Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Faults: Mine

The other day I was hanging out with a fellow believer and I was explaining to him how important an ethic of grace truly is in my eyes. I said the following to illustrate how far I'd take it:

I'd prefer to have ten million unkind, unflattering things said about me (that were also true!), out loud for everyone to hear, so that way I could be loved with true grace. True grace, to me, is the kind that knows one's weak points and loves them in spite of them.
Visiting Gary's, Tim's and Rose's blog just made my words ring in my ears. Might as well come to learn what my faults are. I won't be able to grow as well as a person just expecting God alone to tell me.

So if you are a friend, what I would like is to have you leave a comment, telling me plainly about a fault of mine. A sin, even, or a weakness. No COSF doctrine issues are game though. Just character, or personal flaws.


Leave a comment.

Now here's a blog post that's interesting for a change. This is so cool, I wonder what took me so long to think about doing this? Well, it's cool... but I know it'll hurt at first.

If you aren't sure if you qualify as friend, the qualification is that you and I have greeted one another pleasantly in the last six months on or offline.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Type 1, Type 2

I am convinced there are two sorts of participants in the FG hot topics around the blogs. They jump in the conversation according to what they feel is most important.

Type 1 in this conversation prioritize (rank in importance) the FG hot topics like this:

1 - COSF (most important)
2 - purity in speech/conduct

Type 2 in this conversation prioritize topics inversely:

1 - purity in speech/conduct (most important)
2 - COSF

Neither Type 1 or Type 2 are wrong; they're just different to stress one over the other but I assume both Type 1 and Type 2 esteem COSF and purity. (Perhaps the difference in emphasis is due to different gifts or parts of the body?) I'm a Type 2. I think there are several who are Type 2 in the blogosphere and I believe the ranks are growing, converting and displacing a few Type 1s. There are many reasons to be a Type 2. Here's some my feeble mind has thought it could notice:

-- One could be hard-core (how shall we label these COSF doctrines?) FGA, GES, or Glorious gospel, but are so disenchanted through seeing ungraciousness that being dogmatic just isn't spiritually worth the cost anymore

-- One could have started off being either FGA or GES and may still believe that COSF is the most important thing, but because there is no pragmatic difference in what is being preached to the lost, or perhaps because one has been convinced by scripture there really is not much difference in the theology between the two, the result is the COSF "debate" doesn't really need to be "debated" like once believed

-- One has studied the COSF debate and does not believe the correct answer is any of those (three) COSF doctrines, but a fourth. And it was when these ones had to sit around on their hands for three years to even get a chance to share their mind they noticed and appreciated grace, and will stay on the cause for purity in speech and conduct because it is still worthwhile to have it as priority

-- One is a student who knows they can't even begin to know the answer to COSF, but one thing they can know for sure right now, which is what purity ought to look and sound like

Are there more?

Dr. Lybrand mentioned in a comment at his blog here (on October 12, 2009 at 5:56 am) how he believes he is observing a variety of people from different backgrounds and values. It is possible this is part of what he meant through acknowledging such. I would be happy to learn more on his thoughts. I noticed "ad hominem" and its purpose to discount the COSF views being contended, and, I saw how Kev wrote on his blog post that "pointing out the [weak points] of another man is plainly silly" if its not related back in to the issue of who should be persuaded by which doctrine. However - I disagree, and that's where I've been for a year and a half. I hope that makes sense. I think purity is its own important issue.

Read this post written over a year ago, sharing my own Type 2 priority which is unchanged:

My Own Conference Soundbytes

I suppose it's possible that one's reason for being a Type 2 is because they love ecumenism, and they choose blind "unity" at the expense of truth. I just don't know if that's anyone around here like we're being told?

How are we supposed to have real dialogue with any person who does "90% contending" when there are all these unique reasons to be a Type 2?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


A couple Sunday's ago our pastor was preaching on the fear of God. Many Christians want to interpret the word "fear" as only reverence or awe for God. They say it cannot mean that believers actually are afraid of God. I used to be one such believer. I formerly concentrated on these verses to help determine my thoughts:

Romans 8:15
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
The pastor likened Biblical fear of God to our fear of the ocean. Not everyone has spent time at the ocean in their life. Here in the Valley we are drawn to go there and just watch it. It's amazing and powerful as you get close to witness it. But we have a saying about the ocean, and my pastor said it in his sermon too. I was told it from the beginning by my parents: "Never turn your back on the ocean."

His sermon was poignant. About a month ago we took a trip to Florence, Oregon. My family has always loved the South beaches and sand dunes. At low tide there's a treasure of sea material to pick over.

We've always had a general rule that no one ever stands in water that comes over the knees. This trip, I thought I was wise and was following this general rule. The water was at the highest of tides, and for several minutes the shoreline would recede, then all of a sudden it would reclaim about fifty feet of beach. I guess that's what threw me off.... I walked out a little too far and didn't keep track of how far the wet sand was. My mom and my two girls came out after I did. She was holding hands with them on her two sides. We all jumped over the first wave, which was only an inch high. Then another wave came, about six inches high. No problem of course. The final wave came (or so I thought). It came right at the knee for my mom and I. I glanced over at them and laughed with them, and even turned around just enough to smile at my dad, and then BAAM. I was hit in the back almost to my shoulder blades.

My mom and two girls were all wet and we were just fine for the moment. Except the girls were a little in shock from the cold splash. So they both started to pull my mom's arms to walk backward too fast for her and she fell down sitting in the water, then my eldest fell down too - her head completely submerged. By this time I was between them and the ocean and I pulled my eldest up on to her feet. I knew they were going to run up the beach, but I couldn't know if they would get out there fast enough before the tide reversed and began pulling them back out. My younger daughter is five and only weighs 38 lbs. I was terrified now, but Ben got behind them too and followed them out, so my dad and I took hold of my mom's hands to help her up. She was to her neck in surf. The tide was so powerful that even though my dad and I were using most of our strength, we could not help her to stand up. The two feet of ocean water traveling out was removing the sand we were standing upon. The wave receded enough finally and we lifted her up and got out.

That was my fault. I was dumb. I know I will always struggle at least in a small way when I remember how my confidence and assertiveness led my dear family to go out too far. In a sense, I just didn't understand. But now I can tell you what it is to be caught by what they call a "sneaker wave." You don't see how it is coming in the surf, until it is upon you.

My girls and I will never again merely laugh and run by the water's edge. I'm not so scared that I would refuse getting wet from this day forward, but, I am intimidated enough to heavily err on caution's side.

I would love to study the word "fear" in scripture. There's a lot to learn, but for now I'd like to look at a Psalm that has fear as a small part of a description on Godly wisdom. The translation of the word "fear" in this Psalm can be translated as "reverence." But, it could also be translated as "terror." God tells me He is far beyond my ways. Even when I understand right from wrong in the Word, I wonder if He uncompromisingly acts in a manner I will never completely anticipate?

Psalm 19:7-14
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.
I might blog some more in the future on the word translated "fear" ....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Education verses God

I've been having some pleasant discussions with my dad in the last year or so. I've explained to him some of the things I am interested in, and I'm surprised to report this, but, he gets it. In fact it appears to me that I must have gotten this way of assessing situations from him, because as I tell him things I am thinking, he's thinking right alongside me in the way that I would do it. Cool. He's even told me some amazing stories of how he has used his intelligence for serving others. Some he's told me not to publish, and that's not an issue of course. But some are just dang cool. Like how he attended the national conference for the FBI and he was asked to stand in recognition amongst hundreds for the framework he created post 9/11. I never knew that.

There's lots of stuff I never knew about my dad. I'm really only beginning to hear about them. He's finally moved home, and I'm an adult. He never shared them before. He wouldn't do that, and I see why now. It would only overwhelm me as a teen, as if I could never measure up. That was a wise kindness I can see looking back. Instead, he tells me things recently like "You can do anything you decide to do." "You are a woman but that has no bearing on your ability." He really believes these things, and I, well, I know I'm at least blessed to hear them, even if I am not sure if I should believe them entirely. I am his firstborn of two daughters; no sons, but he'd tell me gender is irrelevant to potential. I'm certain I'm not as smart as he's telling me.

As we smile and laugh along because we are both discovering that we approach problems in exactly the same fashion, he says something I haven't heard in a long, long time. With a pang he says,

"You could have gone to school...."
I did go to school and graduate at Oregon State. But that's not what he means by "going to school." He means an Ivy League like where he went; Wharton (ranked #1) and the University of Pennsylvania (ranked #4). Little does he know that "going to school" is the very thing that God has been putting in my heart... lately. Instead of agreeing, I still cringe. Why? His idealism of school has always driven me to an oppositional idealism.

When I was 12 he started telling me how important it was to be ambitious and achieve my own Ph.D. He made me read and give speeches every day of my life and read college textbooks. My grades were decent, but the attitude behind the GPA was deteriorating.

"Don't befriend people outside your race."

"If you get an A, that doesn't mean you learned anything in my eyes."

"There's not much chance a Ph.D. student is going to lower themselves to marry someone with just a master's."

"You can't spend any time with others because your grades aren't good enough."

"After-school clubs are for successful students who are getting straight As."

"The kind of people who live around here aren't of any positive influence on you."

Where was the meaning? Where was the purpose. It was so empty of life. I hated school. It did not define who I was or measure my value as a person. These things were obvious to me, but, my father couldn't understand. I decided as soon as I left home, my number one ambition was to forever dwell among people who valued people. As if all people are inherently priced at an inestimable value, regardless how unschooled they might be.

God was softening my heart, I can see looking back. This was the circumstance that humbled me to listen to Christianity, and receive Jesus by believing upon Him through hearing the gospel. I wondered about this God who demonstrated relationship based on the sacrificed blood of the Savior.

The first thing I read in the new testament beyond the gospels was 1 Corinthians, beginning in chapter one.

It said,

For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

I became God's that day. He wrote this especially for me, to confirm the journey we'd already begun. I was officially through with courting the wise. He was telling me in this passage that it was fully right to continue to value God so highly that it could, should, cost me what the world thinks should be learned to become significant.

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.
"It's okay, child. Come, follow me... and participate in the wisdom that no man can deny because it is Mine."

I haven't looked back since. The blessings have been real. I've have no regret in the absence of continued education... till this year. Do I really want to go to school? It's so not me. It speaks many "wrong" things to me that I could have sworn 1 Cor 1 taught me ten years back. I don't even know for what I would take seminary classes. God is not showing me that.

I am afraid of my heart. What if, while enjoying learning, I oust God's values? What if somehow it becomes more important to me than people? But "He keeps my foot from slipping." I know what kind of God it is that saved me and called me, who will also keep me. He is the Savior who could have ascended, dressed in royal robes, to sit on the throne, but did the opposite. He came as a mere man, and just gave his time. He sat in dirt and listened to the sorts of things other people really wanted to talk to Him about. His comfort was to dwell with the ones who knew they knew nothing. Jesus' ministry was paramount, successful, and the glory of God spread.

Rather surprisingly this describes not only the way of the Savior, but it sounds a lot like my dad's ways as well. Hmpf. The LORD is trying to open my eyes.

Thank you LORD for reminding me through these times that your ultimate interest is in people, not idealism or intellectualism. Not only are you confirming 1 Corinthians 1, but you are showing me that I should not stray to serve your values as if I were an idealist or intellectualist. Let me remember how significant the people of this world are for you, that you came and gave everything just to initiate restoration. Even when I think I know what is in lack with another person, your value of them denies me the full exercise of my provisional understandings.

LORD your greatest preference is to use those who are nothing, and God, you are everything.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Slippery Slope

My senior pastor is lining up with Peacemaker Ministries to have leadership of our church trained by their materials. When he handed me a brochure the other day, I recognized it right away. Perhaps you have already read the book or at least seen their website?

The response we give to conflict can be corrupted through time. This is why in Ken Sande's book titled, "The Peacemaker," he has called it a "slippery slope."

Rebroadcasted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, Ken Sande (Baker Books, 3d ed., 2003). Peacemaker® Ministries www.Peacemaker.net

As you can see, being in either the blue (escape) or red (attack) zones does not resolve conflict. For more explanation, visit this page (below) on their website. As I read just this little bit I was ministered to.

Peacemaker Ministries has made available a free download of the first chapter of their flagship book, "The Peacemaker," by Ken Sande. Click here to access.

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