LOVE FIRST, THEN TRUTH
The old joke in Christian circles goes, "Sure, I love you. God told me I HAVE to!" Love doesn't come easy when we disagree with someone, especially about the beliefs and values that we hold most passionately. This is best exemplified in the continuing confrontations often seen between Christians and members of the "Gay Movement". We as Christians have a way of sometimes throwing fuel on the fire by making "you" kinds of statements, instead of calmly expressing what we think and feel. We are often accused, and rightly so, of not showing God's love in our tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions, at the very moment we are speaking about that love. Well, why SHOULD we get angry and defensive? Especially if we believe what we speak to be true? Good point. Love should be demonstrated, if by anyone, by Christians. Just remember, as a believer, I'm not perfect, just forgiven. (Which I realize, by the way, is NOT an excuse for unloving behavior.)
HOWEVER - and this is the part that I'm not happy about at the moment - the tenets of the "Gay Movement" do oppose and contradict the principles of Scripture, but often a "gay" person is offended by a believer saying so. Discussion of right or wrong concerning the "gay" lifestyle seems to be no longer an option. Since when is it "offensive" or "insulting" to disagree with someone by offering another point of view? (Well, in America, anyway) Let's not be hostile, and let's keep a dialogue going, not a monologue.
I don't know whether it was due to filters or someone in authority (?) from Blogspot.com (haven't been able to get an answer yet), or even someone hacking into my blog, but my original post on this topic was deleted sometime within 24 hours after I posted it. I welcome comments about this or any other post or topic which I address here. I promise, I will never go to a "gay" website and post anything hateful, nor will I try to suppress what you wish to express. Certainly you will be able to express yourself respectfully in reciprocation. Instead, I will receive feedback and consider it. However, I will continue to disagree with the basic foundations of the "gay movement," e.g., that a person who is "gay" is born that way, or that "gay marriage" or "gay" civil unions or adoptions (especially when the agency has a religious foundation or origin) are acceptable. Ephesians reads that we are to be "speaking the truth in love." As a believer of the Bible, for me that's the truth of the matter.
Just give me a chance; speaking truth in love is all I want to do. Not perfectly, mind you, but with God's grace I'm trying!
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Friday, March 31, 2006
LOVE FIRST, THEN TRUTH
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
At last, actual spring weather! I can hardly contain myself indoors long enough to get anything accomplished. The baby lace leaves, that new yellow-green; the wispy clouds blowing by in a sky of the palest blue; rich thick clumps of Kentucky blue and monkey grass with their contrasting kelly and hunter greens; a beckoning breeze that lures me off the porch to feel it tousle my hair; cozy warm sunshine that doesn't overheat: all bid me drop everything else and walk and wander and dream.
Days like today confirm that I was made to feel this way: joyful, alive, beautiful! I was made to live forever, to be alive to all around me and a part of it, somehow. He is here, in all He created, not in some pantheistic way, but because He has put His mark on all of this created world, even on me. I want to shout, "He is alive! God has made all this! And Jesus is risen, with spring as the perfect symbolic backdrop!"
He says to me, "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
and come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me." - Song of Songs 2:10-13
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. - Psalm 19:1-4
The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be God my Savior! - Psalm 18:46
Happy Birthday to the man who taught me to appreciate God's created beauty.
Today's entry is dedicated to him and to our little friend Hannah, smiling at us from Heaven.
Posted by Karen at Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
GRIEVING AS ONE, REJOICING AS ONE
A couple I don't even know is grieving today. They have lost their little boy to an accident. I only know of them through a friend, but still I feel sadness for them. First, I think of my children and how lively and tender they were at that age; then I picture this couple's tragedy befalling one of them, befalling us, and it becomes very painful to imagine. Then I pray: they will need God's strength for every moment ahead of them, they will need His grace through the memorial service and the trip to the cemetary, and the return to his empty little room at their now-quiet house. They will need encouragement to stay focused on growing their marriage as they journey together to that distant place where the sting of death ebbs and washes in a hollow feeling of aching that comes when you miss someone so very much, even more than when he was first taken away. They will need the joy of the Lord to help them smile again someday, even when they remember, through tears, "This would have been his first day of school," or his 13th birthday, or his graduation day.
Then I enlist other believers to pray. They don't even know my friend, who knows the couple. But because we are bonded together by the belief that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, that He is our Peace, and by the Spirit Who dwells with in us, they, too, feel the pain and offer the prayers.
Our friends in Sunday School class grinned when we shared a recent answer to prayer. They too had been praying for our request, joined to us by the love that God gives those adopted as His children through faith in Jesus Christ. They rejoiced with us, because we are united, we are family, we are members of each other. Believers truly participate in the joys and sorrows of other believers, as well as empathizing with those who have yet to join us in the Family of God. May we allow Him to use every sorrow and every joy to make us truly One!
Friday, March 24, 2006
IT WILL GET BETTER
All has been well with our little family lately, but life has seemed less than fair for many folks we know. Problems with marriage, children, parents, depression, and disease have seemed rampant. "Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning," penned Jeremiah, the author of Lamentations. Not only is this true for the long haul, but sometimes God even brings moments of joy to encourage our baby-weak faith. Example: we had heard the same answer to a prayer we had prayed for a long time, when suddenly wham-bam-here-I-am, and this thing, seemingly small in the eyes of many, though HUGE to us, HAPPENED! Why did we doubt? Because we don't believe God. He says that the sadness and disillusionment we often experience in this life won't last, not forever. He tells us that joy will return, the joy of knowing and abiding in and living for Him, not to mention the joy with which we anticipate someday being physically in His presence. Then we are surprised when something we longed for and prayed for actually happens.
So, our dear friends who are so ill, the parents of the prodigal, the woman abandoned, the child watching her aging parent fade away, all who feel like giving up: hold on, the morning's coming!
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Posted by Karen at Friday, March 24, 2006
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Remember that old song about repeating gossip? We laugh about it because we all have done it at some point: shared the rumors or even facts that were supposed to be a secret or that had the potential to harm others and their reputations. Does it make us look better or feel superior that someone else is having a crisis that we 're not? (not yet, anyway; as if we were immune to the troubles in others' lives) We also smile as we quote that old saw, "I'm sharing this so you can PRAY about it." Surely God doesn't take gossip, rumor, or slander as seriously as some other things we could be doing? Say, murder or adultery?
Hmmm . . . let's see. (I'm not going to like looking at this myself.)
Proverbs 12:23 A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself,
but the heart of fools blurts out folly.
12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
10:31, 32 The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom,
but a perverse tongue will be cut out.
The lips of the righteous know what is fitting,
but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.
10:18-21 He who conceals his hatred has lying lips,
and whoever spreads slander is a fool.
When words are many, sin is not absent,
but he who holds his tongue is wise.
The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,
but the heart of the wicked is of little value.
The lips of the righteous nourish many,
but fools die for lack of judgment.
Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,
but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs,
that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness,
rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind
and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God
God forgave you.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is
excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. (So if we say something,
then we must have been thinking about it first?)
I guess if whatever I'm about to share with another doesn't pass muster with these imperatives
(and I didn't even begin to look them ALL up!), I'd better shut up.
Posted by Karen at Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Monday, March 20, 2006
I know, I know: it's oxymoronic to speak of American Christians as being hedonistic! After all, we have forefathers who were Puritans and later Victorians. Those people did NOT base their lives on pleasure, not to say that they never enjoyed life or received joy in an ordinary event on an ordinary day on earth. However, we believers nowadays get a lot of kicks out of the same things the rest of the developed world enjoys, and I'm not talking anything intrinsically illicit, immoral, or illegal! We enjoy our comfortable homes (that reads non-dirt floor, sufficient heat and even cooling, multi-roomed, weather-proof) , our luxurious (yes, to a citizen of a developing country, a very used and beat-up looking car that somehow still moves on its own qualifies here) vehicles, our multitude of choices of foods and beverages, our vacations and even smaller pleasures of everyday life (Starbucks latte?); not to mention all the technology on which we are often dependent - TV, computer, MP3, Blackberry, cell phone, etc., etc.
You say, "You talk as if it were wrong for Christians to have these things." No, that's not what I'm saying; in fact, I believe God can use these things in our lives for good, especially toward others. The problem comes when we are living as if our lives DEPENDED on these things, and NOT as if our lives depended on God and on other people. The psalmist wrote, "Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forever more." (Psalm 16:11) Lasting joy and eternal pleasure are in Him, and if we truly believe this, it will show in what and whom we treasure.
If we love Him and live for Him, we cannot live for pleasure for its own sake. For Jesus says,
"If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels."
Posted by Karen at Monday, March 20, 2006
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
WILL THE REAL SPIRITUAL MUSIC PLEASE TAKE A BOW?
It tickles me when someone at church says he prefers the old-fashioned hymns to the new contemporary praise and worship choruses or Christian contemporary music. After all, some of our most venerable classic hymns were originally bar songs. People knew the tunes, so it was simple enough to compose Christian lyrics to a song that everyone could already sing. It never occurs to us that even the music written by great Christian hymnwriters could have been considered contemporary and unusual for its time. In fact, I remember talk in recent years of one denomination banning certain hymns because of the blatant use of the word "blood", which apparently was no longer considered liturgically correct. Imagine Christianity without the blood of Jesus!
So how does any of this music we call Christian fall on God's ear (speaking metaphorically, of course)? The psalmist wrote that it was good to praise the Lord and make music to His name with both instrument and voice. No mention was made of a prescribed type of music or instrument, nor a certain style of lyric. Rather, the emphasis was on singing with joy in the heart and praise on the lips. In fact, in the 96th Psalm, the heavens and sea, the fields and trees are described as making a symphony of praise to God. So much of the "old" and the "new" Christian music uses the words and principles of Scripture and speaks to the heart of diverse worshippers. By whatever means or instrument or style we choose to worship with singing and/or instrumental music, should we be deterred by disagreement and glorify God any less than the heavens and the sea, the fields and the trees? And won't we lessen the meaning of our own musical worship by criticizing those who choose different ways of musical praise?
"Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name."
"Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy."
(from Psalm 96 and 98, NIV)
Posted by Karen at Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Monday, March 13, 2006
GET ALONG, LITTLE ROOMIES!
College roommates are a perfect example of a close-quarters experiment in relationships. Some roomies I knew had some challenges, and they didn't necessarily RISE to them. In fact, one confrontation turned into a shouting match. Each person thought he was right and the other person was wrong.
When someone violates my privacy, goes through my personal stuff, how do I react? When I hurt the other person's feelings, or they hurt mine, even unintentionally, what do I do? What do I say? My tendency is to become defensive or irritable or even angry enough to yell. That's a human, normal tendency, you say. Normal, yes. Human, sure. But is it the best possible way to handle the situation?
A man named Paul, who found himself in all sorts of human relations dilemmas, suggested this solution, which isn't necessarily the popular view today:
"Don't be motivated by your own desires or what you might gain, but take the humble view that the other person's needs and feelings are more important than your own; don't just be looking out for Number One, but be concerned about what others need and want.
In other words, have the same motivation that Jesus Christ had: Even though He was God in the body of a human being, He didn't cling to the privileges that went with that Deity; instead, He took off His kingly robes and put on the life of a servant. He took this servanthood so far that He lived on earth in a human body and obeyed God the Father to the point of dying, to the extreme of hanging on a cross till He died." (paraphrase of Philippians 2:3-8)
Hmmm ... a roommate with the attitude of a servant? Does that mean I have to pick up after what's-his-face? Am I supposed to just blow off the problems we're having?
Nah; I don't think that's what it means at all. I think that it means maybe we need to sit and discuss our differences calmly, as they come up, and with an attitude of acceptance and love of the other person, knowing that there might be the slightest possibility that sometimes I am actually wrong, either in the issue or of how I am handling it. God grant me that humble attitude that says your feelings are just as important, if not more so, than mine.
Posted by Karen at Monday, March 13, 2006
Sunday, March 12, 2006
The chemo isn't working. Two people we love, and whom we respect and admire because of their faith and good-hearted deeds, are probably dying of cancer. I don't get it; I hate it. Many have prayed for their healing. One view is : Even though these folks are not young, they have always lived vibrant, zestful, giving lives. It seems a waste and even a travesty that God would not spare them and allow them a continued productive life which will benefit so many others besides their friends and families. Why are they receiving the bitter when they lived the sweet?
But how does God see it? What was He thinking?! Actually, He says, "I know the plans I have for you: plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope." Even when I don't "GET" His plans, I can "GET" His love for each of us : wanting the best for us, when we believe we know what that "best" OUGHT to be, but we can't see the whole picture (the eternal one).
He whispers to these lovely friends and their anguished spouses, "Even when you walk as through a river, the waters won't drown you. When you travel through a fire, you won't be burned, the flames won't really consume you."
He speaks as to the man who was born blind (whom Jesus healed), "This didn't happen because of your sin; it happened for the glory of God."
We see death (even when we are "prepared" for it) and disease as tragedy and pain and tearing away those we love; but God sees it as a way to draw us to Him, whether literally to His side when we die, or spiritually and figuratively while we are still in this world, magnetizing us to focus on what matters most: other people and the Lord Himself. This is heavy stuff, and I don't pretend to have a complete handle on it. I just know He has carried me through similar tough times, and in even tougher times I have observed Him bolstering others in ways I couldn't even believe with my own eyes. None of us has ALL the answers, but He DOES. When He doesn't share the answers to our often unspoken questions about life, death, and suffering, that doesn't mean He doesn't care and isn't working behind the scenes for our good, our permanent good.
Posted by Karen at Sunday, March 12, 2006
Friday, March 10, 2006
From down here on earth, it appears we live in an overwhelmingly large place, heavily populated, vast, fast, teeming with noise, ideas, activities. Wonder how all of that looks to God?
That's why I named my blog, "Sky-High View". If we could see every person and every day from God's point of view (not that He literally only inhabits the sky, but that He is omniscient and omnipresent - nothing is hidden from Him and there's nowhere that He isn't), what difference would it make in our lives? I'm writing from the assumption that we can actually have access to His thoughts and viewpoint, though it's not something I always live as if I believe!
How, you may ask, could a person know what God is thinking? Isn't that pretty presumptuous, even cocky? It's my belief that He has already given us His thoughts on everything from the condition of mankind to what to do about it. And that's what I want to explore here, to challenge my own thinking, as well as the thinking of my readers. Hoping we all see what He sees every day, along our way!
Posted by Karen at Friday, March 10, 2006