Confessions of a Pharisee: On The Wages of Sin

Pharisee: Then you will obey.
Host A: You are a religious…
Host B: We’ve got to run. Do you deserve to die, too?
Pharisee: All of us do. Every one of us.
Host B: God is going to smite you at some point?
Pharisee: No, I said we all deserve to die, but the mercy of God to his people that serve him is what prevails.

* Whispers * Observe the Pharisee in his or her natural setting. They are right, you are wrong. This fine specimen of a not so rare species sits there so certain of her words, regardless of its meaning or even the way those words sound to us. We have already seen her outright lie, or at least, contradict herself. But this species can’t resist yet another contradiction. I have but one solid piece of advice should you ever see a Pharisee walking your way, turn around and run. Chances are that they can’t keep up with you. * Cue Ending Music*

All right now, seriously. I’ve known alot of people in my time. Many of them were Christians with a heart of service. Is the Pharisee saying that those who serve God will get God’s mercy in the form of not dying? What would she say about the Mennonite Crash that killed eleven people? The Anderson University Crash that left one girl mistaken for another who died? Randy Travis’ song about crosses along the highway? Were they ‘not Christian enough’ or ‘not serving enough’? When the Pharisee pushes up dasies, will her church members say of her, “We gather to honor a most Christian woman.” While they whisper, “She could have lived a few more years yet, she probably wasn’t serving enough. Do you think we ought to take over the public relations ministry so her fate isn’t ours?” Like in the movie The Island, your time will come. It might be in your old age, your middle age, or even in your young age. It will be the natural conclusion of your life and the beginning of your afterlife. It will not be because you didn’t hand out enough tracts, didn’t visit enough people, didn’t bring enough visitors to church, didn’t serve God enough, etc. The wages of sin is death, and no amout of service can pay that. Only faith in Jesus can pay down that cost.

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Confessions of a Pharisee: On Salvation

So as you’ve noticed, the conversation takes yet another turn. After a bit of namecalling, it gets back on track …

Pharisee: Obey the commandments of the lord your God.
Host A: OK, I got that.
Pharisee: And get his blessings.
Host A: Now you spoke.
Pharisee: There is only one remedy.
Host A: Now you listen to me. Here’s what your remedy is.
Pharisee: You repent like the men of Nineveh or you, this nation s doomed. You think it’s bad so far, you’re going to find bodies stacked up so that you can’t even bury them.

God could have created people that would automatically believe in Him, always obey Him, and love Him as they should. He didn’t though. He made us and we made a mess of things. Nineveh was not a good example. When Jonah came, they changed their ways, but the change didn’t hold. Four hundred years later Nahum was sent to them to tell them what to expect. There is more to following God than ‘obey or punishment.’ Like the Pharisees before them, they have failed to carry out the spirit of the law. In essence, they are disobedient. Throughout the entire interview the word love is only said twice. It needs to be said more often. It needs to be said until we take it in like sweet music, delicious dessert, beautiful art, and a good read. It needs to be said until it invokes compassionate action on our parts.

Confessions of a Pharisee: On God’s Commandments

Pharisee: Obey the commandments of the lord your God.
Host A: Which ones did you break?
Pharisee: Obey the commandments of the lord your God. You don’t fix this by saying two wrongs make a right. That’s what you seem to be saying.
Host A: No, but…
Pharisee: That you may not say what God requires of you. If you don’t, what?

In Matthew 23, Jesus has some strong words for the Pharisees that constantly hound him for answers. This whole book describes several of the practices of the “Baptist” Church in question. I must point out that it is not up to us to decide whose righteousness is superior. Christians are supposed to follow Jesus’ example. He had strong words for Pharisees that are still valid for their modern counterparts. Neither group is perfect or perfectly right, but they both do have a tendency to go to the extreme in common, just in different directions. Remember that the whole of the Bible was summed up as love God and love people. They need to keep on working on it until they get better at it.

Confessions of a Pharisee: On Measuring Up to God’s Standards

Pharisee: To connect the dots. To connect the dots from point A, your filthy manner of life and your rebellion against God…
Host A: What are your sins, Miss Perfect?
Pharisee: … and conduct against the servants of God, to point B, the dead children.
Host A: I want to know what your sins are.
Pharisee: I’m not going to talk to you about any such thing. I don’t glory in my shame like you seem to want to do.
Host A: No, I just find this amazing that everyone else is a big sinner but you, and you admit to being a sinner.

So once you’ve established that you’re a sinner, you continue to condemn others because of their filthy manner of life, rebellion against God, and their conduct against the servants of God. Since she’s claiming the Amish were so sinful they deserved to have their daughters killed, let’s see how they stack up. The Amish lifestyle is one of simplicity. The Amish so thoughly believe in not being of the world, they go without many of the things that are common to us and the ‘Baptist’ Church. They might not hold with giving respect to the country, but only out of their reverence to God. They are not the rebellious sort. I must wonder who qualifies as a ‘servant of God’ or what sorts of things the Amish would have to do to cross them. It seems that the acusations of the Pharisee are false. Note that they don’t condemn the crime itself, the depraved murderer. He was only a tool used to punish the Amish for being more Biblically sound than the ‘Baptist’ Church.

Confessions of a Pharisee: On Sin

A few years ago, a member of an infamous “Baptist” church appeared on a news network to explain her church’s position on the murder of several young Amish girls. She says that her church believes that God used a depraved man to punish the Amish by murdering the girls because they created their own form of righteousness. They were going to protest at the girls funerals, but they changed their minds when the opportunity arose for them to appear on a radio show.

I thought I’d highlight bits of the conversation and offer my persective:

Host A: Do you sin? Did you ever commit adultery? Did you ever sin?
Pharisee: Of course not.
Host A: Did you ever lust in your heart? Did you ever get angry? Did you ever sin?
Pharisee: And that — you’ve got the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Host A: Have you ever sinned, Miss Perfect here?
Pharisee: Of course, you know that I have sinned, and that’s not the point.

I hope you don’t mind that I changed the names, you know, copyright and all. The church in question is rather small, just a few families, maybe a hundred people or so at most. It strikes me that a church would send its best representative, but this is no regular baptist church. I suppose they sent a person who was thoroughly grounded in their teachings, was the holiest among them, and had a whole lot of nerve. I’m reminded of a Bible verse, something to the effect of, “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:10) Of course, something about this infamous church told me that they didn’t quite hold with a sound teaching when I first heard about them. They hold with the teachings and sounds their pastor makes. They might preach out of the same Bible, but they might not neccessarily have the same definitions.

The Sad Road

(A few months ago, I think, there was a fatal accident on the interstate that killed all but two members of a family on the way to a wedding. About an hour ago, there was another accident on the interstate less than a mile away from the site of the first. This time involving three tractor trailers. I don’t know of any fatalities as of yet, but there are injuries reported. This two-lane stretch of highway is only thirty miles long and responsible for fourty percent of the yearly deaths on Kentucky roads. Not all accidents can be prevented, but there are some things you can do to mitigate the potential for an accident. So here are some tips if you ever find yourself on this saddest road that even Michelin Tires cannot make happy:

1.) Be respectful of tractor-trailers at all times, it is not a coincidence that the worst of the accidents involve trailers.

2.) Don’t rush, that’s when accidents happen. If you’re not familiar with the road ahead, consult maps or your global positioning system.

3.) Don’t be too slow, the traffic in this area has its limits, going too slowly is a danger in itself.

4.) Give yourself extra time. You will never know the weather condition, the obnoxious drivers, broken-down cars, or other accidents. Just by having the time to be patient can save you from a world of trouble.

It’s good advice for even the best of roads. I suspect though, that there is going to be an outcry for action. This dangerous road cannot remain as it is for much longer. I know that I certainly won’t relax when I drive that road until the fourty percent is decreased to five or ten percent. I honestly doubt the local supersition of a Native American burial ground is the cause of the problems. I just think that something ought to be done.)

Here.

I’ve made my verdict that being here is much better than we used to live. For one, it’s not cold. It’s also not chilly. It doesn’t really get freezing either. Sure, there is a winter season, but it much less severe and much shorter. I’ve visited here in the summer and I know that it can get pretty hot down here. Much warmer than the old place would in summer.

The only downside is that to go get anything, you have to go somewhere fairly far away. It’s a sixty mile round-trip to get to a Wal-mart or Aldi’s, in our old town it was a five minute trip. Occasionally, the two local big cities won’t carry the things we need, so we have to travel to a much further big city to find it.

Another thing that puts miles on our car is the search for a church. It’s one thing to just show up on Sunday mornings, but to truely integrate, start showing up on Sunday evenings and Wednesdays too is another big trip. With our construction on the house getting ever closer to finished we are presented with a problem. Church a is close to the rental, far from the property. Church b is close to the property, far from the rental. Even worse, we’re not really sure we should be attending either of them, but we haven’t found anything that suits us. It’s not like we really know alot of people at either church. The reality is that we left the perfect church and we are not going to find it down here. It’s where we used to live, but we live here now.

There are some things down here that we didn’t have up north. Sonic namely. It was such a piece of my childhood, it’s nice to have one around here. They just put in another grocery store to break a monopoly of food. I haven’t seen prices change much to be more competative, but it takes time. There is a rather famous park not too distant, but it isn’t exactly close either. I’m afraid I’d get bored of it though.

Still, I have a feeling like I arrived at the party far too late. I don’t see anybody my age around here. When I do they’re married with two kids running around. I have a feeling that the only hangout is a bar, a place I most certainly do not want to hang out at.

All in all, upside – good weather, great country views, pretty quiet.

But the downside – distant drives, church woes, still no friends.