Keeping The Law

“If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, “do not commit adultery,” also said, “do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” – JAMES 2:8‭-‬13 NASB

Jesus said this about the Law:

“…… but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – MATTHEW 5:28 NASB

“Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” – MARK 7:6‭, ‬21‭-‬23 NASB

“He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.” – MARK 7:9 NASB

The Law is so much more than our actions! The Law of GOD is all about our hearts and our minds. If those are right, then our actions will automatically follow. I implore you to search your hearts. Are you as Jesus states, “experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition”? We know what is right. Now follow through.

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Truths, Halftruths, or Lies?

Talking Heads. That’s one way of referring to reporters. I remember when we believed that the reporters told the truth, and we didn’t need to second guess them, or research to determine the real truth. We trusted that whatever Walter Cronkite said was right; true. Unfortunately, it is no longer true that we can believe whatever is said. The news now is full of blatant partisanship, outright disdain, lies, and halftruths. Nighttime talk show hosts are among the worst offenders, and are so prejudiced that I refuse to watch them. Making a couple of offensive jokes is one thing, but making the entire monolog about disrespecting our elected officials is not acceptable. Even when I cannot stand a person or their politics (and there have been many!), I still should respect the office they hold.

There are reporters whom I hold in great respect, and they are the recorders and reporters of the scriptures; the writers of the Bible. When GOD spoke, they listened and accurately recorded His messages alongside first-hand accounts of their history. In the New Testament, the Gospels are eye-witness accounts, and well researched accounts, of the Life and Testimony of the One known as JESUS CHRIST, MESSIAH. Luke, a physician, began his account:

“Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.” – Luke 1:1‭-‬4 NRSV

“Then He [JESUS] said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the SON of MAN, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the SON of MAN be in His day. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it.” – Luke 17:22‭-‬24‭, ‬33 NRSV

We should give serious thought to who we listen to, whether on the nightly news or in the pulpit on Sunday, or on social media, 24/7. What is the real TRUTH? Are we listening to GOD’s Truth or the half-truths and lies of the world? I try to follow Luke’s example and investigate, but we all fall victim to the propaganda and outright lies being promoted, at least part of the time. A couple of days ago, we had the opportunity to vote for a number of political offices. For months beforehand, there was a huge amount of rhetoric (i.e. lies and halftruths) that went on from the candidates, their PAC’s, and the groups who supported – or opposed – them. Lines were drawn between parties, and I think people failed to look at the candidate’s records, choosing from emotion rather than fact. As a result, I believe our country lost people who were much better suited for the job at hand than some who were elected. We desperately need to look to GOD for guidance through His Word, rather than looking to the news pundits; the Talking Heads.

JESUS is coming back, I believe sooner rather than later. The earth and all of her people, all of humankind, are in the throes of great trials and tribulations. Just look around! Research it! Matthew 24:4-29 describes how bad things will get here on earth, and it is all happening now. John was a great reporter, and in his book of Revelations, chapters 6-18, he tells in detail everything that will occur before JESUS returns, and in Revelations 19 reveals how JESUS returns:

“Then I [the Apostle John] saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its Rider is called Faithful and True, and in Righteousness He Judges and makes war. On His robe and on His thigh He has a name inscribed, “KING of kings and LORD of Lords.” ” – Revelation 19:11‭, ‬16 NRSV

What does this all mean to me? It means that I need to take everything I hear and carefully weigh it against GOD’s Holy Word, the Bible. I need to be quiet and listen, try to discern the truth behind the rhetoric, and look to the recorders of Truth. Remember this:

Oh, SNAP

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” – Proverbs 18:21 NIV

Read that again! Several times the scriptures talk about the tongue, and how it is the most powerful weapon we own. From the Psalms to the book of James, there are multiple verses that tell us how dangerous and damaging – even damning – the tongue can be if we don’t control it. I can testify to that! It can be a little comment, like “oh, you look so much cuter that way,” or “wow, you look really nice today.” Was the recipient not cute before? Does that person usually look bad? I know those are the kinds of thoughts that have gone through my mind when I get what I call ‘backhanded compliments’. Other times, we can be quite deliberate in our put-downs. “You really need to lose that extra weight. That’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen! Why do you stay with that loser? Your place looks so much better without all your pictures and clutter/junk around.” Really? My body, my ‘stuff’, my home. If our choice of partners are such losers, and we, as friends see it but don’t say anything before the relationship gets too involved, what gives us the right to be ugly about it later? Who are we to critique anyone else?

“Follow GOD’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of Love, just as CHRIST Loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to GOD. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for GOD’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” – Ephesians 5:1‭-‬4 NIV

What a Friend we have in JESUS… Forever and ever! He will never give a ‘backhanded compliment’, only Truth in His unchangeable, unfailing, incredible Love. My prayer is that GOD will open my ears so that I really hear how my comments sound, before they leave my mouth! Guard my heart and my tongue, O LORD. AMEN.

American, My Home

“If at any time I [the LORD] announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.” – Jeremiah 18:7‭-‬10 NIV

From history, we know the country we now call the United States of America was founded by early settlers who crossed the ocean, fleeing religious persecution, bigotry, and poverty. Yes, I am aware that there were already native people here, and yes, I will stipulate that the new settlers brought their own forms of bigotry with them, but that I don’t want that to be the focus here. Founded as a Christian nation, with Christian values written into the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, we have strayed far from the Founder’s vision of a united, free nation. It seems as though anything and everything is acceptable today – that is, anything except following JESUS CHRIST and proclaiming that He is LORD. I’m afraid that GOD was speaking directly to the U.S. in verses 9-10, and in these next verses, too:

“….. ‘This is what the LORD says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’ But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.’ ” – Jeremiah 18:11‭-‬12 NIV

Why do we do that? Telling GOD, our Creator, no??? Here He is, telling us plainly what is going to happen to us, to our nation, if we don’t make some major changes, now. I can’t change the world, or the state I live in, by myself. Individually we aren’t very powerful, but together, especially when we allow GOD to work with us and within us, we can do anything. That’s what he tells us in 2 Chronicles, giving us hope of salvation for our nation, and even for our world.

“…. if My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

Happy Birthday, Dad

He would have been 94 this past Tuesday. His physical earthly presence is gone, but he will be with us in mind and spirit as long as people remember him. He was definitely a strong presence when he was here; a major influence for the LORD in countless lives not just here in Oklahoma, but around the world. He visited a number of countries, including much of Europe, Canada, Mexico, Africa, Egypt, Japan, Taiwan, China, Thailand and more, plus almost every state in our Union. Knowing my Dad and his Love for his SAVIOUR, he shared the Gospel with the hundreds and thousands of people he met.

“For GOD so Loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 NIV

Don’t think that he was perfect! He was as imperfect as any human, with a major difference: He wasn’t afraid to state the Truth of JESUS to anyone that I ever witnessed; he was bold in his faith. We had our differences, and I got angry with him, but he was – is – a hero. He was kind, charitable, a hard worker; he loved his family and his country. We never danced together on earth, but one day soon, Dad, I’ll get that Daddy-Daughter dance with you in heaven. ❤❤❤

You Shall….. And You Shall Not

I think GOD was pretty clear when He gave Moses and the Israelites the Ten Commandments. Sometimes, though, we need a little nudge or reminder….
* You shall put the LORD GOD above all else. You shall have no other gods before Me. Focus. Read your Bible. Study GOD’s Word. Pray. Share your faith, even when it is scary. Live it.
* You shall put all these things behind the LORD: sports teams, kids, spouse, job, food, drugs, toys (y’all know what I’m talkin’ about here!) You shall not make for yourself an idol.
* You shall watch your language. Be creative with your language rather than cursing the LORD. (Leapin’ lizards! Oh, SNAP! Ah, Snickerdoodle!) You shall not take the Name of the LORD your GOD in vain.
* You shall set aside a day for rest and worship. Remember the Sabbath day. (Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday. Just pick one!)
* You shall Honor your father and mother. Respect!
* You shall forgive (He doesn’t say forget, He says forgive.) You shall not murder (no matter how much the person might deserve it!) Leave it to the courts – whether earthly or divine.
* You shall be faithful to your spouse, in heart, mind, and body. You shall not commit adultery. If you are considering it, just stop it now.
* You shall be honest, whether at work or play, and respect other people’s belongings. You shall not steal.
* You shall refuse to listen to or spread gossip, and always be truthful. You shall not bear false witness. That includes lies and half-truths.
* You shall respect the belongings, and the bodies, of each individual. You shall not covet.You shall not covet.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy [generous], your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy [stingy], your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both GOD and money.” – Matthew 6:22‭-‬24a NIV

Not just money, either. You can’t serve the LORD by being immersed in other things. Back to the second commandment, anything we put in front of GOD, whatever it is, is what you are serving. A football / sports team, your career, money, addition, food, family can all be idols we stumble over (mea culpa; I’m guilty of it, also) when we should be focused on our LORD. It all boils back to the basics. JESUS summed it up in these 4 sentences:

“ ‘Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37‭-‬40 NIV

Tolerance, Diversity, Forgiving

What a wild, wacky world we inhabit. Tolerance and diversity seem to be the catch phrases in the U.S. today, but what I see most is in-tolerance and un-forgivess. By definition, ‘tolerance’ means “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

‘Diversity’ is defined as “the state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness: diversity of opinion. … the inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, etc.” (Dictionary.com)

Finally, forgiveness. Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness. … Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses. (Greater Good magazine)

And this is how Paul explains it to the church in Ephesus:

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as GOD through CHRIST has forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:32 NLT

Being intolerant and unforgiving became a part of the human experience all the way back to the first man and the first woman and their children – our ancestors; the father and mother of the entire human race. Look at Cain and Abel in Genesis, chapter 4. Jealousy, anger, intolerance and unforgivess…. just because Able was different from his brother, Cain killed him. If we stick to the dictionary for answers, whenever we announce that we are tolerant, or liberal-minded, then we should be living the these things: Acceptance, open-mindedness, broad-mindedness; forbearance, patience, charity, indulgence, understanding.

Instead, we have redefined liberalty to mean tolerance of all views except our own. We offer charity and indulgence to people who agree with us, and woe to anyone who opposes us! Christians and non-Christians alike, man and woman, black or white, gay or straight, rich or poor, old or young; Baptist, Catholic, atheist….. it doesn’t matter what group or demographic you look at, you will find plenty of intolerance and unforgivess.

All of this begs the question, what can we – what can I do to break the chain of ugliness? I don’t know that we can anything, but each of us, individually, can stop it within ourselves. By proclaiming that I am a follower of CHRIST and that I was raised a Baptist (AND a Preacher’s kid!), many people assume that I am a goody-two-shoes, with a holier-than-thou judgemental attitude. People who really know me and my family would scoff at that label! I’ve done my judging, but it’s been aimed more at the ‘church’ than the world. I’m a hypocrite. I’ve done my share of causing pain to others. I am so far from perfect, I’m not sure it could even be measured.

No matter who you are, you are not perfect. The most liberal-minded liberal is intolerant and unforgiving. We all have the same opportunity to rid ourselves of all the negativity and ugliness in our lives, and that opportunity comes through our LORD and Saviour JESUS CHRIST. He doesn’t care about anything that defines you; He only cares about the state of your heart. Listen to the hymn Amazing Grace. No matter what we are dealing with in this life, or what we will go through in the future, JESUS has our backs.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far, and Grace will lead me home.

“For this is how GOD Loved the world: He gave His One and Only SON, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. GOD sent His SON into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.” – John 3:16‭-‬17 NLT

Are you a liberal in GOD’s eyes, saved by Grace and following His Son, or are you a Liberal in the eyes of the world, intolerant and unwilling to include Christians in your diversity?