Category Archives: legalism

legalism

Go Ahead, Imagine!

A Confession

I am a few months shy of 50 years old, yet I still feel like a kid…most of the time…at least mentally…well, that makes me sound stupid…I mean, emotionally…now I am emotionally unstable…I didn’t say that; the keyboard did. When am I going to be the mature person I always wanted to be? When am I going to grow up?

From i4Daily: Plastic army men waiting for Smurfs to return.

If given the opportunity, I would like to take a box of plastic toy soldiers out to a dry, dusty field, cart a load of bottle-rockets and firecrackers, and sling across my shoulder a CO2 pellet rifle with a scope. Then, with the PG-version of a Gen. George S. Patton inspiring my verbiage, I would unleash the “shock and awe” of my personal arsenal in an bombastic display of testosterone-infused mayhem.

You women are probably rolling your eyes, aren’t you?

Is there something wrong with me? No, I’ve just got an IMAGINATION!

Growing Up

Since when did it become necessary to lose one’s imagination in order to become an adult? Did Jesus ever say that pastors should check their imaginations at the door when they entered the hallowed halls of ministry? Of course not! What kind of preacher would I be without an imagination? A pitiful, orthodox, dry, and sad one, I would think.

Growing up has nothing to do with the desire to have fun or play (even with plastic army men). Growing up has everything to do with being the person we are designed by God to be.

Growing up means accepting responsibilities, finishing tasks, taking stands, and putting others first. Growing up means not being tossed back and forth with every wind of change, or every wind of doctrine (Ephesian 4:14), but committed to truth, and speaking it in love (v.15).

Growing up may mean taking up one’s cross, but it doesn’t require crucifying the imagination.

His Imagination

Aren’t you glad God had an imagination? Who else could have thought up everything that is when there was nothing to compare it to? We should praise Him for His wonderful imagination!

PRAISE the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, And you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created. – Psalm 148:1-5 NKJV

Stop and think about it. We were made in the “image” of God (Gen 1:27). Surely, “imagination” was included in that likeness. We are the product of His very own “creativity.” He created us with an imagination so that we could appreciate the beauty of the unseen and long for the yet-to-be.

Eyes have not seen, and ears have not heard; we can only imagine.

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Filed under General Observations, God, legalism, the future, worship

Hair Today, Grace Tomorrow

Battles

You have probably heard it said before, but sometimes you have to pick your battles. At least that’s a common saying when it comes to parenting. Of course, there are sometimes when the battle chooses you, but for the most part, we can decide which battle should take priority. When it comes to my daughter getting her hair cut, well, I’ve decided that is a battle I am willing to invest few resources.

The other day my youngest, Haley, came to me and told me that she wanted to have her hair cut – and I mean CUT! I must admit, the idea of my beautiful little girl having her pretty hair scissored from her head made me sad. On the other hand, I was not as mournfully brokenhearted as Katie, Haley’s older sister. But, when she explained to me why she wanted it cut, and what she wanted it to look like, I just said, “OK, whatever makes you happy.”

However, since we are talking “battles,” don’t think “whatever makes you happy” will always be my response – no sir! Like I said, there are some battles worth fighting, it’s just that this one was not it. I mean, should she have come to me and asked if she could get her hair nearly shaved off and spiked and colored purple? Uhh, no. That wouldn’t have happened. And should she have come to me and asked for a tongue stud, or a tramp stamp… you get the picture… NO! And I would fight those battles.

Believe me, there are FAR more battles worth waging on behalf of our children, far more than ones over how short their hair should be!

But all Haley wanted was to have her pretty hair cut and styled shorter…and I wanted her to be happy…and there was really nothing wrong with what she was wanting to do. It was just hair – it can grow back.

Grace

But here’s the thing, folks. Should my little Haley gone out and done something that made me angry, something of which I would have strongly disapproved, would that have changed the fact that she is my daughter?

NO! Absolutely not!

If Haley had gone and got that tattoo on her back, or the nose ring, or the spiked hair…or far worse…yes, I still would have loved her, even though, as her dad, I would have been ticked. I would have been disappointed for my own reasons, but I wouldn’t have kicked her out of the house; she’s my daughter.

And that’s the thing about real grace. God loves us enough to let us live, even if our life choices prove to be out of step with the norm, or not what others would like. We are not talking about sin, but individual choices and decisions of life, where there is no real right or wrong, just the opportunity to offend or hurt. God’s grace allows us to be ourselves, within his boundaries, because He actually DOES want us to be happy.

Thankfully, though, when the choices of a believer DO cross the line and become sin, our Heavenly Father may be quick to discipline us, but He never stops loving us…we are family…we are His children.

So, the hair may be gone today, but grace isn’t.

How It Happened – In Pictures

 

Here is Haley, hair intact, with the Follicle Vampire about to strike.

Here is Haley, hair intact, with the Follicle Vampire about to strike.

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I had to keep reminding myself it could grow back. On the other hand, I could make a wig out of that!

img_5405

The finished product: A selfie-worthy cut on a beautiful daughter.

 

 

 

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Filed under grace, legalism, Parenting, Relationships and Family

For Thy Stomach’s Sake

An add I’m about to place:

“Desperate Baptist school bus driver is actively seeking a Greek scholar who can verify στόμαχος (stomachos) also refers to one’s nerves.”

It’s been that kind of day. 

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Filed under Alcohol, baptist, Bible Study, Do not judge, Humor, legalism, Struggles and Trials, Theology, translations

“You Might Be a Legalist If…”

The following list is not original on my part, I am unsure of who came up with it. But even though I didn’t write it, I want you to read it.

All that’s needed is Jeff Foxworthy to add his voice and declare, “You might be a legalist if…”

1) God’s love for me depends on what I do.

2) Meeting the expectations of others, especially those in my congregation or in positions of authority, are paramount.

3) Moral and ethical questions are usually black and white and only made into fuzzy shades of gray by hand-wringing, bleeding-heart types.

4) I try hard to obey God and it irritates me that others think they can get away with avoiding the same level of dedication.

5) I fall short because I don’t have enough faith, or because I haven’t prayed enough, or because I just need to be a better person.

6) God is predisposed to be angry with me because I am a sinner. My main goal in life is to try to gain God’s favor by doing things that will impress him.

7) My sense of spiritual well-being is linked to a Christian leader or membership in my church rather than a personal relationship with God.

8) I tell my children not to do something in church or around other Christian families that I allow in my home.

9) I believe my church is God’s true church and that most other Christians may be sincere, but are sincerely wrong.

10) The exterior choices a person makes in what they wear, hairstyle, piercings, tattoos, etc. is a clear indication of that person’s character.

11) I sometimes worry that people might take advantage of grace if it’s preached too much —people might think they can do anything they want.

12) After being around Christians for a while I feel drained —weary of putting up a false front.

13) When I happen to miss a service or activity of my church I feel guilty.

14) I will likely get into heaven, even though I’m far from perfect, because I have tried to be a basically good person and God will take that into account.

So, are you a legalist? I used to be, but I still struggle. That is the reason for this blog. That is why I call myself a “recovering” legalist.

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Debris and Grace

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

The Move

As I have mentioned on numerous occasions before, we have been in the process of moving – in all things praise the Lord. Unfortunately, as you might imagine, we’ve gained a lot of “stuff” over the last eight years of living in the parsonage.

The next time you take a long, hot shower (if you do that kind of thing) in order to ease your aching joints, think of me; there’s not a joint or muscle that doesn’t ache after all of this! As a matter of fact, it is almost impossible to scratch the back of my shiny head with my right hand…my shoulder is just too messed up.

Essentially, moving contributes to less movement.

The Debris

img_5265I am not going to try to fool you; we are not the best at keeping a spotless house. I can truthfully say that our home never has bugs and it is sanitary; however, don’t expect every square inch to be dust-free…ever.

But as I was l looking at the floor in the empty living room where all of our comfy furniture used to be, I noticed some bits of debris on the floor. It seems that even after a sweeping of the imitation hard wood there were still tiny pieces of stuff like grass, a crumb or two, etc. I guess a little piece of us will always be there somewhere.

It just goes to prove that no matter how often we cleaned, there were always going to be places where we missed…places like under a cabinet, in between a cushion seam, or against the baseboard in a corner.

Grace

Aren’t you glad our salvation is not based on getting rid of every little bit of debris in our lives? I mean, seriously, there are some people who believe that we can become, through a life of total sanctification, clean from all the debris of sin. Some people think that unless every sin is confess before one dies, then one’s salvation is lost. What they don’t realize is that there’s always going to be something somewhere, something hidden and forgotten, that never gets swept away.

That’s why we need grace.

 

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christianity, legalism

Perfection Not Required

Jesus Said…

“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”

“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” – Luke 18:11, 13

The Perfect Candidate

Imagine that instead of the temple, a Pharisee and a publican walked into a pastoral search committee meeting.  They walk in, introduce themselves, and compare resumes.

pharisee and publicanWhich one do you think would be offered the position? I believe it would be the one who meets the average preconception of what every Christian fit for service should be. I believe the Pharisee, the one with the perfect resume and appearance, would be the first considered.

But God doesn’t use perfect people; He uses REAL people. Unfortunately, there are many men and women in the church who feel inferior and useless because of their sinful and broken pasts. They are the people who sit on the pews, week after week, doing all they can to be faithful in life, but are forbidden to hold positions in the church.  They are much like the Publican, men and women who know they have failed in the past, but want to be forgiven and start new.  

Genesis of Dysfunction

A while back I read through the book of Genesis in a couple of sittings.  Reading a book of the Bible that way, especially in a different translation, can help you see the story from a new perspective.  This time I was just astounded at how messed up these people really were!  There was so much “stuff” going on that if it were today, it would make an episode of Jerry Springer look tame!

Consider, if nothing else, the sad story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. This was a seriously messed up family with real marital problems.  At one point, Leah and Rachel get into a jealous argument over a son’s mandrakes.  Just imagine you were a marriage counselor and listened in to the following story…

Reuben went out during the wheat harvest and found some mandrakes in the field.  When he brought them to his mother, Leah, Rachel asked, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”  But Leah replied to her, “Isn’t it enough that you have taken my husband?  Now you also want my son’s mandrakes?

Well,” Rachel said, “you can sleep with him tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.”  When Jacob came in from the field that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come with me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.”  So Jacob slept with her that night. – Geneses 30:14:16 HCSB

Check this out…

  • Twice Abraham told other people that his wife, Sarah, was his sister so that he would not be harmed.
  • Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him to traveling salesmen.
  • Jacob and Esau were seriously at odds.
  • Leah, poor thing, kept trying to have children so that her husband, Jacob would love her.

And there’s more!

  • Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, got him drunk on his wedding night and gave him the wrong wife – on purpose.
  • The son’s of Jacob (founders of ten of the tribes of Israel) lied to a bunch of men about making a covenant, then proceeded to slaughter all of them after they had convinced them to be circumcised.

It just goes on and on.  Messed up, I am telling you! MESSED UP!

Nevertheless,

God told Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”  How is this even possible?  

If God can use Abraham and his family – with all their problems – to bless the nations, then He can use ANYBODY!


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Filed under Abortion, abuse, Christian Living, Do not judge, Faith, General Observations, legalism, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials, World View

Biscuits, Jelly, and Legalism

Seriously, because it happened once again this morning – at a totally different Hardee’s.

Here’s the deal…

One can easily make rash judgments about people based on certain actions. A legalist will look at those actions and come to the conclusion that the ones being judged are in need of spiritual growth, revival, or maybe total repentance. How then should a “recovering legalist” judge, if at all, people who can’t get your biscuit order right?  Ever!

one sausage biscuit

Image via Wikipedia

For years I have been going to Hardee’s for breakfast. Don’t misunderstand, I don’t go there every day; only once a week, or so. Usually, I order a chicken or sausage biscuit with cheese and a cup of coffee. That is my standard, but occasionally I order a jelly biscuit, too. I get the jelly biscuit many times for my wife. But no matter how many times I go to the drive-through window, the outcome is always the same:

Speaker:   Hello, welcome to Hardee’s, would you like to try our new gravy-covered, bacon-stripped, egg-wrapped, ham-filled, spicy jalapeño, smoked sausage biscuit breakfast meal?

Me:           No, thank you. I would like a jelly biscuit and a medium coffee, please.

Speaker:   Would you like to make that a combo and add hashrounds, a larger size drink, a bigger bag, more calories, and a bigger bill?

Me:           No, thank you; just the jelly biscuit and coffee.

Speaker:   Would you like to add one of our new multi-fruit, caramel and nut covered, sugar-dipped, candy biscuits?

Me:           No…thanks.  Just a biscuit with butter on it and two packs of jelly (for the jelly biscuit), and the coffee.

Speaker:   Will that be all?

Me:           Yes.

Speaker:   Is your complicated, hard-to-understand order correct on our high-tech, flashy, electronic order-confirming screen?

Me:          Yes, it is.

Speaker:   Ok. Please drive around to the next window, please (2 please’s are always nice).

So, I drive around to the window to pick up my simple order of a jelly biscuit and coffee. How hard could it be? The sign that I was just looking at had all the stuff this place is supposed to sell, including, for $.99, a JELLY biscuit. Did I say, JELLY BISCUIT?

I get to the window, and then a granny-like lady leans through with my coffee. Got it….coffee….just like I ordered.

Next, after taking my money, I am handed a greasy, paper bag containing the simple (or maybe complicated) order of a JELLY BISCUIT.  Granny says, “Thank you, sweetie. Have a nice day and come back!” I then look in my bag which is supposed to contain Hardee’s completed portion of our transaction.

I stop my car….sigh….mutter something under my breath….bang my head on the steering wheel…..and do just what granny asked….

I go back!

When you order a JELLY BISCUIT, shouldn’t you expect dadgum JELLY?!!

Back to the window I go to get my jelly for my JELLY biscuit.  2 PACKS!  Window opens:

Granny:  Can I help you, dear?

Me:          Yes, I need jelly.  I ordered a JELLY biscuit, and there was no JELLY in the bag.

Granny:   Oh, I’m sorry, you have to ask for the jelly.

Me:         (Look of disbelief, feelings of high blood pressure not caused by the high-sodium content of the biscuit I have not yet consumed…because I didn’t get any JELLY for a JELLY BISCUIT!) Really? Well can I have 2 packs of strawberry?

Granny:   How many do you want, sweetie?

Me:         TWO.

Granny:  Here you go, sweetie. Now you come back!

I do go back, but I don’t know why. Maybe I just have a big heart for the “order-taking” challenged.

All I want is a jelly biscuit with, oh, I don’t know……..JELLY!

Obviously, someone at Hardee’s needs to get their heart right with the Lord…or am I being too legalistic? Maybe I need to show a little more grace. Maybe I need to do as some have suggested (like my friend, Rhonda) and just have a stash of jelly with me at all times, just in case. Or maybe, I should keep in mind the words of Proverbs 10:12,  “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins,” and just keep my jelly-mongering to myself.

I really like Hardee’s…but anyone claiming to be right with God should automatically give JELLY with a JELLY biscuit…it’s the LAW!  Isn’t it?

Oh well, see…living a life of grace isn’t always easy…sometimes you have to eat your biscuits plain.

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Filed under America, Food, legalism