Sunday, February 24, 2013

Forgive and Forget?

Don't you love suffering for someone else's sin?  Nathan used to tell me that it's like digging a beautiful pool, working so hard on the landscape, setting things up just right... and then someone starts throwing big ugly rocks into your lovely pool.  Ripples, waves even.  And the rocks might even miss and ruin that perfect rose bush.  Crud. 

Other people's sin have cost me something.  The damage done to relationships alone is staggering.  Sometimes I get so furious that I rant into the bathroom mirror at those people (please tell me I'm not the only one who talks AT the mirror ;o).  Or I'll rehearse what I'd really love to say when I'm alone in the car.  Sometimes I'll even write down a letter that never gets mailed (of course!).  And once in a great while, I feel God leading me to confront.  Ew!  Not happy.

And how do I let it go?  DO I let it go, or do I let it eat me up inside?  Forgiveness is a funny business.  Matthew 18:21-35 tells the story of the unmerciful servant.  You know, the one who has been forgiven the millions of dollars in debt, then turns around and throws a fellow servant in jail who owes him mere pocket change?  In the church, we've often heard forgiveness in terms of "forgetfulness."  Does this Southern Gospel chorus ring a bell?

What sin, what sin?
That's as far away
As the east is from the west
What sin, what sin?
It was gone the very minute you confessed
Buried in the sea of forgetfulness
  (Wonder where that term came from?)

OK, of course God does not forget anything- He simply removes our debt.  Besides if He DID forget our sin, the moment WE remembered it, He would, too (since He can read our thoughts).  In fact, in the parable, he brings it back up and re-indebts (not a word, I'm sure) the unforgiving servant.  That's a post for the greater theologians among us.  Back to the point.  The story in Matthew implies that part of being willing to forgive another is remembering how very much you've been forgiven.  

That doesn't mean we spend our lives wallowing in regret, rather we should live humbly, so, so thankful for His grace.  It also seems that instead of ranting at the people chunking the rocks over the fence of my life, I should remember that I, too, have tossed some pebbles, some boulders even.  And I should keep my heart open, ready and willing to forgive those offenses.  

Especially in the church.  Especially here.  Because we are a body, and even my private sins will affect the whole.  There is no private sin for a Christian.  Every act, be it gossip or adultery, stings the whole.  And because my life in  Christ affects yours, I'm going to just say right here, "I'm sorry.  I'm sorry for all the times I've chosen my own way instead of His and tainted you.  I'm sorry for the rocks I've thrown."  Forgive and remember!

No Man Is An Island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

(Because the truth matters most!)

Who am I?

I am...

1.  a beloved child of God, (as evidenced by the discipline I receive ;o).

2.  a woman, designed to reflect the nurturing aspects of the Father.

3.  a woman, designed as female because of the needs of the male - designed to complement  my brothers in Christ, not to compete with them.

4. a married woman, specifically given as a reward to Nathan, designed to be his needed helper, lover and mother of his children.

5. a young woman, made to love my children and my husband and to have a home-centered heart.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Many of us are reading now through the Pentateuch in our Bible reading, and Nathan posted this.  I found this helpful.
 "I found Stuart's excursus in his NAC Exodus commentary interesting:
Excursus: The Paradigmatic Nature of Biblical Law
Modern societies generally have opted for exhaustive law codes. That is, every action modern society wishes to regulate or prohibit must be specifically mentioned in a separate law. Under the expectations of this exhaustive law system, state and/or federal law codes run to thousands of pages and address thousands of individual actions by way of requirement or restriction or control or outright banning of those actions. By this approach, all actions are permitted that are not expressly forbidden or regulated. Thus it is not uncommon that criminals in modern Western societies evade prosecution because of a “technicality” or a “loophole” in the law—their undesirable actions are not exactly prohibited or regulated by a written law, so they cannot be convicted even though an objective observer may be convinced that what they did surely deserved punishment.
Ancient laws did not work this way. They were paradigmatic, giving models of behaviors and models of prohibitions/punishments relative to those behaviors, but they made no attempt to be exhaustive. Ancient laws gave guiding principles, or samples, rather than complete descriptions of all things regulated. Ancient people were expected to be able to extrapolate from what the sampling of laws did say to the general behavior the laws in their totality pointed toward. Ancient judges were expected to extrapolate from the wording provided in the laws that did exist to all other circumstances and not to be foiled in their jurisprudence by any such concepts as “technicalities” or “loopholes.” When common sense told judges11 that a crime had been committed, they reasoned their way from whatever the most nearly applicable law specified to a decision as to how to administer proper justice in the case before them. Citizens of ancient Israel, and especially its judges, had to learn to extrapolate from whatever laws they had received from Yahweh to whatever justice-challenging situation they were dealing with. The number of laws dealing with any given application of justice might be few, but that would not prevent justice from being applied. It would simply have been the case that all parties were expected to appeal for guidance to those laws that did exist, whether or not expressed specifically in terms that dealt with the case under consideration. In other words, the Israelites had to learn to see the underlying principles in any law and not let the specifics of the individual casuistic citation mislead them into applying the law too narrowly.
God’s revealed covenant law to Israel was paradigmatic. No Israelite could say: “The law says I must make restitution for stolen oxen or sheep [Exod 22:1], but I stole your goat. I don’t have to pay you back,” or “The law says that anyone who attacks his father or mother must be put to death [Exod 21:15], but I attacked my grandmother, so I shouldn’t be punished,” or “The law says that certain penalties apply for hitting someone with a fist or a stone [Exod 21:18], but I kicked my neighbor with my foot and hit him with a piece of wood, so I shouldn’t be punished.” Such arguments would have insulted the intelligence of all concerned and made no impact on those rendering judgments. It is in connection with the paradigmatic nature of Israel’s covenant law that Jesus, following the established tradition in Judaism, could make so sweeping an assertion as that two laws sum up all the rest (see above). Properly understood, two laws do indeed sum up everything in the entire legal corpus of the Old Testament. So do ten laws (the Ten Words/Commandments); so do all six hundred and thirteen. The numbers go no higher, nor would they need to. If a reasonable number of comprehensive and comprehensible laws (as few as two, as many as six hundred and thirteen) are provided to a people as paradigms for proper living, there is no excuse for that people to claim ignorance of how to behave or to claim innocence when their sins are found out.
Most laws are expressed as commands in the masculine singular—the you of the laws is “you, a male person”—from a technical, grammatical point of view. But here again the reader/listener would not have the slightest ground to say, “It prohibits individual men from doing such and such, but I’m a woman/we’re a group, so the wording of the law exempts me/us.” Implicit in the wording is the need for paradigmatic extrapolation to all persons, singular or plural, male or female.
Within the New Covenant, the paradigm of the two great laws is summarized as the “Law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). Because of the help of the Holy Spirit, the need to memorize and remember six hundred and thirteen commandments is obviated. The law is no longer a matter of (paradigmatic) guidelines written externally on tablets of stone. It is now a matter of a clear sense of loving God and neighbor written on the mind by God’s Spirit (Jer 31:31–34; cf. Rom 2:15) in accordance with the two commandments that always summed up God’s will and/or the ten that in the Old Covenant were graciously given to clarify the two.
One may ask, “If the commands to love God with one’s whole heart and to love neighbor as self are the two greatest, why weren’t these the first commandments spoken at Sinai? Why did one of them (“love your neighbor as yourself,” Lev 19:18) come later to the attention of the Israelites rather subtly, without fanfare, in the midst of the levitical “Holiness Code” (Lev 19–26) and the other (“love the Lord your God with all your heart,” Deut 6:5) almost forty years later, in the new generation’s law code, Deuteronomy? The answer is disarmingly simple: too many people could not appreciate the two great commandments except in reference to the others, including the ten principal expressions thereof, the Ten Words/Commandments of Exod 20. That is, without an awareness of all six hundred and thirteen commandments and seeing within them the high standards of God’s holiness and his particular required and/or banned behaviors enumerated, a person corrupted by a fallen world does not easily get the point of what the two great commandments are intended to summarize. Once one has learned the breadth and depth of God’s expectations for his holy people, however, the two greatest commandments serve brilliantly as comprehensive reminders of all that is expected of God’s covenant people. This is the point of the law of Christ in the New Covenant. It is not an amorphous, contentless concept but a way of summarizing full obedience to everything Christ taught, demonstrated and reinforced from elsewhere in Scripture.
A final implication of paradigmatic law: not all ll laws will be equally comprehensive in scope. That is, some will be very broad in their applicability (love Yahweh your God) and some much more narrow (do not bear false witness). One might ask, “Why not say ‘don’t be dishonest in any way,’ which would be broader and more comprehensive than ‘don’t bear false witness’?” But that would be missing the way paradigmatic law works: through a somewhat randomly presented admixture of rather specific examples of more general behaviors and very general regulations of broad categories of behavior, the reader/listener comes to understand that all sorts of situations not exactly specified (either because a law is so broad or so narrow) are also implicitly covered. In other words, when all the laws are considered together, one’s impression is that both the very narrow, precise issues and the very broad, general issues fall under the purview of God’s covenant. The wide variability of comprehensiveness is intended to help the person desiring to keep the covenant to say, “I now see that in the tiniest detail as well as in the widest, most general way, I am expected to try to keep this law—in all its implications, not just in terms of its exact wording.” Some commandments are thus less broad in scope in the way they are expressed than is necessary to cover all the intended actions; others are so broad in scope in the way they are expressed that one could never think up all the ways they might be applied. This is just as it should be. The narrow and the broad taken together suggest the overall comprehensiveness of God’s covenant will for his people.12