kids and keeping the house for him?  Can she help him with his job once he comes home from an away job?  Fathers are given the responsibility of teaching their children, and being at home more often is the best way to do that.  They can also, then, emotionally support their wives who would be crazy being home alone with young children so much.

 

5 Minutes:

We should stockpile chocolate for trading during hyper-inflation emergencies, rather than precious metals.  Chocolate would be difficult to store and transport since it melts.  Are higher chocolate concentrations better, like gold over silver?  (You can always add milk and sugar later, right?)  Maybe we shouldn’t bother, because if hyper-inflation comes, we’ll all be in big trouble and won’t be able to protect our stockpile.  So perhaps it would be better to invest in a non-precious metal: lead, like John Wayne.  It would be tempting to eat your chocolate currency yourself.  Then again, this could be seen as an advantage.  This trade good, unlike precious metals, is useful for something.  It has some nutritional value: protein, iron, sugars – along with being an aphrodisiac.  As people consume the chocolate, the amounts remaining become increasingly valuable.  Now is a good time to pursue a chocolate investment as the world’s chocolate supply is being threatened by war in Libya (one of the world’s largest chocolate producers).  It could be to our advantage to employ a community effort to invest in chocolate, choosing carefully who is to be in charge of “loss prevention.”  As a short-term measure, which is unlikely for a hyper-inflation scenario, it might actually work.

 

Practical Christianity is more important for knowing (pleasing and trusting) God than reading Scripture for oneself.  For most of history 75 percent of the Christian world has been illiterate, so this is the only reasonable conclusion.  Examples of practical Christianity are: the sacraments (including penance/confession of sin, baptism, communion, confirmation/laying on of hands and praying for a believer to receive the Holy Spirit, marriage, praying for the sick, holy orders including Christian ministry and missions and monasticism), evangelism, testimony/sharing what Christ has done for us, oral Scripture reading/hearing, almsgiving, listening to God, rest in Christ/finding out what it means that Christ fulfills the Sabbath for us, peace-making/judging disputes.  Also suggested was James’ instruction to care for widows and orphans.  If someone is able to read, reading Scripture is the most important way to know about God.  What about pleasing Him or trusting Him?  Life experiences or examples leave us all to assumptions about the character of God, and to doubts when faced with discouraging events – lacking the assurance of a clear description of God from the Bible.  People with different experiences from one another could wind up believing in a different God.  We also run the risk of worshiping traditions, the rituals of the religion (similar to pagan religions), and our own works rather than worshiping a worthy God.  What differentiates us from the other religions is the revelation of God in His book.  But are we equating reading Scripture with understanding God?  Who is to say that by reading we get an accurate interpretation or comprehension?  The disciples were recognized as unschooled men whose power came because they had been with Jesus.  Perhaps the most important thing is to spend time with Christ – but how is that done?  Christians have always had access to some Scripture (even if it was only passages different members had memorized).  Originally most Christians had a familiarity with the Old Testament, at least.  In the Old Testament, Israel was commanded to write the words of God in prominent places where it would always be in their way, so God must have seen it as important.  David also highly valued his ability to “meditate” on the Law or the word of God.  When the temple was finished, this great practical work of faith, it was culminated with the reading of Scripture, with reminding the people of the precept-style truths.  Public reading could substitute for private reading in most of these instances.  Scripture itself tells us to do what we hear.  But how do we know what to do if we don’t read Scripture?  So certainly personal Bible reading comes first.  Do we feel like we can get all we need to please God by private reading – as personal as Christianity is – so that we are missing out on better ways (taking advantage of the community, the Church, that God has given us)?  To know God you have to heed His word.  Scripture has been written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit so that God is not limited to what we have read in the Bible to guide us for our daily lives or to reveal Himself to us.  The Bible says “Don’t be ignorant” four times: spiritual gifts, the return of Christ, and two other things – possibly one of them is Scripture?  (Addendum: List of verses about not being ignorant, in addition to 1 Corinthians 12:1 )

 

5 minutes:

Unicorns have existed, will exist, and appear throughout the Bible.  Scriptures in Numbers, Job, Psalms, the prophets (esp. Isaiah), and Deuteronomy use a unique Hebrew word translated in the King James as “unicorn.”  It may not mean the mythical beast we think of: a horse with wings and a horn and magical powers, but it does not mean “wild ox” as other versions translate it, including NKJV.  The very context rules out an “ox” interpretation.  Also there are 7 other words that actually refer to oxen; the Old Testament authors weren’t lacking such a word to use; they obviously meant something else.  What did they mean?  When the Western (Christian) world first encountered rhinos in Africa, they called them unicorns because of the single horn on a rhinoceros’ nose.  Also we have discovered fossils of extinct deer with one horn on the head.  However, a deer would not likely be strong enough to fit the Bible’s descriptions.  On the other hand, one of the passages describes the unicorn as “skipping,” an unlikely activity for rhinos.  Usually the animal is associated with strength and not being able to be tamed for domestic purposes like plowing.  Isaiah’s mention of unicorns is in an as yet unfulfilled prophecy, so unicorns, whatever they are, must also exist in the future.  (Addendum: Blue Letter Bible entry for the word “unicorn” including occurrences and Hebrew dictionary  This scene from The Gods Must Be Crazy was also referenced. )

 

Scripture is what has been traditionally and historically what the people of God have accepted as Scripture, not what the authors originally wrote.  (Example the passage in John 8 that “earliest and most reliable manuscripts” do not contain would be considered Scripture.)  The miraculous preservation of Scripture has been a doctrine taught by the Church and used as a defense of the authority of the Bible.  Basically it is taught that God has guarded the Bible, the words He wanted His church to have, throughout the centuries.  How long does something have to be unchanged or accepted in order to count as “preserved”?  Are we talking about translations, too, or texts based on the translations – especially the Septuagint?  If preservation is God’s miraculous way, and He intended for us to accept as Scripture the books as originally written, why didn’t God preserve the original manuscripts themselves?  Does this proposition increase the necessity of historical analysis – or decrease – and what does that say about the centuries of people who did not have access to the archaeological information we are uncovering today?  Is the preservation doctrine even biblical?  “Not one jot or tittle will pass away.”  It seems historical that there has been a miraculous preservation of the Bible – compare to Homer or even Shakespeare.  Isn’t a changed text, as the resolution suggests has happened, evidence against preservation having fully happened?  Are we allowed to start “affirming” or “accepting” some new parts to books or entirely new books now?  The original process of canonization included checking for authorship of passages.  But the number one rule was “Has it been accepted by the Church as Scripture?”  The texts we have received have been the Byzantine versions because they were more organized about copying and spreading their texts.

 

Due to the amount of corruption in our current government system, we should exploit technology to make representatives accountable.  Democracy is possible, not too unwieldy, with technology today.  All citizens could have a voice in the way they want their representatives to vote if we set up some computerized system for tallying input.  Then if congressmen and senators do not follow the will of their constituents, we could vote them out of office next term.  The object would also be to reduce the influence of lobbyists: the loud minority.  Apathy, now and after a technological system is established, would be at least as great a problem as corruption.  But perhaps people would be less apathetic if they were given new hope that their voice mattered.  As the system stands today, to have any impact we the little people would have to start at the lower levels of primaries – it is very unlikely that the candidate that we really want is making it to the full election, and then who wants to vote for the lesser or slower of two evils?  Technology could make it easier to participate in small ways, easing citizens into involvement.  Most people who are eligible to vote shouldn’t, because the bills being considered – even if they were read in their hundreds of pages entirety – are too complicated to be comprehensible to the layperson.  In a more accountable, participation-oriented system, the bills would be necessarily written in the language of the citizen, which could be a huge advantage.  But most people who can vote shouldn’t because people are selfish, and a more democratic system like this being proposed would turn into a war of personal interests rather than the representative ideal of good men making decisions for the common good, seeing the big picture.  Technology could potentially eliminate the party system by giving voters more access to information about candidates.  Then we could vote based on character, actions, and positions instead of on affiliation.  However the party system does make the election process less cumbersome.  It is assumed that candidates identifying themselves with a certain party adhere to its platform positions on issues.  Also rather than going through each of a thousand candidates, you can seek for the ones in the party that most represents you – although we may need more than two parties to accomplish that.  However, if your attempt is to defeat the lobbyists, even in a technological system like this, they can be louder than the majority because they will participate whereas the average man still doesn’t think it’s worth it.  The way to stop lobbyists is to make it criminal for a citizen not to vote.  We could still use the technology to inform the legislators of the ideas and opinions of those whom they represent – but not in a way so directly affecting voting.  And the communication could go both ways fairly easily.  Christians are becoming a minority voice, similar to lobbyists.  If we empower the majority, what risks will that have for us and our children?  Persecution strengthens individual faith and the Church as a whole.  But should we pursue persecution, vote it into being?  Even increasing the voice of the people won’t fix corruption because the majority will be wicked, or tends to be.  And every vote continues the slide away from righteousness.  Monarchy, as archaic as it sounds, has the best chance of a truly righteous government (though you run the risk of occasional or even frequent tyrannical rulers as well) because while the whole people will very likely never be God-fearing, one king here and there might.

 

Also suggested, though not debated:

Caffeine and alcohol ought to be regulated, only consumed by prescription.

 

People don’t say what they mean, either, so you don’t know any more about them than you do about a dog’s dream. (quote from Get Low)

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Resurrection Part 6: Also

But if the Spirit 

of Him who raised Jesus 

from the dead 

dwells in you, 

He who raised Christ from the dead 

will also give life to your mortal bodies 

through His Spirit 

who dwells in you…

He who did not spare His own Son, 

but delivered Him up 

for us all, 

how shall He not with Him 

also freely give us 

all things?” 

~ Romans 8:11, 32


“If then you 

were raised with Christ, 

seek those things which are above, 

where Christ is

sitting at the right hand of God.” 

~ Colossians 3:1  


To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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“Thank you, Jesus, for this food. Amen.”  – the prayer children have offered in my house before meals for as long as I can remember

We bless our food with a tiny word of thanks.

Before we share in the Lord’s supper in most churches, thanks is made to the Father who gave Only Son.

Thanks is in the story Paul tells of the Lord’s supper.

The Lord Jesus

On the same night in which He was BETRAYED

Took bread and when He had

GIVEN THANKS

He broke it…

Was Jesus simply giving a token prayer before eating?  In the middle of the feast?

I’m ashamed to confess that I never believed Jesus was sincere.  He said ‘thanks,’ because He couldn’t eat until He’d done so…  Except that I don’t actually believe that.  So what was He thankful for?  Was He only saying “thank you” for the next bite?  For a feast He had fervently desired to eat with His disciples before He suffered?  For the suffering?

Again, I have doubted Jesus’ sincerity, when He said “Not My will, but Yours be done.”  He meant it, surely.  As a declaration of submission.  That’s what I thought.  But in truth, it’s a prayer, not a declaration.  He’s been begging His Father.  And the begging doesn’t stop when it changes.  He begs for God’s will to be done.  Wants it.  Receives the will of the Father with joy, maybe as joy.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” James 1:2 (NLT)

Such were my thoughts when this morning, day after the traditional anniversary of the Last Supper, I picked up Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts after a long pause.  Half a chapter had been waiting for me to find solitude in which to hear it.  God saved it up for me for this day, I believe.  She writes…

“Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy’s fire.  Leave the hand open and be.  Be at peace.  Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love and whisper surprised thanks…  I hadn’t known that joy meant dying.  What did I think hard eucharisteo and the table of the Last Supper meant?  …follow Christ to the table of eucharisteo, the table of surrender that gives thanks for what is given – this is joy!”

Who gave thanks?  Who was doing the giving?  What did the giving cost?  What did the Giver do?  He is the one who gave thanks.

Not token.  Not insincere.  Grateful.  Trusting.  Joyful.  Sorrowful, too.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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At the very end of Jesus’ earthly sojourn, He promised that those who believe in and follow Him will do miracles even greater than those He had been seen to do (John 14:12).  I’m having trouble imagining greater miracles.  But let’s at least agree that bringing dead people back to life should be included in the list of wonders accompanying the preaching of His gospel.

Peter knew this.  So did the early followers of Jesus.  They believed in a God with unlimited power.  They counted on it, acted on it.  In Acts 9 we read about a disciple named Tabitha.  She got sick and died while Peter was nearby in Lydda.  A group of believers decided to send for Peter.  Two men made the journey.  Peter didn’t hesitate to go with them.

But what was he thinking?  He’d seen people raised from the dead.  He knew it was possible.  He was filled with the Spirit of God and had just seen a whole city convert because Jesus Christ used him to heal a man named Aeneas.  What would you be thinking if someone came to you because their friend had died?

When Peter arrived, there were some people mourning.  We probably shouldn’t rebuke them; no promise had been made that Tabitha would be returned to them – unlike Jesus who had plainly told His disciples what would happen.  Peter sent everyone else out of the room, knelt by Tabitha’s washed, lifeless body.  And he prayed.  Then he commanded.  She opened her eyes and got up and was presented to her friends alive.  Simple.  People had seen and touched a dead woman and now spoke with her, continuing to receive her charity.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Comparative Study

between Church/Elders and Wives/Husbands

from Greek New Testament

  1. The most common word for how women are to treat their husbands is the word hypotasso (“submit”).  The word is found in Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:5, and 1 Peter 3:1, 5.  Women are also commanded to be submissive at church gatherings, in 1 Corinthians 14:34.

There are several instances where hypotasso is used of the Church or applied to all Christians.  They are told to submit to each other, to submit to secular authorities, to God, and to Christ.  Find these references in Ephesians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:13, James 4:7, and Ephesians 5:24.  In one instance, 1 Corinthians 16:15-16, Paul encourages the believers in Corinth to submit to those who labor in ministry to the saints (like the household of Stephanas does).  And younger Christians are told in 1 Peter 5:5 to submit to elder Christians, followed by an admonition for all Christians to submit to each other.

  1. Another word used of how wives should relate to their husbands is kephale (“head”).  The Bible teaches in 1 Corinthians 11:3 and Ephesians 5:23 that the man or husband is the head of his wife.  The first passage goes into detail about the significance of and reason for this hierarchy.

Kephale is used frequently for the Church as well.  In all instances, we are taught that Jesus Christ is the head of the Church.  Look at Ephesians 1:22, 4:15, and 5:23.  Also see Colossians 1:18.

  1. Women and men are each told to aresko (“please”) each other in marriage.  Paul contrasts this to the devotion available to single people for service to God in 1 Corinthians 7:32-34.

All Christians are told to seek how they may aresko one another, in Romans 15:1-3.

  1. To spin this in the other direction, husbands are actually told in 1 Peter 3:7 to timé (“give honor to”) their wives [as to the weaker vessel].

The Church is instructed to count elders who rule well worthy of double timé1 Timothy 5:17 is part of an entire section on the treatment of elders.

  1. Other words for wives’ reverence and obedience to husbands are: hypakouo (“hearken to command”) 1 Peter 3:6; phobeo (“reverence”) Ephesians 5:33; hypotage (“subjecting”) 2 Timothy 2:11.  Women are to philandros (“love”) their own husbands Titus 2:4…  They are not to authenteo (“exercise dominion over”) at church 1 Timothy 2:12; nor do they [or husbands] have exousiazo (“power”) over their own bodies.  Paul says that he does not epitrepo (“permit”) women to speak or have authority over men at church in both 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 1 Timothy 2:12.

None of these words are used of elders in the church with the possible exception of exousiazo in Luke 22:25, where the disciples are told not to behave that way towards other disciples.

  1. Other words for how husbands are to treat their wives: synoikeo (“dwell with”); 1 Peter 3:7, sygkleronoimos (“heirs together”); 1 Peter 3:7, agapao (“love”); Ephesians 5:25 and Colossians 3:19.  They are not to pikraino (“embitter”) their wives; Colossians 3:19.  None of these instructions are given to elders or Church leaders.
  1. On the other hand there are many words used for how believers should treat elders and pastors.  I’m giving single-word translations for clarification that are likely to be biased simplifications.  I encourage everyone to look up the words and passages for themselves.  We are to mimeomai (“imitate”) our elders; 2 Thessalonians 3:7, 9 and Hebrews 13:7.  We should peitho (“be persuaded”) by them; Hebrews 13:17.  They deserve our hypeiko (“yielding”); also Hebrews 13:17.  We should doubly timé (“honor”) those that do their job well; 1 Timothy 5:17.  Also the church is told to agape (“love”) their elders; 1 Thessalonians 5:13.  These terms are never used of wives towards husbands.
  1. And let us observe two classes of instructions to Church leaders.  The first is how they are told to treat the congregation or “flock.”  Elders are described as hegeomai (“leaders”); Hebrews 13:7, 17, and 24.  There is a spiritual gift of proistemi (“presiding, protecting”); Romans 12:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:12, and 1 Timothy 5:17.  Closely related is the requirement that elders be able to epimeleomai (“care for”) the Church; 1 Timothy 3:5.  The Church should recognize their elders when they kopiao (“labor to weariness”) for them; Acts 20:35, 1 Corinthians 16:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 1 Timothy 5:17.  Paul exhorted the Ephesian elders to noutheteo (“warn”) against false teachers; Acts 20:31 – and the Thessalonian elders were described as those who noutheteo the church.
  1. Our second class is that which Church leaders are NOT to do.  The first is interesting because in Hebrews, leaders are described as hegeomai (“commanding”) the Church, but Luke 22:26 tells the disciples not to behave like the Gentiles who lead in such ways.  In passages corresponding to that in Luke 22, the authors use a few other words for the methods of authority, used by the Gentiles, the disciples were to shun: kataexousiazo (“wield power”); Matthew 20:25, Mark 10:42 and katakyrieno (“subdue”); Matthew 20:25, Mark 10:42, and also 1 Peter 5:3.  Luke also employs the word exousiazo (“power”) in the same passage; Luke 22:25, as discussed in point 5 above.
  1. Other interesting studies are the “appointing” of elders and ministers and messengers; “one another” verses; spiritual gifts and the body of Christ; Church unity; qualifications for bishops/elders and deacons; church discipline; the authority of parents; suits and judgment; and binding and loosing.

Personal conclusion: Whoever translated these words in the New Testament did not do a very good job communicating the full idea into English, leading to confusion and perhaps reinforcing a misinterpretation of Church government.  Who did do the original translating into English?  Were they serving under the very hierarchical Church of England?  Or believers in the Papal system?  Whatever our understanding of the government of local congregations, isn’t it clear that the Bible does not teach such super-church hierarchies as involving bishops and archbishops, etc. as understood in both Anglican and Catholic traditions?  Can we not argue that those religions denied the priesthood and sainthood of all believers, excluding them in varying degrees from participation in speaking God’s word and in building up or restoring fellow believers and in worshiping God, which activities were biblically entrusted to the whole Body of Christ?  Was not Tyndale hated for translating Greek terms into words more literal than those employed by the reigning religions of the day, undermining their religious system?  (http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/biographies/always-singing-one-notea-vernacular-bible)

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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What if the Bible isn’t enough?  What if God desires us to have more of a relationship with Him than a hermeneutical understanding of morality and doctrine?  And isn’t that what the Bible teaches: walk in the Spirit, walk by faith, the Spirit will guide us into all truth, despise not prophesying?

If you’re anything like me, first you rejected these speculations.  Then you couldn’t stop thinking about them, and started reading the Bible in a new light, considering the possibilities.  And now that you’re seriously tempted to believe in continuing revelation, you’re scared.  I’m not very good at explaining this fear.  I think about how I have relied on the Bible so much.  How do I appeal to fellow believers about their belief and practice except on a universally accepted standard?  How do I witness to nonbelievers except by demonstrating the inerrancy (internal consistency and outward truth) of the Bible?  Can I claim that internal consistency proves anything when that was a test for which books made it into the Canon or not?  Supposing God does speak to me, how will I know it’s Him?  What if He speaks to someone else?  Why should I submit to what He speaks through them?  How will believers be on the same page, with each one (or at least each congregation) receiving his own revelation?

Maybe I’m scared because I never dreamed I would be here, believing these things.  And where else will it lead?  Maybe if I need to hear from God today, or in the future, I have to trust that He will speak; I can’t just sit comfortably holding in my hand all He was ever going to say.  I have to believe in a God who is able to communicate not just to me, but to people around me.  I have to believe in a God whose mercy is so great that even when I’m sinfully not listening, He’ll cushion me from making mistakes too terrible.  But I need His mercy every time, because whenever I’m not listening to Him, I’m doing my own thing.  So maybe I don’t like this belief because it puts me out of control.  I can’t force revelation from God by being smarter or studying longer or even by asking the right teacher.

On the other hand, I like it.  The God of the universe is speaking to real live people today.  He has designed a community for His people that is interdependent.  We get to be a part of His ministry both to those who have believed and to those who have not.  God has not left us alone to make up our own decisions.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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