Response to “How to be a Christian without being a jerk about it”

Dear Elizabeth Rawlings,

About a week ago I read your blog post, “How to be a Christian without being a jerk about it.” When I read the title of your post I was very excited to read you views on how Christians can practically give off a better impression to the world than the hypocritical view most people have. It is a very novel idea and a great premise and something lots of people need to hear. Then I read the post and it didn’t sit right with me. I’ve never met you, but I’m sure you are a lovely person and truly have the best intentions in writing this, but the Holy Spirit was telling me I had to respond. So I am going to address your instructions to Christian jerks and hopefully clarify some points you make Biblically.

1) Stop threatening people with hellfire and damnation. Nobody likes it. It achieves approximately nothing so far as spreading the gospel is concerned.

You make a logical point that sounds good on the surface but is flawed and unbiblical. The gospel literally stands for “the good news.” Let me ask you, how can a person accept the good news without understanding the bad news that we are all sinners and deserve eternal punishment (Romans 6:23)? Without knowing the reality of our condition as sinners who deserve death we can never truly understand God’s grace, and the gospel becomes something that it was never meant to be – just “news.” I imagine it would be hard to share the gospel with someone without mentioning sin, death, and ultimately, hell. If you don’t know you are sick, why would you take medicine? I do agree that some Christians throw hell and damnation around in a judgmental way to feel superior to unbelievers, and that is wrong and sinful, but that doesn’t mean that all Christians are jerks for talking about hell. Jesus talked about hell (Matthew 5:22, 29, 30, 10:28, 18:9, 23:15, 33), albeit very differently that it is used by lots of people today, but not talking about hell and damnation is not the correct response.

2) Stop ‘speaking truth in love’ or whatever you call it. This includes love the sinner, hate the sin (which sounds more like hate than love every time).

I agree with you on this point for the most part. Most Christians use the phrase “speaking the truth in love” as an excuse for hatefully condemning people outside their own sphere of comfort. There is a real thing such as “speaking the truth in love” (which you mention Paul talks about in Ephesians) that most people who use this saying are very far from actually doing. I also agree that the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin” does sound more like hate than love. But the Bible does agree with the premise that we are to reject and confront unrepentant sin in the community of the body of Christ (Matthew 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 5) and restore them in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1). I prefer a twist on the saying; “don’t love the sin, but love the sinner” focuses on love and not on hate. I agree that you should love the person if you are to speak truth to them in gentleness, and you shouldn’t shout at random people that they are doing wrong. I also agree you should examine your heart and make sure you are acting out of love and not fear, prejudice, or wrong teaching before you confront anyone. But the Bible strongly disagrees with your statement that “sexual sin doesn’t hurt anyone.” In 1 Corinthians 6:18, Paul says, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin[a] a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” Not only are you sinning against your own body, but unrepentant sin of any kind is treating Jesus’ sacrifice as unimportant and, ultimately, meaning nothing if we continue in our unrepentant sin (Romans 6:1-14).

3) STOP WITH THE JUDGING ALREADY

This point is also really good on the surface, but it just isn’t biblical. The main passage that confronts this thought is 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 where Paul talks about not judging those outside of the church, but he wholly confirms the church’s ability to judge those inside the church. It is God’s job to judge those outside of the church, but it is our responsibility to love them and reach them with the gospel. But Paul confirms Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18:15-20 of church discipline which is essentially judging those who are professing believers. The story you have paraphrased and changed for dramatic effect in your explanation is found in John 8 and is a great passage to show that we are all sinners, but you left out a very key element: Jesus judges the woman in the story gently by telling her to sin no more (verse 11). The point of the passage is not as you state, “Don’t judge someone because you are not perfect either,” but rather to confront gently like Jesus did. For a great read on this topic, here is a link that combines two blogs about the logic of not judging not making any sense: http://pastorjeffnoe.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/food-for-thought-of-heroes-and-judgment

4) Stop saying that God is acting in destructive ways because of the gays, feminists, abortionists, communists, socialists, Obamacare, liberals, pornographers or whatever.

I actually completely agree with this statement and will only add that Jesus has said in prophecy that natural disasters will become more frequent and intense as the end of the world approaches (Matthew 24:7, Luke 21:25-26, Revelation 6:12, 11:13, 16:18).

5) Get right with science.

This point also sounds really good on the surface, but it is flawed as well. I agree that “climate change is a thing,” but it is not a thing God doesn’t have control over. Maybe God will use the climate change for the end times as mentioned in number 4 above, but regardless of how climate is changing, God will use it for His purposes. I strongly push back on your statement that evolution is truth. I agree that it is a thing, but by definition it is a theory that has been taught as “truth” by our culture and in our public schools. The thing that most people don’t know (including myself before I attended college) is that there are many brilliant Christian doctors and scientists who believe in a literal six-day creation. Check out these two websites: www.icr.org and www.answersingenesis.org for more information. But the thing that really doesn’t sit right with me is your view of the inspiration of scripture. It seems from your post (and please correct me if I’m wrong) that the Holy Spirit wasn’t even part of writing scripture. Peter makes it clear in 2 Peter 1:20-21 that men who were moved by the Holy Spirit and spoke from God in their writing of scripture. The Holy Spirit obviously told Moses to describe creation the way he did intentionally. The fact that you typed “believe in science” is actually describing the reality in today’s culture that evolution is, in fact, its own religious system designed to erase the existence of God as Creator. Only since evolutionary theory has been accepted as “fact” by our culture has some in the Christian community, in an attempt to reconcile the differences of evolutionary science with the story of creation, compromised the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in writing Genesis.

6) Understand that there are people who are never going to believe, to whom the idea of God makes no sense whatsoever.

I partially agree with this point, but I would definitely like to push back on the idea of letting up on the witnessing. This might just be a different understanding of the word “witnessing,” and if you mean that witnessing is trying to convert them every time you meet, then I agree. But if you mean to change your lifestyle to make them feel more comfortable when you hang out with them, then I disagree because your life should always be witnessing to them (1 Corinthians 10:31).

7) Empower women.

Again, not a lot of disagreement on this point. The only point that I don’t see as consistent with the Bible is eldership in the congregation. The Bible makes this clear in defining elders as “the husband of one wife” or “man of one woman” in Titus 1:6 and 1 Tim 3:2. I also think your understanding of the complementarianism position may be slightly uninformed. Mary Kassian writes a great article here that will help with clarification (I’m not calling you a dummy; it’s just the title of the article): http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/09/04/complementarianism-for-dummies/

8) If you know someone is being molested by a church member/leader, report it. That’s just a big old duh.

There is no argument on this point, and I agree 100% with this. One question though, what gives you the right to judge those who are molesting children if we are supposed to “stop with the judging already?”

9) Stop trying to legislate using the Bible as your main argument.

I completely agree with this instruction.

10) Focus more on corporate sin than personal sin.

This again sounds like a good point, but it is not entirely biblical. Corporate sin is no different from individual sin because the wages of all sin is death (Romans 6:23). Thus, corporate sin and individual sin should be equally recognized and treated. The Bible also talks about each person having to bear his or her own load (Galatians 6:5), and the context is talking about being caught in any transgression (6:1).

The biggest concern I had after reading your post is your tone toward the conservative church. There are a lot of Christian people who need to hear some of the things you have said in this post. But you just call a lot of Christians “jerky,” and just because I hold a lot of the positions you wrote about doesn’t make me want to learn from you on how to be a better Christian. I received this post feeling very judged, strongly disliked, and wholly responsible for why Christians have a bad reputation. I hope you do not feel attacked but gently confronted by this response. You seem like a very intelligent woman, and I know God can do great things through you.

In Christ,

Jared Otto

Advertisements

Scholar’s Prayer

I honestly don’t know how to start this post, mostly because it is so different than the past blog posts that I stopped writing about a year ago. But I’ve been prompted to start writing again and this is the topic that I kept hearing the Holy Spirit say to write about. I have no idea why, it honestly doesn’t make much sense to me, but when I know the Holy Spirit is telling me something, I try to do what He’s put on my heart. So here goes.

I know most people are, but I too am a creature of habit. I would always ask the Spirit to guide me in my study of the Word of God, to keep me from error in handling His Word. I don’t know where or from whom I heard about the “Scholar’s Prayer” from, but I ended up looking for it on google and finding exactly what I was looking for. Thomas Aquinas, who is a very respected Biblical scholar from the 13th century had a specific prayer he used before studying the Bible.

Ineffable Creator,
You who are the true source of life and wisdom and the Principle on which everything depends, be so kind as to infuse in my obscure intelligence a ray of your splendor that may take away the darkness of sin and ignorance.
Grant me keenness of understanding, ability to remember, measure and easiness of learning, discernment of what I read, rich grace with words.
Grant me strength to begin well my studies; guide me along the path of my efforts; give them a happy ending.
You who are true God and true Man, Jesus my Savior, who lives and reigns forever.
Amen”

                -Saint Thomas Aquinas, OP (patron of scholars)

I started praying this prayer before starting my study each day and it has had an effect on my concentration and ability to connect with God. And as I went through and saw how much of an affect it had, I started putting it into my own words and I sort of created a paraphrase.

Indescribable Creator,

You are the true source of life, wisdom, and principle on which everything in the universe depends. Because of this I plead that you would be so gracious as to infuse my fragile and obscure intelligence with a glimpse of your splendor. I pray that the Spirit will take away the darkness of sin and ignorance from my old sinful flesh and grant me supernatural understanding, ability to remember, with great ease and amount of learning, and discernment of the text I read, which is Your grace put into words. Give me strength to start strong and correct with my studies, and guide me along the correct path as I study, and help me to stay on task throughout the end. You are the one and only true God and true man, Jesus my Savior, who lives and reigns forever. Amen.”

– Saint Thomas Aquinas (paraphrase by Jared Otto)

The reason I believe the Spirit prompted me to post this is because I don’t think there is enough preparation in our reading of the Word of God. Some of us go into reading the Word without the context and expect to know exactly what it is trying to tell us. This doesn’t work, we get frustrated and give up on the whole thing. If you were reading a book and the author was sitting right next to you, wouldn’t you ask the author what he or she meant in certain parts you don’t understand? And since there is only one correct interpretation of Scripture (although the action may be different depending on your circumstances), it is very important to understand what is actually meant. So then why don’t we ask the author to help us understand what He has written? Ask for help from the Holy Spirit! He is the one who inspired every human author to write what they did! Also, our intelligence is compromised by our sinful nature and we need the Spirit’s help to understand and be changed. I encourage you to pray the Scholar’s prayer or something similar before the next time you open up the Word of God and see how much of a difference it makes!

Romans 5:6

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” -Romans 5:6

Try and imagine the most heinous person you could think of. I’m not talking about a jerk that cut you off on the freeway used to pick on you in elementary school, but I’m talking about the Adolf Hitlers, Joseph Stalin, or Emperor Nero’s out there in the world. I really want you to pick a person in person who absolutely repulses you. Do you have that person in your head? Good, because that’s a key to understanding this entry.

I don’t know if you’ve heard about the recent allegations of a former Penn State Defensive Coordinator named Jerry Sandusky, but he has been turned over to the police based on allegations of suspected child sexual abuse. I’m sure there is a long article anywhere you look online. He is the easy choice for me to turn my nose up and say he belongs in the same category as the person you picked above. And that’s exactly what I did today. I saw the report on ESPN this morning and I was disgusted at the pervert and sad for the children. I saw an interviewer ask him a question and Sandusky’s response made me sick. I decided to stop watching tv and go to the gym, and while I was running on the treadmill the same story came up again and I refused to watch or listen to the story again because I was too disgusted at this man’s sin. And then this verse came to me out of the blue from when I memorized it in Sunday School and I was amazed at my judgmental heart. It’s not likely (with all the evidence they have against him), but Jerry Sandusky could be a completely innocent man and here I am judging him. The only reason you judge someone is because you think you are better than that person in some way. And worldly speaking, I am a better person than this guy. But what Paul is saying in this passage goes far beyond the worldly way of seeing Jerry Sandusky and even myself. Sandusky and myself are both ungodly, we both fall into that category, and it was at this time that Christ died. He didn’t die for us after we decided to follow Him and all His rules in His book, but Christ died for us at the right time, when we were still weak and entirely ungodly. This is the way that God showed us that He truly loves us, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Rom 5:8), and because of His blood spilled we are saved from the wrath of God (Rom 5:9). The only way the ungodly are saved is through the blood of Christ, not by doing more good than bad or loving other people. Worldly speaking I am better than Jerry Sandusky, but biblically speaking we were both ungodly until the blood of Christ paid for my sins.

Think back to the most heinous person you could think of earlier. And ask yourself, do you see yourself as better than that person? The better follow up question is should you see yourself better than that person biblically? Today I was convicted of seeing a lost man and being disgusted by his sin.  And then there was the man I call my savior, Jesus Christ, who looked down and saw men like him and myself who both were weak and in need of a savior, so He decided to come down at the right time and die for the ungodly. I’ve been convicted to see Jerry Sandusky as a man who needs a savior just as I needed one.

Hebrews 12:7

“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” – Hebrews 12:7

Have you ever seen a really spoiled kid? It doesn’t take that long to spot one in real life or in the media. For a cultural example, someone like Kim Kardashian who just had a dream wedding and got a divorce a few weeks later. People who grow up and get anything they want in their whole lives. They swipe a card and daddy took care of it. They were never really disciplined and nothing was ever kept from them. The are the definition of being spoiled.

This is pretty much a follow up blog post to the last one, so if you haven’t read it and are lost, go back and read it and start again. I have lived a pretty blessed life according to the world’s standards. I grew up in a nice sized home in a good part of a suburban town. I had parents who loved and supported me in everything I wanted to do. My sisters and I not only got along, but we have become very good friends. I’ve had success in most things I try, weather it is in baseball, work, or school. So the question that always comes into my head when God is doing something in my life is why. “Why do you have to take this away from me? Why are you stretching me? I’m okay with who I am.”

Those questions and that attitude I have when facing discipline is the exact attitude the writer of Hebrews is trying to squash when he gets to the twelfth chapter in his Epistle. First the context though. Hebrews 12 follows Hebrews 11, which is the Hall of Faith chapter. This chapter goes through and names men and women in the Old Testament who had notable faith in God. Then we get to verses 1 and 2 of chapter 12, and since we have such a great cloud of witnesses, we are called to lay aside all the sin in our lives and run the race of our lives with endurance while looking to Christ for the power. This deserves its own blog post on it’s own, and is an incredible passage, but lets move on. Verse 3 is mind-blowing! The author tells the reader to consider what Christ went through on the cross and compare that to your situation so you don’t end up growing weary. Then verse 4 is a challenge to the readers that they haven’t even faced the persecution of death yet and they were losing heart. Verses 5 and 6 are quoted from Proverbs 3:11-12, and the author reminds us that we are sons and daughters of God. He says that God disciplines those he loves and chastises His sons. Then we get to the key verse for me, the summation of the quotation in verses 5 and 6. You have to endure because God is treating you as a son or daughter and disciplining you as such. Wait, hold on a minute. That’s God’s job to discipline you? The author is saying yes, if you are a true child. He follows up with verse 8, which says if you are not disciplined then you are an illegitimate child and not a real son. This is nothing new, Jesus talked about this in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:21-23. Then verses 9-10 ring true to most of us and really make this passage pop. We can relate to this discipline from God because we should have been disciplined by our earthly fathers. If we respect our earthly father for disciplining us and not letting us become one of those spoiled kids mentioned above, how much more should we trust a perfect, all-powerful, all-knowing God with His discipline for us? I don’t know if you catch it, but He also disciplines us so we may share in His holiness. So our discipline is all for our good anyways. Verse 11 sums it up pretty well: in the moment discipline sucks, but later it yields the fruit of righteousness.

If you follow my blog, I think you’ll notice I usually share a story about my life and how I am failing or growing and I don’t throw someone else under the bus like Kim Kardashian. The way the Lord has disciplined me is probably different than He has with you, and it is through relationships. I am a spoiled brat when it comes to relationships. The Lord has blessed me with all the things I listed in the second paragraph and even more things not mentioned, and I expect God to give me everything I want in relationships because I feel entitled to it.  I am no better than a Kim Kardashian, except for the fact the Lord is my father and He has and is continuing to discipline me for holiness sake. This is why I can take heart in this passage, because God wants what is best for me. He will give me the glove I need, when He decides to give it to me.

James 5:11

“Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” – James 5:11

I am not a huge present guy. When I was growing up, there was rarely something I truly desired for Christmas or my birthday. That is until my sophomore year in high school when I laid my eyes on the most beautiful inanimate thing I had ever seen. It was a Heart of the Hide, black with yellow laces, Rawlings first baseman’s glove. I have had a number of gloves in my life, but that one is still my favorite by far. It was love at first sight when I saw it in the Grand Slam batting cages, and I wanted it to be mine. My birthday was a few months away, but the price range was out of my parents budget for normal birthday prices. I pleaded with my mom and dad, and I almost broke out all of the savings I had to purchase it. My parents wouldn’t let me buy it myself and I was very mad at them. I thought that if they waited until my birthday it would most assuredly be gone. Someone else was going to see this glove and pick it up before I could get it. I don’t exactly know how it went down, but when I woke up on my birthday morning to a video camera in my face, bad jokes about it being April fools, and a great pull-a-parts breakfast, the glove was finally mine. I loved that glove and I took such good care of it. I read books on how to brake in a first baseman’s glove, rubbed oil on it every night, and bungee corded it to form an amazing pocket. It was a gift I truly appreciated, and I took care of that glove until my bag was stolen four years later. I really didn’t care about losing over a thousand dollars worth of baseball equipment, but I still miss that glove to this day.

If you read my last blog post, you’ll know that the past few months have been a pretty difficult time for me. I am back home now, and I am writing this from my bed, but the Lord is not done challenging me. I am still waiting on the Lord to show me a direction in life, and in this time He has shown me just how impatient I truly am. That’s when I came across this verse and entire passage in James 5 about being patient for the coming of the Lord. In verses 7-8 James encourages the brothers to be patient in their waiting for the Lord. This is not a momentary patience, like being patient for the slow driver in front of you to move over on the freeway. This patience is the long-suffering or steadfastness kind of patience, proved by waiting eagerly for the Lord’s return. The best word picture for this kind of patience is the strain of holding up under a weight. You’re sitting on the bench and you lift off the weight and are holding it there as long as you can. And then Verse 9 tells us to not complain against the Judge, because He is standing right there. In verse 10 there is the example of the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord (most of whom were despised and murdered for speaking truth about Him). And then you have the beginning of verse 11, “Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.” The context tells us these men waited steadfastly on the Lord to get them through. They let the Lord take care of their situation, and we (the readers, from the hindsight) consider the prophets blessed (literal meaning is “happy”) because of their steadfastness. And to top it all off, James brings up the story of Job who was incredibly tested yet remained steadfast. At the end of verse 11, James sums up the end of Job: “you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” Wow! That just blows me away, that through everything Job went through, the Lord was compassionate and merciful. On first glace it does nothing for me, but when I read it a few times it really started to hit me.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I didn’t just tell that story about my glove for fun. It connects with this passage from James 5 that is talked about above. I still want control over my life, and the thing that I want the most is not falling to me in the way I want it. I am that same boy who wants to empty out my bank account to make sure that I get exactly what I want and when I want it. But God is saying no to my desire right now, just like my parents did six and a half years ago. I’m not saying I’m going to wake up on my birthday and have everything I wanted there for me, because I know God may have a completely different glove waiting for me. I know that to be blessed from the hindsight like the prophets I need to grow in my steadfastness. And when you need to grow in your steadfastness or patience, God usually won’t give you more patience, but an opportunity to trust Him more and grow in your steadfastness that way. The greatest thing I have to remember is that whatever glove He has picked out, it is the best glove for me.

Luke 9:57-58

        “As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ ” – Luke 9:57-58

The past four weeks have been some of the hardest and most interesting of my life. I have been working for my father in Southern California without a set place to lay my head for any of the nights. I have been waking up before the sunrise (most mornings), driving hours in LA traffic, helping run health fares, battling more LA traffic, and figuring out where I am sleeping the next night for far too long. I have lost toothbrushes, forgotten clothes, and my closest relationship drastically changed. And I have made it so far by being blessed by the hospitality of friends and family. Needless to say, God has been stretching the young man He has made me into.

The reason why I quoted the verse above is because I connected with the “someone” (who I am going to name Fred) in the passage. Notice that Fred is willing to say to Jesus “I will follow you wherever you go”, but Jesus knew Fred’s heart and didn’t say “Sounds good, Fred.” But why wouldn’t Jesus invite him along? Jesus probably said this because Fred wanted to follow Jesus when he could retreat back to the comfort of his own home, but not when he had to rough it. If Fred is anything like me, his love of comfort needed to be challenged. The way the Lord decided to teach me this lesson was through not having a place to lay my head, the same thing Jesus challenged Fred to do. Taking away a place to call my own and retreat to, even to sleep, was a huge revelation to my love of comfort. I am not saying it is wrong to have a house and a place to sleep every night by any means. But if you think you might struggle with loving comfort, ask yourself this question. Would you be okay giving up the comforts of having a place to call your own for the sake of following Jesus? Or better yet, could you give up all of your possessions for the sake of following Jesus (Luke 14:33)?  That’s what the Lord asked me through taking away my most solid relationship and leaving me without a place to lay my head, still with a few weeks of work lined up.

With godly council and sheer circumstances logically saying I should stay down in LA, I choose to depend on the hospitality of others. This was obviously the plan the Lord has put me on through giving me part-time work where I wanted to have full-time work. Now I am writing this from my bed in the house I grew up in, ready to leave again tomorrow night. But this time it is different. I really had a hard time with depending on the grace of others when I went down the last time. But now I also have this understanding that the Lord is with me. I’m glad I listened to the godly advice and wisdom, because now I know that wherever the Lord decides to take me in any step of my life, He will be with me, even if I don’t have a set place to lay my head. And now I can truly say, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

Proverbs 19:21

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
   but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21

This post has no story to catch your attention. If you know me well enough or want to try hard enough you can figure out where I am coming from in this post. God is over all, in all, and through all.

I am a specific planner. That is one of the traits the Lord gave me when He knit me together in my mothers womb. This verse is saying all men have many plans. There is nothing wrong with this and it isn’t sinful in any way, but the Lord is the one with the master plan that is going to stand.

This verse is cross-referenced with three verses in Proverbs 16 which are closely tied to this verse.

“The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.”
Verse 1

“The heart of man plans his way,
   but the LORD establishes his steps.” Verse 9

“The lot is cast into the lap,
   but its every decision is from the LORD.” Verse 33

These verses teach the fallen humans about the sovereignty of God in ALL things. They are specifically dear to my heart maybe because I am a planner and my plans rarely go the way I want them too. But I have a peace about it because the God who loves me, redeemed me, and has given me His Holy Spirit is the one who is sovereignly directing my path. Planning is a part of our lives, but God is ultimately in charge of them. If He wasn’t, I would be my own God and He wouldn’t. He has always been faithful in the past, as He continues to be today.

Ephesians 6:1

“Children, obey your parents in the

Lord, for this is right.” Ephesians 6:1

It was the summer of the year 2000. I was 11 years old and I had a friend over at my house. I was in the middle of a growth spurt and my little sister did something to provoke me. I decided to not take things into my own hands, because my mother saw what had happened and I thought for sure she was going to punish her. Instead, my mom told us both to go to our rooms. I was furious! I couldn’t believe I was being punished for not doing anything wrong, and I was going to stand up for this injustice and not go to my room. I defied my mother, and it got to the point where she decided to take my friend home. I continued my defiance and stood between her and the door. I finally backed off after she said “I’m calling your father and he will be home to punish you!” I paid dearly for this foolishness. My mother originally put me in my room so she could separate us to puinsh my sister for what she had done. Obviously I didn’t know this, and took the situation into my own hands and disobeyed my mother, which was something I paid dearly for.

This is the first story I think of in my own life when it goes down to obeying your parents and my failure to obey. What Paul is saying in this passage is to obey your parents in the Lord. Unless they command you to disobey God’s commands and/or sin, you are called to obey your parents. I am lucky enough to have been raised by Christian parents who love the Lord, and they trained me as well as they could to be a God fearing man. A few weeks ago I ran across Luke 2:51 and I was blown away: “And [Jesus] went down with [his parents] and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.” Jesus is God, yet as a 12 year old He is completely submissive to his parents. Jesus is our perfect example, and even though He was doing God’s work and preaching in the synagogue, He submitted to His parents wishes. They didn’t make Him sin, so He obeyed their leading. If you are under your parents authority, be like Jesus and obey their wishes, for this is right.

Isaiah 66:1-2

“Thus says the LORD: ‘Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is the place of my rest?
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,’
declares the LORD. ‘But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.’ ” Isaiah 66:1-2 (emphasis added)

It was the second week of summer camp up at Hume lake in 2009. I was a camp counselor for high school students that week, and I was incredibly enjoying the experience. I had a great cabin that week, one of my best, and for one of the breakout times after chapel I was called to explain some of the Bible verses. As we were sitting in the reeds on the lake side of the snack shack I randomly choose this one.

The only point that I think I got to hit home after reading this verse to the students were the italicized words at the end, the word “humility” and the idea of “[trembling] at [God’s] word.” These two go hand in hand, much like the highly debated question of if the chicken or the egg came first. Does humility and a contrite spirit come before you can tremble at God’s word, or do you need to tremble at God’s word to become humble and have a contrite spirit? I think it’s both, and you can’t truly do either without the Holy Spirit working in your life.

The first question I ask, do you go to God’s word? And if you do, how do you go to His word? Do you pick and choose what fits with your worldview arrogantly? Or are you humble in your life as well as your reading when you go to God’s word? Is there a dependency on the Holy Spirit to teach you His truth? You can interpret His word any way you want, but only the humble will be looked upon by the Lord.

Proverbs 18:22

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing
and obtains favor from the LORD.” – Proverbs 18:22 (ESV)

I broke from the huddle, knowing I needed to score this touchdown to tie the game. I could see my breath as I was catching it after running back from the last incomplete pass. I got to the line, looked the defender straight in the eye. “Blue 42, Set! Hike!” and the play was off. I took five steps straight at the defender, faked to the flag but cut to the post. The quarterback hit me right in the numbers and I ran past the light post for a touchdown. This was a scene from some Christmas evening in the late 90’s up at my Uncle Mark’s house. The all-time quarterback was my older cousins future husband, Tim, and the defender was my cousin, Steven. Every time I got a chance to compete against Steven, he and I would play as hard as we could. We both had something to prove to the other, much like our dad’s probably did as they grew up. The reason why I’m writing this is because earlier today I got back home from Steven’s wedding where he married a wonderful young woman named Sophia . It was one of the best wedding’s I’d ever been to. Steven and Sophia were high school sweetheart’s and they did a good thing when they got married yesterday. It wasn’t just because of the nice ceremony or the great reception afterward, but because two people became one flesh under the Lord. Moses tells us in Genesis that God says, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” right before he makes Eve for Adam and the two “[became] one flesh.” Marriage is a good thing, and I’m glad my cousin found a good thing.