faith, myths

The Bible Doesn’t Call Us to Host Dinner Parties | A Discussion About the True Meaning of Hospitality

More than once recently, a young mom with a bunch of little kids in tow has lamented to me that she’s falling behind on her job as a Christian…

…Because she’s not hosting dinner parties.

Well-known Christian authors have published books about the importance of having dinner at a table and inviting many people to that table –often with scripture that supposedly backs this up.

I have some shocking news: not only does scripture not tell us to host dinner parties, it doesn’t even command us to have dinner at a table.

Ok, now, catch your breath.

I know I just contradicted hundreds of years of Christian traditions.

But, Christian traditions do not equal Bible commands.

In fact, what we really need to do is compare the traditions of men with scripture.

Did you know that the Bible commands us to not get caught up in the traditions of men —especially if those traditions are based on philosophies that are not according to Christ?

So what is the definition of hospitality?

“Friendly and welcoming to strangers or guests” according to Google.

One Bible commentary defines it as “willingness to help the weary and heavy-laden ones of the world.”

And what does the Bible have to say about hospitality?

How is the word hospitality used in the Bible?

What are these verses that are misapplied and used to make moms of little children feel like failures because all their energy is going into providing for and caring for little eternal souls instead of cooking fancy meals?

Aren’t little souls supposed to be a mama’s first responsibility?

And, who is daring to make a mama who is focusing on those little souls feel bad about her properly-placed priorities?

One rule of Bible interpretation is that you use the most detailed verses on a topic to help explain the less clear verses.

Another rule is that you take the historical context and passage context into consideration when applying scripture.

That means that we cannot pick a verse out and use it however we want to –we have to figure out what the verse was intended to mean.

The most detailed verses regarding hospitality are the following verses:

“Do not neglect hospitality, because through it some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2 (MEV)

The KJV doesn’t even use the word “hospitality” in this verse but gets right to the point of focusing on strangers:

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2 (KJV)

Another verse on this topic lists the qualifications for a widow to be worthy of financial support from the church:

“Do not let a widow be counted unless she is over sixty years old, has been the wife of one man, is well attested in good works, if she has brought up children, has lodged strangers, has washed the saints’ feet, has relieved the afflicted, and has diligently followed every good work.” 1 Timothy 5:10

Other translations say she doesn’t qualify unless she is “known for showing hospitality.”

“Above all things, have unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without complaining.” 1 Peter 4:8-9

Here are some things we know based on the above verses: we are commanded to show hospitality to other Christians according to 1 Peter and to show hospitality to strangers according to Hebrews.

Now, let’s look at the historical context of these verses.

What was going on in the world at the time? The New Testament was written against the backdrop of the Roman Empire.

Christians were being persecuted and were fleeing for their lives.

We know this because many of the letters in the New Testament telling the believers how to handle persecution.

Do you think that with all that persecution going on that the writers of the New Testament were actually telling the Christians to host dinner parties?

No, that’s ridiculous!

They are saying something like this: “When strangers who are believers come to your town fleeing persecution, open up your home to them and help them.”

See the context there? How that fits into history and agrees with the passages?

Hospitality in the New Testament isn’t what we think of as hospitality today.

It isn’t making an elaborate meal and keeping a house clean for people to come have a party.

In the context of scripture, hospitality is opening your home to or helping those who are in need.

While the Bible doesn’t specifically say that you cannot open your home to unbelievers, there are specific commands to be hospitable to other believers.

So, mama with a bunch of little kids who feel like you are not being hospitable, let me ask you a question: if someone knocked on your door today and they were injured and needed help, would you help them?

That is being hospitable.

If you knew a mom who was being beaten by her husband and she came to you and said “My children and I need a safe place to stay,” would you help her?

That is being hospitable.

If there was a car accident outside your house and people were hurt would you go out and help?

That is being hospitable.

This is helping true needs –serving and ministering.

And, it has nothing to do with a clean house, fine china, and elaborately planned dinner menus.

If you think hospitality is about those things, you are missing the point.

Hospitality in the context of the Bible is meeting the needs of other people and helping them when they need help.

That idea is further backed up by Hebrews 12:13 which says:

“Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality.”

The command to be hospitable isn’t given to just women, either:

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach.” (1 Timothy 3:2)

As a person with chronic illness, I may not be able to many things –I certainly am not healthy enough to host dinner parties, and we rarely even eat at the table because the table is usually covered in school supplies and groceries I haven’t had the strength or energy to put away yet.

Shocking, I know!

But, if you have a need, I will be there for you if I at all can.

We know a Christian family who lives a ways away from us and kind of in the middle of nowhere.

We were traveling and needed a place to crash for a few hours so my boys who were little at the time could take a nap while my husband was working that day.

Unfortunately, circumstances around the job he was working had prohibited me from making solid plans earlier –I didn’t know I needed a place to stay until that day, and we didn’t know another soul in any direction for hours and hours except one family.

This family refused to let us come by their house even for a few hours.

I was desperate for somewhere to go because my husband needed the car to go to the job he was there for –he needed the car for the job, and the children and I were not allowed on the job site or else I could have just stayed in the car and had the children sleep there.

Every plan I came up to address our situation fell through.

I ended up paying for a room at a hotel so my children could take a nap: we paid hundreds of dollars that we couldn’t really afford to use a hotel room for a few hours when our friends were right down the road unwilling to help us.

Although I’m sure their reasons seemed sound to them, it seemed like when we were really in need, they refused to help –like they viewed us as an inconvenience rather than a Christian brother and sister in need or a ministry opportunity.

That’s the point of hospitality: helping those in need.

It isn’t about having a finely set dinner table –it is about helping others when they are in need.

I have always wondered how I would respond to someone’s need –and planning and writing this post has made me rethink how I address requests for help.

I mean, sometimes, I am just unable to help.

If you call me and say “I really need a ride,” and I am in too much pain to drive that day, I cannot help you –but, I would probably try to find someone else to help you.

A while back, a car broke down across the street from my house.

I live on the busiest street in my town: it is the main road between our little town and the next big city where most people work.

I joke that the whole down drives by my house every day.

The car had been sitting there for a while along the side of the road with traffic whizzing by it.

The inhabitants didn’t get out of the car, and I wasn’t sure at first that there was even anyone in there.

I was getting ready for a medical procedure, and we really had to leave by a certain time.

Then I noticed movement in the car.

I wasn’t sure what to do.

I was concerned about their car being in traffic.

I was concerned that maybe they didn’t have a phone or that they needed help.

So, I finished getting myself ready to go and walked carefully across the street.

They had broken down, they had a phone, and they were waiting for a relative to come help them –he was about an hour away.

I offered to get my boys to push their car out of traffic, but they didn’t want to.

Thankfully, it was not hot that day, and the mom seemed to be entertaining her munchkins to pass the time.

I offered use of our bathroom, but she said they were fine.

I didn’t know them and didn’t feel comfortable leaving them in my house while I was gone: I needed to leave for the doctor’s office in less than 10 minutes.

I did the only thing that I could think of: I went into the house, gathered up some bananas and bottled water and took it over to the car for them, and I told her they were welcome to run around in our yard and use our lawn chairs while they waited if they wanted to.

She had mentioned that they were headed to someone’s house for lunch before they broke down; I would have provided something more to eat, but that was about all I had because I really needed to go grocery shopping.

She thanked me profusely, and I just tried to be as kind and helpful as I could be under the circumstance.

I kinda felt like there was more I should have done, but I couldn’t figure out what.

By the time I got back from the doctor’s office, they were gone.

Do you see someone in need? Help them if you can!

Even a little help is better than no help.

When the scripture says you may be helping angels unaware, it doesn’t mean that one of the people from your church who come over for a dinner party is secretly an angel.

It is talking about helping strangers.

I have seen my parents live out this idea of helping people in need –they have done it before my very eyes, and I am honored to be able to see their faith in action.

I have seen them help people who have needs –like being stranded in one state trying to get to another– and my parents have dropped everything and driven those families to the place they were trying to get to even hours away, provided food for them, diapers and clothes for their children, and made sure they were in a safe place once they got to the new location.

I have no doubt in my mind that my parents’ hospitality to strangers left a lasting impression and a strong testimony to those to whom they have ministered.

I implore you, do not reduce the concept of hospitality down to a dinner party.

If you do, you miss the point.

You do not have to have a clean house to minister to other people’s needs.

My house was not clean when I was helping the family with the broken-down car, and I would have brought them in my messy house if they needed to use the bathroom.

If I hadn’t needed to go –and been unable to reschedule the appointment, I would have even brought them into my home until their help arrived.

Do you think that the lady trying to get away from domestic abuse cares when the last time your living room was vacuumed? Or your shower clean out?

So, mama out there with a house full of little people feeling like you can’t be hospitable: look for ways that God brings people into your life that you can minister to.

Our responsibility is to focus on the eternal things in our lives: the souls of your children matter more than the condition of your house; the souls of those around us who are in need matter more than the condition of your house.

You do not need a clean house to help other people.

And, you certainly don’t need to host a dinner party to do it.

Those who say hospitality is about a dinner party are missing the point of these verses and missing opportunities to minister to others.

Not only that, they are teaching –erroneously– that women who are unable to host dinner parties are somehow in sin for not doing so.

It’s not that there is anything wrong with hosting dinner parties, but that is not what the Bible is commanding us to do.

We need to read the Bible with the context of what it was written and what God was trying to communicate through the original authors instead of simply viewing the words through our modern, wealthy, American culture.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

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faith, myths

 The Stumbling Block Modesty Myth

I have not been shy about my criticism of the modesty culture or of the movement’s misuse of scripture to back up its position.

I recently stumbled upon an excellent article that outlines the misuse of scripture and how those verses that they misuse should be applied to our lives.

Accurate Bible application to our lives is very very important!

Here are a few quotes from the blog post which I hope you will take the time to read. There are so many myths wrapped up on our American Christianity –things that are so commonly believed but not biblical.

This issue of modesty –or at least the way that scripture is applied to this topic– just another one of those myths.

Follow that argument logically, and what you have is this:

Some people, even if they love God with their heart, soul, mind, and strength, will cause people to sin simply because of who they are and how they were made.

Even if they do nothing, they are a stumbling block that may cause someone to sin.

Yet what does God say about stumbling blocks in this passage?

That it would be better for them to have a millstone tied around their neck and be thrown into the sea.

Is that what we really believe? That a woman, through no fault of her own other than simply existing, would be better off if she were thrown into the sea because of the effect she has on the men around her?…

These passages appear to be saying that it is wrong for women to deliberately dress in order to entice men to lust, both because that can weaken their faith and can cause him to sin. However, the passages also say that it is wrong to shame women about their bodies. In addition, Scripture clearly says that women are not to blame if a man actually does lust, and that if a man lusts just because of the way a woman looks, when she is not deliberately trying to get him to do anything, then that is entirely on him.

Saying definitively, then, that women bear the responsibility for men’s consciences because of the “do not cause a brother to stumble” just doesn’t hold up biblically.

I hope you will prayerfully consider what is presented and not just believe what is commonly believed among Christians.

The Bible is the final authority in our lives, not the opinions of mere men.

Here are a few other posts about this same topic:

Modesty Misunderstood 

The Modesty Myth

 

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

faith, myths

Christians, Stop Worrying About What the Culture Does!

Christians like to act like the current generation is the first to ever face a culture that is pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality.

As if no one has ever dealt with these types of problems before.  As if the world has fallen so far from the morality that once existed. As if extreme sins did not exist in past eras.

Those who say this have a very narrow view of both world history and Bible history.

Many Christians honestly think that no one before 1960 ever dealt with these issues.

They honestly believe that they need to get our country back to a “godly” or “moral” place by fighting against anything that doesn’t align with Christian values.

As if somehow we ever were godly.

As if somehow we’re owed a nation with Christian values.

Using Old Testament verses –which were not even promised to us New Testament Gentiles, but were promised to Old Testament Jews– they try to find verses that say that God will bless us if we come back to being His people.

The problem with that?

We never were “His people” –not like that.

The Israelites –the Jews– are and have always been His people.

Those promises in the Old Testament are not ours to claim.

God did not make those promises to us so we cannot claim them.

So, God does not promise to reward us as a country if we come back to Him. Those promises and the commands to fight injustice were given under the Law and in a Theocracy. We’re not a theocracy. He makes no guarantees in the New Testament that we will live in moral places.

Quite the opposite!

Anyone who studies church history knows that Christians have been persecuted, tortured, and martyred throughout history.

Anyone who studies the New Testament knows that this is all we’re guaranteed: persecution.

We are not guaranteed a safe, moral, religiously-friendly place to live.

So why do we go around fighting for that –for the right to have a moral culture?

Is that the pattern we see in scripture?

Two major issues that my generation of American Christians are fighting against are abortion and homosexuality.

Those issues existed within the Roman empire.

They absolutely did and don’t let anyone tell you that they didn’t.

Homosexuality was a big enough issue that Paul addressed it immediately in the first part of his book to the Romans.

Abortion has been around for forever. Before medical tools existed for that purpose, herbs existed that would cause an abortion.

So, if these issues existed why didn’t Paul command believers to get involved with politics?

To petition the government?

To start a rebellion and fight for morality?

If New Testament believers were going to die for their faith anyway why not go out preserving their countries with better morals for the future?

That’s American Christians’ argument: if we do nothing then our children will live in even a worse country with fewer morals than the generation before.

But does scripture ever command us to preserve our countries and cultures by trying to enforce moral laws on them?  

Do we see that pattern in the example of New Testament believers?

Did Paul try to fight against the government to change the unfair way that Christians were treated? Did he try to get the Roman empire to adopt moral laws that aligned with the Bible? Do we see him acting politically at all?

No.

We don’t see any political activism in any of the New Testament believers.

You can’t say that they failed to fight against immorality because they were afraid of the consequences. They weren’t trying to preserve their lives because the majority of those first-century believers who lived for Christ died horrible deaths!

We do see them helping individuals for the purpose of reaching them with the gospel but never in a political activist kind of way.

So why was that? Why did they not seek to influence government? What did they see as their mission?

They saw their mission to affect the hearts of men for eternity –not to create a safe place for life on this earth for Christians to live.

If you’re trying to create a safe place on this earth, you’ve missed the message of the New Testament.

The New Testament never tells us to try to create a culturally and religiously safe place for ourselves.

This is a lie that the American Christian Church has believed.

What does scripture say about the government?

1) We ought to obey it unless it is against God’s commands (even then, there’s no command to fight against the government, and we are commanded to obey the governing authority).

2) We ought to do our duty —to give what is owed– to the government. Our duty includes paying taxes, voting (when applicable), and even fighting in the military (if drafted). What’s considered your duty varies by country.

3. By Paul’s example, we know that we can ask that our legal rights be fulfilled.  Paul asked for what was legally allowed under Roman law when he asked to have his case viewed by the Emperor. Notice that he didn’t try to change the law to make it more fair. Also notice, that even with his legal rights fulfilled he was still martyred after his court case was heard. We should never expect a government made up of sinful men –which all governments are– to save us.

Jesus said to give unto Caesar what was Caesar’s, but He never said to try to change what Caesar expected or asked for.  

When He was asked about taxes, Jesus turned the conversation back around to the spiritual which is where our focus should be reminding us to give God what we owe Him.

If we’re believers, we owe God our lives.  We should not be trying to use politics to preserve our lives and our safety.

One of the true tests of faith is if you’re willing to take up your cross –meaning willing to die horribly for Jesus.

If you’re trying to use the government to preserve your safe place, that’s a pretty good litmus test for the insincerity of your faith –or at the very least an extreme misunderstanding of what the Christian faith is about.

Sometimes our motivation as Christians is good: to help people.

We are called to do good to all people, so there is nothing wrong with helping people (we can talk another time about the fact that we should be focused on helping those in the church before those outside the church).

But, we are not called to make social and political changes. That is part of a false teaching called the Social Gospel.

We’re supposed to be dying for Him, not trying to make a Christian nation.

We have believed the lie that we’re doing what God wants, that Americans are “God’s people” when the truth is that what many Christians strive for in the USA is contrary to scripture.

Christians pray for revival but what they usually mean is a cultural return to morality, not that people would truly be taking up their crosses and willing to die for Jesus.

The best thing that could happen to the church in America is persecution.

That’s what will bring true revival to the church here in the USA.

I’ve made people angry by saying that,  but it’s true.

I have actually begun praying for persecution here in the United States of America.

That’s what will grow the church. That’s how we will make an eternal difference in our world.

Persecution. It’s actually good for the church!

More people will come to Christ through watching our faith under persecution than ever come to Him through moral laws.

But most people who claim the name of Christ are so busy worrying about the temporal, earthly things like politics and cultural changes that they’ve lost sight of the eternal issues.

This is why I vote, but I’m not politically active –much to the frustration of many Christians around me.

I’ve been accused of turning my back on Christ because I won’t get politically involved to stop abortion. Or because I won’t picket against men in women’s bathrooms. Or any number of religiously-motivated political activisms.

But that’s never been the job of a Christian.

If it had been then we would have seen the church in the New Testament fighting against all the injustice in their time –like the Coliseum in Rome where countless slaves were murdered for entertainment and where many Christians breathed their last, mauled by wild animals.

What you never, ever hear in the New Testament is believers whining that it’s unfair.

They never cry out for the preservation of their rights or their lives or even for their children’s future.

It’s simply not what we’re called to do as believers.  

Why is a Christian not to try to make moral changes?

Because if we can help unbelievers see their spiritual need, their morality will change along with their changed life in Christ. Just changing their moral behavior doesn’t help their souls. It only makes sense to do that if you believe a false version of Christianity where you can earn your way to heaven by goodness which is what many Americans believe.

We should be concerned about the eternal, not about changing this earth for our own benefit.

Just changing the outward behavior is not helpful for their soul and causes the false sense of spiritual security that we see prevalent in the USA today.

Seventy percent of the US population claims some kind of Christianity (the number is only about forty-six percent if you remove cultic groups and various versions of Catholicism).  I am certain that most of these –even what we would think of as bible believing people– do not believe an accurate, biblical view of this topic. I would guess that most of them are not truly saved even if they claim to know Christ.

Most of American Christians have a twisted view of Scripture. If you doubt me, take a look at this article about Moral Therapeutic Deism, and see if you recognize today’s church in the description.

People don’t need moral reform; they need Jesus to make them alive spiritually.

That’s what we’re called to do.

We’re called to be a light in this world, even willing to die for Jesus.

Even by our deaths, we can point people to Jesus.

We’re called to witness, tell about the hope we have, show people Jesus, and then train them up in His way, in discipleship.

The fact that we’ve done so poorly in the discipleship of believers is part of the reason that the majority of the American Christian population believes that they’re here to change the political climate to better reflect the Bible’s moral rules. 

The church has fallen down on the job.

Join me in praying for persecution to come to the American church so that we can weed out false teaching, false believers, and have a good testimony again! 

Join me.

If you dare.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

PS I highly recommend reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (Affiliate link) for more information on dying for your faith and the brave believers who have gone before us.

faith, myths

Friday Crucifixion: Why It Matters 

I think people who want to take scripture at face value are drawn to the idea of a Wednesday crucifixion. I commend them for desiring to not simply accept whatever is tradition.

However,  the problem comes in the unanswered questions left if you assign a Wednesday crucifixion. It messes up prophecy and so many other things.

It’s easy for us Baptists to dismiss beliefs by saying, “Oh. That’s a Catholic belief.” But, in this case, a deeper look is necessary.

Is there a reason behind the Friday Crucifixion belief?

Yes, there is! It can be backed up by scripture, tradition, and even history.

We actually know now on which date Jesus was crucified based on calendars and Hebrew dates given in scripture.

This need not be a big mystery. 

This is important because it shows that the historical context of a passage can significantly impact its meaning. 

It shows us how important it is to study the scripture through the eyes of the Hebrew people. 

This is why the rules for bible interpretation include looking at the historical context. What did that phrase mean to the Hebrew people of that time (in this case “three days and three nights”)?

It’s interesting to note that –according to what I’ve read– this is only confused by Gentile believers who are unfamiliar with this idiom that is actually used over and over in the Bible (in the Old Testament,  too). The phrase “three days and three nights” is used multiple times in the Old Testament when is absolutely did not refer to a full 72 hours. It seems that even unbelieving Jews recognize that it was an idiom in the Old Testament.

If you don’t understand that there are figured of speech in scripture, you will grossly misinterpret passages.

Even the Talmud records the incident of Jesus death and says it was on Friday.

The idea that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday didn’t exist in church history until the 1800s when a creative layperson thought they knew more than the Bible scholars who had studied this topic for centuries.

Coming up with creative new theories about the Bible is never a good idea.
Click the link to view the entire article I’m sharing. This is slightly above my level to explain on my own,  but I thought it was important to share.


Did Jesus die on Good Friday? 

By Tom Brown 

It’s not necessary to know the exact day Jesus died in order to be saved; you just need to believe that He died for your sins. Knowing the day of His death is interesting, but not essential. There have been a few people who have doubted the veracity of the Bible because they misunderstand the prophecy of Christ, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12:40). They say you cannot get 3 days and 3 night from a Friday crucifixion. However, the term, three days and three nights is a colloquial phrase meaning three days. It does not literally mean three full days and three full nights.
Otherwise we have a problem with another prophecy that says that Christ would rise “ON” the third day. Consider the many passages that affirm Him rising on the third day:
“They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” (Luke 18:32-33).
‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again'” (Luke 24:7).
“They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.” (Acts 10:39-40).
And to confirm that Jesus rose, not “after” the third day, but “on” the third day, Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and while they did not recognize Him as first, they told Him, “And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body” (Luke 24:21-23). Notice, that on Sunday, while the two disciples were talking to Jesus, they mentioned that today was “the third day” since all of this had taken place.
You don’t need a calculator to calculate three days. The only way to get three days to Sunday is to begin on Friday. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Three days!
Some assume that in order to count a day, you must have a full 24 hour day. That is ridiculous, nor does this even make sense in our modern vernacular. For example, if I told you that I spent the day with a friend, do you assume that I spent 24 hours or at least 12 hours of the full day, beginning when the sun came up to the time when the sun went down? No! You understand by my language that I only meant that I spent some part of my day with him.
The same is true of the term three days and three nights. It does not mean you must calculate 24 hours times 3 days, thus 72 hours. That would not even make sense, since Jesus died at three in the afternoon and rose in the morning on Sunday. You cannot get an exact 72 hours from those times.


See the full article here.

Understanding the existence of parts of speech in scripture is very important. If you deny the existence of parts of speech then you will not be able to grasp the concepts in scripture. The Bible doesn’t have changing meaning. It meant the same thing in 60AD and in 500AD that it means in 2017AD.

May we have the wisdom to be workmen and to study the bible. If we are workmen, that means that it will take some work to understand it.

But it is so very worth it!

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

faith, myths

Christians Hurting Christians

I had something planned to post today, but I never got it written.

I was so struck by something I read today that I could think of nothing else.

Since my mind is so engulfed in it, I thought I would write about it.

I had been following a woman’s blog. She writes women’s bible studies, and I thought did a fairly good job of using literal, historical, grammatical interpretation.

One of her posts was about false teaching in the church. In a comment under the post, a young lady explained how she had stopped going to church because of the false teaching in the churches around her, about her difficulty finding a good church, and how she had given up on the institution of the church and was attending in home bible studies instead.

We will give them names for easy of explanation: we’ll call the blogger Mary and the commenter June.

It was obvious that June had thought out her choices and was seeking to align them with scripture. She was still getting together with believers and fulfilling the command in the book of Hebrews to not forsake gathering with believers.

What followed was the most ungracious and unkind (not to mention unbiblical) rebuke of this young women.

According to blogger Mary unless June was doing all these things she was in sin:

1) She needed to be in church every Sunday.

2) She couldn’t substitute any fellowshipping or gathering for church because only a church building would suffice.

3) She could not attend a church that wasn’t part of a hierarchy like a denomination.

4) She needed to understand that the church was a building, not people.

5) Not even a home church or an independent church would suffice because it didn’t have the right kind of ecumenical leadership.

(Just to clarify, none if those 5 points are biblical.)

What Mary seemed to not see — even though it was quite clearly explained– was that this young woman was coming from a place of deep hurt by people in the church. When June tried to reach out to someone who she thought would understand (Mary), she was attacked.

June politely asked if Mary could back up her points with scripture because June thought she was obeying the command in Hebrews.

Mary retorted curtly saying why didn’t June back up her own position and that if June didn’t understand these things she wasn’t saved to begin with so it was a waste of Mary’s time to try to explain.  

Now, I think this struck me harder than it normally does because I had come to admire Mary for her ability to explain the truth of scripture in a way I could easily understand.

But, this incident is a prime example that head knowledge is not enough.

You can know a bunch of stuff about God, but if it doesn’t change who you are and how you act, what’s the point?

The book of James says you do well to believe in God because even the demons believe in God and tremble.

Satan knows the truth. So do the demons, but it doesn’t change them.

Our faith should change us.

It should make us different.

God’s will for us is that we mature in Christ and have better character.

This exchange between Mary and June was no different than countless unkind interactions between unbelievers that I’ve seen online.

Understandably, I unfollowed Mary’s blog.

More than her accusations being wrong, her attitude and manner of harsh communication were wrong.

This was not action befitting a daughter of the King.

As I’ve mentioned before scripture has very little to say about the manner in which we gather. It is our American Christian culture that teaches that you must meet in little white buildings with steeples.

The Bible has no such clear commands (except that we continue to get together). We can see what happened in the early church, but that’s not commands.

If we look at the early church, we would see them gathering in people’s homes.

I think many Christians are genuinely unaware of the damage that the organized church leaves in its wake.

I wished I could reach out to this young woman and tell her she’s not alone, but comments on Mary’s blog were moderated, and she stated clearly that she didn’t approve comments she disagreed with.  

If I could, I would reach through my computer screen and give June a big hug.

So, I guess this is my response.

The church is full-to-the-hilt of false teaching.

It is hard to find a good church.

If you find yourself in that position, you’re not in sin or unsaved to fellowship in a manner that’s socially unacceptable to American Christian culture.

The bible doesn’t say that.

Our salvation certainly is not dependent upon attending church.

What if you lived in an area with no churches?

Or you were converted and lived in a country with no churches?

What about pioneers who didn’t have churches available?  

None of those people are believers because they don’t go to church?

Do you think the underground church in China is worried about if they have the proper ecumenical leadership so that their members can not be in sin and be saved?

What about end times believers who will have no churches because the churches will be controlled by evil leaders?

Those assertions are frankly asinine.

They represent what’s wrong with our modern American Christian Church.

You cannot assume commands where God does not.

And even if you disagree with someone,  you should never, ever attack a person who is hurting and looking for help.

Remember our chart about who it’s okay to be harsh to?

Only false teachers.

June was not a false teacher. She was a hurting sister in Christ who was further damaged in the name of Jesus.

I’m the first one to admit that not everyone who says they’re a Christian is. But neither is it our place to go around saying that other people are not saved.

Scripture says examine yourself. Not go around trying to decide if everyone else was saved.

One thing you’ll never hear me say is if you don’t to X you’re not saved.

It’s not that hard to be polite.

It would be an understandable thing if June had been at all unkind to Mary. (It still would have been wrong for Mary to bite her head off, but it would have perhaps been understandable.)

But June was so polite and so obviously grieving and hurting.

Mary was just adding insult to injury.

I pray we’re wise in our interactions. I pray that we have the eyes to see hurting people and not hurt them even more.

Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted, and Christians go around hurting each other in His name.

I’ll never understand this.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

faith, myths

Fairweather Faith: the Myth of Prosperity Gospel

church-2071491_1920Part of me says that only in America would we be so arrogant as to think that those who are rich are the ones who are saved.

But, the truth is that people have been equating God’s favor with material, temporal blessings since time immemorial.

Case in point: the oldest book in the Bible, the book of Job, is in a large part exactly about this topic.

Job’s friends assumed that his family had died and his possessions destroyed as a punishment from God.

Even back then approval from God was thought to equal wealth.

Now, in the Old Testament during the theocracy, there are certain verses,  especially those in Proverbs that,  if you don’t take them in the context of the rest of scripture and even the rest of the Old Testament, you could easily think that God rewards His all servants monetarily.

This is why context and comparing verses to other scripture is important.

While Proverbs says that those who serve God will have barns full of food, Psalms says that sometimes the wicked prosper.

That’s just the Old Testament. The New Testament has even more to say about this topic, but it follows –based on the sum of the passages– that wealth cannot be used as a gauge for one’s godliness.  

And,  yet, a large part of our American population believes that God wants to make us happy, healthy,  and wealthy.

We addressed wealthy already, so let’s look at happy.

Does God want us to be happy?

He says that He will discipline us like a father and that this discipline will be unpleasant.

Have you ever seen a child happy while they’re disciplined?

No.

Scripture doesn’t say that God does things for our happiness.

Happiness and joy differ.

We’re supposed to be joyful in tribulation.

It’s hard to be happy when you’re being persecuted,  but consider this: joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and is divine power to be happy when circumstances are not happy.

But that’s not what the proponents of this idea are talking about.

They’re not talking about godly contentment and divinely given joy.

They believe that God wants to give you earthly possessions to make you happy with temporal things.

Scripture says we should be willing to give up all these temporal things for the eternal.

That’s what the parable of the pearl of great price was about: heaven was compared to a pearl that was so valuable that the man sold all of his possessions to obtain it.

If Christ is not worth denying all that and more, then maybe you don’t really know Him yet.

The last category that they believe God will give you is health.

This idea of prosperity gospel first came up as a result of my illness.

I didn’t even know that such a belief existed until I was accused of being in sin because I could not heal myself from my illness.

The accuser was a childhood friend,  someone who I had known since grade school.

I was shocked when she tried to use the story of Job as evidence that I was either in sin or not saved.

According to her,  Job was lying throughout the book when he declared his innocence.  She believed he was guilty of sin and that God gave him a new house and new family when he repented.

The problem with that was I have read Job many times.  It has been a source of comfort over the last decade of illness.  

I knew she was wrong.

I knew that Job never repented of a sin like lack of faith.

When I challenged her position, she accused me of hiding in the darkness of my sin and said that I was just trying to get attention by staying sick. If I just believed, according to her, I would be healed instantly but that I liked being sick so I stayed in the darkness of my sin.

Unfortunately, that was basically the end of our relationship.

It saddens me and I still care about her,  but I choose not to spend time with people who verbally attack me and accuse me of “hiding in the darkness and wallowing in sin” (her words, not mine).

I haven’t really had the opportunity to spend time with her anyway because she apparently decided  I wasn’t really saved and cut off communication.

Because that’s absolutely how believers are supposed to treat unbelievers, right?  (if I actually were unsaved as she believed I was).

What does the Bible say about having disabilities or illnesses?

Moses had a stutter. While God helped him talk, there’s no indication in scripture that God healed him. God just used him anyway.

Paul had an ailment of some sort, some have speculated that perhaps his eyesight was poor. God didn’t take it away,  but He used Paul anyway.

Timothy had some sort of digestive problem. Paul told him to drink wine as a medicinal treatment.

This incident with my childhood friend was really my first exposure to prosperity gospel.

But does God want to prosper us?

Is that the pattern we see in the New Testament?

We absolutely see Jesus rich and living the high life, right?

No?

A poor carpenter’s son running around with some fishermen –that sounds high society to me, right?

And then what about the disciples after Jesus death, surely they were rewarded for their faithfulness by big houses and paychecks, many servants, and they died of old age in bed in their big homes, right?

No?

No.

Eleven of the twelve disciples died horrible deaths for Jesus.

The writer of Hebrews said:


“Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, [were] commended through their faith.” Hebrews 11:35-39


Please go tell the people who were stoned and sawn in two how God wanted to make them wealthy if they had just truly followed Him in faith.

But wait, that’s not what Hebrews says.

Hebrews says that these people were commended for their faith.

These were acts of faith.

It doesn’t take any faith to serve God when you’re happy, when you’re completely healthy, and when you’re financially secure.

That’s The least faith-requiring position available to man.

But when you’re sick?

When you’re depressed?

When you’re persecuted?  

When you’re homeless?

When you have nothing to eat?

Then that’s the moment of truth.

That’s the faith moment.

That’s the moment when you get to choose if you’ll still follow Him, like Job declared, “even if He kills me, I’ll still trust Him!”

In that moment when you find yourself completely weak, you can turn to Him for His strength.

Prosperity Gospel is all about the glorification of man, how wonderful we all are with our awesome things that we got from genie-god. 

The true gospel is about how wonderful God is and about how we are willing to give up everything — even our very lives– to serve Him.

Our focus should be on Him. Prosperity Gospel is so “me” focused that when God doesn’t fulfill what its followers think He should, they abandon Him or think that they have committed some horrible sin that they can’t figure out.  We should anticipate persecution and hard times and seek to be content in any situation like Paul did.

February Bible Reading List (20)

“If you want to follow Jesus because He’ll give you a better life, that’s idolatry. Follow Christ for the sake of Christ; He is worthy!” ~ Paul Washer

Until Jesus is all you have and everything else is stripped away it’s hard to know for sure that you will give all for Him.

But, if you’re truly His, then one day you’ll find yourself feeling completely abandoned.

In that moment,  will you turn to Him?

Will you view Him as more valuable than all the possessions you have?

Would you be willing to give it all up for Him?

I pray that you will.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

myths

The Laziness Myth

Ever looming above the women is the accusation of lazy.

No matter how hard we work –especially those of us who are mothers– we get the accusation thrown at us unless we can manage to keep our homes looking like the cover of Better Homes and Gardens.

But let’s be honest: few of us can.

Sometimes it is overt accusations, and sometimes it is just whispered reminders. Continue reading “The Laziness Myth”

myths

It’s Not a Sin to Be Untidy

I was so sick I couldn’t walk.  I was physically unable to clean.

My physical condition did not make me less godly simply because it prevented me from cleaning my house. 

My dirty house was in fact evidence of what God was doing in my life at that very moment.

We must be careful not to judge others based on our own experiences or based on things that are not specifically commanded in the Bible.

God sees the heart, not simply the condition of our homes.

I’m glad He’s the One who is in charge and not my fellow humans who have repeatedly misjudged my heart, my actions, and my motives –all things we are commanded not to judge. Continue reading “It’s Not a Sin to Be Untidy”

myths

It’s Not the Government’s Job to Love Your Neighbor for You

A common problem in our Christian culture today is expecting the government to act like a Christian individual.

God gave Christians a different purpose and a different role than He gave governments.

For example, a government was called to “execute wrath” whereas a Christian is commanded to “put away all wrath.”

These ideas are diametrically opposed to one another and serve to show us that governments have a different role in God’s plan than we as believers do.

Christians tend to want the government to do our job for us.

But just as the government was not called to turn the other cheek, it was not called to help the poor or be kind or show hospitality (which means much more than a dinner party).  

Those are our responsibilities as Christians. Continue reading “It’s Not the Government’s Job to Love Your Neighbor for You”

faith, myths, testimony

The Modesty Myth

Ever since I was old enough to be aware of clothing styles, I have heard Christians make an issue of modesty.

 Modesty, as they used the word,  had to do with how a person was dressed, if enough of their body was covered for them to be sufficiently covered. Depending on who’s defining it, it could even be used to mean clothes covering a woman from collar bone to ankle or plain clothes dressing.

I’ve seen church members accuse a nine-year-old girl of trying to seduce their little boys because she wasn’t wearing the right kind of clothing so she would be “modest.”

I’ve seen 100-point memos listing all the things to do and not do, wear and not wear so that you can be “modest.”

I even had children refuse to play with me as a child because my father insisted that I wear pants when I rode a bike: pants were evil, sinful, and “immodest” according to my accusers.

I’ve seen teens accuse other other teens of being promiscuous because they showed their ankles and collar bone.

There’s a problem with this.  It’s unbiblical.  Continue reading “The Modesty Myth”