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Monday, January 8, 2007

Happy Birthday To Me!

 Well, this may sound like a fairly self-absorbed thing to be posting but it really isn't as it seems.  I actually don't really care much about my birthday, the same as most 38 year old males, I would guess.   In fact,until my 8 year old (who does still care about birthdays) remindedme as I woke him from his sleep, I had forgotten.  It had also notbeen in the forefront of my mind when a family called to requesthosting our monthly teen fun night, which I had been remiss toschedule at less than a week away.  I simply thought I had againbeen rather fortunate.  I also was not thinking of it as I was askedgive a ride to a couple of the girls in our youth group to theirschool to retrieve a homework assignment (late, evening, on aSunday, no less).  So my son, the two young ladies and myself began the journey to the school and then out to the location of our Fun Night for January.  It wasn't until I noticed the darkness of the dining romm and heard whispered tones coming from within, that it dawned on me.  But it was too late to run. "SURPRISE!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" Well, I was surprised.  And greatful.  And humbled.  Here were 20+ teens, a number of parents, my wife and younger son, several young adult sponsers and even the Church Secretary and her family presenting me with a cake decorated with a soccer ball and a Puma soccer boot.  In that moment I was reminded once again, not about how amazing I must be as leader and teacher to warrent such adoration and praise, rather, how fortunate I am to be serving such gracious people who, despite all my shortcomings (and there are many) still find the time and energy to celebrate a day that even I had not remembered.  So, thank you to all of them for a wonderful night.   This event does allow me to delve into something a little more theologically deeper.  :) In order to postpone my arrival to the house long enough to get ready, two wonderful young ladies had to devise a plan to stall me.  Their choice was to concocted a story about needing a book from school.  I bit, hook, line and sinker.  And, outside of a few hardcore Baptists, I would doubt anyone would raise much of a fuss about their devious techniques.  But I will.  Just for sake of discussion. (I love you both!!) Commandment number 9 states; "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." We, more often, just state it as "Do not lie."  But is that what this Commandment really means?  Did the young ladies who lead me to the school break the 9th Commandment? Let me relate a few stories from the Bible to you. In Genesis 22 we have the story of Abraham and Isaac.  Some would say that God, Himself, was deceptive because He never intended that Abraham would actually sacrifice Isaac in the first place.  But we don't know that.  If Abraham's heart had not been right, God may have let him go through with it.  We don't know.  Also, some say that Abraham was deceptive when he told Isaac that the Lord would provide a lamb when he was assured of no such thing.  They would say that Abraham lead Isaac up to the mountian under false pretense.  Was this a breaking of the 9th Commandment? (obviously, they hadn't been given yet but right and wrong isn't based on the Ten Commandments but on God Himself.) Then, in II Kings 6, Elisha has God strike the Arameans blind and then tells them that they are on the wrong road and in the wrong city, when in fact they were on the right road and in the right city.  Then he tells them he will lead them to the man they were looking for when in fact he is the man they were looking for and he leads them to the King of Israel instead.  God doesn't ever condemn these actions and in fact, one could argue, actually fascilitates them and is complicit in the lie of Elisha by causing the blindness in the first place.  Did Elisha, and God, break the 9th Commandment? Then in Joshua 2 we have the story of Rahab who was a prostitute, which is quite controversial to begin with.  She hides the spies in her brothel and tells the soldiers that they had been there but she didn't know who they were and at dusk they left the city and she didn't know where they had gone.  All the while they were hiding in her pad.  She lied on three different counts, yet, when Jericho fell, God saved her from the destruction and Joshua honored her.  Did God and Joshua honor Rahab for breaking the 9th Commandment? And, of course you have the more modern story of Corrie Ten Boom who saved many Jews from the Nazis through deceit very similar to Rahab.  Has Corrie been lifted high as an example of being a true Christian in a very difficult situation all based on breaking the 9th Commandment? Or could it be that we have over simplified or maybe even complicated this command of God?  We have done this with the 6th Commandment.  It reads 'You shall not murder." but many mistakenly state it as "You shall not kill."  Two completely different statements with completely different implications.  Have we done this with the 9th Commandment as well?   You may now expect a brilliant dissertation on the true meaning of this commandment.  However, the fact is that I don't know.  I have thought about  it in the past but never more closely as I have this past week after using the Elisha passage in my Wednesday night talk and then being a "victim" of deceit last night.  My initial thoughts are that bearing false witness is something much different than what we have made it out to be.  If I play the time-honored joke on someone where I say "Hey, what's that on your shirt?" while pointing to a spot close under the chin, duping them to look down and then flicking their nose, is that breaking the 9th Commandment?  I just can't imagine that is what God had in mind. And I do not believe that God is one who would break His own commands nor do I think He would honor someone who had, without repenting. So what does the 9th Commandment actually mean?  I hope someone out there will help me out here.  I would hate to think that I would have to punish nearly everyone in my youth group, church and family for breaking the 9th Commandment in the execution of my surprise party!  I don't intend to but it begs the question, nonetheless.   So, what say you?

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Hardy Ulmet said...

I viewed a very intellectually stimulating movie the other evening, whose title and plot line I no longer remember, but whose final words I probably will not ever forget, at least until I do. The lead character, I think, somewhat resignedly spoke these words, "We ALL fall down."

I'm here to tell you today, right here in river city (The CotN and every other denomination and every other locale.) are all liars. Whether it's somewhat disguised in the role that situational ethicists within the church incorporate almost constantly (Especially in the legalistic, conservative sects such as ours.), or the more blatant in-your-face lying and everything in between, it's a given that you will NEVER know the actual truth concerning what you hear from someone or what you may observe in their life. We never seem capable of presenting only factual realities when we converse via verbiage or body language. (Proof positive of all this is the realm of womanhood.)

Integrity and honesty is a HUGE priority in my life and those with whom I have responsibility. I have little time or use for anyone who dares not tread on the truthful path or is afraid of confronting truth. Those that spew hatred toward the messenger in the face of truth being presented them, are especially nauseating to me.

Having characterized the Great Cahoona so wonderfully in the lines prior, I now must confess that though you probably view and receive a higher degree of truth emanating from this magnificient bod of mine than all others you'll encounter, nonetheless, total truth it will not be. I, too, fall prey, on ocassion and to a degree in all things, to the incessant "need" for humanity to bear false witness.

Find me ANYONE who claims otherwise and you will have proven the converse.

So . . . we all are desecraters of this command in some form and nature. Thank God the Big 10 no longer apply post New Covenant, huh?

Seriously . . . the longer I live, the less I feel these universal "sinful" actions will ever become litigating factors in where we spend eternity. I think all human behavior will ultimately be judged by motivation prompting such. (I stand largely confident in the reality that I could prove that scripturally to you, but I'm too lazy right now to do so . . . and, I may be bearing false witness about my confidence . . . how would you ever know?)

Our souls are constituted by each individual's mind (intellect), emotion, and will (volition). Upon infilling of the Holy Spirit or our claim of entire sanctification, the ONLY realms of that soul which are purified, are those aspects which dwell in our spirit or heart. That's where all the decisions of what we're going to do or not do are decided upon and why it is we're going to do them. What results in human behavior through the unperfected regions of our soul, be it lying or otherwise, will not always correspond with our motives for so doing.

If the motives which our faith always utilize as its springboard into observable behavior, are moral, then we are deemed moral by the Creator through Christ's Blood regardless of the morality placed upon the behavior, IMOO.

Sounds simple enough to me in spite of how I complicated it.

Course, then . . . I might not think this at all and may simply be bearing false witness yet again. To those who would disagee with me: Be assured, however, my motives are pure! (Unless I AM motivationally lying.)

Life is really simple, huh?

Trust your day is blessed as never before and your territory expanded for Him. (I THINK I'm telling the truth here, anyway.)


Nicholas said...

Thanks for the comment.

The real issue, though, was not do we all lie but rather, are there such things as 'good' lies and what is the real meaning behind that Commandment.

I do tend to agree with your assessment of the "litigating factors" in the location of our eternal existance. I hope to get more into that in the future, yet every sin brings to the fore some seperation between what we are and what we should be and a further seperation from God. Since it is only by His ever present grace in our lives that we can resist sin that eventually will lead to death, it is paramount to avoid those things that seperate us and reconcile ourselves when we fail the first. So knowing where our focus should be is helpful. Why waste time trying to avoid something, and lamenting our failure to do so if the thing we are so concerned about isn't even a sin?

So the question is not, "Do we all lie?" nor is it, "Does our salvation hinge on it?" but rather, "Does 'false witness' have a similar relationship to lying as 'do not murder' has to killing?

I wonder.

Hardy Ulmet said...

The problem such a legalistic vocabulary as the Big 10 (B10) provides us, is as Paul says, if you violate one miniscule aspect of any of the B10, you're in violation of them all. (I realize he was talking about versions of such being radically propagated in his era.) I think our Creator understood this all along and therefore transitioned us with great Patience (Taking a length of time I don't quite humanly comprehend.) from ritualistic practice of the Law, to Life in and through the Crucified Christ who firmly stated His coming was to "fulfill" the Law. The Old Law would seem to have no standing in the New Covenant as when we fulfill the New Covenant 2 (NC2) Christ left with us, we've fulfilled it in its entirety. Nothing more is expected of us.

You see, to take my neigbor's life, to many such as Cahoona, would include abortion, capital punishment, and the taking of lives in politically motivated wars regardless of our human commanders insisting we do so. That is murder to many. We aren't to do it according to the B10.

However, according to the NC2, it won't even be an issue if we're loving our neighbor as ourselves in addition to loving our God with all our heart, soul, etc.

The same can be said for bearing false witness. What is your MOTIVE for so doing? Is it to love your neigbor and God by lying and therefore fulfill the NC2? Simply put: What WOULD Jesus do?

If Jesus would "bear false witness" under this circumstance, then by all means, lie in order to be more Christlike. If not, don't.

It REALLY IS that simple, post Calvary! Praise God!

Specifically, if you respond to one who has inquired of the status of your day to that point, by saying as Cahoona says virtually always -- "It's been wonderful. Every day is a good day!" -- and you do so to hide the fact of how absolutely horrendous it has been, for some evil intent, then you're probably in violation of the NC2. If you "lie" about your real status for reasons of actually sharing what you believe to be truth, as the Great Cahoona has as his motive when so stating, or to lift another's bad day and not feel worse because of how you answer the question negatively, etc., the NC2 has probably been fulfilled yet again in your actions. I can see Christ responding in such a manner as there are always good aspects to every day, are there not? And in the case of the latter: His desire to uplift those who are discouraged.

These calls are really very simple for the truly Spirit-Filled. As we desire at ALL times to glorify Christ, we are only looking for obedient alternatives and therefore having the mind of Christ, we respond thusly.

These can be tough calls only for the newly converted and those who refuse to grow in Grace to full commitment to Him.

Trust your day is blessed.

Nicholas said...

I think that I would agree with you overall. I do find the meanings of "murder" and "false witness" important though. I hold to a different meaning of the word "murder" for instance. I do not equate killing with murder.
That is why I was wondering if we can equate bearing false witness with lying. I suspect not. This, added to your pretty clear view of the relationship between the Old Cov and the New Cov answers this question rather well, I think.

One question though; what did you mean when you said "Nothing more is expected of us."?


Hardy Ulmet said...

Nothing more is expected from us, God's creation, from His perspective.

He's pretty well gotten what he desired, I would think. He created us with this inclination to moral failure. He probably knew it would happen when He first formed Adam but had to certainly understand this at the moment he sent the original two from the garden, if not before.

He didn't want us to be perfect as the Gods were perfect (Moral perfection) from the beginning. Remember there in the Garden just before casting Adam and his helpmate out, the Gods were worrying about them becoming just like them, so "lest" that would happen, they expelled them losing whatever capabiiity they ever might have had carrying on down to us, of becoming such.

He created morally deficient human beings. Why? I dunno. But, he's certainly gotten what He had in mind, huh?

Hence, when He gets us loving the Lord with everything and our neighbor in the same proportion as ourselves, what more possibly could He EVER expect?

Trust your day is blessed.

Nicholas said...


I don't think that God created morally deficient creatures. We became such with the free will that He did create us with. I think what He wanted were creatures that could truly love Him and therefore they needed to have free will.
And I think He can expect from us anything that He can bring about through us. And through Him all things are possible. That leaves the door open for pretty high expectations if you ask me. I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me. Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. And someday we will eat of the tree of eternal life which He kept from Adam and Eve.
So I think the standard is high but I think we misinterpret the standard just the same. Which is what prompted this question to begin with.



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