Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Faith on the Firing Line - 4/12/11

Sandia Peak; Albuquerque, NM
-The Warming House

Mountain View

“A mountain view can literally take your breath away. Getting a clearer view of God can do the same. Here at the Warming House, you’ll find truth that will help you know and understand who God is and how He feels about you. What you find here may cause you to live your life a little differently.

This past week I had an experience that I’d like to share with you. I’m a little hesitant to share it because I don’t want it to come across wrong. My intention is never to condemn someone for their choice of religion or their beliefs. Please keep this in mind as you read this post.

Last Friday, a Jehovah’s Witness came to my door. I could have politely explained that I didn’t have time to speak to him, but something inside of me said, “Let’s do this.” So I engaged him. First time I’ve ever done that. Yikes! I started by saying that I had questions about some things I had heard about their faith. I wanted to give him a chance to explain their beliefs a little so I could understand where they were coming from. For instance, I had heard they added the word “a” in John 1:1. My Bible says that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” He showed me his Bible. It says “ . . . and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” Adding one tiny letter and changing capitalization completely altered the meaning.

In our conversation, this young man continually tried to convince me that Jesus is not equal to God and He should not be worshipped. At one point, he gave me his bible and asked me to read Colossians 1:15-16 which speaks of the Supremacy of Christ (in my Bible). Because I had seen how his bible added to the scriptures, I said, “If you can wait just a minute, I’m going to get my own Bible.” I came back and read the verses from Colossians and he responded, “Hmm. Well that’s different from my Bible.” At this point, a female who had been waiting in the car joined us.

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them . . .” 2 Peter 2:1


I asked what Bible they used. He showed me the cover – "The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures" bible. He said that it’s a translation and the King James is just a version. I explained that the King James is a translation where great care was taken by noted Bible scholars to carefully translate the Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew texts as accurately as possible. I explained the difference between Bibles that are interpretations and Bibles that are translations. He kept insisting it was a version as though that was something bad. He then said that on Jeopardy, it was stated that the New World Bible used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses is the most accurate. So I asked, “Who translated the texts for your New World Bible?” He said “a community of people”. I asked, “Do you know who those people are?” He said, “No. They’re all anonymous.” I replied with, “So you have no idea what their credentials and qualifications are?” He said, “No.”




He took me to another scripture and had me read it out loud. I couldn’t explain it’s meaning, so I went to get one of my commentaries. When I came back, the young woman asked, “What is that? I’ve never seen one.” I explained that when I study the scriptures, I ask God to teach me their meaning. As I read I consider many things such as: the historical context, who is writing and who they are writing to, what problems prompted the teaching, what do the preceding passages of scripture say and how does it fit in context with those passages of scripture. Sometimes I will look for key words in the passage and study the Hebrew or Greek word it was translated from. All of these things help me to draw out God’s intended meaning. If after doing these things I am still unclear, I will go to commentaries that explain the meaning. I stressed how important it is for me to use commentaries from Biblical scholars and theologians who are noted for their knowledge of scripture and for being true to the Bible’s intended meaning. Even then I pray for discernment.


I got the feeling in our conversation that they had not read the Bible in its entirety. I didn’t see them cross-referencing scriptures. When I would take them to various scriptures related to a particular topic, they seemed unaware of their existence and demonstrated a resistance to acknowledge them. It seemed that they had chosen to focus on select scriptures that validated the image of God they had created for themselves.


“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” Colossians 2:8-10


We discussed many things and all the while I prayed, “God help me. Give me the words you want me to share.” In the end, I came in the house and went to a little booklet we have that outlines the beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Some things I already knew, but many I did not. I was amazed because some of the scriptures I had repeatedly referred to in our conversation directly addressed the principles of their faith that were in opposition to the Holy Bible – and I didn’t even realize it.


When they drove away from my house that day, I was so sweaty under the armpits that I had to change my shirt. Our exchange left me feeling inadequate – but I was also energized and I recognized a couple of things:


1)  How well-prepared and convincing  Jehovah’s Witnesses can be.
2)  The incredible peril for those who don’t know the scriptures well enough to have the discernment they need to recognize a false teaching - and how easily precious hearts can be led astray.



Waters of the Zambezi River just before they drop over the top of
Victoria Falls in Zambia, Africa
- The Warming House
  
That is the reason I’m sharing this experience with you today. My intention is not to criticize or condemn the sweet, devoted people who stood at my door. It is to protect you by encouraging you to equip yourself with knowledge.


We live in a time where we are being inundated with many ideas and belief systems through technology, the media, television shows, radio, I-pads, I-pods, Facebook, Twitter, the internet, blogs, self-help books, stars in the entertainment industry, etc. Be careful!! God does not want you to be led down a path to destruction so he has warned you about these things in the Bible.



In the last days, there are those who will “worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” 2 Tim. 3:6-7


  
God has also given you His teachings to prepare you, protect you, strengthen you, and guide you. It can be intimidating and overwhelming to consider studying the Bible. It’s a really big book. But that’s the beauty of it. We can spend our whole lives studying it and we will never master it. It's a continuous adventure of discovery that never grows stale. Each time we read it, we learn something new about God and find something valuable that helps us in our daily lives. We all have to start somewhere. I encourage you to start today. Get involved in a Bible study at your church or download a one-year Bible reading plan and commit yourself to reading through the entire Bible. (You don’t have to do it in a year.) Just start. Today’s the day to gain greater understanding of the nature of God and why you believe what you believe.


“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33


Links to Bible reading plans:







  

Fireside

Join me by the fire for conversations about how to nurture your family and create a warm and inviting home for family and friends.

Both of my boys are celebrating birthdays this week. I am so incredibly thankful that they were born, for the years God has given us together, and that God entrusted them to me in particular. Birthdays are a big deal at our house as each life is the cause for great celebration. We have some specific family traditions for this special occasion. Every year, the birthday person's meals are served on our "You Are Special Today" plate. To start the day, French pancakes with a little candle on top are ALWAYS served at breakfast along with a rendition of "Happy Birthday to You". We also decorate our home with lots of streamers and balloons.






Family traditions create rich memories that bind families together and give the family a sense of identity. They build unity, character, and personality within the family, and bring greater meaning to family life. Years ago, I compiled a book of traditions from families in our school. Here are a few for you to enjoy.


-My mom and I like to pack a picnic lunch and a lot of books. We eat our lunch and read books together.

-On Friday night, we put aside the cares of the week and all other activities for "Family Night!" We usually rent a movie, pick up or make something fun to eat, pile all sleeping bags and pillows on the floor to "camp" out for the night, and stay up as late as we want!!

-A tradition we started a few years ago was to create a memory book for family members who reach certain milestone birthdays. For example, when one of the grandparents turned 60, all of his children contributed to a book of "60 Memories" of special recollections of that person over the years.   

-During the week before Easter we have an Easter egg hunt everyday. My parents only hide two eggs: one for my brother and one for me. The eggs have a symbol in them to represent what Jesus did on that day and a scripture that tells about what happened. The eggs also have a piece of candy in them. Once we find our egg, we read the scripture, talk about it, and eat the candy.

What are some of your family traditions? Feel free to post one of your favorite traditions in the comment section of this blog.



Pinecones and Twigs:
Just like gathering nature’s treasures on a hike through the woods, you never know what you’ll find here – a great read, an inspiring photo of nature, or maybe the latest bargain. Check out this spot at The Warming House for something fun.

I ran across this photo in my digital files today. It made me chuckle. Thought it might make you smile too. This is a stop sign Hawaii-style. Gotta love it!






A Steaming Hot Mug

Stories of Compassion to Warm your Soul from the Inside Out


Submit your stories (150 word maximum) to thewarminghouse@gmail.com for publication to this blog. Your stories must fall into one of the following three categories: 1) Stories of a time when you experienced God’s compassion directly or through the actions of another person; 2) Specific things you’ve done to teach your children compassion; or 3) How your church or someone you know has demonstrated the compassion of Christ. Can’t wait to hear (and share) your stories here at the Warming House!

 

Friends, thanks for stopping by! I hope you've found something here that is valuable to your life. Believe it or not, you are a valuable part of mine. Until next time . . .

Stay Warm and Cozy!

Lisa

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