I'm leaving for the Oregon Coast in the morning.
I'm looking forward to a family reunion with my siblings, nieces and nephews,
and on into the the third and fourth generation!
Today I have a cake to bake, one of Mama's recipes.
I'd like to skip writing and head to my kitchen, where, if I follow the recipe, flour and eggs and sugar and baking soda and a few other delicious ingredients make cake.
I'm heavy hearted today, because this world has gone crazy mad, and all too many are cooking according to what they feel, instead of according to the recipe for life found in the Bible.
Then, they're angry at their Maker because life just isn't turning out the way they want.
We've destroyed our foundations.
We've moved the ancient boundaries.
We're adrift without an anchor.
From what I'm observing, here are some red flags that alarm me when I read or hear them.
1) Acting like you can't understand, study, or interpret the Bible for yourself.
If I've read it once in recent days, I've read it a thousand times.
When someone speaks out on today's hot button issues with a traditional Biblical interpretation they are told,
"You're not qualified to speak on this topic because modern theologians interpret those passages differently."
Yes, I can stack books to the ceiling of theologians supporting a more conservative, literal, interpretation of Scripture
and I can stack books to the ceiling of those who don't.
Personally, I'd rather read the Bible myself and let it speak for itself.
If I find something woven throughout the Bible in both Old and New Testament,
then chances are, it's meant for me today.
For instance, the sacrificial lamb is woven throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
In the Old Testament it was a literal lamb, which pointed to the once and for all Sacrificial Lamb,
Jesus, in the New Testament.
In the same way, if a behavior is said to be sinful in both Old and New Testaments,
then no matter what I think, feel, or what culture dictates, it must be sin.
Too simplistic, too easy?
I would argue that the Bible is meant for the everyday, ordinary person,
not only for theologians or seminarians, for priests or pastors.
2) Removing or reinterpreting passages of scripture because they are offensive.
There are plenty of things in the Bible that are offensive to me and the way I'd like to run my own life.
Thinking of others as better than myself...
Forgiving those who have hurt me...
Giving up everything to follow Jesus...
Jesus is the Only Way to salvation, and without Him you are lost...
But, if the Bible is God's Word, whether it's offensive or not,
I must accept it and ask for God's help to live it.
Personally, I'd rather someone just say,
"I don't believe the Bible is God's Word"
then to say they believe it,
but pick and choose what parts to believe and explain away the parts that are difficult.
3) Rejecting the authority of God or the Bible.
God is the Maker and Creator, the Redeemer and Savior.
He made us, He bought us back from the enemy through Jesus' death and resurrection.
In other words, He's the Boss, not me.
I can't accept His love and His grace without also accepting His authority.
He is Lord and He is Master as well as Friend and Lover.
4) Rejecting the "hard sayings" of the Bible.
Like those who stopped following Jesus when He told them they must eat His flesh and drink His blood,
we want to stop following Jesus when it comes to the hard sayings.
In other words, we want to follow Him, until we hit up against something that offends us or offends culture,
then we want to go off on our own little detour, and hop back on the Jesus' trail when it's more convenient.
5) Relying on feelings rather than foundations.
Oh, boy, pet peeve here.
I may feel any number of things aren't fair, are too hard, are too unreasonable,
but God's Word is the plumb line that keeps me from veering right off a cliff due to my feelings.
6) Putting self first.
One of the foundational truths of the Bible is dying to self, laying down one's life,
yet our culture preaches a whole different mantra.
"Follow your heart"
"If it feels good do it"
"You've got to fight for your rights"
Self screams, kicks and fights to be exalted.
Like Joyce Meyer says,
"I think. I feel. I want" is the constant refrain of our soul.
Yet, Jesus set the example for us of a life laid down.
To be one who lives a laid down life of love for Him and others should be our desire and goal.
Instead, when we talk about things like sacrifice and submission,
we are often treated with contempt or pity.
7) Being culturally relevant is esteemed above Biblical truth.
We live in a culture where you can't say the word sin without offending someone.
Even the church is offended, because if you mention sin, you must not believe in grace.
Again, accuse me of being naive, simple minded, ignorant, old fashioned, irrelevant, whatever,
but I really just think the Bible means what it says and says what it means.
Certainly, there are laws and rituals in the Old Testament that didn't carry over into the new.
Yes, there are cultural things specific to the time period of the Bible.
But many of those things that people bring up for the sake of argument is simply straining at a gnat.
And it's actually not as impossible or difficult to figure out what is what as many would have you believe.
I am so confident in the power of God's Holy Spirit, that I sincerely believe that if you ask the Holy Spirit to show you His truth about an issue, lay aside all commentaries and man's opinions and preconceived ideas and honestly, open heartedly ask Him to teach you from His Word alone, He can and He will.
Well, I have a cake to bake and some packing to do.
This may be a more "preachy" post than you're used to from me,
but I'm concerned for our country, I'm concerned for the church.
I fear we're not following the Jesus of the Bible,
but some culturally palatable Jesus created in our own image.
There's a world famous preacher who begins his messages by having the congregation make a declaration beginning with the words, "This is my Bible..."
Well, I've taken the liberty to make my own declaration, an adaptation of his.
"This is my Bible.
God is Who He says He is and He can do what He says He can do and He does what He says He will do.
Whenever I open these pages I am receiving the inerrant, infallible, incorruptible, indestructible,
ever-living, life-changing seed of the Word of God.
I boldly confess that my mind is alert,
my heart is receptive,
and my will is submitted to the authority of the Word of God
and its Divine Author.
Therefore, I will never be the same.
Never. Never. Never.
I will never be the same.
In Jesus' Name.
P.S. I wanted to add this link for those of you wanting to know practical ways to study the Bible for yourself. This method is called the inductive method. You read, observe and interpret the Bible using scripture and context over outside commentary. Is there ever a time to use outside study help? Of course! But first, let the Bible speak for itself. Also, as mentioned above, ask for the Holy Spirit to guide and teach you.