Saturday, February 28, 2015

Dispensations: How many?

"Dispensations" are the alleged economies of different biblical eras. What I mean by "economy" is "how God deals with mankind". Biblical history is broken down into specific economies, and cover events from the creation of man through mankind's eternal state. However, multiple dispensations, unlike covenants, are not biblical doctrine. Dispensations are commentary first suggested by Iraneus, then St. Augustine and now has been adopted by many in the Baptist community.

The number of dispensation periods vary depending on who is writing. The simplest dispensations are called "minimalist" and are three: Law, Grace and Kingdom. These periods are basically: Law (from creation to the time of the Christian Church), Grace (from the foundation of the church to Christ's victory over Satan) and Kingdom (God rules forever).

On the other hand, there are more complex dispensation schemes which include: innocence,  conscious, civil government, patriarchal or promise, Mosaic Law, Grace or church age, the millennial kingdom and the eternal state.  Within the dispensation schemes of the minimalist and the seven or eight schemes lies the four dispensation schemes: Patriarchal, Mosiac, Ecclesial,  and Zionic. Without regard to the periods of each, let's look at why!

Calvinists might claim a dispensation scheme which includes The Law or the Patriarchal. Why? It validates their doctrine! "Preservation of the saints" is invalid unless there are other economies. Saul lost God's anointing, and unless God had a different economy at that time, apostasy would be impossible. If Saul could fall from grace then so could Peter, and you and me! Why? Because Saul did.  Therefore, since their doctrine proposes eternal security, it is necessary to believe in dispensations!

When the thief died on the Cross and went to "Paradise", the Church of Christ teaches that since Jesus had yet to die, the thief was in a different dispensation. Baptism, in their eyes, is only a sacrament (saving) after Jesus had paid the penalty. However, Paul, inspired by Christ himself, taught that "whosoever" believes will inherit the kingdom of God. The thief lived in the dispensation of grace as did everyone before and thereafter. He's saved by grace by his faith as were everyone before him and after him! (It's not the water which saved him, but by faith by God's grace!)

Dispensations create an excuse to ignore sound doctrine. Dispensations are non-biblical in nature and are mere commentary. Paul does mention a "dispensation of grace":
Ephesians 3:1 "For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery..."
There is a "dispensation of grace"!  Paul mentions it a least four times. The rationale is that if there is a dispensation of grace, then there must be other dispensations! Let's look at that observation. The original Greek for "dispensation" as used by Paul is transliterated "oikonomia", or "the administration". Paul then tells of the administration of the grace of God. It's merely saying "God is graceful" and Paul makes known the mystery that always was! Hence, this is not a new economy, but one that always was!

Since we have the "Five Solas" of the Reformation:

  • Sola Fide, by faith alone.
  • Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
  • Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
  • Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
  • Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.
Let me add Dispensationem Gratiae Solus  by  the "dispensation of grace alone". In fact one dispensation tends to support Sola Gratia!

My hypothesis is that there is one economy. It is by grace we'e saved and it was always by grace!
Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God..."
Paul does not say that "salvation by grace is a new thing"! He merely says that is how anyone is saved! What is the requirement for grace? There must be faith! The "faith of Abraham" is the biblical standard of comparison in Apostolic times:

Galatians 3:8 "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful AbrahamGalatations 3:14 "... the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
Paul speaks several times of the "faith of Abraham". That is great faith. The pre-incarnate Jesus, The Word, spoke to Abraham. He told who and how Abraham was to sacrifice. It was his son and Abraham was willing to obey God and present his own son to God in exchange for grace. Abraham knew Jesus, Abraham had faith in Jesus and Abraham obeyed Jesus! Abraham was saved by faith and salvation is by grace alone... Sola Gratia!

From Adam to the last man, the economy has always been one of grace; Sola Gratia. The Law never saved. It was a mere standard for men so they were without excuse. The Law actually confused salvation. It's not saving, but how we show God love! Jesus was always plain in his teachings! The good we do is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) and that was hundreds of years before God became incarnate in Jesus.  All the patriarchs were saved by grace and it was Sola Gratia!

God's word points to one economy; one dispensation:
Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."
John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
First off, Jesus is God. He said he was and Jesus does not lie! He was with God in the beginning (John 1) . With him (God) is consistency. He's not one thing to one person and another to the next. Indeed, he said "no man cometh unto the Father, but by me"! This implies, no... declares. that "all men" which includes all the patriarchs of all time, came to God, only by him! Since salvation is by grace, Sola Gratia, then grace has always been the economy because there is no other way to salvation! Hence, there has only been one "dispensation" and Paul declares it a "dispensation of grace"!
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him (Jesus) should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Who believed in Jesus? The strongest believer in Jesus was Abraham. He believed so strongly that he was willing to do as God DID; sacrifice his own son! Now the faith of all believers is gaged by the "faith of Abraham"! Abraham is the "whosoever" in the promise of salvation "that believeth in him(Jesus)". Abraham is in paradise right now! He cradled Lazarus in his arms to comfort him. Why is Abraham there?  Because of God's grace and his faith in Jesus Abraham is in paradise.

Abraham is not alone! Noah, Abel, Elijah, Moses and all the other men of God who believed in Jesus are in paradise because of grace! There are not two ways to heaven! It's Solus Christus, through Christ alone! Abraham and the others (the whosoevers) are in paradise because of grace, and they received the gift of salvation, not because of obedience to The Law, but because they had faith in "The Word" when he spoke and told them of the things to come. That "Word" is the pre-incarnate Jesus!

The reformers had it right in the "Five Solas"! It is Solus Christus by Sola Gratia and by Dispensationem Gratiae Solus, my own addition to reformed theology which undermines the very core of the eternal security argument!






Fifty Shades of Grey or Old Fashioned

Maybe I'm "old fashioned" because God is!
Malachi 3:6 (ESV) “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed."
Hebrews 13:8 (ESV) "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
Resistance to change is "old fashioned". Righteousness is not dynamic. Iniquity is constant. I believe what was wrong for the patriarchs was wrong for those of apostolic times, was wrong when Queen Victoria reigned and is still wrong today! "Victorian" is the word which describes prudery which existed in the British Empire during Victoria's reign (1837-1901).
"The Church demanded obedience to God, submissiveness and resignation with the goal of making people more malleable to the will of the Church...  Thus emerged Methodism, Congregationalism, The Society of Friends (Quakers) and Presbyterianism. The Methodists and Presbyterians in particular stressed personal salvation through direct individual faith in Jesus Christ's sacrificial death and resurrection on the behalf of sinners, as taught in the New Testament Gospels and the writings of the Apostles Peter, James and Paul...they combined both their religious beliefs with individual duty—duty to one's God, fellow man, social class, neighbour, the poor and the ill." (Wikipedia on Victorian Morality").
I'm old fashioned. Much of my furniture is antique, much from the Victorian era. I even sleep in a Victorian bed (Eastlake).  I not only admire the Victorian era for morals, but for its beauty and utility.

People were more religious in Victorian times. True, people still sinned, but were respectable enough to keep sin out of public life. Sure, that was hypocrisy on the part of Christians, but at the minimum, there was shame in sinning. People still were sinners; they just never tried to justify what they did. Nobody could say "everybody is doing it" because there was shame in sinning, but better yet, "most people were not flagrant sinners"!

"Flagrant" is used in the context of "proud sinners". These people chose not to sin with an "in your face, take me as I am attitude". With their individual relationship with God, most Victorians endeavored to do right. Their desire was to please God and they wanted others to do the same. In effect being a Christian was "cool" in Victorian times and society in general was generous to those people of faith! I'm old fashioned. I believe that being a Christian is an honorable thing, but more important than my thoughts, is that Christianity in God's eyes is a necessary thing!
Romans 6:23 (ESV) "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
I'm old fashioned! I believe in rewards and punishments for what we believe and how we live! I'm old fashioned. My hope is eternal life and to live forever. My desire is to be old fashioned. It's no longer in vogue, but I desire to please God! In fact in order to show that I love God, the only way I have to do that is to give him a gift. I am a living sacrifice in that I must sacrifice myself:
 Romans 12:1  (ESV)  "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
That is old fashioned, but it's what God's will is for us! We are to sacrifice ourselves by obeying God, which is to say, "quit doing what I want to do and do what God wants me to do". That's old fashioned, and is the way we show our love for God! What is also old fashioned, is that sin has always been and it's old fashioned too! However, we're not to conform to the standards of the world, but are to become new creatures, discerning the will of God and living it! That part is old fashioned, but in a righteous context!

Now, lets' look at the modern era: contemporary society.  We live the same now as in the days of Noah:
Genesis 6:12 (ESV) "And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth." Matthew 24:37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man."
Yes, sin is old fashioned too, but so is paying the penalty for sin. God destroyed the earth because sin was in vogue, and he's going to do that again! Mankind has yet to learn its lesson! Living for Jesus is the only way to be saved from destruction, but that's Victorian... that's old fashioned. It's sin that's in vogue today. People doing what's right in their own eyes! (Deuteronomy 12:8).

At one era of my life, most people were ashamed of their sin. In my town for the few who chose to drink alcohol, they bought it in another town and drank it at home. I know that people fornicated. There were a few in my small town, but it was merely rumored. People were ashamed of their lascivious behavior because they knew it was wrong and condemned by their fellow men. Being ashamed is now old fashioned. People are proud of their sins and display the sin for all to see! It's because they are reprobate and know they're damned. Their choice is, since they are damned anyway, why not enjoy the pleasure of sin?

Christians are going along for the ride! They, as their fleshly brothers, have little shame. Their entertainment is the same entertainment as their lost (and damned) brothers and sisters. Oftentimes the only way to know if a person is a Christian is because they claim to be. There is little righteousness in most Christians lives for if they loved God, as they say they do, they would obey his commands. (1 John 2:3).

On February 14, 2015 two movies came out. Fifty Shades of Grey set records. I wasn't there because I'm old fashioned. I believe sex is for husband and wife, it's a private adventure, it's not to be confused with violence and it's not so that others can be entertained by watching it! That's old fashioned thinking because today "anything goes" just as in the times of Noah and Sodom and Gomorrah.  The second movies was Old Fashioned. Have you even heard of it? I had not until yesterday.

While many Christians flocked to see Fifty Shades of Grey, many obedient people did stay away.  That was the right thing to do! What Satan had to show them was of little interest. Maybe other people were a little old fashioned as well because now people have caught on: Christians, no... no one, should watch pornography disguised as art. There is nothing artful about sadistic and masochistic sex. It's for deviates because that's what deviates do!

Few people saw the alternative, Old Fashioned! I did! I'm old fashioned and that's what's entertaining to me. However, I've never been a prude, and have been a great sinner, but I really enjoyed this movie! As I can, a great sinner, this movie can be enjoyed by anyone. I saw it last night with a young friend who also is old fashioned. It was shown only at 4:00 p.m. because few people wanted to see it. In the large theater were only about ten people. It seems that people prefer the prurient to what is pure! They are old fashioned too, but in a fleshly sense!

Let me recommend that you see this movie, and I won't give away the plot. It is about Christian principle. It's about a great sinner who received the light and endeavored to do the will of God. Although the man was single, he had a desire for a young tenant of his living above the antique store fittingly called "Old Fashioned". Because of his fleshly desires he would not be in a private place alone with her and could not kiss other than on the cheek. That's old fashioned thinking, but that's the type of relationship God expects in an engagement!

Old Fashioned is about world's colliding. I use that term often when speaking of relationships between two members of the opposite sex, but in this movie, the male lead had his own two worlds colliding. Their was tension between what he desired to do and how he should behave. That tension carried over into his relationship with the female lead. His new person that he was, caused tension with the girl of interest. This movie is not about neither sex nor religion, it's about pure relationships! It's about not being blinded by what individuals desire and about what society expects, but about honesty in relationships. Honesty carries over into fairness. It's about fairness in relationships!

The prurient will enjoy this movie along with the pure, but for different reasons. People who're used to seeing others "using" will see the bright side in fidelity! Even the most lustful will see desire in what's pure. This movie made me want to be even more blameless than what I now only try to be. It's a lesson on the freedom that there is in obedience; the load lifted from the guilty! If we all could have Christian principles, life would be so much easier, there would be less strife and God would be more pleased with his creation.

On the realistic side, the movie ends when the paramour quits obeying because of obedience sake, and realizes that there is a pleasurable side to obedience as well. He came to see that there is liberty in obedience as long as it's done with righteous motives. This Old Fashioned  movie was quite entertaining! There was something else Old Fashioned:  the movie had a happy ending without a the climax sinners come to expect. I won't give that away, but will leave that for the viewer to see. Four thumbs up without one curse word or sex scene!



Thursday, February 26, 2015

Otis Campbell: Set Apart in Liberty

For you Andy Griffith Show fans, Otis Campbell was the town drunk.  According to Wikipedia::
"Otis works as a glue dipper in a furniture factory Monday through Friday and drinks all weekend. After a binge, Otis will usually lock himself in the town jail until he is sober. He has a key to the front door of the courthouse and the cell keys are hung on a nail near the cells (presumably, to accommodate Otis)."
The typical weekend has Otis in jail with the key to the cell within reach. He enters the jail, locks himself in, then rehangs the key conveniently so freedom is easily obtained. When he becomes interested in other matters Otis merely reaches for the key, unlocks the cell and meanders forth at will. Otis is in jail, but has liberty!

Why  bother? Why incarcerate a person who is harmless? Why does Otis cage himself? Perhaps it's for safety. Not to protect others from Otis, but jail is a safe haven for him! Maybe he's out of marital danger by staying clear of Mrs. Campbell when he's incapacitated. Otis is in a jail of his own making, but yet is as free than a bird!

If Andy was cautious, he would lock Otis in and hang the key far out of reach! If Andy did that Otis' liberty would be forcibly  ended. Rather than free, Otis would be subdued. It is likely that he would yearn for freedom and resent being imprisoned. In both cases Otis is in jail. In his safe space he has the key to freedom. He's in control of where he is. On the weekends his desire is to be in jail!

If Andy has the key, Otis is still in  jail, but it's no longer his safe space. It's prison.

In the former case he's free to leave, but willingly stays. In the latter case he's incarcerated, and surely wants to leave. Because of who controls the key is the difference between safe haven and prison. He has bars either way, but in one case, the bars are his idea, and in the other, it's Andy's!

Freedom is when people have the liberty to control their own destiny. That's a basic need. No sane person wants for others to regulate them (excluding brain-washed socialists), but are delighted to regulate themselves when the situation arises.

I'm a proponent of freedom and hate regulation. However, for my own safety I do things voluntarily, whereas others are forced to comply. For instance, I started wearing seat belts while driving before it became mandatory. I made myself safe at my own volition and never had to forfeit my liberty by awaiting laws which coerce coerce!

Christians have liberty too!
Galatians 5:1 "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
This is the same concept as Otis in jail. With the key out of reach and the cell locked, Otis is in bondage. With the key within reach Otis has liberty, although in both situations, Otis is behind bars!

The jail cell symbolizes Mosaic Law.  It has bars and those who live under The Law reside in that jail. They are in bondage to the jailer. They believe the jailer is God (whom Andy symbolizes), but it's really an inept pretender for sheriff named Satan (symbolized by Barney, assuming Barney is in charge that weekend). Whereas, Andy is gracious and allows Otis liberty, it seems that Barney, when acting as sheriff, keeps the key and tells Otis he's not really locked in!

With our new person-hood in Christ, works of The Law  are still there. We follow the ones that are God's Laws. However, we carry our own key.We still reside within The Law, but we don't have to! We can walk away anytime, just as Otis could, but we choose to abide safely with God's regulations. We still are lawful, but we're at liberty to be unlawful. We reside in the law because we feel safe there and it pleases God. We show him that we love him by obeying his commands even when we don't have because of fear of punishment.

Because we have liberty and obey freely God's will, we are content in our self-made jail. It's comfortable there and we are near the one who truly loves us (Andy being symbolic).  We stay in jail because we love the jailer, but it's not really jail (as Otis's is not) because we have access to freedom since the key is always there where we can reach it!

Having our own key allows us to choose whether we obey God's commands or not.  His desire is that we do, but his grace (like Andy's) doesn't insist that we obey when our heart is not in it! They key is in our hands and we show our love when we remain

We have a friend in Jesus (as did Otis with Andy). He stands right outside The Law, not requiring it for us to be safe, but commanding that we obey it out of love for him. Andy stood outside the cell by Otis. The cell wasn't locked. Otis stayed in the cell because he loved and respected Andy. It wasn't bars that coerced him, but love that encouraged him. Andy was the "key" for having the desire to stay in a sanctified place, and Jesus is the key for our desiring to be sanctified!

What if Otis had left the jail? Andy would have followed and encouraged him to return. "Otis, we love you here and it's safe inside. As long as you're here, I can protect you." Otis is able to leave, but out of love and respect for Andy, and using wisdom, he will return to his cell.

The cell with Andy as it's keeper sets Otis apart from the world. He was safe while he was inside, away from the dangers to which he may expose himself. With sanctification we are set apart with God as the keeper of the key, but God hangs that key within our reach! Sanctification is the hedge that God puts around us to protect and shield us. It's not a hedge with bars like a jail, but is a spiritual hedge. There are no bars. It's merely that our cell mate is a helper.

(To understand how God works read the Book of Job. It's symbolic of "salvation" and is about the hedge with which God shields Job. Job always has the freedom to leave the protective hedge, but he stays there out of love for God, although the rewards for leaving seem desirable!)

Of course Otis had no helper to assist him in jail, but we have that advantage.  Our jail is no jail, but we are enclosed within bars of love. It restrains us, but gives us the liberty to deviate from God's will. While we have liberty, it's love that keeps us, not coercion. That's freedom. We obey out of our own desire, and God doesn't have to be a jailer. Now that's what I call the Law of Christ!

Otis stayed incarcerated to keep him safe from inebriation. He was helping himself while preventing others harm. We set ourselves apart through the Spirit and the justice we fulfill is loving one another. That's the Law of Christ!
Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
The key to liberty is loving God and others. We obey the commandments because we do it out of love. God's plan is one of grace and by grace, he's not a jailer, he's a protector! (Andy wasn't much of a jailer either, come to think of it. He was a protector!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Two Acts of Most Serious Business

I have often written of the institution of what we casually call "salvation". It's serious business and it is an institution! An institution is based on the establishment of a relationship. People become part of an institution because they want to be part of the family with those with whom they share commonalities. In becoming a Christian the desire is to have the hope of salvation!

No, people are not "saved" because they love Jesus; they seek salvation because they fear the consequences! Love comes from the relationship born-again persons have with the one who recreates them, more in his image this time than at the first birth. Salvation, according to the Bible is not based on love, it's avoiding "burning" for hell has the fury of flaming fire. We seek Jesus to avoid eternal damnation. Our love for Jesus is demonstrated by obeying him, and in doing so a relationship blossoms. What we once did in obedience becomes love through obedience. Obedience is the mechanism which makes love grow. With the infilling of the Holy Spirit Jesus and the born again person become one!

Jesus likens being "born again" to a "marriage". He calls himself the bridegroom and the church the bride. The "church" is that "institution" to which one belongs after being born again. Before they were a lone individual, but with being born again, Christians lose their individualism and become part of the institution. Those who are new persons at salvation give up their individual identity and their parent, the "world", and live in the New World, the institution called "the kingdom of God". It's a spiritual institution where their is hope, faith and joy! It's "the church" and the institution are for those who have known the bridegroom and are faithful to him. To be part of the church requires trust in Jesus.

We are born again because we fear burning! Likewise, Paul says "it's better to marry than to burn". (1 Cor 7:9). It doesn't say that we are to marry because we love one another. We only promise to do that. As with "loving God" that's not part of our marriage with him, likewise "loving" our betrothed isn't something we have, but promise to do! For those within the church there are those whose desire is to undermine the institution. Satan's and his demons' sole purpose is to dissolve the church and take down the institution.  In a similar manner, since marriage is a picture of the church, those same demons are there to destroy the institution of marriage!

We recognize demonic influences within the church because they tempt us to do evil. We make choices and either obey God or sin. Those same evil forces are at work in a marriage. They tempt the two parties to find fault and do what's right in their own eyes. The unity is breached because evil forces desire that we remain two and dissolve what should be one; two people in unity.

With being born again we give up the world and become one with God. In marriage we give up our parents and become one with the spouse. Marriage is then a picture of the church. It's two who believe in the institution, have faith that it's is meant to be and do "works" to show love and make it successful. Work is not easy! That's why it's called "work"!

A marriage with Jesus can end in disaster! Jesus says that we can fornicate. We turn to other gods, which in effect is endeavoring to please our self, the god we have "beside" the One True God. Those who leave Jesus, leave to please the self! They cease being in unity with Jesus and become one with the world again. Unfortunately, with the institution of the church, divorce is for one time! It's not something we jump in and out of as people do in marriages. A relationship with Jesus is meant to be forever, and so too is a marriage!

Once we're in the church, and in fellowship with Jesus, our initial motivation was to have our skins saved from burning,  then grows into love. As I said before, love is the outcome of doing things to please the groom. There becomes a mutual satisfaction in serving and being served. Communion develops as love grows. Remember, the relationship started in obedience, but grows as faith grows. Faith is trusting in the Lord, and as trust increases the marriage with Jesus becomes more institutionalized. It is founded on solid rock and we as individual stones with the strength of the Cornerstone (Jesus) together become invincible! As the Cornerstone, Jesus will never leave the institution of the church and will always be one with the believer!

Marriage is the same way! Out of our desire not to burn, we marry. Face it, marriages are for two reasons: companionship (Adam and his help-mate) and to quench the fire of lust (Paul's admonition). Nowhere does the Bible say that marriage is for love. "Love" is the outcome of the relationship in marriage and results because of unity with each other! Individuals cease being and thoughts become of the twain. Rather than what's good for each, it becomes what's good both. That's a marriage. It's a loss of individuality and being born a new person. You were born individuals, but born again as twins! Where once you were one with the world, now you are one new person whose characteristic is mutual benefit.

Satan works to separate the unity in marriage just as he does to destroy the church. He tries to steal the marriage partner from the church by offering a whore with which to fornicate. That "whore" is anything which causes one to take their eyes off the groom and put it on the "self". Those who fall to temptation resume their lustful relationship with the "self", their former god. It may be of course sex, but is usually any desire of self-interest. Rather than a working relationship. Satan tugs at each to "do it my way"! Before long even firm Christians who love the groom abandon him for the lust of individuality!

Marriage is the same way. Satan throws darts at the marriage, the institution of God, by conflicts. It may be money, power, independence, guilt, jealousy, irrational thinking, medical problems or any dart Satan can find in  his arsenal. All are lethal and he smiles as he chooses which to use. In strong marriages Satan has to use many darts, In weak marriages with little unity and strong individualism, a small dart will do!

People fail in marriage. It's as it was when dating. When the infatuation dies, rather than working to love, people move on. In fact serial dating is training for failed marriages! Multiple marriages are caused because someone failed. They were struck by a dart from Satan and the marriage died. Failed marriages are similar to reincarnation. People are reborn again only to fail again. There is no "good karma" to be found because failure breeds failure. "Good karma" isn't in the next because good marriages aren't founded on the experiences of succumbing to Satan. Of course there is no such thing as karma anyway, but it's the same method of deceit.

People who fail in marriage don't fail each other. They fail God. His desire is that marriage be forever and that's the vowel each take. We promise to "love, honor and cherish", but marriages without unity is merely "co-existence, mistrust and neglect".  That's a weak foundation and easy to topple. It takes few darts to penetrate that mere film of a barrier. Satan laughs as he hurls another dart and awaits collapse!

What do we need to do to avoid the snares of Satan in our marriage? We recognize marriage for what it is! It's being born again from one person into unity with another. It's a picture of the church and as such we're to work to make it one of love. But what is love?
1 Corinthians 13:4 (ESV) "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends."
Look at what love is! Patient and kind. Lovers don't snap at each other nor are they irritable, looking for a fight; seeking their own way. Lovers give the benefit of the doubt where questions exist. Lovers don't assume the worst because worse comes with thinking worse things. Love bears all things. It stands up to the darts hurled by those who endeavor to see it fail! Love is believing in and trusting the other as each individual desires the trust of the other. It shares a common hope and that hope is in success. It's commitment that drives that hope! Love endures all the snares set by Satan. It endures through the acts of defilement from those who wish it to fail. Love is not for a spell, love never ends!

Love is not where one is irritable with the other. It's applying The Golden Rule to the marriage just as we are for those of us in the church. Love isn't between two who resent each other. Love is being one together. It's not looking for the worst in others, but seeing the attributes that are there, but require clear vision. There is one way to avoid failure, that is to work on love! It's more than an emotion which lust is! It's growing in unity, and as a garden needs work to flourish, love needs work to blossom! What can go wrong with love? Love never fails!

I'm faithful in my love for Jesus. I fail him often, but he works with me. Because of his grace, I love him more as we become closer together. We will never be entirely one, but I try to be the best help-mate that I can be. I endeavor to grow my love. As such, he loves me back. Our love will endure and I, as he will never leave me nor forsake me, because I love him, I am here to stay!

That's the same as my marriage. I fail often, but work on it always. I love more now than I did when I merely burned and longed for companionship. My love will endure because I take it seriously! It's a picture of my relationship with Christ and to fail in my marriage would be a reflection on my devotion to Christ. Marriage is being born again and is meant to be forever! As with twins in this new birth; it's a special relationship and as it grows, two shall think as one.

Apostasy in salvation and marriage is filing for spiritual bankruptcy. God is the one who bails me out!



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Trust

The most positive word in the English lexicon is "trust"!  Without (T)ruth "(T)rust" is merely "Rust".

Let's look at the difference:
Trust - "assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something"  (Meriam-Webster Dictionary).
"Reliance" is the key idea behind trust. It's something one can depend upon. It's not there sometimes and not at other times. Just as the sun comes up each morning, reliable things or persons just are! Reliable things never let another down. It has a positive word. "Relying" on another to fail is not "reliance". It's low expectations! Expecting little from another belittles the other.

Whatever we rely upon is bound to be. We know that we can depend on the person or thing to come through. We are assured. That's a positive aspect and is in contrast to "doubt".  Doubt is ugly and is an ugly characterization. By doubting another person or ideal shows a lack of confidence and diminishes another. When one doubts another it says "I can't rely on you!". It's a lack of respect.

Therefore we have "assured reliance", but on what? Let's start with "character". That's a persons make-up. It's the true picture people have and show to others. Normally, character is the reputation one has developed. People work hard to be thought of well, and when another doubts them, it's as if a dagger is thrown at their very being! Character is developed over a lifetime and one who doubts another's character is tearing down their very life.

The trust of "assured reliance" is also on another's abilities. It's the attitude of "I can depend on you because you are able!". Some people work hard for others. Their entire life is devoted to provide and they are good at it. Failure to recognize a person's abilities shows a lack of trust. It's saying "You won't do what you're able to do when I need you!" Most people work hard to advance themselves so that they are educated to qualify for jobs they need to provide for others. "Trust" is being assured that the one you can depend on is able to be there with what you need when you need it! An insult is when one trusts another for abilities, but don't trust in other aspects. This denigrates a person because that's not true trust. It's mere dependence. What's worse is when another accepts the fruits of one's abilities, but fail to honor those abilities!

The next aspect of assured reliance in trusting is "strength". Not only does the other have physical strength, but must be counted on for spiritual and moral strength. Recognizing the stature of another entails more than physical abilities, but recognizing that they are strong in morals and conscience. Their strength too is not because of intimidation, but because they are inherently strong. Belittling a person's moral strength is showing a lack of trust. We are strong, not because others keep us in line, but because that's part of our character!

Trust is firm reliance that another thing or person is truthful. A lack of trust in the integrity and fidelity of another is belittling. Oftentimes a person's M.O. is doubting the integrity of another because they themselves are untruthful. Truth has more aspects than agreeing with objective reality. It's respecting another's ability to be truthful and honoring the space of another. Adults don't need policemen to keep them in line. Truthful people are truthful because that's their desire! People have their own moral code, be it of humanity or religiosity to speak, behave and be truthful. When one's truth is doubted, it's saying I don't trust you!"

This last aspect of trust is the one which, when lacking, can cause "rust"!  Rust is disintegration over time! It's when rather than "assured reliance" is replaced by ample doses of oxygen and water. Given enough time iron will disintegrate. It oxidizes and becomes rust. The oxygen and water which contributes to rust are doubt and suspicion. Given enough time, iron will rust with water and oxygen. Given enough time the iron in you life will rust with doubt and suspicion!

Relationships corrode over time when trust is not there. Instead of trust, only rust remains. Eventually, the rust will become so profound that it just becomes part of the surroundings! When trust is not there, relationships have the same destiny. They merely disappear into the sands of time.

Rust occurs because there are ingredients which contribute to disintegration. Adding salt to water and oxygen accelerates rust. In life, demons are the salt. Yes, I realize that we are the salt of the earth, but that salt has lost its savor, it is a corrosive salt, and that salt is a season of Satan! He's a salt substitute and his alkalinity is abrasive! His salt destroys. Rather than having bitter salt within us, our  salt must have savor!

We are to trust in the Lord!
Psalm 18:2 "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower."
Take a look at "trusting the Lord". He is "my rock". He's dependable! He is my "fortress". He is strong! He is my "deliverer". He has abilities! He is my "strength". He is strong! That fits the dictionary definition of "trust" to a tee because God too is "Truth":
 Psalm 31:5 "Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth."
Believing in Jesus is more than allowing that he exists. It's enduring faith in who he is and relying on his attributes. That's trust! Without depending on him being "Truth" his other attributes are of no significance. Without the "T" for "Truth", your relationship with Jesus will "rust". It will, with the lost savor in the salt, disintegrate and disappear into the soils of the world.

Trust is an important ingredient in our relationship with Christ. Can you imagine the turmoil we would undergo if we failed to trust Jesus on who we have "assured reliance". Jesus would hurt. He would cry. He wants our trust and without our trust, there is no relationship with him and no communion with God.

Always trust in Jesus! Don't let a good relationship disintegrate with rust. Hold fast to what you have. Have faith is Jesus and trust him for he will never fail you! Why? Because he loves you!



Monday, February 23, 2015

The Academy Awards

The awards show was all over the news this morning. I never saw any of the shows nominated, hence I'm the winner! Likewise, I never watched the awards show, so I won again! Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your applause. I want to take this time to thank Jesus for directing me!

On the other hand, here is Kathy Griffin's quote at the 59th Academy Awards:
 “Suck it, Jesus, this award is my God now!” (Italics mine).
Kathy bravely spoke what it seems most actors believe. Their life and their movies are their witness. When God commanded "Thou shalt have no other gods before me.", the primary god to which he was referring was the worship of the self. Yes, I keep harping on this self-worship, because people think in terms of idols of wood, stone and gold. The main idol is of flesh and Kathy said it well. In effect it wasn't the Oscar statue which was her God now, but the "award" itself. Kathy candidly admitted " I worship myself!"

When I was a child preachers warned of the dangers of television and movies. Few heeded the warning then because most popular entertainment at that time was innocent by today's standards. However, even in the early days the entertainment industry was prurient. It was only a matter of time before society became as degenerate as the actors already were. Society, even Christians, have become acclimated!

Preachers were right! They prophesied accurately. The entertainment industry today is hedonistic and lascivious. Along with the entertainment, viewers have became as rotten as what they watch. Even psychologists recognize the vicarious effects of entertainment on beliefs and behaviors. We become what we take in!  Truly today Hollywood has become as Sodom and Gomorrah!

Let me recount the society of those cities: God sent two angels to Sodom. They went into Lot's house for the evening. All the men of the city came and demanded sex with the male angels. Lot offered his daughters, but the corrupt men demanded that they have the men.

The angels forewarned Lot that God was going to destroy the cities and that they should leave so that they not be influenced by the iniquity of the cities. God did destroy as he said he would:
Genesis 19:24 "Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground."
God despises iniquity. In this case iniquity was homosexuality. He calls it "an abomination". The behavior of homosexuality is "disgusting" to the Lord. He made that clear by destroying the twin cities of  evil.

I heard a Methodist Bishop say one day that he had a "revelation". It came to him that Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed because of homosexuality, but because of homophobia! It's a sad day when Christian ministers, as the angels warned, are influenced by staying in the city. God has a special place reserved in hell for false teachers such as this minister!

Is it a coincidence that the host of the Oscars was last evening was Neil Patrick Harris? For those who care, Harris married David Burtka in 2014. Everything has a purpose! His selection is no accident. Those sponsors of the awards show are influencing America. They are propagating the sin of homosexuality as a new "normal". Hollywood is the new Sodom, the term used to describe degenerate male homosexual intercourse.

Hollywood is what Christians should expect out of the world. It's pleasure to which worldly people bow:

The writer of the Book of Jude spoke of iniquity before, then and now:
Jude 1:6 "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
The first verse tells of the angels who sinned and were expelled from heaven. They are the demons who now entice people to sin. Their goal is that all men be isolated from God as they are. Their destiny is the fiery pit and they will take as many of us as they can into the same pit!

The second verse reinforces the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. "Strange flesh" refers to same-sex intercourse and "fornication" is illicit sex. Hollywood and it's productions are dens of iniquity; hotbeds of strange flesh and fornication! Christians should flee this city and its influences or we will become as they are!

The third verse is us! People who watch the filth of Hollywood are "filthy dreamers" and as such "defile the flesh". As with the fallen angels and the citizens of Sodom, contemporary people will be destroyed by fire. Because the flesh is defiled, the destiny of citizens of modern Gomorrah's will linger in hell for eternity!

I marvel at how Christians can sit through homosexual scenes, fornication, filthy language, and pay for filthy lucre!  God told Lot and his family to flee Sodom so that they not be influenced by the sin there! Christians today fail to heed God's warning and in so doing are under the influence of evil. I hear Christians, and even churches, defend same-sex marriage and have empathy for those who engage in homosexuality. They remark on the likable manners and behaviors of many who are homosexual. God despises the behavior!
Romans 1:27 "And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient..."

Paul spoke of homosexuality. He spoke of their lust for same-sex intercourse. He called it "unseemly". or inappropriate behavior and "their error". They ignore God and become reprobate. They are damned for what they do because they feel  no remorse for their behavior and desires!  Paul uses the mild expression "do those things which are not convenient", but look at what's not convenient:
Romans 1:29 "Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers..."
In short homosexuals are unrighteous, fornicators, are wicked, lust, are full of evil and deceit for they deceive themselves, and even murder! They are the victims of their own knife so to speak in that they damn themselves. We are kind to these strangers to Christianity, but Paul called spades "spades". What he said was certainly not "politically correct" even then, but when speaking God's word, he cares little for the excuses of men!

Are we to love the sinner. Most certainly! Jesus did and gave his life for him too, but if they love him, they are to obey his commands! The lack of obedience results in being reprobate or damned for their disobedience! It seems that this sin is great in the eyes of God because if a person engages in such abominable behavior, they go to far. It's difficult, even by their own admission, to turn back. Those who fail to repent and cease this behavior, are in danger of hell.

If we have our minds where the minds of the men of Sodom were, we too are under the influence of evil forces. Already Christians are buying into the influence of what society, led by Hollywood, say about homosexuality and fornication. Christians think nothing of "ignoring" sex scenes and filthy language to be "entertained". However, we ARE under the influence of demonic forces when we sit there and enjoy the iniquity of Hollywood! As Christians, we're to be sanctified, or set apart from the world!
1 Corinthians 6:10 "Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
Sanctification is "not sinning". Paul speaks of some sins which we are to avoid, but the list is not comprehensive. He fails to include those named as "inconvenient" because they are so "unseemly" for the Christian to even consider!

James tells us to "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7). Sitting there watching trash is not resisting the devil, so why would he flee from you since you have joined him in pleasure?

Imagine if you will: The movie opens. People openly have sex in the city. Men come to the house to have homosexual sex and get biligerent with righteous people. Rather than the city being destroyed by fire and brimstone, a large sign is erected on the mountain "SODOM'. People come from all over to meet the people of this city and admire them for their work. Many of the fornicators and homosexuals have their handprints in cement outside fancy restaurants. People come to place their hands atop the handprints of deviates.

Then these fornicators and homosexuals have an annual show where they reward each other for the lasciviousness released that year. People watch them in awe as they worship the works of their own hands. Many of these entertainers denigrate God and righteousness. Christians applaud what they produce remarking "It only had one sex scene!" or "They only used the F-word once!". Then we sit through "wholesome" movies which has a barrage of f-words which we claim to ignore!

Christians are no different than citizens of sin city. They idolize this city, it's pleasures and it's citizens. They pay much money to sit through what should only be done in private and is reprehensible to what Jesus taught. This "imagined" scene is reality! It's Christians buying into evil! It's us enjoying what the demons spew at us. Perhaps it is too late. We have become influenced already! Sanctified? Surely not! We are dirty pigs wallowing in the same grime as Sodomites. God help us!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hurt Feelings

We all get "hurt feelings"! It's when a Lego is thrown and bruises our ego. In this case a Lego would be any verbal barb or a slight. The "ego" is how you perceive yourself.  It's how you adapt to the things around you. Having an ego, we also have defense mechanisms. When Legos are thrown, an invisible protective shield is raised. Along with the shield comes weapons of mass destruction. Lego's hurt egos!

"Hurt feelings" are the invisible protective shield, but rather than shielding the ego, it accepts the pain inflicted by the Lego. We all know how bad it hurts when we step on a Lego! Pain shoots right up the foot, through the leg and into the brain. It happens so quickly that we can't prepare by "shielding" and the brain accepts all the pain and tells the foot to hurt. We normally wince, the mechanism of defeat!

Just as real Legos inflict pain, verbal and humiliation Legos inflict real pain,! It's different, but is both physical and emotional.. Our "feelings hurt" because we do love ourselves and emotional hurt can cause physiological upsets. Never accept the idea that ANYONE has low self-esteem. Indeed too high esteem for "self" is man's main problem.
Ephesians 5:29 "For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it..."
Contrary to modern thought, man's problem is not thinking too lowly of themselves, but thinking too little of God because they're into "self". People don't commit suicide because they hate themselves, but because they are protecting the "self" from the Legos thrown by the world.
Mark 12:31b " Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.."
Let's rewrite this in the negative: "Thou shalt hate thy neighbor as you do thyself!"  Do you really think that God wants you to hate others? He wrote this scripture in a positive light because it's a given; people love themselves, even more than anything! That's why we are the standard of comparison for loving others! God knows how much we each love ourselves.

Ephesians 5:29 also speaks of our "defense mechanism".  To protect the "self" from life's Legos, we nourish and cherish ourselves. Nourishing our flesh is more than providing for it's needs, but it is also building it up; making ourselves stronger. Why? We nourish "self" because the "self" is cherished. In effect, by cherishing oneself, it's loving the "self"! This is amplified when we look at "original sin". Adam and Eve ate of the fruit and the result was  "man is become as one of us". Man's quest for himself was to become like God, knowing "good" from "evil" and with that new entity of "reason" man came to love "self" over God.

All our life the dilemma of mankind is whether to worship "self" along with God or God alone. The commandment is there for that reason "Thou shalt have no other Gods before (in addition) me!" (Exodus 20:3). God isn't satisfied with the worship of the "One True God". He is a jealous God and wants you to worship no other, even along with him. The worship of other god's is to please the "self", so in effect, mankind's most terrible God is the "self"! It's me that God is jealous of! It's you he's jealous of! He's relegated to the fact that we all love ourselves and will accept the feeble sacrifice of loving others with the same measure we love ourselves!

Our body is a system. It consists of the flesh (body), the mind (thought processes) and the soul (what's filled with spirit whether it be empty, but can't be for long;  filled with evil or with the Holy Spirit). Also, part of that system is our "personal space". It's the safe distance around our bodies which is our fortification. Others or things which infringe on that personal space becomes the enemy. It's part of the system penetrated by Legos thrown by others. It's not necessary to touch another to hurt, but only to come within a dangerous distance to their personal space.

Different people have various amounts of personal space. Some people are distant. The uni-bomber trusted no one. He lived in the wilderness alone because he didn't want others in his space.

Others allow people to get close. Some children, for instance, in their innocence, have personal spaces in close proximity to their bodies. They are trusting and allow people in!

There are two ways to get into the personal space of others: 1) physically enter it and 2) allow words, attitudes and actions to penetrate that space. Although personal space has volume and a wall, others must only guess at the size of personal space, for they can't see that wall. It's an invisible barrier, and only by experiment, can we detect the outward bounds of the personal space.

As an example, when we tease another, we can discover where the wall of another extends. We watch for "hurt feelings" or emotions of discomfort. We learn what we can do and say in the presence of another and endeavor to stay away from that protective wall. Sometimes others say things which hurt another. Their protective layer around their system has been Lego'd. When the layer is scored, the ego gets hurt and feels pain. The Lego with it's sharp edges, hurts the feelings!

Life's Lego's are real! However, there are imaginary Lego's as well! Others don't have to throw a real Lego to hurt others; it can be an imagined Lego. People see the mouth moving or misread an attitude, and their mind creates a Lego. Their is no danger of a real Lego, but in anticipation of nourishing and protecting the "self" the mind simulates a Lego and puts up a thicker layer of protection. People become defensive, and because they have to bring out additional weapons to protect the ego, the other person is perceived to be an enemy!

If that person has always been a friend, but now is perceived  an enemy, hurt is felt. A "friend" has used an imaginary Lego to attack and the system is hurt. Acids flow into the bowels as the mind tries to protect the "self". The ego is bruised and it disrupts the system. The acid-like reaction to perceived pain is real emotional hurt and it signals the body to hurt as well. The entire system becomes disrupted and the person is emotionally dysfunctional. They became hurt when no real pain was inflicted! Their system fights an imaginary war, and since the enemy is not real, the "self" is the loser. Without a real enemy as Roosevelt said:
"Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself"
Unbalanced people go around in life fearing "fear itself"! They are always ready to fight perceived enemies because they over-nourish and over-cherish their little god. Their thoughts of cherishing the "self" comes before God. The proper role for the "self" is secondary to God. When we think on the things of God, we quit worshiping the "self" so much. We must understand that it's our "self" which defeats us spiritually and from the "self" is what we need to flee!
 James 4:6 "But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."
What this means is to put your God of "self" aside and turn to the "One True God". Realize that "you" are secondary to God and you need to tear down that idol of "self" and submit to God! Purifying your heart are the steps to take in humbling your god. You wash the fleshly stain from the heart and prepare your "self" sacrifice to God. You allow God to enter the "system" described earlier. Whatever abodes in the cup of the soul needs to flee. By purifying the "self" by cleansing the soul, God moves into the system. The ego become deflated and the soul inflated. The system changes and becomes balanced. When the devil flees its residence in your system "Hurt feelings" are replaced by love and submission. That enemy who you perceived threw Lego's at you... now you love him as you do your little god... yourself!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Look at Them: They Are You!

It was the Jews who taught genealogy. It was important to them that Jesus was to be the son (descendant) of David!  Paul warned against these matters without pertinence:
1 Timothy 1:3 (ESV) "As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."
I have my genealogy from me back to Adam. It's from me on my paternal path back to Lewis Green and his wife, Elizabeth Lauderdale and the "House of Lauderdale" of Scotland, with surname Maitland. It then goes back through the Scottish nobility to the Stewart kings back to the earliest king of Ireland who married, so they say, Tea Tephi, daughter of King Zedikiah and wife of the first Irish King Heremon. Then Zedikiah is traced back through the Bible to the Israelite kings to King David and back from him to Adam and Eve; 155 generations in all!

If this genealogy is accurate and unbroken, that's impressive, but to whom? Merely to me because all of us are descended from Adam and that's clear from the Bible. As the old saying goes "that and a dime won't even buy a cup of coffee"!  God cares little about our origins, but about each of  us and our hearts!

Analytical (Jungian) Psychology teaches that we're composites of all who came before us. Indeed we are, or with one person missing from our genealogy, we would not be! Jung called our personalities our "collective unconscious". Our personalities are not only handed down from our parents, grandparents, etc. but from our primitive ancestors. Even our appearance is a collection of stature, complexion and features of all who came before us!

As I sit here, I see a photo of my great-grandmother Elizabeth Jane Randolph. It's eerie; I am her. She looks identical to me when I was in middle school. Looking as she looks has its advantages and disadvantages. People judge by appearances, and I'm sure that I was judged just as she was judged.

With time, I have become my Dad!  In my youth, one time I thought "I wish he was dead so I could do whatever I want to do!" Now he is dead and I do what I want to do, but it's things he taught me! I especially admire his sanctified life, but fall short, to God's disappointment! Dad is a replica of his Dad, etc. All my ancestors made me what I am today!

We often look at our paternal line, but some societies use the maternal system of ancestry and naming conventions. My tenth-great-grandmother through her female lines has as much influence on me as does my paternal line. Genealogy is binomial.  My parents are are for generation n=1: 2 x 1 = 2, my grandparents are for generation n=2:  2 x 2 + 4, my great grandparents are for generation n=3: 2 x 2 x 2 = 8. You can see that this is 2 to the nth  where n = number of generations. After ten generations without marrying any relatives, then it's 2(10th) = 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 1024 ancestors and after 30 generations it's 2(30th) =  . 1,073,741,824 (1 billion ancestors)! (Of course I had cousins who married and trimmed my tree!)

Is it now clear why Paul said  "not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies". It has no significance in our spiritual lives. Even if I'm of the House of David, so are most people! Jesus was a common man; a mere carpenter. He was of the House of David, just as I am. However, that made him no different than most people of his day who kept track of endless genealogies; something very important to the Jews!

Jews took pride in their pure blood; their Hebrew blood. They always believed that they were God's chosen people! God did use Abraham, their ancestor, to make their nation as the sands of the seas. However, Abraham is also the father of gentiles as well. God had a mystery for those who took pride in  being God's chosen people! What is that mystery?
Colossians 1:25 "Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; 26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:"
The mystery is two-fold: 1) salvation is through Christ and 2) salvation is for all, even the gentile! This mystery fulfills the word of God and was always the intent of God. Therefore, endless Jewish genealogies have no significance! Just as Jesus is the son of David, he's also the son of Rahab, a non-Hebrew prostitute, and Ruth, a Moabite servant.  How can we impress Jesus with our grandiose line when it's just as tattered as his? (And ours doesn't include God until we're adopted!)

Paul also says not to "devote ourselves to myths" and follows that up with "endless genealogies". I assure the reader, my genealogy is a myth! There is no way that 155 generations can be tracked over 6000 years without error! With one error, the remainder is all myth. I accepted my James Maitland Lauderdale ancestor for a time, but found out later that he was merely "James Lauderdale", a likely, but unproven, member of the House of Lauderdale! That means that the previous 146 generations is mythology; or wishful thinking!

If genealogies are false spiritual teaching, then what is truthful teaching? It goes back to Paul's letter:
1 Timothy 1:5 "The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."
Rather than accepting endless genealogies, or stature, as divine attributes, it's all about LOVE! Godly love comes from: 1) a pure heart, 2) a good conscious and 3) sincere faith.

A "pure heart" is doing God's will. It's not contaminated by evil. Those with pure hearts have a desire to please God. That's the ultimate form of showing love for him!

Our conscience is that Jungian thing. It's who we are, but what we are is checked by who lives within us! As born-again believer's the Holy Ghost resides in our previously vacant (or demon-possessed) soul.  As we behave as we do and think the thoughts mortals think, the Holy Ghost is our check valve, so to speak. He governs our thoughts and actions. He is always there asking: "Will this please Jesus?". Those with a "good conscious" are those who follow the direction of the Holy Ghost left here to guide and teach us!

"Sincere faith" is part of loving God. With that we believe he is who he says that he is, and did what scripture says he did for us, and we trust him with our life and eternal destiny. Our lives become "all about Jesus" since he is "The Way" and only way! That's sincerity! A casual faith in "Providence" is not sufficient. It's dependence and solid trust.

Since I go back to Adam regardless of the path to him, because of my "collective unconscious" I'm in trouble because of "original sin". Jung was right about that! I have reason and free will because Adam sinned and so has his entire line since:
Romans 5:12 "Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned..."
So if you think "I've been good!" think again. Jesus says that all your "good" is as filthy rags to him! How is it that we are saved if "doing good" is a mockery?
Romans 5:17" For if by one man's (Adam's) offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)"
It took one sin by one ancestor of us all, to merit death for each of us, but as Adam caused death for all of us, it's by one man, Jesus, whose grace will save us all! You see, there is hope! It's not in who we are or from where we came, but in whom we have faith!

Roman Catholics trace an endless priestly genealogy back to Peter! The Roman church was built on Peter because his tomb lies beneath the building, but the church is built on Christ, the cornerstone of his spiritual church. Because Pope Whomever is head of the church is of no significance. In fact it's a false teaching.

Likewise, those Landmark Baptists who believe that they are of the direct line of John the Baptist (Trail of Blood), teach the same false teaching! It's not who we were or from whom we descend, but in whom we have believed!








Friday, February 20, 2015

God Does Expect Our Love

Dr. David Jeremiah said  "God loves us without expecting our love in return!" (paraphrased).  Is that true? Scripture strongly shows that there is one thing that God truly desires and expects: He EXPECTS us to love him in return! That's what he expects, but knows that's not what he's going to get. However, he loves us even when he knows that few will love him. Better said is that "God loves us unconditionally!"

Let's take the prodigal son for example, not the one in the Bible, but our own. Many of us have a foolish son or daughter; some even both. We have sons who rebel against our authority and never heed our advice. They can't follow rules within the home and certainly not in the community. To exert their independence from rules, they go their own way. That way is the wrong way and the good parents grieve for the adult child. However, our love never ceases! We do expect the child to love us back, it just doesn't happen, but we love them anyway!
Luke 15:18 "I (the prodigal son) will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry."
This is the same relationship that we as "prodigal children" have with God! We are foolish in our living, fail to submit to God's authority and love him not; but when we show remorse, God takes us back without question! In the example, there is one thing the father expected: he expected his son to love him. The son didn't, but the father loved him anyway and when the wayward son came back, the father was there ready to love him! The son saw the error of his ways and it's implied that the son loved him back because he came back and showed enthusiasm for his father!

That's the same way God is with us! He expects our love and loves us even when it's not returned! That's mercy because of God's grace:
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
This  verse does not say that God loves us IF we love him! Being prodigal children, his love is always ready for us to accept. He loves his creation so much that he sacrificed his own first born, even when we rejected him. Although God knows that almost all of mankind will reject him, his desire is that all shall come to him and love him back, but step one for him, is if we believe in him. It's a trusting belief, but is devoid of love. We come to God because our desire is to save ourselves, but because he saves us, God expects us to love him back!

 Proverbs 8:17a  "I (God) love them that love me..."
Proverbs 8:21 "That I (God) may cause those that love me (God) to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures."
Exodus 20:6 "And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."
Deuteronomy 5:10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
John 14:15 "If ye love me, keep my commandments."
John 14:23 "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."  
1 Corinthians 8:3 "But if any man love God, the same is known of him. " 
John 16:27 "For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me (Jesus), and have believed that I came out from God."
These verses show one thing: God does expect our love! From Genesis through Revelation  that is the common theme of which God expects!  He doesn't want a prodigal son to come to him and remain foolish and rebellious. He expects his sons to love him back, and how do we show that love?  We "keep my (God's) commandments!" Those commandments are to love him back and to love others!  Love is quantified and operationalized by The Ten Commandments, God's Law.

I'm sure that Dr. Jeremiah spoke in haste. I'm sure that he knows that God does expect those who call him Father to love him back, and God even tells his children that they must love Jesus, who is "God With Us"! (John 16:27).

God loves us upfront, realizing that it may be unrequited love. In truth, he knows of those who believe, don't yet love him, but he provides the "hope of salvation" anyway! Upon being forgiven, we soon realize " I escaped eternal death by trusting God!" Our trust, combined with our devotion, changes selfish preservation into love for the one who preserved! It starts as obligatory love, but with maturity, it's emotional love of God. I realized this difference when I became able to cry because of God's mercy for me! Hence, love is not only an emotion, but a "work" and we must endeavor to love God by our works!
James 2:26 "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
"Works" are those actions and behaviors which show God that we are no longer prodigal. We love him for our welcome home! A demonstration of that love, and what the Father expects, is that we have learned our wayward lesson. We are destitute without him, and now we're ready to love! Our readiness is not merely one of trust, but doing! Oh, what are we to do? Obey his commandments!

Which commandments are those? It's The Ten Commandments because in Exodus Chapter 20 he lists them and says:
 Exodus 20:6 "And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."
What he said when he delivered the commandments is no different than what John wrote.  Our "works" is what God expects because "works" are a measure of our love!

Those who are Calvinistic and believe in the notion of sola gratia (by grace alone), miss the blessing of loving God by showing it through works, Martin Luther, because it did not support his notion of sola gratia, wanted to remove the Book of James from canon.  By God's grace it's still there and as always, God expects our love and obedience is how we show it! Now where is our enthusiasm?



Thursday, February 19, 2015

Crime and Punishment

We know the crime! What then is the punishment. Whereas, Adam and Eve had been immortal now they were sentenced to die! However, today I want to focus on their punishment while they're yet living, and our punishment because of their crime:
Genesis 3:16 "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
Does the punishment fit the crime? God thinks so and he is just! Most people think God was unfair, but it's because we too are criminals and we deserve punishment! Do young children have sin? Of course they do because they carry the genes of Adam. Do they deserve punishment? As humans they are cursed to die. That's now part of existence, but in God's eye, death is not a curse! It's an opportunity to get our reward:
 1 Thessalonians 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
Salvation is our reward. It's the time when all men die and our destiny is rewarded. For some it's eternal damnation and  for others eternal life!
John 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
It's imperative that all people know that hell truly exists and is a place of torment; that those who follow Satan and disparage God shall "perish". They shall suffer "the second death" which is eternal damnation. We can't be saved from the enemy unless we know who is the enemy! This is important to "salvation" because this is what Christians are "saved from". How can a person be saved if they are not bound for eternal death? However, my point today is not about salvation, but about life here on earth!

 Eve sinned because she was under the "wrong tree", had no business being there, and because she was where she was not to be, she usurped Adam's role as dominant over all creation. Eve "put the pants on", so to speak, and Adam the "skirt".  God spoke to Adam the command, not Eve, but yet Eve stood in front of the serpent and listened to his lies. She even misquoted what God had said, and God had not told her anything! It was Adam to whom God spoke the command.

Adam's sin was that he listened to his wife. It wasn't her place to "pick which tree to stand beneath" and speak with the author of the tree. It was Adam's! As Adam listened to Eve, it was Eve who should be asking Adam!
1 Corinthians 14:34 "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.  35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."
Nothing has changed!  Woman was always intended to submit to their male counterparts.
Genesis 3:16b " thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
It is imperative, not optional, that women, even in the church to fulfill their assigned roles.  By assuming authority in the church they have the same sin which Eve had. Eve was the first feminist and feminism is evil in the sight of the Lord. We turn our heads too much because of political correctness, but who are we to obey; God or men?

Before they sinned, Adam and Eve lived in paradise. All the trees provided for all their needs, it was watered by mist and water from the ground. The sun was tempered by the mist and the garden was basically a lush greenhouse! Adam's job, his work, was merely to tend to the garden. Since there were no thistles nor weeds, tending to the garden was little more than harvesting what they ate and the biggest part of it was thanking God. Adam's role was to tend the garden and "The Tree of Life" was the most important tree in the garden. Adam was to tend to God. He failed to do that! He picked of the forbidden fruit and by tending to the wrong tree, he tended to the wrong god!

Now, with the curse, things changed. Rather than coming easy, Adam must work for his sustenance. He still had the same job, tending the garden, but his cushy job became burdensome!
Genesis 17b "cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee;  ... 19a In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread..."
The husband is cursed to work and provide, not only for himself, but his wife and children. If one examines New Testament scripture, he is also to provide for his household, old widows and orphans!  Men have great responsibility and if we fail to do them, we become "losers" being "any person whose stage in life should be to prepare for or provide for their own existence and their households, but fail to do so."  Men must groom themselves, be motivated and then provide for his household! Men who fail to be men, are losers, and right now, we are a nation of "losers". It's not God's will that men should be apathetic and unmotivated, but yet they are! Drugs lead as the cause of the malaise and drugs are the way the serpent is still deceiving!

Society grooms men for apathy and laziness! The government emasculates manhood from what once were men. Rather than requiring work of those under the umbrella of entitlements, the government plays surrogate husband. Even our "equal rights" protections for gender opportunities emasculate men. It's the man's job to provide and oftentimes women do that because the men won't! Men don't provide because they are castrated by society and the government and the serpent provides the scalpel. It's Satan's desire that women and men are at war. It's a way to put asunder what God has joined together!

Since Eve was the first feminist, Adam was the first loser and a "wus". He was priest and failed to do his job. He allowed for gender equality, and Eve stepped in and became priest. She was out of place because God had placed her, and it was not to dominate!

Men should and must work. Work is no longer limited to leisurely selecting a good apple from a bountiful tree. It's tilling the ground, planting the seed, hoeing the weeds and harvesting the crop. However, a bountiful crop is no longer guaranteed. God provides to those who are faithful. Because we continue to disobey, our vocations become strenuous work. That's right! Providing for our own sustenance is "work"! Those who fail to work are sluggards: God describes laziness::
Proverbs 20:4 "The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing."
A sluggard is one who is habitually lazy. This brings to mind Timothy and Anthony, the trouble-making two youngsters I mentored one day. Anthony said "Timothy is lazy!" Timothy replied "I'm not lazy! I just don't like to work!". This tells it all! Adults think that way as well. They rationalize their lack of motivation by not doing what's distasteful. Men just don't like to work! I give most women credit: they seem to work harder than most men, but the man's role is to do that! Women should be partners,  not slaves!

One of the major problems with society today is that men don't provide and gender roles have been reversed. Children are raised in homes where unmotivated men don't work "in the sweat of thy face" to provide for their families, and women are relegated to the workforce. As a consequence, women aren't home to accomplish their god-given task of nurturing their children and being partners for their husbands.  America is not being destroyed by our enemies, it's being destroyed by THE ENEMY! We are doing what Satan deceives us into doing and Satan smiles.

Satan works hardest against the church from within the church. Women are no longer remaining silent, but are stealing the authority God delegated to men. We have women preachers and women lording it over men. As women lead the church, other heresy's creep in. Being emotional, they propagate things ungodly, not because they are evil, but because they have been deceived. Numerous cults are of women  leadership! In others women take active roles.

In modernistic churches led by women, it's plain that progressive thought has sneaked in. The same-sex marriage issue and social justice doctrine runs rampant in women dominated churches. Churches are being run by feminists and the first feminist was punished severely. As with Adam, men are allowing women to dominate, and they are sinful as well. They become lazy and let women do their god-ordained functions. Men are losers. They just won't provide for their household nor their God!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Memories of Crystalline Art

Awakened I sensed something grand.
Crystals on the glass as a cathedral.
White diamonds more plentiful than sand.
Winds a drifting into white snow hills.

A painting is on display as I write.
An artist who surely envisions beauty.
As cold winds chill and my bones bite,
but shoveling this art is my duty!

I heap shovels of crystalline paint.
Awesome art is gradually destroyed.
In their agony the angels faint...
 beauty once seen is now devoid!

Over the hill where no one has been.
Among the pines and evergreens.
An unspoiled sight as yet unseen.
Where soaring eagles silently careen!

Some art saved from man's destruction!
On canvas some have saved this scene.
Beauty captured by artists instructed.
Gleaming snow reflecting daylight's sheen!

What now becomes what always will be.
This painting by God now in my museum.
At will my mind any time can see...
It replicates what will carpe-diem.

Beauty is not lost, but remembered still!
Never forgotten will be this snow.
I'll remember that distant glistening hill.
I'll remember that dusk-time glow!







Monday, February 16, 2015

Flash Movies

I'm impatient and time conscious. At work I literally ran all day long from place to place and multi-tasked as I went. I couldn't stand to double-back on my route and  walk non-value added steps. Much of the time I ate while I was running! I burned my food off faster than I ate it.

One time in our company cafeteria years ago, everyone else (about 200 people) were standing and applauding. Since I was the only one still sitting, I thought "This must be about me!" My cohorts had been timing me very day. I had just went from coming through the cafeteria door to the last burp in two minutes!

In my private life, I caught people laughing, for even as I was relaxing, I just didn't walk from the table to the chair; I ran! Running became my life. I ran to relax, I ran to hurry and I even while working. When I went shopping I often found my wife city blocks behind me!

My most hilarious confession is when I am alone I watch my movies high speed! I actually stick a movie in, run it fast-forward, stop where it catches my interest and then move on. I generally get the gist of the plot, and for foreign movies, this saves a lot of worry in translation. I've watched three movies in thirty minutes and was quite entertained. For me the movies had little more value than to waste more time than that.

When I retired, I still catch myself running from store to store while shopping, and have to force myself to slow down. I often get impatient because I have to wait in lines, and when I show an attitude, I think "Why hurry? I'm retired!" Also, I want to do everything I ever missed in life when I was working. My life has been a fast forwarded movie, one I call "Flash Movies".

The fastest flash movie I ever saw is when I flipped the car upside down. I did see my entire life in my mind's eye before people ever dreamed of virtual reality. I went from infant to adult in sixty seconds. This "Flash Movie" was called "My Life!"

My life is a "Flash Movie" in the eternal scheme of things. Let's say that the earth is in fact six-thousand years old. Then my life is, if I'm blessed, 85/6000=.014. If the world is a movie 90 minutes long, then each minutes is 68 years. In the movie, I'm merely what's called a "cameo". My life flashes by in a little over a minute. However, in the eternal time-frame I don't even get one frame. I'm not even a snapshot in the "Flash Movie" of eternity.

We sin often, but our sins are short. Even sexual sins last just a few minutes. Throughout life we have millions of sins, but for the typical sinner, we're busy living. We don't even have time to spend to make sins lasting! We are even hurried sinners! When we do sin each one averages a few seconds; some no more than a thought. In my life the duration of all my sins may be one frame in the movie "My Life", My sins are a mere flash if my own life was scaled down to 90 minutes!

We pay dearly for our "Flash Movie". The price is extreme! We complain when we pay $12! For a "Flash Movie" with a sad ending (eternal hell), the price we pay is with our life. We pay Satan a high fee just to serve him, he makes a movie, but the only audience is God! However, God, much as I do, reviews movies with great haste! He sees the frames with sin and judges what he sees in just a few frames. He doesn't have to watch all the "good" things we've done because he's not an accountant! What we did to deserve isn't impressive to him, but only what we did to love.

He stands at the door and asks "Do you want to see a movie with a happy ending? He offers it for free! We can decide. Which movie is it worth while? Most pay for the expensive movie with the sad ending when the movie with the happy ending is free!

After the movie, the giver of the free movie stands there waiting. He thanks you for watching his movie. In his movie it turns out you're the star! You ask the giver, "Did you enjoy it too?" He replies, "Yes I did, but I didn't even watch it... not even on fast forward!"

"Why not?" you ask. He replied "When you chose my movie I had already paid for you. By accepting my gift I saw all that I wanted to see! Well done, good and faithful servant!"

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Shades of Grey

"Shades of grey" is along the continuum between "right and wrong".  To know if there is such a spectrum in the rainbow of morality, one must know the baselines of what is "wrong" and what is "right".

"Purity" is the "goodness" boundary and "only God is good" (Matthew 19:7). Hence, the positive limit is purity and only God meets that standard. However, we're all called to be like God:
1 John 2:6 (ESV) Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked (Jesus).
1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV) Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
1 Peter 2:21 (ESV) For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his (Christ's) steps.
 Christ is God! God is "good". Hence, Christ is "good".  We are to walk as Jesus walked, we are to imitate Jesus and we are to follow his actions.  In effect we are to "do what Jesus would do" or  respond to each temptation with "What Would Jesus Do?" (WWJD). Jesus would not sin!
1 John 3:5 "And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him(Jesus) is no sin.
First off, before we look at what sin is, by now, you should be convinced that Jesus is our model and he never once sinned. That MUST be our goal to be in the will of God!  This is his will:
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
This verse are "key elements" of being Christlike and without sin. We must all seek and do truth. What we do must be in accordance to reality. Deception must not be our repertoire  of communication with God, others or even ourselves!

Along with truth comes honesty. Honesty is the practice of being truthful. It's not using underhanded means for gain.

We must be "just" in our dealings with God and everyone else. That's the practice of "The Golden Rule". We are to never to condemn in reproof, but rebuke in a loving way. We are to love our enemy and if  ashes are to be heaped on another, it's God's place to condemn not ours.

"Purity" is without any sin at all! It's always doing what's right. It's being in the complete will of God and his total slave. Many will say that you can never be pure, and we can't be because we're burdened with "original sin", but that's not to stop us from seeking purity. Sin is a  "choice" and each time that we're tempted, we make a wrong choice or a right choice.  When making choices, Satan brings up a semi-transparent veil. He makes it seem that the decision is value neutral all the while knowing that you are being deceived! Discernment is watching out for those "shades of gray" veiled by Satan.

We don't think of not "being lovely" as something to cause us to sin. However, that has little to do with physical beauty, but our ability to love both God and others, even our enemies. Our relationship with our enemies is of extreme importance to God, being totally "white" (pure), but Satan shades that with irrationality "love your enemy?; that's hard to do so I'll just avoid people!" A pure command to "love", then, has just been shaded gray by the devil!

Being of "good report' means living a life of which you're not ashamed in the face of your community. However, using the community as a standard fails the test. It must also be living a life which you will not be ashamed of when you stand before God! When the nation was Godly people cared about having a "good reputation" in their community. The new standards of society is that anything goes! After all, who are we to judge others. Behavior is all relative and many things have "shades of gray!", or so people think.

"Virtue" is being in the will of God. It's obedience to what makes God happy. It's the goal of being pure! It's when confronted with choices, making Christlike decisions. It's empathizing with the emotions of God and prioritizing God's desires over one's own!

Lastly comes "praise". That's a high standard! Our actions must not only fail to offend God, but are to magnify him. Living our life for him is how we praise God. Being pure is the ultimate praise. It shows that we adore God and love him! Our very desire to do his will, is how we show our love. Keeping his commandments (1 John 5:3) is a demonstration of the love and that outward show of love is praise!

Now we know what is "right"; what we should do and how we should live. It's to live a blameless life without affront to God and in praise to him. Because we love God we're to love others and we show our love for God by obeying him and pleasing him. Now what is "wrong"?

"Wrong" is simply a failure to do what's "right"! If it's not in God's will, then it's "wrong"! Since  "right" has been well-defined and "wrong" is "what's not right", where are the "shades of gray"?

First, a short story: I'm divorced. It's something that I'm not proud of and any thought about that pains me. I failed in marriage and I failed God. There were no "shades of gray" in that decision. I put my desires and made my stress more important than pleasing God. Not only did I do wrong, but I disappointed God! However, a fellow Christian took me aside and advised me not to fornicate. I thought that very wise of him and praised him! I said "And how long have you been divorced yourself?" He replied "Three years." I remarked "That's commendable! Three years without sex!" His reply was "I didn't say that I've haven't had sex, but it was between 'consenting adults'." I was astounded! He was proud of himself for not raping someone... in essence!

This man "justified" sin by "rationalizing". He saw "shades of gray". His thoughts were obvious. "We're both adults. We weren't hurting anyone. What we do in the privacy of the home is no ones business. God doesn't judge us. Sex is a human emotion he gave us." All these are "irrational" thoughts place there by Satan. This man was deceived. The "Consenting Adult" left our of the equation was God himself. Sex between consenting adults is either holy matrimony or fornication. It seems that God left no  "shades of gray".

The weapon of choice for the devil is to prey on our basic instincts. Man has "needs". Among the basic are food, shelter, health and sex. Friendship is a second tier need. Sex is a basic one. Therefore, Satan attacks us where we're vulnerable! Most normal people's Achille's Heel is their desire to have sexual satisfaction. True, lust and love are often confused, both being needs, but sex and love are not mutually dependent. For instance, if we "love" our paramour, then it would be expedient to honor that person by not making them an accomplice in disappointing God and themselves.

Satan uses the faculty of "reason" which are ancestors got at the "Tree". He tells us to consider his thoughts and weigh them with what God teaches. Satan uses "shades of gray" to deceive!

Satan will put into the mind thoughts such as "Sex is just a mechanical function. It's no big deal!". He will also plant things in the mind as "Go ahead. Even if it is wrong, God won't send you to hell for that!" Discernment is the key to using our reason. Christians must ask "WWJD?" That's the exercise of discernment. The answer of course is "Jesus would not have you fornicate!" He has given us standards. Those standards are not "gray", but "pure" standards:
1 Thessalonians 4:3 (ESV) "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;  4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;
Galatians 5:19-21 (ESV) "Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
Satan will tell you "Since you're not going to actually do these things, it doesn't hurt anyone if you fantasize!" You've thought that! You know that you have because Satan attempts to deceive us all! If we don't actually do the deed are we "wrong" or is it a "shade of gray"?
Matthew 5:28 "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."
Of course this applies to both genders and to any type of impure thought. Fantasizing is NOT a "shade of gray". Although we actually don't do the sin, we are sinful for having the desire to do it! That makes it important to be virtuous and live a life of purity:
Psalm 119:9 ESV "How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word."
To remain "pure" and far away from the standard of "wrong" we never linger where there are "shades of gray". Things are really "gray", but in the Light, we can see things others don't see. The word of God lights the path we are to follow and he gave us his word so that we are without blame. Likewise, if we sin we are without excuse.

"Secret sins" will be judged as well as those we do for the world to see. God sees all that we do and even our heart! If we're sitting in the midst of evil and sit there without leaving, we're choosing evil. I recently sat through a movie inculcated with "wrong". I was in sin for remaining there! There were no "shades of gray" (and that wasn't the movie, by the way). Everything has clarity when  compared with  the word! Whenever we do things and feel guilty, we're guilty and require repentance and forgiveness. If we don't feel guilty when we do "wrong" things, we're in spiritual trouble and need to seek forgiveness! We're in spiritual trouble either way.

I used the term often of "Christian Principle". That's "using bias toward doing what's pure even when uncertainty exists". If it feels wrong, it is, but "feelings" are not a good judge of right and wrong. However, through guilt is how the Holy Spirit "checks" us and aids us in being sanctified. We don't talk about "sanctification" very much because "grace" fools us sometimes. "Grace" is not a ticket to sin, but a gift to save us from sinning!

To live sanctified lives, we have Christian principle. It's being as pure as we can be with the limitations of our inheritance. God understands if we're sincere in our dealings with his will!

How to avoid danger? Use caution! How are we to be precautionary?
James 4:7 "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."