Thursday, May 30, 2013

Weightier Matters

This OP (see Facebook) came to mind as I read John's own OP challenging the saints in Christ to examine the inconsistent handling of examples in the NT as to when we make them binding and when decide an example is not binding. John posed an honest question.

Much of what is made of examples is supposedly on the basis of the authority of scripture. But, what do we learn as to how Jesus did/would respond to the introduction by Israel of elements of devotion and worship? I have heard the expected carnal dismissal concerning the introduction of mechanical instruments (DO NOT go there at this time.) of worship by David.

Yet, here is another instance in which Jesus refers to something introduced by Israel as being on par with the law God gave through Moses.

 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin,†† and have left undone the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith. But you ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone. 24  You blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel!

I do not believe (I'm relying on my general knowledge as best I can recall and admit this is not a subject I have expended time in study. I would welcome the correction and the enlightenment on this point.) tithing of spices was ever commanded for Israel to observe as part of their giving. What is SIGNIFICANT is that Jesus does not condemn the Pharisees for having INSTITUTED and PRACTICING this tithing of spices, effectively, an addition to the law. What IS also significant is that Jesus' indictment of the Pharisees was that they had settled with the compromise of fulfilling a meager tithing of spices while leaving "undone the weightier matters of the law." Jesus, in the midst of delivering a strong indictment on the Pharisees did not neglect to commend them on their tithing EVEN IF IT WAS NOT as prescribed by the law.

How does this relate to how saints handle examples as binding or not binding, today? It is when most of those examples are like "mint, dill and cumin" while the "justice, mercy and faith," are like the weightier matters of the law and which go undone.

It's like giving (that is, "tithing") our singing (w/ or w/out mechanical instruments) while remaining woefully inept to DO and SPEAK justice, mercy and faith. It goes undone with our brothers and sisters in Christ who SPEAK the same language much less those outside of the kingdom who do not know or speak justice, mercy and faith or the language of the kingdom of God. The reason for the ineptness is because their is no need for any dependence and reliance on the Holy Spirit to guide our minds and give us words of life in that moment.

The claim from saints, like the Pharisees, that they are all about pure and sound doctrine, not adding or taking from the word and following the authority of every example in the NT is self-deception. Jesus unflinchingly described the Pharisees as blind. Elsewhere, he played along with their own self-justification and _ their own self-incurred condemnation: Jesus said to them,

If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.
The concern about our use of examples as reference points of authority and subsequent condemnation of fellow saints in Christ. It leaves much room to learn, if we only would, from Jesus how he handled those those things which some saints feel compelled to tear down their brother, their sister and the body of Christ.

Let us do the weightier matters of justice, mercy and faith as disciples of Jesus being full of the Spirit.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I readily admit I was prompted this evening to write this after meeting a saint (Andrea) in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. It's a dream I shared with my wife from a couple of weeks ago.

I do a lot of interaction online. I don't have anything against people playing games, but that's not what interests me. Eight years ago when I began interacting online I did so with the express purpose of engaging in discussion and teaching. My primary reason for migrating from Interfaith Dialogue on Orkut, Craigslist, Project Experience and most of that activity to Facebook was for that same purpose.

So, I really value what I do online. Yet, there have been various times when I found myself wondering about the value of my online activity. I value affirmation. There are times when affirmations have come in the form of private messages on Facebook. I give affirmations as often as I am able to do so, that is, when I am not so blind as to overlook the need someone else may have had for that affirmation.

I have always used my own photo (shot by my daughter for a photography assignment) and my name. The exception was done more for fun where I used a picture of George Harrison and the handle "CuePond." Nonetheless, the content is as straightforward as my blog and Facebook messages. Regardless of how some of my articles may come across, the main part of which are on this blog, I am committed to conveying a message that has meaning, clarity and always open to discussion. It was early in my online interactions that I took up the name "Gil," which is the shortened form of my full name mainly as people used it to address me. So, Gil became synonymous with what I do online.

It was with this in mind that I quickly understood the dream of a few weeks ago. I woke up quickly from the dream which was nothing more than the sound of "Gil" presumably called out by the woman in the distance. There was no detail of the imagine, but the short message resonated with me. It immediately rang familiar and I associated it with my online discussions and teaching.

It was a clear, valuable affirmation of what I do online. It is ministry.

BTW, I teach a blogging class at the Round Rock city library on first Wednesday of the month. It's free.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Jesus Unscripted

Something that drew my attention to Jesus many years ago was his ready willingness to engage with anyone, anytime, anywhere. He was never at a loss because it was not the right time of the day, the right day or the tools he needed were not available.

Wherever and whenever the moment presented itself it was the teachable moment for Jesus. There were no dumb or stupid questions. Everything, whether hostile, ignorant, condescending or friendly received a response which resulted in understanding and enlightenment, if not for the questioner, than for others who heard his words.

So much of what the saints engage in during our study gatherings for understanding and enlightenment are often a rehash of the same old, sifted and pre-approved discussions as dictated either by the leadership in that church or the individual leading the study.

What about if saints and visitors came together, say in that customary Sunday morning study?  What if they engaged in discussion, in light of the scriptures, on an event, an overheard conversation, experience or thought from their life in the previous week? What if these were submitted as discussion requests by those in attendance?

The logistics are simple. Attendees write and submit their request for discussion on cards. The selections are read to the group. The group quickly narrows the selections to one or two for discussion as topic and time permit.

Of course, ALL are invited and encouraged to participate in the discussion.

Men and women who step up to take on that burden ought not do so if they can not stay the course in the face of difficult challenges in that discussion.

The discussion parameters:
  1. Establish the relationship with the scriptures
  2. Present the application of the scriptures
  3. Provide encouragement
Clearly, this is not an invitation for chaos, grandstanding or heavily charging the discussion with opinions. It is a open presence and work of the Holy Spirit in the gathering of the saints as a testimony for all who enter and join in that gathering.

Can you think of any reason with the men and women, saints and visitors alike would not be enlightened through hearing or participating in such a gathering among the children of God and Jesus unscripted?