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Free from the law

August 20, 2019 Leave a comment

Despite more than 30 years as a Christian, I could never quite process that and understand exactly what it meant. Finally, thinks clicked, thanks in part to a long-time mentor.

The Bible gives many types of laws: Noahic Law (you can now eat meat, capital punishment is in order), Mosaic Law (ceremonial for sacrifices, dietary for what Israelites could and couldn’t eat, moral for things they were prohibited to do, various laws, some of which are still applicable today). The different prophets also gave laws.

Jesus came and discussed the law in a new light. Paul talked about how Jesus’ sacrifice freed us from the law.

The purpose of the law, I finally realized, is to show that we can never measure up to God’s standards of holiness. And because of that, we’re sinners.

By becoming Christians, we are no longer bound to the law. However, there are laws we obey because we love God and want to serve Him and become closer to Him.

If there’s one law to obey, it’s Matthew 22:35–40. Jesus said we were to love God with all our heart, might, mind. We were then to love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus then said all other laws and the prophets hinge on this commandment.

Post comments here or email them to: richardstwoshekels@gmail.com

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Do you serve God or a god?

January 18, 2019 Leave a comment

Years ago, a college friend told me that he no longer believed the New Testament was God’s Word. Too many changes over the centuries, most of them for political reasons.

Oh, brother, I thought. Using that logic, how can we really know Plato really wrote what’s attributed to him, or that Hammurabi really created those sets of laws, or Percy Bysshe Shelley didn’t plagiarize someone else’s work?

Is your faith in men, or is it in God?

This was a friend who led a prayer group at college, was studying for the ministry, and seemed to truly love the Lord. He served God then, and now, I’m afraid, he serves god.

Sometimes life beats us up and we react accordingly. Some are resilient and bounce back, some aren’t. Others simply were never really strong in their faith and easily get choked by the thorns.

This friend reminds me of what God asked Moses in Genesis 18:14 in one of the world’s great rhetorical questions: “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?”

In Matthew 23:35, Jesus says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”

Either God lied or He didn’t. Either He preserved His Word or He didn’t.

Post comments here or email them to: richardstwoshekels@gmail.com

Anyone have a spare jet in their pocket?

A certain minister, whose name isn’t worthy of mention, is asking his lemmings to provide him with the tens of millions of dollars needed to purchase a new jet. I’m guessing he’s too important or too busy to fly commercial in first class or—even worse—coach.

I have a Christian friend whose home was foreclosed due to lack of income. He also declared bankruptcy. He’s slowly going blind and feels led of the Lord to help with translation work on a Bible for the Mongolian language.

Another Christian friend in San Antonio is holding onto his home for dear life, trying to keep up mortgage payments.

Perhaps this minister should just pray the “Prayer of Jabez”. Or maybe he can ask Dr. Joel Osteen for a loan. Or perhaps how to pray “The Prosperity Gospel Prayer.”

Post comments here or email them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

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The greatest commandment: love

April 12, 2018 Leave a comment

Sometimes people will ask me, “What is Christianity in a nutshell?”

In Matthew 22, Jesus was asked about that. What is the great commandment of the law? What is the commandment that Christianity centers around?

Verses 37-40 explain: “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

This is the first and great commandment.

“And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

It all centers around love. It’s a verse you could spend years pondering.

I’ve been a Christian for almost 37 years, and while Jesus teaches us to love everybody, I must admit there have been some whom I’ve had to take remedial classes to learn how to love. A few select customers I dealt with when I worked at a gas station. A certain Christian employer in Michigan. Politicians in general.

I’m not alone. Alvin Dark, a former Major League Baseball shortstop who also enjoyed success as a manager, became an outspoken Christian. He once mused, “As a Christian, God has taught me to love everybody. But the last ones I learned to love were the sportswriters.”

Alvin_Dark_1953

Richard’s Two Shekels guesses that Alvin Dark made one request about his mansion in New Jerusalem: “Father, could you put any Christian sportswriters on the other side of town? And please don’t give them my address.”

Love, of course, is an action verb and not just an emotion we swell up with when around our children or our significant other. I tell people that True Christianity hinges on helping people without strings attached for no reason, rather than looking at the situation, rubbing one’s hands together as if concocting a sneaky scheme and quietly asking, “What’s in it for me?”

Post comments here or email them to: richardstwoshekels@gmail.com

 

Two iron ladies I know

Both ladies, in their forties, have health issues. One has chronic issues that leaves her constantly in discomfort. The other had oral cancer; it was removed but spread to her lung and liver and is now considered terminal.

Neither has looked up to God and lamented, “Why ME?!”

The two have never met. One lives in Lansing, Michigan, while the other lives in San Antonio. Both believe what regardless of what happens, it’s in the Lord’s hands. Both ladies remind me of that saying: “God is good all the time.”

It’ll be something for me to remember the next time I have a car issue or wind up in the hospital.

Post comments here or email them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com. 

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No Biblical basis for CCM?

January 2, 2018 Leave a comment

A Baptist minister told me a month or so ago he found “no Biblical basis” for Contemporary Christian Music. I’m not completely sure what he meant. Did he mean nothing in the Bible justifies it, or that CCM is incapable of communicating Biblical truths?

point of grace

Point of Grace, a group I love listening to.

Thirty years ago, I would’ve agreed with him. But as you grow and learn and mature, things tend to change. Many traditional Gospel songs are set to the tune of Irish and English drinking songs. Fanny Crosby, who wrote many Gospel songs adored by the Independent Fundamental Baptists (the Baptist equivalent of the Amish, I like to muse as an ex-IFBer), was considered wordly in her day. One pastor said a few years ago, “Today’s contemporary music is tomorrow’s traditional.”

I also thought about the many CCM artists who’ve blessed me with their music over the years: Point of Grace, Amy Grant, Watermark, Crystal Lewis, Newsboys, Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, Rebecca St. James and, believe it or not, Petra. My middle son loves Creed.

Years ago at a sheltered Christian college, I worked a summer with a guy named Ray. We teased each other because of our different accents (I grew up in South Texas, and he was from Maine and seldom pronounced his final “r’s”). To me, without glasses, he was a dead ringer for actor Judge Reinhold. We debated music a lot. I told him then I thought Petra was too worldly.

“Man, don’t be knockin’ Petra,” Ray said. “I got saved at a Petra concert.”

I thought about that for a long time, the way you do a first-hand observation that comes in and challenges an opinion you’ve formed in concrete.

Ray left that particular college due to the strict rules. I located him through Facebook a few years ago. Today, Ray is a musician serving the Lord and still going strong as a Christian. I can think of more than a few Christians from then who strictly adhered to tradition–and today, are no longer serving God.

I’ve even grown to like Petra, particularly their versions of “Grave Robber” (a song about 1 Corinthians 15) and “Not of This World.”

Richard Zowie likes all kind of music–except gangsta rap. His current guilty pleasure is KISS. Post comments here or email them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com. 

Stabs in the heart

September 6, 2017 Leave a comment

I have a Christian friend who is currently inactive. It’s probably the best way to describe them that I can think of at the moment.

This friend comes from a multi-cultural background and has a different personality. They tend to be quiet in their approach.

Once, while working at a church school, “Christians” took this friend aside and criticized their personality, their ethnicity and told them that they needed to get right with God.

Still scarred from this, my friend tells me they love Jesus but see God as not a nice person.

It reminded me of what one athlete once said they felt they were over-criticized: “Everybody needs a kick in the butt once in a while, but no one needs a knife in the heart.”

Why is it in Christianity we cling so hard to traditions, even at the expense of hurting others?

Critics like that will have a LOT to answer for someday…

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