A look at life and ministry.

All The Laws in the World

  10/12/12 15:29, by , Categories: Church Life, Politics, Living Life, Theology Lived


If you haven't watched the video above, you need to.  It is a heart rending story told by the girl living it.  A cry for help doesn't even begin to cover it. It tells an incredible sad story of bullying, lonliness, and despair.

I'm not against anit-bullying laws, far from it.  In a continuation of my previous post, my heart crys out because I really doubt more laws would have saved this poor young girl.  We have laws in place that people under 21 may not drink.  It has not stopped underage drinking nor stopped kids from dying from alcohol related deaths.  As we pass bullying laws, it will not stop bullying.  Hopefully, focus on such things and deterrence will HELP.  I'm not saying laws have no effect.  I'm sure these laws are making things better.  So don't hear me say I'm against these laws.  Its just not enough to legislate against things.

I just watch this video and my heart breaks because all the laws in the world were not enough to save this young lady.  No law was going to make someone love her, or give her hope, or make her realize how special and wonderful she was.  Psalm 139, especially verse 14.

Here's a great cause for the church of Christ.  Not legislation, but the desperate message of love, forgiveness, and acceptance found in the blood of Christ.

On Wednesday (10/10) Amanda Todd took her own life.  I'm crying just typing these words and I didn't even know her.   All the laws in the world were not enough to save her.  May we share Christ, the one mighty to save.

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Changing Hearts, One Law at a Time

  10/11/12 11:50, by , Categories: Church Life, Politics, Theology Lived

The link today is a story about how new rules and proposed new legislation are being introduced following another suicide as a result of bullying.  Bullying has of course been around a long time and now, with the internet, it can be even more powerful and deadly for kids.

Now don't get me wrong as we proceed.  I'm not against laws to protect people.  Society has needed enforceable rules to try to help everyone get along.  Laws on murder, and other anti-social or detrimental activity is part of civilization.  The problem is that in this day and age, we are replacing a societal morality with law.  Much of the reason we are doing this is because, with the move away from an embrace of Biblical teaching, we have a hard time knowing how to teach morality and less agreement on what morality means.  Is morality based on Bible teaching?  Our society has said, "not anymore".  Morality has slowly, but increasingly shifted over the last 100 years to be based on freedom.  Laws based on Biblical morality were struck down as infringing on personal freedom.  Abortion became legal because a woman should be free to do whatever she wants with her body, Sunday business restrictions were struck down because business should be free to open whenever they want.  Rules and laws about what could be shown and said on tv progressively get weaker, access to porn and other adult content expanded because people have a freedom to view it.  The march continues.  Marriage needs to be redefined because people should be free to marry whoever they want.  I could go on.

I am not saying that everyone of those changes are bad, I am merely showing that a philisophical change occured on how we approach what is moral, using freedom as a ruler.  EXCEPT now there is a problem.  People are using their freedoms in ways that hurt others.  Now, if we were still teaching a Biblical morality, we would have this covered.

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."
(Galatians 5:13-14)

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." (Galatians 5:13-14)

But as it is, we can't teach that, so back to the law we go.  We therefore have started trying to use law to regulate how nice people are.  We passed hate crimes.  If I kill you just to kill you that's bad.  If I kill you because I hate you for a particular reason, such as your race or sexual orientation, that's worse.  If I hurt your feelings or make fun of you, that needs to be criminalized.  We are passing, or trying to pass more and more laws now to govern how we relate to each other and even how we feel toward each other because we don't have any other way to use morality.  Our societal standard is now law, not Bible.

I guess what troubles me the most is not this trend by itself.  It is a troubling trend for our society and a sign of decay, but it is to be expected and was predicted in the Bible.  It is part of watching our culture move further and further away from God.  What troubles me much more is that many Christians are following this philisophical shift (Col. 2:8).  They too are turning to law to define morality.  They want to use the Bible's definitions for the law, but they are still seeking to use law.    Now I get being salt and light and perhaps there is no other option if we want to continue to try to be a good influence for our society, but I think the biggest thing we should be doing as God's people is to live the Bible and share the Bible through preaching the Gospel.  If the members of society learn the freedom of Christ, which is not about personal rights but instead about serving, then we might have an outbreak of morality that is based, not on law, but on Jesus.

In other words, while the world tries to change hearts one law at a time, we as a church will seek to change hearts one redemption at a time.


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Marriage Unbound

  10/03/12 11:11, by , Categories: Church Life, Politics, Theology Lived

This election, especially here in Maine, highlights one of the biggest problems the church has as some try to reconcile with our society over marriage.  The problem is that we are operating in two different kingdoms.   The Bible says that light has nothing in common with darkness and that the natural man cannot understand the things of the spirit.  Jesus made it clear that "My kingdom is not of this world."

For a long time, much of our society was content and even willing to live with Biblical values.  This was probably never quite a pervasive as we like to imagine, but it is true that Biblical values used to permeate our culture a great deal more than they do today.  For decades, those values have been slowly abadoned by society.  Permissive divorce, abortion, removal of various "blue laws", a move by government away from a "pro Christian" position all point to that change in our culture.  Now the latest symptom is the quest to "redefine" marriage.

In all these cases, these are symptoms of a world that is unbound from God.  Christians are bound to Christ, non-Christians are not.  God through Christ, through us, is seeking to reconcile people to Himself.  Often times I fear that as a church we are trying to be evangelists for one little part of what it means to follow God.  But since the world, including our country doesn't know Him, why are we surprised that they reject our definitions.  And should our efforts be to try to change any one fruit, or the root issue;   Salvation?  Marriage, unbound from God, ceases to work correctly no matter the gender of the participants.   Is our message one of reconciliation to Christ or one of trying to finally stem a societal tide that has its roots in a lost people?  Should I make a great polictical effort to make our culture conform to the values of Christ whether or not they actually know Him?    Yes, abondoning God's plans in any area will have negative effects for society, but is my job to save society for me to live in or to proclaim Christ so others may live eternally?

Just a few thoughts to consider.

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Half a Point

  10/01/12 10:54, by , Categories: Living Life, Theology Lived, Bible Study

Today's link is an article in the Huffington Post where the President of Gordon College tells of a recent chapel service where he taught on the parable of the talents from the Bible and did a great illustration of application by giving the students money.  It is a good lesson and a good story.  BUT...

There is a major missing point in the lesson.  What difference do you make and why?   When Jesus taught the parable of the talents he was not teaching merely about being a good steward.  It was about being faithful with our resources (time, money, etc) for Christ.  That last little detail is vital to the whole point.    Jesus did teach social responsibility, but not merely social responsibility as an end in itself.  If you look at the entirety of Christ's message and concern, it was eternal, not temporal.  Jesus knew that to simply relieve phyisical suffering without redemption of the soul was, in the end, a temporary fix.

When the crippled man's friends lowered him through the roof, Jesus forgave his sins.  Only after everyone scoffed at Him did he also throw in the ability to walk to demonstrate that he also had the power to do the more vital thing, forgive sins.   Jesus made it clear that when you are seeking to demonstrate His love, you should make sure that you back it up with physical deeds.  James especially makes the point that if you do nothing but talk, your message is meaningless.

The flip side is when good deeds are done but nothing is done to deliver the message of Christ's forgiveness.  If you use your resources simply to lighten someone's temporal suffering or need without doing anything to bring them to forgiveness in Christ, than you have missed Christ's central point and mission.  "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost."  If they are lost, but more comfortable, you have missed the point.  Christians need to avoid both extremes.  Preaching without social concern and social concern without sharing the redemptive work of Christ.

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So Many Thoughts, So Little Time

  09/19/12 14:38, by , Categories: Stray Thoughts, Personal Reflections

Ever just have too many thoughts in your head?  Of course, I have been accused on occasion of not thinking and there have been plenty of times that I have acted or spoken without giving appropriate thought first.   In this case what I mean is that sometimes I get what is the opposite of "writer's block."  Its not that I can't think of things to write or do, it is that I have too many thoughts and have trouble narrowing them down.  I've actually been having that trouble with blog posts.  I have several draft ideas jotted down as well as other ideas rumbling around in my head and I have trouble deciding which one to work on.  In trying to decide, I keep going 'round and 'round and short of cancel out.  The same happens with big projects.  There are several big projects or ideas for big projects that I have but again, trying to start one can defeat me.

The whole thing makes me feel rather foolish because I know that all I really need to do is just pick something and do it.  While that is easy to say and easy to know, the doing of it someone still escapes me at times.  Makes me question my own soundness of mind sometimes.  :)  Of course, I have read places that this is something that happens to some people, but it doesn't make me feel any less defeated when I get caught in a loop and don't accomplish as much as I should because I have so many good choices.    This is one reason why sometimes procrastination produces results.  When an impending deadline looms, it provides that focus and direction which can suddenly move me to action.  I have been working for years now not to need that to function.  Doing better, but not hitting 100% yet.

So today, I decded to beat the loop by writing about the loop.  That meant that I got something written and can check another thing off my list and move on to the next one.  There, that worked.  Onward and forward.

On a personal note, after a busy weekend and a busy week so far, I am excited that tonight the only thing on my agenda is supper with my family and an evening with my wife!   Very exciting!

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A look at life and ministry.

About the Author

After growing up in Maine, Ira graduated from Bible College and wandered into Western Maine and has never found his way back out. He has a deep love for the rural churches of Maine and the people who make up this great state. He loves Truth over Tradition, Christ over Culture, and People over Process. He love to equip, teach, and disciple and longs to see the Maine church grow healthy and make disciples.

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