Sadness for Hard Hearts

This is a post about many things… it’s about the Israeli/Hamas conflict, it’s about the different ages we have lived in along with the different covenants, and it is about the hearts of Christians.  Admittedly this is about my heart, because I find myself having to write today after a very disturbing happening on a Christian message board.  I worries me for the sake of some professed believers because apparently many people do not acknowledge the depth of their own sinfulness and the role Jesus plays in this age of grace, and it makes me incredibly incredibly sad.

First, let me be clear on a few things; Israel is doing the right thing in battling Hamas.  That is what I believe having looked at the facts of what transpired prior to Israel’s retaliation against Hamas rockets.  Israel has an absolute right to defend herself.  Israel is also right in doing something else that no one is talking about; Israel sends aid and even sets up hospitals in order to help the Palestinian people.  While Hamas tries to bomb and attack the roads and the workers bringing that aid to the civilians.  Hamas does not believe in civilians, Israel does.

There is coming a time when God will refocus everything on Israel because He still has promises to keep to them as a nation.  But right now we are in the Church Age, this is the age of grace.  The Church does not replace Israel, Israel still has a future front in center of God’s attention. In Christ, therefore in the Church, there is neither Jew nor Greek.  We truly live in a special age, an age of mercy and grace.  God speaks to us through His Son, for now there are no kings or prophets or judges leading Israel, there is no temple, hence Israel is not in the same position as it was in the OT with the ability for their leaders to receive orders directly from God.

So here is what has me upset, you can leave a comment if you like to explain why I either should or should not be upset.  The question was posed whether or not, given the capability, Israel should wipe out every Palestinian.  Seriously that was the question.  The argument is that Israel, under the Old Covenant, and in the OT was ordered to do that very thing in different circumstances.  I was saddened by all the responses that agreed that they should indeed wipe them out.  I pointed out that Palestinians are not all members of Hamas, nor do all of them support Hamas.  I also pointed out that there are brothers and sisters in Christ who are Palestinian. None of that mattered.

Hamas needs to be wiped out, just like the Nazi were stopped. Of course they should be.  We all also know that civilian casualties in war are inevitable, and it doesn’t help when Hamas uses human shields… why do they do that?  Because they don’t believe in civilians. Literally, they believe everyone is a combatant.  But here’s the catch; they are wrong.  Perhaps these Christians I was conversing with would like to go kill all the Palestinian infants?  I’m confused, I’m saddened, and it is readily apparent they don’t recognize that we are in the Church age.

This is the age of mercy and grace, and yes, it will come to an end, but right now we are in it.  Jesus did not tell His people to go try to kill all the Romans, and we are the Body of Christ.  We represent Jesus now.  Again, there will be a time when the church is not here, then the game changes, and God resumes His direct interaction with Israel, but that time is not yet.  To see Christians promoting the wiping out of humans on that scale saddens me to the core.  Where is the mercy and grace?  Where is the acknowledgment that we are guilty sinners worthy of death ourselves outside of Christ?  Where is the teaching that we should be trying to reach both Muslims and Jews with the good news of Christ, right up until we are snatched away?  Where is the teaching on the difference between the Old and New Covenants, and why God ordered what He did in the OT? Ugh.

My heart hurts, and I’m so disappointed, and that disappointment is obviously directed at man, not God.  I will continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and to support Israel, and thank goodness that Israel herself doesn’t take the view of some very vengeful believers.

To my brothers and sister I say grace and peace be with you through Jesus our Lord.

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All we can do is pray.

Ugh.  Recently this phrase has been everywhere; television, social media, the internet… I have no doubt there are cases of life getting to the point where “all we can do is pray,” but mostly that is poppycock, piffle, and balderdash. It’s also an excuse to be lazy, or offhand.  Don’t get me wrong, brothers and sisters, praying is powerful, praying is called for, and praying should precede other things… but it isn’t the only thing we can do in 99% of the cases.

Let’s take the recent and ongoing Ebola outbreak.  All we can do is pray. No, we can find out about it and become educated on what Ebola is, how it is spread, how to prevent it, what to do if you suspect you’ve been exposed, etc… We can also find out who it is effecting and how to help.  Whether it is Politics, Israel’s battle against the terrorist group Hamas, Economics, World Hunger, The Youth leaving the church, whatever it is we can do more than pray.

If you want this country of ours, the USA, to be different, then pray, but don’t stop there.  Do what you can when you can.  Read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, find out who your representatives are, aid the campaigns of people you support, find a need in your local community and fill it, teach a class at your church, fly a flag, you get the picture.  Do we “have” to do these things? No, of course not, but don’t utter that phrase unless it is true… but don’t forget even in those circumstances, there is also singing, and praising, and worshiping.

As an aside, much of what we can “do” revolves around our own homes and our own families.  Educate yourself and your families, get your house in order (literally), see to your own finances, have strong bonds with your families, then learn to look outside of yourselves, outside of your own homes, or towns, or even countries.  Many of my readers have already done all of this, and to you I say; great job! Truly.  Keep it up.  But some of us, me included, need a nudge, a reminder.

God is powerful beyond measure.  He’s in control and history itself bends to His will.  Yes, pray.  Scripture tells us to pray.  But let us also open ourselves up to the nudges of the Holy Spirit and do the works He empowers us to do by grace through faith, that all flows from God.

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Famous Last Words

When we look at the books of the New Testament (NT) chronologically, we can do something kind of interesting.  We can look at the main authors of the NT (Peter, Paul, and John), and figure out which words we can read in scripture were the “last words” of aforesaid Peter, Paul, and John.  That is what we are going to do in this article, but it is also interesting to go through and read the last sentences of the books of the Bible; it doesn’t take long and it can really make you think, so when you have some free study time, try it out.

Alright, here’s the list:

Peter: 2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Paul: 2 Timothy 4:22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.

John: Revelation 22:21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Do you see the theme yet?  I see 3 components that are always there.  This article is inspired by a teaching by Doc Scott, and he picked one aspect to focus on so I mention that component first, and that is grace.  “Grow in grace,” “grace be with you,” and “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”  Do you think grace is important?  Each and every last word from the heavy hitters of the NT includes grace.  What is the second?  Jesus Christ.  What is the third?  The “amen,” the affirmation to the reader of these things.  When God repeats things, they tend to be important don’t they?

In order of importance:

1) Jesus.  Let’s look at the phrases used: Lord, Saviour, Christ.  Those are the titles given to Him in these three passages.  The way that the word “Lord” is used here by Jewish individuals can leave no room for debate, it means they are bestowing the honor of the word reserved for God and apply it to Jesus.  Remember Thomas’ “my Lord and my God?” Here that is underscored by the big 3.  Saviour meaning one who saves. Christ meaning Messiah.  So Jesus, our “God is with us,” Who is our Savior and Messiah is the cornerstone of the great last words of Peter, Paul, and John.  We would expect no less, but do we recognize Him in such a profound way in our speech, even in our churches in today’s world?  Should He not be included in every single last word that we have in our churches and between believers? Our Lord, Saviour, and Messiah; Jesus.

Peter even admonishes us to grow in the knowledge of Jesus.  We should learn of and be reminded of, His life, death, and resurrection.  His life including perfection, and His teachings, His death and why He had to die, and His resurrection as the sign and promise of our faith.  Study it, teach it, learn of Him because His yoke is easy and burden light.

2) Grace.  I’ve taught on here about grace.  The Greek means “unmerited favor.”  Peter received the grace of Jesus firsthand after denying Him 3 times.  Jesus forgave and forgave and forgave.  Peter never earned it.  Neither do we ever earn forgiveness.  We cannot work our way to forgiveness, there is no physical act we can do to earn forgiveness, He bestows it upon us and we are to grow in it!  This is why I decry anything that smacks of sacramentalism.  Peter, Paul and John offer the reminder of grace and the free flowing nature of it from God to us, and we don’t do anything to merit it.  The Lord and Saviour Jesus the Messiah did everything to merit the grace for us!!  What is our response? Faith.

In Galatians 2:21 Paul boldly proclaims “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”  Jesus died for the free flow of grace to us from our God!  His death was both necessary and sufficient to open the gate… to tear down the curtain dividing us from God.  Paul clearly says, “grace be with you.”  Unmerited favor be with you.  No hoops, no red tape; grace be with you.  The same comes from John, the Apostle of love; “grace be with you.”  Do you get it yet? lol Grace be with YOU.

3) Amen.  Amen translates into “so be it.”  Grace be with you, so be it.  That’s double affirmation being displayed with faith.  It is the communication that what has proceeded the “amen” is in line with God’s will, and that it shall be done because of His goodness and promises. When we have faith, which is trust, in what God has said and done, we have that ability to say amen; so be it.  Jesus is Lord, Saviour, and Messiah.  Learn about Him.  Grow in His grace. So be it!  If only our preachers and teachers reminded us of this, and underscored the meaning of it, and taught it with authority.

So, those are the things that Peter, Paul, and John believed were so fundamental that they included them at the very end of their correspondence.  Humans tend to remember the first things and the last things mentioned to them in letters and speeches. Pay attention to these things and put them in your heart, because they are fundamental to what it means to be Christians.

To my fellow believers in Jesus who have placed their trust in Him, I say; grace and peace be with you through faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

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Christian Response to the Illegal Immigrant Crisis

The present crisis here in the US centered on illegal immigration can present a bit of conundrum for the born-again’s.  We have people flooding here that have nothing, are sick, are hurting, and are breaking the law.  So, what do we do?  Do we listen to our head or do we listen to our hearts?  The answer is both.

We are American Christians.  We have an individual responsibility, like the good Samaritan, and we have a responsibility to our country as good citizens.  So the answer can seem elusive, but it’s not.  As individuals we are to help those that are here that are legitimately hurting, scared, sick, and alone… mainly children and widows, those that have no church, those that have no family.  We feed them, clothe them, help them physically, mentally, and spiritually.

At the same time we call our gov’t to task for allowing this to happen.  Our borders are breached, our health is at stake, and this is taking away resources that the gov’t should be handling in fiscally responsible ways for people that are citizens of this country.  The borders need secured and protected.  The American people need protection from the terrorists, gang member, and drug cartels that are free to come and go as they please because we have had a series of administrations that refuse to protect us, as well as protection from communicable diseases.  We need to send these illegal immigrants home.

There is no paradox here.  This is our faith.  We do as we can to aid the needy, sick, and lost, AND we demand our gov’t enforce it’s borders and its laws.

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Book Review; Kisses From Katie

I mentioned in a recent post that I would be review this book soon, and here it is!  The full title is Kisses from Kate: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie J. Davis, and Beth Clark.  The story is written from Katie’s perspective and Katie is a very interesting sister in Christ.  Katie traveled to Uganda on a short-term mission trip that changed her, and her family’s lives forever.  That short-term trip turned into what is shaping up to be a lifelong adventure.

Falling in love with the people there, and seeing the poverty, disease, and suffering first hand, Katie felt called to return to Uganda… and now she has 13 adopted Ugandan daughters, and is the founder of a really neat charity; Amazima Ministries.  Obviously the book is an account of how all of this went down with the focus being on Jesus and His call on our lives, whatever that call may be.

First, let me say that I loved the book, loved the story, and it is very readable.  I would highly suggest this book to Christian high school students.  All believers would enjoy this account, but I single out students of that age because I feel it would open their hearts to possibilities.  Having said that, this is also the book that prompted me to post an article I titled “Two Left Feet.”  The danger is that those that read Kisses from Katie will either take away legalism, and/or the idea that we all have to go to Uganda and adopt orphans.  Katie is very clear in her book that isn’t the case, but it is not stated in as clear of a manner as I embrace, hence my article.

I admit, the story amazes me, esp. because of Katie’s age (starts at 17/18) and this is from a person who believes that children and adolescents are capable of moving mountains under certain circumstances, and that hard work should not be denied them.  The only thing about this book that may bother certain readers is the sometimes heart-wrenchingly accurate descriptions of the aforesaid poverty, disease, and suffering.  This is definitely a book that helps redefine priorities and does so in a manner that is so refreshingly straightforward with good storytelling and very little “preaching.”  I give it the Scribbler honor of being one of those books I plan to read again.

Get it, read it, give it to a teen, you won’t regret it.

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Confirmation from the Duggar-Dillard Wedding

Please be aware that adult topics are contained in this article.

I’ve reviewed the books out from the Duggar family, and their show, and have talked about things that I agree with from their beliefs, and things I disagree with.  This article really isn’t about the wedding itself, so if you are hoping for some new tidbit of information from Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard’s nuptial day, look elsewhere.   What this article is about is actually the reactions I’ve read around the ‘net about Jill, dating, kissing, sex, and such, that have been expressed as a result of this wedding.

For those of you who don’t follow the Duggars, one of their daughters got married this week, and it was a big deal in the realm of reality TV followers.  Jill Duggar married Derick Dillard after a swift courtship and engagement. “Quirks” about their relationship: 1) They met by being introduced by Jill’s Dad,and both families were involved in their respective “kid’s” interactions with each other. 2) They courted, they did not date.  3)  Their courtship and engagement were very short, they married quickly. 4) They did not hold hands until the proposal. 5) They saved their first kiss until their wedding day.  6) Which obviously means no sex before they were married.  7) Jill had a beautiful dress purchased at a mainstream store.

Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  

Jill and Derick followed their personal beliefs (they are both adults in their 20’s capable of making their own choices) when it comes to modesty and purity in their relationship, leading up to the wedding, and at the wedding itself.  What shocked me wasn’t their choices, but the world’s reaction to their choices.  Isaiah was spot on for today’s society.  All logic is gone, and morality has been flipped on its head.

1) The family was involved in introducing Jill and Derick.  Who cares?  How many people out there of all backgrounds were introduced by family and friends?  A lot.  The other aspect is a bit different than the norm, but makes a lot of sense to me; their families were involved in the courtship.  When they would go somewhere, a family member or a friend went with them.  Why?  Because it is a lot easier to be overwhelmed when we are attracted to someone when we are alone where hormones kick in and you may do something you’ll regret.  Also, they actually cared about the opinions of their family.  The world laughs at this.  The world mocks purity, mocks safety, mocks wise counsel.

2 and 3) Courtship vs. dating.  Courtship is a bit more serious than dating, though it isn’t engagement.  The world mocks anything that doesn’t embrace multiple partners for anything; dating, kissing, sex on demand… How dare a couple actually “date with a purpose,” and that purpose being seriously looking for a mate and not giving anything away for free to someone who may not feel the same as you.  They met, they courted, they fell in love, they got engaged and got married.  People of the world started attacking them for getting married so quickly, acting as though that is dooming them to an unhappy marriage. Hmm…. perhaps they are looking at their own 1st, 2nd, and 3rd marriages making a “common sense” judgment call?  I found it funny when people that married far faster did have the guts to speak up and talk about being happily married, sometimes for 60 plus years.

4 and 5) No hand holding until engagement, no kissing until married.  Wow, this is where we see all morality flipped on its head.  People mocked these beliefs outright… ok, I get it.  It is different, it is strict, and it could be legalistic.  However, there was another line of thinking and mocking that left me dumbfounded.  That was when they were ridiculed because they held hands too intensely.  Read that sentence again.  They were then mocked after their engagement that their hand holding was too sexual. Wait… what?  People talking about how many people they slept with before marriage suddenly turn and call Jill and Derick all kinds of names because they enjoyed holding hands too much. No, I’m not joking.

Kissing.  They saved their first kiss for their wedding day.  You know when the preacher, priest, pastor, etc… says “you may now kiss your bride?” For the majority of human history, this was indeed permission to do something you had never done.  So, they waited.  I think it’s awesome, while I fully admit in our culture it is totally foreign. Jill complimented her husband on his kissing ability, and the world mocks her asking “how would she know?” Besides the evil in men’s hearts, all I can think that would cause people to be so bitter is jealousy.  By the time most young people get to their wedding day, they’ve given everything physical away to someone who is not their spouse.  I’m not judging it, but when someone doesn’t do that, they are attacked.  Good=evil and evil=good.

6) Sex. Abstinence. Suddenly sleeping around, hooking up, one night stands are cool, and waiting for someone you love that you are going to be with til death is mocked. Fantastic. STD’s, broken hearts, unplanned pregnancies, memories you can’t get rid of… all of these things and more are not enough to get some people to understand why it may be good to practice self-control.  Further, Jill is training to be a midwife.  She attends and directs births all the time.  Yet, she’s mocked and ridiculed for being sheltered from sex. Haha. It’s true. It’s laughable.  The world has made a turn, and it isn’t a good one. Rude and lewd remarks about her honeymoon night abound. Good=evil, evil=good.

7) The Duggars are mocked for their thrifty ways (they are debt free and have a good income). They are also mocked for spending money. Yeah… They were mocked for what they served at the reception for being “cheap” (they weren’t). They were then mocked when people found out that Jill had a special day at a mainstream bridal shop and paid for a private fitting and party in the shop while she picked out her dress and had it altered.  They were called redneck hicks, then they were called elite snobs. Heh.  Conservative non-conformists have a bulls-eye painted on them, and if you are a conservative non-conformist who believes in Christ, so do you.  The Bible says it, and it’s is absolutely true.  Regardless of if your beliefs look like theirs, if you really believe  in Jesus, and you are a conservative who strives to do right based on your beliefs, you have a target painted on you.  Persecution, ridicule, mockery, it is only set to get worse.

Again, I do not express our shared beliefs the same way the Duggars do, but I do believe in purity, family, modesty, self-control, financial stewardship, etc… and I wrote this article to draw attention to the state of the world even over something as simple and beautiful as two believers getting married.  Please please please parents, teach your kids, read the word, resist the world, be in it but not of it.  Look around and see what is happening to morality.

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Two Left Feet

We are the body of Christ. All of us who faithe on Him, all of us who believe.  We are the body.  My understanding of this is evolving as I study it, it is evolving as I read, and it is evolving as I pray.  One recent thing that has been bouncing around my brain came up again as a result of reading a really good book that I will review soon: Kisses From Katie.  I’m going to say some things in this article that may indicate I didn’t like the book, or the philosophy found it in, but that’s not true.  It is a jumping off point for me because certain themes keep cropping up in the Christian community.

We have amongst us people that are hands, people that are feet, people that are heart, that are ears, that are blood, that are nerve endings, etc… and that’s wonderful! As Paul says, we are all members of the body of Christ and we each have a role to play.  The problem I see in certain aspects of our Christian society is that we have certain members, say feet, demanding that everyone else be feet too.  I’m a foot, why aren’t you a foot? If you were really a part of the body, you’d be a foot.

Wait… what?  That is antithetical to what Paul directly and clearly teaches in scripture.  If I’m a heart and I try to be a  foot; ouch.  If the body of Christ has two metaphorical left feet, there is no dancing.  I must be what I’m called to be, where I’m called to be it.  Not all of us are called to the mission field in China.  Not all of us are called to go wash people’s bodies in Uganda, India, or Southeast Asia.  Not all of us are called to be lawyers.  Not all of us are called to be preachers in the U.S. Not all of us are called to be kindergarten teachers, or economists, or business men.

There are, however, certain things that the body of Christ has in common, certain traits that we are all called to have because we belong to the same body.  The character of the person connects each bit; my hand can’t be moral or immoral, but I can be moral or immoral and can involve my hand and its actions directed by “me.”  This also holds true since we are a part of the body of who? Christ.  Loving, caring, sober-minded, sharing the gospel with all, helping those around us, etc…  So, yes, there are traits in common, but different roles in life, and we need each person fulfilling their God-given role to make this whole thing run smoothly.

I guess my point is that we need to make sure that we are seeking out what God has in mind for us and our role and not to try to conform ourselves to other believers in their personal roles.  If I’m an eye and try to act like mouth, it isn’t going to work out very well for me or the rest of the body.  Instead of concerning ourselves with modeling ourselves after others who we see doing a really good job in their role, we need to be seeking the wisdom of God in finding and fulfilling our role, as well as being open the possibility that even if our favorite role model is a knee, we just might be an elbow. No role is insignificant.

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