A Room With a Southern View

Thoughts on Life and Liberty from an Average Middle-Class Kentuckian

We Were Made to Be Courageous

Just as the Casting Crowns song says, “We were made to be courageous.”  In this politically correct world where people compete for the Most Tolerant award, Truth is seen as a liability. Even Christians fall for Satan’s lies.

Don’t get me wrong, tolerance can be a good thing. But just like all good things, it should be practiced in moderation with common sense. In other words, there are some things we shouldn’t tolerate. That may seem like a no-brainer, but it seems the Liberal/Socialist/LGBT ideology is spreading into traditional conservative arenas.

It concerns me to hear about churches accepting openly practicing homosexual ministers. Yes, gays need Jesus too. And God loves them as His children, just as He loves me. But the “gay is OK” mindset is just not Biblical.

No one tells a minister that it’s OK to continue with his lifestyle of adultery, fornication, pedophilia, pornography, or bestiality. Sexual sin is unacceptable– unless you are speaking of homosexuality. Then it’s “hate speech” or “homophobia.”

Personally, I see no difference. One sexual sin is as bad as the next. But I think Satan has convinced people, many Christians included, that homosexuality is not a sin. Sorry folks, the Scriptures say otherwise!

Then there’s the complaint of gay-bashing, which some of you probably think I’m doing here. I’m not. I think the reason so many preachers talk about homosexuality is because of how accepted it is now. Therein lies the need to counsel people more often about that issue.

If society decides that pedophilia is acceptable (and there’s a movement fighting for that) then preachers will start speaking out more and more about that. The growing acceptance of homosexuality makes it a hot topic for sermons, not because it is a worse sin, or because preachers are picking on gay people, but because preachers want to speak to their congregations about relevant topics.

That is not hate speech. It’s love speech. We Christians are commanded to love people. And love doesn’t mean being tolerant of everything coming and going!  Part of love is showing people the error of their ways, and guiding them in the right direction. We don’t say, “I hate you because you’re a sinner.” We say, “I love you, therefore I hate your sin because it’s going to separate you from Christ if you don’t stop it.”

So we Christians should be courageous. Speak the truth from the Scriptures. Be Biblically correct, not politically correct.

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Once Saved Always Saved – Yes or No?

I have been studying the topic of Eternal Security, or Once Saved Always Saved, for the past few months. It has been brought to my attention many times this year, so I wanted to study this topic more deeply. I have always believed in Conditional Security, but I opened my mind to the possibility that I may have been wrong in my belief, and studied the doctrine with fresh eyes. Truthfully, I set out to believe Eternal Security, and find out where I went wrong in my past studies.

I know there is a widespread and distinct division of Believers on both sides of this issue, even within my own congregation; although the supporters of this doctrine worldwide are in the minority. Mostly, supporters of this doctrine have their roots in Calvinist teaching.

The doctrine of Eternal Security began in the 1530’s with the teachings of John Calvin during the Reformist Movement. Before then it was most widely accepted that God requires certain conditions to grant us salvation. Conditional Security is still by far the most accepted interpretation of Scripture among the thousands of Christian denominations today.

II Timothy 2:12 – If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us

Probably the most quoted Scripture on both sides of this doctrine is Hebrews 6:4-6…

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come to fall away and to lose that heavenly gift that is everlasting life.

Wow! Pretty straightforward, huh? No doubt about what that passage is saying! Too bad for Eternal Security believers that this is NOT what Scripture says! The actual Scripture from the New King James (NKJV) Bible is as follows…

Hebrews 6: 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

I have also heard verse 6 quoted as, “if they could fall away…” Adding that one word “could” totally changes the intent of the verse. But the word “could” is not there.

In a sermon about the Root and the branches, I heard that when we are born again we are grafted into the Root, and cannot be ungrafted. We are forever heirs of God’s Kingdom. The wild olive represents Gentiles; the cultivated olive tree represents Jews.

Romans 11:17 …and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree…

This really made me stop and think! The impossibility of being ungrafted made so much sense… until I took up my Bible and read the entire passage myself. One only has to keep reading to get the context of verse 17, again from the NKJV, Romans Chapter 11…

17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

Read carefully the Scriptures above which I have underlined for you. This is the kind of straightforward, unambiguous, not-open-to-interpretation Scripture that I was looking for to prove Eternal Security. But the only unambiguous Scriptures I found in my search for truth were ones that support Conditional Security. Note the underlined portion of verse 22 above: the words IF and OTHERWISE are definitely conditions for God’s goodness toward us!

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

If our salvation is irrevocable, why does Apostle Paul make such a plea for us Believers to hold firm in our profession of faith, and assemble together with other Believers, to exhort (comfort, build up, strengthen in faith) one another. If our salvation were secure, why would we need to hold fast to it?

John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.

In the Greek, the verbs hear and follow are in present tense, things that are actively happening now or continually. Those who are actively/continually hearing and following Jesus are His sheep, and His sheep cannot be plucked from His hand. The definition of plucked is “taken by force.” No one can steal us (sheep) while we are actively following Jesus. By continuing in faith, we are His. No outside force can take us away. This is our true Biblical security. Salvation by Grace through faith, a continuing attitude of faith. An apostate chooses to remove himself from God’s promise of security by discontinuing his attitude of faith. It’s all about perseverance.

Here Jesus tells the Apostles about the end of days…

Matthew 24: 9″Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

Note verses 12 and 13 — “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” Jesus himself tells us to be saved we must persevere to the end! Abide in His love. A continual attitude of faith.

Considering the sinful nature of mankind, I believe Eternal Security, for many, is a license to sin. The idea that one can recite a “Sinners’ Prayer,” then get dunked in some water, then go right back to their usual way of life, believing that they are saved once and for all is like a get-out-jail-free-card. I have personally heard people say, “I was saved years ago. All my sins past present and future were forgiven that day, so I don’t have to worry if I’m living right or not.” The doctrine of Eternal Security makes them feel safe. They see no need to walk in faith, to strive for sinless perfection, to pray without ceasing, to ask forgiveness each day. Why would they? They believe they are sealed in salvation because they made a profession of faith at some point in time in the past. One could also make the argument that there are proponents of Conditional Security who follow God’s commands simply out of a fear of going to hell, which is also wrong.

So, the result of my study of Eternal Security: I believe it is a false doctrine.

  • Is everyone who believes it headed for hell? I doubt it.
  • Is it a dangerous doctrine that gives people a false sense of security? I believe so.
  • Are there churches today that are teaching people that they can take twenty minutes out of their lives to recite The Sinners’ Prayer, get Baptized, and have their salvation guaranteed and sealed forever, no matter how much they sin in the future? Absolutely.
  • Do I believe these are the apostate churches spoken of in Scripture? Perhaps.

No matter what denomination or doctrines you follow, this should be the motivation for all Christians in their daily lives:

Obey Jesus because you love Him and want to please Him. This is the only way to the saving Grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ.

John 14: 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.”

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Be of Good Courage

It’s easy to get discouraged and depressed in today’s world. We’re faced with strife and discord every day. On a simple trip to the store we’re confronted with rude angry people.

I was shopping at Aldi yesterday, standing at the produce, and one of the workers almost knocked me over as she hurried along. She never missed a step, never said ‘excuse me,’ or ‘sorry.’

I was driving out of the Wal-Mart parking lot and a man in a white pickup truck almost ran over me. He was busy talking on his phone. I don’t think he even saw me.

Everyone is so engulfed in their own lives that they have no thought of the person right next to them.

I find myself more and more despising my fellow-man. I find less redeeming qualities as time goes by.

A Scripture that helps me push back my ill feelings is —

Psalms 31:23-24 “Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints! For the Lord preserves the faithful, And fully repays the proud person. Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord.”  NKJV

This reminds me to love God, and not pay so much attention to ill-mannered people.

I hope it may help you too, as you read this.

Have a blessed day!

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Psalms 118:24

This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

20APR2~2

 

Since I’m not expecting to win the lottery any time soon, (you gotta play to win) I’ve decided that I must find joy in what I have, here and now. Count my blessings, you know?

I have a good Christian husband, that doesn’t run around. He goes to work and comes home, and I don’t have to worry about where he is or who he’s with.  I have two good kids who’ve both accepted Jesus. They are smart, talented, and have plans for their futures. I also have good Christian family and friends.  I have good neighbors.  I have a comfortable home, albeit small and old but it has good bones. It’s dry and warm in winter, and cool in summer.

My post from yesterday got me to thinking about money, and what we could do when we don’t have enough. What sort of activities can we find that don’t cost much or anything?  Then I realized, how stupid of me, I live in Kentucky! I’ve got one of the most beautiful places on Earth just outside my door.

Sure if I lived in a big city I’d have museums, galleries, theaters, etc. to visit – all man-made things. But here in Kentucky we have the works of the greatest creative mind ever! God Himself!

There is natural beauty everywhere. Art. History. Mysteries. Ghosts and goblins.  We can go for a walk in the mountains, in the woods, go fishing in a lake or river, listen to a concert, or get away from it all.  You’re only concern is how to get there – car, 4×4, boat, RV, ATV, bicycle, or your own two feet.

And the people of Kentucky are the best!  I have to admit that the world has had its influence on the larger cities and towns.  But the small towns are still bastions of Christian fellowship.  You can go to any small town in the state and walk into the local gas station or grocery store and feel right at home. I feel blessed to live in a place like this, where I can go into a restaurant or store and hear Christian music playing over the sound system.  You may not be Christian, and may be offended by that, by it means the world to me.  I feel richly blessed to live in a place where you can walk down the street and still hear, “Have a blessed day,” “God bless you,” “I’ll pray for you,” or “See you in church.”  If your car breaks down in a small Kentucky town in the ‘middle of nowhere’ you’re likely to have to turn people away who are eager to help you.  I imagine there aren’t too many places like that in the world today.

I may not have a lot of money to spend on entertainment and activities, but thank God I live in a place that offers so much for po’ folks to do.

 

 

 

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Question of the Day #6: What Is a Judgmental Attitude?

It’s been a long time since I wrote one of my Question of the Day posts, so I thought I’d do a short one today.

Question of the Day #6:  What Is a Judgmental Attitude?

First of all, Scripture tells us, ” Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.” (I Timothy 5:20.  Merriam Webster defines “rebuke” as “to criticize sharply, reprimand.”

Jesus said in Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.”  Merriam Webster defines “judge” as “to form an opinion about (something or someone) after careful thought.”

I think folks get rebuking and judging mixed up sometimes.  In rebuking we stick to the facts, considering someone’s actions compared with Biblical examples. For example, “you did a bad thing.”  In judging we express an opinion of the person in light of their behavior.  For example, “you are bad because you did this thing.”  Let’s not get our rebuking and judging confused.

Hate the sin, not the sinner.

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I Think Therefore I Am, the Basis for Diversity

Most people have heard the adage, “I think, therefore I am.”  I believe Rene Descartes was speaking about the sentient nature of Mankind.

I have a slight adjustment to Descartes’ statement:  “I think [X] therefore I am [Y].” The [X] is the variable that represents each person’s individuality, and the [Y] represents the results of [X]. For example, “I think [Jesus is the Messiah], therefore I am [a Christian]. Or, “I think [there is no God], therefore I am [an atheist].”  Who I am determines what I think. What I think determines who I am. There is no separating the two, no matter what you’ve heard.

Each of us comes to an opinion from our own unique perspective. Everything we are colors that perspective. Our lifestyle. Our upbringing. Our relationships. Our religious beliefs. Our friends. Our family. Our heritage. Our culture. Our social status. And a thousand other things that make us unique. When we dismiss others’ opinions we are also dismissing everything that makes them who they are.

Yes, I am a Christian. I consider that a fundamental and intrinsic part of Me; but I don’t force my beliefs and opinions on others, though I speak them readily.  As Americans, we have a right to our own opinions.  And I believe many doctrines from various Christian denominations are merely people’s opinions on what the Bible means.  I’ve heard some folks say, “If you aren’t a member of the ******* church, then you’re going to Hell!”  And I say, God is the Judge of all; let Him do his job.

When we take away a person’s right to an opinion, we strip away their humanity.  Individual opinion/belief is a basic human right.  I am so very thankful that our United States Constitution recognizes that right.  I strongly believe the drafters of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were guided by God in their endeavors, as God also grants us free will.

My fondest wish is for people to respect each other as individuals with differing beliefs, opinions, situations, and habits.  We are all God’s children, all citizens of the same Earth.  Look past hate, see the person.  We don’t have to agree on everything.  We can agree to disagree, and respect diversity.

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Happy Birthday to Me

I recently celebrated my 50th birthday.

I think to myself, “I don’t feel 50.” But what is 50 supposed to feel like? I guess I thought by the time I reached 50 I’d feel different. Old. Crotchety. I actually feel better than I did 10 years ago. I began Weight Watchers in January and have lost 45 pounds. I get more exercise now and I feel more energetic.

Most people guess that I’m 35,  just a few fine lines around my eyes. My doctor says my oily skin ages more slowly. Thank you Dad.  And thank you Mom for my darkish complexion, which protects me from sun damage.  I reckon I’m blessed with good skin genes.  My parents both died in their 80s, and looked 20 years younger.

It’s flattering to look younger than my real age, and good genes are part of it; however I think the biggest factor is my lifestyle.  I trust God.  I don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs.  I’ve been happily married for 25 years, my only marriage.  I’ve been pretty healthy.  I don’t have any chronic conditions, and take no long-term prescriptions.  We’ve been blessed with little tragedy, good kids, steady income, and good friends.  We’re not rich, but have what we need.  The face really is an indicator of the state of one’s soul. Stress related aging is a problem for many folks.

There was a time in my life when I let people drive me crazy.  I tolerated disrespect and abuse. I suffered with constant drama. I believed the bad things I was told about myself. I worried about EVERYTHING. But no more. Those people and bad habits are chaff in my life.  They blew away with the wind, and the quality stuff remains. I am happy, content, and loved.

Perhaps the twinkle in my eye, the pep in my step, and the smile on my face just makes me seem younger, rather than look younger.  It makes no difference to me. I’ve learned that what happens on the inside is more important than what happens on the outside.

Thank you God for the wisdom I’ve gained from 50 years on this Earth.

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Question of the Day#5: Does God Command Us to Always Forgive Our Enemies?

When I first wrote this question, I thought it would take a long drawn out answer, but I realize now that the answer is quite simple.

First let me say that it is best for us to forgive, always. Forgiveness is the release of our anger toward our transgressor, and allowing God to deal with that person. It is God’s job to judge, not ours.

On the other hand, I have my doubts that God holds it against us if we don’t forgive unrepentant transgressors, people with no remorse for the wrongs they committed against us.

The way I see it, God stands as the example for us to follow. God doesn’t forgive unrepentant sinners. Why would God expect us to forgive remorseless people? I don’t think He would.

But I stress again, it is best for us to release that anger and hostility toward those remorseless transgressors. Hanging on to negative feelings just eats at us and destroys our joy.  Give up your anger and allow God to heal your heart. Praying for your enemies is a wonderfully healing process that will help you forgive.  You may have to start by asking God to help you pray for your enemies.

God WILL deal with all sinners one day. (Us included.)  Let go of the hate, and let God do His job.

Remember:  Let go, and let God.

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Question of the Day #4: What does it mean to turn the other cheek?

Turn the other cheek.”  We’ve all heard it, few practice it.  What does it really mean?  First, let’s look at the origin of the saying, Jesus is speaking to the apostles, recorded in Matthew chapter 5.

“38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.”

I’m not a trained theologian, but I think Jesus is saying that we should go the extra mile, do more than is expected of us, give 110%.  Some would say that Jesus is speaking more to his apostles, to their behavior at that time than he is to us now.  But remember, 2Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” so all Scripture is for us in our own time.

To me personally, ‘turn the other cheek’ means to be in control of our response to evil.  We can choose to not react impulsively to insults or other ugliness that is targeted at us. We can just walk away. If someone hurls an insult at us, we can choose to ignore it. We shouldn’t lower ourselves to that ugly person’s level.

We always have the choice to do the right thing or the wrong thing. We don’t have to let our emotions control us. Because when our emotions are in control, most of the time they will lead us to the wrong thing. To rise above our natural human emotional response and sinful nature is to take the high road.

This philosophy is part of my Christian faith, but one doesn’t have to be a Christian to practice ‘turning the other cheek.’ Many people of different faiths, and of no particular faith practice it.

The next time someone irritates you, or insults you, stop and consider your response. Take over control from your emotional instincts, and choose how you will respond. It is powerful and liberating!

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Question of the Day #3: Is Truth Absolute?

My short answer is… Yes.

My long answer is… Yes, but no living human is privy to absolute truth.

We are each limited by our own perception of reality, or our paradigm.  Take for example the Four Gospels of the Bible, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Each tells much the same story, but from four different paradigms.  The details are different, to varying degrees.  Thus the question, “Which one is the real truth?”  All are true, as each man saw the truth from his individual perspective, just as we all view the world through our individual “paradigm bubbles.”

Imagine that each of us is encased in a bubble that filters everything we see, smell, hear, taste and touch.  Every moment we perceive through this filter, and every filter is unique.  An event that is viewed by 100 people will have 100 different perceptions.

I think it’s impossible for us, in this world, to decipher truth without it being influenced by our perceptions.  An event that offends one person may bring joy to another.  Our appearance influences how we are perceived.  Most people only scratch the surface of this world, using their five senses to judge their surroundings without considering digging any deeper.

People judge me by what I did as a kid, or by something they’ve been told, or by one incident, or by my lifestyle, or by my beliefs, or by my past.  I am none of these, and all of these.  I feel that there are very few people who know the real me.  Very few people who have tried.  And most people have me wrong.

Can anyone really know anyone?  How well do we need to know others?

When we presume to know all about someone, we risk being judgmental about their every action.

How would it change the world if people realized that their perception of truth is unique, and gave others the benefit of the doubt?

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