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Archive for November, 2008

Give Legalism a Chance

Posted by jbharp on November 24, 2008

A few months ago I was dialoging with a group of men and I found myself verbally wishing Christian would give legalism a chance. I wish Christians would have respect for the Mosaic Law and New Testament Law. I wish Christians would find delight in the detailed specifics of God’s statutes. I wish Christians would appreciate how God reveals Himself in His words. Again, I wish Christians would give legalism a chance.


Legalism is strict conformity to a law or a moral code. With this in mind, I don’t understand why Christians feel the need to battle legalism…inasmuch to say that strictly following a moral code (God’s moral code) is a meaningless pursuit. Jesus did not come to destroy the law or to discourage conforming to the law. Yet many Christians seem eager to degrade and dismiss the law. This I don’t understand.


Generally, I think the “free-thinkers” (that’s what I’ll call them, even though neither word seems to be accurate in most cases) love to proclaim their freedom from the law. But I wonder if they even know the law of which they site they are free from. Here’s my confession…I don’t think I fully know or understand the laws in which I am free from.


Take for example the dietary laws described in the Old Testament. You may find a decent number of Christians who are familiar with them, but for the most part we eat as we please. Or the festival laws…many of which are simple commandments to remember what God has done for His people, but who even knows when these festivals occur?


Then consider the 10 laws, aka the 10 Commandments. Most Christians can recite these from memory and are glad to profess they are still relevant in their lives today. Although we Christian acknowledge that it is good to follow the 10 Commandments, we wouldn’t dare call such an act legalism. We couldn’t afford to make such a claim. I suspect due to the possibility of making such a statement would discourage Christians from following the 10. Yet many other laws are condemned as a proponent to a legalistic lifestyle.  


I hear the “L” word thrown around in the Christian world; bible studies, sermons, radio programs. And because it has been deemed as such an evil word, we all nod our head in agreement to whatever point is made (in my opinion, usually an invalid point).


I wonder if Christians (those living under the Grace of Jesus) would embrace God’s law, would we begin to share the thoughts expressed in Psalm 119? Why do we want to dismiss and run from the law? Shouldn’t we cling to God’s word and apply it to our life? Do we not see any value in conforming to a moral code? Please Christians…give legalism a chance.


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Yearly Comfort

Posted by jbharp on November 10, 2008

This week I have returned to one of my favorite running trails. It takes me just minutes to get there from my house. The trail is a perfect size loop to run one, two, or three laps depending on my mood. And best of all I can take my dogs without putting them on the leash. Although this is nearly the perfect trail, I don’t get to run on it all of the time. It’s my winter trail.

I’m not sure how I first stumbled across it a few winters ago, but I quickly grew fond of it for so many reasons. The hills are great! Usually suiting up between 8 and 11pm, I load up the dogs and we head off for a run in the winter night with the weather anywhere from a stiff chill to a crippling freeze.

The temperatures slowly lessened their brutality as spring approached. With the warmer weather the trail grew crowded. Not due to other people or dogs but dut to the semi-lush Colorado greenery. Tall weeds, deadly branches, and flesh eating shrubs consumed the path. They reached out for my legs, arms, or any part of me they could grab as I weaved my way across the vanishing trail.

Over the last few years, I reluctantly and sadly stop running on this trail around March. I seek out other familiar trails for the spring and summer running season. But I’ve come to realize the benefits of having only a short window to enjoy this trail. The winter months challenge to a runner to keep a consistent running schedule. Knowing this trail is only provided to me for just over four months, I’m more likely to go there on the bitter cold nights.

I can’t help but think that my enjoyment on this trail would not be as great if I were able to run it year round. The delight that comes this time of year is worth, and most likely enhanced, by the time I must spend away from this favorite path of mine. I wonder if the dogs feel the same way. Although Charlie may have other not so fond memories of this loop. Hopefully she won’t find another porcupine this year.

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