The Fourth Commandment

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11

This is the fourth commandment in its entirety. As I am typing this verse, I am wondering, what about the wife? Or does the you imply both man and woman? Husband and wife? Mother and father? That has to be the answer since the fifth commandment is to honor your father and mother. I better move on from this question.

It has been said that this commandment is the longest and has three parts to it. Verse 8 tells us what to do, then verses 9-10 specifies how we are to do it and verse 11 explains the why.

God has explained that we are to work or labor for six days of the week but on the seventh, we are to rest, give God glory and show mercy. Apparently, we were made to work or labor. We are to work for God’s benefit. Any task that we undertake, should be done with happiness and mercy. Every person needs to be working, whether you are employed, unemployed, a student, an at home caregiver, retired or disabled. Each one of us is meant to be able to work at something.

I like those affluent people who think they need to work seven days a week. Some have said it isn’t efficient to believe in God because it takes away from their business. Perhaps they would have a better business if they took one day a week off and observed a day of rest, gave honor to God and spent time with families. Or perhaps doing community work. I just think they are being greedy in wanting more.

Now for those people who provide emergency services, they are needed on Sundays. They are showing mercy to others by attending to those injured or those who need help. These people then do need to take another day off for rest and honoring God.

However, Christians today are just so busy and rush from place to place, job to job, one commitment to another. People are so wrapped up in themselves that they tend to forget others. The day of rest is to honor God, show mercy and spend time with family and loved ones. The biggest issue, these days, is time. Everyone has so little time. If someone infringes on that time, then there is a feeling of desperation. Not being able to finish everything. Do Christians not see that by giving themselves one day off to rest and honor God, this will give them a fresh start to the rest of the week? Just my thoughts.

 

 

The Third Commandment

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7.

On the surface, this commandment looks pretty simple. Don’t swear using God or Jesus as a swear word. Really. There are so many other swear words which are so much better. Unfortunately, today’s society seems to keep using their names in vain. I also every once in a while, forget myself and use it. Some authors have suggested that any one who uses their names in vain, deep down inside know that there is a God.  That would include intellectual atheists/agnostics, activists, seeker-agnostic, anti-theist, non-theist, and ritual atheist/agnostic. I had to look up the list of terms that are now used for non believers. Then, all these people who have turned their backs on God, are knowingly acknowledging that there is a God.

It doesn’t end here though. Taking God’s name in vain applies to Christians. So many times, Christians will say, “Praise the Lord”. Unless that person is using it with their heart and truly thinking of praising the Lord, this is taking the Lord’s name in vain. Any person who attends church, sings songs, sits through a sermon without totally involving their head and their heart in the service, is taking the Lord’s name in vain. Actions without conscious effort and thought and involving the whole heart, is blasphemous.

Perhaps that is why I hesitate finding a church home. I have visited too many churches and not continued because of the lip service I see. There have only been two or three churches that have truly made an effort to welcome newcomers. As I stand and look at the congregation, many people are distracted by their children, their phones, their friends, etc. They are not paying attention and giving full heart to the service. It has become more a thing for people to be seen going to church. Then as these people leave church, they are in a rush to get to their next destination and finish all their tasks of the day (which is breaking the fourth commandment).

People taking actions in the name of the Lord is also breaking this commandment. Terrorists who think they are promoting their cause by killing others in the name of God, are breaking this commandment. Any one who says they are fulfilling a prophecy and taking action on it is a false prophet. Anyone who does not commit an action without truly praying about it and having their heart filled with love, is taking the Lord’s name in vain.

These are all actions I already knew were wrong. Readings by various learned theologians have shown that I was on the right track. Now I know how to categorize these actions. Jesus has said that anyone who comes to heaven declaring His name, could be turned away and sent to hell as He will know who truly has the Lord Jesus in his heart. Bottom line is don’t use the Lord’s name in vain.

The Second Commandment – You shall have no other Gods

The second commandment in the long form is “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20: 4-6

So what did the people do at the base of the mountain while they were waiting for Moses? They were bored with the waiting so Aaron took their jewelry and made a calf out of gold. Really? I guess they didn’t know about this commandment because when Moses came down from the mountain with the tablets, he threw them down in frustration at these people. I don’t blame him. He is up on some mountain with God, who he can’t really look at. We don’t know how long he is up there and he is without food, water and shelter. I would be ticked too if I came down after listening to God and find these people partying it up with a golden calf.

As I am reading up on the ten commandments, I realize that we cannot just take the commandments at face value. Like this one. Do people think that just because they don’t have some idol or make some idol that they are free and clear? I don’t think so. There is more to this commandment (and all the others) that meet our eyes.

Every time I go to a church, I wonder about the cross that is always at the front of the church. What about all the crosses that are made into jewelry? I, myself, was given a beautiful cross on a necklace and I wear this necklace a lot. But I wonder how much emphasis we are placing on the cross. We all know Jesus died on the cross for us. For me, the cross is a reminder of Jesus being punished and put to death in the most horrific way. To be crucified by the Romans was to be a deterrent to everyone. If you commit a crime, or step out of line, this is how you will pay. I know that if people look at a cross and remember what happened with it, then it is a good reminder. However, when people seem to pray before and kiss the cross, is this crossing the line?

I also wonder about Catholics and their reverence for Mary. There are so many pictures, sculptures, images, etc. of Mary that it is all overwhelming. I know she is a holy woman and what she went through with Jesus is mind boggling. But she was a human woman who obediently served God. I need to ask the Catholics, isn’t Jesus more important than Mary? It feels, to me in my opinion, that Mary is placed over Jesus. That is just wrong. All the rosary beads, which I don’t understand, the figures of the Virgin Mary with pictures, feel like she is being worshipped.

Years ago I was in Rome and was able to tour St. Peter’s Basilica. My ex husband embarrassed me with how he, as a Catholic but not a practicing one, touched everything that was made of gold and cried over all of it. I walked through St. Peter’s thinking, what would Jesus think about all of this? I felt so uncomfortable in this church. The opulence was sickening to me. How many people lived in poverty, while the church was being built and were still expected to tithe to the church to make this church happen? How many people today make do without to tithe to this structure?

Worshipping something other than God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is not just limited to what I have talked about but it also means what about career worshipping, money, sports figures, move actors, singers, material items that your neighbor has and you want. The list could go on.

It isn’t just the face value of the actual commandment, you shall have no other gods before me, it is everything leading up to it as well. We are human with desires, wants, needs and we sin. A lot. It kind of has one think that we can’t measure up. You are wrong. That is why God sent Jesus to us. Jesus died for all our sins. His death was enough. It doesn’t mean that we can go on living recklessly without thought. We still need to try and live with love in our hearts for everyone. But we need to place God in our hearts and love Him with everything we have.

Purgatory?

I am now married to a Catholic man. However, he does not attend a Catholic church. His mother and sisters do regularly attend a Catholic church.

I have been confused by the term purgatory and everything that surrounds it. Also, a friend of mine, who was once a Catholic, said to me that the belief in purgatory means that Catholics do not believe that Jesus’ death was good enough.

I looked up the term purgatory. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Purgatory is “a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” To summarize, in Catholic theology Purgatory is a place that a Christian’s soul goes to after death to be cleansed of the sins that had not been fully satisfied during life. (from gotquestions.org).

This made me stop and take a step back. All along I thought that when Jesus died on the cross, He paid the penalty for all our sins. I had to research this. I was right. Jesus did pay the penalty for ALL our sins. So are the Catholics saying that we still have to suffer for our sins and that Jesus’ suffering was not enough? How can this be?

Apparently, the Catholics look at the passage in 1 Corinthians 3:15 for the evidence of purgatory. It is argued that the Catholics have misinterpreted the passage to be the believer passing through flames when it should be the believer’s works passing through flames. The argument is also that Catholics misunderstand the nature of Christ’s sacrifice. Catholics fail to understand that Jesus’ once for all sacrifice was absolutely and perfectly sufficient for all of us.

I had to look up the history of the Catholic church. Now I am even more confused. The Catholic church is a continuation of the early Christian community established by Jesus. The church considers its bishops to be the successors of Jesus’ apostles. By the end of the 2nd century, bishops began congregating in regional synods to resolve doctrinal and policy issues. The Bishop of Rome was appointed by Jesus and he was the sole successor to Saint Peter. This Bishop ministered to the people in Rome. I know Jesus told Saint Peter that he was building His church on a rock.

Well, doesn’t this make one think? The Roman Catholic Church is a continuation of the early Christians. The Catholics fail to see that when Jesus died, that was good enough. Is this something that the Catholics failed to see later in time? Did they misunderstand what was said in 1 Corinthians?

It just makes me see how we humans can mess things up. I know the disciples messed up things a lot. They were also filled with doubt even though they were with Jesus. Perhaps the Catholics thought that the people would just party it up if they thought Jesus had paid for their sins. I mean, what would keep them living like good Christians and obeying the church if at the end, they would be saved? Perhaps to keep the people in line, the Bishops decided to tell them all about purgatory. Wouldn’t purgatory scare them into submission? And this is how I can wrap my head around all of this.

Now I have a better understanding of purgatory and the beginning history of the Roman Catholic church. I am not a college graduate. I did not have the privilege of attending college although I am applying now, with my husband’s support and encouragement. I am curious by nature. I also wonder about the Catholics veneration(?) of the Virgin Mary but that is for another blog.

 

You shall have no other Gods before me – The First Commandment

You shall have no other Gods before me. The first commandment. This is the commandment that comes before all the others and lays the foundation for the rest of them.

God had just brought the Israelites out of Egypt. God told the Israelites “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2-3). The Israelites were held captive by the Egyptians for centuries. The Egyptians were unsurpassed by the number of gods they worshiped. The Israelites, unfortunately, with these idols in front of them all the time, started to worship these false gods. In those days, it was acceptable to have a number of gods. It was unheard of to worship only one God. Glory to God alone: soli Deo Gloria.

In order to free the Israelites, God had sent ten mighty plagues to defeat all the deities of Egypt. The magicians to the King of Egypt could not keep up to God. He is the one and only true God. He does not want to share us with anyone else. He wants to have a one on one love relationship with each one of us. There is no room for anything else. He demands it and He is well within his rights. We should be thankful and grateful for all He has done for us.

The Bible teaches us that there is one God in three persons. There is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Jesus is God the Son. He is one with the Father. So if God is the only God, why does God speak of other Gods? “There is no other God besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me.” (Isa. 45:21).

From all my readings and what I think is anything that we, as humans, turn to. What is it that we love the most or desire the most? It should be God. But a lot of people have become career oriented, money oriented, material oriented.  A false god can be anything that we focus on to the exclusion of God. Some of my readings have even gone so far to say that even sports, recreation, hobby or personal interest can be a false god. During football season, I see people so focused on the games that they ignore everything else. So I get that.

I see too many career oriented people who are just determined to make it up that ladder to the exclusion of everything else. I was married to such an individual and he is also narcissistic. People who think they are in control of their lives and believe that they are above everyone else will have a serious crushing blow dealt to them. We need to ask ourselves what do we love and what do we desire. For me, my husband, my family, friends and pets are everything to me. Until I can get it through my head that God is above even them, I will be sinning on this commandment. I can logically reason that, yes, God is above them but,…

The other thing we need to realize is that we must trust God above all others. We need to place our worries, concerns, stresses, fear and hopes into God’s hands. He alone will help us through each step of our lives. We may trust our loved ones to help us out when we need them but God sees everything and has a plan for us. We can trust God. He will never let us down.

For further reading on the Ten Commandments, I suggest Written in Stone, The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis by Philip Graham Ryken. Websites: the Ten Commandments, bibleinfo.com, what Christians want to know.

Thou Shalt Not Kill – The Sixth Commandment

The sixth Commandment is thou shalt not kill. Easy. Right? You may not, cannot, should not kill. I am informed that the commandment needs to be interpreted as “thou shalt not murder”.

Well, then I came up with the issue of abortion. As a Christian, I believe that abortion is wrong. As soon as life is conceived, it is not ours to take away. God has determined who does or does not get pregnant.  I went so far as to question the issue about rape or if the mother’s life or the baby’s life is in danger. It should be the mother’s natural instinct to protect the life of her child. God determines who lives and who dies. Again God determines who does or does not get pregnant.

I know this is going to raise the hackles of many women who believe they have the right to determine what they want done with their body. However, as a true Christian, it is not a woman’s right to end a life in her body. It was God’s decision to begin life. He alone knows what is best. As a Christian, we need to willingly submit to God’s will. He sees things we have no knowledge about. And as Christians, a lot of us just can’t submit to His will. We think we know better. We think we have it all figured out. But we don’t. We need to take all things to God in prayer. God doesn’t always answer right away but He does answer. He loves us and He has our back.

Then I wondered about defending oneself against attack or against an attack against their family or home. Yes, this is perfectly acceptable against an evil doer, especially when the intention of the evil doer is to harm or murder. The Bible talks about defending oneself against danger and evil doers. Even Jesus talked to the disciples about selling their cloaks to purchase knives. As long as the defense is sensible and solemn.

I also wondered about the end of life and DNR (do not resuscitate). Doctors make mistakes all the time. This is not an easy issue to deal with and I have been told that every case or situation is different and needs to be looked at individually. I know a person should not be given the choice to end a life but there are so many issues to consider. As Christians, we must remember that life is precious. When a decision needs to be made, we must err on the side of protecting life but this is so difficult. When, we as humans are given the power of deciding to end a life, how far is acceptable before it becomes unacceptable? I know, for myself, I have told my family that if something happens to me and there is no hope for my recovery, I would like for them to take away the machines that are keeping me alive. I would wonder if I am present in my human body, at that point?

Another question I have is what about the death penalty. I know that in the Old Testament, God demanded the death penalty for many crimes, such as murder, kidnapping, bestiality, adultery, homosexuality, being a false prophet, prostitution and rape, and several other crimes (I did not know about some of these). Both God and Jesus did show mercy when capital punishment was due. However, the death penalty is acceptable in God’s eyes, especially when murder is committed.

I know I have raised issues with this blog. These are all my opinions, my thoughts. I am a Christian but this has made me seriously think about the meaning of being a Christian. I do not attend a church because, both my husband and myself, have been turned off by churches on the whole. Too many churches have let themselves become so large that I wonder how anyone can connect with others or the pastor. Too many times, it feels like churches do their best to accommodate people and make them feel good. The Bible has been twisted to accommodate what people want.

Yes, Jesus revolutionized a lot of rules from the Old Testament but He was serious about keeping the laws of God.  He did not sway from the laws. He upheld them. Instead of telling someone they were wrong, He loved them and showed them what it meant to submit to the will of God. That is what we need to do. Submit to God’s will. It is not giving in. It is giving your heart to a God of love and compassion and grace. He will never leave you even if you are uncertain.

 

 

Coexist

The Coexist image is an image created by Polish, Warsaw-based graphic designer Piotr Młodożeniec in 2000 as an entry in an international art competition sponsored by the Museum on the Seam for Dialogue, Understanding and Coexistence. The original version was one of dozens of works displayed as large outdoor posters in Jerusalem in 2001. (From Wikipedia)

I keep seeing this symbol on a number of vehicles as I am driving around. My first thought was, wouldn’t that be nice, but it is unrealistic. I don’t know why that was my first thought. But I do know that living side by side with people who have different ideologies would be difficult.

Let me see if I can explain how I think this way. I am a Christian. I am not a bible thumping, better than you, Christian. Oh boy. I think I have already smashed the coexist thing. I am a Christian with faults. I have sinned and I keep sinning. So I need to pray a lot and ask for forgiveness. A lot. I try very hard to not look at the skin or outward appearance of a person. I truly value a person for their thoughts and actions. I try very hard to love my neighbor and treat others with respect. I know I fall short of that too often. Most of the time, it is unintentional. My brain has a very short attention span and so many times, I finish one thing and I jump full force into the next item on my list so that I forget that I have left someone or something very abruptly.

As a Christian, we are told to be disciples of God and to spread the good word. We are supposed to tell everyone we meet about Jesus and the love of God. I am not sure how well a Muslim would receive that message. Then I don’t know how a Jewish person would receive the news about Jesus. I already know agnostics and atheists have a low opinion of Christians and how our message is received.

Then my brain went a little further and I questioned how many different religions are there in the world? I googled that and the answer came back with 19 major religions which are divided into 270 groups. Could we fit all those religions into coexist?

If we are to coexist with our different ideologies and religions, how would we be governed? Who would decide the laws and rules of the land? I mean even as Christians there are different groups. We have the Catholics, who started it all. Then the Lutherans broke off from the Catholics because they didn’t agree with their rules. Then we have Protestants, Baptists, Methodists and so on. Right now, there is bickering going on between these groups. We also know how many horrific wars have been fought because of religion. When one sect doesn’t agree with the other, there are battles fought in the most horrible of ways. So I would like to know how it would work to coexist.

Some times, my brain works in strange ways. I will go and coexist with my cats, dogs and horse. At least they know I am the boss. Or do they let me think that?

The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments are also known as the Decalogue. From what I remember in the Bible, they are rules God gave to Moses and they were printed on stone tablets. Moses was supposed to deliver these commandments to the Israelites when he left Mount Sinai. I also seem to remember that when Moses came down from the mountain, he threw the stone tablets to the ground and broke them because the people had gotten out of control, bored and, quite honestly, stupid by making themselves idols. Honestly!

I didn’t know the ten commandments were also known as the decalogue. So I looked up the definition of decalogue and found “In decalogue the root deca- is combined with logos, Greek for “word”. In the Biblical book of Exodus, the original Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, was handed to Moses by God atop Mount Sinai.” We know that the ten commandments were found in the books of Exodus and in Deuteronomy.

I belong to a number of different Christian groups like Christian Readers and the Christian Theological/Philosophical Book Club  on Goodreads. There are a number of discussions going on led by very well read, intelligent people who discuss a great number of issues.  The discussions that these people have are way beyond what I know from the bible. But I love to read the discussions. One of the topics was on the ten commandments and are you living them or can you live them.

When I researched articles on the ten commandments, the first thing I found that was interesting, was the concept that most people think that everything starts fresh in the New Testament. But that can’t be right. Since Jesus was a Jew and the apostles were all Jews, then one would have to assume that all the old traditions and habits would continue. It was the translators who divided the Old Testament from the New Testament (and this was not something that I knew). So one would have to assume that everything from the Old Testament would carry through into the New Testament. There is nothing in the New Testament that says the commandments are no longer valid or that even one of the commandments are no longer valid.

If you look closely at the New Testament, you will find the ten commandments in various verses and books. The ten commandments are not listed all together in one book, as in the Old Testament, but they are spread around throughout many books. Jesus reminds us that He did not come to destroy the law or the prophets but He came to fulfill the laws.

The commandments were made by a God who loves us beyond what we can ever imagine. He knows us. He knows how stubborn, silly, out of control and just plain stupid we can be. We think we can govern ourselves and control our destinies. But that just isn’t true. God knows exactly His plans for us. And we should be comforted by that.

The ten commandments are pretty awesome. I noticed quite a few blogs from people who have explained the commandments in simple terms. I think I will read up on those blogs and go through each commandment on my blog. I hope I will raise different perspectives and get people to think about the ten commandments. God never intended for us to forget about the commandments. They should be a part of our daily lives if we truly believe ourselves to be Christians.