So I wrote this poem a while ago, and tonight at my bible study group I started thinking about it. How often do we ignore the call for our lives, because we are afraid of what it will mean for us. Do we really want to hear GOD? Sometimes I am not sure.
A while back, an ex-gang member got baptized at our church. He fell in love with Jesus and turned from his old lifestyle. But after several months at the church, he stopped attending. When we asked him why he stopped attending, he answered: "I had the wrong idea of what church was going to be like. When I joined the church, I thought it was going to be like joining a gang. You see, in the gangs we weren't just nice to each other once a week-we were family."
I was talking to some Christian friends last night, and the topic of non-Christians mixing with Christians came up. One of my friends mentioned a birthday party we had all gone to a few months ago, which was held in the club house of a local sports club. The comments was how the regular sports club members, who were non-Christians, had been so amazed to discover that we were the 'Church-friends'. Apparently they had been horrified to discover that we actually went into bar areas, and drank, and danced until 2 in the morning, and other such human endeavours.
I think they might also have been surprised
that we spent a lot of time running around
the club house taking photographs with a
stuffed fish, who was also dancing and drinking.
I think a lot of people out there have a perception that Christians are somehow different, and indeed we are - or should be - but we are also people. I think we lose a lot of evangelism opportunity when we think we need to act more Christian around non-Christians, instead of remembering to act holy all the time. They need to see that we are the same, but with something extra.
A good testament to this philosophy is this. The blog Stuff Christians Like was recently ranked number three on the Church Relevance.com list of the 60 most popular Christian blogs. The reason this is cool is because of the content. This is not a blog with long bible studies on it, nor is it a blog with daily sermons, or insights from high-ranking theologians. It is a blog about the silly things we believe, do, and secretly love as Christians. The tone is extremely sarcastic, the blogger talks about his personal issues and struggles, and no matter how ridiculous they sound... WE ALL NOD OUR HEADS. The blog has built up a huge following, because it is something that real people, trying to be Christians in a challenging world, can relate to: Swearing; hiding our faith; pornography; worship eagles. Yup. We've been there, done that, and are waiting for the T-Shirt to be cheap enough to order from the U.S.
We are people too, and if we try to hide that from the world, we are hiding the greatest evanelism tool we have, our lives.
I just love, it!!! I could swim around in it all day. But water sustains life for more than just humble fish. Humans need to drink it every day.
I recently read that it would take something like $10 billion to give every one on the world fresh water. Which is quite a scary statistic, especially when you consider that (according to the blog) The US alone spends $450 billion on Christmas every year.
So what can you do? Well I guess you can stop spending money on Christmas, and send it to someone like wateraid.
They are a fun, online game, and as far as my research shows they are legit. For every city in the world that you can find on a map, they will donate 10 cups of water to an aid organisation.
So far I have donated 667 cups, which if you take a cup to mean 250ml, means I have given over 100 litres of water. And I am having fun as well.
So check out the site, or the link on my sidebar, and see what you think.
btw. I know that freepoverty used to donate through wateraidamerica, who confirmed their donation. I don't know who they are using now, or whether it is taking place. If anyone knows anything, positive or negative, please let me know. It seems legitimate, but I am happy to be corrected.
Now many of you know that in addition to running the Reef, I also write under the name of David Seven. I have a blog over at wordpress where I blog about writing, books, and related topics.
Because many of the people who know me as David Seven are not Christians, and would not be interested in long mental meanderings about theology, I try to keep the Christian posts here, and the writing posts there.
However there is a certain series I have developed over there which might be of interest to some of you as well. I am examining the similarities between writing, and our daily walk with Christ. In essence, I am looking at basic lessons I learned about being a writer from being a Christian; and truths about being a Christian I had never realised, or adequately formulated, until I thought about them as a writer.
If this is of any interest to you I suggest you pop over to Seven's Heaven, where I talk about this and many other things. I will not be re-posting these thoughts here, because they might be a little too specific for many of you. (All three who actually read this blog) I will however give a link every time I do post there on this series, or you can watch the blogroll update on my sidebar.
So the question raised by the previous post about difference in the law gives rise to another. Which of these rules can we ignore as products of the law, which are eternal, and which were good, but now outdated? We have laws about honouring the Sabbath, what animals we can touch, and not muzzling your oxen. Jesus said he came to fulfil the law, not to strike it out. But in some instances he has done just that. Fulfilled it, so there is no need for us to follow it anymore. The purpose of the law or rule, has been met.
Let me give you an example.
In Genesis, GOD makes the earth, and rests on the seventh day.BUT... until the exodus, and the 10 commandments, he never commanded anyone else to do so. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob etc all worked 7 day weeks. In fact I am not sure if the concept of the week had been established yet.
In Exodus, once GOD has justified and saved his people, he gives them rules for sanctification. One of which is "Honour the sabbath" It was not a day to rest, or to spend with your family, but rather a day to focus on GOD. A time to set aside everything else, and focus on setting yourself right with GOD so you could approach him.
I think GOD knew how his people's minds worked. He knew that they would need to be brought back to him all the time. At this stage in history having a personal relationship with GOD was not an option. Only a few select people got to do that. The rest had to rely on regular sacrifice, ritual and purification. So once every 7 days they were forced to put aside their lives, and focus on doing whatever they needed to do to come into his presence.The people would purify themselves and approach the tabernacle. (But not go in, because they could not be in the presence of GOD, only the priest did that.)
Interestingly enough I read somewhere once that the human mind only focuses for 7 minutes before you need to do something to re-focus on the issue at hand. Maybe this was the same thing. If you didn't focus on God every seven days, you might lose focus.
Now we have a personal relationship with GOD through Jesus. We don't need to wait a week to spend time with him, we can approach him every day. We can rest in his presence all the time, not just when purified by the priest and invited to the tabernacle. Jesus himself said 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" Mark 2:27
Of the 10 commandments, nine of them are repeated in the New Testament. Jesus speaks in favour of all nine commandments, adding on to some of them. (Do not murder OR hate; Do not commit adultery OR lust.)The only commandment that is never re-enforced by Jesus, is the Sabbath.
Rather he 'frees' us, because there is no longer a need to wait for the say of the Sabbath, we can come to GOD now.Jesus has fulfilled that law for us, so we are no longer ‘bound’ by it, even if we choose to honour it, and GOD, by setting aside a day a week to focus on him.
I just don’t believe he will send you to hell for stopping on the way home from church to buy bread and milk.
Following on from my previous post, I had a question, which came to me, when I drafted it: One that has given me a lot of trouble over the year. What is the deal with the Old Testament code and law, and can we ignore it in light of Matthew chapter 7 where Jesus talks about the fact that he 'did not come to replace the law, but to fulfil it.’ ?
I think the distinction here is the Law and the laws. In Exodus, God gave one Law. Then he broke it down into 10 commandments, which were all separated into 613 rules. But you can't break one rule without breaking the whole Law. Its part of the whole law of righteousness.
God saved his people, but they had to follow the Law to allow them to be Holy enough to approach him. This involved many rituals, sacrifices and cleansing. Then Jesus came, and by fulfilling the law - being the sacrifice and cleansing us - he made it possible for us to no longer be slaves to the rules and rituals that were making the law so hard to follow.
His law is a new law, but it is also a fulfilment of the old law. We need to be holy, as he was holy, but we do not do it by following the law, but by following him.
For practical examples look at how Jesus and Paul ignore the rules relating to food, and the Sabbath. He obviously wanted to free us from the law as much as from sin. But he gave is new rules for conducting ourselves, that go back to the spirit of the first Law, but don't place a burden on us, except the burden of love.
Now I read an interesting post recently about faith and works recently entitled "The Hole Gospel: How faith killed works" and it got me thinking about a post I did once before on a similar theme, and I thought I would try and revisit it here.
In the Old Testament, we see GOD calling the Israelites out of Egypt, and promising to be their GOD. Then, once they have accepted him, he gives them all the rules to follow. Oh boy but there are rules ,and rules. And sub-rules, and exceptions. But these rules do not make the people worthy of salvation, GOD chose to save them first. Then, once he has given them salvation, he gives them the rules, not for them to earn their salvation, but for them to try and become worthy of it: A way for them to sanctify themselves, and approach him clean.
I guess the same thing with Jesus. He came to save us first, and then after his death and resurrection we are given the various 'rules' that we need to follow in order to make ourselves more 'holy'. These are ways to thank him by trying to live lives he would be proud of, not an effort to 'earn' the salvation he offered.
Ephesians 2:8 " For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it. "
To quote a cliché; we are not saved by good works, but for good works.
Because the chapter of course continues with Ephesians 2:10 "God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do."
For the benefit of those of you who are knew to this site, let me explain something quickly.
I used to have my own group on Facebook, where people met to discuss issues of Christianity, and related themes. Most of the posting was done by me, with quite a few comments and discussions by my friend Mike.
In fact, things used to get quite heated there, with a couple of good natured arguments.
And then the administrators at FACISTbook disabled my account without explanation. I know why, it was because I wasn't a real person, and fake profiles are not allowed. Me? Not a real person? I beg to differ.
I was admittedly a little upset, but decided to let it go. If facebook didn't want anything to do with me, the I didn't want anything to do with facebook. Except that my friend Mike informed me that when I was deleted, all my posts in the group I had created (Shark Baits Reef) dissappeared as well. Luckily I had had the foresight to make Mike a co-administrator as well, or the entire group would have dissappeared. So I left the group to Mike to carry on with, however he never really did anything with it. He said it wasn't the same without me, and he wasn't really comfortable posting fresh ideas. He preferref to just disagree with me. :-)
So I left things, and then something interesting happened...
People started complaining. I was out at coffee with some friends the other day, and a couple were telling me how much they missed the reef. Even people who were not members, apparently used to pop in and look.
So I have been prevailed upon to restart the Reef. And here it is.
That's right ladies and gentleman. I am back at last. Since I was so rudely deleted from Facebook for the heinous crime of being a fish, I have been going through withdrawal. So I decided to take my friend Mike's suggestion and start my own blog here. I hope all of you enjoy it as much as you used to enjoy things in the Reef at Facebook.
Just so there can be no misunderstanding later, lets get something clear up front. My real name is not Shark Bait, and I am not really a stuffed fish. I just choose to use this persona.
For more about why I choose to identify myself as a FISH, see my profile on the side bar.
What am I? How does one answer that question?
I write, but am I a writer? I study, but am I a student?
I teach, but am I a teacher?
I am a lay minister, public speaking trainer, cell group leader, and much more.
And in my spare time I am a lawyer to fund all my other activities.
But above all, I want to be Faithful In Serving HIM. So all I reveal about myself is that I want to be a FISH.