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Redeemed From The Curse

June 30, 2013 2 comments

So far in our journey through Galatians, we have learned that the churches of Galatia are being led astray by false teachers called Judaizers.  They have attacked Paul, the gospel, his apostleship and his mission.  Paul has written to the Galatians verifiable facts to defend his ministry and calling.  He is carefully constructed a case for his side of the argument.

In Galatians 3:10-14, Paul his assault on what the Judaizers are teaching.  For as many as are under the works of the Law are under a curse.  The easy thing to do is to view the Law as a bad thing.  After all Paul says that if you are under the Law you are under a curse.  We need to realize that what Paul is meaning is the life under the Law that the Judaizers are promoting.  The Law was given to show us the way to the Lord, not be the way to the Lord.  Man still had to live by faith, as we have seen from Abraham.  The curse that Paul is describing is relying on the Law, legalism, to achieve what we can only obtain through faith.


Next, Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 27:26: Cursed is everyone who does not abide all things written in the Book of the Law, to perform them.  What Paul is saying is that if you are going to live by the Law, then you are obligated to keep every iota of the Law.  If you fail, then you are under a curse.  Paul’s argument is that is virtually impossible to live entirely by the Law, so you are condemning yourself if you try.

Instead, Paul re minds the Galatians that no one is justified by the Law before God and that this is evident from scripture.  Paul once again turns to our Old Testament, this time to Habakkuk 2:4, which says The righteous man shall live by faith.  Like a surgeon, Paul is slicing away at the teaching of the Judaizers, using scripture to prove his point.

Paul next returns to his argument that if you are going to claim the Law as the way of being right before God you have to live by the entire Law.  Here he quotes Leviticus 18:5.  He begins by saying that the Law is not of faith.  On the contrary HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.  Again, the Law, as the Judaizers teach it, is not of faith it is of works because those that choose to go down that path are obligated to keep the entire Law.

Paul next reminds the Galatians of the life they were given through faith in Christ.  Paul writes that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us.  Christ understood the life man was under, so he lived the life that we could not, meaning he kept the entire Law, then he became a curse for us so that we would not be under the curse.  Christ became a curse for it is written  CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE.  Paul quotes Deuteronomy 21:23 to show that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was him becoming a curse for all of us.

The good news comes next when Paul writes why Christ became a curse for us.  He writes that Christ did this so that the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.  Christ’s sacrifice on the cross made it possible not only for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles to have access to the salvation that faith in Christ brings, as well as the Spirit that comes by faith.

What takeaways do we have from these verses this week?

1.  Trying to live by the Law is to not live by faith.  The Law was not meant to be the means of salvation, it was meant to be a guide.  This will become evident later in the letter.

2.  Attempting to live by the Law is a curse.  Placing your faith in the legalism of the Law leads to death instead of life.

3.  Christ redeems us from the curse that the Law places on us.  Instead of living as the Judaizers, where the Law replaces faith in Christ, faith in Christ replaces the Law.

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Categories: Christianity, Church, Faith Tags: , , ,

Resignation, Chapter 37

June 29, 2013 2 comments

David walked into the meeting room.  Everyone else was already there except for Bill Johnson.  He and David had spoken earlier in the day.  He saw Fred sitting on one side of the table.  Tom and Teresa sat on the other together.  It seems like their relationship was starting to take off.  That was not something that he had even considered when they had started the team, but if they were happy, he glad.  Neither of them had ever seemed to be in a relationship that he had noticed.

David was surprised by what he saw at the end of the table.  Sitting there was Dale.  He was not scheduled to begin until Sunday, but it seemed that he had gotten a head-start in helping them out.  Inwardly, he just smiled.  He felt like they had turned the corner a bit in the direction they were heading.

“Dale, good to see you.  I’m a bit surprised.  You weren’t supposed to start until Sunday.”  David looked down the table to where Dale sat.

“I didn’t have a lot going on this week.  Plus, when I take a job, I like to get going.”  Dale just smiled as he twirled his pen in fingers.

“Fred, how are you doing?  I didn’t get a chance to talk to you Sunday.”  David almost always spent sometime before the service praying with Fred before the service.

“I was a little late.  Seems like I’m slowing down a bit these days.”  Fred dropped his head a bit.   David could tell that missing their prayer time before the service was bothering him, but aging was bothering him more.

“Tom.  Teresa.  How are you guys doing?”  They both looked up in unison, smiling, holding hands.

“Great!!!” They both chimed in unison.  David hoped that the slightly sickening part of the newness of their relationship would run its course quickly.

Fred spoke up at that point and the question David didn’t want to answer was asked.

“Has anyone heard from Bill?  He wasn’t as church, Sunday.”  David could see the concern on Fred’s face.  He wasn’t sure if that would have been there in quite the same way when they had started meeting together.

“Yeah, I spoke to him earlier.  He won’t be here.  He’s not been doing well over the past few days.”  David dropped his head a bit.  He didn’t say all that he knew, but he had told Bill he wouldn’t.

Dale looked up from his pad.  “Can you give me his number.  I’ll give him a call.  I would like to go by and see him.”

“Sure, I’ll give that to you after the meeting.  I”m sure he would appreciate hearing from you.  Let’s get this meeting going.  Dale, would you open us up in prayer.”

“Gladly.”  Everyone bowed their heads and Dale led them in a prayer.

“Now, that we have Dale here as our interim, we can focus on beginning our search for our permanent pastor.”  Everyone was looking at David as he began to speak.  “Fred, you’re really the only one that has done this before.  Where do you suggest we start.”

“Well, we have resume’s, right?  What we always did was just look at them, pare them down and then go listen to a few of them.  Then we would settle on one and bring him in to preach.  A couple of times we brought two or three in and went from there.”  Fred looked around at everyone as he spoke.

“Can I make a suggestion?”  Dale spoke up and everyone turned toward him.

“Sure, Dale.”  David was glad he was there.  He could help guide them as they began their process.  David was hoping that they would conduct their search in a way that the church had never searched before.

“I would say that you first need to determine what a Biblical pastor looks like.  Know what you should be looking for.  You aren’t going to find a perfect one, but you want to know what the standard is.”

“Then take a look at the guys who are interested in coming.  Try to find out why they are wanting to leave where they are.  Are they looking for a bigger church? Do they have problems going on at their current church?  I can help out with some of that.  I know plenty of people who would know.  Plus, I can call around to some folks I know and we might find someone who would fit here.  Finally, I would spend a lot of your meetings in prayer. Be in unity on this search.”

Everyone nodded their heads and looked at each other.

“Dale, I think you’re going to help us out quite a bit.”  Dale smiled as the team returned the smile back to him.

Dale spoke as they began to wrap up.  “Now, about Bill’s number.”

 

 

Hi-LARRY-Ity #5: 5 Questions For Larry The Deuce

June 28, 2013 5 comments

I asked my Twitter followers and Facebook friends to ask me any question and I would answer it here on the blog. So without any further adieu, let’s get to it.

Question #1 comes from Phil Stasyszen. He asks

Paper or Plastic?

Phil, that is a simple question, but requires a complex answer. First, we must turn to the past when I worked as a bag boy for Food City. We only had paper until that fateful day that they introduced the plastic grocery bag. As a former Employee of the Month for our location, I was not in favor of using this flimsy bag. The nice square bag had served me well. I could bag and load those quickly and knew exactly how to pack one tight. The plastic bag? What was I to do with that.

Now, however, as someone who carries groceries into his house, I appreciate the plastic bag more. However, we must also consider the philosophical question of Paper or Plastic and I’m not sure what Plato or Socrates would have thought about them.

Question #2 comes from my good friend Phillip Brooks. He asks what in the world was Derek Dooley doing for three years?

Great question, Phillip, but you can’t stump me with this one. This question is as easy as pie.

He was watering bamboo, looking for Rommel and going to Sheryl Crow concerts.

Question #3 comes from Brock Webster. He asks why Noah didn’t kill the fly?

I’m more concerned, Brock, with why he didn’t kill that mosquito. While he was at it, the rat and the snake would have been fine as well and my wife votes for the spider.

Question #4 comes from Kevin Haggerty. He asks if i had to wear one kind of food for shoes for the rest of my life, what would it be? Well, Kevin, I”ve always heard that snake tastes like chicken, so some snake-skin boots would be my choice. However, if Noah had killed the snake, I would be out of luck.

Question #5 comes all the way from Phoenix, AZ and my good pal, Chad Jones. He asks if winter will ever really come to Westeros? Chad, I’m still only on A Clash of Kings and I haven’t watched any of the TV series. Thanks to that show and all the folks on the interwebs for spoiling the fate of Robb Stark for me. I believe that winter is coming to Westeros, but I’m guessing that Martin doesn’t even know yet. He still has to write two more books to wrap this thing up, so we might know by 2020.

There you have it, folks, 5 questions for me for this time. We’ll do it again sometime.

What question would you have asked me if you could?

Categories: Blogging, Christianity, Humor Tags: ,

How Old Is The Earth?

Last Friday I asked folks on Twitter and Facebook to give me questions and I would answer them. I was hoping for questions to which I could give wacky answers. My friend, Brock, cheated and asked me a wacky and a serious one. You will have to wait for the wacky one, but today you get the serous one. Brock asked me this question:

How old is the earth?

I suppose that is the chance you take when you write a blog about faith. Someone is going to ask you Biblical questions that people disagree on and cause some controversy in the world and in the Church. Thanks Brock!!!

So, here’s my answer.

I don’t know.

Let me explain something to you. I am what most people would call a conservative Christian. I’m an evangelical. Some might call me a fundamentalist, though I know some fundamentalists and I wonder if they don’t think I’m apostate. However, in most of the circles I run, and I have been known to run in circles, you are supposed to believe one things:

God created the world in seven literal, consecutive days. Then He rested. If He did that , then the world would be something like 6,000 to 10,000 years old,

That’s what I want to tell you. That’s what I want to believe. That is what I have believed most of my life. However, I’ve come to a conclusion.

It doesn’t matter to me.

If God created the world in 6 literal, consecutive, 24 hour days, I’m down with that. He could do it if he wanted. The Flood could have screwed everything up regarding the strata and fossils. I lean toward this one.

If the Gap Theory was the way God chose to create, that’s cool. A day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. he is outside of time, so the timeframe doesn’t matter much to the Lord.

If the world was created through the Big Bang, then God was the Big Banger. He kicked it off.

No matter what, I believe that God created the world. How he went about it or even when matters little to me.

I will worship Him no matter how old the earth is. I plan to spend eternity with Him.

Brock, I’m sorry I can’t give you a definitive answer.

How old do you think the earth is?

Categories: Christianity, Church, Faith Tags: , , ,

What Paula Deen Can Teach Us All

June 26, 2013 5 comments

If you have paid attention to the media over the last week or so, you have heard about the Paula Deen situation. My aim here is not to drag her through the mud. There are plenty of others who have or will take it upon themselves to do that. Instead, what I want to do is examine what we can learn about ourselves through this event.

Paula Deen made careless statements that revealed her heart and who she was. That is extremely sad as this will basically ruin her public career. I’m not sure she will ever recover, though it hasn’t seemed to hurt her restaurant in Savannah, GA.

There are two reasons why what Paula Deen said shouldn’t surprise us. Jesus said that what enters the mouth doesn’t defile the person, but what proceeds out of the mouth. In other words, what we say reveals what is in our hearts. So, it’s not a new idea that Paul Deen would show us what she is all about. This is an ancient thought that we can all relate to.

Do you want to know what someone is like? Follow them around and listen to them for a while. You will eventually know what that person is all about just by hearing what they have to say.

James tells us that if anyone thinks themselves religious, yet does not bridle his tongue, his heart is deceived. Paula, like many of us, had probably deceived herself into thinking there was nothing wrong with her thoughts and what she said.

James goes on to tell us that like a bit in a horse’s mouth or a rudder on a ship, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it does great things. The tongue will steer or direct us. He says that the forest is set on fire by a small flame. And he picks up on what Jesus says by saying that the tongue defiles the entire body.

Our words are powerful. Paula Deen has found that out. Her reputation and brand has been damaged. What can we learn from this?

First, we should examine our heart. Our attitudes and beliefs will come out. They will be revealed in some way, even to those we try to hide them from. Take an inventory. Make sure you know what you believe.

Second, what do we do with those like Paul Deen, who have landed on the wrong side of these issues? How do we help them? We can choose to revile them or we can engage them with love. Do we want them to change? What will change them the most? Loving them through their flaws, even those that might disgust us.

We can learn some invaluable lessons thought the Paula Deen situation.

What might you learn from the mistakes Paula Deen made?

How Has Fear Held Me Back?

I asked my Twitter and Facebook buds to ask me any question and I would answer them here on the blog.  I got several great ones to answer on Friday for the next edition of Hi-LARRY-ity.  However, I did get one serious one.

My good internet pal, Ricky Anderson, better known as Arthur2Sheds, asked me this doozy:

What have you always wanted to accomplish, but have never tried out of fear?

There are actually several things that fear has kept me from accomplishing.  I will throw three out there.

First, I’ve been a runner all of my life.  I was running, literally, around the house before I was in kindergarten.  I would get my grandma to time me running around her house.  My favorite part of football practice was running.  The coaches would sometimes even let every one else go and hold me back because they knew I loved it so much.  I ran my first 5k in the 6th grade.  I ran track in high school.  I’ve run ever since.  But there’s one thing I’ve been afraid to try.

I have yet to run a marathon.  For some reason I’ve not been able to get over that hump.

Second, I’m a homebody.  When I get off work, I like to go home and not leave.  On Fridays, I’m perfectly content to go to the Holler, (that’s for you, Ricky), and not leave the entire weekend.  I like to work in my yard and make my home an oasis from the world.  So, I’m a little bit afraid of doing this one thing.

I’ve never been on a mission trip.  I feel like I should, but I’ve always opted out.  I’ve never really cared anything about leaving the country.  I go out-of-state once each year, but by mid-week, I’m ready to go home.  I get homesick very easily, so I’m afraid of going on a mission trip somewhere and being away from home.

Finally, there is one thing that I’ve piddled at, but have not really moved forward on.  For some reason, it’s every easy for me to write this blog every day.  I have no problem with that.  There is something, though, that I’m afraid of.  I think it goes back to elementary school and being laughed at for something I wrote.

I’m afraid to write a book.  I want to write one.  In fact, I want to write several.  I have a couple of eBooks that I want to write and share with you good folks (you will hear more about that soon).  I want to write a couple of novels.  But fear has held me back.  And I need to beat it.

There are three things that fear has kept me from accomplishing:  A marathon, a mission trip and a book.

What has fear kept you from accomplishing?

3 Great Questions To Start Your Day (And Week)

I ask a lot of questions.  It doesn’t matter if I’m reading a book, magazine or watching a show or a movie.  I ask questions about what is going on.

To start out today and this week, I want to share three questions that came to mind recently.  I thought it would be a good idea to ask myself these particular ones regularly.  They might benefit you as well.

How will I glorify God today?

Something that I want to do is glorify God in my life.  Paul tells that “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.”

If I can do those two things, I might have succeeded in answering that opening question.

How will I add value to someone today?

Paul wrote to the Ephesians that the Lord gave certain roles in the Church for the “building up of the body of Christ.”

The writer of Hebrews says that we should “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds”.

The second greatest commandment, after the first that Jesus told us, is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

If I can do those three things for someone today, then I can edify them and add value to their life.

How can I further the kingdom and the gospel today?

Jesus told us to make disciples.  We do this by going, teaching and baptizing.  This command is the main conduit through which we answer these other two questions.  We further the kingdom and the gospel by loving God and loving others.

If we ask ourselves these three questions every day, we are well on our way to living the life that God has in store for us.

What questions are you asking yourself today?