Vol. 24 No. 1

1/7/2016

January 2016

Boy that was sobering – typing 2016…..WOW just so hard to believe.

 

For months and months I have struggled writing this newsletter.  Yesterday at church I got a confirmation to go ahead and do it. 

Most of us want with all of our hearts to be pleasing to the Lord.  We do not want to walk by the law.  I believe we want to know HIS heart.  Living by the law is death, but living by HIS Spirit is life (Romans 8:2). 

Some just KNOW that if we would live our lives loving God with all of our hearts and loving others as ourselves, we have it sewed up.  That is such a truth, but some of us don’t have the full picture of what that means.  We need it broken down and made plain.  Personally, I know that the Ten Commandments are summarized in the two love commandments (John 13:34), but does everyone understand that? 

Last week at church in our study time we had a visitor that asked “the question” that all of us would like to avoid.  Not because we don’t have an understanding of God’s Word, but answering it in straight truth without trying to express HIS love can sound hateful­­—BUT if we don’t speak truth (in love), we have the blood of that person on our hands.  Yes the question was if practicing homosexuality is a sin – and varying other rabbit trails. 

Ezekiel 3:20:
"Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood.

For those of us who operate in ministry, I will give you another scripture. 

Jeremiah 23:1-2:
1"Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!" declares the LORD. 2Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: "You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds," declares the LORD.…

Folks we have a responsibility!!  If we believe the Word of God – then we need to preach the whole counsel of the Word, but also not use it to beat people up.  We can’t go about and skirt straight forth questions and not speak the word.  So, our little group had the conversation.  But - what about other subjects? 

 

When I was first walking with Christ, I couldn’t get straight answers to my questions.  I would get these “pat answers” that said nothing.  I asked one time what to do about an habitual sin?  I was told that I should just stop.  That was the end of the discussion.  This would be the first in many lessons on why we keep walls up and hide who we really are in Christian circles.  BUT that is not how we are to relate to one another.  Let’s be real. 

1 Corinthians 10:23-24

 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.…

 

Boy, verse 24 just jumped out at me!  Talk about loving your neighbor as yourself!  See, I am getting more of a handle on this two commandment thing.  J 

There are many times that we operate in freedom and grace… but do we profit from our choices?  Do we cause others to stumble? 

In my life, my eating habits are not profitable and do not edify my friends that have diabetes.  I have been known to be preparing a meal for a friend and call them to see if they are eating “good.”   If not, I would prepare the things we LIKED. 

As you know, Les struggled with pornography for many years.  A lot of Christians can watch normal everyday TV that is shown on the network channels.  They may not think anything of immodest clothing or foul language or overt sexual activity.  In our household, it is different.  We have been invited to someone’s house to watch TV shows or movies with other believers.  Then we would find that the show was NOT profitable for us, but it was lawful for them. 

Another example is alcohol.  This has been a very tough subject for me.  As you know – Les and I came out of an alcohol and drug culture.  Both of us have or have had alcoholism in our families.  We quit smoking pot before we quit drinking.  We quit pot because we couldn’t afford it.  But we continued drinking for a long time.  We were, what we called, “sipping saints” for many years after we were with the Lord.  OK – sometimes I was a “gulping saint.”  (LOL) I can remember being at company parties and a group of us drinking, drinking, and drinking – BUT our conversation was ALWAYS about the Lord.  Good witness, NOT. 

We have Christian friends who drink now and we have Christian friends who do not. Personally I believe that Jesus turned real water into real wine.  There are those who believe that Jesus drank that wine (besides for Spiritual ceremonies).  Personally, I haven’t found HARD evidence in the Bible for that.  BUT - I also believe that God directed US, Les & Des, to NOT drink.  I used to make excuses for why we don’t drink; i.e. because of our background, etc.  BUT this was a direction from HIM.  PERIOD!!!  For others; “HIS sheep KNOW HIS voice and no other will they follow!” 

BUT there is another part of 1 Corinthians 10:23-24.  It is not about what is lawful and profitable to us, it is about our neighbor.  Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor!  I KNOW that I have failed many, many times to put the good of my neighbor before my own.  I am going to give an example using something that has “stuck” with me.  One time a KNOWN alcoholic was talking with me about a spiritual issue. Yes, he is a believer.   He made the statement similar to the following: “I need to go have a couple of beers with my pastor and get a better understanding of this matter.”  He didn’t seem to see any difference in his drinking (probably everyday) and his pastor’s occasional beer.  WOW!!   

I am going to give another example.  Years ago a family member was getting married.  They asked a member of the clergy who was a friend of the family to perform the ceremony.  Now this man was retired from the pulpit and most of the people attending the wedding weren’t strong church goers.  At the reception the minister had a mixed-drink.  Do you know that was THE TOPIC of conversation at the reception and for a LONG time after?        

That adds a whole, new dynamic to our walking in freedom and grace.  What effect does my having an occasional beer have on those who might be around me?  How does my crude humor affect those in my inner circle?  When I share the latest tidbit of gossip with my friends, am I causing one of them to stumble?  When I fail to take a stand for purity and righteousness, who is watching and what will they take away from that?  Am I standing on the Rock? Or am I a stumbling block?  

This past Sunday, our pastor summed it up.  He made a statement in a question.  Is there anything you are not willing to give up to serve God?  If there is something—then you are not walking in the two love commands. 

Matthew 22:35-40

One of them, an expert in Moses' Teachings, tested Jesus by asking,  "Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in Moses' Teachings?"   Jesus answered him, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'  This is the greatest and most important commandment.  The second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.'   All of Moses' Teachings and the Prophets depend on these two commandments."

 

In His Love!!!     

 


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