Tag Archives: Jesus

Outrage Culture; Christian response?

We’ve all experienced outrage culture in some form, haven’t we?  If you’ve been on any type of social media it’s kind of hard to ignore.  The term tacks on “culture” to the outrage because it is so pervasive.  A person shares an opinion and suddenly people are compelled to jump on them, and in a flurry of hastily typed words there’s the equivalent of a slap fight.

But it can be more than that; road rage anyone? How about our sporting events, like the latest headline grabber; Kassian vs. Tkachuk in some hockey action. The thing is this culture grows with “views.”  How many people are watching, what do people want to see, how far can it go?  Take the hockey incident; hockey is one sport where people watch the matches expecting to see a dust up.  We go on Facebook or Twitter and are on the look out for some verbal sparring, or we post something that we know might stir the pot.  How many likes can we get, how do we react to that little laughing emoji, do we push people’s buttons because we actually believe it can make them change?

What are we, as Christians, called to do about all of this?  Anything?  Where is the line drawn since we are to be in the world but not of it?  Also, I’m not doing as some and suggesting that people shouldn’t share their opinions on important topics like politics or religion… obviously not since that’s kind of what this blog is about.  We are taught directly by Christ in scripture to turn the other cheek.  So, if someone is simply goading us or insulting us then perhaps we should be more inclined to let it slide vs. Christ’s example of turning over the table of the money lenders in the Temple.

With sports as well; it is better that mankind work out some violence with sport than with war, but what of violence within sport itself?  Do we, as believers, support more violent pastimes, or find our entertainment and exercise elsewhere?  I don’t think a particular sport, such as hockey or boxing, is inherently evil, not at all, but perhaps we should expect more from participants of our chosen sport.

Words are better than physical wounds, but we also know that the tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21), so maybe a Christian response is more one of thoughtfulness than silence.  If people would take a second and ask themselves if what they are trying to add to a conversation is actually productive, perhaps that would help.  It’s also true that we can simply put an informed opinion out there without then engaging in a meaningless back-and-forth for the fun of it.  Every now and again, we should listen more than we speak.

Matthew 12:36 informs us that we will give an account of every idle word on the day of judgement.  For those of us who believe such things, it should give us at least a moment’s pause.  I’ve been “guilty” of the pull of outrage culture, and that verse in Matthew does spring to mind but perhaps not often enough.  We’re called to be peacemakers with truth and love, never at the expense of either.  Just something to ponder.

 

 

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The Rise of Skywalker & John 15:13

Yes, I’m finally going to let my Star Wars nerd flag fly, after all, I’ve already tackled Doctor Who, Star Trek, Breaking Benjamin, etc…  So, be warned; SPOILERS ahead for the new trilogy, and especially for The Rise of Skywalker.  If you haven’t watched it, what are you waiting for? It’s the best of the new 3, it is still in theaters, and I heartily recommend it.

So, Star Wars has been a part of my family since the original, and that included taking a toddler me to the theater… apparently my first Star Wars enjoyment came from R2-D2, and then morphed into a childhood crush on Han Solo.  Star Wars games, books, comics, movies, fanfic… it was all fair game, and in fact my online nickname “K’liska” came from a Star Wars fic I wrote many moons ago with my brother (I was a bounty hunter, but a good one, of course).  Star Wars has always intrigued those looking for something deeper in their movies, and George Lucas has shared some of the philosophical, cultural, and religious bits and pieces that informed his work, so it’s fair game here.

In the aftermath of seeing Rise, I quickly scanned the net to see what others thought of it all.  I always note what parts of a movie hit me and then see if it did the same to anyone else.  I wasn’t disappointed as the bulk of the conversation (and cursing) revolved around the culmination of Rey’s and Ben Solo’s storyline(s), especially in regards to Ben Solo’s death.

Ben’s story arc was one of redemption, and the evolution of a fractured, volatile, hostile loner into a man who discovered who he really was, and what he was willing to die for.  And die he did… which infuriated a lot of the fan base.  Ben wasn’t a Sith, but he was bad news as Kylo Ren; bad news in the sense that he committed one of the big immoral no-no’s; patricide.  Yes, he killed his own father, Han Solo.  Yet, there were many fans in a rager that Ben’s redemption ended in his own death, and didn’t that “set a dangerous precedent that redemption includes death?!?!”  Yes, of course it did, but it wasn’t a precedent; the precedent has already been set in human lore.

For sin comes death. It’s something that Christians should know from scripture.  It’s one of the huge lessons we are supposed to be learning down here, and it’s not a pleasant lesson to learn.  This is also what leads to the cross, and ultimate redemption via Jesus who died so that we might live. Yeah, yeah, I went there, so let me be clear; I’m not comparing Ben Solo to Jesus Christ, but I am saying death is (super)naturally connected to wrong choices.  In Ben’s case his death was a result of having to rush to save the day after a long series of bad choices and wrong actions, including Palpatine’s own immoral actions.  Jesus’ death was as a result of humankind’s bad choices all along the way of human history.  Ben’s death represented redemption, not only for himself, but also for Rey as well as his grandfather Anakin.

Christ took the idea “for sin comes death,” and put a new spin on it since He was the only sinless one; Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).  Now we see the value in a life laid down on purpose, for purpose.  I get why many fans were so upset over Ben’s death… we had just witness the rise of Ben Solo from the ashes of Kylo Ren, we witnessed the connection and love between Rey and Ben (romantic love or platonic love makes no never mind to me in this article), and the final vanquishing of the evil emperor.   Everyone wanted to cheer and be happy, but the world, even in fictional form, has consequences. Ben Solo laid down his life for his friend.  We, the fans, had just witnessed the greatest act of love possible.  It is heartbreaking in its impact, and that heartbreak leads to emotion.

Good stories (including the kind that play out on film) are meant to impact us and to teach us.  Good stories tend not to reinvent the wheel, but rather pull from story telling traditions that reflect actual reality and the human experience.  So we recognize Ben Solo’s sacrifice as an act of selfless love but we rage against it because it hurts.  That hurt is meant to teach us to live our lives in an upright way, walking tall, while the joy of seeing someone redeemed and saved is meant to make us celebrate and to be brave and to recognize the power of sacrifice.

The Rise of Ben Solo impacted fans enough that it took a real world turn, which I will write about in a separate article soon, link forthcoming (And, here it is: The Rise of Ben Solo).  In the meantime, as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts dear reader, let me know what you thought of the movie, Ben Solo, Rey, JJ vs. Rian (lol), anything relevant you’d like to share…

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He is Risen!

In historical fact and in truth, He is Risen, He is Alive!  God bless all my brothers and sisters in Him on this Easter…

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First the Cross

It’s Good Friday.  There are a lot of thoughts out there on what Good Friday means to us, so I thought I would add mine.  Here are some of my takeaways as to how to apply the lessons of Good Friday to our lives.

Even though you know what’s coming, keep pushing forward.  Avoidance only works in our lives in the short term.  If there is a rough road ahead we sometimes try to skirt around it, and then wind up in a ditch.  We need to logically look at the facts around us, pray to God that His will be done, and then move forward.  Sometimes life flat out stinks… if you see someone preaching that life is roses and kittens 24/7, run the other way.  We, as Christians, are to be made over into “little Christs,” well, that means sometimes first the cross.

Even though you are anxious, keep pushing forward.  Read the scriptures about Jesus in the garden.  Courage isn’t about a lack of anxiety, it is about having anxiety and acting anyway.  Humans get anxious when confronted with hard things.  That’s ok.  Seek out people that can help you with the burden of anxiety, seek out the Father that is always there, always listening to our fears and desires.  And, if you are anxious about everything, it’s time to get some help with that, and I’m saying that sincerely.  Anxiety can turn into a beast that we start to feel we can’t control, and there’s lots of reasons that anxiety can take over, but it can be fought and put back into perspective.  For rational anxiety; things work out, but first the cross.

Even though you are going through excruciating times, you can be right in the middle of God’s will.  Isn’t that one of the ultimate messages?  Don’t let other Christians shame you into thinking that we only suffer if we sin… did not Jesus suffer?  Was not Jesus sinless?  It rains on the just and the unjust alike, and the sun shines on both.  I would love to say that if you convert to Christianity that you won’t suffer… I can’t say that, it would be a lie, but what I can say is that as Christians, suffering has meaning.  Suffering also has an end.  We aren’t to seek suffering out in some masochistic manner, but when it comes to us, we hit our knees, seek His will, and remember His cross.  The resurrection is coming, but first the cross.

Hang in there my fellow humans, it doesn’t end at the cross.

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The Armor(s) of God

So, I’ve blogged a bit about all the troubles we see around us, and as my brothers and sisters in Christ know, we are to put on the whole armor of God… but what does that really mean?  What are the references to this armor in scripture?  Do you know Paul did not originate the idea, nor was he the first to write about it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Let’s take a look;

Ephesians 6: 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

So, in Ephesians we have Truth as a garment that is girded (tied for war), Righteousness as a breastplate, the Gospel as boots, Faith as a shield, Salvation as a helmet, the word of God as a sword.  Let’s dig in a bit to the words here;

First, truth is an easy one, in the Greek alḗtheia, which is just as we would read it, simply truth.  Unchanging fact, and that truth is tied up, girded, as a garment around the “loins.”  The loins in Jewish thought represented (and were) the seat of procreative power.  Truth protects the future of the people of God.  We are to be draped in Truth, and when in war, gird it around us to aid in battle.

Next, we have a Breastplate, covering the thorax and it is Righteousness.  Righteousness in Greek is dikaiosýnē, and is “right-ness.”  It is union with God in the sense of having been made “right” and “upstanding” in relation to Him.  Of course, we believe that is the righteousness granted to us by Christ, by His Righteousness.  So, that covers the thorax; the lungs that breath, the heart that pumps the blood.  It covers your vitals, and the heart is seen to be the seat of thought in Jewish teaching.  The air we breath, the thoughts that make us “us,” and the very blood pumping through our veins is to be covered in Right-ness.

For a foot covering we have the Gospel of peace.  Gospel is euangélion in the Greek, and you should recognize that; evangelize. Are feet are protected and bound up with the Gospel.  In Jewish description, disciples sat at the feet of the teacher.  As we go forth and as we teach others, the first and most important thing to present is the Gospel of Christ; the good news/tidings of Christ. Further, the Gospel acts to protect us on our journey.  Even when we are just walking and not fighting, the gospel protects us because it is covering our steps.  Peace… the gospel is the good news of how to have peace with the Creator of all.

After that is the shield, which is faith.  In the Greek pistis, faith, is trusting with great confidence.  It isn’t head knowledge, it is reliance on something, and it can have different targets.  For the Christian it is God.  In this context it acts to shield us, and is so powerful it doesn’t just stop normal “arrows” but can actually quench the fire that is riding on the arrows.  One of the drawbacks of many shields was that the arrows raining down would “stick” into the shield, and if they were lit with fire, you would have this fire clinging to you.  The shield of faith takes care of the heat and flame, it will not touch you.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

The helmet is next, and is salvation.  Soterion is salvation in the Greek.  Salvation protects your brain.  Remember what the Lord said?  A fool hath said in his heart there is no God.  The mind is a tricky thing, as well as the heart.  We can over think things and even confuse ourselves because we are so sure we are brilliant.  Salvation cuts right to the point and keeps one humble; you can’t save yourself, and if you are smart, you will believe in God.  With salvation comes the gift of the Holy Spirit, and He changes us (including our minds) from the inside out, and protects us from the outside in.

Finally is your weapon; the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  We forget that a sword is both offensive weapon and defensive armor, in the sense that you block oncoming attacks, not just with your shield or other wearable pieces of armor, but also with your weapon.  Notice that Paul tell us we have to “take up” the armor, including the sword.  It’s not just something “there.”  If you want a weapon you need to know the word.  That means time and effort in order to become armed.

Isaiah had a few things to say about armor;

Isaiah 59:15 Yes, truth is lacking; And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the Lord saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. 16 And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, And His righteousness upheld Him. 17 He put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle. 18 According to their deeds , so He will repay, Wrath to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; To the coastlands He will make recompense.

Notice the similarities?  Notice the differences?  Breastplate/Righteousness, and Helmet/Salvation is the same.  Notice this is the Armor of God Himself, it is what He wears.  What is different?  He also has garments of vengeance, and a mantle of zeal.  We don’t have the same thing, we aren’t to take up vengeance, and God’s zeal, His passion and jealousy aren’t a part of our armor or our clothing, they are His.  We learn elsewhere, in Revelation, that He also has a sharp sword coming out of His mouth; the word of the Lord.

Last but not least, read Paul again, and think on this;

Romans 13: 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

And now, to the crux of the command; put on the armor of Light.  And what does that mean; put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Folks, we are living in a war zone, the deeds of darkness are all around us, but we have been given access to the armor of Light.  Put on the whole armor of God, be active in it.  Don’t mistake our clothing for His, we have what we need, we only need to accept and utilize what has been provided for us.  If you haven’t put on the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, my prayer is that you will do so soon.

Grace and peace to all those covered in Him,

K

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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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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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