The Great Covenant

First a little context: Moses and Aaron had confronted Pharaoh and God unleashed ten plagues upon Egypt, showing the might of God and the impotence of the gods of Egypt, until the Israelites were allowed to leave after 400 years of slavery. Even then, Pharaoh sought to enslave them again and the Red Sea opened up to allow Israel to cross on dry land, but it closed to swallow Pharaoh and his chariots. Following that, God provided food and water for a large multitude of people. Moses went up the mountain and returned to the people with a more formal introduction from this God.

Exodus 20:1-3 ESV
And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me.”

This introduction begins with a showing of authority, as many covenants did in the ancient world. One king would rescue another, then they would covenant together with a preamble. “This is who I am. This is what I have done for you. Therefore, I am requiring you fulfill these terms as I fulfill my portion of the agreement. I know it sounds a bit odd to us in this time, but should it? We reached out to a bank because we couldn’t just write a check for our home. The bank agreed to pay for our home and we agreed to reimburse the bank, adding interest. We also agreed to protect this investment with insurance and to maintain the property. Not just because this is our nest egg, but also because the bank requires their investment not to be devalued through any malice or negligence on our part.

All agreements have terms to the relationship between the parties. In Exodus, God begins by saying that He will be the God of Israel, the God who removed the slavery status from the people and removed them safely from Egypt. Just as the people had been beholden to Pharaoh, so they were to be beholden to God. Just under different terms. And the very first term was that there was to be no worship of any deity besides the One who had rescued the people. He was to be God and there was to be no other.

Fast Forward about a millenia and a half. Give or take.

First a little context: Jesus walked on the earth and taught a message unlike anything the people had contemplated before. He backed this message up with signs and wonders. He spoke as one with authority, not like the scribes and teachers of the day. He lived the life of total fealty to God that I should have lived. He amassed a following that threatened the political figures of the day and was crucified for it, a death on the cursed tree that should have been my punishment under the wrath of God. And then he rose again on the third day, walking out of the tomb that had been guarded by the strongest empire of the time. He appeared to hundreds of people, and continued to teach his message until it was time for him to return to Heaven from whence he came. And before leaving, he introduced the marching orders for the new covenant.

Jesus was speaking to men who had walked with Him for years. They were all devoted to Him, even before His resurrection from the dead. Granted, all but one of them scattered when it looked bleak, but let’s offer them some grace here. He cemented His message by carrying the sins and sorrows of the world to the cross and then by rising from the dead. Neither the Sanhedrin nor the Romans held any power over Jesus any longer. As a matter of fact no authority was above Him. None on Heaven and Earth. And His final instructions begin with this statement of authority.

Matthew 28:18-20 ESV
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

In a very real sense, the God who brought Israel up from the house of slavery is the same God who holds all authority, including the slavery to sin that once captivated us. See Romans 6 for my reason to include this concept here. And just as God included instructions of what His people would look like in Exodus, we have instructions of what we are to be about in the Great Commission.

We are to be people who:

  1. REMEMBER that all authority belongs to Jesus. Yes, this is part of the instruction. The key part of the instruction.
  2. Go to others both near and far to make disciples. And this looks like:
    • Baptizing in the name of all three members of the trinity
    • Teaching the disciples to observe/obey all that Jesus commanded
  3. REMEMBER that Jesus is with us. The power to accomplish these goals comes from Him. Always.

The word translated as “Baptizing” refers to immersion. I don’t mean to spark a baptism mode debate here, but instead want to point out that a disciple is to be immersed, engulfed, in the Father/Son/Holy Spirit. We are to marinate in God. We are to desire God, to borrow from John Piper. And coupled with that, we are to teach the disciples to obey all of the commands of God. Those commands are discovered over 66 books in the BIble and not just the red letters in the gospels.

Nations are comprised of people. The people are to be reached and thus the nations will be transformed as the residents are won by the gospel through the power of Jesus, not the power of our presentations of the gospel. The Onus is never on us! The power is always from God, never sinful disciples making other disciples. God doesn’t require “winners” in any sense that we would think of. God demands faithfulness. And even when we prove to be faithless, God remains faithful. For He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13) This Great Commission will succeed! And we get to play a small part in it!

Rejoice when you are persecuted. How are we doing with that?

Matthew 5:11-12 ESV
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

I’m opening this post with the end of the Beatitudes. No, this isn’t a part of a series. No, you haven’t missed the ones before this. It’s just something that has been on my brain back burner for a bit and I figured I’d share some thoughts about it. Opening up the thoughts, it is best to be familiar with the context. This is part of a larger section. That section is part of a larger sermon. That sermon was presented to many people toward the earlier part of Jesus’ ministry, though sections of it and possibly all of it were likely shared in other settings as well. It is recorded most famously in Matthew 5-7. That is a great three chapter section to read every day for a period of time. Truly immerse yourself in it. But for today two verses are on my mind.

Jesus tells us that we are blessed, fortunate, even favored when others revile and persecute us. In certain situations. For certain reasons.Here in the USA, we are told that we do not experience any reviling or persecution. I reject that notion outright. We may not have the same intensity of persecution that they have in other places in the world, but that is not to say that we do not suffer from the attacks of the enemy here. Satan has many tools in his toolbox and he knows how to go after both groups and individuals. Look at the letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation, chapters 2-3. Different churches face different challenges.

  • Some face physical attacks.
  • Some have economic penalties for following Jesus.
  • Some are being challenged to put a stop to sinful behavior from within, rather than try to find some kind of compromise as they had been doing.
  • Some are so prosperous they have wandered away from their desperate need for Jesus to sustain them.
  • Some of them are just going through the motions, hoping their fellow church members don’t notice.

All of these are ways that Satan persecutes the church, not just through burning buildings down and killing anyone who calls on the name of the Lord. The best tool is used for each job, and all of the jobs are one form or another of persecution. You may recognize some of these tactics in the churches near you. Perhaps even your own. It happens, and Jesus does give His commands on how to address these situations. To do anything less than what Jesus commands is to assume that your way is more loving than the one who gave His life for you.

There are ways to stand against the attacks on your church. There are right ways. There are wrong ways. The right ways involve prayer and a multitude of wise voices. The best ways remember that we are blessed WHEN we are reviled and persecuted. We don’t pursue abuse for the sake of a blessing, but the blessing gives us hope to endure. If you orchestrate some persecution for yourself and live-stream the persecution, hoping to go viral, congratulations. You already received your reward in full.

It is good to look at all of the words Jesus says here. When people say or tweet mean things about us, we shouldn’t automatically begin the persecution party (Acts 5:41). Let’s look at the qualifiers that Jesus gives to help us determine when we are blessed. For your sake, I’ll share the verses again. It’s also for my sake so I don’t have to scroll my screen or switch tabs so often. Don’t make this awkward. Read it again!

Matthew 5:11-12 ESV
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

When you (individually or collectively) are suffering, it is not a bad idea to examine yourself. Is this slander true or false? Could it be an honest misunderstanding? Did someone accuse your church of misusing funds? Double check to be sure everything is on the up and up. Did someone say that you hate other people because you don’t accept the spirit of the age? Examine yourself and see if you do hold hate for people. While you’re at it, make sure that it is correct that you reject the spirit of the age. Make sure that your communication regarding the matter is filled with gentleness and respect while honoring Christ as holy (1 Peter 3:15). And also notice that Jesus said we were blessed when the slander is false AND when it is on His account. That means that even when an accusation is false, you can’t yet dance a jig. Was the action against you done because you were doing what Jesus would have you be doing?

Churches have been fined and shut down for meeting together during a time when the government objected. SWAT teams have been involved, dressed in riot gear. In the Western hemisphere, this has been well documented in Canada. The Bible is very clear about the need for Christians to meet together. Jesus is Lord. Lord of the Church. Lord of Lords. The government can claim authority, but ALL authority has been given to Jesus. Faithful churches who reopened and suffered for it are blessed! It doesn’t always feel that way when the pastor is in jail, but the Canadian pastors who suffered are merely following in the same footsteps that the Apostles walked in. And when your footsteps match the Apostles and the Prophets, you can take that as a sign that your feet are facing in the right direction.

Matthew 10:16 ESV
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

Addendum: I use the name of the deceiver/accuser to refer to all of the forces he has amassed to go after the people of God. The demonic activity against you or me are probably not being done by the same one who tempted Eve in the garden. Probably not the same one who tempted Jesus in the wilderness. God can be everywhere at once. Satan cannot. Most likely, he’s never heard of you.

It’s funny how something like a little case of COVID can interrupt your momentum

That’s right. I’ve joined the club of those with naturally-produced antibodies. Before this, I was starting to pick up momentum. If I had something short and pithy, it would be posted to Gab. If it got a little long, I would start to weigh it out and perhaps it would still go there, maybe it would go here with a link to it there. I hope to regain this flow in the coming weeks, and this is my first blog post toward that end.

Relax, I’m going to tell the story. It’s actually pretty good. At least I think so.

So the early part of June was dedicated to me preparing for a high school graduation party for Ana. You may recall the photo backdrop post on this blog where I described the build process. Well after that, I introduced Dayna to the propane torch and she went to town on the backdrop for a darker burnt look. Then she added the paper flowers she had been working on. It came out looking really great! I just wish more of the guests would have used it for group photos with or without the graduation girl.

A week after the party, we dropped the dog off with my parents and started driving to Florida with a stop in Nashville on the way. That was the stop where I first noticed something was a little off. We (Two adults and three children who think they are adults) visited a honky tonk with a live band. The key draw was that they had a place where underage people could sit. Most of these places are bars with live bands and usually some food and most of them are for people over the age of 21. Not that reaching that age makes you into an adult either. The place specialized in pizza, but I wanted a burger. I’m told from the girls that the pizza was fantastic. The burger was incredible as well, but I was only able to eat two bites of it. I was hungry. The burger tasted great. I felt fine. I just couldn’t will myself to eat more of it.

The next morning we headed to Florida through a tropical storm or tropical depression. I’m not sure what the difference is. All I know is that it rained a lot. I was looking forward to visiting certain places and discussed it with the group at first, but after a couple hours of driving I started to get very tired. I slept off and on the rest of that leg of the trip. When we got to the condo I helped unload the car, because that’s one of the things the dad does, and then I went in. The bedrooms were upstairs but I couldn’t get that far. I fell into the couch on the main level and fell asleep. I didn’t get upstairs until the third day, and once I got there I barely left. I would sleep and wake up to use the restroom. Dayna brought me food and water but like before I was unable to consume it. It seemed like a mental block or something. I’m not sure how better to describe it.

Eventually Dayna had enough and she took me to an Urgent Care facility. The nurse swabbed my nose and left. I was sure that was a formality. My breathing was fine, I was just exhausted. I have had pneumonia before, and this was eerily similar. As we waited for the doctor, I was looking forward to taking the antibiotics and resuming our vacation. Instead we were told to quarantine due to a COVID diagnosis. I asked for some of the drugs that are now proven to be effective and the doctor told me that the CDC doesn’t recommend them. I didn’t have the strength to point out that the CDC owns patents on competing products so of course they wouldn’t recommend something effective that costs a small fraction of those alternatives. Instead we went back so I could focus on taking in fluids, as if that had worked for me the previous three days.

I returned to bed and forced myself to drink water. Everything I swallowed found its way out rather quickly, along with other contents of my digestive system. I’ll spare you the details but Dayna came upstairs to find me laying on the hardwood floor in my own fluids. We went immediately to the Emergency Room, where they replenished my fluids with an IV and gave me anti-nausea medication which enabled me to drink again. My ability to eat came a couple days later, but that’s OK. The human body can survive without eating for quite some time. Taking in water is much more pressing. And I may or may not have a few extra pounds that I could stand to lose. The fluids helped me greatly and made possible the rest of this story.

After some discussion and debate with the group, it was decided that we should all mask up and head back. Everyone in the car had been exposed for a few days already and if the only other responsible adult were to get what I had we would be in a real fix. One of the girls objected and used her magical age of 18 to say that she didn’t have to do as she was told. I understand she was firmly rebuffed and told to get in the car, which she did wearing two masks. I wore a mask the entire time, but not because I believe it is effective at mitigation of an airborne virus. That has been disproven time after time with real-world data. It is effective in giving teenage girls a sense of relative calmness and that is why I wore it. I took over the counter drugs like DayQuil and Mucinex to avoid coughing and rode most of the way, taking a turn at driving when Dayna got tired. Again, the fluids were very helpful and I drank lots of Gatorade on the way back.

We drove through the deep south, stopping for gas and continuing on. We drove through the night through small towns and on back roads. I marvelled that the southern states don’t seem to have any sort of highway system like they have up north. I wondered why this might be, it just seemed so surreal! After almost 24 hours, we got home and began our quarantines. In the days that followed, all three of the eighteen year old girls tested negative and both adults were confirmed positive, though Dayna had it much milder than me. She eats better than I do and she takes her vitamins. We rested and quarantined. We ordered grocery delivery and quickly saw that you’re better off choosing your own fresh produce. We improved quickly. I would estimate that I felt less than 100% for five or six days in total, but the peak of the illness was quite intense.

I have had worse illnesses in my lifetime. Pneumonia was worse. Shingles was worse. Pleurisy was worse. I would not desire to have any of these illnesses again, including COVID. All four of these are events that interrupted what my life looked like at the time. Psalm 23:2 says that “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” If the pastures are green, why would a sheep have to be made to lie down? Could it be that the sheep doesn’t realize it is in the place the shepherd knows is best for that time? Maybe the sheep thinks it knows better than the shepherd, and the shepherd lovingly corrects the sheep in such a way that it can only lie there until the shepherd is ready to move on to the still waters.

Addendum

A few days ago, we used the same navigation system for a more local trip. We were pretty sure how to get there, but not sure of the details. The navigation took us in a very illogical route. City streets, stop lights and more on a route parallel to the highway. It made no sense! So I went into the settings. We had travelled from Florida to Iowa in about 24 hours under less than ideal conditions, taking back roads and gassing up at small town gas stations in the wee hours of the morning. All because the settings on the app instructed it to avoid highways. I mapped the same route allowing highways and the time difference was four hours. We spent four additional hours in that “pasture” and didn’t even realize it. I wonder what was so green about it anyway. Perhaps one day I will know.

Why are there so many versions of the Bible?

Before you read this post, it really would be a good idea to read this article by the same name on The Aquila Report, written by Greg Gilbert. The reasons he gives for multiple Bible versions in this article are all true and accurate. I would add one more reason there are so many English versions. That is the litigious nature of our society.

A publishing company owns the rights to the translation of the Bible that they produced or that they purchased. So when their authors write their books, citing scripture from the owned translation, there is no copyright worry. If they cite a different translation, there may be a fee requested by the owner of that translation, cutting into the profits of the book. Different publishers have different allowances for the use of their translation.

I believe the King James Version is open source, so it can be quoted without worry by any publishing company. That explains why this is the version quoted most often in movies and television shows. That also explains why you can find copies of the KJV in discount stores.

Genesis 50:20 ESV
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good

The litigious nature of American companies did play a role in the multitude of translations. And while it is not good that we are so quick to let a secular court settle differences between Christian publishing houses, God has used this to provide many faithful translations of the Bible, which can be used in a myriad of ways to build His church.

To whom much is given, though, much is required. As the body of Christ, we have resources that were unimaginable in past generations. We have a responsibility to study the word diligently, to meditate on the light that has overcome the darkness, to use these translations to the glory of God. And this message must reproduce both locally and afar.

A day of infamy

China wants all memory of this event erased.

On This Day in 1989: The Tiananmen Square Massacre took place in Beijing when thousands of students were slaughtered by the Chinese “People’s Liberation Army.” No remembrances are allowed in Communist China, but the rest of the world must never forget.

I remember the scene well, as students had learned about the freedoms of the Western world. Freedom to worship something other than the State. Freedom to seek your own happiness through employment based on your own desires and through private ownership of property. The freedom of personal success and of personal failure.

After a few days, the troops came in with armored vehicles. The bullets were not rubber. The students were not organized for such violence. They were gassed, shot, crushed under tank treads and beaten. Then morning came.

A lone student walked out into the courtyard and stood in defiance of the row of tanks patrolling the square. For reasons I can only assume, the tanks stopped and a stare down ensued. What was said? Whatever happened to the student?

And why is our government and corporations so quick to celebrate this evil regime? Is it because they want to emulate it here? Again, pure speculation. I haven’t been on Facebook or Twitter for several months now, and I prefer it that way, but I imagine this post would quickly be “fact-checked” if I did share it there.

Are you tired of censorship in the public square? Then get on www.Gab.com and look me up.

If I profess with loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except that little point which the world and the Devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

Martin Luther

DIY Photo Wall

The photo wall is ready for decoration.

I really should have been taking pictures as this process went from concept to finished product. Instead, I’ll describe how I made it.

Step one is to have a wife who is into Pinterest. You know, that site where you can find inspiration for a whole lot of projects to suggest to your husband. My wife has a few boards of projects for me, so I avoid Pinterest like the plague.

Step two is to have an event. My daughter is having a graduation party, and my wife wanted a photo station. If I understand, she will be adding paper flowers and favorite photos to it and it will serve as a display board and as a backdrop for picture taking.

Step three is for your wife to ask you to recreate what she sees on Pinterest. So you accept your fate, push your other projects to the back burner, and get a plan.

Step four is to gather materials and tools. This is when you have a bit more leverage to make purchases. Unfortunately, I already had all that I needed for this one, except for pallets and the frame.

The frame is three sets of two boards, so six boards unless math is still racist. My boards were 1x3s, cut to seven feet. Then comes the pallets. Ugh.

Most businesses don’t mind you taking pallets, just be sure to ask. Also, do a little research about pallets. You don’t know what may have spilled on the wood, but you can know how that pallet was treated to withstand the elements. Pallets are gross. Wear eye and breathing protection whenever you work with it and hearing protection when needed. And don’t use it to hold food.

I took a bunch of pallets and had to disassemble them. A circular saw or a jigsaw down the sides is my first step. Yes, I do lose some wood that way, but in my experience, pallet edges aren’t worth the added hassle. The center bar is all that’s left and I pry the slats up with a dedicated crowbar. These slats have nails in them so be careful. I bought a nail cutter, but that sucked. So I tapped the nails out and pulled them.

To process this crappy wood, I ran the straighter side through my table saw with a blade that is old and cheap. I then used that side to reference against my fence for a parallel cut. My wife wanted eight feet of overall width, but nine feet meant easier math, so I cut the end of each piece square, then cut the other end at a length of three feet.

Now would have been a great time to scrub the wood with a wire brush. It also would have been a great time to connect the 7-foot boards with the hinges. I hope I remember that lesson the next time I have a project. A La Brava.

I did use a framing square to set up the construction. If you begin with a square frame, the rest will go much better. I used my air nail gun to attach the pallet wood to the frame. I used similar width boards across the three frames and spaced them with the edge of a board for a uniform look. Had I brushed the boards and attached the hinges I would have been done. Instead I did those steps at this point.

The photo wall stands on its own, but I may install bracing if my wife wants it outside and there’s wind.

Happy wife, happy life!

Macro Theology

First, allow me a moment to clarify terms. I imagine we’ve mostly heard of systematic theology. That is the practice of taking a variety of topics and gathering all of the biblical data available and then reaching a conclusion about each topic. The most faithful ones will describe how the author came to his or her conclusion while presenting a fair explanation of alternate opinions. Then there is natural theology, which is derived largely from nature and reason. The phrase “nature and nature’s God” from the American Declaration of Independence looks to the order of God’s creation in contrast to the chaos of despotic rule. Biblical theology looks at the information given in the Bible with minimal input from elsewhere. What set the Pharisees and the Sadducees against each other? Biblical theology will get you the pertinent information. Historical theology studies the merging of ideas over time. Francis Schaeffer’s “How Then Shall We Live” is a fantastic look at the ideas that shaped culture in the last two thousand years. Dogmatic theology takes all of the above concepts and funnels them through an organized agreement within a body of believers. All of these are good and useful.

This post is one where I will be looking at a repeating pattern in the Bible, and it will be using a little of each of these categories. I’m not sure it fits in the dogmatic definition though. For lack of a better name, I’m going with the working title of “Macro Theology” as this takes a broad brush for the painting, again for lack of a better descriptive phrase. There is natural observation, biblical information, historical concepts, and is undergirded by a systematic study. If there’s a proper name for this, I’d love to know it.

I believe that all of history is demonstrated in the Bible with Chaos compared to Order. Wisdom vs Vanity. Good vs Evil. As fallen humans, we are prone to look at things in shades of grey. Or is it spelled gray? Anyway, we are prone to accomodate any and every stance to one degree or another, assuming that in different places and times different things are more tolerable than others. But God shows in His word that things are much more black and white. When given a look at the world through the lens of Revelation there are not varities of people on a spectrum of good to evil. There are the earth dwellers and there are the overcomers. We are not in one camp or the other because of our commitment to order over chaos. We are in the order camp because we repent and believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. The Holy Spirit is given and we begin a lifetime work of sanctification. Even as we have the righteousness of Christ from the first moment, our lives gradually trend toward that direction, never achieving perfection on this side of glory.

This order vs chaos look begins at… the very beginning. Genesis 1:1-2 states that in the beginning, the earth was without form and void. That description comes from a word that can also be translated as “confusion” or “difficult to grasp” or “chaotic.” Immediately, God brings order to the chaos by separating light from darkness. The next day, He separated the waters from the waters, sky and sea. The next day He separated the land from the sea. Once creation was taken from chaos to order, He began to populate it.

The order vs chaos picture doesn’t come into play again until Genesis chapter 3 when the fall of all of mankind takes place. From that point forward, the chaos of fallen humanity is at odds with the order of the people of God. This order vs chaos is shown in the seven generations from Cain and Seth in chapters 4 and 5. In the flood of Noah, all of the earth (the people of disorder) was swept away. But 8 people were left behind. And they inherited the earth (the land) as their home. It is later shown in the patriarchs learning to walk by faith and not by sight, often finding that this leads to conflict with the world around them.

God gave His law through Moses so that His people would contrast from the world, and so the nations would marvel at how great their society was (Deut 4:6). The original mandate was for them to spread the name of the Lord to all the world, but they quickly looked only inward. Patterns of going back and forth between God and the allure of the sinful world are seen for the remainder of the Old Testament. After demonstrating that all of humanity was prone to such lunacy and chaos God sent His son so that the sinful heart could be addressed.

Ever since then, the gospel message and Christian worldview has been used to contrast with that of the world. We preach the gospel and know that it is a message in conflict with a defeated foe. The foe knows this, and knows that the time is short (Revelation 12:12). As time progresses, more and more chaotic worldviews will be shown for what they are as they pass away. On the last and final day, it is the people of God who will be left behind. Blessed are the meek.

1 Corinthians 15:24-25 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

We are observers and participants in this battle between the wisdom and order of God and the foolishness and chaos of the world. Many of the problems we have today are overflow events from this spiritual battle. Many competing ideas throughout the last 2000 years have been shown to be insufficient to fit within reality. Some more than a few times. Many more enemies will be revealed and placed under the feet of Jesus. Most of these ideas will be placed there after a struggle. It is the struggle that we see in the moment, not unlike Peter only seeing the chaotic waves beneath his feet when Jesus was right there in front of him.

Finally we have Practical Theology, which emphasises how you live out your understanding of any of the theologies in the first paragraph. It’s where the rubber meets the road. As you go through your day, I hope something in this post helps you navigate the storms of life and maintain your perspective on Jesus, who is reigning right now, and who will continue to do so until the end, when he delivers the completed kingdom to God the Father, having destroyed every rule, authority and power.

The Faithfulness of God as seen through the Faithfulness of Christian Mothers

Our church was packed this morning as we celebrated our risen savior and remembered the mothers and grandmothers who pointed us to him. A biographical look at Timothy was the sermon, and it was shown that his father was an unbelieving Greek man.

His mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, are both referenced as the ones who taught Timothy and led him to faith in a culture where women were marginalized. They couldn’t defy Timothy’s father, but they could demonstrate respectful and pure conduct while raising Timothy in the word. 1 Peter 3:1-2 comes to mind here.

I teared up as we sang “who the Son sets free is free indeed” as I recalled the bondage I was under before I was freed and talked about it on the way to lunch. My identity is no longer in my sins or my accomplishments. My identity is in Christ and Him alone, for I have nothing of value apart from Him.

My mother and my grandmothers prayed for me as I grew up and I am glad they all saw the fruit of their prayers. There are mothers who will never see the fullness of the fruit of their faithfulness. And if I’m being honest here, I hope the fruit is multiplied over generations so that no mother sees her true impact on this side of eternity.

This is not me being hateful, but loving, as any faithful mother would agree once the initial surprise wears off. May faithful generations bring the will of God to earth as it is in Heaven!

The Slippery Slope Is Undefeated (but not forever)

What Is The Slippery Slope Fallacy? Definition and ...
The only problem with this definition of the slippery slope fallacy is that lately the slippery slope predicts future events pretty darn accurately.

In my lifetime, short as it seems, there have been several occasions where Christians sounded the alarm. Some new event happened and we were concerned about the ramifications. If this were allowed to stand, there would be no logical reason for another event to be allowed and celebrated. And time after time we were dismissed as slippery slope worry warts, only interested in interfering with the “rights” of others. How hateful!

You know the kinds of occasions. Gay “marriage” was allowed in one state or another, later nationwide by Supreme Court edict, and Christians warned of logical problems with basing who you were allowed to marry by something as fickle as love. What would prevent polygamy? What would prevent incest? We were shouted down, labeled as hateful fear mongers, and told that our slippery slope arguments were illegitimate. God was seen as intolerant for disallowing certain unions as the state was interposed between God and man in order to give man a greater sense of autonomy. Which is ultimately where this is going, but then that sounds too much like a slippery slope…

I really don’t want to be the guy to say that I told you so, but… well… the slippery slope has proven to be an extremely accurate indicator of future events because the doctrine of Total Depravity has been proven time and again. Humans are fallen, and do not seek after God. (Romans 3:11) So you can look at the logical conclusions of any God-rejecting societal event in the most negative ways, and given a little time these slippery slope conclusions are what happens. Without fail. Demons can’t help but demon, if i could coin a verb here.

So now we have a case where some pervert wants to enter into a legally recognized mirage with their own biological descendents. Because love is love, right? And they aren’t planning to procreate and bear any children. So why shouldn’t we all just mind our own business? Because what happens in their bedroom has no effect on your life, right? Right?? RIGHT???

Move along. Nothing to see here.

Do any of these shaming statements sound familiar? They were all used when gay mirage was being shoved down our throats. Christians have tried to argue against such things using secular sandy arguments like the chromosomal health of resulting children or societal norms vs “ickyness” when we should have pointed to the bedrock of the Bible as the fount of our reason to make such determinations. Do we agree with the unbelieving opponents when they say that Leviticus 20:10-16 is a hateful section of the Bible? If not, then perhaps it is time for us to stop assuming the validity of argumentation brought about by people lacking any spiritual awakening. If we have been given the mind of Christ, then perhaps we ought to try using it. Just an idea.

And since this blog is ultimately based on biblical fealty and my love for the church, it would be out of character if I didn’t close with a few… ahem… suggestions for the church, both local and universal.

  1. Churches and church leaders need to resign their status as marrying agencies with the state. Individuals are licensed by the state to preside over legally binding marriages, based on standards that the state chooses to recognize. You may have a marriage that was performed by your pastor in your church, but in order for that marriage to be recognized legally, the state had to approve it. So ultimately, the pastor and the church are operating as agents of the state. I am not trying to undermine the legitimacy of your marriage. I am just stating facts. My solution is simple. Your pastor should refuse to fill out any paperwork for the state and should request to have their legal standing to perform marriages be rescinded. Marriage doesn’t belong to the state, i.e. the Beast. Marriage belongs to God. Retaining a state license may be super convenient to the young lovebirds in your church, but that convenience will eventually come with the horrible price of coercion or penalty. It’s better to just get ahead of it.
  2. Churches need to only recognize marriages that are God honoring. To hell with the emotional outbursts that will result. For thousands of years, there was no organized religion as we would recognize it. There were those who called upon the Lord and there was Melchizedek, who was given a tenth of all that Abram had after bringing out bread and wine. After that a formal priesthood was not constituted until three generations plus 400 years had passed. And yet there was marriage and giving in marriage, with the first marriage recorded in Genesis 2:18-25. Based on the universal gift of marriage from God to our covenant head, we are able to respect any marriage that meets the criteria revealed in scripture. So if an eligible couple is married before a justice of the peace, the church should honor that marriage. Likewise, if any eligible couple wishes to be married in the church the church should celebrate their nuptials. But in so doing, the couple should be told that the church is not recognized by the state. God will honor their marriage, but the state will not, so a follow up with a judge or other person with state credentials might be a good idea at some point. As far as the church is concerned, these people are not living in sin. Radical, right?
  3. Churches need to proceed with confidence, knowing that ultimately the foes who are attacking her will not prevail over her. That’s right. Confidence. Our bridegroom sees what is being done to his bride and He is returning. Even now He is battling a foe that knows it is defeated, but rages all the more. (Revelation 12:12:) And when He comes those who have persecuted the church will know that they were actually persecuting Jesus. (Acts 9:1-6) We have confidence in the future sense, but we also need to maintain perspective that these troubles are the rumblings of Jesus placing every enemy under His feet. 1 Corinthians 15 is a chapter that deals mainly with the topic of resurrection, first of the resurrection of Jesus and then of the general resurrection. This resurrection takes place at the end of this age, coinciding with Jesus returning to deal with those who honored Him as well as those who persecuted Him. (Matthew 25:31-46) That makes 1 Corinthians 15 an explicitly eschatological chapter of the Bible. In closing, I’ll share from this chapter in the ESV, which is my preferred translation. Emphasis mine.

22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 

At the last day, Jesus will DELIVER a completed kingdom to God the Father. This happens AFTER he has destroyed every enemy and foe. This battle wages right now. To realize this and not expect a little blowback would be wishful thinking indeed. Also, Jesus is reigning right now and will continue to reign and to do battle until all of his enemies are under his feet (Psalm 110:1) and we will know when that battle is concluded when the final enemy, death, is destroyed. This optimistic view of eschatology does not require a steady stream of awesomeness as we draw closer to the return. It does provide a lens by which we can understand the present trials and tribulations as the thrashings of enemies who know they are defeated, and are just hoping to do as much damage as possible on the way down.

At this point, I’m only confused when I ponder whether we should refer to these pushes against Christian and societal norms as the Gaystapo or as the Rainbow Jihad. They both have such a nice ring to them.