Friday, June 13, 2008
What I Believe (THE LAST Part 5)
‘I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy *catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting’.

I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe He comes to live inside me when I place my trust in him. I can, and do, grieve him and there are surely times when he’s thinking, ‘Bev, just be quiet’, or ‘don’t say it’, or ‘don’t do it’. And I do anyway. He convicts, he strengthens, he intercedes. I'm confident I don't fully grasp or wonder enough at the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life.

I was raised Catholic for a period of my life. I learned about venial and mortal sins, one bad, the other worse. I’m sure at age six I missed some of the points, but since then I’ve come to understand that sin is sin is sin when it comes to the payment required. (And gracious, after this week, I'm sure not bashing anyone's choice of religion, so please don't give me a comment-beating on this! If you think I'm way off, feel free to tell me so, preferably nicely...) The payment has nothing to do with me, I can’t pay for it with confession (although I am to do that), or lighting candles, or going to church more, or giving more money away, but it can only be covered with the blood of Christ, and it was, once and for all, in my life when I was about 25 years old. That said, Scripture tells us God sees some sins differently than others. It says he detests some, it says some are an abomination to him. He hates pride as much as any, and none of us escapes that one. That alone should keep us all from getting self-righteous.

Some things have to be absolutes. Right is right and wrong is wrong. If we don't have that to stand on, then we're standing on a foundation of shifting sand. How can we raise children today, if we as parents don't know what is right and wrong according to Scripture, and are brave enough to call it so? There is a difference between being 'judgmental' and judging someone's actions and calling them sinful. Jesus himself did not shirk from that. In John 8:7 Jesus told the group of scribes and Pharisees who were ready to stone the woman caught in adultery, jump in and judge her if you're without sin yourself. They all walked away. Then he told her he was not condemning her, and he WAS without sin, he had the right to do so. He ended by telling her to go and 'not sin any more' so he clearly considered her to be sinning, by his choosing not to condemn her and telling her to stop. This has to be the perfect example to us - we don't judge THE PERSON because we are sinful ourselves, but we are still to judge the sin, call it what it is - 'sin', not 'lifestyle', or 'choice', or 'after all, it's her body', or ... , we've come up with a lot of new names for sin, that sound a lot better than what Scripture calls them. The word 'adultery' is rarely uttered anymore, it's been swapped for 'having an affair'.

The entire book of Jonah tells the story of a prophet who was sent by God to call sin sin. To warn the people of Nineveh, so they could repent. When he didn't he ended up being vomited by a whale onto the beach, so he could have another shot at it. It's not that he didn't want to call out on sin, he didn't want the people to have a second chance, because he knew they'd take it and be saved. There are countless stories in the Bible of God sending a prophet to speak gloom and doom over a people because of their sin, to warn them of the consequences of their actions.

We are so molded, affected by the world, the culture all around us. We're told in Scripture to be 'in the world, but not of it'. People magazine’s cover features the latest sans marrige Hollywood couple awaiting the birth of a child, while we hold our breath for a glimpse. We applaud, support, and enjoy those who promote a lifestyle that clearly goes against God’s word. We're not too picky whether children are born before or after the wedding, or if it even ever happens. In Hollywood or our own families.

I myself have been guilty of that one. That was 28 years ago, and I am not the person I was then. Not that I don't blow it daily, but that was pre-Christ Bev. I've since been redeemed and am accountable for standing up for what I believe and living a life in accordance with Scripture as I understand it. And I know full-well I don't understand it all.

This has been an interesting week for me. I've seen subscriptions to this blog drop. I've gotten some tough emails on the side, and some pretty hard questions asked in my comments. I've also gotten lots of cyber-hugs and high fives, and I appreciate them. I respected the sincerity with which some of the questions were asked. Some of you are really searching hard. This series has encouraged me to learn more, to search harder. I hope these past few posts have encouraged you to grab your Bible, and really search out for yourself. What does Scripture say about....? Then go to the Christian bookstore and spend some money on good books that will equip you to understand what and why you believe, and defend your faith when called on to do so. We are called to be a 'communion of saints', to join together as one body, to bring glory and honor to him, and to shout his name from the rooftops of the world, a world who desperately needs him. But we can't shout out or defend what we don't know. At least, we shouldn't.

For another look at what the Bible has to say about homosexuality (which is what started this whole series, so it seems appropriate to address it again here, at the end), GO HERE. You can also go to Focus on the Family's website and type in the search bar, where there are many good articles for you to read. I'm not against a nice, light fiction book, but maybe, just maybe you might take a stab at apologetics, the defending of your faith. Me personally, I want to know that I know that I know. A few good books to dive into:

"The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception, John MacArthur
"The Case for the Real Jesus", Lee Strobel
"More Than a Carpenter", Josh McDowell
"Evidence that Demands a Verdict", Josh McDowell
"Mere Christianity", C. S. Lewis
"The Case for Faith", Lee Strobel
"The Faith, What Christians Believe, Why They Believe It, and Why It Matters, Chuck Colson
"Know What You Believe", Paul E. Little
"Know Why You Believe", Paul E. Little
"Discipleship Journal" (a good magazine if you'd like to think hard)

Finally, unless The Rapture comes first, I'll die, and someday I'll be raised from that grave, taken up in the air to join him forever. Every graveside service I've attended, that was officiated by our pastor, he reads these words "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel's voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore, encourage one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:16 &17)

I hope you have been encouraged here. Next week, some lighter, and shorter stuff. I'm a bit worn out from all this :-)


  posted at 8:33 AM

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