Tag Archives: Christianity

The 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was passed to protect the religious freedom citizens from the government. In order for the government to restrict a person from their "free exercise", a law had to pass two tests.

1) there had to be a compelling government interest.

2) the law had to be the least restrictive way to accomplish that interest. The "Do No Harm Act" (expected to be reintroduced in 2021) grants the government more authority to restrict religious liberty.

This bill prohibits the application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) to specified federal laws or the implementation of such laws. Currently, RFRA prohibits the government from substantially burdening a person's exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest when using the least restrictive means.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1450

Who Would This Affect?

This bill would only federally funded entities (for now) but, ANY government funding would be included. Attempts have been made to include any monies granted to parents that is paid to Christian day care facilities.

The Do No Harm Act “would preserve the law’s power to protect religious freedom, but also clarify that it can’t be used to cause harm,” said Maggie Garrett, vice president for public policy for Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

https://www.deseret.com/indepth/2021/1/8/22204893/religious-freedom-law-do-no-harm-act-congress-trump-administration-legal-conflict

Here's the thing...whoever is in power gets to define "harm".

Unrestricted government power is the one thing our founding fathers feared. Furthermore, the Constitution was written to restrict the government and the first thing protected was the freedom to exercise religion.

The proposal even says that RFRA should not allow any “party” to discriminate against others, “including persons who do not belong to the religion or adhere to the beliefs of that party.” Think about that. Today, RFRA allows churches or organizations to challenge federal laws or regulations that would force them to hire or include as members persons who oppose their beliefs. The Harris bill would allow the government to make that choice instead.

https://www.heritage.org/religious-liberty/commentary/diluting-the-substance-religious-freedom

Again, right now, a church can hire people who agree with what that church believes and teaches. There has been talk of punishing Bible-believing churches who don't toe the agenda line. Law suits are one way. Removing their non-profit status if they "discriminate" against "name that minority" is another.

The "Do No Harm" act is a step in that direction.

The first article: The Equality Act of 2020 is here.

Sermon Notes: Imprecations Intro-Part 1

Our pastor is preaching a series on imprecatory prayers and there's a lot unpack. The first point was "we are here" and the first point of the first point was "The Equality Act"

February 7, 2021 - we are here with the Equality Act

the "equality act" would add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the list of civil right protection. H.R.5 is expected to be reintroduced in 2021.

Implications of The Equality Act

...continue reading

Lots of links today...and one of them is no longer active (well, it didn't take long for that censorship to happen...

In the Christian Sphere

A Biblical Case for Civil Disobedience & the Right Use of Romans 13 - James White

"Yet unqualified Christian obedience to government cannot be taught from texts which explicitly limit the boundaries of government authority and the extent of our submission.  God Himself clearly restricts the role of government, not giving it unlimited authority: it acts “for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right” (1 Pet. 2:14).  When rulers reverse that, as often happens, by praising evildoers and punishing those who do right, they violate their delegated, God-given authority and transgress their divinely established boundaries and assigned jurisdiction.  "

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...continue reading

This book is a solid, Bible-based book on emotions and how to deal with them as a Christian.

“Feelings and Faith” by Brian Borgman

“I am a pastor who loves theology.  The theological stream I consciously drink from takes doctrine very seriously, something with which I wholeheartedly agree.  That’s one of the reasons I drink there.  My theological tradition (Reformed) puts a great deal of emphasis on the mind.  It is a strongly academic tradition and can become very cerebral.  So why am I writing a book about the emotions?  A few years ago I “felt” the need to teach on the emotions.  Since I believe that there is a biblical doctrine of the emotions and am convinced that in our mind-oriented tradition we could use some perspective on the emotions, I started a “short” sermon series…”

This book is the result of this sermon series.

"Feelings and Faith" is solidly Bible-based.

Brian Borgman immerses us in the Bible’s perspectives on feelings and the book is good teaching on emotions (and the negative and positive results).

Borgman writes, that the book is practical theology – and he quotes what was said about Jonathan Edwards:  “All of his doctrine was application and all of his application was doctrine.”

The book has two major parts" foundations and applications.

...continue reading

I just finished "Things We Couldn't Say"  by Diet Eman, published in 1999.

The book, "Things We Couldn't Say" is simultaneously hopeful and fearful; the author can lament the situation while resting in the love of God.

Diet Eman and her fiance, Hein Sietsma, watched from the beginning on Nazi occupation in the Netherlands, wondering, "what is starting here?" to  "what can we do?" to "what *SHOULD* we do?"

Diet Eman is in the company of Corrie Ten Boom - in fact, at one point they were in the same prison camp.  If anything, Eman was more involved in the Resistance Network than Ten Boom was.

Why did she do what she did?

As a Reformed Christian, Eman's philosophy of the resistance was based in her faith in God and that faith spurred her into action.  At her most exhausted and in her moments of deepest fear, it was God that carried her.

She wrote: 

When I opened the book [the Bible] that night at the end of February 1945, it said, "Being exhausted, yet keeping up the pursuit" (Judges 8:4). Even after what I had said of wanting out, even after that humiliation, the physical exhaustion, the deep despair I felt, those words were my new marching orders. The next morning, I swung my rucksack over my shoulders and was off again.

 Most authors put the "why I wrote this book" at the beginning. 

 The author puts her reasons for writing in the postscript - she wanted to forget. When Corrie Ten Boom come to the town Eman was living in (Grand Rapids, MI) Eman began being convicted that 

...every time I opened the Bible something like "Tell the great things I have done" stared me in the face. Then a pastor who knew that I had been in the same prison as Corrie asked me to speak to his church. I wanted to scream, "No, I want to forget," but I didn't dare. So I went, but it was very difficult.  (Diet Eman;James Schaap. Things We Couldn't Say (Kindle Locations 3502-3504). Kindle Edition.)

Friends and family began to encourage her to write her story as a sort of therapy. She needed to write and the world needed to know.

All those years between WWII and when she told the story, she kept her diaries and letters and those of her fiance, Hein.  She shares those notes and fills in the blanks with her memories.

We read along as Diet goes from an innocent child, to a young woman in love with a young man, and then she becomes a confused Dutch woman unsure of what to do in the face of an invading force and then she launches into the Resistance.

Diet spent months in a Nazi prison camp, where she wrote:

And also, I forget to see that this all happens with God's permission. I keep on staring at the injustice which our country and people are suffering, but I forget that you bring your trials on this earth because you deem this necessary, otherwise it would not have happened. (location 412)

 Why does it matter?

As I write this review, I'm listening to the radio.  I am writing with the memory of last Wednesday, when a mob of people stormed the Capital Building. The President has been banned from a couple of social media platforms and an entire social media network (Parler) has been removed from app stores and has had their website taken down by their ISP.  Senator Ronis in "facebook jail" for unknown reasons.  

Reports of people who were merely present at the protest - on the fringes, *NOT* part of the mob who stormed the gates - being turned in by grandchildren and getting fired from their jobs.  For peaceful assembly!

Diet wrote:

What will this year bring us? Peace? Liberty? Reunion? Lord, you know it already! This time last year, when we were all together, we would never have thought that all this would happen! But you knew it. And we still have to give you thanks, for in some way this is necessary for the big plan you have for this world.

The Biden Administration is about to begin. I watch who is being "cancelled", who is being fired, and who is being silenced.

 My husband posted:"When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar. You're only telling the world that you fear what he might say."- George R.R. Martin

This book is a "must read"

 The book has a tragic story, but the way that's it's written catches at the heart.  Going back and forth from Hein to Diet, reading their diaries and letters, one can see how each person reacts to an event (the queen of the Netherlands escaping to England)

Reading the book, while watching our own current events unfold is unsettling.

Read it...think on it...and (I think) be prepared to ponder where your own "line in the sand" will be.

"lunes linkage" is a collection of links, articles, etc. (anything) I've found interesting and might want to come back to.

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What Christianity Alone Offers Transgender Persons

The article is good and worth reading, but this line stuck out at me:

Creation isn’t right. The physical world has been “subjected to futility,” to frustration. It doesn’t work properly. It’s out of joint. It has been subjected to this frustration by God. The Bible’s wider narrative explains this. God cursed the ground as a judgment on human sin (Gen. 3:17). In other words, the world isn’t right as both a consequence and a demonstration of the fact that we’re not right.

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Campfire Blanket Scarf

Campfire Blanket Scarf - lunes linkage

Or maybe just a blanket 😉

This will be a good choice when I have spun all the alpaca fiber into yarn.

This piece will be easy and fast to knit, and it is just the sort of thing I like to curl up in when it's chilly, either indoors or out.

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California Could Learn From Puerto Rico Raising Minimum Wage

According to National Review, the impact on American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands was devastating. After only three of the ten scheduled minimum-wage increases after 2006, American Samoa’s overall employment dropped 30 percent — a 58 percent crash in for the critically important tuna-canning industry. Real GDP fell by 10 percent.

But that was much better than their Northern Mariana Islands neighbors, where employment had plunged by 35 percent, and real per capita GDP off by 23 percent.

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That's all for now (Tuesday)

Reason #ILostCount - I'm not going back"I'm not going back" is a refrain at our house, and we have reasons...we usually make up a number (reason #848) but I just lost count.

And I'm not going back.

My daddy died last week and  I know that he's with Jesus.  I heard another refrain:  If you want to see Jesus, you need to be holy.

Here's the thing - if you're holy enough to get yourself into heaven - raise your hand.

I'm not.

I'm not holy enough - far, far from it.  To paraphrase Mark Driscoll - this kind of teaching leads to either pride or despair.  Pride (I got this) or despair (I can't do this.)

Reason #ILostCount

When Dad got to heaven, I know that he lived his life in faith in Christ.  He never pointed at his works; he pointed to Jesus and the cross.

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. (Romans 3:28 ESV)

What is "law?"  Law (simple explanation) is God's character codified.  In the law, we learn God's character, and His standard for holiness.  God is perfect and His law is perfect.

We are not and we cannot be, this side of the grave.

Since we are not perfect, how do we see Jesus?  How are we justified?

We are justified by faith, and not by works.

Yes, sanctification is a thing and for a person who is justified by faith, that faith will be evidenced by sanctification.

I asked a Sunday School student - do you do your chores because you are part of your family?  Or do you do your chores in order to become part of your family?

Do we obey the law because we belong to Christ?  Or do we obey the law in order to belong to Christ?

The difference is worth an eternity.

Okay, at the beginning of yesterday's sermon, the pastor showed a PowerPoint slide of a yogurt foil label.

I took that visual in a different direction than I think the pastor intended.

Stirrers, skimmers, diggers...We have all of these types in the Christian body.

STIR,

Those who stir, those who skim, and those who dig.  The beauty is that each of us shows all of these tendencies at some point or another.

When you hear "stir" - what do you think of?  Is it the negative "stir up bottom muck?"

Or do you think positive?

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, (Hebrews 10:24 ESV)

As believers, do we stir up one another to look more like Christ?  How does this work?  For me, getting into the fringes of something, then finding another person, taking that "something" and running with it...with that other person, pulling more and more people into this "something."

Or simply encouraging another into a deeper walk.

Or

STIR,

I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, (1 Peter 1:13)

what was Peter "stirring?"  The list begins... faith, virtue, knowledge.

I see (rightly or wrongly) a lot of anti-intellectualism in a lot of people.  "Knowledge" is third on Peter's list and knowledge is what leads to self-control,  steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love.

They're in this order for a reason, and each acts a foundation for the next.

How do we stir our spiritual siblings to greater faith, virtue, knowledge?

Then...

SKIM

Merriam-Websters has one definition:

to look over or read (something) quickly especially to find the main ideas

Yeah, okay.  That works.   Why would a Christian "skim?"

We may skim a chapter of Scripture, then settle on the "main idea" and go for a deeper study of that idea that the Holy Spirit is laying on our heart and mind.

We may skim the church bulletin and rest our eyes on something that intrigues us.

We may skim community groups until we find one that we really click with.

Somebody may ask a question and we skim material looking for information.

These can show good fruit.  I know a little bit about a lot of different things.  Enough so that if somebody asks me a question, I can point them to good resources.  A lot of these things I have not dug into deeply.

I pass over a lot of ministry opportunities that are not in my range of interest...

Waiting to find the right place is good.

but...you if you stay in that "skim" place, or if ALL of your places are skim place, that shows a shallowness that does not show good fruit.

You have to

DIG

I can skim Philippians, then land on "I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,"

What does the Bible say about persecution?  Start digging...

I can skim the church bulletin, then land on one opportunity that screams at me...start digging.

But we don't exist in a vacuum.  Help others dig!

So, in some things, I'm a skimmer, others places a digger.  In still other places, I can stir up others to do their own skimming and digging.

And...that's where I took that PowerPoint slide...

2 Comments

layers

I've read on this for a while (years) and I remain a creationist.  I believe that God created - not evolved.  I don't think that God-directed evolution is correct.  God created.

I'm just not sure that the "day" of Genesis 1 represents a literal 24-hour period.

Then Justin Taylor wrote "Biblical Reasons to Doubt the Creation Days Were 24-Hour Periods"

One of his points I've heard before.

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Okay...are we reading a prelude, a heading title, or a summary of what follows?

Taylor writes:

Genesis 1:1 tells us that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

This is not a title or a summary of the narrative that follows. Rather, it is a background statement that describes how the universe came to be.

In other words.

At some point in the past, God created the universe.

Then (starting in Genesis 1:2) He formed our planet into our place.

At some point, the universe came into existence, then some time later,

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:2-3)

In this case, even the six days of creation took place inside of a larger history.

 

On thinking that God only has one begotten son – the rest of us are children by adoption – and that Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers…This is pretty long, and it’s worth the read.

Our church is doing "Adoption month."  Yes, an entire month on the topic of adoption - and I had the following story a few months ago...it's great.

 PROOF” by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones - is a reworking of TULIP - I like the book.

“Because I’m Yours”

I never dreamed that taking a child to Disney World could be so difficult – or that such a trip could teach me so much about God’s outrageous grace.


Our middle daughter had been previously adopted by another family.  I [Timothy] am sure this couple had the best of intentions, but they never quite integrated the adopted child into their family of biological children.  After a couple of rough years, they dissolved the adoption and we ended up welcoming an eight-year-old daughter into our home.

For one reason or another, whenever our daughter’s previous family vacationed at Disney World, they took their biological children with them, but they left their adopted daughter behind with a family friend. Usually – at least in the child’s mind, this happened because she did something wrong that precluded her presence on the trip.

And so, by the time we adopted our daughter, she had seen many pictures of Disney World and she had heard about the rides and the characters and the parades.  But when it came to passing through the gates of the Magic Kingdom, she had always been the one left on the outside.  Once I found out about this history, I made plans to take her to Disney World the next time a speaking engagement took our family to the south-eastern United States.

I thought I had mastered the Disney World drill.  I knew from previous experiences that the prospect of seeing cast members in freakishly oversized mouse and duck costumes somehow turns children into squirming bundles of emotional insecurity.  What I didn’t expect was that the prospect of visiting this dreamworld would produce a stream of downright devilish behavior in our newest daughter.  In the month leading up to our trip to the Magic Kingdom, she stole food when a simple request would have gained her  a snack.  She lied when it would have been easier to tell the truth. She whispered insults that were carefully crafted to hurt her older sister as deeply as possible — and as the days on the calendar moved closer to the trip, her mutinies multiplied.

A couple of days before our family headed to Florida, I pulled our daughter into my lap to talk about her latest escapade. :I know what you’re going to do," she stated flatly.  “You’re not going to take me to Disney World, are you?”  The thought actually hadn’t crossed my mind, but her downward spiral suddenly started to make some sense.  She knew she couldn’t earn her way into the Magic Kingdom — she had tried and failed that test several times before — so she was living in a way that placed her as far as possible from the most magical place on earth.

In retrospect, I’m embarrassed to admit that, in that moment, I was tempted to turn her fear to my own advantage.  The easiest response would have been “If you don’t start behaving better, you’re right, we won’t take you”  But by God’s grace, I didn’t.  Instead I asked her, “Is this trip something we’re doing as a family?”

She nodded, brown eyes wide and tear-rimmed.

“Are you part of this family?”

She nodded again.

“Then you’re going with us.  Sure, there may be some consequences to help you remember what’s right and what’s wrong — but you’re part of our family and we’re not leaving you behind.

I’d like to say that her behaviors grew better after that moment.  They didn’t.  Her choices pretty much spiraled out of control at every hotel and every rest stop all the way to Lake Buena Vista.  Still, we headed to Disney World on the day we promised, and it was a typical Disney day.  Overpriced tickets, overpriced meals, and lots of lines, mingled with just enough manufactured magic to consider maybe going again someday.

In our hotel room that evening, a very different child emerged.  She was exhausted, pensive, and a little weepy at times, but her month-long facade of rebellion had faded.  When bedtime rolled around, I prayed with her, held her, and asked, “So, how was your first day at Disney World?”

She closed her eyes and snuggled down into her stuffed unicorn.  After a few moments, she opened her eyes every so slightly.  “Daddy,” she said, “I finally got to go to Disney World.  But it wasn’t because I was good.  It’s because I’m yours.”

It wasn’t because I was good…it’s because I’m yours.

That’s the message of outrageous grace.

Outrageous grace isn’t a favor your can achieve by being good; it’s the gift your receive by being God’s.