Fencelessness

Mangal – Does God made a distinction between the sacred and the secular? We know that the early church got hung up on the issue of meat sacrified to idols.  Remember that verse, “To the pure all things are pure …”? To those that had been a Christian longer, they saw no harm in eating the meat, but they were asked not to put a stumbling block in their brother’s way as he came to terms with Christianity for him. Think about it this way:


Although the sizes of the categories — Sacred, Secular and Sinful — are approximate, the Secular category is by far the largest. Many religious groups like to expand the Sinful category to include more of the Universe, shrinking the other two categories accordingly. The system is commonly applied along these lines:


In professions: Preaching is Sacred, prostitution is Sinful, and computer programming is merely Secular.


In money matters: The Sunday collection is Sacred, the Vegas jackpot is Sinful, and the money in your pocket is merely Secular.


In eating: Unleavened bread is Sacred, spiked rum cake is Sinful and a spreadable liverwurst is merely Secular.


In art: A tract cover illustration is Sacred, a nude is Sinful, and landscape life is merely Secular.


In music appreciation: The Antioch Christian College A Cappella Choir is Sacred, the Dismembered Death Decrepits (punk rock group) is Sinful, and the Beach Boys are merely Secular… and so on.


Note that distinct dividing lines exist between the three categories. Although people argue in a few cases about where to draw them, there is remarkable agreement that such dividing lines do exist. When everything is analyzed like this, the Secular category is the largest. Do you begin to see a problem?


Fortunately, we have two strategies to deal with the problem:


Sacred Isolation:


This approach restricts diet to the limited Sacred fare by denying foods from the Secular menu. This is the ascetic approach favored by the monks of all generations. Medieval monks vowed celibacy, poverty, and social withdrawal in an effort to cut off all involvement with the Secular. Modern “monks” are somewhat more tepid — instead of renouncing all pleasures of the senses, for example, the may be content to renounce merely a few, such as dancing, mixed swimming, etc.- but they employ the same basic strategy.


Secular Saturation:


This approach attempts to conquer the Secular with the Sacred, not by denying the Secular, but by expanding the Sacred to crowd it out. This is the preferred approach of our present age, which regards Sacred Isolation as being old fashioned and quaintly masochistic. As a result, options grow: instead of “socializing” or “mingling” (Secular), one may be “fellowshipping” (Sacred); instead of taking a family vacation (Secular) one may go on to a Church Family Retreat (Sacred); instead of paying a nursing home to care for Great Grandma (Secular), one may give to the Christian Retirement Home Ministry Fund (Sacred); and so on. Organized religion hopes to offer its conscience – stricken customers an alternative for every Secular item on the shelf. It’s a lot like Weight Watchers.


The real problem is that the system was off the track at the outset. The solution comes easily, we must recognize three simple facts:



    1.  The Sacred is real 2.  The Sinful is real 3.  The “Secular” does not exist.
The real nature of the disciple’s Universe today has only two categories: Sacred and Sinful. Originally, of course, our universe was composed of only one category: Sacred. At that time it was newly created and “God saw that it was good.” Then “sin entered the world” through the free choice of human beings.

There are no inherently Sinful objects. All objects in the Universe are still Sacred in that they have a Sacred origin in God. However, they are corruptible – “moths and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal” as a consequence of Sin. For its raw material, Sin has only God’s created things to work with. All sin really consists of is turning something God made toward a godless end.


So now we have a Sacred/Sinful world. All of it belongs to God: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalms 24:1). God will eventually burn off the Sinful corruption, restoring the Universe in a new incarnation that will once again be Sacred only:


“Let both the weeds and the wheat grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First, collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned, then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn” (Matt. 13:30).”

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All I really gotta do is …

MV Boli –  Which one do you think weighs more? All things that are good or all things that are not good? Picture this immense scale. Now if the good side weighs more, than anything landing in the middle would roll down to the good side. If the bad side weighs more, than anything landing in the middle would roll down to the bad side. Does the number of either category affect the outcome? Would one unit of good weigh more than one unit of not good?


In the scheme of life, many people would like to believe that as long they are good then the scale is in their favor. The thing is, one unit of not good is more than enough to keep the scale from tipping in their favor. So what do we do? Try to increase the good all the more in an effort to cause the scale to tip in our favor. Sure, it’s a little selfish, but there’s a lot of good going around so it can’t do any harm? Can it?


So many of us see the works salvation as knocking on doors and such, but the real definition is anything that you do to get yourself into heaven. Do you feel as if you are spinning your wheels in the mud? You probably are. You’ll be much more effective if you weren’t trying to get yourself saved and put yourself into the hands of the one who already did the getting of everybody saved.


I don’t know why I’ve been thinking of this country song, “I’m in a hurry to get things done, I’m rushin’ rushin’ ’til life’s no fun, All I really gotta do is live and die, ‘n’ I’m in a hurry and don’t know why…” But it’s pretty true of our society. We are faster than ever before, but we don’t have much fun at all.

The trumpet’s sound significance

MS Serif – What is the blowing of the trumpet suppose to remind us of?


1. The Creator
2. The Duty to return
3. The revelation on Mount Sinai
4. The exhortation of the prophets
5. The destruction of the Temple
6. The Binding of Isaac for sacrifice
7. Imminent danger
8. The Day of Judgement
9. The redemption of Israel
10.The resurrection


The shofar/trumpet was sounded:
As an instrument of proclamation, announcing the presence or coming of the Lord.
“And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.” (Exodus 19:19 NKJV)


To praise God.
“With trumpets and the sound of a horn; shout joyfully before the Lord, the King.” (Psalm 98:6 NKJV)


As an early warning siren.
“When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord you God, and you will be saved from your enemies.” (Numbers 10:9 NKJV)


To assemble the people.
“Then all the Midianites and Amalekites, the people of the East, gathered together; and they crossed over and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon; then he blew the trumpet, and the Abiezrites gathered behind him.”


To assemble the troops.
“Therefore, whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.” (Nehemiah 4:20 NKJV)


To call God’s people to worship Him.
“So it shall be in that day that the great trumpet will be blown; they will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria, and they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 26:13 NKJV)


At the swearing of an oath to God.
“Then they took an oath before the Lord with a loud voice, with shouting and trumpets and rams’ horns.” (2 Chronicles 15:14 NKJV)


In the midst of battle.
“Then the Lord will be seen over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning. The Lord God will blow the trumpet, and go with whirlwinds from the south.” (Zechariah 9:14 NKJV)


To announce the beginning of festivals.
“Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his own possession, and each of you shall return to his family..” (Leviticus 25:9-10 NKJV)


NOTE: One of the Hebrew words for “trumpet” is also the word for “jubilee.” The “Year of Jubilee” began with the sounding of the trumpet. 1998 marks the beginning of Israel’s first 50 year “Jubilee” since becoming a nation in 1948


At the return of Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah.
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with a voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 NKJV)

Doppelganger

Ms Sans Serif – “So what have you inherited from your father?” It’s an innocent enough question. A nose, same hair color, and so on. Then it was my turn. Nothing. Everybody tried to help, but they couldn’t think of anything, either. Now the point was, we all have inherited traits from our father, same as we do from God our father. It just so happens, I take very much after my mother. My uncles sometimes ask me, “Do you know how much you look like your mother did when she was your age?” To which I’d often reply, “If I had a dime every time I’ve been asked that, I’d have ten dollars.” There’s even an old picture of her as a kid standing next to her bicycle, If you didn’t know better, you would say it was a picture of me.


We are more alike one another than we would like to admit. Three years ago, as I was walking from the High School commons to my locker, I think, a thirty-something year old woman stopped me in the hallway and asked if i was related to anybody in the area. I told her that we had moved into the area from out of state five years ago and we had no family in the state. She explained to me that I “looked just like somebody who went to school here twenty years ago” and then went on her way.


But the point is valid, as Christians, we all have inherited traits from God our father. We are his image bearers – we all look like Him. We have a literal inheritance, too. Our inheritance is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. (Eph 1:13-14) It is kept in heaven. (1 Peter 1:3-5) He is not capable of lying or changing. We, however, are. Perhaps that is why Christians give Christians a bad name. And we don’t even have to look like each other to do that.

Nearly 1,100 Words: Jobs Kharma

Lucida Console – (Why write about Kharma? It’s a good belief for a good person, but you get trouble when you couple it with reincarnation and a caste system. Do you remember the story about churches being destroyed in India? Some of the upper castes thought that converting untouchables to Christianity no longer made them Indian. They are still Indian and untouchable as far as the upper castes are concerned, and they are Christian and touchable as far as Christians are concerned. I am hoping that this is understandable, as I was about to post it, the power failed yesterday.)


“One upon a time, there was a righteous man who shunned all evil. He was wealthy and he was the greatest man among all the people of the East. When his ten children would feast and drink, he got into the habit of praying for them just in case they had done anything wrong.


One day, a messenger told him that a group of people attacked and killed the servants that were watching over the oxen and donkey and stole the livestock and he was the only one who could escape to tell him about it.


Before that messenger had finished making his report, another messenger arrived. He said that fire fell from the sky and burnt up all the sheep and the servants watching over them. He was the only one who survived to tell him about it.


Yet another messenger arrived and he waited for his turn to speak. He reported that another group of people attacked, in the form of three raiding parties. They not only stole all the camels, but they killed the servants who were watching them. He was just glad that he lived to tell him about it.


Finally, one last messenger arrived before the other messenger had finished his report. He told job that all his children were at a feast and the wind blew and destroyed the corners of the house. The roof then collapsed in and everybody was killed and he was the only one who managed to get way to tell him about it.


The righteous man fell to the ground and worshipped God. He did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”


The story from before, it’s Job’s. You’d be hard pressed to find somebody who got his life so right who went through such wrong. The only explanation for his run of bad luck: he was probably an accomplished thief in his former life. The Bible says that it’s appointed to man to die once. We do get a second death, being cast into the lake of fire. So that rules out the past life, from a Biblical point of view. Some would say that what Job lost doesn’t matter because he gained even more in the end. Kharma doesn’t explain why he lost anything in the first place.


What about Paul? He went through alot, whether or not he deserved it.


Kharma is a popular belief these days. According to one commercial, by being environmentally uncaring you can grow two more arms. Now I would think that would be somewhat useful, but apprently they have a mind of their own. In one series, karma is “like a boomerang, only you don’t throw it.” In another series, it motivates a man to right all the wrongs he has ever done. Just what is it though? Most would say it’s the practice of doing good deeds to increase your chance of good luck. It also explains why doing bad deeds will give you bad luck.


Some Eastern beliefs say that your current kharma is a result of what you did in your past life. In which case you have this lifetime to try to correct your last lifetime worth of wrongs (and the present you didn’t even do them!). But is there an element of kharma in Christianity?


From Wikipedia: The concept of karma is part of the world view of many millions of people throughout the world. Many in western cultures or with a Christian upbringing have incorporated a notion of karma. For some, karma is a more reasonable concept than eternal damnation for the wicked. Spirituality or a belief that virtue is rewarded and sin creates suffering might lead to a belief in karma… Through the law of karma, the effects of all deeds actively create past, present, and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one’s own life, and the pain and joy it brings to him/her and others… According to karma, performing positive actions results in a good condition in one’s experience, whereas a negative action results in a bad effect. The effects may be seen immediately or delayed. Delay can be until later in the present life or in the next. Thus, meritorious acts may mean rebirth into a higher station, such as a superior human or a godlike being, while evil acts result in rebirth as a human living in less desirable circumstances, or as a lower animal. Some observers have compared the action of karma to Western notions of sin and judgment by God or gods, while others understand karma as an inherent principle of the universe without the intervention of any supernatural Being… Most teachings say that for common mortals, being involved with karma is an unavoidable part of daily living… Christian Scripture does not include the idea of Karma, although some parallels are made, such as in the Golden Rule and as exemplified by the biblical verses: (Which all refer to God, rather than a random chain of cause-and-effect)


“All take the sword, perish by it” (Mat 26:52)
“Who will render to every man according to his deeds:” Rom 2:6 )
“God is not mocked, a man reaps what he sows.” (Rom. 3:8)
“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Ga. 6:7)
“Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” (Heb. 10:30)


When it comes right down to it, I’d take God chosing that today is going to be a good day or a bad day over a random chain of cause-and effect. Why? Because I know that no matter how good I can be, I can’t help but be bad every so often. God is forgiving, Kharma isn’t allowed to be forgiving.

Conversions

Latha. It’s very late. To get home, you would have to travel this fairly busy street. In accordance with the protocol that you are forced to live by, you knock two sticks together to warn people that you will soon be walking down this street. You wait. You hear the unmistakable sound of doors closing. You slowly and carefully begin walking. If there is somebody left in the street, you could be in for some real trouble. Just before you enter your home, you knock the two sticks together to let everybody know it is safe for them to come out.


To your society, you are a leper without the disease. You are called every vile name in the book, and a few that aren’t. You are paying off debts you don’t even owe. You are impure, vile, and unclean. You are unwanted, unappreciated, and untouchable. The least desireable job is yours. Justice isn’t available to you, nor is education or access to the temples. Your place, your station in life, is last.


Then one day, somebody came with a message. The upper castes ignored it, but you and your fellow untouchables embraced it. You were born as untouchable and now you are born again as Christian. You are wanted, appreciated, and touched by love.You are happy here. The upper castes think that your conversion to Christianity no longer makes you Indian. It’s strange to think that the people who avoid your shadow are now willing to fight off the people that have accepted you. 


Violence breaks out, your church is destroyed. You still meet to worship, but you are uneasy about the years to come. You learn about the persecution that the churches have faced in years past. You learn that the proper response is love. Tomorrow, you and your fellow believers will begin to rebuild the church. You know that the upper castes will not make it easy, but the churches in years past did not have it easy either. 

itching ears and searchings minds

Georgia – What if you are never taught out of the book of Jude? Its in the Bible and you read it, but there are a couple of areas that you would like explained to you. You ask around those you know and don’t find much help. You still have questions. While wondering what to do, you suddenly realize that you have access to a massive resource of information related to and taken from the Bible: the internet. Soon you’ve found several pages about the subject.


You’ve also found the danger of Gnostic teachings. Gnosticism believes that the more you know, the more the Bible will open up for you. Their goal is to get you to believe wrongly. The have specific beliefs, but I am speaking of their  general practice. The want for more Bible knowledge isn’t a problem as long as the answers are found in the Bible. If your search for information takes you into other books that claim to be more correct, you have your foot in Gnosticism.


Maybe you have questions about the Holy Spirit or His gifts such as speaking in tongues. In which case you’d have to learn how to discern the pages that are before you. There is the greatest danger of Gnostic teachings. Its one thing to look for answers to honest questions, its another to look for verses to support your lifestyle.


Itching ears is a term used in the Bible to describe a person who seeks out messages that please them and fit their lifestyle, as opposed to seeking a truth that might make them uncomfortable. The term is used by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy:
2 Timothy 4:3-4: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (KJV)
Paul is advising Timothy to always preach the truth (here, the word of God as Christianity understands it) but warning him that those he preaches to will not always be receptive.