ANON (Those Who Love Dysfunctional People), Bible Studies

Acceptance of Habitual, Unrepentant SinnersPremium Content

1 Corinthians 5:6-8 RSV
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Paul has been admonishing the Corinthian church for allowing (even welcoming) within their midst a man who is knowingly sinning . . . and continues to sin. This is a huge deal in our churches today because we embrace, even in our leadership, those who not only have sinned in the past, but who continue to embrace their sin in one way or another. We refuse to judge them based on the scripture in Matthew 7: Judge not, that you be not judged (v. 1, RSV). But I think the reason we refuse to judge is revealing. I think we refuse to judge, not out of some sense of obedience to God’s word, but because we don’t want anyone messing around in our lives. The old saying goes, "Birds of a feather flock together." We embrace sinners because we are sinners ourselves, but more than that: We don’t have to give up our own sin. By embracing the sin of others, we feel protected, justified.

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What is Your Motivation when You are "Tolerant?"

1 Corinthians 5:1-5 RSV
It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

If the apostle Paul, instead of writing this in one of the sacred epistles, had wrote this on an Internet message board or in a blog, I can hear the responses: “Judged? How can you judge him?” “The Bible tells us specifically not to judge one another.” “We need to love this man, not judge him.”

And yet, not only the sinful man, but the entire congregation . . . Paul judged! And pronounced sentence. He condemned what was happening among them.

Endure, Remain, Continue

1 Corinthians 13:8-13 RSV
Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Paul tells us that three things abide (endure, remain, continue): faith, hope, and love. The thing is, the only one that will exist forever is love. We know that the need for faith will fade. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1 RSV). Now, we don't see God. We must have faith to believe: "whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him" (Hebrews 11:6 RSV). Once we see Him face to face, faith will be unnecessary.

Prayer: No Greater Gift, No Greater Service

Philippians 4:6 NRSV
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

I have a wonderful adopted aunt. (My parents were both only children, so I didn’t have any aunts or uncles by blood). She has now gone Home, but while on earth, she was a girlie-girl if ever there was one. I can’t ever remember her wearing pants . . . ever! She was always in a dress, with heels (at least small ones), her hair done up in curls, beautiful jewelry. She was a minister of God, speaking and writing music, traveling all over the world telling others about God. Today, I read something she wrote and saw these words:

"I find myself praying, 'Oh, God, let me be there when someone needs me!'"

I almost laughed. My wonderful aunt was marvelous at speaking and at music, but she was totally inept at cooking, cleaning, fixing, doing. Almost anything that required more than a piano or a pen. Who could she help? She couldn’t fix a meal, mend a dress, change a tire, even pick up a box to help someone move.

And then I read on. She wrote:

We need boundaries! We need fences!Premium Content

1 Peter 1:13-16 NRSV Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when He is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as He who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."

We have dogs. Currently, we have one dog, but often we have more than one. People know that we rescue poodles, and we are often called to see if we will give a poodle a home. In the past two years, the "yard" that our dogs have enjoyed has changed considerably. First, it was the portable yard that we use for our RV. We bought two units and attached them together, so it was about 6x4 feet. Not very big, but for small dogs, large enough to walk around. Last year, when we moved into the trailer, the yard was considerably larger. There was room to run and play a bit, certainly lots of room to nose around and smell (which the dogs loved to do). In this house, the yard is huge in comparison to anything we've had previously. It's a big lot and the back yard goes from edge to edge. It's possible not to be able to see our little poodle just looking out the back door; the yard is that big.

One thing every yard had in common was some kind of a fence. The fence is both a protection from at least some of the predators getting in (though there are still those, like snakes, that can get in under the fence) and a protection from the dogs getting out of the yard and being at risk of being hit by cars or stolen by thieves.

The fence is a protection.

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Can Jesus save... that person, that situation, that problem?Premium Content

Hebrews 7:21-22, 24-25 NRSV
"The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind,‘You are a priest forever' " -- accordingly Jesus has also become the guarantee of a better covenant. . . . He holds His priesthood permanently, because He continues forever. Consequently He is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

Can Jesus save... that person, that situation, that problem, that illness, that sin? Can Jesus save? I think the answer ("yes") is something I believe intellectually, but not always something I believe in faith. I do have the choice of trusting (having faith) or observing (looking at what I believe are the facts) and often I choose the "facts" over faith.

I like optical illusions. But I have to admit, sometimes I don't get them. I look and look and just can't see what it is I'm supposed to see. It's the same with jokes. Often I listen to them and then... nothing. I just didn't hear the humor (while my husband is bent over laughing). Both are, in a sense, illusions for a reason. They take "fact" and twist it for a purpose (to amuse). So, I think, facts are not static. Facts are not, then, the same as truth because facts can obviously be manipulated.

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What Should My Response to Suffering Be?

2 Thessalonians 1:3-8 NRSV
We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring. This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, and is intended to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering. For it is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to the afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

It’s interesting that Paul doesn’t address the persecutions of the Thessalonians in the same way that we often address persecutions. If you think about it, most pastors tell us that our faith is exemplified when we take authority over Satan and believe that our trials will disappear based on God’s love. But Paul, rather than preaching that, says that faith is based on persevering through afflictions.

We need to ask ourselves what we believe.

Life is Messy, Sloppy, Sometimes Miserable

Isaiah 43:10-13
"But you are my witnesses, O Israel!" says the Lord. "And you are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God; there never has been and never will be. I am the Lord, and there is no other Savior. First I predicted your deliverance; I declared what I would do, and then I did it -- I saved you. No foreign god has ever done this before. You are witnesses that I am the only God," says the Lord. "From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can oppose what I do. No one can reverse my actions" (NLT).

Detaching From the AlcoholicPremium Content

Ask Angie: Hi Angie, I was reading your article titled "Do You Love an Alcoholic - Setting Boundaries for You". I'd like to follow these suggestions, but I have some questions. How long should I detach myself before I should move out? We have two kids (3 and 5). How do I go about detaching when we all live together? Should I move me and my kids out for a while? How do I explain to them what's going on?

Marriage Guidance:

How Long Should I Detach Before Moving Out?

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Can You Love in the Midst of Hate?

1 John 2:9-11 NRSV
Whoever says, "I am in the light," while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.

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