Everyday Discipleship Every Day Podcast: Episode 4-Living a Biblical Culture

Show Transcript:

(00:37):

Welcome to “Everyday Discipleship, Every Day” where we discuss discipleship in the 21st century guided by biblical discipleship, culture, and individual needs while focusing on discipling our children as well. I’m Terrie Hellard Brown, your host, and I’ve begun releasing my discipleship book online through my blog for free. So you can access that and check it out at TerrieHellardBrown.com. And you can also post comments or questions in the same place and link to all my different pages and everything from that same website. And we would love to have you check it out and we would love to hear from you and try to answer your questions as well.

(01:20):

So today we’re going to join the conversation in talking about what does it mean to live a biblical culture? When we become Christians, we really are asking, God is really asking us to live a biblical culture. And the reason I say that is because sometimes if we’re following Christ, we will go against our natural culture, our culture we live in, the culture we’re born into, our ethnicity, whatever it is. We are called to step beyond that and to forsake that in some situations and live a biblical culture.

(01:53):

And of course this is going to cause trouble at times. There’s going to result in conflict because we’re not choosing to live the way our culture dictates or expects us to live. And so what does that mean for today?

(02:08):

One of the verses that comes to mind is from Philippians 4:9, and in the New Living Translation it says, “Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me, everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” And I think as we begin to keep putting into practice the things that God has called us to, the lifestyle, the way we live, he will give us peace. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, but he will give us peace. And so depending on your culture, depending how you were raised, this can have many different meanings for you. But the point is, if we know what the word of God says, then when we run into a problem, we know which choice to make. We choose to follow Christ, we choose to follow the biblical teaching.

(02:57):

So I’ll share an example from when we were missionaries in Taiwan. This isn’t something that I dealt with personally because I wasn’t raised with this idea and concept, but it was something that many of the new Christians coming into faith were having to deal with. We even had a staff member in our church who was dealing with this in his family. And this is another one of those situations where you may not know you need to deal with it till later on, but it was consulting fortune tellers. It’s common practice in Taiwanese culture when a woman is pregnant to consult a fortune teller about when the baby should be born. And you will find if you look into the birthing practices in Taiwan, that women will schedule for their child to be born on the date that the fortune teller says they should be born on. And of course if you’ve been raised in the church, you’ve been raised knowing the Bible, you know, it says do not consult fortune tellers or mediums. Do not try to speak to the dead. This is all forbidden in the Old Testament, and it still carries over into the New Testament. We do not do those practices. Those are demonic, those are contrary to God’s plan. But this is a very common core practice in Taiwanese culture. And so we’re calling people not to do something that they’ve been taught their whole life they’re supposed to do. And it can be difficult, especially one of the things we understood, okay, this is even a better example I think is Feng shui.

(04:37):

You may have heard of that on all of your design shows and all this kind of stuff. And this is a concept supposedly of how to create peace with the way you design your furniture. It is considered in our culture in America just a way of design. It’s not considered something very spiritual, but in Taiwanese culture it carries a lot of superstition and power over people. And there was a woman who had become a Christian and she had, she was buying a new house with, you know, with her husband and she put a deposit down, a very hefty deposit down on this house, or I don’t remember if it was a house or an apartment, but anyway that she was going to buy. And after she did her family that was not Christian, her extended family had a fortune teller look at the house, and he or she declared it bad feng shui and that they could not move there. And if they did that something terrible would happen. And so the woman had this dilemma. She knew she had done the right thing. There was nothing wrong with this house and with her buying it, but she knew if she went forward with the purchase of this house, if ever something happened where her husband got sick or he died or anything happened in their family that was a negative thing, the family would blame her for choosing to buy this unlucky house. And she had to decide what to do in this situation. She decided not to buy the house, but not because she believed what they said or believed in feng shui or any of that, but she knew to preserve the relationships she had with her family, she couldn’t risk them blaming her. Basically they would consider her like a murderer if someone in her family died, she killed them because she chose to buy this house.

(06:31):

And so she felt that it was better to preserve those relationships and just let the money go on the deposit and not buy the house. With those who were consulting with fortune tellers about the date their baby should be born, teaching them that they need to trust that God knows the time that their child should be born and leaving that in his hands was a part of discipling and teaching people. So that would be an example from Taiwanese culture of learning to live a biblical culture rather than staying in bondage to the pagan practices. And like I said with the one lady, she really had a dilemma even though she didn’t still follow those beliefs, what she would do.

(07:17):

Now I have another story from Taiwan that I just love. At Chinese New Year the families usually go, well first everybody gets together. This is like the big holiday of the year. It’s bigger than our Christmas almost in the way the families get together. They go to offer bai-bai. They worship the ancestors or you know, burn ghost money for them and all those practices within the faith they have. And one young woman had become a Christian and she didn’t want to go. They really struggle with what to do because you are causing a big rift in your family if you don’t go. You don’t have to do the bai-bai or the worship, but you really need to be there at least out of respect. And if you don’t go, that’s considered super really disrespectful. And if you’re the oldest child and you don’t burn ghost money for them, you’re considered like a delinquent someone who doesn’t care about their family. And so there’s a lot of repercussions for following Christ and living a biblical culture.

(08:21):

This is not just an easy thing, oh I’m going to do what the Bible says. There’s consequences. You can lose your whole family. And so this is a big deal. And so we counseled with a lot of people and prayed with them through a lot of these situations. But this young woman had a brilliant plan. God just told her an idea and she went with it. One of the things they do is after they go to the cemetery and they do all they do, it’s either at the cemetery or the temple, they come home and have a big feast. And so someone usually has to stay behind and cook and nobody ever wants to do that because it’s a lot of hard work, and they’d rather go and be in fellowship with the family and all that. So she volunteered to cook the meal. So she stayed home and cooked the entire meal for her extended family. None of them were Christians. She was the first Christian in her family. And so she stayed home and cooked the meal for them. And she let them all go and do their practice that they did. They appreciated her for doing that. They accepted her faith in Christ much more because of her showing this servant attitude and blessing them. They didn’t force her then to be a part of something that she knew was wrong. It was really a beautiful picture of the way God redeemed that situation. The way he allowed her to share her faith with her family in a very tangible way as well as be able to share more with them because they were more open to it. So that was a really wonderful story and I loved her willingness to do that because it was a lot of work, and she chose to do that.

(10:00):

So for us in America, we may not always have something this drastic and this big, but every day I see things where we have to make a choice. So many people don’t think there’s anything wrong with yoga, for instance. And maybe it’s because I’ve lived in Asia, I don’t know, but I find it very hard to be okay with taking part in that practice. And so I will not do that. We’ve been in groups where they have done it, and I’ve talked to even my own daughter who got into it for a while and you know, they treat you like you’re crazy for even being concerned about it, but I feel very strongly convicted that this is a wrong choice. And that if I’m going to be in right standing with God and not have something between me and him, that I will not take part in a pagan practice. And I think yoga is a pagan practice. And so that’s an example of something in my own life that I had to do.

(11:07):

It could not be taking part in gossip. That’s a hard one sometimes. And in our different groups we get to sharing and oversharing, and we get into gossip if we’re not careful. And to walk away from that, everybody acts like you’re really a party pooper or too religious or whatever, you’re judgy. You can have a lot of different reactions to that. But just not taking part in that and taking a stand against it.

(11:37):

We used to really talk to people in our churches that this is like giving cancer to your church. If you take part in gossip, it’s like cancer, and it spreads quickly, and it’s deadly to the fellowship of the church. And when I have at times given in and been a part of that, I have repented and asked for forgiveness from those I’ve needed to ask for forgiveness from and have tried to be very careful about that. Not a hundred percent successful, but I have tried. These are things that we have to be careful.

(12:12):

Drinking is another one that we have to wrestle with. And that one in my particular church, it’s forbidden. My whole church is, that I grew up in, was a teetotaler church. We didn’t drink any alcoholic beverages, and some of my family members were alcoholics in the past. So my mom was very staunch about not drinking, but she had seen what it did to people who became addicted to it. So I understood where she was coming from, and out of respect for her, never drank in front of her. And I don’t typically drink. It’s just not something I’m interested in. But I certainly have to come to a biblical understanding of that. And so my church went too far. It does not say in the Bible that we cannot drink. Otherwise there’s a problem because Jesus drank wine. And I’ve heard all the different arguments, believe me. But the truth is, if we look at what the Bible says, at what it says and what it shows and what the reality was, they drank wine in that culture.

(13:21):

And now he does say, don’t get drunk. And that is a thing, you know, we can have a drink and not get drunk. And so for those who want to drink, I am not going to tell them, oh, you are sinning and you’re doing the wrong thing. And some people have a problem with that, that we don’t tell people they can’t drink at all. And then we’ve had friends who were recovering from alcoholism and trying to live with that addiction, and so we wouldn’t want to cause them to stumble. And so that’s where you make a decision. You make a choice to not cause your brother to stumble. You don’t drink in front of them. Maybe you ask them if it’s okay if you have a glass of wine. For me it’s not a big deal. Like I said, it’s not something that tempts me at all. I don’t drink usually. I’ve had a handful of drinks in my whole life. It is just not something that I struggle with. But if you are used to having wine with dinner, and you have this person over you know is struggling with alcoholism, then you have to decide what you’re going to do. Are you going to follow the verse that says, you know, for those who are weaker, you need to make, you know accommodations basically and choose not to drink in front of them? Or are you going to talk to them and say, are you okay with me having a drink? I don’t want to make it difficult for you and be honest with them.

(14:42):

That’s another way to handle it. But we need to act and make decisions based on what the Bible teaches and love–love for that person and concern for their walk with God. Then you make that decision. So living a biblical culture means that we first must know what the Bible says and interpret it accurately, not just by what our church’s tradition says. It doesn’t mean that it’s bad that our church has a tradition. It does become a problem when our church’s tradition becomes gospel. We cannot do that. We are putting, the Bible says, we’re putting shackles on people and preventing some from coming to the gospel because we are adding things to God’s word. And we cannot do that. We are warned very strongly not to add to or take away from the word of God. And so the drinking is one of those things.

(15:40):

Dancing was an issue when I was growing up. Way back in the early seventies or whatever, women wearing pants was a big deal. I know it just seems silly today, but oh, you know, there’s pet ideas that we have. We call them sacred cows that we have in our churches and in our communities. And there’s usually a reason for those. And I’m okay with that. If someone says, this is the reason that we abstain from drinking because my grandfather was an alcoholic. We know we have the gene in our family, and we just refuse to drink, but they’re not saying that the Bible says thou shalt never have any kind of alcoholic beverage. That it’s a sin if you do that. But to make that choice yourself, that’s absolutely fine. I salute you and congratulate you and say it’s a good choice. And that’s the choice we’ve kind of made that we don’t, we just don’t because we do have that gene in our family. But we cannot hold other people to that when it’s not a biblical mandate. We must know the commands of Christ and follow those.

(16:51):

Now another thing we see in our culture today is that if you love someone, you’re going to approve of everything they’re doing. That is not what love means in the biblical sense of love. We are calling people to righteousness, especially if they are believers. We are calling them to live according to what the Bible says and being accountable to each other for that. And we cannot compromise that just because we love someone. I mean, it’s like a parent who has children. If you love your children, you discipline them, you protect them, you tell them no, you cannot run out in the middle of the street and smile at the oncoming traffic. That is not wise; that is deadly. And so you protect them. We teach our children don’t touch the hot stove, but I want to touch the hot stove. Well, if I love you, I’m going to let you do what you want. No. So we’ve got to get realistic and get honest with each other and be real with what the Bible says. And if we really love each other as we are discipling each other, we’re going to confront those things that are wrong.

(18:01):

We had someone in one of my classes once who was completely misinterpreting a scripture, taking it out of context and had just a really odd understanding of what that scripture was. And she had had a pastor in another church teach her this wrong teaching and in our class she’s spouting off this wrong teaching, and we had to stop the class. And I said, no, that is not what that scripture says. And we opened up our bibles. We looked at it within context, and we went over it together, and everyone in the class understood what that scripture meant. She still was holding onto the false teaching, but I wanted to make sure that no one else did. She had a choice to make. She was kind of in love with this Pastor. And so she was believing anything he said. But we shared the truth with her. We confronted her good naturedly and in love, confronted her with the wrong teaching and showed her the right teaching. But I also, as the teacher, wanted to make sure that no one else fell into that false teaching and stayed true to what the word of God said. That’s what we do in discipleship. We call each other together.

(19:08):

We we’re looking at the scriptures together, we’re making sure we’re understanding them correctly. We can misinterpret scripture easily by reading it with 21st century eyes. I always think of that interview with Oprah. Well she was actually interviewing someone else, I don’t remember who, but she was talking about how God is a jealous God. God is described as a jealous God several times in the scripture. But it isn’t the kind of human jealousy like someone having a little hissy fit that someone looked at someone like a guy looked at another girl. And so the girl, his girlfriend or wife is jealous. It’s not that. It is that God is God, he is the only God, he is the most high God. He is the true God. And so we are to only worship him. And so the Bible says he is a jealous God.

(20:00):

In other words, he does not tolerate us worshiping anything or anyone else but him. It is unacceptable. He is the holy God, the only one worthy of worship. And for us to worship anyone else is an abomination, it is unacceptable. It is wrong on every level. And so that is what those scriptures are talking about, that he does not tolerate that. It is not acceptable, it is wrong. And if you aren’t going to worship God, then you shouldn’t worship anything or anyone because no one is worthy of worship but God.

(20:38):

And so Oprah didn’t understand that. She’s like, why would I want to serve a God that’s jealous? And she was interpreting it as like a little hissy fit, and it’s just so wrong. We do this all the time if we’re not careful. We have to look at the context of scripture and the meaning of the original. I mean we’re looking at a translation if we’re reading it in English. And so what did it originally say in the Greek or the Hebrew or the Aramaic? What did it mean? And make sure we’re understanding. And I love, I have several teachers I follow that I listen to them explain some difficult scriptures and really dig into the original languages and stuff. I love that so much because it is so easy for us to misunderstand if we don’t really research and learn.

(21:26):

And so that’s the beauty of discipleship. We’re reading scripture, we’re coming together, we’re talking about what it says and really getting a correct understanding of what the scripture is saying. And we do have to be careful that we do not bring into scripture our preconceived notions, our pet choices and ideas, but that we are truly looking at scripture for what it says and what it is teaching.

(21:55):

This is the difference between exegesis and eisegesis. You may have heard these expressions before. Exegesis is where we look at the scripture and pull the truth out of scripture and base our living choices, our culture, the life we live on what the scripture says. And we’ve pulled that truth from scripture. Eisegesis is where I have an idea and I’m going to prove it by looking at scripture. And so I’m finding a scripture that tells me this is the way it ought to be. And usually when we do that, often when we do that, we are misrepresenting what the scripture really says. We are deceiving ourselves. And unfortunately, if we’re teaching, we’re deceiving others. So we have to be very conscious of that and careful about that.

(22:44):

Now I want to share one more story with you. This one really opened my eyes to how we read scripture. When I was a little girl in Sunday school, we were learning about Genesis and we saw, you know, there’s Adam and Eve and the serpent. And they’re talking to him, and he’s in the tree. The teacher holds up this little picture. And in this picture, Adam is sleeping. He’s taking a nap, and Eve is over here talking to the serpent in the tree. And it’s always like an apple tree. Why is that? Anyway, so this picture’s there, and I thought this doesn’t make any sense. Why would God be so upset with Adam and cause him to leave the garden if he, I mean, here’s Eve. She gives him part of the forbidden fruit, and he’s groggy from being asleep. He doesn’t know what’s going on. Have you ever seen a man or anybody wake up from a nap? They’re tired, they’re not aware of what’s going on. You hand them food, they eat it. They’re not even thinking about it. That’s not fair. And so why did God punish him? Why did he say you’re going to have to work your whole life to get food. And you can’t live in the garden anymore? When Eve was the one who gave him the fruit, and he was clueless because he’d been taking a nap. And I had that picture in my mind the whole time I was growing up, and I struggled with Genesis the whole time. And one day, I’ve mentioned my discipler Sue before, and she’s like, go back and read that scripture again. She said, I want you to put that picture out of your mind and ask God to help you put that picture out of your mind and just read the scripture. And so I did. I went back and I read the scripture without that picture in my mind. And for the first time I saw it, I had always gotten that picture in the way of seeing what the scripture really said.

(24:42):

And it says, “and she gave to Adam who was with her.” So the real picture should have been Adam and Eve standing there. Eve is the only one talking to the serpent, which was a bad idea anyway, but she’s the one talking to him. She’s the one who first touches the fruit, picks it and takes a bite. Yes. But Adam was right there. He didn’t say, “What are you doing? Don’t listen to him. Get away from that tree, woman.” You know, “This is wrong.” He didn’t try to prevent her from eating the fruit. She took a bite and handed it to him. So he was right there the whole time, and it changed everything. Then everything made sense. It all fell into place, and the scriptures made sense to me. And so when we find those kinds of things, it helps us to rightly understand scripture.

(25:37):

We need to really pray that God helps us, especially as teachers, to rightly teach scripture and help our students to be able to live a biblical culture, make the right choices in their lives as they walk with Christ. So that when they have to go against their culture, they know why they’re doing it and that they’re doing it because they’ve chosen to follow Jesus. And the Bible says this or that.

(26:04):

Now, one other story I’ll share with you: a young man, it’s not uncommon in Taiwan for people to offer their food and things to their ancestors and then to eat the food. Because when you put it on the table for them, they don’t physically take it. It’s all considered a spiritual thing and then they can eat the food. This one little boy was a new Christian and every time he did that, he would just feel sick. He’s just like, I just can’t do this. It bothered his conscience. And so helping disciples to understand that’s okay if you personally have a problem with that, the Bible says don’t do it. It’s sin for you if you have a problem for that. That doesn’t mean, like I said, that we can tell everyone, “Oh, you can’t have food offered to the ancestors. That’s unbiblical.” That’s actually not unbiblical. Even Paul said, we can eat the food offered to the sacrifice, to idols. It doesn’t mean anything. We can still eat that food unless it bothers you, then don’t do it. And so I was able to counsel his mom and tell her that, that there’s nothing innately sinful about eating those foods. But if it bothers him, allow him to say no. And even if you’re with him and it bothers him to see you eat that food, then you should abstain from that because he is a young Christian, a young man who wants to follow Christ.

(27:26):

And so you choose to do that out of love for him. And that’s the kind of stuff we learn as we’re discipling each other and learning to live a biblical culture. So whatever culture you’re living in, learning to see where we have these discrepancies between our culture and what the Bible says is very important. And then making the hard choice to follow Christ and to choose to live a biblical culture. Every single one of our cultures, whatever one we’re in, has things –We all have things that are not biblical in our cultures because our cultures are created by people and they often, some of the practices may have come from pagan things from our past. And even in the American culture, we have that. And we need to recognize that these things are unbiblical and choose to forsake them, choose to let go of them and to walk away from them.

(28:26):

So maybe you have something that you’re not sure is biblical or not biblical. You have a little catch in your spirit when you make this choice. Put it in the the comments, ask about it or share your story. We would love to hear your story. Like I said, stories can be powerful. Share where you’ve chosen to walk away from something that you’ve found is not biblical. There are those who choose not to celebrate certain holidays because they feel it’s not biblical and that is your conviction. And I’m, you know, I’m fine with that, that’s your choice. But when we choose to do some things that it’s not necessarily not biblical, but we’ve chosen to go away from it because it causes us to stumble or someone we love to stumble, remember, we cannot require our disciples to walk in that same thing. Living a biblical culture means that we’re true to what the Bible teaches.

(29:25):

And we walk in that. And if we choose to take another step, like not eating stuff offered to idols or to ancestors, that’s our choice. If we choose not to ever drink wine, that’s our choice. But we cannot put that requirement on someone else. They must follow their convictions. However, if we have someone who is getting drunk all the time, that is not biblical. And to be okay with people getting drunk who say they’re Christians is not right. And if we’re discipling them, we need to call them to really pray and repent of that and to choose to not get drunk. These are things that they’re not easy. It’s not always black and white, cut and dry and we have to really wrestle with these things. But we cannot compromise the word of God to fit into our culture. We’ve got to live a biblical culture even when it goes against our culture.

(30:27):

And that is not always easy. And this is where we wind up being ridiculed by some, criticized by some. And even in certain cultures paying with being arrested or giving our lives. This is the reality of living a Christian life, living a biblical culture. And it’s not, it’s not always easy, but we’ve got to call each other to that and help each other walk in that. And I promise you, when we choose to do the right thing, when we choose to follow Christ, even when it’s difficult, he will give us grace and peace. His grace is sufficient for whatever we’re walking through. And he will help us to be able to do that. And he will fill our lives with peace and joy as we do it.

(31:17):

I know a story of four men who came to Christ in a country where it was illegal to be Christian and they knew that they probably wouldn’t have much longer to live if anyone found out they were Christians, yet they felt the need to share their faith with others, and they were killed.

(31:35):

And we, you know, that’s the extreme of what we’re talking about. Hopefully we won’t have to face that, but we need to realize that when we make these choices, they may not be popular. And so there may be repercussions for that. So I’m just going to end with reading this Philippians 4:9 again, “Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me.” And that’s Paul talking to the Philippians. “Everything You heard from me and saw me doing, then the God of peace will be with you.”

(32:06):

So we’re so glad you joined us today and hope you were challenged by the conversation. Our prayer is that we can obey Jesus’ commands to make disciples as we reach and equip this generation of believers to reach and equip the next generation of believers with everyday discipleship every day.

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