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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Growth: One Step at a Time

In our church in Spain, most attenders are first-generation Christians. By that, I mean they are usually the only born again Christians in their families. Most had not attended any church regularly before. So, everything is new: their faith, learning, church attendance, and their different lifestyle in Christ.

It's an education for us, as well. We're learning to be patient, as the biblical concepts we grew up with begin to take hold and flourish in our young believers. They're learning from zero, but we had the advantages of Christian families, church attendance from childhood, Christian friends, and a Christian college. All around us, we had a nurturing atmosphere, whereas they have opposition on every side. So, we try to nurture our own baby Christians and show patience with them as they learn the Bible and grow in the Lord.

Christian growth is a process. Growth doesn't happen overnight—in anyone's life. People need to be encouraged to grow, instructed in Truth, and be given the freedom to choose how they will follow the Lord for themselves.

So, what are the basic steps?
  1. Be sure you've been born again. If a person has not taken that first birth step of faith, he's still dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1b). Jesus said, Ye must be born again (John 3:7). For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16-18). Have you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ? That's the first step.
  2. Drink milk. In the Bible, milk is the Word of God, the Bible itself. At the beginning of our Christian life, as in our physical life, milk is important for nourishment and growth. So it is with the Bible. It's extremely important if we're to grow spiritually. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby (1 Peter 2:2).
  3. Grow up as a Christian. Our goal is Christ likeness. Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:13-15). But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen (2 Peter 3:18).
  4. Be able to teach and handle doctrine and the "meat" of the Word of God. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you (Titus 2:1-8). 

Unfortunately, some Christians don't grow as they should. Obviously, they've slowed down or left out learning the Bible. It's nothing new. Even in biblical times, Christian leaders were disappointed.
  • The Apostle Paul said, I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able (1 Corinthians 3:2).
  • The author of Hebrews also said, For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat (Hebrews 5:12).

What can be done? Whether you're a new Christian or one who's been a believer for a long time, take stock. Ask yourself:
  • Am I daily spending time in the Bible and in prayer?
  • Am I growing in knowing God? Do I know Him better today than I did last year?
  • Am I growing in faith? Am I able to trust the Lord better today than I did last year? Am I practicing my faith in Him?
  • Am I an obedient Christian? Jesus said, If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).
  • Am I learning the Bible? Am I active in Bible study?
  • Am I a mature Christian? Am I yet able to teach?

I pray we're all growing in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Showbiz Kids

The nine-year-old gets chosen to audition for America's Got Talent.* She walks out, confidently answers the judges' questions, and then her sweet little voice is transformed. She belts out Whitney Houston's hit song "Saving All My Love" with the confidence of a pro. The audience stands to its feet, and a star is born.

A little ballerina grows into a lovely young lady with poise and talent to spare. She's graceful and hardworking, and her parents recognize she has the makings to go far in life. The teen girl has opportunities to dance with adult professionals in many different venues. She's on stage and loving it.

From the time he was four, he could mimick anyone—and he was the life of the party. What a clown! What a memory! This hilarious kid decides to forego college, and he moves to the big city and lands a job as a stand-up comedian in a small-but-famous nightclub. It's not very long before he's discovered by a talent scout and goes to Las Vegas, making good money.

For every success story, there are thousands of would-like-to-bes. But, let's just talk about the ones that make it for this blog post, okay?

I've watched it happen. A child prodigy makes his mark, and he's off and running. He is happy, his parents are proud, and things go well for a time. We could include many different areas—art, music, drama, speech, sports, and even video gamers and spelling bee contestants. Parents are pushing their kids to excel very young.

I'm wondering what God thinks about this. I also wonder about some of the values represented by success.

Does God want little kids belting out lyrics they couldn't possibly even understand? Does He approve of teen girls twirling around in short skirts, dancing with older men, and showing off their bodies? Is He pleased with young people performing in nightclubs and Vegas?

I've read several different books by people who succeeded in fields such as modeling and music. There's a very dark side. Do you know what goes on behind the glamor?

What about the pushy parent, who makes his child practice long hours, so that he can maybe, someday "make it"?

Where should the line be drawn between motivation and pressure?

Here are four things you might consider:
  1. Priorities. In the Bible, there's one basic priority about education and talent. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 22:37-39). Whatever activities we choose for our children should promote love for God and love for others. Everything should be analyzed in the light of these principles. (This goes for adults, too, by the way.)
  2. Pressures. When a child becomes successful or famous, immediately others outside of the family want a piece of that child. There's pressure to do what others want, which may lead to less parental control or the parent caving in to meet expectations. Those expectations are usually worldly in nature and not godly. As Christian parents, it might not be wise to set up our children to be successful at a young age, even if they have exceptional abilities.
  3. Peers. I don't know about you, but we wanted our children to have great friends who had wholesome values. Thankfully, most of our children's friends were respectful to their parents, diligent in school, and had wise goals for their lives. When a child is in a "star" situation, it's highly likely that his new peers will be older than he is, more worldly-wise, and their goals will not exactly be to please God.
  4. Lost childhood. Sadly, most child stars lose out on a happy-go-lucky, play-centered childhood. Instead of going outside and running around in the back yard, they're practicing. Instead of reading, dreaming, and using their imaginations, they're studying. Instead of exercise, they're in lessons and studios. They're expected to perform, not just to be children.

Parents can choose.

When our children were young teens, we made some hard decisions. We said no sometimes and yes other times. My husband and I discussed our priorities for our children, whether or not certain activities would be good for them, and then made decisions. A couple of these meant they would not be able to do what they thought they'd like to do. (Later, in a Christian college, they got to do these same activities, but in a totally different atmosphere.)

I think it's important to decide for your gifted child while he is little. What's most important? What will help your child grow up in a secure family atmosphere? What will guide him into loving God and others? How can you shelter your little one?

I've known several extremely gifted children with IQs off the charts, their innate talents very obvious. Their parents decided to let them be children. They encouraged their gifts—and challenged them—while allowing them to be normal in childhood and school. It's a hard balance, but I've watched parents do it well, so I know it's possible. All of these children are adults now. Some have become incredibly successful. They are well-rounded, fun, socially active, and their values are where they're supposed to be: God first, and ministering to others. Yes, they're using their gifts. But, they're also using their hearts. And, they weren't pushed into the limelight too soon.

If you have a gifted child, please consider giving him a wholesome, normal family-centered childhood and encouraging, but not pushing, his development. He'll be better for it.

*Generalized, fictitious stories


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Where in the Bible Does It Say Christians Should Rebuke Satan?

Are Christians supposed to talk to the devil? Are they supposed to rebuke, "bind," or scold?

There are different interpretations of Scripture, but the biblical fact is: only God can rebuke Satan.

Yes, we're supposed to resist the devil. The Bible says, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7). The Bible also gives us the means to do so. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:11-13).

Do you remember the story about the demon-possessed boy? His father said to Jesus, I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour (Matthew 17:16-18).

In the book of Job, Chapter 1, Satan has a conversation with God. God gives him permission to touch Job's family and possessions, but he must spare Job himself. God is greater than Satan, and He always limits Satan, not exclusively in the book of Job.
  • God threw Satan out of heaven when he rebelled against Him. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (Isaiah 14:12) And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him (Revelation 12:9).
  • In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve sinned, Satan the serpent is cursed and changed. This passage predicts his final doom and the Jesus' victory. And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (Genesis 3:14-15).
  • When Satan tempted Jesus, the devil said, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. What happened next? Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him (Matthew 4:9b-11). Jesus completely defeated Satan's arguments with His Word.
  • Hell was made to punish the devil and his minions. Jesus said, Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).
  • There's an end in sight for the devil. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Revelation 20:10).

Nowhere in Scripture do we find that people have the authority to speak to the devil. Only God has that authority, and He is in a much higher position. Satan was a beautiful cherub before he rebelled against the Lord and was cast out of heaven, taking with him some of the angels, which we call demons.* He has never had as much power as God, even though he's always desired it.

Christians can pray to the Lord about anything. This includes demonic oppression and for lost people to be saved. But, there's no precedent in Scripture about "binding Satan" or rebuking him directly. The only Man who ever did that was Jesus—and, of course, He's God.

Let's pray to the Lord. Communicate with Him. Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). And let God take care of the devil.

*See Ezekiel 28:1-19.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Angry Women

When I was a little girl, in order to discourage my ever wanting to smoke cigarettes, my mother pointed out women who were smoking and looked hardened and wrinkled. They had yellow places on their fingers. She would say things like, "A lady doesn't smoke. It doesn't make her look pretty." I would nod my head in agreement. The women she referred to me certainly weren't pretty. It made this impression: ladies don't smoke.

The truth is, back in those days, most women acted like ladies. They were graceful, kind, knew how to sit, walk, and talk. They were dedicated to their families. They loved children.

I think we've lost something today. Sure, there are lots of family-loving women all over the world. A lot of them act lady-like, too.

But, the face of womanhood is changing. And, it isn't a pretty face. I see angry, shouting, confrontational women. I see women who think they're owed the protagonist part, the CEO position, and leadership—just because society wants more women in these roles. They are aggressive, mean, and bitter. They wear ugly clothing and march through major cities, shouting blasphemies. They brag about killing their own babies. They are so angry.

We shouldn't expect any society to be biblical. The world system will always fly in the face of God's Word. Christians are supposed to live in the world but not be like it. Christian women should follow God's ideas about womanhood before mimicking the negative examples around them.

So, what is God's ideal?
  • Strength and honor. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come (Proverbs 31:25).
  • Wisdom and kind words. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26).
  • Homemaker and industrious. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness (Proverbs 31:27).
  • Adorned with a controlled, quiet spirit. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price (1 Peter 3:3-4).
  • Trusting in God, submissive to her husband. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands (1 Peter 3:5).
  • A mother who instructs her children. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother (Proverbs 1:8).

Has society gotten away from these values? Sadly, yes.

Should we despair? Absolutely not. We can be a testimony in this world. We can be godly women instead of angry ones. Be encouraged today by these verses:
  • For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness (1 Corinthians 3:19).
  • For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation (lifestyle) in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward (2 Corinthians 1:12, Paul speaking).
  • But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world (Galatians 6:14).
  • That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15).

I love what Jesus says about this subject:

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying,
I am the light of the world:
he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness,
but shall have the light of life (John 8:12).

These things I have spoken unto you,
that in me ye might have peace.
In the world ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

God bless all you Christian ladies today.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Adultery: Misconceptions and Facts

Adultery is basically cheating on one's spouse. There are three kinds of adultery:
  1. In the heart—imagined adultery. Jesus said, But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matthew 5:28; also 2 Peter 2:14) 
  2. The act of adultery. It's one of the Ten Commandments, Thou shalt not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14). Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness…. (Galatians 5:19)
  3. Marrying a divorced person after divorce. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery (Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18. See also Matthew 5:32; 19:9.).
Adultery is nothing new. It was a problem in Bible times, and it's a problem today—much more so because of the rampant use of pornography.

It's a subject that needs to be addressed because there are many misconceptions. Let's look at some of them.
  • Misconception 1—Adultery is no big deal. Well, it's a big deal to God. It's one of the Ten Commandments, God's basic moral law (Exodus 20:14). It's also prohibited in Deuteronomy 5:18. In the Mosaic Law, adultery carried with it the death penalty for both the man and the woman. And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death (Leviticus 20:10). At the very least, whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul (Proverbs 6:32). Adultery is sin, a serious sin. In the New Testament, Jesus mentions five times that it's important to abstain from adultery. It's mentioned many more times, too. When the woman was caught in adultery, Jesus forgave her, but He didn't sugar-coat it. He told her to go and sin no more. (John 8:3-11).
  • Misconception 2—Adultery in the heart is as bad as a physical adulterous relationship. I believe they are different, though both are sinful. Almost all sin is conceived in the mind before acted upon. Biblically, the act seems to be worse than the thinking, though a Christian should bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:5b). God's standard of holiness includes the mind. (Click here for a complete post about adultery in the heart.)
  • Misconception 3—If one's spouse commits adultery, the couple should divorce. Though Jesus said, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery (from Matthew 5:32a; 19:9), He never promoted divorce for any reason. In fact, God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). It is wonderful when the couple can be reconciled. I personally know several couples who have successfully reconciled after a spouse's adultery. These teachings of Jesus apply to everyone, even married couples: Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother (Matthew 18:15). Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him (Luke 17:3-4). Is it difficult to forgive adultery? Yes, very. Trust must be earned and established again. But, forgiveness and reconciliation are possible with biblical counseling and the Lord's help.
  • Misconception 4—It's okay for divorced people to remarry. We've already read one of the four passages about this subject (above) and listed the similar passage and two that mention the exception clause about fornication. The Bible also says, For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man (Romans 7:2-3). This next passage might apply to a woman leaving her husband in the case of abuse. Notice what it says about remarriage: And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife (1 Corinthians 7:10-11).
God wants marriages to work. He designed marriage to be a lifelong commitment between husband and wife. And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? (Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7; Ephesians 5:31). A loving marriage is a beautiful illustration of Christ with His church (Ephesians 5:22-33).

Becoming one is something God does when the wedding takes place. The physical relationship is part of it, but the marriage bond means much more than that. It's a sacred institution. Marriage forms a family. That's why adultery is such a serious sin and God hates divorce. 

Let's guard our marriages. When temptations come, we can redirect our thoughts, flee, or whatever's needed. (Remember Joseph?) And, ask the Lord to lead you together in His perfect will.

If adultery has happened in your marriage, get counsel from a Bible counselor. 

 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, 
and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; 
and the wife see that she reverence her husband. 
(Ephesians 5:31-33)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Break the Rules!

"Make your own set of rules."

"Dare to defy the rules."

"You need to break the rules a little. Live!"

Often, the advice seems to be anarchist. We're told that in order to really be artistic, live life to the fullest, and even be successful it's good to break the rules. (Which rules aren't specified.) And, society is buying it. Throw out the old. Bring on the new. No matter what's expected, do something different. Reward the rule-breaker.

Is this what a Christian should heed? Yes, and no.

We'll start with "no." God made rules for our protection. The Ten Commandments and other instructions found in both Old and New Testaments are for our good. Following His rules demonstrates our love and respect.
  • Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever (Deuteronomy 4:40).
  • And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself (1 Kings 2:3).
  • The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure (Psalm 111:7).
  • Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments (Psalm 112:1).
  • Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth (Psalm 119:151).
  • Jesus said, If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).
  • He also said, If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love (John 15:10).
  • And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:3-4).
  • For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous (1 John 5:3).

"Yes." We should break the rules when they go against God's will. Look at these examples:
  • And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard (Acts 4:18-20).
  • Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:28-29).

God teaches us to obey our government.
  • Nobody likes taxes, but Jesus taught us to pay them. And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee (Matthew 17:24-27).
  • Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? … Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's (Matthew 22:17, 19-21).
  • Here's some more about the government—and taxes. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour (Romans 13:1-7).

Some of God's rules are for the family. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 5:22-25, 28, 33; 6:1-4).

Yes, there are rules, but it's also okay to be creative. The great King Solomon once said there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Even so, in the Bible we see all kinds of creative people, musicians, naturalists, writers, orators, and innovators. God applauds and uses people's talents for His glory. Think of the many builders and artisans who worked on the Tabernacle and the Temple, for instance. These buildings had many artistic details and much elegant handiwork--besides the math and geometry necessary to make the stones fit perfectly. Remember King David's harp performances and his orchestra and choir for the praise of God? Moses said in Psalm 90:17, And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it. There's a new song that redeemed people sing. We find it in both Old and New Testaments. I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee (Psalm 144:9). Stone, iron, silver, gold, and brass workers dedicated their craftsmanship to the Lord.

Our own rules need to be in tune with God's. Our lives should happily submit to the Lord's guidelines. But, there's nothing wrong with creativity and innovation. Use your talents in the right way: for the glory of God.