Water of Life
Stand in the Gate

A March 12 Magazine of Rehashed Thoughts


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A word to "sensible people" is to run away from false gods (including the superstition that idols have any power over us ---like the idols of materialism, commercialism, sensual-ism, nationalism, racism, and self-ism) and and live without giving unnecessary offence to anyone.

It comes down to defining our true loyalties and zeroing in on or core values. Seek God's glory. Seek the good of others. Imitate Jesus.

1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1
Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? What do I imply then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or are we provoking the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

"All things are lawful," but not all things are beneficial.

"All things are lawful," but not all things build up.

Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other.
Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience, for "the earth and its fullness are the Lord's." If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience.

But if someone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience-- I mean the other's conscience, not your own. For why should my liberty be subject to the judgment of someone else's conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why should I be denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.

Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many



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What the gospel writers did not and, sometimes, could not record, but first century readers knew, was the smile on Jesus' face, the chuckle in his voice, and the irony in his words as he provoked the faith response of an unlikely faith-heroine, and opened the ears of the deaf man with spit. Jesus was dramatic because drama drives home more than didactic teaching can communicate.
Grace is a very, very big deal.

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I would like to apologize to all the women named "Karen" who have been typecast, stereotyped, maligned, and put down.

Q: A group of cows is called a herd; a group of owls is called a parliament; a group of geese is called a flock. What's a group of "Karens" called?

A: A privilege.

I would also include the uncles named "Tom" (like me) along with the innocent cats, turkeys, and peepers.

Whatever your name is, it is your character that determines its reputation.

Wear it well and proudly, Karen, Tom, and whoever.




Three things I must do in the morning if nothing else (Psalm 5:3):

1. Make my voice heard before God.
2. Lay my requests before God.
3. Wait expectantly before God.

Which of these three is the greatest challenge for you?
Which brings you the greatest joy?

Followers of Jesus, we must not relinquish our identity or voice to the hateful, bigoted, resentful,, condemning, nationalistic, judgmental, racist, partisan, or graceless voices among us. Our message is defined by our Master as is our true identity. We must not surrender that.


An Issue with God

When people tell me that they have an issue with God, sometimes a complaint, sometimes real anger, I often ask, "Have you discussed it with God? Have you told God how you feel?"

"I could not do that," they might respond.

"Why not?" I ask.

"I am afraid to do that. God might get angry back at me."

Not so, not for that. God's anger is what we experience when we resist the fierceness of unrelenting love. We are in a storm and we can ride the storm or wage war against the storm, but we cannot ignore the storm.

Jeremiah, like the psalmist, invites us into the arena of honest prayer where we wrestle with ourselves and speak honestly with God. He prays throughout the book his scribe recorded. It is not always pretty, but often comes to this:

" I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself,
that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
Correct me, O LORD, but in justice;
not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing."

(Jeremiah 10:23-24 ESV)

He puts it out there and is willing to be corrected. He trusts God that God can correct Him in justice and not in anger.

I want to be corrected. Don't you? Why would I ever want to continue in a course of unproductive, destructive thinking or behavior? I want to be set upon the right track. My days, like yours, are numbered and I want them to count.

Looking back a few verses, he prays the prayer of as disillusioned man:

" Woe is me because of my hurt!
My wound is grievous.
But I said, “Truly this is an affliction,
and I must bear it.”
My tent is destroyed,
and all my cords are broken;
my children have gone from me,
and they are not;
there is no one to spread my tent again
and to set up my curtains.
For the shepherds are stupid
and do not inquire of the LORD;
therefore they have not prospered,
and all their flock is scattered."

(Jeremiah 10:19-21 ESV)

Prayer is a process. Indeed we pray with the news around us in one hand and the Bible in the other and we are shaped by our dialogue with One who hears and cares.

Whatever you feel, pray.

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It Hurts So Good

Few things happen TO us. Many things that happen do involve us. Most of those things provide and opportunity for us to step out of our subjective skin, look on, and learn from that character that looks like us and wears our skin. - Tom Sims

"It is our responsibilities, not ourselves,
that we should take seriously."
--- Peter Ustinov
"Perhaps I am stronger than I think." - Thomas Merton
The three rules of presentations Levity, Brevity, and Repetition. Let me repeat that...."" Daniel Pink
"I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong." - Frederick Douglass

Sometimes the message you most need to hear on a given day is the one you are being called to write or speak.