Monthly Archives: June 2006

Love Buckets and Thimbles

When we deal with someone else’s sin and transgressions and poor reactions to the context that surrounds them, we often give out less grace than what we expect to be given to us when we act in the same manner.  We want love buckets, big and cleansing; yet we ourselves tend to give out thimbles.

Sometimes we even end up in a sin competition. Like inmates at a 4-H rally we gauge the depth of the darkness in their hearts and compare it to our own rooster and can be easily tempted to resent their strutting while ignoring our own planks and annoying patterns and claw marks. Everyone else’s coop is worse than our own. 

Whose life is pure? Whose heart is unaffected?  Sinning isn’t a horse race meant to be judged competitively where we can have less of a reaction to ourselves than we do to others when engaging them.  Mirrors are for examination. (James 1:23-24) 

We should take our Matthew 7 inspection brush and our Galatians 6 tweezers and comb our own conscience and behavior first and foremost and then see how many mercy pails we need.  How many re-dos are we willing to admit we need?  While we certainly do good works in Him (Ephesians 2:10), it is also true that all of our own righteous deeds are still coated in menstrual rags. (Isaiah 64:6) 

If this speaks to you then do something different.  Exercise your new heart and supernaturally love the next person who annoys you.  Drop the water gun and cover them with what covers a multitude of sins. 

…above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 

Paint your love with humility and rest in Him while reciting Philippians 2:3-4 – “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

His ways always exceed our own methods.

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Battlefield Soliloquy

You ever feel like there is no use in trying to resolve something? Ever get to the point of wondering, "How will this all be shored up? How will what you see fully heal?" Working in this post-Katrina world sometimes pushes my sensibilities into that zone. So much to do, so few doing it. So many in need of Him. I begin to see a vision of -One door, two doors, three doors, five; thirty-thousand, forty-thousand…man alive! Green and white and black and swollen and ripped off in piles. How will this all be fixed? I see the faces and I hear the burdens.

I want to do more. I want to unzip my weary skin and battle the woes with my very bones, using them a weapons. Souls perishing and lives uprooted. Disease. Dispersion. Interruption. Upheaval. Death. Politics. The Psalms dance in my view.

“Save me, O God, for the waters have threatened my life. I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched; my eyes fail while I wait for my God.” Psalm 69:1-3

I run up the misery tally and I am overwhelmed, then I remember that this is just one small spec on the vast sphere; a little piece of a much larger whole. I can never see sin as God sees sin nor will I ever fully understand the affects, yet they permeate every cranny of every part of every spec. If this local reminder crushes all that I am then how much more will the reality annihilate me? Even in the trench and stench He shines! His mercy endures forever. Our Father protects and shields us perfectly despite the fact that we feel as though we are bearing the full brunt.

I know I am in a sanctification class, but sometimes I want to switch majors. I know that I am being conformed, but sometimes the pain blocks my grace. That is when I need to have the cool reminders refresh my soul. Again the Psalmist's words enter.

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.” Psalm 46:1-3

God has provided our refuge and comfort and peace. Christ is our portion. O God, please help me to learn how to eat right even on the days when I have a low appetite.

“Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:25-26

SBC. Pharisee? May It Never Be!

The Southern Baptist Convention has gone wonky. They passed Resolution No. 6 "On Alcohol Use in America" during their June assembly. This resolution saddens me greatly for it pushes the line of acceptability by coming full foot into the Pharisee’s camp. We should never seek to enforce our own restrictions on others where God has not spoken.Certainly we are free to make arguments based on principle and reason or wisdom and promote and defend them passionately and with great zeal; however, we cannot make our own laws. When we seek to speak where God has not and then attempt to 'legislate' that conviction we run the risk of hanging a stone tablet around the church's neck. Resolution No. 6 is a classic example of how one can leave the pages of Scripture and begin to make personal conviction a blasting juggernaut straight into the beauty of grace.

Here is the meat of the resolution and some comments.

Years of research confirm biblical warnings that alcohol use leads to physical, mental, and emotional damage (e.g., Proverbs 23:29-35)
What about the command in Proverbs 31:6 “Give strong drink to him who is perishing, And wine to him whose life is bitter.”?

 

 

Alcohol use has led to countless injuries and deaths on our nation's highways.
Throughout this SBC statement the premises are false. ‘Alcohol use’ is not what leads to physical and emotional damage or to the breakup of families or to a life of addiction. The ‘abuse of alcohol’ is the problem.

The breakup of families and homes can be directly and indirectly attributed to alcohol use by one or more members of a family
Again, the abuse of alcohol is the problem and is seen in many family breakdowns; however, so too is watching too much TV and overly career-minded moms, are they advocating a ban on television and working women next?

The use of alcohol as a recreational beverage has been shown to lead individuals down a path of addiction to alcohol and toward the use of other kinds of drugs, both legal and illegal
The SBC would toss the apostle Paul out of their Sunday school teaching position for advocating that Timothy have some wine for his stomach ailments. (1Timothy 5:23)

There are some religious leaders who are now advocating the consumption of alcoholic beverages based on a misinterpretation of the doctrine of "our freedom in Christ"
I don't know of anyone who advocates drinking alcohol in the church apart from what God says in His Word. I like what the Rev. Increase Mather once wrote, "Drink is in itself a good creature of God, and to be received with thankfulness, but the abuse of drink is from Satan; the wine is from God, but the Drunkard is from the Devil."

To not be able to differentiate between correct and righteous use of alcohol and an immoderate use or abuse of alcohol is unacceptable equivocation. God’s Word speaks of the good and righteous use of alcohol. The psalmist declares that wine makes man's heart glad (Ps. 104:14-15). Ecclesiastes 9:7 says, “…eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.” Clearly He approves of right use of alcoholic wine. It is His gift to us.

We also see that in Deuteronomy 14:24-26 God told Israel that if the distance was too great for them to bring their tithe, then they could convert it to money and buy anything they wanted whether oxen, sheep, wine, or strong drink and they were to eat and drink it in the presence of the Lord rejoicing in His glory!

The immoderate use of wine in particular is condemned in Scripture not the mere use of alcohol. Ephesians 5:18 says to “be not drunk with wine” and 1 Timothy 3:8 speaks of not being ‘addicted to wine’. Abuse of alcohol is a lack of self-control. It is the same sinful heart condition that will overeat. I noticed the absence of any resolution that deals openly with the sin of gluttony in the SBC. Southern Baptists almost make it a badge of honor to fix ‘big fixins’ and have large potluck dinners without any charge to watch their eating habits. If one chooses to adopt a use meter it would be good to equally apply the findings to all facets instead of just one.

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

On the Necessity of Reflecting Christlikeness Amidst the Bafoonery

I've noticed recently just how important it is to be gracious. It doesn't take much effort to be nasty, mean, rude, brutish and short, but it takes the humility given to us by Christ to endure verbal assaults wrought by a prideful, inconsistent, inconsiderate, and less-than-gracious tongue fastened to a weak heart. Managing artful discourse is a tough gig.

"… no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison." James 3:8

Are you just out to win an argument or are you concerned about how you are perceived? Perception becomes the reality you have to wrestle with no matter how high the bafoonery. It is therefore imperative that we be cautious, gentle, and slow to anger for our demeanor and constitution speak louder than a thousand megaphones.

Keep your composure, remember Christ, and let the fruit of the Spirit become evident to all who hear you even when you are wrongfully accused and viewed harshly. He endured it all so that you might live. Let the fuel of grace flavor your mode.

"... the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy." James 3:18

A Note On Grace

…There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

“...My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Grace cost God His only begotten Son. It cost me nothing.

Grace causes me to rethink every step and every stumble.

I believe that the secured intellectual understanding of grace that rests in my lower recesses must be pressed down further so that it becomes my essence.

Living in grace is like taking a fresh morning walk on the beach where the line in the sand is freshly drawn every day by the power of His kindness and the motion of His untraceable finger.

Things I’ve Been Thinking

Every time I try harder I dig a deeper hole. The same sneaky self that made the trench wants to see a full canal.

Putting off the wrong behaviors automatically means that I must put something else on or I’m just a half-done loaf of uneatable bread.

Relying on grace doesn’t come naturally.

Many times I want to adjust the color, balance, hue, and brightness on other TV sets while forgetting that my own picture is fuzzed out.

How can He expect so much from a man who is so little?

When I contemplate that the author of the universe, the one who made all things both seen and unseen, has set His affections upon me for the simple pleasure and by the kind intention of His will I’m held emotionally catatonic and forever awed.

Sometimes I wish I could check out but I know the plow awaits me.

Providence only makes sense in hindsight and we will never be able to see the next step clearly yet we know it is perfectly laid.

 

On Book Addiction or The Right Use of Gutenberg’s Offspring

One interesting transformation that I see post-conversion within Christendom is the growing fondness of books. A person is converted to the Truth. One day they are fed a filling theological book and suddenly they gain a growing desire to consume meaty bibliographies and tables of contents. As their soul is nourished by sound biblical teaching found in the printed word the Jesus-puff-n-fluff potpourri-scented-candle books quickly become junk food.

Soon books, books, and more books swell the mind and portions of the monthly budget begin to be siphoned off to fill the appetite. Parts of the house are designated as bookville and the family learns to fear trespassing into that space without authorization.

Walls become knowledge shrines. Plank shelves that once housed souvenirs and cute crafts are now cluttered with Gutenberg’s offspring. Two factors lead to this phenomenon. One is a good motivation and aftereffect and the other is the same ole dragon breath of self.

The good aftereffect comes from a right view of Scripture. If one is convinced that God has spoken to us through Holy Scripture then it immediately follows that we should have a high view of the God-breathed text. (Those who hold to liberal convictions and unorthodox doctrine routinely exhibit a low view of the divinely given autographs making claims of corruption and unreliability. Not only is this seen by their quick retreat from meaningful exegesis into a philosophy of personal eisegesis but it is also observable when you speak to them about their epistemological assurances.)

From Scripture we learn that God has given the church those of supernatural gifting who are teachers. [1Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11] One way that teachers can teach is through writing; therefore, we have a good amount of reliable teachers throughout church history who have written helpful books. Mature steadfastness in attaining truth produces a love of books especially when one is convinced that God has used the printed word to communicate truth and understanding to man through it. Hence, many believers find themselves eating hotdogs on the last Friday of the month since the newest steak has just been released by Audubon Press.

The other motivation is not as noble and forthright. The other catalyst can be yet another sneakiness of pride. Some believers are motivated by the desire to look studious and well-read and as a result spend a good bit of time collecting books that really only amount to puffed-up fixtures. The urge to prop ourselves up under bigger-than-reality imagery infects all of us at some point. In fact, there seems to always be a percentage of propping in almost all that we do. We should destroy that motive whenever we see it in our hearts. [Romans 8:12-13]

Be that as it may, it suffices to say that being a voracious reader with an appetite for true beef is a good and godly thing. May we all learn to balance our ego, inventory, budget, and doctrine by the never ending wisdom and grace of our precious Lord and Savior.

Now get back to that book!

Neron Kaiser – The Calculated Beast

On this day, June the 6th in the year 2006 (6/06/06) many are grabbing their pitch fork radars and scanning the landscape for the Beast. I would like to propose today that we already know who the Beast was and that we should abandon our radar screens and trade them in for gospel preaching megaphones. Here is a mini-argument for the identity of Mr. 666.

Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.” Revelation 13:18

The apostle John gave the numerical concealment of the Beast as 666 in order to disguise the identity during a time of intense persecution. This was not an uncommon practice as we know of many examples of this technique in both Jewish and Greek society. Cryptograms have even been excavated in ancient cities including graffiti love notes such as this one – “philo es anthmos phi mu epsilon" (I love her whose number is 545.) found in the ruins of Pompeii.

So we know that encrypting identities was a well known practice in John’s time when he wrote the Book of Revelation and we know that John wrote the book to the contemporary audience of his day – Rev. 1:1 – “… the things which must soon take place”; Rev. 1:3 – “…for the time is near.” John’s cryptic reference was written to those churches of his day.

Also, the identity of the Beast is a real man. An actual person of history for his number concealment is “that of a man “ (Rev. 13:18). So we know that he is a human and not a system of evil or a political movement. And we know that this person must be someone of evil, a person of blasphemy and he must be a powerful political figure. (Rev. 13:2,7) Given what the text tells us we have a limited number of candidates particularly when we examine the alpha-numeric possibilities combined with those character traits.

A Hebrew spelling of the Roman Emperor Nero’s name is Nrwn Qsr (Neron Kaiser). This name’s numerical value is 666.16 according to Jastrow’s lexicon of the Talmud. Even those who bring up the textual variants of 616 being listed in verse 18 as the number of the Beast (eg. Metzger) have noted that 616 is the numerical value of Nero Ceasar in Latin. It makes sense that perhaps this change was done by certain copyists as to aid in the broader understanding of his identity beyond a purely Jewish reading.

So on this day of the Beast I would draw your gaze away from Bush and Madonna and Ellen and Rush and set your gaze upon the real Beast.

Be wise and calculate the number of the Beast. His legacy lives on.

A Look Under the Sun

"All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor is the ear filled with hearing. That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes 1:8-9

Different times. Same things. Other periods. Same things. Variant cultures. Same things. Here's a glimpse.

 

Music Controversy
"At first the church music was simple, artless, recitative. But rivalry of heretics forced the orthodox church to pay greater attention to the requirements of art. Chrysostom had to declaim against the secularization of church music. More lasting was the opposition to the introduction of instrumental music." John Kurtz, Lutheran Scholar, Church History, Vol 1, p. 376

Easy Believe-ism
"I pray you, put no confidence in your profession. Unless you have Christ in your heart, a profession is but a painted pageantry for a soul to go to hell in. As a corpse is drawn to the grave by horses adorned with nodding plumes, so may you find in an outward profession a pompous way of being lost. God save us from that!" C. H. Spurgeon, The Horns of the Altar, Sermon No. 1826, March 23, 1884

Roman Catholic Priest Sodomy
“The Third Conclusion, sorrowful to hear, is: That the law of continence annexed to priesthood, that in prejudice of women was first ordained, induces sodomy in Holy Church; but we excuse us by the Bible, for the suspect decree that says we should not name it. Reason and experience prove this conclusion. For delicious meats and drinks of men of Holy Church will have needful purgation or worse. Experience for the privy assay of such men is that they like not women. The corollary of this conclusion is that the private religions, beginners of this sin, were most worthy to be annulled but God, for his might, of privy sin send open vengeance.” Third Conclusion of the Lollards, 1395

 

Same sun. Same mankind. Same sins. Same disturbances.

Be Who You Is

If one belongs to a group that stands for a particular doctrine or creed or statement of beliefs than we should expect that they actually adhere to those tenets. When one makes the proclamation “I am a Z” than should we not assume that they hold to all that ‘Z’ is?

I mention this because in my apologetic discourses I find that some individuals will raise up the accusation that when you say “Roman Catholics” or “Jehovah’s Witnesses” or “Mormons” are X you are not being fair. After all, not all who are in those ‘churches’ believe ‘Z’. Okay. But, what it means to be a RC/JW/LDS is to vigorously adhere to ‘Z’.

It is like a squirrel with a beak and feathers becoming the president of the American Sciurus Association of arboreal rodents who is obviously in denial of Article 1 of ‘Z’, since his very physiology unmasks his false membership. There can be diversity within the ASA for we certainly expect to find red, gray, or even fox squirrels to be in the ASA; however, inherent in what it means to be a member of the ASA is that you actually are a squirrel !.

When you claim to be a Z then it would be a good idea to make sure that you actually are one and do the work to find out exactly what a Z is supposed to be in the firstplace. Why would a duck join the ASA?

The fact that the ASA may have some quackers in their ranks doesn’t mean that my comments about the ASA are false, it just means that the ASA’s membership is flawed. My ASA comments still stand.