Archive for the 'Guest Article' Category

NOTE: This is a repost of an article written by Len Winneroski, a friend of mine. You can see the original at his blog, here.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Matthew 5:17-18

Have you ever looked up the meaning of your name?  Names are important to God.  For instance the Bible tells us that God changed Abram’s name to Abraham (Genesis 17:5), Sarai’s name to Sarah (Genesis 17:15), Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 32:28), and Simon’s name to Peter (Matthew 16:18) to signify important events or roles that each of these individuals would play in God’s plan for humanity. The Bible also tells us that God has new names awaiting those who belong to Him.  Revelations 2:17 promises “To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna.  I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”

Recently a friend told me to check into the Hebrew meaning of the names in the lineage of Adam to Noah (Genesis 5).  In the Hebrew language the number ten symbolizes absolute completeness.  For instance God gave man Ten Commandments, ten plagues were inflicted on Egypt, ten adults are the required quorum for a prayer service in Judaism, and there are ten generations between Adam and Noah.  So what do these ten Hebrew names mean?

According to Chuck Missler (1):

Adam means “man,”

Seth means “appointed,”

Enosh means “mortal,”

Kenan means “sorrow,”

Mahalalel means “blessed God,”

Jared means “shall come down,”

Enoch means “teaching,”

Methuselah means “His death shall bring,”

Lamech means “despairing,”

Noah means “to bring relief or comfort.”

If you put these meanings together you get: man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.  Amazing.  The plan of salvation in names that I have read over multiple times without much of a thought….

Dear Lord thank you for giving us everything that we need in your Holy Word.  I stand in awe of your wisdom and mercy.  May your will be done now and forever.

(1) www. khouse.org/articles/2000/284/

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The following article is a guest post from a friend of mine, Len Winneroski at Manna and Coffee. Enjoy!

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11 (NIV)

Some of my friends are crazy about sushi. Sushi is vinegar flavored rice that is usually topped with fresh, thinly sliced raw seafood. The raw seafood is called sashimi, which is a Japanese word that means “pierced body.” Sushi is usually eaten with soy sauce that is mixed with wasabi paste. Not all sushi contains raw fish, but this is what normally comes to mind when people think about sushi. To be safe, raw sashimi should be frozen for at least 24 hours before it is thawed and prepared. It takes some skill to prepare raw seafood and it is best when it is eaten within a few hours after preparation.

As I was thinking about the fresh, raw appeal of sushi I couldn’t help but think about how truth is a lot like sushi. There is something so fresh, raw and real when someone speaks truth into your life. For me the Bible is spiritual sushi. Hebrews 4:12 says, “for the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” There are many times that I have been reading the sacred and living Word and felt like God has literally grabbed me by the back of my neck and reached down into my soul.

When you are really looking, you can find God’s truth all around us. There is truth in the sunrise and sunset. There is truth is in a baby’s smile and in a lovers embrace. There is truth in tears and there is truth in laughter. All of these truths point to ultimate Truth. In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Isn’t that what we are all looking for, direction, truth and real life?

When God speaks a truth into our lives we should rejoice. How many times has God spoken truth into my life and I did not eat it immediately? I let the truth sit on the plate and just stared at it until I convinced myself that it smelled bad and that it was just not really that appetizing. God doesn’t want us to be afraid of truth. Jesus told us that “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Next time that you think about sashimi and sushi, think about Christ’s “pierced body.” Spiritual sushi.

Dear Lord, please forgive me when I am too full of myself to hear your Word to me. Please help me to be courageous enough to love the truth and humble enough to listen, trust and obey.

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[The following is a guest post by our friend, Rick Frueh, on the topic of Christianity of Just War, from a Biblical Pacifist point of view. Chris L has written a similar post from the point of view of a Christian's support of the notion of Just War.]

Biblical Pacifism

Blessed are the peacemakers…

A Short Introduction

If I may borrow from the language of Dickens, “There is no doubt that the Old Testament has passed. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing good can come of the truths I am going to relate”. The way God did things in the Old Testament are decidedly different from the way God interacts with man in the New Covenant. The writing of Hebrews distinctly informs us that “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds…”. It is disingenuous and self serving to cull out portions of the Old Testament and suggest that they are life patterns for followers of the Lord Jesus. The Old Testament Scriptures are mainly revelatory shadows that speak of the coming Christ. The horrific violence that took place in the Old Testament must remain a mystery, but it cannot be dragged into the gospel of grace.

Christ Himself laid out principles that helped us place the Old Testament in its rightful context. “You have heard it said…but I say unto you” is one of the teachings that awaken us to the superiority of the Words spoken by the Incarnate Christ, and they clearly indicate a difference. Abraham, Moses, and Solomon are just a few of the Old Testament figures to whom Christ openly claimed to be superior. I do not believe it is necessary to present a litany of things that God did in the Old Testament that are a mystery and outside our present understanding of God through the perfect prism of the Incarnation.

If you see the Old Testament dealings by God as a partial template for us today, well then you not only have carte blanche for almost any kind of violence and revenge, you have a colossal problem with the teachings of Jesus. The Old Testament must be seen as transitional and we must by faith trust that God in His wisdom was always moving toward Christ, even though many things were violent and without mercy. How could God do what He did in the Old Testament and yet now reveals Himself in Christ? As Hammerstein once observed, “Fools give you answers, wise men never try”.

So here we are, firmly planted in the New Covenant and with the perfect revelation of God in the Person of Jesus Christ. It is His life and teachings that are foundational, and the recorded teachings of the apostles must be viewed as ancillary and a further unfolding of those same teachings. But let me suggest on the outset that any reading of all twenty-seven books of the New Testament in one continuous reading will present an overwhelmingly non-violent message. Give a New Testament to a brand new believer who has no nationalistic allegiances, place him for one year upon a secluded island, and after one year ask him if he sees Jesus’ teachings as supporting violence in any form.

So why do we as believers make allowances for violence, even violence on a massive scale when it comes to some scenarios upon this world? Again from Hammerstein,

You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,You’ve got to be taught from year to year,
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear, you’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid, of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade, you’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate, you’ve got to be carefully taught!

Of course those words refer to racism, but the principle is the same. The reason we modern believers have made a space for violence in certain situations is because somewhere in the past decades the concept crept in and we have been taught the same since birth. Violence is appreciated and lauded in our western society and somehow the church has adopted that as well.

And let us be perfectly clear; nationalism and national allegiance alters everything we think about being followers of Jesus Christ. The church lives with divided loyalties and that dualism distorts our view of many things in Scripture and indeed dilutes the teachings of Jesus and makes them compatible, if not subservient, to the dictates of our national perspectives. Please do not think that non-violence will make sense in this present world, and many times if the teachings of Jesus do fit nicely into this western culture then they are bastardized versions.

It isn’t just our view of violence that has been diluted and made palatable to the church, it is almost all the teachings of Christ, which if we haven’t softened them to accommodate our western lifestyles, we teach them in purity but compromise them in practice. The teachings of Jesus are without question non-violent if we receive them according to the understanding of language. The only way we can suggest exceptions is to interject nationalism which is usually under the heading of “self defense”. The theory is that when it comes to self defense, either personal or national, violence can be God’s way in some situations. And I will readily admit that principle seems reasonable and even logical, especially when you project a spirit of restraint and using violence as a last resort.

For a moment, let us examine how the early believers thought and behaved. There are statements from the the Didache (AD 60-130), as well as from Ignatius (about 110) and Polycarp that have been used to support pacifism, however the statements are more direct warnings against hate than they are dealing with non-violence. Justin Martyr gives more substantive statements that seem to support non-violence, including,
“We who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and every wickedness … have changed our warlike weapons – our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into implements of tillage.”

That still is not a significant treatise on pacifism. But there were many pagans in the first two centuries who castigated Christians for refusing to enter the military and for their pacifism as well as their allegiance to Christ at the expense of patriotism. The early Christian writer and theologian Tertullian, considered the father of the doctrine of the Trinity, taught that converts to Christ should immediately resign from the military. That was probably a mix of pacifism as well as a more clear manifestation of one’s allegiance.

Origen, another early Christian theologian, wrote that Christians do not serve as magistrates or soldiers; rather they fight by prayer. They refuse public office in order to keep themselves “for a diviner and more necessary service … the salvation of men”. He did exhort prayers for soldiers that fight in a just cause. Augustine and Luther both accepted the notion of just wars. So to be accurate, the issue was a mixed bag. However it is apparent that there were many believers who were unashamed pacifists.

When Constantine comes upon the scene, he sees an apparition of the cross in the sky and interprets that in many ways. Two Constantinian interpretations are that God will be with believers in war, as well as his refining of the doctrine of anointed earthly empires. This teaching in several forms has continued until today. Most of American evangelicalism espouses the notion that God birthed the nation of America for a special purpose, in addition to the truth that God uses all things to accomplish His will. In short, the overwhelming majority of Christian schools teach that America was formed as a Christian nation and that patriotism is part of being a good Christian. Portraits of Washington, Jefferson, and others are common in evangelical schools, even though Washington was a slave owner and Jefferson was a heretic.

The concept of divine favoritism manifested in certain nations has pervaded the American church and over the many decades it has become an important tenant. Hidden and overt in this teaching is the acceptance of war and violence as God’s earthly instrument of justice. To be sure the nation of America has war and violence in its constitution and practice, but our mission is to compare that with the teachings of Christ. And the teachings of Jesus must have superior status and they must be authoritative over any and all other teachings and practices. This is difficult within a culture that thrives on viewing their nation as superior in many ways, including a tortured divine favored status.

This is a short background and partial history of pacifism as viewed and practiced in Christianity. There are many teachers throughout church history who reject pacifism and teach different levels of divinely accepted violence and even war. But both sides must withstand the scrutiny of New Testament teachings. . I do want to express my appreciation for Chris Lyons allowing my point of view to be posted on his blog; his posts will be on my blog, and I also want to shred myself of any judgment of believers who sincerely disagree with my views. I believe there are very committed followers of Jesus who see things in this area differently than do I.

You Cannot Serve Two Masters

And now I am going to address my views as I understand and interpret Scripture. At the outset, in order to suggest that Jesus allows and supports violence of any kind, you must have a dual kingdom view. What I mean is that almost all believers who support certain kinds of violence due to circumstances, do so in the context of a national kingdom. These believers support war because they have an allegiance to a certain nation, usually the one in which they live.

In order to support some wars you must believe that some wars are “just”, or in other words, justified. And that view emanates from an earthly kingdom view that believes that God favors different nations, depending upon the war. This just war opinion must always be formulated through the conduit of second hand information and usually through secular sources that are almost always slanted by allegiance or political bias. So we receive information from a biased secular source through the television, magazines, the internet, and the general chit chat of public discourse. And wholly based upon that information, we are to form an opinion about the whether it is God’s will for men and women to die on both sides because the nature of the conflict is just, at least from our view?

It is true that governments have the power to punish criminals and declare war, but that should not be the business of God’s church. Let us not forget that we are the collective body of Jesus Christ and collectively we are to minister life through Christ to the uttermost parts of the world. When Jesus speaks about doing good to our enemies and blessing those who curse you, He never gave a caveat that suggested you could abrogate those commands if the nation in which you were living decided a war was necessary. That is the dualistic view of which I formerly mentioned.

Many believers will suggest a difference between murder and killing, and they will say that when God said “Thou shall not kill” that He meant murder. Of course to those who are murdered and to those who are killed the difference is moot – they are all dead. But again, the exception is made through a nationalistic prism, and in fact, if a believer has no allegiance to an earthly nation he cannot make that argument. The conundrum goes further when you realize that many times believers are killing believers in wars. Which side is God on in those cases?

I will openly admit that being a pacifist is revolutionary and radical, especially when you realize how culturally entrenched are our thoughts on the subject. I am 57 years old and I had never met or heard a pacifist until this last decade, although I know there were many. The conscientious objectors were the closest thing to pacifists I had ever known. And since becoming a believer in 1975, not only had I never met a Christian pacifist, I had only heard and believed that violence was sometimes God’s design to solve international disputes. The classic argument went something like this, “What would have happened if we had not stopped Hitler?”

There are a couple of things wrong with that theory. The foundational fissure for the believer is that we can never subscribe to the end justifies the means formula, and we must obey God outright without the thought of consequences. This applies in our personal lives as well. Along the same line, could it be possible that we missed an incredibly opportunity to shine a light amidst great darkness? Sometimes the “what ifs” compromise a remarkable commitment to God’s Word.

The Hitler question also illuminates how we as believers have come to think. We think as Americans and many times not Christians. Because we are politically active, and because we salute the flag and say the pledge of allegiance, we have become Americans who happen to be Christians. We must think as followers of Jesus Christ, or at least aggressively attempt to think as one. There are many wars that have been fought since WW II and many wars continue today. Why are we not fighting in some of those wars since many people are being killed at the hands of evil aggressors? The reason is obvious – they are not killing us, which is a larger form of the American walking past the man who was robbed in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Do you see the unchristian and duplicitous nature of such things? In essence, let the Angolans die, it is not a national security issue for us.

I do not wish to belabor the point, I believe you can see my perspective. I will leave you with many passages of Scripture that when taken literally are in stark contrast to the nationalistic violence promoted by western evangelicals. I have yet to hear a believer who lives in American say that violence is approved in some cases, but his reasoning is not in any nationalistic vein. It is always tethered to nationalism, which is another deceptive compromise on many levels. But if we are followers and imitators of Jesus, we are presented with a mountain of teachings that fly in the face of what we have been taught. In this New Testament context, it seems to me that Jesus and His teachings are clear, albeit counter cultural, about how we should live among the darkness.

Many times Jesus did something that was astounding to His followers since it seemed to go against the vision that they had for the Jewish kingdom. You can read about an account in Matthew chapter eight when a Roman centurion, one who was over one hundred men, came to Jesus interceding for his sick servant. Now this soldier was part of the occupying Roman Empire which was one of the most brutal forces in any time. Jesus offered to go to this man’s house but the man refused because he considered Jesus a rabbi and felt it was inappropriate for Jesus to enter his home. It was a sign of respect.

Remember this man was the enemy of the nation of Israel and of God’s people, and he did not come to hear Jesus, he wanted something that would benefit him. He desired his servant to be healed. Jesus did heal the servant with His word, but he also made these interesting statements:

Matt.8:10 – When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

What? What kingdom did He mean when He said they would be cast out? And what kingdom would come from around the earth and sit down with Abraham? It doesn’t take much thought to realize that Christ was speaking prophetically about the coming kingdom living in the church. In the context of a “just war” the Jews would be justified in killing this centurion, but notice how he dealt with the earthly, nationalistic, and ethnic kingdom. Instead of directing the Jews to kill this enemy combatant, Jesus dealt with him in a supremely gracious way – He healed his servant.

This might have been the same servant that polished and took care of his sword and garments of war. So not only did Jesus not lead His followers to kill this aggressor, He indirectly helped that centurion in his mission to occupy Israel.

One man who followed the “just war” principle was Barabbas. He was active in a “just war” by being involved in attempting to overthrow Rome. And Barabbas had killed Romans and was described by Mark as a murderer. And yet, when one of Jesus’ followers attempted to murder a Roman, Jesus rebuked him.

Look no further than the Garden of Gethsemane in which Peter picked up a sword to defend Jesus and surely himself. Peter even cut off one soldier’s ear and Jesus healed this man who was a violent and butcherous tool of Rome. And Jesus addressed Peter with these words:

Matt.26:52-54 – Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

Although the words are couched within this unfolding redemptive event, the overall principle should be striking to us. Jesus indicates that He could provide enough power to kill them all, but God’s will is not accomplished by violence through His followers. In fact, to suggest God’s will can sometimes be accomplished through violence smacks of Islam. But in a spectacular paradox, the Prince of Peace presents Himself to the crosshairs of the Prince of Darkness, and Satan’s violence crucifies the sinless and passive Lamb, and redemption is accomplished and the violent king of demons is defeated through his own violence.

I Cor.2:7 – But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Selah.

Let me close with a listing of Scriptures that openly suggest humble pacifism that is self sacrificing and is in direct contrast to the human aggression that the church has surreptitiously united with the teachings of Christ. Perhaps the Spirit can lift your heart above the trappings of this world and you will be set free from the teachings of men.

Matt.5:9-12 – Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Matt.5:21-22 – Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Matt.5:38-39 – Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Matt.5:43-48 – Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Matt.6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Matt.6:24-34 – No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
(Pre-emptive war is based on worry and fear that someone might attack first)

** All of the above Scriptures are taken from the Sermon on the Mount. Many evangelicals suggest that the truths in this sermon are abrogated and superseded by national interests and allegiances.

Jn.3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Mk.12:31 – Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Lk.6:27-33 – But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.

And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.

II Tim.1:7 – For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (Many times war arises out of fear)

I Thess.3:11-13 – Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

Rom.13:9-10 – For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

** The above Scriptures deal with love of the brethren, love of the lost, and love of your enemies. Again, many evangelicals suggest that these truths are abrogated and superseded when national interests and security are at stake. In essence, when it is convenient.

Rom.12:19-21 – Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

** The above Scripture outlines for us how to treat our enemies. But many evangelicals suggest that these commands are only applicable to certain enemies.

I Cor.4:11-13 – Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

Phil.1:29 – For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

** The above Scriptures provide for us an expectation of suffering and persecution. But many evangelicals believe that personal persecution should be endured gracefully, but that national persecution demands a violent response, approved by the same Lord that said the above scriptures.

Either these Scriptures are to be taken literally and applied completely, or their application is to be decided by each individual as to the appropriateness of the situation, the superior jurisdiction of national interests, or just a general situational ethics template. No one fully adheres to the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, but if we limit their pervasiveness we categorically dilute and compromise the divine essence of their teaching and lower the obedience bar to a culturally convenient level. In short, you have created manageable suggestions and lofty sermon outlines that are far more storybook fiction than truth goals that factually represent the Person of Christ living through His followers.

There are many more New Testament Scriptures that clearly represent a pattern of non-violence and behavior that is counter culture, in fact, I could just print out the four gospels in their entirety. Does it seem odd that Paul commands us to suffer persecution for the cause of Christ without returning retribution but many churches teach retribution is God’s design for national persecution? And think on this: If a nation is allowed to go to a “just war” does that still include the support or participation of the followers of Jesus? Again it is imperative that one stakes out a nationalistic position in order to justify a violent Christian and to completely abrogate the clear teachings of the New Testament. Of course no such delineation was ever given in any of the 27 books of the New Testament.

So we are left with this: Are we Christians completely devoted to following and imitating Jesus Christ? Or are we followers of Jesus but somewhat under the direction of many unsaved and carnal men who dictate which wars to fight? We are to obey the law where it does not conflict with God’s Word, but how much allegiance do we owe any government? And if we owe the government allegiance, even to the point of killing for them, where does this allegiance come from? Do we borrow it from the reservoir of allegiance we have for Christ?

We are given no spiritual flexibility to compartmentalize certain aspects of the life of Jesus Christ as it is mirrored in our lives. The writer of Hebrews alludes to the divine communications through the Old Testament, but he openly reveals that in these days God speaks through Jesus Christ alone. Does the New Testament indicate a coming divine judgment upon this world? Yes, but that is God’s business alone while our calling is the gospel. To get entangled with the affairs of the kingdoms of this world, including the suggestion that it is God’s will for us, not only dilutes the power and distinctiveness of our Savior and His gospel, it has led to an unholy meshing that significantly clouds the real message of the gospel.

The same nationalism that blinded the Jews to the mission of the Messiah, has in many ways blinded the church in the same way. But, you ask, what will happen if we as believers withdraw from the systems of this world and America falls to her enemies? Well, we might just be forced to trust God completely, which in this culture, would be somewhat of a spiritual resurrection.

On 2/13/91 – Two stealth bombers flew to Almeria in the Bagdad suburbs and released two laser guided bombs at approximately 4:30 AM.. The bombs went down the ventilation shafts and went deep inside the bunker, just as planned. But over 400 civilians were sleeping in that bunker, many of them children, and most were killed. From every indication this was unintentional, but such is the nature of war which is resigned to “collateral damage”, which is a sterile way of describing human carnage.

In the Old Testament kings went to war with their armies. Today kings watch their men and women die on flat screen televisions; even some kings who previously had maneuvered their way out of direct combat when their time came. In the end, even though God’s involvement in violence before Christ seemed obvious, God did not allow King David to build the Temple since he was a man of war. Interesting, no?

If it is God’s will to violently resist oppression then that is a direct indictment of a long line of martyrs who eschewed violence and willingly chose martyrdom. If it is God’s will to espouse such allegiance to your country that you are willing to kill for it, then all believers should at some point be directly involved with the military. And the church in America should supply the Chinese church, the Venezuelan church, the Sudanese church, and all other churches living in oppressive regimes with arms that will help them violently overthrow their governments, just like America did the British.

If a man was being brutal and killing people in your community, would it be Christian to demand he stop or you would murder 100 innocent people in his neighborhood? That is exactly the construct of the attack on Hiroshima. There is little doubt that overall more lives would have been lost by an invasion, but is the “end justifies the means” the principle that believers should follow when it suits our needs? And are we to make “quantitative” choices concerning death?

Every teaching of Jesus runs counter to what nations do, and with that in mind who do we obey? Is it God’s will that the Russian believer gives allegiance to his government while the American believer gives allegiance to his? Where can the unity of the Spirit be found when believers give their allegiance to different secular governments and are committed to kill each other to forward their particular government’s cause? Can we lay aside the teachings of Jesus when your country calls? Everyone would say “No!”, which is why many have had to make exceptions to His teachings. I sincerely hope everyone would at least give a little thought to what I have shared regardless of how radical it may seem and how it is in direct conflict with what you considered “settled law” within your own heart and mind.

Blessed are the peacemakers…

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Dogs and cats sleeping together - mass hysteria!A friend of mine sent me this recently:

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Anyone who has spent any amount of time in a church or in the Christian blogosphere knows that the body of Christ is easily divided over many issues, some of which are hardly worth arguing over much less dividing over. Christ Himself recognized how easily His bride would turn on herself, and prayed for her in John 17:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.

Paul, too, was concerned over the potential for division in the very churches he had planted. In Ephesians 4 he writes:

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

All too often we have seen within various internet battlegrounds unity being the first thing shattered through the drawing of battle lines between emergent and Reformed bloggers. Perhaps, the unity of the Bride and Body of Christ can be at least a little less tattered if we focus on what those two groups have in common, rather than the differences.

Let’s start with Reformed preacher, theologian and all around influencer of Reformed Christians everywhere John Piper who writes:

So my take on this prophetic word is that the scare will probably do good for a lot of people. The Bible is a scary book. And the future that is coming on unbelievers is scary beyond anything any preacher could conjure up.

But my own effort to be discerning says: Stick with the Bible, David. It is scary enough.

Next let’s move onto emergent hipster and communicator Tony Jones who writes:

I am quite convinced that the Bible is a subversive text, that it constantly undermines our assumptions, transgresses our boundaries, and subverts our comforts. This may sound like academic mumbo-jumbo, but I really mean it. I think the Bible is a [...] scary book

What’s fascinating about both of these quotes from two movers and shakers (that’s a small s for the discerning individuals among us) writing from what seems like opposite ends of the spectrums is that both are writing from almost exactly the same place. Both Tony Jones and John Piper are reacting to people who they believe are misusing the Bible. Both are concerned that the people they are writing about are missing the message of scripture and both are concerned that the scriptures are delivering a message of the utmost importance.

Perhaps, if these two often opposing groups of Christians would focus on what they have in common, the truth of the scriptures, we would see a little more of the effort Paul wrote about that will result in the unity of the Spirit, rather than the divisiveness that so often defines the relationship between these two groups of brothers and sisters.

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I think he makes some very good points here.  I would wholeheartedly endorse his sentiment…

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From the mailbag:

AOG pastor says that the tragic Victorian bush fires are the result of
God’s wrath
on Australia because of the abortion laws. The real reason
is the the Green party here lobbied and made it illegal to back burn and
as such the fires simply ravaged everything in it’s path. The Greens
then blamed global warming.

Socialism and the Environmentalism movement at work!

HT: Dave Muller

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The following article was submitted by CRN.Info Reader, Steve W. Thank you, Steve!

__________________________________
I went to a new church the other day. At first, I was having a great time. The pastor spoke for one hour about his favourite topic, which was why 99.999 per cent of the churches out there are apostate.

At first, I was thrilled to hear such a stirring and uplifting message. Pastor Joe gave at least a dozen different examples as to how the modern church differentiates from the early New Testament church. “We’ve replaced this with that and that with this,” Pastor Joe said. “God is angry. He hates these apostate churches.”

He went on about how women should have their heads covered in church and he deplored how modern church youth groups will actually do evil Satanic things like go on trips to waterslide parks.

“The early Christians certainly never took time out from preaching the word in order to go water parks or amusement parks,” he said.

Amen, brother Joe, I thought. All these Satanic forms of entertainment were put there by the devil with the exclusive goal of tearing our eyes from Christ.

But now I come to the sad part of the story.

After the service was over, I walked up to Pastor Joe and kissed him on the cheek.

Pastor Joe did not kiss me back. Instead he looked stunned, and a little angry.

“Why did you do that?” he asked.

I was a little taken aback, but I explained to him that I was merely greeting him with a holy kiss, as the early New Testament church did and as we are instructed to do in Romans 16:16.

Pastor Joe had none of it. He told me not to do that again.

I left that church with great heaviness in my heart. I really thought they were one of the few churches on the straight and narrow, but now I can plainly see that they are just another apostate church that is on the broad road to hell.

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Here’s an article/essay a friend of mine sent to me.  I’m publishing it with his permission:

There’s an essay that was brought to my attention that I think has a lot of relevance to the church in general and to the world of ADM blogging in particular. You can find the essay here at Frontline Fellowship. There is a lot of truth to what the author is saying here about the way in which pastors are treated both in their local congregations and by those who do not belong to their congregations.

The author of the essay is reviewing a book, The Wounded Minister (Dr Guy Greenfield). I’ll excerpt these two sections and let them speak for themselves. The essay (review) is helpful. The men and women who serve in pulpit positions really do struggle with this and with the proliferation of internet web pages and blogs upping the ante, it’s no wonder more and more men and women leave the ministry each year.

Who are these clergy killers? “These are not normal people, average complainers, critics and typical dissidents who are generally unhappy about life itself … they are deadly and have a knack for gathering a following of ordinary folk with common complaints and disagreements in the church. They can easily create the illusion that there are hordes of people against the pastor. They are masters at using the tyrannical they in their comments: ‘They are very unhappy about …’ or the illusive people: ‘people are saying that ….’ These are verbal instruments in the arsenal that they use to destroy a minister.”

Dr.Greenfield describes pathological antagonists/clergy killers, as persons with “a very mean spirited disposition … they are destructive. The damage that they want to inflict is intentional and deliberate. They are not out simply to disagree … they want to inflict pain and damage persons.… clergy killers are determined. They are headstrong and will stop at nothing. They may pause for a time, change strategies, even go underground to reconnoitre, but they will come back with a vengeance to continue the intimidation, networking and breaking all rules of decency to accomplish their destructive objectives. For them, their plans have priority over all other programmes of the church. These persons are deceitful … masters of manipulation, camouflage, misrepresentation and accusing others of their own atrocious deeds … experts at twisting facts. … maybe mentally disordered, but they do not yield to patience or love, nor do they honour human decency. Apparently clergy killers carry around a lot of internal pain, confusion, anger, and even rage. Spiritual leaders … become available scapegoats for this pain and confusion, which is unidentified and untreated.”

“Clergy killers are masters of intimidation, using it to violate the rules of decency and caring that most Christians try to follow. Intimidation is a powerful weapon … therefore, ministers and their supporters are easily intimidated by these persuasive and charming religious assailants. Clergy killers are experts of disguise when they see it would be to their advantage. They are able to present themselves as pious, devout and spiritual church members, who are doing their destructive work ‘for the good of the church to advance God’s Kingdom.’ They can convince naïve church members that they are raising legitimate issues. These religious monsters often hide among their allies of opportunity … they openly intimidate any opposition by making it clear that they will fight dirty and use any tactic to accomplish their goals. Gentle and peace-at- any-price church members are quickly sidelined by such threats, leaving ministers and those who support them to cope with the problem the best way they can.”

“Clinically speaking, … they may possess distinct personality disorders… anti-social, borderline paranoid, narcissistic … others have learnt to throw tantrums to get their selfish ways. They’ve learnt how to distract, confuse, lie and seduce to do harm to the vulnerable.”

“Clergy killers wound or destroy either by direct attacks or by inciting others to inflict the wounds. Sometimes they induce victims to self-destruct, by harassing them to the point of frustration and anger. … it only takes one or two in the church to create havoc and bedlam. Because these people live in denial as to their true nature, they would not see themselves in this chapter, even if they were to read it. Clergy killers have surrounded and insulated themselves with a whole array of defense mechanisms and justifications for their actions. They firmly believe that what they are doing in harming and terminating a minister is the right thing to do. For them, it is the will of God. Nevertheless, they are sick and mean people.”

What is a Pathological Antagonist?

A pathological antagonist is an intransigent person of antagonistic disposition.

1. “The arguments of a pathological antagonist are usually found in little or terribly misrepresented evidence … quibbling over petty details, offering strong proof of irrelevant points … exaggerating the position of one’s opponent … making an accusation that cannot be disproved and then claiming that this makes it true … outright lying or falsification. An antagonist, in his attempt to make the kill, will take certain facts and so twist them that they are blatantly false when presented. In time he convinces himself that his twisted facts are true.”

2. Pathological antagonists are ‘”hyper-sensitive to any word or action, even trivial oversights, so that he takes these things as a personal attack and responds aggressively.”

3. “The pathological antagonist is never satisfied. His demands are insatiable. No amount of accommodation on the ministers part will ever suffice. Attempts at appeasement will not calm him down, but will encourage him to make more demands. … he is persistent and unstoppable.”

4. “The pathological antagonist will lead a campaign of attack on the minister … not trying to give constructive criticism … his goal is nothing short of control, no matter what it may cost the minister or the church. The antagonist is so full of rage that he feels compelled to attack the enemy (the minister) until he is destroyed (terminated and eliminated from the scene).”

5. “This person probably has a God problem. He feels some deep-seated anger towards God for some reason out of his past experiences. Because it is difficult to show anger directly towards God, the pathological antagonist chooses the minister, the ‘man of God’, as his target. Sometimes this anger is guilt-driven (possibly due to some hidden sin) … a smokescreen to cover his own moral indiscretions.”

6. “The attacking behaviour of a pathological antagonist is selfish in nature … this person is rarely interested in authentic spiritual goals. If one rationale no longer works to his advantage, he will devise another … his stated reasons for opposition are a ruse for his own hidden agenda. What he really wants is power, control, status and authority.”

7. “The attacks … are for destruction rather than construction. The antagonists’ actions divide the church; they do not pull the people together.

In the Pulpit and Pew Project at Duke University, Hoge and Wenger did some research and wrote a paper detailing the reasons why ‘numerous pastors’ are leaving church ministry. The paper, from 2003, is insightful and contains wonderful tables at the end. They write,

The most commonly mentioned motivation was “an opportunity came for new ministry.” This factor was not always the only one in pushing the decision, since a highly satisfied local church pastor may not be likely to leave even if an opportunity came for new ministry. We need to see it as often acting in combination with other factors, making the task of discerning its importance a difficult one. In any event, it is lower as a motivation for the Methodists and Assemblies of God than for the others, and it is highest for the Missouri Synod pastors.

The second most common comment was that the denomination was not supportive, or that there was conflict with denominational officials. It is similar across denominations. The third most common was that the minister was burned out, discouraged, stressed, or overworked, a feeling voiced by ministers in all the denominations. The fourth–needs of children and family–was slightly higher for the Presbyterians than for others. The fifth–conflicts with church members—and the sixth–doctrinal conflicts over specific issues –occurred similarly in all denominations.

(This work was later published in book form and titled Pastors in TransitionHere.)

It seems to me that armchair discernment, then, is not limited to the online types. They are everywhere in the church. John the apostle did warn that a certain type of malicious person would come from within the church and Paul makes warnings to Timothy for how to deal with such rebels. I am not saying that all preachers are innocent, nor am I saying that all accusations are false. All I am saying is that if this type of ‘ministry’ is so damaging in the local church, to local pastors, (and the repercussions and collateral damage are massive), then how much more damaging is it when you have an online audience? If I am reading the author of the paper correctly, nothing good comes out of this type of ‘work.’ It damages too many people, not to mention the pastor, his family, his children, his wife. It is an insidious evil that is not meant to build up the church, but to destroy it, sidetrack it, and utterly ruin it’s effective witness in a community.

What I have learned personally about such people is that normally the issue is one of control. That’s all. Pure and simple. Being in the public eye is hard enough as it is. Being a local church pastor, in a small or large church, is terribly difficult. It’s downright terrifying when the worst critics of the pastor are not those outside the church, but those inside it.

Seeking justice, mercy, and faithfulness amidst persecution from within.

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[The following is an article by Brant Hansen, reprinted here with his permission.  I would venture to say there there are some lessons within for all of us.   Really.]

AlqaedapicthingAlan, in his book, points out that Al-Qaeda is almost impossible to stop.  This is, in large part, due to the way its message works, and the way the work gets carried out.  And he’s absolutely right.

So, in the service of national defense, I propose the following, in order to effectively neutralize the movement.  Let’s get Al-Qaeda to…

1)  Complexify the message

Right now, it’s so simple, it can pass from one to the next, and be easily grasped by the uneducated, the young — everyone.  This is dangerous, because it’s highly contagious, and people on the street feel capable of enlisting others in the cause.

2)  Construct a less “flat”, more hierarchical structure

Currently, small, underground groups can move nimbly and autonomously, complicating efforts to thwart them.  A more regimented, stratified approach, where some members are left thinking, “I can’t know enough to do anything” would bring the movement to a halt.

3)  Foster “expert” culture, and barriers to entry to the expert class

Promote the idea that the message is not only highly complex, but only some can truly understand it.  Construct extensive barriers to entry to the presumed expert class.  Promote idea that cells lacking a certified member of expert class, it is not equipped to be activated.

4) Focus on knowledge, rather than doing

Complexification and expert-class development will make cells spend immense amounts of time studying the work, even debating theories of the work, rather than doing it.  Better yet…

5) Equate STUDYING the work with the work itself

The cells are called to ACT, of course.  But if we can convince operatives that the work, itself, is in trying to understand the complexity of the work?  They’ll be effectively neutered.  We need to get them to spend large amounts of time in study, gathering to study, believing they don’t know enough, hiring new experts to teach them again and again, and attending teaching events.

They’ll actually believe they’re doing their work when they attend events held by experts.  This will render the cell, and the whole movement, harmless!  Convince them that the most radicalized, militant among them are merely called to bring other non-activated members to the cell events.

6) Sabotage cell multiplication

VERY important!  Cells that operate under simple principles, with motivated operatives, devoted to multiplication?  Very, very dangerous, fast-growing, and pop-culture endangering.  We must stop this in its tracks, and this is done in multiple ways:

A)  Foster egos and small-time celebrity.  By convincing operatives to set up individual fiefdoms, fewer autonomous cells will be activated.  Rather, the emphasis will be on building larger individual cells with numerous unactivated members.

B)  Make the basic structure highly difficult to replicate.  Al-Qaeda cells currently are, by necessity, simply-structured and easily replicated.  Propagate idea that for cells to begin, planning, experts and capital must be simultaneously accumulated.  Expert motivational speakers will be necessary, plus paid staff with highly specific training and talents.  Operatives will see massively “successful” large cells, and attempt to duplicate them, with very limited success because of the huge inputs required.  This will greatly inhibit growth.

C)  Convince philosophically-aligned, but non-active, members to choose from among most entertaining, high quality, cells that offer services for them. Not only will this engender a harmless, internal focus, it will require IMMENSE amounts of resources and energy.

7) Make operatives really, really busy.

Replace simple, animating mission with lengthy lists, charts, and programs for cell maintanance.  Convince them that this institutional maintenance is, actually, the mission, itself.

This will leave them will no actual time for conducting actual mission.

8)  Get Al-Qaeda to seek governmental approval.

Offer tax incentives if necessary.  The larger cells, requiring large edifices, will also require tremendous amounts of capital.  This will also allow a measure of control, to threaten the cell’s tax status, thereby threatening funds for internal programs, when necessary.

Better:  They’ll consider actual operational cells that exist without this governmental approval to be, themselves, invalid!

9)  Co-opt Al-Qaeda with the larger culture.

Once members are convinced that cell maintenance and study are actually their “mission”, the rest of their lives can be harmlessly integrated with the culture at large.  They’ll be indistinguishable from non-members, and, because of their new understanding of “mission”, effectively equivalent to non-members.

10)  Convince members to wear Al-Qaeda t-shirts with funny sayings and stuff.

Mission accomplished.

It’ll work to thwart an evil message.  It even works with the good ones.

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Todd has submitted this article, with some excellet questions, as part of our conversation here. Thank you, Todd!

When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD :

“He is good;
his love to Israel endures forever.”

And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away. — Ezra 3:10-13

I’ve read these verses before with my young, selfish and proud eyes, applauding the younger Israelites for being forward-thinking and not satisfied with looking back or longing for yesterday. These “others” shouted for joy at the sight of the new temple – the new incarnation of their relationship with God – and looked to the future for what God was going to do in their midst. These “others” weren’t around in the days of the older temple, they didn’t see the glory of the former, they only knew the excitement of the present and the possibility of the future. The “others” were right while the old priests and Levites were wrong.

While I still have young, selfish and proud eyes, today I’m reading the verse in a different light. I still applaud the “others” for their progressive view, but I’m softening my stance toward the older individuals in attendance. What if these priests and Levites are mourning not because of the “inferiority” of the present, but because of the road the Israelites had taken to arrive at the present situation? What if they’re weeping not because they want to go back, but as an admission of their failure to be God’s people as God commanded?

What if discernment blogs and ministries took this approach to their criticism of today’s church? What if rather than condemn the new on the mere fact that it is new, they critiqued the new in light of their (the Church’s) failure live the way God commanded?

For example, today’s seeker sensitive churches are certainly sacrificing some reverence for relevance, but today’s seeker sensitive movement is nothing more than an attempt to meet people where they are. The reason it has moved so far from the traditional, “orthodox” way of doing church is because the traditional, “orthodox” method refused to even take a step toward people, instead requiring the non-believers to make the first steps. If discernment ministries would weep over the fact that today’s incarnation is flawed because of the Church’s past failures, I believe their criticism would be infinitely more beneficial to the Church at large.

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Greetings! Below is another guest article penned by Henry (Rick) Frueh. Thank you again, Rick!

Jn.1:16 – And of His fulness have all we received grace for grace.

The common and general definition that has been used to satisfy and sometimes placate the masses is that grace is “unmerited favor”. Although in a surface and most shallow sense that description does touch the absolute fringe of the gift of grace but in so many ways it misleads and falls painfully short of even challenging the heart to allow the Spirit to bring us deeper than just a toe testing understanding of God’s amazing grace. Let us dissect these two words and see if they pass the Biblical smell test when gazing at grace, while embracing a desire to honor God with our description because in the final analysis only the revelation of the Spirit can even give us a glimpse, everything else is nothing more than cerebral gymnastics usually designed to bring convenient closure so we can add it to our theological dictionary.

Unmerited. That seems so humble and yet it abandons the core of who we really are. It appears so antiseptic as the word attempts to remove all our good works as the reason for God’s gift of grace, but again this word fails to filet our inner man and lay wide open for public inspection and, yes, humiliation about the depravity and absolute rebellious nature of every single cell of our being. We not only refused to make any attempt to gain God’s favor but we made every single possible attempt to discredit Him and our very driving purpose was to blaspheme His Lordship and His Holiness openly and finally and daily declare ourselves as “god” of our own existence. We were His declared enemy and our lives were a magnificent expression of our hate and disgust toward our Loving Creator. So the word “unmerited” is a comfortable effort that only tells half of the story, the more pleasant side that we can more easily embrace and teach.

Let me share a disturbing illustration that I hope will rearrange the theological furniture of our hearts and force us to re-examine the very nature of God’s grace. In the country of Uganda there is a civil war, we don’t hear much about it in America because they don’t have oil and they also are not white (sorry but let’s be honest). One of the uniquenesses of this war is that the rebels capture and kidnap children and teach them to maim and kill their enemies. They equip some with razors and the children, some as young as 6, are trained and forced to cut off ears, lips, and other parts of people’s bodies or else they themselves will be killed. Now this forces millions of children in Uganda to hide and constantly move in groups to avoid being captured. It is common for a group of one thousand children from age 3 to age 16 to huddle overnight in an abandoned building only to rise before daylight and move again in a relentless effort to escape the ruthless rebels. Not a story but a reality.

Let say you wanted to help the children and so you organized a group to go over to Uganda. You collected food and clothing and you took money with which to build strong buildings to protect these children. So you went and helped feed and clothe and protect these children and with that you felt good. Now these children did not deserve your help based upon anything they had done before but due to your sense of compassion you desired to help them. They had received unmerited favor from your hand.

Now as you got off the plane you immediately saw what these rebels had done. People all over were horribly maimed and there were mass graveyards marking their victims, and they presently were still engaged in enslaving children to carry out their violent acts. So you unloaded the cargo with all the materials that you had brought to help and minister, and instead of the helpless children you took them to the rebels and gave them to those killers and child abusers. All the Africans watched in confounded horror and unbelief as they saw these rebels being showered with these wonderful gifts. No one could explain it. Why? Because, brothers and sisters, they were witnessing an earthly representation of the grace of God. And the spiritual reality of the grace of God is impossible to fully understand in the natural and when it is reflected in such an illustration as this, we finally are awakened to the fact that we have been fooled into believing a shallow and self serving understanding of the glory of God’s grace.

Favor. Let us examine what that word means when it comes from God Himself. We sometimes get this idea that God’s favor is something akin to letting someone butt in line ahead of you or waving a car to pull out in front of you. Or we think it correlates to giving someone a promotion who really doesn’t deserve it. It is those carnal understandings that rob us of the glorious and eternal nature of God’s favor of which there are an infinite number of components. Just a dust particle of God’s favor would be beyond what anyone could fully absorb or comprehend, but God has not given us a dust particle of His favor. Open the ears of your understanding, you will not be able to completely fathom the truth of this, but God has given us His complete and perfect favor that contains no limits and holds no restraints either in blessing or time. One more step, please, because God has actually bestowed upon us all of His available favor which of course is eternally infinite. Now you must remove your shoes for this final step crosses the threshold of unimaginable glory. God has granted unto us….the same favor….that He has shown….His own Son.

You can breathe now. My poor mind and my poorer pen can never do justice to that revelation, but as a theological woodpecker I can only peck and peck at it attempting to go further into God’s heart all the while realizing that this side of heaven I will only see small chips that in themselves leave me broken and spilled out before Him Who is the Author and Finisher of all of it. And one day I will know even as I am known which is a colossal act of favor in itself, and on that day I will see Him from Whose face the heavens have fled away. And as I, in my new favored body, fall to my knees in immobilized worship, I will then fully realize what grace actually was.

What will we do, what can we do, when we come to terms with the fullness of the truths we now believe in part but then fully face to face? How will we feel and act when the grace that we so lightly defined on earth now reverberates throughout heaven and to the glory of God and we alone, we alone, have been the recipients? As I write this I am beginning to weep as I am overwhelmed at the prospect of seeing the Author of this grace and being granted the eternal privilege of glorifying Him who purchased it all for me. I am at the end of words, if you are a believing follower of the Risen Incarnation of Grace then you will understand.

In Revelation 7:17 the Word describes the Lamb in the midst of the throne and wiping away all our tears as He leads us to the living fountains of water. In the very next verse, after our tears have been wiped away, the Word says there was silence in heaven for one half hour.
I have wondered if that silence represents the first time we see clearly the Lamb of Grace and we are rendered speechless. All of heaven glorifies the Risen Christ with the silence of a holy and speechless worship.
Unbelievable, Jesus in Whom is all of God’s amazing grace.
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