Thou shalt not

From my 2009 Journal. It was game night at our missionary boarding school. The staff had planned a relay where both the boys and the girls had to run to a suitcase, open it, put on all the clothes, run back to the starting line, strip off those clothes and hand them to the next child. The second in line would then put on the clothes, run to the suitcase, pack them all back inside, and return to the starting line to tag the next child.

In the midst of our fun, one Auntie abruptly stopped the game and quoted Scripture: “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, and a man must not wear women’s clothing.” End of game.

At first, I was mad, but then I thought, “Oh no! What if we were doing something wrong?”

So when I got back to the dorm, I looked up the quoted Scripture where the same passage admonished the Israelites to wear fringes on their garments and not to wear clothes of wool and linen woven together. How could this staff member apply one rule and neglect another? I felt vindicated, self-righteous, disgusted. We’d been cheated out of our fun and made to think we might be sinning in our play time.

God’s answer to me? “Give up your self-righteousness, Karen. I will honor the Auntie for following her conscience, though misguided.”

We had a pastor once who frequently misquoted Scripture. It was due to a little lack of training, a lack of study and preparation, and a whole lot of fear-based, emotion-driven beliefs. Or perhaps he wasn’t really called to be a pastor! He thought he was doing right, but he ended up splitting the church.

I feel passionate about proper exegesis of Scripture. So much ignorance, false teaching, and silly conclusions result from improper understanding of context. When someone misquotes Scripture, however, what should be my response? First, recognize the error. Second, correct the error if given the opportunity. Third, be gracious. Love trumps proving I’m right.

Need an example?

The prophet Amos sets forth the argument that God always gives His children a warning before He punishes them.

There’s a cause and effect in the following scenarios:

  • God has spoken: a prophet must prophecy.
  • A lion roars: people are in fear.
  • A trumpet sounds in the city: there’s an alarm and people fear.

The opposite is also true. If there’s no cause, then there’s no effect:

  • You wouldn’t find two people meeting together to go for a walk unless they agreed ahead of time to do so.
  • A lion won’t roar if he doesn’t have prey.
  • A bird can’t be ensnared if there’s no trap.

Conclusion: If you see misfortune or evil occur, you can know that the Lord caused it.

And the misquote? People use Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together unless they agree?” to persuade a believer not to marry an unbeliever.

In context, it’s an argument for Israel to believe and understand that Amos’s prophecies are right. And in context, it’s about the absurdity of something occurring that wasn’t planned. To update the analogy: No one is going to show up in the conference room if a meeting hasn’t been scheduled.

Now there is wisdom in cautioning a couple regarding their disparity in faith; just don’t abuse Scripture to make your point.

What other Scripture misquotes have you noticed?

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3-Legged Race at Kent Academy

On Journaling

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3 NASB).

Beautiful young woman covering her mouth with hand. Isolated.

Who will read these pages when I’m dead and gone? Who will care? My family? A friend or two? Who will have access to them? Anyone? I know of one fellow journaler who lost her life’s words in a house fire. How would I feel about that?

Radio Pastor Donald Cole says that, unless you are a Billy Graham, your sphere of influence will only be toward a handful of people. That’s true, but the ripple effect and exponential possibilities make it imperative for us to be faithful in our spheres of influence.

Should I destroy some of my journals? Blot out any offensive thoughts? If I cannot be honest in my writing, I cannot be honest with myself.

Lord, I can only pray that my words will not harm anyone. Please help me keep a watch over the door of my lips.

God’s Gifting

See, I have called by name Bezalel . . . “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship. Ex. 31:2-5 (NASB)

I think when my big sister was birthed into this world, she sucked out all the creative genes from my mother’s womb and left me with nothing but stick figures for drawing ability. It seems rather unfair to me! Why should she get all the talent?

God called Bezalel by name, filled him with His spirit, and gave him amazing artistic knowledge. And only a few were chosen out of all the tribes of Israel to do this specific work for the wilderness tabernacle. The rest were chosen for other tasks. God is the one who gives the artist his/her ability. It is God who chooses who gets what. We are not to be jealous of each other’s gifts and talents. Neither are we to call God unfair in His treatment of man. I belong to God. He may gift me and use me as He wishes.

In truth, I’m immensely proud of my big sister’s accomplishments. I am delighted to be associated with a master craftswoman. Want to see some of her work? Go to Gourdsbygrace.com

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Pursuing Peace

Deep in an upstairs closet hides a large plastic tote crammed with journals I have kept since 1966. My father started this journey when he gave me a small, green diary in which I nightly recorded all the trivial events of my day. Later I discovered the power of keeping track of my inner thought life, my spiritual growth, my struggles with handling the daily life of raising three girls, teaching school, and figuring out who I was meant to be (that happened when my life turned upside down on July 3, 2001).

It seemed such a shame to bury all that experiential wisdom I’d gained, and I wanted a way to share it with my girls, but I knew they’d never have time in the busyness of their own lives to plow through all the years I’ve recorded. So here you go, girls, distilled into bite-size chunks for your edification and encouragement. And if anyone else wants to come along with us in this journey, you’re welcome to join in.

For starters, here are my two life verses. Everything I do and everything that’s meaningful to me is anchored in my pursuit of relationship with God. Be still inside, stay focused on Him, trust Him in all things, and you’ll be at peace.

Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10a).

Thou wilt keep him [her] in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he [she] trusteth in thee (Isaiah 26:3).

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