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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Okay, I need the rules

"One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes... and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility." (Eleanor Roosevelt) I had to take a philosophies class in college - the toughest thing for me to sit through that you could ever imagine. I think might just have enjoyed my root canals better than I enjoyed that class! Why? The purpose of philosophy class was to teach me to think in the absence of laws, medicine, theology, technical precepts, and/or practical arts. While I know not everything in this world can be defined as either black or white, with some gray area existing, it is just plain hard for me to exclude things like God's teachings, evidence based upon scientific experiment, etc., from my possible "solution" to life's problems!

You are to fear Him and obey His rules and commands, just as I’m teaching them to you now. Do this your whole lives—you, your children and your grandchildren—and you’ll live in the land a long time. The Eternal is our True God—He alone.  You should love Him, your True God, with all your heart and soul, with every ounce of your strength. Make the things I’m commanding you today part of who you are.  Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you’re sitting together in your home and when you’re walking together down the road. Make them the last thing you talk about before you go to bed and the first thing you talk about the next morning.  Do whatever it takes to remember them: tie a reminder on your hand and bind a reminder on your forehead where you’ll see it all the time, such as on the doorpost where you cross the threshold or on the city gate. (Deuteronomy 6:2, 5-9 VOICE)


Whenever we try to consider life in the absence of the rules, laws, or technical precepts outlined in scripture, we kind of make choices which are probably a little more too self-centered, malicious, and not so very godly as a result. We need the guidance of what if "assured" to yield the right results - otherwise we are constantly living such "loosey-goosey" lives that we don't really find rock solid foundation in our lives. Look carefully at the instructions Moses gives to Israel as they are about to enter into their inheritance - the Land of Promise. "Do WHATEVER IT TAKES to remember". This is pretty clearly outlined - there is no room for compromising the importance God places on keeping his teachings "front and center" in our lives.

I agree with Roosevelt in the idea of our "philosophy" guiding our choices. When our life "strategies" are based solidly upon the Word, our choices are bound to be closer to right than wrong. When I see a speed limit sign and observe the streets are periodically traversed with those who will enforce that law, it makes me more apt to follow the law. In the absence of any law at all, I am free to make my own rules, live according the beat of my own drum, and do whatever it is that makes me "feel good". This is a pretty dangerous place to be, and I can attest to this because I have made a few rules myself, followed some pretty strange drumbeats, and engaged in more than one activity in life that just tickled my every sense.

Make the things God has commanded "part of who you are" - this is a pretty practical thing we are asked to do. We aren't to just consider the commands of God as "one of the things" we can consider or toy with in life as a "potential" option for how it is we are to treat others. These commands are very specific, outlining very detailed actions which are reflective of the love and grace of God being modeled in our lives. As such, they are not open for "free interpretation" - meaning we pick and choose which ones we will keep and which ones we will say don't "apply to us". The entirety of the Word was given so that the entirety of our lives could be affected deeply by what is contained within!

A long time ago, I listened closely as my pastor taught us about the purpose of God's commandments in the Word. What became very clear to me what the "safety" created by having "boundaries" by which we are to live our lives. Without the lines on a road, we might just believe every inch of that roadway belonged to us and us alone. Without an air traffic controller sitting behind many a sophisticated instrument designed to track our move and keep us from colliding midair with each other in flight, we'd likely crash because we would be flying blind. Without a way to filter water we'd ingest all manner of unhealthy bacteria that could eventually end up taking our lives. We need some "boundaries" to keep us safe, don't we?

Let's think of God's Word not so much as a book of bondage, but as a book of boundaries designed for our safety, guiding us into right choices, and keeping us from making up the rules as we go along! Just sayin!