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Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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The Buzz

Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
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Monday, January 12, 2009
How God Works Grace Into My Life.
I struggle sometimes with choosing the title of a post. I mean, I like to stay generic, and have the title reflect the main thought I am trying to convey - without making it about "me".

Have you ever had the tattoo discussion? If you have been a Christian five years or more, you likely have, and whatever you believe, you probably believe because your understanding of scripture has given you cause to lean that way.

Let me tell you up front, I am against tattoos; The idea that God wants me to get a tattoo is preposterous, and if God isn't leading me to get one, then that leaves only the world, the devil, or my own flesh - all of whom I have no business obeying. I could give you all the scripture and reasoning that goes into that, but if you have a settled opinion, it wouldn't help you anyway, and I am not posting this in order to discuss the biblicity of my opinion.

What I am going to discuss is where I draw grace from when it comes to judging others in the matter. You see, I may have an opinion in the matter, and I may hold it strongly, and I doubt that anything anyone says will persuade me out of my opinion, but having said all that, I find myself unable to condemn anyone for disagreeing with me. Not only is it not my job, but if I condemn them in what they imagine, I am beginning to see, that I am really condemning myself.

This is where the grace we have for others comes from sometimes.

You see, any argument against tattoos boils down, not to Leviticus 19:27 (unless you are just learning to reason from scripture and haven't mastered the subtlety of context yet), but down to motive.

Why does anyone augment themselves cosmetically? To improve their looks. Why do women curl their hair or wear make-up and jewelry? Why do men shave or trim their beard? Why all the hair spray, or hair cuts? Why get fashionable glasses, or a fashionable wardrobe? Surely we cannot claim "modesty" for all our vain purchases - at least I can't. Why do we put our best pictures up on the web, and hide away the double-chin ones? Vanity, vanity, vanity.

You see, I get haircuts, I trim my beard or shave, I dress this way or that - I have prescription Armani glasses (and another pair of shades) for more than just functionality - I have yet to overcome my own vanity in these everyday things - and having this profound series of logs in my own eye - I find it utter hypocrisy to stand in judgment over such a thing as tattoos. Yes, I have an opinion, but to enforce my opinion, regardless of how correct it may be (assuming it is) is to profoundly condemn myself in what I do elsewhere.

Christ alone had the moral ground to judge, but He held off on judging until the time - that is, He will return as THE Judge, and woe to anyone who is not found in Christ on that great day. Even on that day I dare not condemn - but leave the meting out of condemnation to the righteous Judge.

The longer I am a believer, the less inclined I am to condemn. Which is not to say that I am tolerant of sin - Matthew 18 gives us some pretty clear instruction on how to deal with sin in the church, and one can certainly be discerning and called upon to "judge" things in the body where appropriate. Yet I find my capacity to condemn those over whom I have no jurisdiction dwindling in the light of my own failures, and am driven by this same knowledge to rid myself of such moral shortcomings - that I may be approved when called upon, for though failure is a fit tool to work grace into my heart - a valley imbuing with grace all those who pass through it, so that once on the other side they may be more fit to help others along, through, and out of it - I say, though failure produces grace in me, and though I relish what these lessons produce - yet I do not want to spend one minute longer in the valley that is absolutely necessary for the work God would do in me. Better to clamour up broken on the other side than to lay whole on the valley floor.

I cringe to think of how judgmental I have been in years gone by. What grace has been shown to me by those who passed before me! I pray that I shall be as full of grace in receiving others, as I have been received.


posted by Daniel @ 3:09 PM  
  • At 9:06 AM, January 13, 2009, Blogger donsands said…

    "Yes, I have an opinion, but to enforce my opinion, regardless of how correct it may be (assuming it is) is to profoundly condemn myself in what I do elsewhere."

    Been there done that.

    Nice balanced teaching. It's difficult to keep the law and grace balanced in our hearts and minds. It's good to have teachings every day on these kinds of subjects, I think.

  • At 1:31 PM, January 14, 2009, Blogger Jim said…

    So if a young Christian came to you and asked your opinion on tattoos what would you say?

    There are many teachers today who do not touch the taboo subjects for fear of "judging" others.

  • At 9:48 AM, January 15, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim, I would tell them that my opinion is worth nothing, and direct them to scripture in the matter, and pray with them that God's spirit would speak to them directly through the word as we examined texts such as 1 John 2:15-17, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:17, 1 Peter 4:11, or even Phillipians 4:8, etc.

    The point in such a discussion is not to look for references to tattoos to see if they are okay, but to ask ourselves why we are doing what we are doing, and if our reason is God centered or man centered, and then to walk in the light of such meditation.

    It is all to natural and easy to give people my opinion rather than to let God speak with them directly. I guess that as I grow I start to realize that God is a better teacher than I am - so that if I want a lesson to be understood, it is not going to be my articulation or opinion that has the greatest effect - but God's own spirit working conviction in an open heart.

    I think there are teachers today who are consciously and purposely undiscerning, and all because they do not want to injure their popularity. Shame on them!

    I think there are teachers today who believe that as long as you are right you should judge people who are wrong; shame on them too, for the qualification is not merely that you are right, but that there is no log at all in your own eye - or said precisely - that you are clean enough to judge the matter without condemning yourself when you do. The man who shaves in the morning because failure to do so would tarnish his image - this man is no less a slave than the one seeking a tattoo, and is disqualified by this log in his own eye - though few are mature enough, I think, to regard it as such.

    Yet there is One who is fit to judge, and I am increasingly convinced that the better course, for me at least, is to direct hearts to that judge, for He alone is fit to judge righteously.

  • At 4:03 PM, January 15, 2009, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, directing someone to scripture and exhorting them to seek God's Spirit is a commendable form of counseling. Would that we all did this more often and not settle for a pat answer.

    I think motives are probably a better thing to examine than simply actions, for our actions betray what we believe and embrace.

    That being said, most people are followers who will adopt the practices of their teachers. This is why one who is a teacher should first and foremost lead by example. But I don't think it is wrong to judge actions or behaviours even though we may not be completely free of them. The question is whether we have passed a condemning judgement on people and "write" them off based on their behaviour.

    I agree as well that God is the only true judge and the only one who can bring true repentance to a sinners heart.

  • At 4:24 PM, January 15, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim, that is why I am careful to make a distinction between judgment and discernment. When I speak of judgment, I am talking about condemning a person in what they do or have done. That is different than discerning whether a things is right for ourselves or not.

    I don't suggest that we stand aloof from exercising Spirit filled and biblically informed discernment. We ought to be discerning! We ought to be able to discern where sin is found -otherwise how could we ever employ the discipline we are called to perform (Matthew 18, et. al).

    Judgment happens when I condemn all tattoos as sinful; discernment on the other hand happens when I say (if applicable), that this individual wants this specific tattoo for sinful, selfish reasons. Discernment has to do with identifying the heart and motives behind a matter - judgment has to do with condemning an action.

    Perhaps it seems I am splitting hairs, but such distinctions become valuable in dealing with texts that speak of both discernment and judgment.

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