Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Positives (?) of Being Bi-Polar

Mental Illness.  I'm going to admit to having a lot of bias when it comes to this subject.  My family of origin has 6 siblings.  All but one have varying degrees of mental disorders, problems, illnesses.  Call it what you want, just please don't call it "positive".

Lest you think I jest, my most mentally ill sibling told me 2 days ago that sometimes he is glad that he is mentally ill.  Today I got a status update from a bi-polar group that asked its' members to list the positives of being bi-polar.

HELLO!!!!!  Even if you can stay up for 72 straight hours and paint pictures, is that REALLY a positive when you think of all the negatives of being bi-polar?  Do we really want to entertain this kind of logic?  Take your meds, go to groups, and be as healthy as you can be.

Think about it! Having the flu has a few perks.  You can stay in bed and watch T.V., you don't have to go to work, and sometimes people will make food for you.  BUT REALLY, do we ever actually want the flu?  NO!  So let's not act like there is a positive aspect to it.

Is there anything about any people any more that can be considered negative?  How PC do we have to be?  Geez!

END OF RANT!  Remember, my family history before you take me to task about this.  I am way to close to the forest to see the trees.

The Word of God

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

What is the word of God?  When I think of the word of God I think of The Bible.  Not that words of God cannot come from people, etc.  It's just that if someone brings you a word from God you should make sure it doesn't go against clearly revealed words from God in the Bible. 
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.  Acts 17:11

Last weekend during our devotions Joelle picked the story of Noah to read out of the Bible Story book you see above.  In the story, after all the animals and Noah's family have entered the ark, God closes the door.  I was pretty sure that even in a Bible God does actually close the door.  Joelle had brought her Bible so I told her I thought we should look it up.  I explained to her that not everything written in a story book, even a story book of Bible stories, can necessarily be counted on to be true.  So we looked it up.

The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the LORD shut him in.  Genesis 7:16

This week I have been reading Matthew 5:13-16
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

I have been reading it in various translations.  Today I ended with The Message by Eugene Peterson.  I actually like Eugene Peterson.  I have read some of his books.  I even like The Message as a commentary on The Bible.  But I sure do not believe it is a translation.
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
 Thus ends my morning thoughts on the power of scripture, searching the scriptures to see if things are true, what constitutes scripture, and teaching kids to question what they read.  Simple approach from a simple person.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Friendly Fire

I recently started a group on Facebook of people who wanted to read and respond to the Sermon on the Mount over the next four to five months.  The idea sprang from Hollie's interest in memorizing and while I don't want to memorize right now, I wanted to support her desire.  Hence a group who can respond to the Sermon on the Mount in whatever way they feel led.

I began my reading on April 15th.  An incident with a  friend took place a week earlier.  It was still percolating in my mind while I began my reading of  Matthew 5:1-12.  The more I thought about it the more I knew that what I had experienced a week earlier had felt like persecution (verses 11-12).  Once I remembered that the people who had killed the prophets in the OT and the people most wanting Jesus dead were not the heathen of the land but the religious leaders, the more I knew I was on to something.

Here is the snapshot of the incident.  I was discussing with this friend some views that some other friends were now entertaining and I summarized it with the statement "it all comes down to the authority of the scripture", to which she responded something like "you don't believe in the authority of the scripture."  I was so taken aback by this I don't remember what I said, if anything.  I knew what she meant and because I know how well she knows me, it stung.  Really badly.

Some of you reading may remember the crisis of faith I had in the fall of 2004.  I was challenged by a group of very smart unbelievers on the truth of the scriptures.  It was a very dark time.  If what they were saying was true then who I was and how I had lived (including my parenting) was all being called into question.  If the Bible was not true then maybe all was in vain and I had led my kids down a false path.  A paragraph can not do justice to the paralyzing effect this had on me.  One quarter century of a life of study and mentoring on the life of Jesus being called into question!  After a month I came to the conclusion that they could not prove the Bible was false and I could not prove it was true.  It came down to faith.  I chose the path of putting my confidence in the Bible and moved on.

The reason my friend told me that I did not hold to the authority of scripture is because I have some unorthodox beliefs.  This does not mean I don't hold to the authority of scripture.  It means I do not see Biblical evidence to hold to the creeds which have become the litmus test for orthodoxy. There is no point in trying to tell her that she reads the Bible through the creeds.  For people who have "gone to church" most of their lives, this is just the way things are.  It's like the mind is set to default to reading the Bible through the lens of  the creeds. You don't even realize you are doing it and because 90% or more of Christians do it, you don't have to even challenge yourself to consider the possibility that could be the case.  The burden of proof somehow becomes the responsibility of the minority.

Another reason why this friend brings this up is because she believes she must defend the faith.  I do not believe I need to defend anything especially to another follower of Jesus.  What is important is that Christ is preached.  It did not even bother Paul what the motive was.  Check this passage out: 

12 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13 so that my [i]imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole [j]praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14 and that most of the [k]brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my [l]imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. 15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even [m]from envy and strife, but some also [n]from good will; 16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition [o]rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my [p]imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.

Philippians 1:12-18

For me, holding to the authority of the scriptures means that I will bow the knee to what the Bible says regardless of my own personal views.  If the King says it, wants it, etc. I am the servant and I bow to that authority.  It's not what I think that counts.

What does holding to the authority of the scripture mean to you?  Is it important?  For me it is absolutely essential to my life as a disciple of Jesus.