My Response

Posted in Uncategorized by Lanny Carpenter on May 30, 2016

This is my response to the blogger at ministryinthemommyhood.com concerning the boycott of Target.

I was quite intrigued by the headline through which I found your blog: “Straight, Conservative Preacher’s Wife Drops a Transgender Truth Bomb Nobody Saw Coming.” So, I read, with interest, your take on the AFA-inspired boycott of Target Stores.

First, let me inform you concerning my background. I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus Christ as my very personal Savior. I love Him, and I believe He loves me along with every single person on this planet. Without exception. I am straight. I am married to a woman. I am a pastor. I’m not always a very good one, but I’m an honest one, so my church at least has that going for it. I am a father. I have three beautiful daughters (and three handsome sons!), and I would start World War III to keep them safe. I am politically conservative. I believe in the Bible. I believe that every word in it is true. I believe what the Bible says about homosexuality, but I am NOT a homophobe. Because I also believe what the Bible says about loving people. ALL people. Without exception. (Yes I have used your introduction of yourself as a catalyst for mine, to show you our similarities.)

Your opening statement laments your felt “need” to write this post, and then you refer to the issue of Target’s bathroom policy as “stupid.” It made me wonder, at first, why you would author a lengthy post about a subject you thought stupid. But, oh well, having your own blog gives you privilege to write about whatever you desire (much like I am doing now!).

Next, your position is stated when you declare that you will continue to shop at Target, despite the boycott, and how much you love their store. You proceed to state the “backstory” as you understand it concerning Target’s new bathroom policy. You adequately describe the concerns of both the conservative right and the liberal left. I was not sure on first read why in the middle of this you would declare that “the whole country has lost their minds about it.” You seem astonished that such a policy would even stir up a response at all, let alone such a firestorm as has blossomed.

At this point you begin to enumerate the eight reasons why you will continue to shop at Target. It is here that I want to answer you and tell you why this straight, conservative preacher and father of three daughters will NOT shop at Target, and WILL continue to boycott Target.

1. Target is not any more liberal this week than it was a month ago.

Your point is well-taken, but falls short. It is apparent that Target (like the other companies you list) is indeed liberal and has been for some time. But the boycott of Target is not just because of their liberalness. It is because their liberality has produced a policy that is liberal and harmful. Yes, other liberal companies exist, but their liberal stance has not resulted in policies that are dangerous.

2. I am a supporter of the . . . companies that want the freedom to stand up for what they believe in. I think it is W.R.O.N.G. when they are forced to either close or comply for maintaining their values. That being said, it seems a bit hypocritical not to allow other companies (Target, in this case) to do the exact same thing.

Again, your misunderstanding of the issue is obvious. I applaud you for supporting the Christian companies that have been persecuted and are being forced to go against their convictions. But the difference lies in the fact that these companies have not instituted policies harmful or dangerous to their clientele, and it is not “hypocritical” to not allow Target to place people in harm’s way because of unethical policies.

3. Target offers a family restroom for our family convenience that we tend to frequent.

Your persistence in skirting the real issue continues. Yes, this is an “option,” but even I know that women frequent bathrooms more than men, and to give concerned women just one option does not seen frugal or make sense. Most women do not desire to stand in line for one small bathroom when a larger bathroom is just feet away and available. Would it not make more sense to give them the freedom to use their intended facility without worry?

4. We can pee before we come, we can pee when we leave or we can pee in our pants if we’re that terrified of what we might find behind the restroom door.

This argument is so ridiculous that it does not warrant a response, but a response I will give. Women deserve the freedom to pee in public restrooms if needed, especially without fear of what may be behind the restroom door.

5. I am capable of accompanying my children to the main restroom if the family restroom isn’t available. . . . I will now simply accompany my kids into the main restroom when we’re at Target because IF they ever come across a transgender person in the women’s restroom, they might be confused. And let’s be honest, they might be a little scared. But if Target’s bathroom policy works as it’s intended to, they probably will never know the physical gender of the person washing their hands at the sink next to them.

It appears as if you are not aware of the wicked and perverse world in which we live. Target’s bathroom policy is guaranteed for failure, and, as of this posting, has already been found a failure in numerous instances. Why force your daughters to even have to go through such an ordeal when it could be avoided by a better policy? Your note that you are NOT in support of every man who “feels” like it walking into the woman’s bathroom, and how, if they do, the police will be you new “BFF,” does show a little of your own concern that this is a bad policy.

6. Transgender people have never hurt my children. But believe it or not, a whole bunch of church people have.

I know personally how “church people” can be, and how a pastor’s family can be treated. I also know that not all transgendered (BTW, this is not a label I believe to be an accurate one) people are evil and desire to hurt women and/or girls. But the allowance of such perversion (by which I mean not normal)  opens the door for the allowance of other more unacceptable lifestyles and behaviors. You cannot be so naive to believe that this policy is only for the transgendered, but now will include pedophiles and many other illicit and sinful lifestyles. And, yes, the undesirable elements often include those with no regard for the lives of others, only a regard for their own gratification. I will take the church people any day!

7. The perverts and the pedophiles don’t care about Target’s policy. Sure it’s one less obstacle in their way, but you really think a store policy is going to keep them from what they desire? Probably not.

While it may not stop these people from getting what they desire, why make it easier for them? I believe they are relieved to know that Target’s policy will make it easier for them! While you may think it stupid that they would hang around Target NOW, already we have seen that they WILL and the ARE. Target does not seem worried about the potentiality of lawsuits or legal trouble at all. I agree that women should be cautious at all times and in all places, but why create an environment in which they are unsure as to their safety?

8. THE BIG ONE: This boycott is doing more damage to the Christian cause than it’s helping. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in standing up for our rights and in what we believe in. But this isn’t a “right.” This is a privately owned company setting a policy in place. They are free to do that in America. Whether we agree with it or not. And we are free to take our business elsewhere. But with a public temper tantrum? For the sake of what? Of proving a point?

“More damage to the Christian cause”? When Jesus calls us to be salt and light in this world (Matthew 5:13-16), I believe He is calling us to be standards of righteousness and morality. Paul says in Ephesians 5:11-13 , “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible.” A “public temper tantrum”? Really, do you think so little about our spiritual struggle against sin and Satan as to use such a reference in regard to what we are called to do? Exposing sinful behaviors and practices is part of our purpose as God’s people, but, we are called to do all things in love. Since there are many other safer places to shop, why can’t we both oppose the policy of Target through boycott as well as support other business with safe policies? Our boycott of Target is not “excluding them from our love” as much as exposing the dangerous policy they have enacted, and attempting to encourage them to consider the safety of their consumers in their stores. Our boycott is not vicious and unloving, but rather an attempt in love to expose and reveal to Target executives that their policies are harmful and soundly irrational. There is nothing more loving than to reprove someone for sin, and other steps were taken before a boycott was established. Private attempts to appeal to Target execs to reconsider their change in policy went unheeded, and thus more extreme measures were enacted. At the same time, we state our position based on the Word of God, exposing those on the other side to our Biblical reasoning, while also appealing to their common sense. I realize that some Christians do not act “Christ-like” in their dealings with the unsaved. But do not lump all Christians into that category, in fact not most Christians are in that group.

You do an admirable job of admonishing the left for their expecting tolerance but being intolerant themselves. But your reproof of the right again assumes that all are unloving, uncaring, abusive bigots. While extremism can be found, the majority of those of us on the right are doing what we do because we do care, and want those without Christ to see the error of their ways. We understand that “This is about REAL LIVING PEOPLE IN NEED OF THE JESUS THAT WE KNOW (or say we know).” The same Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and Gentiles of His day, and did so in love. We do seek to represent Him in love and compassion, or else we would not care about theses issues. You say, “And I know too many people who are too important to lose over something as eternally insignificant as Target and their bathroom policy.” I know too many people that I do not want to see go to hell because they allow sinful practices and influence the lives of others or because they themselves are easily influenced in sin. Target and their bathroom policy  IS eternally significant because of the many who will be influenced to continue in their sin, or to sin, and THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE!

But what do I know. I’m just a straight, conservative preacher!

Why Give Thanks?

Posted in Christianity, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized by Lanny Carpenter on November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving is the season of the year when we pause to think of all we have in the way of blessings. God has certainly blessed us in many ways and with many things. So, we thank God. But why do we give thanks? Is it just for the selfish reason that we have blessings?

How Are You Identified?

Posted in Christianity, Uncategorized by Lanny Carpenter on July 20, 2014

“As a Christian, you are not defined by the world, things, or people. You are defined by who you are in Christ.”

Often in this world people are defined by various things: their relationships, their power or prestige, things they possess, or their accomplishments. Unfortunately, that same flavor of poison has been poured into the well-water that our Christian youth are drinking. Christian teens are seeking their identity through a boyfriend/girlfriend, which youth group they attend, how many mission trips they survive, or their parent/s’ opinion of them. This has caused our youth to become disoriented in their lives, because no one is telling them the truth.

Well, I am! The Bible is very clear as to how we as Christians are defined. It is not by our church, our family, our friends, or what we do. We are who we are because of what Christ has done for us! Our identity is found in Christ. “And because of [God] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord'” (1 Cor. 1:30-31). “But now that faith has come . . . in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:25-27). The reason each of our youth have such a low self-esteem is because we have failed to remind them of this truth. We allow the world to define them instead of counseling them in the truth.

The truth of our identity in Christ effects every part of our lives. First, It reminds us that we are not the old person, but a new Creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). While the world tries to define us by our old life, the Holy Spirit reminds us that He has regenerated us — made us new. What great news for us! We are new persons in new clothes!

Second, our identity in Christ reminds us that our past is our past, forgiven and forgotten by God. ” Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). Because our sins are forgiven we no longer need dwell on our past sinful life, but we have the freedom to live for God. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:1-2). We are freed from guilt associated with our past! Free, free indeed! “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17).

Third, our identity in Christ reminds us we are free to live holy lives before God. Paul describes the believers in Corinth as “those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy” (1 Cor. 1:2), a description which applies to all believers. Believers in Christ are called and freed to live holy and blameless lives before God, thereby furthering our identity with Christ. As we become more Christlike, the more we realize who we are as God’s children.

Young people, understand who you are! Let the fact that you are “in Christ” be that which defines your past, present and future. Do not allow anyone or anything else define who you are, but rest in the identity of who Christ is, and who you are in Christ. You are a beloved child of the living God!

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Too Good to be True?

Posted in Uncategorized by Lanny Carpenter on April 9, 2012

There’s an old saying: “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably isn’t true.” There are some things that are so farfetched that their veracity is questioned at every turn.

This advice comes from the website LooksTooGoodToBeTrue.com: Education, good judgment, and a healthy dose of skepticism are the best defenses against becoming a victim. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is! (Article Source: http://www.lookstoogoodtobetrue.com/)

There are many “seems too good to be true” things in life. It is possible to notice them even in the resurrection of Jesus of from the dead. Have you ever thought about the resurrection of Christ as something that seems too good to be true? Christianity’s opponents, better known as skeptics, agnostics, and atheists, have used that very idea in their attack upon the resurrection of Christ. Using their “education, good judgment, and a healthy dose of skepticism,” they have discounted the greatest miracle of all, the resurrection of Christ. Their argument is that it sounds just too good to be true. Came back to life? Impossible. Seen by all those people? Mistaken identity or hallucination. They do their best to make their disbelief believable to the multitudes. Is the resurrection really too good to be true?

In Acts 1:1-5 there is a hint it was.

“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’”

Luke told Theophilus that after the resurrection, Jesus used “many convincing proofs…” (v. 3a). Many convincing proofs? What were they and why were they needed? The words translated, “convincing proofs” are from one Greek word which means “a sure sign.” Of course in its plural form, here in Acts 1:3, it means “sure signs.” So what were the “many convincing proofs?” Two signs were presented many times over the course of 40 days: His bodily appearance and His speaking about the Kingdom of God. In Luke 24, Luke supplies convincing proofs: on the Emmaus Road (vv. 13-32); to Peter (v. 34); and to the disciples (vv. 36-43). In each of those incidents during those 40 days, the resurrected Jesus’ appearances and speeches seemed too good to be true. But they were. The more He appeared and spoke to them, the more convinced they became.

Some years after the resurrection of Christ, Paul, in writing to the church in Corinth, offered the very first written word about resurrection – several years before the Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John accounts were written. Paul announced in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8,

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”

Many convincing proofs. Seems too good to be true. But it is true. Jesus is alive. It really is true. He is alive this very day. It was proven by your presence at church today, Easter Sunday. If you didn’t believe He was alive, I’m not sure you would go there. I’m quite certain some believers just show up out of habit. There is nothing wrong with being in the habit of showing up on Sunday for fellowship, Bible study and worship. Unfortunately, the habit of showing up can become nothing more than just that: the habit of showing up. We may show up with no desire for anything to happen, let alone to think of anything happening, that can be attributed only to the supernatural and overwhelming Presence of the Holy God.

Sadly the aliveness of Jesus doesn’t affect some of us very much anymore. We have become so accustomed to the clichés and God-talk that the reality of Jesus’ presence doesn’t do much to us. Even when someone is speaking on behalf of Christ, there is, for some of us, a mental block that prevents us from hearing, because we are too familiar, or we’ve not taken seriously the abiding of presence of Christ. Unfortunately, the convincing proofs just aren’t very convincing anymore.

Yet, I want to believe, so I maintain my ideal and offer the benefit of the doubt that we are a sure sign, a convincing proof that He is alive. It may seem too good to be true, but I believe it is.

Paul announced to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, and, consequently, to us, that believers are convincing proofs of the death and resurrection of Christ.

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”

Christians have eternal life because of Christ, who died and was raised for us; therefore, we live our lives for him. We are the convincing proofs today that Jesus is alive. How is the world today to know that Jesus is alive? They will know when they see the convincing proofs of our changed lives, lived in His power and under His control. They will know when they see Christ living through us, that is, when we manifest the ideals and characteristics of the Kingdom of God as publicly taught by Him and illustrated in His earthly life. They will know when they observe us righting wrongs, caring for the needy and hurting, and standing for that which is godly and righteous. They will know when we demonstrate faith in the face of temptations, trying circumstances, and over-whelming odds. These are the proofs that convince a skeptical world that Christ is indeed alive!

At the same time, believers also must look for His convincing proofs; for we must know and be reminded that we serve a living Savior. By what convincing proofs is Jesus demonstrating to us that He is alive? He evidences Himself in the love and care shown to us by fellow believers. He proves Himself alive when we hear Him speak through the teaching and preaching of His Word. He is made sure to us when souls are saved and brought into the Kingdom. He is confirms He is alive when we see justice and righteousness being carried out in the world. Jesus is alive, and He provides the convincing proofs that we need to continue our journey of faith and perseverance!

Jesus still is presenting Himself alive by many convincing proofs. All we have to do is be ministering and be observant – to watch and listen. This is why I invite you to believe it with me and commit to showing and seeing Jesus alive and hearing Him in what might be considered unlikely places and people. Seems too good to be true, but it is. How about you and me? Could Jesus be presenting Himself alive to me in you, and could He be presenting Himself alive to you in me? Too good to be true? Oh, but it is true.

Jesus is alive in you and me. Jesus still is presenting Himself alive by many convincing proofs. All we have to do is be observant – to watch and listen. He is appearing and speaking through students, senior adults, middle aged adults, and children. He is appearing and speaking through all who have made the sure profession of faith.

If you are having trouble believing,I invite you to look around you. Jesus still is appearing and speaking, showing His aliveness with many convincing proofs. Seems too good to be true, but it is. He really is appearing and speaking through you and me. So, let us present ourselves alive with many convincing proofs to one another and the world. The world needs an appearance of Jesus and a word from Him. Will it come from you and me? Of course it will. Seems too good to be true, but it is.

Doing Things Right

Posted in Christianity by Lanny Carpenter on June 14, 2011

It is humbling to realize someone else is performing in a manner in which we should be performing.  We often believe we are doing things right until we see someone else doing it, and doing it not only more right, but better.  After years of doing things in a particular way, we finally come to comprehend one of three things:  1) we were doing it right all the time; 2) we were doing it wrong all the time; or 3) we began doing it right, but somewhere along the way we began doing it wrong.

I have recently returned from a short-term mission trip to Venezuela, where my twin brother and his wife, Danny and Linda, has been missionaries for 20 years.  It was a very enjoyable time, although that was not the focus of the trip.  We certainly ministered to the people there, presenting programs in schools, preaching, witnessing, etc.  The chance to interact with the Christian folks there was memorable and priceless.  It was a trip I will not soon forget.

However, the trip was invaluable to me not just because I was ministering for the Lord, but also for what I learned.  For there I saw in that church what we are missing in the American church.  While we in America have been “doing church” for hundreds of years, I came to the realization that we have not been doing it right lately.  In the church in which we visited in Maturin, Iglesia Evangelica Dios es Amor (God Is Love Evangelical Church), there are no denominational officials or missionary boards telling them what to do or how to do it.  What they have done is what the American church once did:  they have gone to the Bible for instruction.  They are thoroughly Biblical in all they do.  They go to the Bible and ask one question:  “What does the Bible say about this?”  Then they research and study the Bible until they discover God’s way.

This convicted me quite sharply.  How often do American churches do that?  We have been in our denominational-instructed ruts for so long that we have dug our own graves!  It is high time we return to the source book, the Bible, to find God’s way for doing things in the church.  I am referring to every part of our church life, from church structure, to ministry, to discipleship and training.  I am not saying everything a denomination is wrong; I am simply saying we should and MUST question whether we are doing things Biblically.  As my dad used to say, “If it’s worth doing, it worth doing right!”

Grace Upon Grace

Posted in Christianity by Lanny Carpenter on May 27, 2009

Have you ever had to have a part on an auto or appliance replaced, and you ended up with something worse?  It is aggravating, isn’t it?  I had a water pump replaced on a car many years ago, and had the service performed by a reputable repair shop.  It took a day for it to be in the shop and the work to be eventually done, but I was sure happy to have my car back!  But just a few days later, I began to see the telltale signs of water leakage on my carport.  My first thought was that something else had gone wrong, and now more money would have to be spent.  I am somewhat of a “shade tree mechanic,” so I began to investigate the problem.  I checked hoses and housings, and soon found a leak – around my newly-installed water pump!  I was upset at first, thinking the repair shop had botched the job. I immediately called the repair shop, and in a reserved manner indicated the problem and my annoyance at it.  The manager of the shop was very understanding, even apologizing, and asked me to bring my car back to the shop.  After examining the water pump, he assured me that they would replace it at no additional charge (Music to my ears!).  When I returned to pick up my vehicle, he showed me a slight deformity in the water pump that had been put on my car the first time.  He informed me that sometimes they are able to catch these little details, but sometimes they slip by unnoticed.  The new part worked great, and I never had another problem with the water pump.

The point I am attempting to establish is that sometimes we get a bum deal, and something we enjoy is replaced by something not so great.  We suddenly lose a job, and have to take whatever we can find, usually at a lower salary, to make ends meet.  A project we work long and hard on is ruined and something less desirable is put together quickly, but the results are not the same.  The one store we love to shop at suddenly goes out of business, and we are forced to take our business to a store of lesser quality.  A teammate goes out with an injury, and his replacement is not on the same level athletically.  You probably have your own examples.  Plug them in here!

But there is one great truth that we know about our God:  He always gives us something better, and more of it!  In the Prologue to John’s Gospel, John the apostle sets the stage for the contents of the rest of his history of the life of Christ.  In verse 14, John describes Jesus as God dwelling among us, “full of grace and truth.”  In verse 15, he goes on to relay a quote from John the Baptizer about how Jesus is the fullness of God in His attributes.  In verse 17, John reminds us that Christ was the fullness of God in His works, His provision of God’s grace and truth through His teaching and His and resurrection.  In verse 18, Jesus is shown to be the fullness of God in His revelation to man of the character of God. 

Nestled in the middle of all of that is verse 16:  “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” (NIV)  The phrase “one blessing after another” has been variously translated:  “grace for grace;” “grace upon grace;” and “grace after grace.”  I am not sure any of these actually do justice to the meaning John is trying to give.  John seems to be contrasting the law of the Old Testament with the grace of the new covenant brought about through Jesus Christ.  The old covenant was full of law and burdensome rites, and the new covenant is full of mercy and grace.  Through Christ we experience the fullness of God’s grace.  And not just grace, but new and more grace every day, grace in successive and larger measure.  That is the beauty of our God!  He supplies us new and more blessings each day as we grow and mature in our relationship with Him.  He is an amazing God, wooing us closer and closer in His love for us by showing us more grace.  All of this has been provided through the greatest act of grace ever performed:  the of the Son of God in our place for our sins.  It is imperative that we Christians rejoice in the gracious God we serve,  and that we share that grace with others, that they also may experience God’s abundant and never ceasing grace!

The Lord’s Tabernacle

Posted in Christianity by Lanny Carpenter on March 31, 2009

Sometimes we need visual aids, don’t we?  Someone attempts to describe something, or instruct us in how to do some task, and we just can’t seem to visualize in our head.  Then we are shown a picture, a drawing, an illustration, something that we can actually see with our eyes.  Finally it all becomes clear!

So it is with us and God.  Sometimes we read His Word, and we just can’t quite digest what it is God is saying to us.  Then it happens.  We see the principle in action, or someone explains it, and we are instantly illuminated.  At last we understand!  I believe God gives us illustrations and examples every day, if we’ll but look for them.

Take for example the study of the Tabernacle in the Old Testament.  You know, the portable tent God instructed Moses to erect according to an exact pattern found in heaven (Exodus 25:9; Hebrews 8:5).  This was to be the place of worship and sacrifice for the people of Israel as they traveled to the Promised Land called Canaan.  But it must have seemed an awful bother to the people, taking it up, putting it down, etc.  Then there were all those sacrifices, rituals, and laws that must be accomplished.  All of this just for the worship of their God.

Little did they realize that God had given them a visual illustration of things to come.  Fortunately for us, we have the advantage of hindsight, so that we may get a glimpse of God’s eternal purposes.  For in the tabernacle we have a wonderful picture and type of the work and ministry of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The one Gate in the fence reveals Him as the One and Only Door to God (John 14:6).  The Brazen Altar pictures him as the Once-For-All Sacrifice (Hebrews 9:26).  The Wash Basin reveals the of Christ as that act which washes away our sin and guilt.

Entering in to the Tabernacle building we come to the Table of Shewbread on the right, partaking our daily sustenance from Christ Himself.  On the left is the Golden Lampstand, reminding us that Jesus is our light, but not ours only, but for the whole world.  Straight ahead is the Altar of Incense, revealing to us that it is through Christ we have the privilege to pray to our Father in Heaven.

At the Veil we pause, but only momentarily, as we reflect on the fact that, at the time of Jesus’ , the veil was torn in two, because Jesus had opened the way for us to approach God without the aid of a priest.  At the Ark of the Covenant we find Christ as the ground of the New Covenant God makes with all who by faith accept His provision of grace.   On the top of the Ark of the Covenant we encounter the Mercy Seat, symbolizing Christ as the One who met the righteous demands of God through His and brought about God’s mercy upon us.

What a visual aid that is!  What a fantastic picture of our Lord and the provision of salvation found in Him.  We have so much for which to be thankful, and we should praise God every day!

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All Faith, All Me, Or Both?

Posted in Uncategorized by Lanny Carpenter on November 19, 2008

My mind has been wandering again . . . wondering . . .

I hear so many trite and clichéd phrases thrown around in Christian circles today. My first reaction is: Are you for real? (Sorry, the teenagers I work around are rubbing off on me.) Phrases like “Just have faith,” “God will provide,” or, my favorite, “Let go and let God.” Just what is intended when someone says these words? Are they really that comforting? Does anyone know what is really meant? Does anyone care?

On the other hand, there are those who have a completely different outlook. Their mantra is, “God helps those who help themselves.” Some even believe these words are in the Bible! Is that God’s way of working in our lives? Is it all left up to us, and then he steps in to give a little assistance or blessing?

So, is it all faith, all me, or both? It seems to me we must work out the relationship between our faith and trust in God, and our own personal responsibility and accountability. Does my faith in God relieve me of any responsibility to help myself? Does my working for myself only require God to bless what I have done?

Paul was certainly a man who understood the relationship between faith and works. He knew there was a balance between the two, and taught that balance to his fellow believers. Here is one such teaching. In his letter to the Philippian believers, Paul thanked them for their concern for his needs as well as their gift for his needs (4:10). Then Paul revealed to them that he had learned the true secret of contentment (4:11). This contentment was learned in the face of need as well as in the times of plenty; in fact he revealed that he had learned the secret of contentment in every situation of life (4:12). So what was the secret of his contentment? His faith was that he could do everything through Christ, the one who gave him the strength he needed daily (4:13). His self-sufficiency was not enough to bring him contentment, but Christ’s sufficiency was. It was Christ who infused him with the power he needed to work each day to meet his needs, but he still was required to draw upon that power and work. He was quick, however, to recognize how God had also supplied his needs through the Philippian believers. (4:14). But they were able to help him because he had labored in the strength of Christ to preach the gospel to them, and Christ had enabled them to give!

Jesus certainly taught this concept as well. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructs his hearers three times to not worry abut the daily cares of life (6:25, 31, 34). He gives the examples of how God supplies the needs of the birds, the lilies, and the grass of the field, who do not labor or work for their needs (6:26, 28-30). He asks a very important question: Are you not much more valuable than they (6:27)? Then he accuses them of lacking in faith (6:30). Now if we stop here, it would seem that Jesus is instructing us to “just have faith.” That seems to contradict the rule Paul gave the Thessalonian believers: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) But we miss the real jewel of the paragraph (maybe the whole sermon!) if we miss the next commandment of Jesus. Jesus informs his listeners that they are to seek (strive after) the kingdom of God and the righteousness of God to have all these needs supplied. When Jesus spoke of striving after the kingdom, He means to work for its inception into and then its continuation in the world. Striving after God’s righteousness means not only seeking the righteousness God bestows upon us, but striving for that holiness of heart and purity of life to which God calls us as kingdom citizens. Both of these require our work, with a faith to believe that God will give us the strength to work so that He can supply our needs.

Later, in the same sermon, Jesus instructs His listeners to ask for what they needed, and it would be given to them (7:7). But in the same verse, He also commands them to seek and to knock. Asking requires faith, seeking and knocking requires our work.

The way I see it, it is faith in God coupled with the work I do through his strength. While God is the one in control of all things, we are commanded to not only have faith in Him, but to also work for our needs. God takes care of us, and we must look to Him in faith, but God also lays responsibility on us to do our part. It is all faith and all me.

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