A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…

I hope you had a chance to sit with God’s Word, soak in the richness of 2 John and consider the questions I posed.

These are my intended answers:

1) Truth and Love (also found in Ephesians 4:15)

2) Being UN-balanced

3) False Teachers=a) Those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as God in the flesh and b) those who run ahead, fall behind or do not continue in the teaching of Christ.

4) The value of our Life; our witness; our anointing; our God assigned ministry.

The ladies and I have been preparing ourselves for some discussions about Christian women wearing sexy clothing, driving beemers and having Margaritas with their Burritos (Ya know, stuff that makes the world go around).

We have been talking about what we will use to guide us into Godly conclusions. Many of these ladies feel they have been handed a bit of hogwash and not enough 1-4 above. We all agree that that “Dear Lady” found in 2 John, could easily be us.

We will see.

As we prepare to enter a minefield of varied opinions, we decided that God’s Word would be our ultimate pantyline…I mean PLUMBLINE….and that we might better set ourselves some basic boundaries to be used a referees on the matters for which we will surely have a boatload of passion.

One of the commentaries I used for our meeting preparation was a little book called “Adventures through the Bible” by Ray C. Stedman. Mr Stedman compares the balance of TRUTH and LOVE to the relationship between Salt and Sugar. As I presented these observations to the ladies, I pointed out how sugar ALWAYS tastes good on any food as opposed to Salt, in my opinion which does not.

My point being that everyone receives LOVE but not everyone receives TRUTH. Being drawn like magnets to my every spoken word, the girls did what they so adorably do and began to challenge my thinking.

We immediately found ourselves diverted into an enlightening conversation about how GOOD, YUMMY, AMAZING  in fact—Salt and Sugar are together.

Think–SNICKERS! Chocolate Covered Pretzels…..

One of our precious young women shared that just as she was meditating on the meat of 2 John, she found herself in front of the FOOD NETWORK (I had to admit that often happens to me when I am meditating on the Word:) and found THIS enlightening episode:

The remainder of our evening was spent talking about the tender balance between TRUTH and LOVE.

Tell me will you, which do YOU think should be the ultimate flavor in our lives as Christians when dealing with one another about the big stuff like:

“Should I have a glass of wine with my unsaved neighbor??”—SALT or SUGAR??
“Should I dress differently at church than when I go to a party for my job?”—SALT or SUGAR??
Should I drive a $50,000 car when people in Africa have no shoes??”—SALT OR SUGAR??

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  1. What a great discussion and question! I believe that truth and love are both so very important, however, Jesus did say that we will be known by our love. If we walk in and motivate out of love of Christ, then I believe truth will flow out of that. Just my opinion.

  2. Such great questions and one’s I wrestle with myself along with my friends. I think BOTH love and truth are equally important because without truth are you loving as completely as you can? Truth comes from love…at least that’s what I think….

    As for the questions you posted…I think that goes back to the heart. What the motives for such things? Where are our hearts in these matters?

  3. Thanks ladies.
    I agree with both of you but want to challenge what you are saying a bit.

    The thing that is being challenged in the group as we discuss hitting tough topics with one another, is how one seems to think the Holy Spirit says one thing and the other disagrees. What then?

    We either drop our “spiritual opinions” upon one another and consider our opinions to be TRUTH or we let LOVE lead and walk on egg shells AROUND Elephants in the room.

    Example—What if you KNOW that a girlfriend is stepping into dangerous territory with a work colleague. You share your heart with her but she keeps on doing what she is doing.

    Do you keep loving her through what appears to you to be an unGodly choice that is certain to wreck her marriage and family??

    Do you “love” her as she continues to, in your opinion, dishonor God with her choices?

    And what if she is fully convinced she has God’s permission??

  4. Well, God’s WORD is truth and through it all we have to continue turning to HIS Word to get the correct answers. I’ve had to let go of a few friendships because of bad choices they have made that weren’t from God, although they thought they were…God NEVER says cheat on your husband, or lie to a friend, or go get drunk….etc…..This is where LOVE and TRUTH come into play….and BOUNDARIES….I tried loving some through however, it didn’t turn out for the best as their self-destruction tried seeping into my own marriage and I wasn’t going to let that happen.

    These are tough questions….and truly only God’s word can lead us.

  5. Jenn,
    Boundaries are key aren’t they. Knowing how far to walk with a lost friend and when to call the relationship to a halt. I have had a few situations like that in life and it is never easy. God’s Word does give us directions about being “yoked” with those who are making bad choices and continue to do so even when challenged in love with truth.
    Great points,

  6. My kids and I were on Spring Break this week so we decided to meet friends for some fun in the sun. We decided to meet halfway so neither of us had to drive super far. I didn’t know how to get there, so I typed in the location in the trusty google maps. To save ink in my printer, I opted not to print the picture of the map. My thought was… “the descriptive directions were pretty detailed why would I need to see the whole map!” I didn’t factor in the possibility that I could miss a turn!!

    Since I only had words giving me specific directions… “after 0.9 miles you will make a right turn and once traveling on this road for 8.3 miles you will make a left turn” – I didn’t know how to recover from my wrong turn!

    All I had in my hand were specific directions telling me word for word where I had to go. When I got lost, I was completely lost! Ugh! Why didn’t I print the map?! If I could just get a big picture of the area, I could get back on the right track. 🙁

    Sometimes specific instructions are the easiest to follow and may feel the safest. But maybe it’s in understanding the big picture that allows us to recover wrong turns.

  7. I love the whole salt and sugar picture. Love certainly is a miracle. We are unable to do this selflessly without God’s help. It is difficult to love when the one you are reaching out to is unlovable – but while we were still sinners Christ died for us. I LOVE that! It’s a humbling thought and stops me dead in my tracks when I sigh out of frustration while walking through difficult or annoying relationships. “God, PLEASE give me the courage (because it takes courage to love someone who is so capable of hurting me) and the strength to love this person.”

    But we also need Truth. With a sprinkle of salt, the tongue experiences the sweetness of sugar more intensely. How could we recognize love fully if not from the context of Truth? Without His Truth, humans are capable of grasping aspects of love the way one experiences a far away country by reading about it in a book or watching a travel show.

  8. Oh Mary–I LOVE this analogy.
    When we choose one or two scriptures to platform an entire doctrine or decision, we often miss the bigger picture. I am packing a map into my supplies box for my next conference right now! Great WORD picture 🙂
    I agree, just like with everything else we have discussed, God’s Word is a journey, not a pit stop.
    We have to live in it, breathe it, and walk it out from many angles, in many situations, to really experience it’s complete truth and power. We can’t look at any one event, loss, circumstance or encounter and truly KNOW GOD.
    I have been married for 35 years and still uncover new awesomeness of my honey every day.
    God is so much bigger.
    I love you girl!

  9. I think I have a good real-life example for the ‘salt or sugar’ question. I have been in a position where a friend came to me and confided two indiscretions in her marriage. Wracked with guilt, she felt condemnation, fear, and anxiety to the point that she couldn’t function. What she wanted me to tell her and what I ended up telling her were very different things. Was I loving in speaking what I believed was God’s truth (from Scripture and what I felt Him telling me to say after much time in prayer)? I believe I was. We are still friends, but she clearly knows where I stand in the matter. Both (salt and sugar) were needed; she needed to know I didn’t condemn her, but she also needed to know what God’s truth was.

    I firmly believe that prayer plays a HUGE and instrumental part in knowing what the balance is for any given situation. The Holy Spirit also prompts at those times and being able to discern between what my heart says versus what God says is key for me. Not easy. Especially when all you want to do is show love. I agree with Mary’s comment about needing to look at the big picture (even when it’s not so clear to us).

    Great questions; this is definitely not a cut and dry discussion!

  10. Thank you for sharing Erin.
    It seems most of us have unfortunately been in similar situations when we were faced with confronting the truth in love. The bad news is, we are often speaking to someone who doesn’t want the truth, doesn’t BELIEVE God’s truth any more, or knows what God says but is in flat out rebellion.
    An old friend of mine comes to mind who was a respected Bible teacher. Loved by many. A man who knew–KNOWS–God’s Word. Still, he choose “the girlfriend” over the wife and children. It was one of the most heartbreaking things to watch I have ever seen. It still breaks my heart to think of it.
    Prayer, Faith and STAYING with God’s Word are the only hope we have in the long run.
    Blessings lady,

  11. I know this is not the necessary “salt” that everyone would want to hear. But it really burdens my heart to see such expensive cars being driven when there are such hurting people in other countries, more than just Africa. If you have change in your purse you are among the top 10 % richest in the world. I think it’s easier to ignore God’s call to live simply, and it’s definitely more of a gray area nowadays. But Jesus had NOTHING when he preached. One man came to him asking to follow him, and he said the fox has it’s den but the son of man has no place to lay his head. When asked what to bring, Jesus commanded one shirt, and sometimes just the one on their back. How have we gotten so comfortable buying into the american dream? Is it just to show that if I have a mercedes vs a honda civic that I have more income? I don’t understand, and it breaks my heart. I am called not to judge, but what if to buy the new IPhone 4G you had to literally pull 5 dead children out of your way, the ones you could have helped for the same amount, to purchase it? Where is the balance in salt and sugar for that?

  12. Callie,
    I have seen your passion for the poor since the first day we met.
    This is a topic that is sure to sizzle.
    Looking forward to Tuesday night….I think.
    I might should ride my bike there though 🙂

  13. I’m a little sad as I begin to write this that I honestly thought about typing a different name in the box because I already feel like one of the most conservative members of the group and we haven’t even gotten into what I think are the more tough questions yet. I approached you, Pat, with a scripture or two and a question at the end of the night (well, for us it was the end – everyone else stayed 4 hours longer) that has been ringing through my head since I got the phone call to join this group. You touched on it in your first comment above – Can the Holy Spirit “convict” one person of one thing and another person completely the opposite, or even a variation of that? From our conversations already, I think a lot of us believe that He can – and does…. but that just doesn’t line up with what I read in His word. Our God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He doesn’t change like shifting sands. He is the way, the truth and the life. None of that seems “seasonal” to me, and I don’t want it to be. I am more than willing to admit – if I am shown in the word otherwise – that what my convictions are may be wrong… but I really think to say that today He may tell me “don’t drink in public” but tomorrow He says “nevermind” or “you’re released of that” is challenging the faithfulness of God.
    Four definitions on dictionary.com for the word Faithful are
    1. true to one’s word, promises, vows, etc.
    2. steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant: faithful friends.
    3. reliable, trusted, or believed.
    4. adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original; accurate
    None of these sound like Someone who would change their mind, or even have a plan in place that says today you have to do this, but tomorrow you can do that.

    Here’s where I am thinking about changing my name again. Ugh.

    I really think that this question is so foundational to this entire group. If we are going to set rule number one as “God may tell you one thing and me something different,” then why does any of this matter? Why write a book to find the truth about a subject or subjects if we agree at the outset that truth is relative? God help me if I’ve misunderstood this primary tenant to the Christian life: Truth is not relative – Jesus is truth – everything else is the flesh, the world, and the enemy.

  14. Sweet Ann,
    Do not be sad.
    These topics are in fact in our lives everyday as Christians. To avoid them out of frustration or fear of rejection, we would have to live in caves right?
    Your points matter.
    Your heart matters.
    I agree with you 100% that God is the same. His word is 100% truth and is NOT relative (subject to interpretation) however, it is pretty obvious that WE interpret what we read and hear differently. If you don’t believe it ask a Baptist and a Charismatic about the evidence of the Holy Spirit today.
    The thing is—We change. We grow. We learn.
    Do not faint Ann. Stay the course.
    The point of our discussion will not necessarily be to PROVE anyone right or wrong but to:
    Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
    1 Thessalonians 5:10-12
    Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
    Hebrews 3:13
    Hang with us girl!! Let’s see what God does.

  15. Pat, I LOVE that you are talking about this. How healthy to have believers looking at things that are very much a part of our lives and can be very polarizing, at the same time. I have every confidence that you will handle this with grace and authenticity, led by the all-knowing Holy Spirit of God. I’m giving you a big high five from North Carolina!

  16. I am not very good at articulating my points or what I’m trying to say but I am going to take a stab at this. Ann, I completely understand what you are saying and I agree with you that yes, “Our God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He doesn’t change like shifting sands. He is the way, the truth and the life.” However, I do not believe that this means that He is going to parent everyone of His children the same. Although He does give all of us the same foundation and the same moral compass and values to follow, He is not going to give us all the same rules. Although we are all created in His image, He also created each of us unique. It is no different for us as parents dealing with our children. Here is just one of a billion examples I could give. There is no way that I am going to allow my seven-year-old to walk himself to and from the bus stop each day. He is not mature enough to remember every single time he crosses the street to make sure a car is not coming. He is also not mature enough to keep himself safe if faced with a dangerous situation along the way. Also, at seven, he may not be mature enough to go straight to the bus stop in order to get there on time and to not stop along the way to watch the strange looking bug crawling on the side walk. However, I allow my fourteen-year-old to walk to and from the bus stop without me everyday. I know that she is mature enough to know exactly how to handle the dangerous situations that could occur along the way. I know that she would never engage in a conversation with a stranger and that she would run as far and as fast away from danger as she could get. I also know that she is mature enough to look both ways before she crosses the street and not to get side tracked by distractions along the way. Another quick example might be in discipline. For my oldest child a spanking did the trick as an effective method of discipline. With my youngest child, spanking is a pointless form of discipline. After she is finished crying because her feelings are hurt that I spanked her, she looks at me with much deliberation and does the same behavior again. My point is that as parents we “raise” our children according to the same basic guidelines but because they are different people with different personalities, we know that what is good for one might not be good for the other.
    I think that God is the same way. Using alcohol as an example, the Bible talks a lot of about it. I haven’t found a single scripture in the Bible that says that as Christians we should not or cannot drink. Ecclesiastes 9:7 instructs, “Drink your wine with a merry heart.” Psalm 104:14-15 states that God gives wine “that makes glad the heart of men.” Amos 9:14 discusses drinking wine from your own vineyard as a sign of God’s blessing. Isaiah 55:1 encourages, “Yes, come buy wine and milk…” These are just a few verses among many that discusses alcohol in a positive term. However, the Bible is clear that we should avoid “drunkenness”. Ephesians 5:18 and Proverbs 23:29-35 are two verses among several that discuss drunkenness and sinning against others as a sin.
    So, I do believe that God convicts us all differently about things such as drinking alcohol. It is okay for me to have a glass of wine or for someone else to have a glass of wine in front of me without it being a stumbling block for me. However, if I were to drink that glass of wine in front of my friend/family member that is a recovering alcoholic or has a problem with addiction, that would not be God pleasing as He is clear in His word that we should not do anything to offend or cause or brother/sister to stumble.
    My last point would be that as Christians we grow in our spiritual maturity so He may very well tell us one day that it is not okay to do something and then tell us differently later when we have grown and matured in our spiritual walk. The same way I told my daughter when she was 12-years-old that she could not walk around the mall by herself without an adult present at all times, but now that she is more mature and almost 15-year-old (less than 2 years away from driving age) I do allow her and her friend to walk freely around the mall without me.
    Although not everything is relative, there are some subjects that in fact ARE relative according to spiritual maturity and God’s truth.

  17. I’m not a big writer (I’m a big talker) so I’ll be brief (no pun intended).
    Ann, your words were very convicting to me. Thank you for sharing your heart, I totally understand the whole “what’s the point thing”.
    Stacy, I also agree with you that God can parent us all differently at times too.
    Callie, your mention of the luxury cars hit home with me as well…on a smaller scale though. I have recently felt uncomfortable wearing my Chanel sunglasses b/c I feel like I’m hiding behind the appearance of having wealth but my husband is a teacher for pete’s sake!
    (just so you know that was pretty vulnerable of me)

  18. Libby,
    YOU ARE a great writer, and a great talker. Your words matter both written and spoken!
    Your vulnerability and honesty are refreshing and adds to the fun!
    see you tomorrow!

  19. One of the main reasons that I came to accept the love that Jesus had for me was because He loves me right where I am at. He met me right where I was at and continues to meet me right where I am at… That is one of my many favorite characteristics of His. So many of us can quote John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life..” but what I am stirred to share today is the very next verse- John 3:17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” My fear is that we (myself included) can stand so rigidly on a matter that it produces nothing but condemnation for others, including believers and non-believers. God has revealed to me many times where I took on the “job” of the Holy Spirit that was never meant to be mine…. where “I” was the judge instead and letting God be the judge.. There is immense freedom in trusting God to be God.. I am just in love with Libby’s post because these things being discussed should cause us feel conviction. Then to take that “convicted feeling” God and allow Him to reveal conviction (or not) in our hearts… conviction leading to repentance and repentance leading us right back to God… I shared that I am certain of the fact that Jesus loves me right where I am at… but what I am even more certain of is that He loves each one of us too much to ever leave us where we are at.. I am honored to take this journey with each of you and I am excited to watch Him transform each one of us more and more into His very image..

  20. Well, I hope I’m not overstepping by posting again but the discussion of convictions is really on my heart. First I want to say thank you Michelle, you’re words are so uplifting. I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to meet you. Your passion is really amazing!

    I have come to some further conclusions on the topic of convictions and can God convict one believer of something and not another. First of all, I think that alcohol is always one of the first and most controversial subjects that comes to mind when discussing convictions. Probably because we are all so aware of the damage it can cause when misused and used in excess. However, I think that we need to remember that anything can become a sin when it is mis/overused. Gluttony pertains to many other things besides alcohol. Take food for example: God calls us to take care of our bodies as they are His temple. If we are lacking self-control and gorging ourselves with let’s say sweets (although this can be any food/drink/etc.), we are abusing our bodies and they will suffer from these actions. We are in danger of becoming obese, heart problems, diabetes, etc.

    This is the perfect example of how God may convict us of one thing but not our brother/sister. If I had a problem with abusing sweets and I was dishonoring God by not taking care of my body, he would probably be convicting me of this. I would imagine that I would feel guilty about going to Cold Stone and ordering the “Gotta Have it” size ice cream cone 3 times a week. However, my health conscience, fit friend would probably not be convicted about treating herself an oversized ice cream every now and then because it isn’t a problem for her. And to go even further on the subject, after feeling convicted and repenting and changing my eating habits, I’m sure it would be a long time before I could eat the ice cream without it being a stumbling block for me. But, years later, God may release me of that conviction and tell me, “It’s okay to treat yourself to the ice cream because you have grown and matured and can handle it without it becoming a problem.” I could also argue that if my health conscience friend invited me to go have ice cream with her knowing that sweets were a problem for me, she would be sinning against me.

    I just want to make sure that we are looking at the “big” picture when discussing convictions. Anything can be sinful when abused. We all sin in different ways and your sin, may not be my sin. My ice cream cone may be a sin, but your ice cream cone is not. My final thought is this…What are you intentions behind drinking the beer or the wine? Are your intentions to get approval from a neighbor or to get drunk? Or are your intentions to simply enjoy a glass of wine that is not a stumbling block for you? That can be reversed as well…What are your intentions behind not drinking because you are now a Christian? Is it because God has shown you that alcohol is a problem for you? Or are your intentions to simply “look like a better Christian”. What are your intentions behind wearing the Chanel sunglasses? Do you wear them because you like them and think they are fashionable? Or are you wearing them to impress someone and make others think that you have more than you do?

  21. I hope that I have not offended you Libby, or you Ann with my comments. I was calling either of you out on alcohol or your designer glasses. I was just using those as examples because they have been brought up in discussing the topic of convictions. I love you both and look forward to tomorrow night.

  22. Stacey, don’t you worry about offending me! I was NOT at all offended! Like I said I appreciate your opinion and I agree with it! 🙂 Your right, we need to look at the intentions of our heart.

  23. Stacy and I handled this privately, but for the public record, neither am I offended! This is what we signed up for being in this group – to be challenged by the thoughts and opinions of others so that we would go to the Source (the Word and the Lord) with our questions. Of course I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t have my own answers to the issues raised in your comments, but to save the space, and to get my kids started with school if I am ever going to make it to group tonight, I will leave it there. I love this group, I love you all, and I love my God…. I think we’re all headed in the right direction if we keep that attitude. <3

  24. We are definitely headed in the right direction ladies–right into God’s Word and God’s Word is God’s Will 🙂
    I can’t wait until tonight!!
    You ladies are amazing.

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