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Recently while visiting a church, I heard several devotionals and sermons about rules.
They spoke of the dangers of getting too close to the cliff.
I could only think of a few (not just one) of my sons who wouldn’t hesitate to stand or even fly over that cliff, and not see a single thing wrong with it. Don’t we all want to fly?
The analogy to sin would be lost to them, and maybe me. What’s wrong with a challenge? 
But sin’s challenge becomes an enslavement that, rather than frees you to fly, binds you so you crash at the bottom. I understood his point.
Another speaker reminded the congregation that the rules must be followed or there’s consequences, even if you don’t know the rules.
But what I found missing from all these reminders was the why.

I want my child to learn my rules, not just to be safe and avoid punishment, but because those things (like cleaning up after himself), help him to get along with everyone around him. People then like him.
I don’t want my child to follow my rules because he fears “the rod.” Although when they were small, that was all they understood. Explaining to them the why would not have helped.
But most of all I want my boys to obey the rules because he loves me.

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Recently I was reviewing the rules of using commas with one of the boys. He wanted to add a comma after every word.
The meaning of the sentence was destroyed. The purpose of the rule was not to be restrictive (YOU MUST PAUSE NOW), but so people can pause, catch their breath, and understand what we are saying. (We don’t want people hyperventilating while reading our sentences.)
Some of the grammar rules are different, depending on whether you live in the United States or United Kingdom, for example: color or colour; honor and honour, realize or realise.
And just by following the comma rules, we do not become “good writers.”
Our mechanics of writing may be correct, but that doesn’t equate to all that’s involved in good writing.

Yet don’t we do that with the rules in the Bible?
If we follow “these,” than that shows I’m a good, obedient Christian.
We are only following the comma rules, and yet we think we are like Christ!
How God must laugh at our foolishness!

In the same manner, some of the “rules” found in the Bible are rather restrictive. When the sons of Israel took over their promised land, God told them to kill everyone: women and children included. Why? God told them, so they wouldn’t become like them.
They got tired of destroying utterly. Shouldn’t they show mercy?
But God knew better, even after telling them the why. The sins of those people brought God’s judgement.
Later, God said to Israel. “You’ve become like those you allowed to live.”
God demanded justice. He allowed His own people to be taken away by a pagan country.

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I want my boys to know the why of God’s rules.
What was missing with the generation prior to the “hippy” generation?
That generation knew God’s rules, but they didn’t know the why. When their children asked, “Why?” they had no answer. They responded, “Because I said so.” Without the why, the children forsook the rules and the generation of “do my own thing” resulted.
When my boys were younger, I didn’t always tell them the reason for the rule.
They didn’t have the reasoning ability to understand. But when they matured, I would explain them.
When they were little, they had to eat at the table. (Why?) To confine the mess.
Now they are older, and more likely not to spill and leave a mess, so they eat where they want. [I do caution at times because of our ant population enjoys finding cups left to decay under beds.] The rule is no longer needed because they clean up after themselves.
I also try to minimize my rules. After all, a rule must be enforced. The less I have to yell, the greater my joy.

Simon came to Peter asking to buy the Spirit’s power. Simon had been baptized. He had followed the rules like everyone else. But he followed the rules to get this power for his own use. He could get others to obey his rules and control them.
Peter rebuked him, “May your silver perish with you. . .  For your heart is not right before God” (Acts 8:4-24). His reason to follow the rules was wrong.

Simon’s heart wasn’t right. But what if yours is right. And you are striving to follow God’s rules. What happens? By following the rules, you look at yourself and think, “I’m doing pretty good. In fact, I’m better than that person other there. He doesn’t even know the rule.”

Know what you are doing?
Following a rule, not following God. Are you any better than Simon?
Checking off your list of rules and knowing you are doing them doesn’t make you right with God. It makes you right with your self-made list.
God’s list is holiness. Are you there yet?
I’m not. Nor apart from God’s grace and help will I ever be.
But I’m not looking at the rules.
I'm looking at Christ.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. . . .”

I don’t read the Bible looking for rules to obey. Nor do I live my life afraid of the consequences of disobeying God’s rules, known or unknown to me.
I read the Bible to know God.

By knowing God and seeking to please Him, He shows me things I should do to please Him.
Rules are by-product of my desire to know Him.

You can call them rules, but sometimes they are for me and only me to obey. He doesn’t tell everyone they shouldn’t eat so much. If I ate as much as my husband, I would cease to be human and would be more like a cow. That “application” of discipline is for me to follow, not my husband.
I don’t consider it unfair that his metabolism runs like an electric current, and my runs like the sap of a maple tree in the dead of winter. That’s how God made me. And I work to praise Him for that, as I try not to eat so much.
See how the application of a rule works?

Other times, the rule is clear. It applies to all. “Do not kill.” That brings justice. Because all reap the consequences of that rule. Whether they obey it or not may show how much they know and want to please God.

I’m not a cliff hanger—going as close as I can to the cliff where I know sin waits. But my sin nature draws me to the cliff. Don’t you want to know what’s over there?
What keeps me from falling over the cliff is not my discipline, my own goodness, or even my righteousness.
I have none.
What keeps me from looking at that cliff is Who I want to please.
I look to God. He keeps me away from the cliff.
He does the work in me. I just seek His Face.
Is it easy? Not always. I’m too easily distracted. I focus on now, not eternal. I focus on me, not God. I focus on…you name it, anything. And that’s when I get close to that cliff, in fact many times I fall over it. But that’s when God brings me back again. And forgives and reminds me, “Look at Me.”

Cliff?
I don’t need the cliff’s challenge.
Rules?
I don’t see any rules.

I want to bring God pleasure, not by staying away from the cliff or following rules, but by walking so close to God that I do what He wants every time, all the time without needing to be told, because I know Him.


What keeps you by the Savior's side?

Thank you, this was enlightening in spike of all the rules we have in place today. Following sealing and turning to God is all we need to keep us on his path. i truly enjoy reading your blogs.

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I write about what matters...to you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what matters...to Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Faith
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Or here:
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under the Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
Articles on Suffering can be found  here, 
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under Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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