Friday, October 20, 2017

JESUS, MATTHEW 7 & RIGHTEOUSNESS

Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.... Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 7:1-8 (parts) NASB

While I believe that every Christian who has been baptized into the New Covenant of Christ is saved by God's grace, to believers, Jesus had words of warning. Act in accordance to the covenant, for your judgement will be according to the mercy you give others.

So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Matt. 7: 17-19

Here again, those who have entered the covenant with God through faith are expected to bear fruit. This is not a suggestion, but a commandment. How we bear fruit is through His grace, but if it was automatic, there would be no need for a warning attached--a pretty scary warning at that! This is not supposed to scare the Christian, but to keep them awake. Christ is saying something like: You have an enemy--the Devil--who is trying to put Christians to sleep, to keep them occupied with other earthly matters. Have the courage to stay awake and stay actively attached to the Father! 

I think of the story of the good Samaritan. When a situation is presented to you, put at your feet, do not walk by those in need--for you are your brother's keeper. Do. Don't just feel sympathy. Don't just wear a ribbon that says, "Be a good samaritan." Do. Act. Give. Sacrifice. Pray. 

Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Matt. 7: 21-23
Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” Matt. 24-26

Jesus used action words. He spoke of obedience, not faith alone. When I read the words of Christ, I cannot fathom anyone understanding it as did the Reformers who taught that all that was required of Christians was faith. That is not found anywhere on the lips of Christ. The gospel is about believing that He is the Messiah and following Him. 

Jesus did not teach a works-righteousness, but He did teach a righteousness by His grace flowing to the believer enabling the believer to will and then act, sometimes courageously, sometimes sacrificially for others. 

While we may all be saved by our faith, we have a duty to be Christ to the world so that others will see our love and be drawn to the Cross. Christians are His arms, His feet, His heart to the world. 

For our salvation and our faith are not for us alone. Our salvation and our faith, given with overflowing, superabundant grace are meant to save others. Jesus makes this clear in Matthew 7. Act. Act in mercy. Act in love. And it is through His grace, His power, His strength freely given that we can act. 


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Why Do Some Catholics Refer to Sunday as the "Sabbath"?

For my beloved Adventist brothers and sisters who have become confused, due to no fault on their part, by the Catholic rhetoric about Sunday being a Sabbath. 

You see it is confusing. Even to Catholics.

Few Christians today have questions surrounding the Ten Commandments and Sabbath-keeping so to them it is an argument as relevant to their lives as who wrote the book of Hebrews. (Some say St. Paul, others argue Apollo or someone else.) Most Protestants believe that when we are saved by God's grace, we simply don't have to worry about Sabbath--that is old covenant. Or they believe Sunday is the Christian Sabbath.  

When Catholics fall into the cultural habit of calling Sunday the Sabbath, it is not on any bishop's "to do" list to correct him, because Catholics see the church as doing battle with Satan for souls. When you are fighting abortion, divorce, contraception... the list goes on and on and on... the Sabbath/Sunday issue is buried.


Therefore, it will be up to me, a former SDA to give a very brief and incomplete history of how this Sunday "sabbath" issue grew up in America and why Seventh-day Adventists can find a whole slew of writings they quote in their literature that back up Catholics calling Sunday, "the Sabbath."

First, through the centuries, scholars have seen the similarities in holy days. There are similarities in the high holy days that occur once a year in Lev. 23 (Passover, Feast of Tabernacles, Day of Atonement) and the weekly sabbath. In fact, the Passover is called a "sabbath" just as the 7th day was called a Sabbath, though they were not commemorating the same event. The Passover was a holy day just as the seventh-day was a holy day, but they were very different in that one pointed to Israel leaving for the Promised Land and the other pointed to Creation. We have holy days/holidays in America and are free to call Christmas a holiday and somehow that is not confused with Easter. It's similar to the way Catholic theology treats the Lord's Day and Sabbath. 

Okay... so, understanding this, I jump to 19th century United States to begin the explanation.

America had been very anti-catholic. Many early colonies did not allow Catholics to live there. Later, the KKK's targets were both blacks and Catholics. The Catholic Church was attempting to survive by proving to Protestants we were not the great evil thing it was being portrayed as. Public and private debates erupted.

There seemed to be one point upon which the Protestants could not answer the Catholics. Catholics asked them why Protestants went to church on Sunday when there was nothing explicit in scripture that commands Christians to worship on Sunday. It was their "gotcha" moment in all exchanges. 

The Sunday debate was never supposed to be a debate about the Sabbath. However, since the Calvinists in the U.S. considered Sunday a Sabbath, the Catholics just adopted the Protestant wording. This was okay with the Catholic Church because it had long seen similarities in the Lord's Day and the seventh-day of the commandments. So the Catholics felt free to use those similarities for what they believed was the greater point.

Catholics were attempting to show that the Protestants had  unknowingly accepted the authority of the Catholic Church by going to church on Sunday. To this day, the same argument is used by Catholics to Protestants who deny that the Catholic Church has authority.
 Why do you go to church on Sunday? 

Protestants' response?...... cricket sounds......

Adventist of course would misunderstand the Catholics poorly worded response of: "the Catholic Church had the right to change the Sabbath to Sunday." 

And the world is shown by Adventists a plethora of 19th century priests and scholars who used the word "Sabbath" for Sunday, showing the Protestants they actually were following the Catholic lead on Sunday worship services... not the Bible.

In fact, the Catholic Church did not change Sabbath to Sunday. Sunday is the Lord's Day. It is the first day and the allegorical eighth day---Sunday is not the seventh day--so it not the day of the fourth/third commandment. (Protestants separate the first commandment and make it two, so the numbering is different.)

If one goes to Rome, one will hear anyone speaking Italian or Latin refer to the first day of the week as "The Lord's Day" and the seventh day of the week as "The Sabbath." There is not a transference. Sunday is not the Sabbath to Catholics anywhere on earth.

Sunday gets its holiness from being the great day the Son of God gave His life to save the world. Sunday doesn't need to borrow its holiness from Sabbath. Indeed, Sabbath derives its holiness because it foreshadowed the holiest day of all time.... the day heaven and earth met in a cosmic battle for our souls. And there was never a doubt as to who would win. Jesus won. And each Sunday we are celebrating that.

The Sabbath was just like John the Baptist when he said something similar to, "I must grow lesser that Jesus may grow greater."

It is time Catholics clear this up. American Catholics have used the Sabbath/Sunday as a survival issue so that the could end the attacks on Catholics. They just have never taken the time to explain the theological nuances of the Lord's Day. And that has caused untold misunderstandings with Adventists.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Since this is the last day of earth.... (smile).



It's September 23 and evidently Planet X is cloaked. And I am going to sit and think and write about nonsense until the earth is obliterated--probably later this afternoon.

Life Analogy:

There are cruise ships who remain in the Bahamas. There are cruise ships that become tired of their boring lives and go storm chasing. There are ships who must travel the Gulf of Aden (the most dangerous place for ships on the earth for piracy) and those ships who end up in the Gulf of Aden because they made bad choices. 

Most people look at my life and think I am a ship who desires the drama of the Gulf of Aden or have made choices to end up there. Nope. Sometimes we are in a place because it is where God placed us. Believe it or not, most of my life I have had to keep my mouth shut because if I were to tell people too much of my life they would think I was lying or at least highly exaggerating. 

Nope. By no means am I saying my life has been particularly tragic. Not at all. My life has been... busy--eventful. I take my very unusual life and make gallons of lemonade in the form of amusing stories. If my life can make people laugh, then let's laugh! 

Take for instance, my memories of a certain year of my life as a preteen (or maybe it was a couple years, not sure). 

We lived, for a few years, in Dallas on the busy street of Royal lane. I was sitting one Sunday morning probably reading, when there was a dreadful noise. Some drunk man had, at high speed, crashed through our thick wood fence in the front of our home, continued across our lawn and hit a tree. He was seriously hurt. Ambulances, etc. 

Once, my father took out some trash and for some reason set fire to a bunch dried tree limbs in a pile by our house and it blazed. It became dangerous and almost set out home on fire. 911 had to be called. Fire trucks, etc. 

Another Sunday morning, my brother opened the front door to a large police deputy. My father was arrested for not paying a number of parking tickets. "Bye, bye, daddy!" (He was back fairly quickly.) 

One morning my horse jumped the front fence straight into morning rush hour traffic and freaked out causing a huge back up of cars. We were on the morning news. 

That same horse learned how to open our back door and several times was lounging inside our living room or kitchen when we returned from church or a vacation. 

We had an infestation of huge, huge rats. They looked like opossums. We children were scared and I think I tried to sleep on the kitchen countertop to avoid them at night. My father found the opening where they were getting in, under a water fountain (yes, in our kitchen we had a water fountain like in school) and when he tried to stop up the hole, he hit the water main and our house flooded. Like really badly. 

A tornado went directly over our house doing damage to a few houses, but not ours. I had to "save" my four younger brothers and sisters because my parents were not at home by overturning heavy chairs for them to get under and placing them in tubs with mattresses on top. But that wasn't a big deal compared to the rest because we were used to tornadoes in Texas. 

One night the ducks on the little pond we had in our backyard (yep, in the middle of the city of Dallas!) started quacking. Then helicopters began hovering over our backyard shining lights. Sirens, etc. It seemed some guy who broke out of jail was attempting to take refuge in our wooded backyard.

That's the stuff I can remember offhand--well, the stuff I can put online. I thought this was normal. In fact, compared to many years of my life that one was downright calm. But I pretty much thought that everyone's life was like that. I didn't go over to other people's homes very often because everyone wanted to come over to mine! Either we had a pool or we could go to the pool at our country club. We had a billiard table and ping pong table and six children (and all the neighbor kids and those who came from school for visits) and a big house and maids and lots and lots of pizza and soda and we had fun! All the time. It was a house full of party from sun up to sundown most days. Our home was loud. Loud with laughter, loud with fighting and losing children's shoes and being late for school and church and pretty much late to everything. 

When I was a kid, I was expected to give an excuse to the teacher for our tardiness each day. And I would sit in the backseat of our station wagon and try and figure out what to say. I had no idea! I was a kid. I just knew that when dad said to go to the car, I would and I would sit there and wait. And then we were late. Since I didn't know why, I had to guess. Thinking up new excuses each day was hard! But I tried to be creative... and honest at the same time. 

In fact, occasionally the principle would call all of us siblings together into his office and ask us WHY we could never get to school on time. He gave us all kinds of pointers of what we could do to help our parents so we didn't have to have tardy marks for as many days as there was school. Suggestions didn't help. Neither did threats. 

I remember the moment I walked into my homeroom class in probably third of fourth grade, just slightly late, and the teacher was reading a book about Christ and then the children sang a wonderful hymn or something like that. I thought that was so sweet! I asked the teacher what the occasion was--was this some holiday or was she just in the mood to have a little church service. With annoyance, the teacher looked at my fascinated joyful expression and told me, "We do this every morning! This is church school, we have morning worship.... everyday." 

I loved every single moment of living in our home because I felt loved. And I loved my darling little brothers and sisters and idolized my handsome, brilliant, athletic older brother. And when love is in the home, when joy is in the home, it simply doesn't matter if your life's ship keeps wandering into the Gulf of Aden. And my life seems to have sunk a heavy anchor there! 

There were lots of really horrible things that happened too--stuff you can't joke about--too much. 

(This is a tellable tale because it is so mild.) My father and mother sometimes had some hum-dingers for fights. Walls had holes in them the next morning. I used to conduct my own symphony in my mind at night when I could hear them fight from my bed--to drown out the noise, I wrote all kinds of beautiful symphonies--with especially wonderful violin solos and inspirational string sections swelling in wonderful, tender and Rachmaninoff romanticism. 

But sad was not the overarching memories. Mostly it was incredible joy. When small, I didn't really want to get married (mother told me I could not marry Jesus, my daddy nor my brother. Every other boy was icky). So I grabbed my many dolls set them on the bed together and explained to them how their daddy died a great war hero then began singing a soulful rendition of "Billy don't be a hero." Then, when the dying father part was explained, we would get to the actual living part where I would teach my children all they should know. I told my dolls we were too poor, since daddy died, to get them school desks. That was why they were on the bed.

I quickly changed my mind when my mother told me she had always wanted to marry a pastor. Well now, that sounded wonderful. I would marry a pastor. Then after reading "Little House on the Prairie" it was absolutely decided in my mind that I would marry a pastor who was a farmer and weekdays would ride on his tractor so I could gaze upon him at a distance in the large fields of our extensive farm as I baked bread in my kitchen and all our girl children would be in blue bonnets churning butter. 

But I was going to also be an actress and make lots of money and give it all away to the poor children in China. (Evidently my pastor-farmer husband did well, because we always had a massive home with maids in this same fantasy of my future life. Farmer Osteen-like.) And I would always manage to include, in these fantasies, family trips to the Austrian alps where our family would all sing in glorious harmony as we were escaping into the mountains away from the Catholics who were going to behead us for keeping Sabbath. 

Sabbath School, now that brings back memories. Once (again as a preteen) my mother braided my very, very long, stringy hair into a braid and looped it around my head. I was so embarrassed that to cover it, I put on a yellow beanie cap with a white propeller sticking out of the top. Very helpful in making me less conspicuous among my Junior Sabbath School class friends. Which may explain why today I still seem to do just the wrong thing to draw less attention to myself. 

I hated Sabbath School after I turned around twelve and having absolutely loved it until them. Kids were trying to be cool and they were disrespectful. So I asked the kindergarten teacher if I could help with the little children. She said yes. So each week I looked forward to standing at the door and greeting the children and pinning their little felt name tags on them. Then, with really poor judgement, but to my delight, the teacher would spontaneously set me in front of the kids and ask me to tell a story. I would make it up on the stop and with a moral so it would be appropriate for Sabbath School. I don't remember any of them, but I can imagine they would have been filled with tragedy and death and then the moral would be something like... and that's why you obey your parents when they tell you to make your bed in the morning. 

The teacher eventually promoted me to being in charge of my own sand table (a table with a sand box in the middle so that you could tell a Bible story with little figurines.) About six or seven children were at my table and I took this very seriously. I would study the children's sabbath school lesson and prepare each Friday night. I looked forward to Sabbath, being with all the children and getting to tell them sweet Bible stories. A lady went to the church board and complained about me saying I needed to go back to my own age group. So, I was kicked out. There were probably many reasons I should not have been in charge of a group of young children when I was still one myself, teaching all kinds of heresy among them, but believing I needed to be sent back to the den of teenage lions was not one of them. 

I avoided Sabbath School for years. I remember standing outside the door and dreaded walking in. I would stall with all kinds of methods. Then my dad started teaching my Sabbath School and it turned into a love affair. My dad was so happy and his enthusiastic love for the Lord (and the kids) lit up the room. I was so proud of him. Soon it was standing room only. My dad did more than just teach, he bought a bunch of backpacks and would take the kids on weekend hiking trips to Turner Falls, Oklahoma. 

After a couple years, he too was weighed and found wanting by the church board and he was asked to leave. He was way, way too righteousness by faith. They wanted their kids to hear more from Ellen White and how they would one day have to be martyred for the Sabbath by demonic Catholics and apostate Protestants who worshipped on the wrong day--Sunday. Then, I began helping my mother in the cry room with the babies so I could avoid Sabbath School. I loved helping with the other babies--my mother was busy taking care of my baby sister. Because of my own experience with babies, young mothers often found my advice shockingly helpful. 

When I was thirteen, I opened up a summer daycare for mothers at a local church so that they could attend women's meetings there. They even had an exercise program. There were only a few children, but I was a natural. Once when a mother came to get her child, I told her that the baby had been fussy because she was teething. The mother looked at me strangely, "How do you know she is teething?" I shrugged. A week later she informed me that I had been prophetic because a tooth had broken through the baby's gums a couple days after. That seemed pretty obvious to me. But it was nice to be thought of as some baby guru at my age. 

Then there was my inability to ever learn an instrument. My mother gave me violin, flute, recorder, lessons, eight years of piano lessons. I can't play anything. I was also enrolled in summer lessons for math, ice skating, ballet, sewing.... I still can't find a needle in a multiplication stack. I am not so sure it is my inability to finish something, but my parents inability to get me to class on time. However, I was so thankful that the fashion show for the sewing lessons took place on a Sabbath and I couldn't attend. I would have rather put a beanie with a propeller on than walk down a runway in that think I sewed. 

Then, my mother decided I should drive so I could help her in her new real estate business.  The driving class I was enrolled in was 75% pagan young men who scared me. You know... non-Adventists, young hoodlums who did unthinkable things with their.... non-sabbatarian ways. My knees knocked each time I had to go to class. The teacher spent most classes showing us gory films of car wrecks. I was working for my grandfather at the time and wore strictly business clothes and my parents would drop me off immediately after work. This particular class I was wearing the newest style of a wrap around skirt neatly tied at the hip. The teacher asked us to bring up our tests and lay them on his desk. As I was walking to the front, a young man grabbed the end of my skirt tie and soon I was standing at the front of the room without a skirt. I grabbed the skirt off the floor and retied it. In those days we had no cellphones and at the moment I had no change to call my dad on a pay phone, so I fled out of the room, out of the building and hid around the corner until my dad showed up. Which of course was an hour after all the other kids had left. 

My parents actually told me I had to return to this class to which of course I sobbed miserably. My grandmother sat me down and said, "You did nothing wrong. Walk right back into that class with your head held high acting as if you did it on purpose!" So after skipping about three classes I finally had the guts to go back and sure enough, we were very late. Upon arriving, I peeked into the classroom to see that it was well underway and packed except for a seat IN FRONT! What evil could I have possibly done in my life to have deserved this moment. I held my head up high and walked into the room and took a breath before I began making that very long walk down the aisle to the open seat. 

All the young men looked back. As I walked they broke into a strip tease chorus, "dada dah---dad duh da dah...." I felt faint. After class the teacher called me up to talk and my entrance must have been performed to meet my grandmother's expectation because he asked me if I had lost my skirt on purpose. I did not return. And did not get my driver's license. And my father chastised me for wasting all that money. I finally got my driver's license when I was seventeen, my senior year at Valley Grande Academy boarding school, wearing pants. 

No planet X yet.

Our family sang together, at church and sometimes as parties. Eventually I sang solos. For my eight grade graduation (at a tiny ten-grade elementary church school in Dallas) I wept as I soulfully sang Barbara Streisand's "Memories." Adults asked me what on earth I could have caused me to be so melancholy about an eight grade graduation. Liz Duncan and Jana Workman were going off to school. How could not the entire world weep at such a terrible break in the force of nature?

I sang a solo for a Friday night Vespers in a Richardson, Texas SDA church, "There's just something about that name." It end's on a low note, but I was going to hit the note an octave higher. Everything went fine until that last note. Not a sound came out. I stood on stage with my mouth poised open for a dramatic ending and someone shut the sound off. Not even a squeak came out. I ran out to my friend's van and cried. That night I learned a very good lesson for people who perform in public. It served to help any later stage-fright: No one cares. I was expecting cruel and relentless mocking from my friends at school and no one even remembered it. Whew. Life went on... and I was not the center of the universe.

Many more glitches happened in my public performances that were a lot worse. But I learned that if you laughed at yourself, you gave your audience permission to laugh with you and they bond with you because of it. All except when you are at your universities' vocal jury for your graduation requirements and you forget your words and start inserting the words to Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" poem. I thought it was hysterical and as I walked off stage, my vocal coach had to stand up in front of the vocal critics and explain that I had three children (one sick child) and couldn't adequately prepare. They didn't flunk me.

I sang at a little Italian Inn in Fort Worth and one day I will have to tell that story. But it's sad. Why would we want sad on the day a planet is going to plunge into earth and exterminate life in the universe? Although it looks pretty beautiful and sunny out. Huh, hmmm.....Shouldn't life be a divine comedia? I don't know... maybe armageddon by extinction-level impact is pretty funny when you think about it. Maybe your ship being stuck in the Gulf of Aden isn't such a bad thing.

Who really wants life to be easy, anyway? I suppose if we all had easy lives then nothing would ever be funny. Isn't an anvil falling on one's head funnier than someone sitting without anything ever falling on their head? Anvils teach us a lot. We should thank God for anvils.

I have so many stories of my childhood: falling baby owls, fireflies, living next to celebrities in Jewish neighborhoods, long walks in bad neighborhoods with my siblings on a trek to get home at night when our parents forgot to pick us up as school. Hiding in bushes outside in Dallas Fair Park in the middle of the night when my parents forgot to pick us up after the Dealy Awards, getting to wave at President Reagan as he passed by in a limo and he waved back at us. (We were the only ones around--so it was for us)....

Practicing to be an actress so talented that Betty Davis would ask for my tips. Not that I wanted money or fame. That was not it for me. Acting was my way of getting to be someone heroic for a little while. I wanted to play Joan of Arc, Madame Curie--heroines who took tragedy and turned it into triumph. I wanted to change hearts. Inspire others to live for greatness. I memorized Shakespeare and learned all the Rogers and Hammerstein's lyrics. I was prepared.

I figured my life would be of little significance so being able to play these heroines and make their lives sing for my audience was my contribution to humanity. I grew up in the days of great musicals. When I turned eighteen, Broadway and Hollywood were no longer doing the great films and plays. It had turned to pure filth. I don't care how "redemptive" the story might have been, I know I didn't want to play the smutty character in order to all of a sudden have a redemptive ending. Entertainment doesn't need to drag you through the filth in order to show you how bad the world is. I think we all know it pretty well. We need hope and inspiration. American entertainment forgot that.

One thing I have learned well from all my drifting along in the Gulf of Aden, is that when the storms settle, when the pirates find a better ship to attack, enjoy the peace. Look out upon the great mysterious seas and imbibe the wonder of it all. I know this Planet X thing is ridiculous, but it gave me the excuse--along with some weird dizziness, to stop this morning and write down some wanderings of my memories. Happy and sad. And life has been full. At times I feel I have lived several lifetimes.

You guys have a wonderful day!
























  








Thursday, September 21, 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017

LOVE FULFILLS THE SABBATH


In the above text, St. Paul is writing to the Romans (13:8-10) specifically about the Ten Commandments. This man, writing with the full authority of God, tells us that love fulfills the law. That if you act with charity towards your neighbor, you have fulfilled the law. 


St. John's writings support St. Paul's. 
The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. I John 2:10
 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, I John 3: 11
This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. I John 3:23
This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. John 3: 23 
And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. I John 4:21
[The commandment from the beginning] that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. II John 1: 4-6
St. Peter wrote the same thing, "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8

And St. John recorded the words of Christ about this. 
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34, 35
This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you… This I command you, that you love one another. John 15:12, 17

A few Christians are very proud of their protection of and obedience to the law--specifically the Ten Commandments, which is God's covenant with Israel. So when they read the above texts, so numerous within the New Covenant, they read it: Love means you keep the Ten Commandments.

Okay, Christians can absolutely see the logic in reading the scriptures in that light. However, there is another way of understanding the text. Most Christians throughout history believe that is a backwards way of understanding Christ and the Apostles. The vast majority, historically--well over 95%  Christians--have taken Christ's words to mean that the law was put in place in order to bring us to love. Once we have reached love, we have fulfilled the reason of the law and the law is no longer our master. 

When we act in love, the Ten Commandments disappear. 

I can hear many of those believe the Ten Commandments are the eternal law of God still binding on the Christian, respond with "So we can now kill, steal from, covet and commit adultery with our neighbors because we are no longer under the law?" They accuse other Christians of being rebellious towards the Ten Commandments and assume because they are no longer in the Old Covenant that these other false Christians are lawless. This is a profound misunderstanding of fellow Christians.

1) To say to a Christian, who is in a New Covenant relationship with Christ, that they are lawless is like saying to an American that because they are not under the Magna Carta they are lawless. No! The American protests his innocence to these charges. They are under the Constitution! 

While the Magna Carta is the foundation of the US Constitution, and they have many similarities in their reasoning and language, they are different laws for different people in a different time. When an American citizen is obedient to the 
Constitution it is not being rebellious to the Magna Carta. 

And this is exactly what some Seventh-day Adventists believe--that if Christians do not obey God's covenant laws with Israel, they are rebellious. They do not see the wonderful New Covenant in scriptures. The one that is based on the Old, but is new in the fact that it is opened up for the whole world (not just Israel) allowing all people to covenant with God through Christ and Christ's commandments (found in the New Covenant scriptures or the New Testament)


2) Within this understanding of the covenants, those who love and follow the law of Christ perceive all the above texts in a different light.

Now, instead of refraining from murdering, stealing from, coveting things of our brother, we have 
entered a new relationship with them. We now are in a covenant of love which means we are wanting the best for them. We are willing to sacrifice our desires and our needs to provide for them in need. Love is perfection and no law is needed within this perfection. 

So no matter how perfectly you keep the Ten Commandments, if they are not taking you to a point of loving your neighbor, you simply are NOT keeping them, no matter how devotedly you act in accordance with them. You have lost sight of the goal in running the race. In fact, when you run the race of keeping the Ten Commandments without understanding there is a finish line (in Christ and the New Covenant) you will continue running forever. Your Old Covenant race will never end. But Christ's Cross was where it was supposed to end! 

Specifically to my Seventh-day Adventist loved ones: Absolutely, it is hard to see the New Covenant of Christ when you were told the Ten Commandments were the entire, eternal law. You don't see the commandments of Christ on the Mount of Olives (Matt. 5).You don't see the importance of the fulfillment of the Old law in order to bring in the New. But at least do this, please understand that all other Christians do see this. They are not being hard-hearted or rebellious. They are not ever going to care if you worship on Sabbath. Truly. They are totally okay with anyone worshipping God on any day. What they can't understand is your insistence that Christians go back to the law of Israel, when they clearly read in scripture that they are under the New Covenant. The one that is about loving your neighbor as yourself and God above all. 

They live on the finish line with Christ and don't understand why you want them to go back into the race. Christ won! 

This is so difficult for Seventh-day Adventists to understand because they truly believe that if you don't go to church on the seventh-day of the week, you are lawless and rebellious, disobedient to God's law. 

However, if Adventist will look at the above texts, even if they disagree with other Christians and continue to believe Christians must keep the Sabbath, take heart. If one loves, God covers that sin. If one loves, then they have fulfilled the law.

Let me bring out one more point. Of all the Ten Commandments, which one is not self-evident? It is natural if one loves someone, they will honor them, they will not murder, steal from, covet and commit adultery with them. These are part of the natural law. If you love God, you will not commit idolatry or take His name in vain. But, what is strange about the Sabbath commandment is that, while it may be self-evident that man needs a day of rest, it is certainly not in any way natural to make that the seventh-day. 

This is because the Sabbath does something beyond natural, self-evident laws. It alone is arbitrary about which day one rests. Why? Why is that? 

Even many of the Jews knew that the Sabbath was prophetic. It was a rest for them awaiting the rest in the Messiah. Then when Christ came with the New Covenant commandments, Christ became our rest. "Come unto me," Jesus said on the Sabbath, "and I will give you rest."

Now, anyone who loves, is keeping the Sabbath. Look at the texts above. It could not be more obvious and plain to most Christians: Love fulfills the Sabbath (law). 

Anyone who loves, dear sabbatarians, is keeping the sabbath. Even if they are sitting in church on Sunday, because they love... they are, in God's eyes, not only not sinning, but they are keeping the law. Because they love. And that's what it is all about. 




Saturday, September 9, 2017

I AM BACK!!

Whew!!

My computer died suddenly--with all my automatic passwords gone. And for weeks I have been unable to come to this blog because I forgot my password. So I am now back. I am so sorry for not being able to post the comments you have sent me. I hope you will understand.

Teresa Beem

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Failing For Christ by Teresa Beem





Hollywood teaches Americans that we can do anything! From a child, we are indoctrinated into this romantic optimism that if we try hard enough, wish hard enough, stick with it, that in the end.... everything will turn out fine. The American spirit--so fiercely independent that it pulls itself up with its own bootstraps--takes risks, pursues its wildest dreams. Then, the United States god of liberty will look down upon such hardy, strivings souls and grant success. (And for the god of capitalism, usually the success is monetary.)


 Click here if you cannot view video.

I can assure you, I grew up with a double dose of this idea, for the video above was about my grandfather's company, Ling-Tempo-Vought. If there ever was a stunning rags to riches story, it was James Ling's. A Dallas orphan from a family of seven children, my grandfather ran away from his foster parent's home and lived on the streets, washing dishes and vowing that one day he would be so rich that he would buy his brothers and sisters mansions on the same street.

So the American promise was right at my fingertips every morning when I arose in my 10,000 square foot mansion and each time I was introduced as "Jim Ling's granddaughter."




And I took it in and watched life carefully. Even as a small child, I realized that money couldn't buy happiness. My grandfather's financial success left in its wake a trail of tears. Therefore, I vowed to God that I was going to be a spiritual success, just as my grandfather was a business success. I was going to heroically right all the wrongs and help the world to never cry again. And of course, I assumed God would be right there helping me because I was so sincere and loved Jesus so much.

As I grew, I found little successes. I remember seeing a dog on the beach tormenting a seagull with a broken wing. Adults were everywhere around me, but no one was getting off their beach towels to go stop the dog. So, I went over to the dog, shooed it away and stood guard. But I didn't know what to do about the broken-winged bird. After a few minutes, some adults came over and helped me. AHA! I thought, people are just waiting around for the one person to begin--to spearhead the movement and then they will join. (I would sing the song: Stouthearted men and believed it.)

That moment set me up for the feelings of abandonment and failure the rest of my life, because what people will rise and do for a broken-winged bird, they will not do for a broken human.

No matter how heroically I have poured out my heart and soul and energy for implementing change to help wounded souls, I have always failed. Oh, there was that one time I held a fair in my front yard for Muscular Dystrophy and earned a few dollars to give to Jerry's Kids. And as student president of my Seventh-day Adventist elementary school, I successfully fought to keep us from having to wear uniforms (ironically, I argued that was too Catholic!)

But when it really mattered, I was an utter failure. By fifth grade my friends were taking drugs and that scared me to death. I was going to rescue them, so I cried "help!" to teachers, principals, pastors, parents and was patted on the head and told I was making too big a deal of it. Then by seventh grade, my friends began introducing sexual promiscuity into their repertoire of evil and again, I told everyone and no one seemed to care. These kids were broken and the wolves were coming after them and the adults seems too cowardly to arise to save even their own children. 

In my teenage years, friends repeatedly told me of their sexual abuse by family members, teachers and clergy. When I spoke up, I was shut down. I told myself that I would be listened to when I grew up, the problem was no one paid any attention to a frail, petite girl--who was labelled a drama queen. 

Therefore, as an adult, I started the first pro-life organization in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  I poured every extra penny, every waking hour, every ounce of love and energy into saving the unborn. And while most Adventists secretly told me they supported our ministry, they couldn't openly support it--it was too controversial. After twenty years, my energy and money petered out, for only a handful of Adventists cared enough to help. Failure. And not just any kind of failure, failure to save human life. That was crushing.

Other failures followed: In the Keene SDA church I started a prayer warrior ministry and Sabbath after Sabbath I knelt in a prayer room either alone or with a couple people to pray. Every week, the bulletin pleaded for people to come in and pray and each week.... no one. After years of this, I stopped. I have begun several ministries to Seventh-day Adventists and Catholics with little to no success.

I wrote a book "It's Okay NOT to be a Seventh-day Adventist" and I lost a tremendous amount of money on it. With three children, I went back to school to get a music degree so I could have a career in singing. I was hit by a drunk driver and dislocated my jaw, ending my dreams. I will not add to the list but it seemed to me that at every step forward, God sent me three steps back. What was wrong with me that God was always thwarting my success? 

Then, finally, I realized something...


God never called us to success. I had been sucked into this idea that success was making money, making a name for yourself, getting degrees, having some type of respect from other people in one's field. That is human success and that is not what God calls us to. Talk about bursting one's bubble. Fame and fortune aren't God's purpose for us.

It took years and years of sobbing in hot showers, despairing in my prayers, seeing myself as an utter failure for this spiritual awakening to sink in because it is so counterintuitive. Look at all the good Billy Graham could do with money and fame? Look at Joel Osteen! I had grown up hearing all about the philanthropic deeds of my grandfather--he gave millions upon millions to charities. It certainly seems like worldly fame and fortune are from God in these instances!

Then, I would read the Book of Job and it would remind me time and time again that the good guys are the devil's target and in this world the bad guy does seem to win.

Yet the Bible and what I saw daily clashed. Hollywood makes us feel as if we are not the good guys if we don't "win" in the end. We did something wrong, God didn't bless us, if we don't achieve a certain degree of worldly success. And many a man and woman have gone to their deaths despairing that their lives were in vain because they could not see any success.

And that is absolutely a lie from the deepest pits of hell. Worldly success is not God's success. Repeat that saying over and over in your head if you have experienced any of the great disappointments I have.

What God calls us to is not worldly success for there are limited spots for human fame and fortune and very few achieve it or should achieve it. God calls us to holiness and in the eternal spiritual economy, each and every one of us can be a saint. Spiritual success is absolutely doable for every single person who asks it of God. Ask and you will receive. That is a promise for every soul.

Fling away this empty promise of pursuing your worldly dreams. Pray that God will drain your mind and soul of this pernicious and poisonous idea that Christians are supposed to be "successful" with money, fame or position. We are not called to a life given over to impressing others, we are to live to impress God and we can do that with obedience to Him.

I make you a promise, a vow, that if you empty your heart of this demonic, narcissistic hope that if you try hard enough, you will gain the American dream of financial success. Rather, focus your life on being a holy saint, if you dedicate your life to God and put His kingdom first, you will experience a joy that will surprise you. All of a sudden, what you thought was success will grow so distant and insignificant in the light of His glorious grace.

Each time you kneel before a mighty and loving God, your life rises above this earth and you enter into timelessness. Each time you sacrifice your wants and desires for God's will and pour out yourself as an offering for others, you experience a realm far, far above the temporal pleasures that worldly success brings. God's success has  heaven's attention. For remember, your life is on stage and eternity is watching.

The love you give that goes unnoticed by humans, is cheered by the billions watching unseen. The glory each human heart desires is God's glory. The crown given by Hollywood, the New York Times, the American Idol, the World Cup, the World Series, Business Week and the rest is a crown that will bring you no lasting happiness. These crowns turn to ashes for someone will take them away in the next moment or months or year.

Strive for an eternal crown that will bring you into eternal glory, a success that can never be taken away and one that never carries with it envy, or dissatisfaction or that perpetual demands you be smart or strong to keep others from knocking you off the top.

My grandfather lost all his money (millions upon millions). The end of his story was, by human reckoning, very bitter and many would call his life a failure. That's the way of human success. Don't try it... it's not worth it. Rather joyfully fail for Christ.

Failing for Christ often means living for Christ where your good deeds are not seen by men. However, they are seen.





Sunday, June 25, 2017

Walking Through Holy Fire by Teresa Beem


Why does God allow suffering? The cry burst forth from every heart who has known or seen great tragedy. Suffering is all around us, behind the most courageous smiles, the jokesters, as well as the quiet, the judgmental, the irritable. Even pondering the question of suffering can cause pain for it questions the very goodness of God. Why God, why all the death and appalling hatred and destruction, the agonies of the innocent cross human time?

As Christians we often hear the answer to this question as: "sin."

Sin desires hopeless, despairing suffering. The force some call Satan, desires the utter destruction of God's creation. This mad ceaseless, tireless, merciless force will never sleep until there is not one breath of life, one grain of sand, one distant star left in the universe and all is obliterated.

Jesus warns us against following this force of sin, for it is the very cause of the suffering we see. But Christ gave us an answer to how Christians can combat this force while we await His ultimate eradication of it.

Jesus did not tell us to fight suffering with fun, nor to defiantly stand and face down suffering. Jesus said, we fight sin by taking up our cross daily and following Him.

Christianity, rightly understood and lived through the power of Christ, does not seek to avoid the suffering, at least through means that will not draw us into holiness. But Christians seek to redeem this curse of suffering through transforming it. We wrest the power from the devil to hurt us and twist it upwards, giving it to Christ. We take what is meant to harm and use it to make us holy.

When we willingly take up our cross and follow Jesus, we understand where this is going. It is going to our own crucifixion, where we will transform the hate of the kingdom of Satan and turn our sorrows into joy. Through willingly bearing our cross, given us by Christ, Satan's power to harm us and rend us useless with pain and confusion, is forever broken. Christ gives us the power, not to ceaselessly avoid injustices and submerge ourselves in distractions as to not face life, but as King David 23 Psalms, to courageously walk through the valley of the shadow of death fearing no evil, because "Thou are with me."

Christ warned us that his followers' persecution and tragedy will not be lessened but indeed, they will become a target by the dark principalities for greater attacks. Our defense is not to fear these moments, but conquer the power of Satan by holding our arms out in fearless acceptance as Christ did on the cross. We will break the power of the dark forces by our faith that God will not just sustain us during these but with absolute trust in God, He will give us joy!

Imagine the miracle that we can face sufferings with joy. There is nothing the Devil fears more from us than that we will have the courage to walk through fire for Christ. The power of sin that controls us with fear and tragedy would be eliminated. And that fire, meant to destroy us, will turn into a consuming fire of holiness that gives us a freedom that we can never experience when we are enslaved to sin.

God's kingdom turns this world of sin upside down! Think of a life of peace and joy, without fear, not because we perfected the art of ignoring and numbing ourselves with alcohol, drugs, entertainment, or hedonism but because Christ gives us a transcendent life that glimpses eternity!

That is what Christianity is: a glimpse into the divine life of God. And it is worth walking through His Holy fire.


Friday, May 26, 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May and the Bombing at Manchester Arena


After the explosion at the Ariana Grande concert inside the Manchester Arena, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, stood before the world and reported that a bomb was detonated at the "conclusion of a pop concert which was attended by many young families and groups of children.... deliberately targeting innocent, defenseless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives."

Please take a moment to think about the Prime Minister's words. This was supposed to be a family night—with innocent children. At a family concert staring Ariana Grande.


Sky News was interviewing several of the parents who heard or witnessed the bomb. 

The arena was "full of beautiful, young girls and boys and families. It was just tragic to think that such a great family evening has now ended in such horror."

One visibly shaken man explained that both his daughters, 12 and 10 years old were there.

Another couple who attended with their daughter said, "I feel sorry for the young children. How can you target seven, six-year-old children at a kids concert?" The father remarked that this "should have been the best day of her life."  

The best day? Not the day she is married. Not the day she has children or gets to see grandma. A pop concert.. a pop concert should have been the best day of her life?

That same father ended with, "no nine-year-old should see anything like that."

What? What should no child see? Death and carnage? Well, what people are not saying is what other thing children should not see.


Ariana Grande. Yep. That is a picture of her.

This was a concert primarily for young girls, the Prime Minister Theresa May stressed, and she spoke of girls who had received these prized concert tickets as a Christmas gift and had been eagerly anticipating this evening for months. Young innocent girls and boys between the ages of 9 and 18.

Here is one of her recent music videos:

Ariana Grande concert for little girls included explicitly vulgar lyrics to her song, Side by Side:
This new style with the fresh type of flow Wrist icicle, ride dick bicycle Come true yo, get you this type of blow All these bitches, flows is my mini-me Body smoking, so they call me young Nicki Chimney Rappers in they feelings 'cause they feelin' me Uh, I-I give zero f*#ks and I got zero chill in me Kissing me, copped the blue box that says Tiffany Curry with the shot, just tell them to call me Stephanie Gun pop and I make my gum pop I'm the queen of rap, young Ariana run pop 
and Touch It:
Cause every time I see you, I don't wanna behave I'm tired of being patient, so let's pick up the pace Take me all the way Aint' nobody gonna touch it, touch it, touch it     
Now let's return to the Prime Minister's words about the terrorist, "deliberately targeting innocent, defenseless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives."

And parents gave their little girls Christmas gifts of tickets to this vile concert.

Later I heard an interview dealing with why the terrorist hate us so much. "Do they hate our freedom?" was the question. It was interesting to hear a British commentator being honest enough to admit that some of the terrorists' problem with the West is their hatred of our freedom for women to dress like whores and act worse than prostitutes. Many radicalized Muslims despise our western values that Ariana Grande epitomizes--a radically immoral, "liberated" young woman.

I can't help but feel, as a Catholic, I am in a confusing and ghoulish nightmare where there are no longer any good guys. 

As in the days of Noah... 
The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that their every inclination of the thoughts of their heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5