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Challenge, Controversy and Change – a Stikkspeakng Devotional

Challenge, Controversy and Change – Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Acts 21:17-26
When we arrived in Jerusalem, the brothers welcomed us warmly. The next day Paul went with us to visit James; and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. When they heard it, they praised God. Then they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and they are all zealous for the law. They have been told about you that you teach all the Jews living among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, and that you tell them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs. What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. So do what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow. Join these men, go through the rite of purification with them, and pay for the shaving of their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself observe and guard the law. But as for the Gentiles who have become believers, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.” Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having purified himself, he entered the temple with them, making public the completion of the days of purification when the sacrifice would be made for each of them.

Reflection by Ron Buford

Among religious people, breaking the 10th commandment is a great stumbling block: “Thou shalt not covet.” Here are two Christian sects: one Jewish; the other Gentile. The Jewish sect has good reason to ask, “Why keep Moses’ law when newcomers don’t have to keep it?”

The church today stumbles similarly. Why do we accept unmarried couples living together? We had to get married. Why do we let gay people get married? They used to have enough shame to keep their behavior a secret. Why do we accept people who are divorced? We stayed married and hated each other. Bottom line: We suffered, you suffer too; God requires it.

Correction: No, not God but our imperfect understanding of God required these things for a while. The love of God, changing our understanding, and our own repentance compel us to risk making change, no matter how much it costs us, no matter how many jobs, members, churches, or friends we lose. God’s ever-expanding inclusion and grace is the greater good—even greater than everyone getting along.

In the book of Acts, Paul connives (yes, connives), strategically dividing his enemies based on their theological differences, opportunistically seizing upon his Roman citizenship to bring about change. He escapes Jerusalem’s perception of control over God’s plan, moving it to the Roman Empire–whose control will also eventually fade . . . just as we and so much of what we believe and do eventually fade into the arc of God’s future.

Prayer
Gracious God, we believe in You, and to Your deeds we testify. Let the stillspeaking God be true, and every human trapped in time and space be a liar. As we receive new light from You, grant us courage in the struggle for justice and peace, Your Presence in trial and rejoicing. Amen.

  Join us on i.ucc.org for prayer and conversation.

My YouTube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/Ninure

God is still speaking
http://www.stillspeaking.com

John Mark Ministries
http://jmm.aaa.net.au/

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Dear Dr. Laura – a blast from “my” past.

Ahhhm how “they” quickly forget!!

Then again, there are have been numerous versions of the letter below posted to newsgroups, on blogs, and forums in the last 30-womethging years. There are many GBLY and progreesive Christians who have never seen it.

It is one of those “tongue” in cheek yet true articles that all of us “liberal” and GVLT christians should have close at hand. – Ninure da Hippie

============

Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s law. I have
learned a great deal from you, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can.

When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply
remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End
of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws
and how to best follow them.

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev. 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. How should I deal with this?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as it suggests in
Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price
for her?

Lev. 25:44 states that I may buy slaves from the nations that are
around us. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans but not
Canadians. Can you clarify?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him
myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an
abomination (Lev. 10:10), it is a lesser abomination than
homosexuality. I
don’t agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 20:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and
unchanging.

Sincerely, A Concerned Crusader
(Author unknown)

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