The Glory of Easter

When a person has incredible ability or talent we often say that He or she was born to do such and such a thing. Michael Jordan was born to play basketball. Lionel Messi was born to play soccer.  Simone Biles was born to be a gymnast. Luciano Pavarotti was born to sing.  During their lifetimes they were regarded as among the greatest in their calling. They achieved fame and wealth. Jesus was born to die. He was not born to be an example or to show us how to live. He was born to be our Life. He was born to be crucified. In our place. For us. The manger led directly to the cross. The more common name for manger was “feeding trough”.  His parents probably lined the trough with hay upon which clothes were laid so the hay would not hurt the baby. There was no comfort on the cross. Jesus came in weakness and died in weakness. He was born in humble surroundings and died in shame. As a newborn babe he was surrounded by rejoicing angels, loving parents, worshipful wise men and joyful shepherds. Only a very small group were present at His birth, but crowds passed by the cross. On the cross, except for His mother, John and the two Marys, he was surrounded by cruel detractors, envious enemies, callous soldiers and disgusted passers-by. He endured the shame of being regarded as a bastard in his youth and as a blasphemer in adulthood. He was slandered and plotted against. His own brothers mocked him. The people in high society were jealous of him and...

How did you like the book?

Some time ago, I completed a nearly year-long process of review of a book with another brother. It was his first time to read the book whereas I had read it some 25 years ago. We had agreed to read this book together and interact over our impressions of the content due to a mutual interest in the subject matter. It was an interesting exercise for me to re-read a book I had read so long ago. In my previous reading, I had been impressed by the points made by the author and thought it an accurate, uplifting book.  During this current process, however, I was struck by the liberties the author had taken with certain tenets of the faith, his inappropriate application of Christian doctrine, and his inaccurate definition of words used in the Christian life. It became apparent to me how much God had matured my thinking in the intervening years and how He had increased my discernment to the point of providing this new knowledge as a basis for discussion with my brother for his edification. For example, it seems that reasoned discourse between individuals is a somewhat sparse occurrence nowadays. Because “tolerance” has been re-defined to mean “accepting all viewpoints that agree with mine”, “intolerance” re-defined to mean “any viewpoint that either disagrees with mine or proposes the existence of an absolute”, and the elevation of “offending someone” to a crime of near-capital proportions, many people are reluctant to engage in discussion (what  in days of yore was termed  “argument”) over differing perspectives in order to arrive at a better understanding of a matter. It...

Man After God’s Own Heart

Acts13:22  “After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.’ 1Kings 15:5  “Because David did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.” What made David a man after God’s own heart? David was a man just like any other. He too is included in “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 2 Samuel 2:27 states that the thing David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord. So again, I ask myself what made David a man after God’s own heart? While attempting to answer this question I found it helpful to compare and contrast David to Saul. In 1 Samuel 15 Saul is confronted by the prophet Samuel because he did not utterly destroy the Amalekites like God commanded him. Similarly, David is confronted by the prophet Nathan after committing adultery, failing to cover it up and then ultimately having Uriah killed. Saul’s first two interactions with the prophet Samuel after his sin with the Amalekites go as follows. In 1Samuel 15:13, Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the LORD! I have carried out the command of the LORD.” And then in 1Samuel 15:20 Saul then said to Samuel, “I did obey the voice of the LORD, and...

When Are You Free?

If you ask most anyone if they want to be “free” they might say, “Sure, who wouldn’t?” If you ask them what it means to be free, they would most likely say something to the effect of being unrestrained in being able to do what they want to do. That idea runs into difficulty when filtered through the Bible, which in turn raises some interesting questions regarding the presuppositions and predispositions of that view. There are a number of key verses/passages in the Bible that address what it means to be free, and how it is attained. We will focus on two, in close proximity, in the gospel of John. Those are: John 8:32 “and you will know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” John 8:36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” Let’s follow the time tested method of moving from information, to implication, then to application. In John 8:32, Jesus is making a direct, and very clear, connection. Truth makes you free. Said another way, you cannot disconnect being free from Truth. Both the Bible itself – “The sum of Your word is truth,” (Psalm 119:160) – and Jesus in the bible – “I am the way, and the truth, and the life ..” (John 14:6), declare themselves to be truth. Now we have an implication. When Jesus declares Himself to be truth in John 14:6, in very simple terms it means you cannot be “free” apart from Jesus, as the Apostle Paul notes in Romans 6:15-22. Let us now consider John 8:36, “So if the Son makes you...

Lessons From the Life of Moses

Everything I know about hermeneutics I have learned from being in a bible study with like-minded men using as a tool Walt Henrichsen and Gayle Jackson’s book: Studying, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible (the “SIAB”).  Our group started 27 years ago with six men and next month we will begin a one and half year study of Romans with hopefully a couple dozen men.  In the SIAB there is a process for doing Biographical studies (Ch. 6 SIAB).  We studied Abraham, Moses and David using the SIAB methodology.  This article is merely a summary of my notes for Steps 4-7 on the life Moses. Step 4- Strengths and Weaknesses Weaknesses- Could be impulsive (Ex. 2:12), married outside his tribe (Ex. 2:21), failed to circumcise his sons as commanded by God (Ex. 4:24-26), has some self-esteem issues (Ex Ch. 3 and 4), has some pride issues (Num. 20), at times took on too much responsibility (Ex. 18). Strengths- Greatest prophet whom the Lord knew face to face (Deut. 34:10), great faith (Heb. 11:23-29), an intermediary between God and men, a friend of God who knew His ways not just His deeds (Psalm 103:7), leader of a nation, stood up to Pharaoh, a judge, a great writer, a historian with attention to detail, God’s chosen man for giving the Law and forming a nation. Thought for consideration: In the storied and amazing life of Moses, when did he exhibit the greatest exercise of his faith?  (Caution to self- no right or wrong answer). Step 5- Key Verses Numbers Chapter 16 whole chapter, read verses 1-5, 28, 31-33. Observation 1-  Moses evidences...

Peace, Power and Purpose

John 20:19-22: “So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (Observation) Jesus appears, bearing the scars of His crucifixion, in the midst of His disciples as they hide behind closed doors. Jesus says “peace be with you” twice, sends them “as the Father has sent Me” and breathing on them, says “receive the Holy Spirit.” (Interpretation) I suggest to you that His appearance is miraculous and that His words “peace be with you” are more than a greeting intended to calm their surprise at His sudden appearance, but that they also refer to the reconciliation or “peace” with God that is the result of Jesus paying the price for sin on the cross a few days before and that He says it twice for emphasis. Next, I suggest to you that this peace, together with receipt of the promised “Holy Spirit” will abide in them as they “go therefore and make disciples” according to His command. How is it that the Holy Spirit is received by these men before the ascension of Jesus and prior to Pentecost? (Acts 2: 1-4) I do not know.  I will,...