Sunday, February 22, 2015

The 4th Commandment is the Most Important

Much confusion surrounds the issue of the 10 Commandments. Christians are all over the map as to their views of them. Where I grew up, the 10 Commandments were certainly elevated above other commandments; they were revered; we fought for the legal right to have them on plaques in courthouses. Yet there was ambiguity, because no one I knew strictly followed the 4th one (the keeping of the Sabbath). So do we "have to" follow the 10 Commandments today? No, we don't. 

And yes, we do. 

The Old Testament Law, in which the 10 Commandments reside, was the authority of the Old Covenant, and was set aside when the New Covenant was enacted. As for dividing the law into 3 categories- civil, moral, and ceremonial- there really isn't much Biblical evidence for that, as the New Covenant theologians have pointed out. Even the fact that the 4th commandment (a "ceremonial" law) was housed within the other 9 great Commandments (which were all moral), makes this evident. The divisions are not so easy to make. Is the 5th Commandment (honoring parents) moral, while the punishment for breaking it (death) civil?? (One reason Christians who follow the OT Law don't make sense. They leave out the enforcement of the OT Law, which has to include OT punishment, if it's really going to be kept.) "No inspired writer makes any distinction between the "moral" law and the "ceremonial" law." (see source below)

"Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith." Gal 3

"But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.... In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." Heb 8:6, 13

7Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. 2 Corinthians 3

What was etched in stone that Moses brought down from the mountain? That's right! The 10 Commandments!

Does this mean we don't have to follow the 10 Commandments? Hardly. In fact, 9 of them are repeated in the New Testament, therefore, we are still to obey them under the New Covenant. This is how often they are repeated in the NT...

1). To worship the Lord God only (1st commandment): no less than 50 times2). Idolatry (2nd commandment): condemned 12 times3). Profanity (3rd commandment): condemned 4 times4). Honoring parents (5th commandment) is taught 6 times5). Murder (6th commandment) condemned 6 times6). Adultery (7th commandment) condemned 12 times7). Theft (8th commandment) condemned 4 times8). False Witness (9th commandment) condemned 4 times9). Covetousness (10th commandment) condemned 9 times

So those are taken care of. :) What about the Sabbath? I would argue that, in fact, the Sabbath is the most important of all of the Commandments. If you don't believe me, take a look at Hebrews 4. The book of Hebrews sets out to explain to the new Jewish Christians how many things in the Old Covenant were in fact symbols of something coming in the New. 

 "They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things." Heb 8:5 and "the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities..." Heb 10:1

The High Priest symbolized Jesus; the sacrifices, the sacrifice of Jesus, and so on. Since the real thing had come, there was no longer a need for the symbol. So what about the Sabbath? The Sabbath symbolized the rest we have in Christ, resting from our works. 

"So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest..." Heb 4 and "For we who have believed enter that rest," Heb 4:3

So "there [does] remain a Sabbath rest for the people of God," and it is resting from "our works" and in the finished work of Jesus on the cross (context of Hebrews) for our salvation. 

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.” Heb 4:7

Don't forget the most important commandment- in the Old or New Testaments! It's no longer the seventh day of the week, or even the first day of the week, it's ALL the time; it's our very salvation- resting in all God is for us in Jesus!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Was Osteen really that Wrong?

I was going to write a post about our new play/school room, but for some reason the pictures aren't working on Blogger right now. :( But a topic I have seen floating around on Facebook really has me thinking. It's about that Victoria Osteen video that's been going around; and I think the response to that has been less than perfect. Here are my thoughts, for whatever it's worth....

  • Know that I am NOT an Osteen fan. I have been to his church and watched them on TV, and I can say that I would never make that church my church home. The teaching is too surfacy; not enough "meat". There are theology points I disagree with as well that I won't go into here.
  • The Osteens are not, in my opinion, heretics or false prophets. To be a false prophet, you have to deny that Jesus is the Christ (1 Jn 2:22), deny the "Master" who bought you (2 Pet 2), "Teach as doctrines the commandments of men," (Mark 7), preach a gospel contrary to what's in Scripture (Gal 1). I only visited the church one time, and he preached the same gospel I've heard since I was 2 years old. If he doesn't do that much, what are the chances that he just happened to be preaching about that the one time I went?
  • I think Christians overuse the above terms WAY too much, to oppose almost anyone with whom they disagree. Just for fun, Google any popular Christian author/speaker/pastor with the word "heretic" or "critics", and you will be astonished at the disagreements, factions, and hatred between each other in the church. I mean, it's INSANE! You can find people who think just about anyone is a heretic. 
  • On the other end of that, I don't hear too many of these same Christians speaking out against REAL heresy, like that which is found in the teachings of the Roman Catholic church or the Mennonites (see "Mark 7" above), or the Mormon church. Maybe we just all take for granted that our friends know our feelings on these, but many don't, and many are being led astray by these and other similar false teachings. Let's save those words for when we're SURE heresy is actually happening, could we?
  • I have heard claims that Osteen NEVER mentions words like sin. Not true; I've heard him. I want to encourage everyone to search out these things for themselves instead of simly trusting what someone else says about something. In doing so, you will either find out that the claims weren't exactly true, or at the very least, gain some understanding into their world, understand why they believe what they believe in order to help them out of it. I would be willing to bet money that most of these bloggers condemning the Osteens have never listened to an entire sermon of theirs.
    Now about what she said...
  • Does God want us to be happy? I think so. Is God concerned with our obedience apart from our happiness? I think not. Check this out. No really, you need to read it. It's excellent. God's glory and our happiness are not only NOT mutually exclusive, they are intertwined. 
  • Is the motive for our obedience happiness or holiness? Again, you don't have to choose! Seriously, check out the link above. It explains it better than I ever could.
  • Are the Osteens leading people astray because they lack both the theological understanding and the ability to communicate that theology that the article I linked to talks about? Absolutely. People will hear a snippet like that, without the theological foundation under them, and run the wrong way with it. I have no doubt it happens all the time. 
Just some of my thoughts... Please share yours!

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Complementarian Reviews the Pearls

Finally! A non-feminist, honest, and excellent review of Created to be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl. This review is by Tim Challies, a complementarian and conservative reformed minister. Mostly because of my utter disdain for legalism, I am on a tirade to remove the Pearls' books from all Christian homes. It's true that there is some good to be gleaned from them, but since we don't live in the former Soviet Union, where there are only 3 books on parenting and 2 are written by the government, let's pick better books, shall we? (In other words, there are PLENTY of better books out there, so why choose these? :) )

This review is astonishing to me and contains many of my own thoughts as I read many excerpts from her book. It is well worth the read! 

Part 1

Part 2

Here is another, more detailed review from a woman who seems to have a pretty Biblical view on womanhood and marriage.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Why Calvinism Matters...

I don't talk too much about being a "calvinist", only because of the controversy it often stirs up and the misconceptions about it. I also used to think it didn't matter much either way. It matters. Here's why.... 

Status Update
By Desiring God:
Imagine the Last Day when you stand before Jesus. Imagine he asks you, “Why did you believe on me, when you heard the gospel, but your friends didn’t, when they heard?”
You know that is the case. We all have friends, family, people we know, who have heard the gospel but do not believe. And some, sadly, will refuse Jesus all their lives. And there you are, on that Day, and Jesus is asking you why, why you were one of the ones who believed.

“Why did you trust me but these others didn’t?”

You hear his words. You bow your head. And you do not say it’s because you’re smarter. You don’t begin to explain your faith as the result of your wisdom. “Well, Lord, you see, I was just more spiritual than they were.” “I read more book than they did.” “I always had a way of making good decisions.”

No. You won’t say that.

In that moment — picture it — in that moment you and I and every blood-bought saint will put our hands over our mouths, pointing to him, not us. Grace will stand forth with more vividness than we could have ever dreamed. There will be new dimensions of colors then — depths and wonders that we can’t see through the dim mirror of now.

And then, in that glorious moment, we will say, “You, Jesus. It was all you. We believed in your name, only by your sovereign grace. Jesus, it was all you.” [source:]

It matters because of who gets the credit, and it has to be Him.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Love IS Partly a Feeling!

Sometimes you can roll your eyes or shake your head at an old wives tale that keeps getting repeated, or a saying that's only half true, but you know what people really mean by saying it. But there's one that's really getting old, and it's really starting to get on my nerves. But more importantly, it matters. (Unlike so many sayings, for example- the difference between happiness and joy is that joy lasts through circumstances. Actually, there is no difference. In the Bible, they are interchangeable, but see, I digress into things that don't really matter.) This one does matter. Here it is:

"Love is not a feeling."

It's very true that love encompasses more than only feelings. But I would argue that feelings that do not produce action are not true feelings at all, but are, as James says, "dead". I would also submit that love without any feeling is a cold, hard love if it's love at all, and certainly not a love we should be striving for. It's not the kind of love God has.

"he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing." Zeph 3 That's not emotionless love! 

"The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.”  Ps 147
Pleasure! Not begrudging duty. 

Ironically, people bring up the cross as the greatest act of love, and yet the Bible says, "for the joy that was set before Him [Jesus] endured the cross." Heb 2

Nor is unfeeling, dutiful obedience what God wants from us.

Ps 37:4 tells us to, "delight yourself in the Lord."
Phil 4:4, to, "rejoice in the Lord."
“Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy.” Ps 43:4
“Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” Ps 63:3

And just in case you buy into the other common line that joy is a bonus we sometimes get but not a guarantee, and certainly not necessary, check this out:
"Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything." Duet 28:47
This is a warning. I realize it's an Old Testament warning, but it tells us just how seriously God takes emotion. 

If this is how we're to love God, then why would loving others be any different? (see Rom 12:10) Are there days or moments or periods of time when we simply love with action even though the feeling isn't there? Yes! BUT, we should not be OK with staying in that position! We should be praying for and even expecting those emotions to return. As a wise friend once told me, "If you want the butterflies back in your marriage, pray for them to come back!" Don't be content with heartless "obedience" (if you can call it that) thinking you're doing all you're supposed to. 

So why is this so important (other than the fact that it's all over the Bible)? It's important because we can't do it on our own. We need God's help. When He commands things from us we can't muster up on our own, we must rely on Him to do it. We can muster up action; we can't muster up emotion. It's almost impossible. “Who then can be saved?!” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matt 19 People who serve out of duty and willpower alone glorify themselves. People who serve through the power of the Spirit and out of the joy and desire of their hearts, glorify no one but God. 

This is one old wives tale we need to lay to rest.  

Here is an excellent sermon on this very topic.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

To Hell and Back, Part 5- Resources

This post has been a long time coming. If you read my story (found here) and struggle with doubting your salvation at all like I did (and still do at times), I wanted to share what has helped me. 

First and foremost, this video.
It's about WHAT to DO when you're doubting- Look to Jesus, not yourself. I think that is the best advice, because people who struggle with this a lot are often very introspective people who think about themselves TOO much. Does that strike a chord with you? This 8 min video is excellent. (It used to be the actual video, but I guess it was deleted, so someone took the audio and put it with this picture.)

Then there's this book, which I actually have not read, but I want to. It was recommended by a trusted source, and I believe the theology is legit.

This Q&A is really good also.

If you want to delve deeper, here are some great sermons on various aspects of this.

Also, research the lives of William Cowper, Martin Luther, and John Bunyan. They have amazing stories of doubt and assurance. 

I have not listed Scripture here, but these resources are all packed full of it. A great place to go in the Bible is 1 John, as its purpose is really to assure believers they are legit. It's full of lists of things to look for in your own life. Just keep in mind that assurance does not depend on perfection!

Side note: A lot of this comes straight from my theology, which is Calvinist/Reformed in doctrine, HOWEVER, I don't think you have to share my exact doctrine to get A LOT out of these resources. These are just the ones I went to in my research, because the answer to this questioning and doubting needed to come from what I already knew to be true. (And some of the reason FOR my doubting actually came from my doctrine, which is too much to go into in this post.) But in my opinion, theology is VERY important when it comes to this issue, because the opposite problem is just as common (if not more)- which is, people thinking they are saved when they are not- because of bad theology.

Friday, June 21, 2013

2 Kids or 20? and judging others

First off, I want to say that while I know this can be a sensitive subject, please try to keep an open mind about it, as well as others' views on it. I also want to say that I LOVE large families. I agree  with my grandmother who always said, "People with enough money to support their kids and who are good people ought to have as many children as they want!" The Bible says that children are a blessing and having lots can be even MORE of a blessing. (see Psalm 127:3-5) My husband is from a family of 12, so we know some of what it's like. 

So let's pick on the "2 kid" families first.  Here are some reasons why being "done" after 2 or 3, or even 5 may not be a good idea....
  • You're worried about overpopulation & what your kids will do to the planet.
  • Your kids take up too much of your time, or, as the mother, they're hampering your career. You don't have enough patience for any more could also go here. While it's important to know our limits, if our "limits" are sinful, God wants us to push through those and keep growing, leaning upon Him for all that He can be through us and do in us through Christ. He is your strength. The fruit of the Spirit IS patience! ONE of the reasons God may bring children into our lives is to help US along our sanctification path and make us rely on Him every day. Don't be frightened or run from that. I have been tempted to run from that feeling of, "I can't handle this. I need more 'me' time.  If they don't stop coming, when will life go back to normal again?" ("normal" meaning "good for ME".) How sad that you MAY miss out on future blessings because of selfishness?
  • Because you're afraid that___________. Whatever fills the blank MAY BE a good reason to stop, but the fear should have no part of your decision making process. He HAS NOT given us a spirit of fear! Take your fears to Him. He knows what's best for you, your family, and your children. Trust Him and let Him guide you. (Furthermore, if you already ARE pregnant and are fearful, because of what Scripture says about life, you can REST ASSURED that life is from God. He planned it, and He will take care of you and that little one!)
Okay, now we can pick on the others. ;) Many of you probably have not heard of the movement called "Quiverfull", but my understanding is that it teaches never using birth control and accepting as many kids as naturally come to you. There may be variations, but that is the basic idea. Here are the problems I have with that.
  • It is not in the Bible. Saying children are a blessing does not, logically, signify that you can never prevent yourself from having one. The Old Testament also states that wealth is a blessing and in other places it says not to seek to be wealthy. It says, "It's not good for man to be alone," and yet Paul wished that all men were single as he was. The Bible calling them a blessings means to enjoy the ones you have! Nowhere in the Bible is birth control forbidden or the command given to have as many children as you can.
  • The motto seems to be, "we trust God with our family size." Honestly, that's a little offensive to me, because they are implying that if you aren't Quiverfull, you DON'T trust God with your family size. You see, there is a disconnect in thinking that if we do anything to influence a certain area, we are not trusting God in that area. God works through our decision making and our own desires also. I can trust God to bring me the right job, but it's up to me to decide which one I want and go about taking the necessary steps to attain one. In areas where His specific will is unclear or not noted in Scripture (see above) He has asked us to use wisdom to make our decisions.
  • They sometimes look down on those who have good reason to be "done" OR to have more spacing between births. If these people are part of their own group, they can come out VERY confused.  These reasons might include but are not limited to: poor health of the mother, a special needs child, lack of funds or needing to go on government assistance long term, a rocky marriage, another stressful life situation.  When these needs are ignored because of legalism, it can wreak havoc on families.  As one mother I know put it, "It's not respectful or loving to my blessings who are already HERE to wreck my body having more and not be able to take good care of them." There is a need for less judgement in this area. You don't know what another family might be going through.
  • Mothers who make their children their idols can hide among this idea quite nicely. (I am NOT saying that even the majority of Quiverfull mothers are this way! Most are NOT, but it does occur.) These are the mothers who can not ever see themselves without a baby in their arms and are constantly anxious to get pregnant again and again, their desire going beyond a natural love for babies. They are often left emotionally wrecked (in an extreme way, not just a mourning) when their bodies are no longer able to have babies.
  • This idea is also actually not logically feasible if you take it to its conclusion. Can you never chart? Can you never take extra measures to TRY to conceive? Can you follow the doctor's orders to abstain after child birth for healing? Those are taking actions and not just letting things flow naturally, so following the logic, would not be allowed. Even the frequency of "bedroom time" is a decision that would affect this. Since that's not in the Bible either, what is the directive on that? You can see how legalism quickly begets more legalism. 
Having said all that, here are some things large families wish the rest of us knew about them. :) 
  • Not ALL of them just love kids and have WAY more patience than you do. Many do it because they feel it's their calling and because it changes them along the way. They do not feel they are special or like "super mom".
  • Not ALL of them are Catholic or Mormon, so don't assume. haha ;) 
  • They most likely DO know "what causes this" & don't need a lesson. ;) 
  •  The answer to any problem they have is not to "stop having kids, then!" Unless it is one of the serious things I mentioned above and you are a close friend, you probably should not ever tell them that. NEVER tell them, "You shouldn't have so many kids!" That's like saying one of their children shouldn't exist. Most of them love every child as if it were their only child. They need your support, just like everyone else.

I wanted to add this I saw yesterday:
Click Here and then go to 5:50 on the video. Such a great perspective on Kingdom children!!