If You Only Knew How Patient I Am Being

Patience is a virtue. Patience is in short supply. Patience is hard. It’s especially hard when a guy writes blog posts that people have the nerve to disagree with. What is wrong with you people?

And yet, I know what is wrong with you people: you’re all too dumb to see my brilliance. Therefore, I, the one who actually has a clue, put up with the rest of y’all.

Here’s the thing about patience though, if you have to tell people how patient you are being with them, you’re actually not patient at all.

“Long-suffering,” I think, is a better, more descriptive word for patience, although I’m sure some know-it-all will explain to me with etymology and English derivatives how “long-suffering” is actually the stupidest word to use for patience because of the 5th century Latin blah, blah, blah.

Put a sock in it ya know-it-all jerk.

OK, where was I. Ah yes, long suffering. Long suffering means to suffer a long time. If you are doing the right thing and suffering for it, it’s actually worth it, a reason to rejoice, the Bible tells us.

If you suffer for doing wrong, well, that’s called “duh, what did you think was gonna happen?”

It amuses me how many people want credit for their long-suffering. How many parents want to rub their patience with their kids into their kids’ face. “If you only knew, how much I worked for you, and I do this because I love you and all I get is broken dishes? Broken dishes? That’s what I get out of this? If you only knew how much patience I use to even live in the same house with you.”

Yeah, you’re done. See, that’s not patience. That might be grin and bear it fortitude to some extent, but it’s not patience.

Patience does the right thing because the right thing should be done. When you do the right thing for the right reason, you don’t need the reward or sympathy of people, you merely rejoice that your Father in heaven who sees in secret will reward you.

Because of the reward from your Father that is coming, you do the right thing without rubbing it in people’s faces, nor seeking attention and sympathy for your great sacrifice of patience.

If patience in your life feels more like poor-me-sacrifice, then you’re not really being patient. Thayer’s Definitions defines patience as “the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.”

Patience is tied in with doing the right thing. Patience is not done to be acknowledged; patience is done because what you are doing is the right thing to do.

If you disagree, go take a long walk off a short stick suspended over a giant barrel of ravenous, man-eating lions, ya moron.

Let’s Outlaw The Word “Antinomian”

The other day I mentioned the verses about those who say “Lord, Lord, look at all the great things we did in your name.” The Judge’s opinion of their good deeds is that they were sin.

He will say to them, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” The word “iniquity” is from the Greek word anomia, from which we get the big ol word antinomianism.

Nomos is the Greek word for “law.” In Greek, any time there is the a- prefix before a word, it means against or without. English, in its ever helpful ways, doesn’t go with “anomianism” as it nicely did with “atheism” (a- without and theo–God), but expands it to antinomian.

Antinomianism is a large theological word that is thrown around willy-nilly in our day. I don’t know of anyone who claims to be antinomian, but I do know many who have been accused of being antinomian. 90% of all theological arguments include someone charging their opponent with being a Pelagian or an Antinomian. Neither charge is typically true.

Since no one claims to be antinomian, it’s hard to nail down a definition. The opposite of antinomian is to be a legalist, I guess, one who can’t stop bashing people with laws. Antinomians are the polar opposite of Pharisees.

According to Scripture, antinomianism is someone who sins, one who does iniquity, in which case we are all antinomians.

Theological antinomianism is saying there are no restraints on human behavior, no morality, no obligation to do right and by default, there isn’t really anything bad. Although some get dangerously close to saying this, I would label them Libertines, because even they will at some point admit there is some bad stuff you shouldn’t do, even though God may let you get away with it.

Since no one actually is theologically antinomian in this sense, and the word is generally used pejoratively, I move we don’t use it anymore in our theological debates. Ballots will be handed out at 3. Vote early and vote often.

Scientists Have Discovered A Conscience, Or Something

“Scientists at Oxford University have made a startling discovery: they’ve found a region of the brain that makes you wonder if you’ve done something wrong, and whether you’d have been well advised to do something better.”

The region of the brain that allows you to consider your decision making is called the lateral frontal pole and it’s only in humans. It’s about the size of “a large Brussels sprout” and doesn’t taste any better.

So, after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, this area of the brain got its first exercise. Now that we know where it is, perhaps we can start putting it to some more exercise.

Russia Thinks the US is Godless and Dealing With Beams In Your Eye

Russia used to be the whipping boy of American Christians. If there was one huge enemy of God from the 50’s through the 80’s, it was godless, atheist, horrible, Communist Russia.

Communists are constantly being bashed in biblical commentaries of that time, usually invoking the antichrist at some point.

Well, we’ve come a long way baby! Russia is now talking about America in much the same way.

President Putin, in his version of his country’s state of the union address, said,

“Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values. Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.”

The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, said, “We have been through an epoch of atheism, and we know what it is to live without God. We want to shout to the whole world, ‘Stop!’”

This, yet again, proves the Bible’s point–rather than concentrate on the sins of others, start dealing with your own. When you get full of yourself and how much better you are than others, a fall is coming. Generally, you become who you judge.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on What Is Heaven Like?

“People often ask why we are not told more about [heaven]. I think there are two answers to that.

“One is that because of our sinful state any description we might be given would be misunderstood by us. It is so glorious that we could never understand nor grasp it.

“The second reason is more important: it is that it is often idle curiosity that desires to know more. I will tell you what heaven is. It is ‘to be with Christ,’ and if that does not satisfy you, then you do not know Christ at all.

“‘Whom have I in heaven but thee?’ says the psalmist. I do not want anything else. Where Thou art is heaven. Just to look at Thee is sufficient. ‘To be with Christ’ is more than enough, it is everything.”
–Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Faith Tried and Triumphant

_____________________

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
The Apostle John
John 17:3

Perplexed but Not In Despair and the State of My Union

The Apostle Paul, when he gets on a roll, can really describe the tension of Christian living really well. I’m sure the Holy Spirit is glad I like His writing style.

2 Corinthians displays Paul’s emotions about his life, and one of the greatest phrases ever penned to describe Christian life occurs in 2 Corinthians 4:8. Without further ado, well, maybe a little more ado, (ado, ado, ado) here is the phrase:

“we are perplexed, but not in despair”

Oh that’s beautiful!

Perplexed means–“to be in doubt, not to know which way to turn, not to know how to decide or what to do.” Oh wow! If that doesn’t describe my life to a tee (or is it to a tea?), I don’t know what does.

I don’t know what to do about my kids, people I’m trying to help, or anyone else for that matter. I have no idea what to do about state of the union addresses. I have no idea what to do about crime and punishment. I have my doubts about every possible solution, no matter how strongly and authoritatively it is stated.

Despair means–“to be utterly at loss, be utterly destitute of measures or resources, to renounce all hope.”

Seems to me, the difference between perplexed and despair is that despair has no hope.

Perplexed is saying “I have no idea what to make of state of the union addresses, especially since I’ve  never listened to one, but brother, life goes on and in the end the King of Kings will set it all right.”

Despairing says, “If I hear one more word from any politician ever, that’s it, I’m done. Moving to Alaska and getting eaten by a bear.”

The world is filled with despair and because of the world’s despair, Christians should be perplexed. Christians should never despair, because in the Gospel, in the new life in Christ, there is hope and hope saves. We inherit a better world.

If there is no resurrection we are of all men most miserable. But there is a resurrection, so there is no need to despair!

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”

That’s the state of my union, brothers and sisters!

John Fletcher’s 12 Questions of Spiritual Examination

John Fletcher, a great Wesleyan preacher from the 18th Century, had 12 questions he would ask himself every night to see what part sin played in his day. He went on to have his church use these questions to examine their own lives.

There are many who spend way too much time in introspection, but the vast majority of us, even while thinking about ourselves all the time, aren’t really thinking spiritual thoughts of introspection. These are a fine guideline to begin thinking about sin in your life.

Note there isn’t anything in here about homosexuality, abortion or murder. He is examining Christian virtue from the heart level, from the nitty-gritty, unbelievably practical level. Sin isn’t just the big stuff; it always starts small.

1. Did I awake spiritual, and was I watchful in keeping my mind from wandering this morning when I was rising?
2. Have I this day got nearer to God in times of prayer, or have I given way to a lazy, idle spirit?
3. Has my faith been weakened by unwatchfulness, or quickened by diligence this day?
4. Have I this day walked by faith and eyed God in all things.
5. Have I denied myself in all unkind words and thoughts; have I delighted in seeing others preferred before me?
6. Have I made the most of my precious time, as far as I had light, strength and opportunity?
7. Have I kept the issues of my heart in the means of grace, so as to profit by them?
8. What have I done this day for the souls and bodies of God’s dear saints?
9. Have I laid out anything to please myself when I might have saved the money for the cause of God?
10. Have I governed well my tongue this day, remembering that in a multitude of words there wanteth not sin?
11. In how many instances have I denied myself this day?
12. Do my life and conversation adorn the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Repentance

“Do we know what it is to abhor ourselves? Do we know what it is to repent in dust and ashes? The popular doctrine of our times does not seem to like that, because it teaches that we have passed out of Romans 7.

“We must not talk about sorrow for sin because that would mean that we are still in the very early stages of the Christian life. So we pass over Romans 7 and turn to Romans 8.

“But have we ever been in Romans 7? Have we really ever said from the heart, ‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ Have we ever really abhorred ourselves and repented in dust and ashes? This is a very vital part of the discipline of the Christian life.”
–Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Faith Tried and Triumphant

2 Doctrines Based On Confidence In The Flesh

There are two extreme doctrines that are at the poles of having confidence in the flesh. It is always stunning how such fine sounding doctrine can be the result of the flesh.

Confidence in the flesh, in review, is basing your spiritual health on an external, physical thing you did. The physical thing you do (baptism, saying the sinner’s prayer, being in full-time ministry, etc) can be any number of things and isn’t really the point. The point is that the thing you did is the sum and substance of your “faith.”

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. So if your faith is entirely based on a thing you saw, a thing in the past (thus not hoped for), then that is not faith and is merely confidence in the flesh.

People often have a checklist mentality. “Get saved.” Check! Been there; done that! Now I’m done. On to other things. But the just shall live by faith. People with faith don’t look back and rest on some thing in the past.

Nope, faith always looks forward and is always tied in with hope. When Paul talks about not having confidence in the flesh, he goes on to talk about wanting to know Christ and he says

“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”

Paul has not attained, there isn’t a thing he looks at and says, “OK, yup, did that.” No, Paul is looking ahead, always striving for more, always seeing his imperfection and pressing toward the perfection of Christ. He goes so far as to say we should “forget the things that are behind!”

Don’t base your future salvation on some thing your flesh did in the past! Hell is filled with people who “had an experience with God” and “got saved.”

Here’s where two destructive doctrines have entered that base spiritual health entirely on confidence in the flesh. These two doctrines are entirely different, and yet they share the same root belief.

1. Perfectionism–there are people who believe they are perfect. That they have gone significant stretches of time without sin. They observe their life and conclude “it is good.” The biggest problem with this is that you become desensitized to your sin. Few of these people can resist the urge to judge other people’s sins. Humility goes out the window. I know these people. This is who they are and they are the last people to see it, primarily because they aren’t looking for it. When sin falls off the radar, our desire to be like Christ, to attain more, to forget what is behind and press on to Christ, goes out the window. They conclude their flesh is already good, why worry?

2. Hyper-Grace Libertinism–there are people who think sin is no big deal. They have concluded the opposite of Paul that since grace abounds sin can abound. There is no longing to look at Christ and put off the deeds of the flesh, why bother? Jesus loves me, I’m good to go. These people blunder through life, tripping in every conceivable sin but not feeling one tinge of guilt or shame, “There’s no condemnation, man! Live it up!” They indeed feel no condemnation because they have failed to see the reality of what a sin-filled life means–that you have no spiritual life.

In both cases, perfectionism and hyper-grace libertinism, there is an unbelievable confidence in the flesh. I have been astounded by some of the words out of mouths of both groups in relation to sin and their need of the Spirit. It’s tragic. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad and ruining so many people.

No Confidence In The Flesh

Paul uses the phrase “have no confidence in the flesh” in Philippians 3:3,4. It is in the context of circumcision, an outward thing done to the flesh that often substituted for any spiritual reality.

Paul talks about his own life under the law where he saw himself as blameless. Then he met Christ and saw his blame and counted all the past as dung.

People frequently point to some thing they do in the flesh to prove a hoped for spiritual reality. Although circumcision isn’t at the top of our list, I have heard the following

–I’m in full-time ministry
–I taught Sunday School for 20 years
–I was an elder/deacon/board member
–My kids turned out well
–I won the Super Bowl

The list goes on and on to greater and greater ridiculousness. We worship God in the Spirit. This worship in the Spirit will indeed effect life in the flesh, but all too often we go for some flesh proof first and skip the Spirit stuff altogether.

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

That is a scary verse! These are people who did miracles and yet the Judge will declare their miracles as nothing but works of iniquity.

So, what religious hoop-jumping has your flesh done that you are clinging to in hopes of attaining heaven?

Spiritual life does not look like religious hoop-jumping; it looks like Christ. As Paul says a few verses later in Philippians 3, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”

Do you want to know Christ, or are you content to know your jumping through hoop skills? Hoop jumping is infinitely easier and is the realm where most professed Christians reside. But worshiping God in the Spirit results in new life, in death to the old life and a seeking for Christ.

Read it and, if it seems appropriate, weep.

Pope’s Blood Stolen

“Thieves broke into a small church in the mountains east of Rome over the weekend and stole a reliquary with the blood of the late Pope John Paul II.”

Also missing was a crucifix, both rather odd choices for thieves to go for.

A custodian of the church “said on Monday the incident felt more like a kidnapping than a theft. “In a sense, a person has been stolen.””

Yeeeeaaahhh, Probably not. It’s been a rough couple days for Catholic symbolism.

The Symbolism of Doves and Crows

After saying a prayer for Ukraine, where at least three people were killed, Pope Francis and some school kids released two doves from the window of the Apostolic Palace as a peace gesture.

Wait for it.

Go: Pope Francis is joined by two children who release doves during the Angelus Prayer in St. Peter's Square

“No sooner had the birds been set free in St Peter’s Square – as a symbolic gesture of peace for Ukraine – than they were set upon by a seagull and a crow.”

Crow fought the wings of a dove: While speaking at the window beforehand, Francis had appealed for peace in Ukraine, where anti-government protesters have died

Ah yes. And sin and death continue their reign despite all our hopeful symbolism and happy thoughts.

When “Just Look To The Lord” Is Bad Advice

“It is not enough to say, as so many do, that, whatever may happen to us, we have just to ‘look to the Lord’ and all will be well. I assert that that is not true, and that it is not true in the experience of the people who teach it.

“It is unscriptural teaching. Were that the only thing we have to do, many of these scriptures would be quite unnecessary; we would not need them at all.

“If all we have to do is ‘just to look to the Lord,’ the Epistles need never have been written; but they have been written, and they were written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit. Why?

“The answer is that they were written for our instruction, in order to teach us how to live, and what they tell us, in a sense, is that there is essential discipline in the Christian life.

“One of the saddest features in the lives of certain types of Christian at the present time is that they seem to have lost sight of this aspect of faith”

–Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Faith Tried and Triumphant(one of the best books I’ve read recently)

Self-Centeredness and Hell

“Modern man doesn’t like to talk much about hell, unless it’s in some fanciful movie creation where one doesn’t have to worry about its reality. The reason we avoid thinking about the possibility of hell can be traced back to our similar reluctance to consider seriously our sinfulness.

“And what bothers us the most, I believe, about the idea of sin is that we know the root of it is our self-centeredness. We like being self-focused; we feel justified in rationalizing our selfishness. So hell, sin, and selfishness are a package.”

Pondering Principles has a good post on hell, tying in thoughts expressed by C. S. Lewis, who had a way with words. Click here for the whole thing.

Keep Calm and Do What Jesus Did

People want people on their side. In order to get people on your side, you need to sell your idea. Sales is based on lies. Seriously, pay attention to commercials, they are lying. McRibs on TV don’t look like the squished pork-byproduct you get at the restaurant.

Lies are typically based on truth. Generally marketing takes a bit of truth and presses it to an extreme. The best marketing presses both extremes equally.

“No stains are worse than three-year old boy stains” a concerned mother says over the top of little smiley, blond-headed Johnny jumping in puddles and putting frogs in his pockets, “But no detergent cleans better than Tide” happy mother says while smiling over a box of tide holding up a clean pair of little boy pants.

If we can convince people our enemy is even stronger than you think, and that our powers are even greater than you think, we have made a sale.

Most arguments, primarily ones in the internet arena, employ this technique constantly. “Calvinism will kill babies, so come be an Arminian, because Arminians make babies.”

OK, that was weird.

You get my point though, I hope. One of the fascinating things about Jesus Christ is that He never made emotionally charged comments in His arguing (this does not imply He didn’t say emotional things). Jesus never resorted to exaggeration or hyperbole to make the bad guys badder and the good guys gooder.

He spoke it how it was.

John the Baptist doubted and sent guys to Jesus to check if He was really the Messiah. Jesus gives a calm explanation of how yes, He is and here’s how John can know it. Jesus didn’t berate John, He didn’t exaggerate how dumb John was for having doubts, He just answered the question.

He did put in a little rebuke for John to consider “blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.” But, again, He didn’t overplay it. He rebuked to the level He thought it was needed and no further.

Immediately following this, Jesus turns around and tells all the people that there is no greater prophet than John the Baptist! Jesus praises John to the people right after hearing that John had doubts about Jesus.

That’s amazing to me. Jesus didn’t use it as an excuse to make John look dumb, He didn’t launch into a, “even the spiritual leaders don’t get, how bad must you morons be?” argument.

Nope, Jesus turns around and praises John. Says what sounds like an exaggerated statement–there is no greater prophet than John. But this is not an exaggeration, it’s the truth.

Jesus doesn’t make sinners sound worse than they are, in fact, He is moved with compassion for sinners. Jesus doesn’t exaggerate His points, He says what He means.

Now, you and I may hear His statements as exaggerations–it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God–but I assure you, He isn’t exaggerating. If you said it, I wouldn’t believe you, but Jesus said it!

We need to be careful with our usage of hyperbole and exaggeration. In an effort to win arguments, how many lies must we tell about the bad guys or ourselves? Freaking people out with false fear is not a faith-based way of approaching others.

Winter Roads of Wisconsin and Morality

This winter has been incredibly cold, even by Northern Wisconsin standards. But alas, so far this year I have gone on six runs and three bike rides.

Every winter I am amused at where the roads go. Snow covers the country roads I run on from about late November til sometime in April. During this time, the roads tend to get lost.

Where cars drive in February is in the general neighborhood of a road, but when you run, you see just how far off the road drivers are.

What happens is when the roads get covered with snow, cars cut corners, pushing their lane off onto the shoulder of the road. Next time it snows, the plows follow where the cars have been going. Cars continue to push further off the road and plows will follow next snowstorm.

If a guy were to ride his bike on the edge of the actual road, by February he is practically riding down the middle of the winter road.

Get what I’m trying to say? In the summer, a stop sign is about ten feet from a corner, whereas in the winter, that corner will move to about three feet from the stop sign.

This illustrates human nature’s desire for the easiest way, the shortcut, what causes the least resistance and the best gain.

Over the years of morality, humans have drifted further and further off the moral road. Plows then follow the traffic patterns, and cars continue to push further and further off the road to make the trip shorter.

After a while, people are so far off moral ground it’s ridiculous, but they’d never know it. “It’s where everyone else is driving.” “That’s where the plows went.”

The problem with morality is that it must be compared to an ultimate standard–where the road actually is. You can’t base morality on where all the traffic is, nor where the plows cleared the way.

This is why Christianity is easier if you don’t read the Bible and merely go along with what everyone else is doing. When the Bible tells us to measure ourselves with Christ, be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect, and such things, we get uncomfortable.

It’s not easy dealing with the reality that you are actually the problem, not all those other people. Ignore the other people and view yourself in front of God and Him alone.

If you need other people to let you know how well you’re doing, trust me, you’re on the broad road to destruction where the many travel. The narrow road leading to life is lonesome. It’s just you and God, but at least you’ll know where you are going and that the destination will be great.

People often warn of a “slippery slope.” The idea seems to be that once you take one step in that direction, you will inevitably slide to the bottom. Satan is a deceiver. By the time people warn of a slippery slope, I imagine we’ve already compromised our way to the bottom of the hill one inch into the curve at a time.

Why People Don’t Trust Pastors

A recent poll ranked professions and how much people trust them. The medical profession ranks near the top of the list, which is ironic to me since one of the major causes of death in America today is medical incompetence.

At least pastors aren’t killing people. Well, at least they aren’t killing that many people.

There are, no doubt, many reasons why pastors are sinking lower and lower in this poll as the years go by. I came across this list of 11 Reasons Why People Don’t Trust Pastors and thought it did a very nice job, about as well as I could have done!

It used to be that pastors were the go to people in a community. They were generally viewed as being wise in all areas of life. They were one of the few educated people in many towns. Many universities had ministers as their president. Harvard, Yale and many other famous American institutions had ministers as presidents.

This trend stopped around the time Darwin got cranked up. With the Scopes Trial and the heightened default to science, ministers lost their rank in society. Now, being a pastor is akin to being a hick who hates science.

Psychology also siphoned off many people from the church. We go talk about our dreams and unfulfilled desires to people who pump you with drugs and happy thoughts and call it a day.

Pastors now tend to be salesmen, guys who are in it for celebrity and having a good time. There are few pastors any more who would even register as being wise. I know many pastors and, quite frankly, I wouldn’t go to them with my problems either!

Becoming a pastor isn’t that tough these days. You pay some money, sit through some classes and boom, you’re good to go. Paul has a list of pastoral qualifications that are mostly ignored when choosing a pastor. Instead we look at degrees, credentials, who he knows and various other irrelevancies. We’re using the wrong criteria and getting the wrong people to fill the roles. When louses take up the pastoral roles, you’ll notice people won’t trust them!

In the end, I’m a pastor. I do not mean to dump on my brothers in the pastoral ministry. It’s a tough gig. Tougher than I ever thought it would be. But it’s a worthwhile one. I need to do my part to restore some wisdom and trust in the pastoral ministry.

There is no possible way the church could be harmed by having more trustworthy, hardworking, biblically minded men using their God-given spiritual gift of pastoring more effectively.

Christian Outrage Is Merely An Admission of Guilt in the Most Pointless Way Guilt Can be Admitted

Habakkuk is a prophet and it has been revealed to him that Israel, because of their sins, is going to get smashed by the evil Chaldeans.

Habakkuk struggles with this. How can God use evil people like the Chaldeans to blast His own people? Doesn’t this violate God’s holiness to use such dirty weapons? In comparison, aren’t God’s people better than them anyway?

Habakkuk has a response not too uncommon with us today. We wonder why the evil succeed. Why do the liberals get to run the media? Why can’t we just have Duck Dynasty 24/7?

Rather than dealing with our own sin, we get busy comparing ourselves to others, and this works best if we pick some of the worst “others” we can find.

There is much Christian outrage over abortionists, homosexuals, liberals, and various other evil people. There is no denying the evilness of these groups. But when our fixation on those groups keeps us from dealing with our own sin and places us in a high-and-mighty position of self-righteousness, we become evil ourselves.

Whether the Chaldeans are bad or not, makes no difference to God’s judgment that Israel is completely messed up. Habakkuk comes to this realization by the end of the book.

“But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” Our haste to judge others is always, always, always a really bad sign. True spiritual discernment always, always, always results in humility, a humility that sees personal sin in front of God leading to silence.

God will judge sinners, it’s kind of what He does. Our job is to love them and the best way to do that is to have a humble view of our own sin. As Habakkuk says next, “O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.”

It’s time for the Church to shut up about the evil people in the world and start getting honest about its own sin. As Peter tells us, judgment begins with the house of God.

If we have a true concern for the souls of sinners, rather than blasting the worst sinners you can find (which always means–“sinners who sin differently than you”), lets deal with ourselves and God’s people first.

Never once has the wrath of man worked the righteousness of God. If we were as upset by our own sins as we are by the sins of Miley Cyrus, homosexuals, liberals or whatever group ticks you off the most, we’d get somewhere.

Bill Cosby Set to Rescue Sit-Coms

There are currently no shows on television that I watch. One of the main reasons is because I have kids and television is filthy. Back in the day I used to watch Family Ties (one of the best shows of all time), The Cosby Show, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Home Improvement. These were very funny family-oriented sit-coms.

Seems like since the success of Seinfeld and Friends, television has gone away from family-oriented shows to groups-of-people-oriented shows. And, sit-coms have fallen on hard times.

When a family is involved, there is usually some weird thing going on with the family dynamics, or the snarkiness between kids and parents is disturbing. The tendency to tackle “the tough issues” tends to ruin most sit-coms as well. There has been a drought in creative and funny sit-com writing.

Well, change may be on the way!

“As he did in the ’80s, Bill Cosby has partnered with producer Tom Werner, whose company with Marcy Carsey produced Cosby Show. The new comedy will be built around Cosby, who will play the patriarch of a multi-generational family and, like the comedian’s previous family sitcoms, will channel his take on marriage and parenting. Cosby and Werner are meeting with writers on the project, which has been put on off-season development track.”

Mr. Cosby is a very funny man and seems to have a good take on life. I would check out this show if it actually happens. I already expect to be disappointed in the actual results, but one never knows.

Fake Syrian Pictures and Being Slow to Anger by Reading Fairy Tales

Most communication on the internet is righteous indignation at stuff that isn’t true anyway. For instance, a photo was going around the web of a poor Syrian child sleeping between the graves of his dead parents.

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It’s an emotional picture, evoking many emotional sentiments about the tragedies in Syria. Except that “the picture is not from Syria, but from Saudi Arabia. . . there are no bodies in the graves either. And the graves are not graves but piles of stones made to look like graves.”

The photographer said, “Look, it’s not true at all that my picture has anything to do with Syria, I am really shocked how people have twisted my picture.”

And, for all I know, the article about the photo being fake might be fake too! It’s hard to know who to trust any more. I’ve been reading Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales lately, one of which made this point excellently, pointing out our hoity-toity, self-righteous indignation on things that aren’t even true anyway.

The Bible says God is slow to anger, thus we should be slow to anger. One of the reasons to be slow to anger is because while pausing before getting angry, usually you will discover that the thing you are angry about isn’t true anyway. Take a breath. Count to ten and read a fairy tale:

“That is a terrible story!” said a Hen in a quarter of the town where the affair had not happened. “That is a terrible story from a poultry-yard. I dare not sleep alone to-night! It is quite fortunate that there are so many of us on the roost together!” And she told a tale, which made the feathers of the other hens stand on end, and the cock’s comb fall down flat. It is quite true!

But we will begin at the beginning; and that took place in a poultry-yard in another part of the town. The sun went down, and the fowls jumped up on their perch to roost. There was a Hen, with white feathers and short legs, who laid eggs regularly and was a respectable hen in every way; as she flew up on to the roost she pecked herself with her beak, and a little feather fell from her.

“There it goes!” said she; “the more I peck myself the handsomer I grow!” And she said it quite merrily, for she was a joker among the hens, though, as I have said, she was very respectable; and then she went to sleep.

It was dark all around; the hens sat side by side on the roost, but the one that sat next to the merry Hen did not sleep: she heard and she didn’t hear, as one should do in this world if one wishes to live in peace; but she could not help telling it to her neighbor.

“Did you hear what was said here just now? I name no names; but here is a hen who wants to peck her feathers out to look well. If I were a cock I should despise her.”

And just above the hens sat the Owl, with her husband and her children; the family had sharp ears, and they all heard every word that the neighboring Hen had spoken. They rolled their eyes, and the Mother-Owl clapped her wings and said, “Don’t listen to it! But I suppose you heard what was said there? I heard it with my own ears, and one must hear much before one’s ears fall off. There is one among the fowls who has so completely forgotten what is becoming conduct in a hen that she pulls out all her feathers, while the cock sits looking at her.”

Prenez garde aux enfants,” said the Father-Owl. “That’s not a story for the children to hear.”

“I’ll tell it to the neighbor owl; she’s a very proper owl to associate with.” And she flew away.

“Hoo! hoo! to-whoo!” they both screeched in front of the neighbor’s dove-cote to the doves within. “Have you heard it? Have you heard it? Hoo! hoo! there’s a hen who has pulled out all her feathers for the sake of the cock. She’ll die with cold, if she’s not dead already.”

“Coo! coo! Where, where?” cried the Pigeons.

“In the neighbor’s poultry-yard. I’ve as good as seen it myself. It’s hardly proper to repeat the story, but it’s quite true!”

“Believe it! believe every single word of it!” cooed the Pigeons, and they cooed down into their own poultry-yard. “There’s a hen, and some say that there are two of them that have plucked out all their feathers, that they may not look like the rest, and that they may attract the cock’s attention. That’s a dangerous thing to do, for one may catch cold and die of a fever, and they are both dead.”

“Wake up! wake up!” crowed the Cock, and he flew up on to the plank; his eyes were still heavy with sleep, but yet he crowed. “Three hens have died of a broken heart. They have plucked out all their feathers. That’s a terrible story. I won’t keep it to myself; pass it on.”

“Pass it on!” piped the Bats; and the fowls clucked and the cocks crowed, “Pass it on! Pass it on!” And so the story traveled from poultry-yard to poultry-yard, and at last came back to the place from which it had gone forth.

“Five fowls,” it was told, “have plucked out all their feathers to show which of them had become thinnest out of love to the cock; and then they have pecked each other, and fallen down dead, to the shame and disgrace of their families, and to the great loss of their master.”

And the Hen who had lost the little loose feather, of course did not know her own story again; and as she was a very respectable Hen, she said,—

“I despise those hens; but there are many of that sort. One ought not to hush up such a thing, and I shall do what I can that the story may get into the papers, and then it will be spread over all the country, and that will serve those hens right, and their families too.”

It was put into the newspaper; it was printed; and it’s quite true—that one little feather may easily become five hens.

A Bun In The Nun

A nun recently gave birth to a baby boy. I kid you not. It’s a shock to me just as it was to the nun.

“As the nun was rushed to the hospital north of Rome, Italy, she claimed she wasn’t pregnant, repeating “it’s not possible, I’m a nun.”

“A few hours later the 31-year-old delivered a healthy baby boy she named Francesco, in a tribute to the Pope.”

I’m sure the pope is honored.

“The church has decided the woman will be asked to “lead a secular life with her baby, away from religious institutions.”

The church will help her transition to her new life, so they aren’t just throwing her out on the street, so she’s got that going for her, which is nice.

Hans Christian Andersen and The Lord’s Prayer

I have been reading a list of “classic literature” for a couple years. During these books I can’t help but note the different ways they talk about God or the Bible. That kind of stuff stands out to me.

In reading “The Snow Queen” in Andersen’s Fairy Tales, I saw this amusing sentence, perhaps you can relate to the distressed little boy:

“He was scared stiff; he wanted to say the Lord’s Prayer, but the only thing he could remember was The Big Multiplication Table.”

A History of The Temple of God in 10 Short Points

Here is a brief sketch of the Temple of God:

Building a temple for God is first proposed by David
“See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.”

God tells David, “I don’t think so.”
Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in?”

God has a better idea:
“Also the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house.”

God says that a son from the seed of David will build the house:
“I will set up thy seed after thee. . . He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.”

Most people think God is talking about Solomon, which He is, sort of, Solomon is only a type though. Did Solomon’s kingdom last forever?
“the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.

Even when Solomon built the temple, he acknowledged its limitations:
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?”

Therefore, the temple that Solomon built can’t be the ultimate fulfillment of Temple Prophecy, nor the actual residence of God, nor can Solomon be the seed of David God said would build a temple. Jesus Christ was.
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?But he spake of the temple of his body.”

The temple of the OT was a type, picture or shadow of greater spiritual things. Jesus Christ is the ultimate temple, eternal in heaven, not made with hands:
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

All believers are placed into the Body of Christ and collectively become the temple of God and this has implications:
“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”

There are many, many laws written in the OT about keeping the temple clean and pure, and that was just keeping the picture pure! Imagine how much God cares about keeping the actual Temple, the Body of Christ, pure!
“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”

Be careful out there, Church.

What Does the Fox Say and The Church Being Relevant

Christianity has struggled to be relevant to the world.

There is a reason for this struggle: Christianity isn’t supposed to be relevant to the world; it’s supposed to be separate from the world.

One would think this would be common knowledge for a group of people who view the Bible as their authority. But alas, saying the Bible is your authority and having the Bible BE your authority are two different things.

So, Christianity attempts to be friends with the world and tries to be a little darker to attract the darkness, so as not to blind with light. Not only does this lead to heresy, ineffectiveness, spiritual lethargy and ultimately leaves many to rot in hell, it also creates much cringe-worthy, awful, attempts at coolness. Observe:

I’m going to go cry now.

New Weapon in the War on Drugs: Exorcism

Speaking of exorcisms, apparently they are the new weapon in the War on Drugs.

The Mexican cartels are big into praying to their patron saint, Santa Muerte, Saint Death.

Santa Muerte, or St. Death, is worshipped by vicious narcotics cartel members for health, wealth and protection while transporting drugs.

Saint Death is not a real Catholic saint, it’s a folklore kind of thing. The Catholic Church down south there has seen a rise in exorcisms as people heavily in to cartels come for release from their inner torment.

“Exorcisms are particularly popular in outlying villages, where priests often celebrate weekly Mass to drive demons from tormented souls, experts say.”

Behind the rise in exorcisms then, is a push by the Catholic Church. In other words, the number of people coming for exorcisms is directly related to the Catholic Church coming into towns to stir up this sort of revival.

“Some Catholic churches in the U.S., instead of offering full-fledged rituals to drive out Satan, often offer “healing” services to cleanse the soul.”

Whatever is going on down in Mexico, it aint good. The church should be doing something, whether this is what they should be doing or not is up for debate.

Children Killed in Attempted Exorcism

“A Maryland mother and another woman charged with murdering two of the mother’s small children believed they were performing an exorcism at the time of the killing, police said on Saturday.

“The two children, Norell Harris, 1, and Zyana Harris, 2, suffered multiple stab wounds at a townhouse in Germantown, Maryland, Montgomery County Police said in a statement. Their siblings, ages 5 and 8, were injured and hospitalized, police said.”

Demon-possession and exorcism is one of those subject people can argue about. The Bible certainly talks about it, but very rarely is the modern version of exorcism similar to the Biblical model. There also seems to be something the cross did to limit the effectiveness of demons.

One thing I know for sure, you don’t stab people in an effort to exorcise them. Be careful out there. Bad theology kills.

UPDATE: 1/23/14–the woman accused of killing her kids in an exorcism belonged to a church called the “Demon Assassins.” I know churches these days are trying to have stealth names like “Willow Bridge Fellowship” or “The Barn,” but Demon Assassins might be going a bit too far.

Pastor Kills Pastor

A pastor has apparently killed a rival pastor for “stealing his glory.” Yeah, you can’t be stealing people’s glory.

Actually, I have no idea what that means, other than the fact that there are an awful lot of unqualified people out there taking way too much responsibility on themselves in the Church. One can only imagine what sort of doctrine the people in these churches were being taught.

“Trouble started at about 6.40pm when Pastor Adepoju reportedly left his residence with a cutlass and went to Oguntoye’s official residence, and accused him of casting a spell on him, thereby ‘stealing his glory’ and those of his children.

“He was also said to have alleged that the deceased rained curses on him, warning him to stop all those things.

“We further gathered that the murder suspect thereafter engaged the late pastor in a fight during which he used a sharp cutlass to inflict a deep cut on the chest and stomach of the deceased, resulting in multiple injuries and instant death.”