Thursday, October 25, 2012

What, Exactly, is Social Tolerance?

It seems as though the word 'tolerance' is thrown around quite a bit in reference to society as a whole and beliefs and lifestyles in particular.  So I decided to look the word up and see what Merriam-Webster had to say about it.  I also looked it up in my 20 year old Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Gasp! An actual book!) to see if the meaning of the word has evolved over time.  To my delight, it hasn't.  For the sake of this post I am going to stick with the definitions regarding social interactions.  The dictionary states it as this:

2
a : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own
b : the act of allowing something : toleration
 
Most people in today's culture expect you to agree with their beliefs or lifestyle choices and if you don't then you're automatically intolerant.  Tolerance is, in fact, holding onto your own while allowing others to hold onto theirs.  While I believe what the Bible has to say about sexuality, I am not going to tell an unbeliever, who chooses to live an unbiblicial lifestyle, that they absolutely, positively must follow the Bible.  
 
God holds his children to a higher standard than the unbelievers.  I do believe God's grace is enough regardless of our pet sins, provided we seek and accept His easily found grace.  This is what makes us His children; believing and accepting His grace. 
 
I am going to say something here that is going to be very unpopular.  My God is intolerant.  He is intolerant to sin and He is absolutely intolerant to the worship of other gods.  My God is a jealous God.  He wants our worship, He wants our love and He wants our devotion.  God also knew from the beginning that we are all screw-ups.  He gave us laws to by which to live and we broke every single one.  If we didn't break them by deed then we broke them by thought.  To those of you who may be reading this and don't understand what I just wrote, let me clarify.  If you are married and have never slept around on your spouse, but you have fantasized about someone to whom you are not married, then you, my friend, are guilty of adultery in the eyes of God.  If you hate someone then in God's eyes you are guilty of murder.  If you love anything more than God then you are guilty of idolatry.  If you have entertained the thoughts of anything that goes against a pure and holy God then you are guilty of that sin.  If that sounds harsh, that's because it is harsh.  God is intolerant of sin.  If a price isn't paid for that sin then we are doomed for judgement and hell.  Thankfully, God provided a way out of that judgement through Jesus.  I praise God for that everyday. 
 
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
 
God Bless,
TLW

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Who's the Fool?

Romans 1:20-22
20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools


To me it seems as though there are more and more people who choose to believe there is no god and certainly not in the God of the Bible.  They choose instead to make science their god and religion.  They lash out at us, saying we're foolish for choosing to believe in what they think are fairytales.  But it's certainly not a new phenomenon.  I can only imagine what King David had seen going on around him when he said, "The fool says in his heart, "There is no God.""  It almost seems worse in today's culture. 

Don't get me wrong; I enjoy watching the science channel on TV.  But where the non-believers see a happy accident I see the wondrous power of God and stand amazed.  I, personally, don't believe that the Bible and modern science are in opposition except for where people, from both sides of the spectrum, purposefully make it so. 

It seems too easy to allow the scoffers to affect us personally.  I know I struggle with this, often taking it as a a personal attack.  That's when I have to remember that I'm not the first person to be affected by other people's hatred of the truth.  Jesus told his disciples that the world hated Him first.   Oddly enough, I take comfort in that.  When the world attacks my faith I turn around and lay it at the feet of God.  Times like these are when we need to lock arms, in the proverbial sense, and stand firm in our faith.

Psalm 40:1-3
1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.

God bless,
TLW

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Political Rant

I don't consider myself to be an overly political person.  I pay attention only because I vote and I vote only because it's my civic duty.  I can see the good in both political parties and I can see the bad, too.  I am of the opinion that both sides are needed, otherwise our political system would become unbalanced and be of little use to anyone.

But as I was watching last night's debate I was struck by how little respect these two men had for each other or for the moderator.  They were talking over and interrupting each other to no end.  And it seemed as though they were almost worse to the moderator.  I wanted to reach through the TV and hand the woman a fog horn for when the candidates started to get out of hand.  Once or twice it seems as though a physical altercation was imminent.

It drives me up the wall when people, politicians or otherwise, try to tear down or cast the other person, his opinions, beliefs, or politics in a negative light instead of spending more time and energy promoting his own.  I saw that from both sides; one more than the other.  It is my opinion that if someone spends more time tearing down the other person then his own position is weak. 

My point is, rarely is a person going to sway other people to his way of thinking by attacking theirs.  The old adage, "Honey attracts more flies than vinegar," rings true, whether talking politics, religion or anything else where opinions and beliefs differ.  Show respect to the other person by fully listening to what he has to say, then not attacking when it's your turn to state your point.

God bless
TLW

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

To Obey or Not to Obey

About a month or two ago God set it upon my heart to start this blog.  Being the type of person I am, I have a hard time dealing with any type of negative criticism or attacks and therefore  I found myself in a burning bush type argument with God.  I'm good with submitting to His will provided it keeps me in the shadows.  But this puts me on display, so to speak, and pulls me out of my comfort zone.  I'm not nearly as anonymous as I would like to be. 

I was reminded by someone, in a roundabout way, that God isn't so much interested in my comfort as he is in my growth and obedience.  I can only imagine how far out of his comfort zone Moses must have felt when God commanded him to confront the Pharaoh about releasing the Israelites.  Or how far out of her comfort zone Mary was when she was told she would carry the Messiah.  The Bible is full of stories of people who God wanted to step outside their comfort zones do to His work.  Even Hosea, when told to marry Gomer, an unfaithful prostitute, must have known he would receive judgement from the people of Israel for what they believed was an unwise union despite God using it as a lesson to show how unfaithful Israel has been. 

This should be an easy foray.  I know I should be more like Mary and simply say, “I am the Lord’s servant.”  I am thankfully not a prophet being sent to a hostile city to deliver an unpopular message, although I would probably want to run like Jonah did.  I am hoping God doesn't want to use me to talk about the many unpopular truths found in the Bible.  With God's grace may I be as willing to obey as Mary and may I remember Jesus' words as found in John 15:17-19, "18If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."

Do you sometimes find it difficult to obey?  What are you thoughts?

God Bless
TLW

Sunday, October 14, 2012

God's Love for Me

 

During worship in church this morning I was so deeply moved by a new song that I was brought to tears.  I say 'new' only because I don't know how long it has been out and it certainly is new to me.  The song is called 'One Thing Remains' by Jesus Culture.  Every so often I need reminders that God's love is unfailing.  It is we can be confident that will never change.  I find that immensely comforting.  I am often so concerned that I will say or do something that will cause another person to stop loving me, even if I have no reason to be.  But God has seen me at my worst, pulled me from it and covered me in His immeasureable grace.  Thank you, Father, for loving me so much.

Psalm 52:8-9 
But I am like an olive tree
    flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
    for ever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you
    in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
    for your name is good.


God bless,
TLW

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Reflections on Psalm 47

Psalm 47
1 Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.

2 For the Lord Most High is awesome,
the great King over all the earth.
3 He subdued nations under us,
peoples under our feet.
4 He chose our inheritance for us,
the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.[b]

5 God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
7 For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.

8 God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
9 The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings[c] of the earth belong to God;
he is greatly exalted.
 
Before I get into this, I need to let the reader know that I am not a Bible scholar by any stretch of the imagination.  I have no formal Bible training other than what I have received in church and my own private study.  I can only share my understanding of it and how it stirs me on any particular day. 
 
As I read this psalm today I couldn't help but to read it as enthusiastically as I imagined the psalmist intended it to be.  I imagined a big victory in battle had just been won.  I imagine the Israelites dancing and singing at the tops of their lungs, praising God for handing them a victory.  I imagine that there may have even been feasting. 
 
I don't think the writer was being redundant when he was saying, over and over, to sing praises to God.  I believe he was trying to stress the importance of it.  It seems all too often when things go our way we forget to give thanks and praise to The One who holds it all in the palm of His hand.  But yet we, as a people, are quick to curse God if things don't go the way we think they should.  We tend to ask, "Where was God when _____?" or "Why did God allow _____?"  We often forget that we're always in some sort of battle and God will sometimes hand us the victory, which will ultimately give us the chance to sing praises, or sometimes he will hand the victory to our enemy to either get our attention or to train us. 
 
1 Peter 4:11
If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
God Bless,
TLW

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Testimony

Everything on this rock on which we live needs a beginning and this blog is no different.  The best place for me to begin is with my testimony.  It's not a real exciting story, but maybe someone can relate. 

From as young as I remember I went to church with my grandparents.  My parents were not churchgoers, but they made sure I went.  I accepted Jesus into my heart one chilly morning when we were attending service in a garage-turned-chapel in rural Pennsylvania.  Or at least I thought I did.  I mean, how much can a single-digit aged child understand sin and the consequences of sin? 

A few years later (but not many), after I had been sexually molested, my parents decided we should attend church as a family, but that lasted maybe all of a year.  When my parents stopped going, so did I.  I held onto my faith for a few more years. 

As time went on I started questioning my beliefs when I started learning about what other people believe.  Some of those, like Islam, are long held beliefs by people around the world, and others, like the New Age Movement, seemed newer (although not really), more friendly and less demanding.  It was during this time that I mixed and matched different beliefs to make up my own religion to suit me.  But I was also still searching. 

For a time I attended an Assembly of God church that offended me on every level, especially when the pastor's wife told me she was praying for me, so I left them.  I didn't want anyone to pray for me and I was too stubborn and blind to see how hard God was working to get my attention.  But I carried with me the lessons I learned while in that church and the prayers I had received were beginning to work their magic. 

A couple years later a friend of mine, whom was the head of the Sunday School program in her church, needed another teacher and asked me to take the position.  I was reluctant because I didn't really know what I believed at that point, but she told me all I had to do was to follow the curriculum, and so I became an unbelieving Sunday School teacher in a small Methodist church.  About that time, or shortly thereafter, I began to read a very popular Christian book series.  A series of books, although fiction in nature, followed Biblical prophesy.  The book series?  Wait for it.... 'Left Behind.'  God finally got my attention.  One evening, in true earnestness, I dropped to my knees in the living room of my apartment and prayed like I had never prayed in my life.  The things God can use to get our attention!  In this case, a fictional story outlining prophesy of what is yet to come to which I can actually see and understand and relate.

After that I had a voracious appetite about what the Word of God held, reading the Bible through (I have yet to completely re-read it) and looking up information regarding Biblical prophesy on sites like www.raptureready.com.  I continued to teach Sunday School and I joined in on the Bible studies at church. 

I prayed God would bring a godly man into my life so that I would not be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14).  So God brought back into my life my high school sweetheart, my first boyfriend.  Since neither of us had any money to speak of and we lived 1500 miles from each other, God made it financially possible for us to not only get married but to move me across the country.  That was no small financial feat!  We got married more than 5 years ago and were blessed with a little boy a little more than 3 years ago.  We are currently attending a Biblically sound church. 

If you are someone who, like me, needs to see how the Bible is relevent to today's world before you become a believer, I encourage you to look into prophesy.  The Bible outlines many of the things we see going on in the world today and it tells you what can be expected to happen.  Contrary to the belief of some, there is no secret code in the Bible that can be used to predict the date for the end of the world, only what can be expected.  Matthew 24:36 states,  “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

God bless,

TLW