Friday, April 11, 2008

Bold yet loving .. righteous & merciful.....morality

Update -- okay "yall" --- so my lack of being a Bible scholar showed in this original post (and probably still will in some way or another)!! I was using the term "law" that we are called to follow but I wasn't talking about the Mosaic Law. I was using "law" in terms of a moral code.....not as Mosaic Law set in the Old Testament. So I'm going to go through and fix what I wrote and change those to "moral codes" instead of "laws" to not cause confusion. I really do believe that God expects us to live a life of morality, integrity and love. I hope the makes more sense now!?!?!

PLEASE continue to challenge me -- I am such such a baby in the knowledge of the Bible, etc. I only know what I feel after I read scripture and I don't always know the "right" words for it ya know?!?!?!

Okay here's the original post with revisions. Revisions in white:

For the longest time I have gone back and forth with this battle. Let me present both sides of what I have struggled with.

One side:
I know that there is right and wrong. I believe God has laid it down. Morals are good...... it's just that we could never live up to them because we are sinners, falling short of the glory of God....and God knew that, so He sent us Jesus. Jesus removed any laws/rules/codes as a way to get to heaven.....not because the morals or rules were bad but because we were!! He fulfilled the law (both Mosaic and moral codes), which called for perfect obedience and so because He stepped in for us - we (just t by believing in Him) can have the power He has, the righteousness He has. We will never be Him....but we can get more like Him every day as we can allow Him to continually cover our darknesses with His light. The way we were bound to laws before has been destroyed....but that doesn't mean there is no moral code!

God has given me an extremely passionate conviction for the Truth. For right and wrong. For the morality our souls are based on. I hate sin. I hate my sin most of all. I absolutely believe that people just can FEEL right and wrong....I believe that our souls KNOW that we were designed to be "good" or "right" and our soul also feels that something has gone wrong. People try to fill this lacking they have with so many things --- worldly success, self-righteousness, religion, selflessness..... but the Truth is that Jesus is the only thing that can step in the gap for us and make us "right". He is the only thing that helps our souls be what they were designed to be, reflective of God. Speaking with my pastor and his wife via email the past few weeks they told me in our last communication that they believe I've been blessed with the spiritual blessing of discernment....the best I have heard discernment explained is, "to distinguish between truth and error, to identify whether something is of God. This gift involves wisdom and prayerfulness" .... so that being! I don't know if that's true of me or not...but I know this: I can't even express how strongly I oppose this "relative moralism" that has soaked into our culture. To be quite honest, I don't like that we as christians have lost our backbones when confronted with the option to stick up for Truth and morality...and we do this all in the face of love, mercy and tolerance.

Hold up though before you start pulling on your robes...... there's more pieces of this puzzle I need to put together.

The other side:
We are called to be understanding, loving and merciful. We are called to give people approval and acceptance right where they are, to be Jesus to them.

So we are just supposed to be tolerant of everybody?! Not ever stick up for any Truth or morality? We are supposed to just be okay with our culture that is running away from God? From Bringing Up Boys James Dobson writes, "Americans once expected parents to raise their children in accordance with the dominant cultural messages. Today they are expected to raise their children in opposition." I am sick of having to fight against my culture. I am sick of what is allowed into our public schools, television, radio, and shopping malls and on and on and on. I am sick of the minority being the ones to take a stand. I believe things can change. I have hope and faith for this country!

So how do we do this? How do we stick up for morality and righteousness without putting legality above Jesus? How do I be bold in my convictions that He lays on my heart but not push people away? How do I show the mercy and love and forgiveness He brings but also call people to a higher standard of living. Is it even possible to do all these?!

YES it is possible! I guess the loving part of this though depends on your definition of love. Does love to you mean an emotion? Making others "happy"? As a parent, I am truly learning about "tough love"..... doing what is BEST for your child, whether they object or not. Doing what is best in the long term, even if it hurts temporarily. Jesus' new law is all about loving God first (for example....wanting to please Him by doing whatever we can to live a moral, godly life) and loving others....sometimes with tough love.

But how to stick up for morality? Stick up for it in your own home above all else! After Jesus comes into our hearts -- that's just the beginning. After He comes into our hearts, I believe we are called to allow Him to make us right. To help us live up to the way of life God calls us to live. We will never be perfect --- but that doesn't mean we don't allow Him to make us closer to it every day. Morality, and clear cut right and wrong is a great thing.Obviously. Since Jesus walked on this earth and followed the morality "code" to a T and was perfect.....we should obviously try to follow it as well. He was righteous and moral and at the same time loving and merciful and that is why so many were drawn to Him!!

The beauty of what I'm feeling now is that God is helping me overcome this battle!!! He is helping me find ways to do both! I (obviously) don't have all the answers. But I do know the more time I spend with Him - I am not becoming LESS passionate. I am being MORE passionate but also more at peace. The 2 can exist together ya know!! I am at peace because of Him and the hope He brings --- but passionate for the Truth He has laid down in my soul.

I want to shine the righteousness He is....but in a humble way that draws people to me and therefore drawn to him. And I'm finding it's possible! I really don't have to apologize for the righteousness He brings me! I have found that I CAN be ME - passionate me that is full of emotion and full of conviction. What's different now was explained in my blog entry about emotions ---- I realize it's WONDERFUL to feel so strongly and passionately ---- but it's never wonderful to be controlled by that emotion. The 2nd part of what has changed is understanding that I can't WILL myself to be righteous or moral all the time . I simply have to conform through the Spirit more and more....and that is what brings me more righteousness, the ability to live with a higher standard... doing it that way, leaves no room for the devil to puff us with pride - we understand the Spirit is what makes us good and people will see that humility. (see previous blog link to Beth Moore's site for more on this).

So, we (I) have to harness those convictions we feel and just take those emotions as being a sign from the Spirit that is our calling. When our passions are aroused, our fire is ignited, He is asking us to turn to Him and He is leading us toward our earthly calling. Our passions were laid on our hearts for a reason. So we shouldn't be scared of them or ashamed of them. But we have to let the Spirit control. When the situation is right, He will give us words, He will allow us to do "right", He will help us be an example and challenge others with the Light we shine. So many of the times we 'teach' just by example! "Actions speak louder than words" --- so true.

I went through this stage the past year that I was ashamed of my passion. Because of what some had said to me, about me... I started second guessing my convictions. Was it wrong to want to shine His righteousness? Is it possible to be too "righteous"? I was ashamed that maybe I had put morality above Jesus. Maybe I was too focused on 'rules' and not on Jesus..... but God has shown me that I should never be ashamed of His Truth. Jesus IS the Word, the Truth! The Truth and righteousness I have is just because He is in me! If my light is too bright for others -- that's okay. It's not my job to dim the light. My job is never to lower my standard or stop waving the banner of job is to keep the high standard for myself, my home my family....but to love on others right where they are. To show them that the light Jesus shines through me does not make me better than anybody --- it just means I accepted the gift available to all. But I need to be accepting of people right where they are. I need to continue to be PATIENT with people, patient with God working in people!

I don't want to be a pushover ever. I don't want to back down when asked an opinion of Truth. And I don't want my son to grow up in a culture so de-moralized. What will this culture/country be like when he is in high school if this demoralization of society keeps going at the rate it is now!? I want Raymond to know that there is a right and wrong....and He is going to learn it. I believe it is my calling as a parent to instill right and wrong in Raymond. I don't believe He should decide or learn what is right and wrong by himself! Doing "right"/having a high moral code is not going to get him to heaven...but he will respect the moral code while under my roof forcibly and he will obey it. I don't believe adults are ever called to be our children's friends, playmates or allies above all else like Hillary Clinton and other moral relativists preach....they believe since there's no absolute right or wrong.... that adults aren't really to teach or preach -- we are called to just be colearners...facilitators. They believe since nothing is right or wrong, everything is just relative - meaning "what's right for me and what's right for you" is what's right. It's so against the Truth! Do you realize what a HUGE turning point in our country this election is!??! I don't take this lightly at all. I hope you all don't.

Regarding tolerance and this moral relativism spreading through our country..... I absolutely believe when laws or moral code tries to be all inclusive, all encompassing --- Truth is ALWAYS sacrificed. You can't create Truth! You can't create morality! It's already been created! THAT is why Jesus had to come --- because God saw that we couldn't live up to what we were originally designed to be... so we started making our own laws and religions and it split us! Jesus is the only thing that has ever been accessible and available to ALL that didn't sacrifice Truth in doing so. Because He was perfect - He was righteous and He wasn't ashamed of it. He stood up for justice and He wasn't quiet about it.

This blog entry all comes because I have been asking God these questions for quite a while and then today I read more of Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson --- any mom out there who has a son - I HIGHLY recommend this. It is a huge eye opener for what is happening to our boys and what is happening in our culture. and it fired me up! :) The old Randi would read a book like Bringing Up Boys and just feel soo passionate I thought I'd explode. I'd get sssooooo fired up, ANGRY even.....and just want to go step all over everybody shoes and scuff up their boots. I'd get into emotional debates....I'd just be so full of just raw emotion.... New Randi reads this and walks away excited. Now, after reading something like this, I say,

Thank you God for this passion. Thank you for laying this Truth on my heart and convicting me so much. Remind me God that YOU are in control. Don't let me get too emotional over this God --- but don't let this fire die either. Remind me God that we need people who have a fire in them for Your word and Your Truth. and remind me God that no matter what direction the world is going on -- you will win in the end. Guide me and tell me what you want me to do with this Truth you have given me. Just ingrain it into who I am and how I live. Help me live out what I am learning. And when the time is right God, help me feel the nudge to stick up for the Truth and help me do it in a way that is loving and never condemning. Merciful but bold.

After reading Bringing Up Boys tonight and then reading some articles from which always fire me up too.... I asked God to please give me more. I needed to hear more about what HE thought of all I was reading. Then a few hours later (I can't believe how quickly He works - I was just thinking like sometime this MONTh would be great!) I turned to Ephesians again and read.....

Ephesians 4
29"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for bulidng others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen"
31 " Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
32 "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you"

Ephesians 5 goes on to say:
1"Be imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God"

To be imitators of God! To do whatever we can to live up to the moral code He lays down - knowing that it is NOT what gets us to heaven -- but to do it because it is pleasing to Him! Much like our children should obey what we teach them. It goes on to speak against sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, greed, obscenity, foolish talk, coarse joking. And we know that what comes out of us is what we allow in. We can't practice these things --- which means we can't allow them in to us at all! Which means we have to shut off anything that is spreading unTruth. The TV, the radio, whatever is promoting these seeds, we need to shut it off. Don't condemn those who watch it -- just protect your own home! What are you allowing in? (and of course I am talking to myself here --- I have a lot of work to do and a long way to go)

Ephesians 5 goes on to say...
8 "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and Truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
11 Have nothing to do with the fruiless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them"

If that isn't calling us to a higher standard of living, I don't know what will. If this doesn't show there is a right and a wrong and we are called to obey it, I don't what does. If this doesn't give us freedom to shine our light, I don't know what will! Morality is NOT the most important thing. Obeying moral code won't get you into heaven, but don't you want to please God!? Once Jesus is in us --- we are called to a higher level!!! We no longer are called to live on a human level a worldy level. We are called to live by the Spirit not the flesh. To conform to the Spirit, not the world!! As a parent, I know I will bless and be so so pleased with Raymond when he obeys our household rules and does it with a thankful and loving heart. I want God to be able to be pleased by me in this same way!!!

So Ephesians was totally what I needed to hear. God gave me just what I needed, as always. He reminded me that YES morality is great. That I am called to live at a higher level. I should boast in Him and the righteousness He brings! Because *I* don't get credit when there is any righteousness shown in me.... it does not make *me* any better --- the credit goes to who is in me that changed me! God reminded me today that I can be passionate but I need to keep the emotion out of it. He reminded me NEVER to be full of anger or bitterness or any unwholesome talk no matter how fired up I get - He is the victor, forever and so we know who gets the last word. I should speak the Truth in facts like Jesus did to the woman at the well. He pointed out factually not emotionally the fact that yes she had had 5 husbands and was living with a man who wasn't her husband now....and then He extended her mercy with the solution...Him.

More lessons for me: Never be bitter or angry at a person because of a sin you see. It is possible to hate the sin but love the sinner. Most importantly realize that you are the worst sinner you know..... understanding your righteousness comes from Jesus alone will take away any pride or condemnation. Being lead by the Spirit leads only to humility.

It's okay if people run away from the Light. The point is, you shed some light into their darkness. Pray that someday when they are ready to confront that darkness, they will be drawn to somebody else's light who will be able to exclaim and show them that Jesus is the source and He's available to ALL!! Then pray that that person who accepts Jesus into their hearts will realize that now, becuase Jesus in in them , they are called to live up to a higher standard, a higher moral code -- because of the power of perfect righteous Jesus in them!!!

THAT is how we change the direct of our culture!!!


Candy-Faith said...

good post randi :)

melanie said...

I will come back to read..I just wanted to respond to your questions. Moving for us has been a long story! If I tell all it will add in some bad mouthing of certain people so I would rather not. Long story!!

My children are 11,10,7,4,2. I do love homeschooling is daunting at times but I enjoy them around. We are praying what to do next year. Our two older boys want to play we are considering putting them in the Jr. High here..and then the three little girls..I am still praying. I am looking into the school systems now.

Randi Jo :) said...

Melanie - thanks! Don't feel you have to read this post though - I know it's more for me than anybody else and I know it's long! No worries at all if you don't read it!

Randi Jo :) said...


Some after thoughts I had...

a) I really don't know if I have been given a gift of discernment - that was the first time it was said to me - so I have think pray about that more. I just didn't want to come across prideful. If I do have it, I am just now realizing it and I am just beginning the journey to wisdom and understanding in this gift...and I know I'm just a baby in so many ways. Do you all know what spiritual gifts you've been given?

2) when I said, "Jesus wasn't quiet about it" --- I didn't mean physically - like he was loudly argumentative, etc. I meant that he was not quiet about His convictions. He was known even before His arrest and crucifixion and resurrection NOT because He was "an extremely open minded tolerant guy".... not because people would talk about Him like "oh yeah I've heard of Jesus, what a nice guy"..... He was known throughout the world even before He would Save the world because He was/is perfect. Becuase He was perfectly righteous. Because what He spoke was the Truth - and was so againt the culture. He lived up to everything the Father wants us to be.

3) and finally I wanted to add --- that we can not WILL ourselves to be righteous, ever. We won't get it by controlling our daily habits of reading Bible, being quiet, or simply cutting off the whole world. The only way to get righteousness is to let Jesus' righteousness shine through you. Just like this blog entry wrote about...

melanie said...

I just came by to say Hello! I hope you are having a wonderful weekend with your beautiful family! God bless you sister!