Archive for the ‘faith’ Tag

Tug of War   1 comment

Paul often described the Christian life as a tug of war between the desires of our flesh and the focus of the Spirit. Since the Fall, mankind has not been naturally desirous to follow God, but we all still feel the tension between what we were created to be (in fellowship with God) with what we have become (separated from God). Paul didn’t candy-coat the struggle. He dealt with it squarely. 

The works of the flesh are obvious:

Sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things.

Paul warned them, as he had warned them before, that those who practiced such behaviors will not inherit the kingdom of God. And, this is where it gets hard and where I say you should read Galatians and probably all of Paul’s writings to really understand what he’s talking about here.

Christianity is not about being moral. Avoiding these behaviors will not save you. That would be getting the cart before the horse. It only works one direction. Christians avoid these behaviors because they are already saved, because we let the Spirit of God work through us. It does not work in the other direction.

But it’s more than just avoiding behaviors that separate us from God. We are saved TO reflect God’s character, not just saved FROM the world’s degradation.

The fruit of the Spirit might be less obvious, but far more important because they are the evidence of God working through us:

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.

God has made no law against these behaviors unlike the works of the flesh.

Those who belong to Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, we behave in accordance with the Spirit and this is God working through us, not us doing and don’ting to please Him.

Paul then launched into how to form a Christian support network.

I Lift Up My Eyes   Leave a comment

Jane Bwye’s newest book is Available on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/I-Lift-Up-My-Eyes-ebook/dp/B00O4FFU5C

Check out Jane’s website http://janebwye.com/mybooks/i-lift-up-my-eyes

And read my interviews with Jane.

https://aurorawatcherak.wordpress.com/2014/10/08/jane-bwye-launches-new-book/

https://aurorawatcherak.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/interview-with-jane-bwye/

Stay Tuned for Writing Wednesday   Leave a comment

This week’s interview is with Jane Bwye who is launching her new book I Lift Up My Eyes.

 

http://www.amazon.com/I-Lift-Up-My-Eyes-ebook/dp/B00O4FFU5C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412667767&sr=8-1&keywords=i+lift+up+my+eyes

http://www.amazon.co.uk/I-Lift-Up-My-Eyes-ebook/dp/B00O4FFU5C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412667767&sr=8-1&keywords=i+lift+up+my+eyes

Freedom in Christ   1 comment

Paul the apostle wrote a letter to the Galatian churches, hoping they would choose freedom in Christian faith over slavery to a dead religion.

Freedom in ChristCircumcision would save the Gentiltes and doing good works won’t save us now. Only accepting Jesus Christ as Savior will do that. It’s a simple process that is, because of human nature, oh-so-hard to do. Believe in your heart that Jesus is God and confess it aloud and you are saved.

Of course, if you still want to be in charge of your life, God knows your heart and all the magic words in the world won’t outweigh what He sees in your soul. Believing is not just a head knowledge, but an all-embracing gut level faith. It’s stepping out onto that bridge, into the fog, not entirely sure what is on the other end and accepting that there’s no going back.

Hey, it’s His house. He gets to set the standards for entry.

Galatians was meant to be read as a letter, in its entirety, but there are some high points. Chapter 5, Paul explains that Jesus set us free so that we could be free. Seems self-evident, but the Galatians had lost sight of that important understanding. “Stand firm, then,” Paul wrote. “And do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.” Don’t be circumcised, he warned, because if you choose that route, you will become reliant on your own righteousness – your morality – rather than on Jesus’ grace.

It’s all about what God did for us, not what we did for ourselves. All we have to do is wait and God will provide us with the righteousness we can never achieve on our own. All that matters if “faith working through love.”

The whole law can be summed up in a single commandment: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”  Paul urged the Galatian Christians to live by the Spirit and not carry out the desires of the flesh. The Spirit and the flesh are opposed to one another, so that it is often hard to live a Christian life.

Paul then balanced the attributes of the two ways of living – the flesh and the Spirit.

When Moralism Goes Off the Tracks   Leave a comment

I was not raised in a Christian home, so my entry into church life was not without stumbles. Some of those stumbles are illustrative of the difference between a living faith and a stagnant moralism.

I grew up in a family of people who liked to dance, drink alcohol and play cards. During my first couple of years attending a Southern Baptist church, I learned that Baptists “don’t drink, don’t dance, don’t play cards and some of them believe rock music is evil.” My friends and I quietly agreed that we couldn’t really find any of those restrictions in the Bible, though there are plenty of warnings about excessive drinking to be found. When I met my husband, he instigated our attending some charismatic services and then we heard that praying in tongues, lifting your hands in the congregation and prophesying were violations of God’s word. He and I, after some struggle and confusion, finally agreed that we couldn’t find those exact restrictions in the Bible.

I am not picking on Southern Baptists alone. Many churches take on moralistic stances that cannot be found in the Bible. Southern Baptists are right on somethings where other churches are completely ignoring the Bible. I’m using these examples as illustrations. A Brethren friend one time told me that music in the church was evil. Again … moralism in place of faith.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

The Galatian churches had a problem. When the missionary team from the First Baptist Church of Antioch, Syria, swept along the coast Asia Minor, those who accepted Christ from that ministry spread the gospel to the hinterlands and founded churches throughout the region. These were Gentiles, coming out of a pagan background. Unlike in Antioch where there was a mix of Jewish and Gentile Christians, these churches were almost wholly Gentile or god-fearers (Gentiles who had some connection with Judaism). Paul and Barnabas moved on. Not long from when they got back to Antioch, men from the church at Jerusalem arrived (uninvited) to instruct the Gentile believers in how to good Jews – starting with circumcision and Jewish dietary rules. Paul got into a squabble with Peter and then decided this needed to be discussed by the larger Christian community, so he and several others went to Jerusalem to report on their missionary success. Peter, apparently chagrined over what Paul had said to him, gave an impassioned speech urging Gentiles be admitted to Christianity. After some deliberation and talking to Paul, the elders in Jerusalem decided that Gentiles did not have to become Jews to be Christians.

This didn’t stop the ones who became known as Judaizers from going into Asia Minor and preaching that Christians had to keep the Jewish law. Paul wrote his letter to the Galatian churches to explain why this was not so. I’m sure there were churches that chose the Judaizers over Paul’s freedom in Christ.

Don’t get me wrong. There are things that Christians shouldn’t participate in because participation in sin separates us from God. But there are many things that the modern-day Christianizers have deemed immoral that aren’t.

Jesus turned water into wine and it was GOOD! (John 2) If you can drink without getting drunk or damaging His temple that is your body, God has no problem with it. Conversely, if you have to get drunk or your body suffers negative consequences from drinking, you are sinning if you drink.

King David danced in the presence of the Lord — more or less nude (think Charleton Heston in Planet of the Apes). (2Samuel 6)  Yes, there are ways to dance that honor God and ways to dance that incite lust. My daughter the ballet dancer would be glad to discuss the distinction.

They didn’t have cards back in the Biblical times, but they did cast lots. It’s how the apostles determined a replacement for Judas (Acts 1). Blowing your paycheck on games of chance is wrong for other Christian reasons, but there’s no evidence that gambling is banned in the Bible.

I never could figure out why Baptists thought rock music was so bad, but country music was okay. Maybe they missed all those songs about bar room brawls.

Speaking in tongues and prophesying are in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Corinthians 14, with — notably 1Corinthians 13’s love chapter sandwiched between). Both must be decently and in order so as not to scare visitors, which was what Paul had against the Corinthians for conducting their church services with them. The practices themselves were not and are not the problem. The organization of those practices is at issue. People raising their hands in the church service is fine (we do in ours — a Southern Baptist church!) so long as it is not distracting to the people around you.

So why are modern-day moralists so keen on going after people for doing things the way they were done in the Bible?

In a word – Control.

Question 2 – Would you die for your faith?   Leave a comment

Yes or no? Why or why not?

Posted October 6, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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Question – Would You Kill for Your Faith?   Leave a comment

Yes or no and why or why not?

Posted October 6, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

Tagged with , ,

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