Author: revzackcom

RevZack > Articles by: revzackcom
How to Beat Your Slaves

How to Beat Your Slaves

I have been told that the Bible endorses slavery and that it allows a master to beat a slave nearly to death. This statement did not come from someone who actually reads the Bible beyond a verse out of context from time to time. So I wanted to take a look.

I started with the Christian Scriptures (the teachings of Jesus and letters of the Apostles). There are at least five passages that came to light.

  • 1 Corinthians 7:20-24
  • Ephesians 6:5-9
  • Colossians 3:22-4:1
  • Philemon 8-21
  • 1 Peter 2:18-21

These passages are directed toward anyone that is already a slave (doulos)[a]δου̂λος when they began to follow Christ. There is no passage that suggests a Christian should own a slave.

These Bible passages do indicate that a slave should be sincerely submissive to their master (kurios)[b]κύριος working as unto the Lord, whether a master is gentle or unreasonable [c]σκολιός – skolios.

It is important to note that slaves are encouraged to obtain their freedom if possible. Furthermore, the Scriptures instruct followers of Christ to live as slaves to Christ only and not to become a slave to men. This reveals that Paul and Peter were writing about those that enter servitude voluntarily.

Sometimes a noun can have a broad spectrum of meaning or interpretation. If you send me to the garage to bring you a “tool,” I will look to see if you are driving a nail or removing a bolt, since “tool” can mean hammer or screwdriver or wrench and so on.

Most Christians are familiar with the Greek word doulos[d]δου̂λος that can indicate many things on the spectrum including slavery, servanthood, debtor and so on.

It is unfair to read the New Testament only through the lens of the American Civil War and our struggle to abolish slavery and emancipate slaves. Paul was writing about First Century citizens who owed a debt and were voluntarily committed to repay that debt as a doulos/servant/slave.

Since I accept the Christian Scriptures as the most important commentary on the Hebrew Scriptures, I reject the proposition that the Bible teaches the acceptance of slavery as it was practiced by Americans. When someone makes the blanket statement that the Bible endorses slavery and allows slaves to be beaten nearly to death by their masters, I must conclude that the statement is made from an uninformed position.

I plan to address statements on slavery from the Hebrew Scriptures in another article.

Notes[+]

How to Face a Jealous God

How to Face a Jealous God

“If jealousy is a deadly sin, isn’t God sinful, since He is a jealous God?”

 

Premise One: God is a Jealous God.

Nahum 1: 2 tells us, “A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; the LORD is avenging and wrathful.
The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies.[a]Scripture quotations are from The New American Standard Bible: 1995 (The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA)

This is verified in Exodus 20:5. “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me…”

Premise One is verified. God is a jealous God.

Premise: Jealousy is a deadly sin.

What are the seven “deadly sins?” They are also listed as the capital or cardinal sins. They are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth.

 

There are seven cardinal sins listed by Thomas Aquinas.

Some confusion enters our argument as envy is considered as a synonym for jealousy. A valid argument must have clearly defined terms.

In the New Testament, jealousy and envy come from very different words.[b]jealousy is ζη̂λος and envy is φθόνος Jealousy is similar to zealous. Envy is “the feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others”[c]W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 204. In this argument, jealousy is not interchangeable with envy. Even mere humans can be jealous without sin, as in the practice of loyalty between one husband and one wife in marriage.

A holy God can display a holy zeal without sin, so the argument fails.[d]“…unfaithfulness would result in judgment since the LORD … is a jealous God (cf. 4:24; 5:9; 32:16, 21). This means He is zealous to protect what belongs to Him alone. Jealousy in this … Continue reading

Divine jealousy should also be defined as a zealous intolerance of God’s enemies. There is only one true God. To demand that He must tolerate other gods is nonsense. When sin desires to rule our lives, God tells us that He alone serves as Lord and King and Master. Those who say that God’s jealousy is sinful are simply saying that His intolerance of sin is sinful. That is plainly an absurd and self-contradictory statement. The argument fails again.

Premise Two fails. Envy, not jealousy, is one of the cardinal sins.

There is also some further vagueness in the argument, in that Premise One is based upon Old Testament scripture and Premise Two is based upon New Testament scripture. In order to clarify the conclusion, we will concede that the eternal unchanging God is just as zealous in the New as He is in the Old. We do not have a contradiction of two different gods: a vengeful God of the Hebrews bible versus the loving God of the Christian bible.

Secret Hidden Premises Fail

However, we need to notice something about those Old Testament passages. In order to create a contradiction, it was necessary to limit the context of both passages in Nahum 1 and Exodus 20.

Look at the fuller reading of Nahum 1.

2 A jealous and avenging God is the LORD;
The LORD is avenging and wrathful.
The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries,
And He reserves wrath for His enemies.
3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.

Then look at the fuller reading of Exodus 20.

5 “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,
6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Now we need to understand the reason for leaving out “slow to anger” and “showing lovingkindness to thousands” in these scriptures. They were left out because the argument presumes that God is not good. The argument against God’s goodness is based upon Scripture that indicates that God is good and patient and loving and kind!

If God is independently good, as so many people say that He is, then there is another false statement secretly hidden in the assumed presumption. The person making the argument may feel that God is evil, but this argument does nothing to prove this unspoken belief. It is a matter of faith. The argument fails again because of a presumption that is not proven by the argument.

Faith in a bad god is very different than proving the nonexistence of all gods.

Facing God

If God is omnipotent, He has the power to destroy His enemies.

If God is good, He will demonstrate absolute justice in distribution of His wrath. No innocent party will ever be harmed as a result of God’s wrath.

The conclusion is simple. Do not be the enemy of God.

Because of His great love, God offers forgiveness and salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. God is so good that He offers reconciliation even to His enemies. You cannot deny the goodness of God. Don’t refuse the love of God.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.[e]New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), 2 Co 5:17–21.

 

Notes[+]

How to answer, “Religions are myths.”

How to answer, “Religions are myths.”

One of my neighbors recently posted her advice for everyone to live without religion.

Here is what she posted:

“Religions are myths. Love yourself and be kind. My inspiring thought for today is that we only can judge ourselves. There were no brutal blood sacrifices needed to make you whole. You’re a whole person just as you are. Live in that freeing truth. You are not the chief of sinners, but youve (sic) made mistakes, easily corrected. Live lawfully, kindly, and lovingly. You don’t need a book to tell you right from wrong. You are good. You are worthy. Live in the light of secular peace.”

Let’s find some common ground.

Her statement must be understood in Christian terms.

Kindness is encouraged by the Christian Scriptures and the Christian God (the One that was brutalized and sacrificed his blood).

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another [a]Colossians 3:12

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. [b]Galatians 5:22-23

Judging yourself is a Christian principle.

Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup… But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.  [c]1 Corinthians 11:28,31

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. [d]Romans 2:1

Ineffectual blood sacrifices are rejected by God.

What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
    says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
    and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
    or of lambs, or of goats. [e]Isaiah 1:11

Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing to me. [f]Jeremiah 6:20

Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; [g]Amos 5:22

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. [h]Psalm 51:16,17

Truth as a source of freedom is a beloved citation from the words of Jesus.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” [i]John 8:31-32

Living lawfully is a Christian principle.

But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.  [j]1 Peter 4:15,16

The Bible clearly states that we all have made mistakes.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  [k]Romans 3:23

God does tell us to live in the light.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” [l]John 8:12

…I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. [m]Acts 26:17-18

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. [n]Philippians 2:14-16

At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. [o]1st John 2:8-11

Finally, Scripture teaches that religion is myth.

“THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ ” [p]Matthew 15:8-9

O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. [q]1 Timothy 6:20-21

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.  [r]2 Corinthians 11:13-15

All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. [s]John 10:8-10

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” [t]John 14:6

Only Jesus saves.

No religion can save us. Church membership cannot save us. Only the person Jesus can save us. So let’s not focus on making up more human rules and philosophies and imposing them on others.

Words must have meanings.

Without the words of Jesus and the Scriptures, I would have no reference point from which to understand the all-religion-is-myth (ARM) statement.  She uses Christian language such as “chief of sinners” and other phrases.

In an atheism-based universe, everything is amoral matter. Loving and hating would be morally equal values to a bunch of molecules.

The ARM statement absolutely endorses everyone doing what they feel is right. The definitions of good, kind, and lawful are all subject to human judgment or conscience and societal norms.

Imagine a society where everyone has always done whatever each independent person feels is right. History has recorded some of the atrocities performed when self-guided atheistic leaders were in authority. Even Christianity has a tarnished record because of what happens when the Church follows human will.

Imagine the history of the world if Judeo-Christian cultures never existed and pagan or atheistic cultures had prevailed and if societal norms had not been shaped by any of the followers of Jesus. Thank God for Christian stuff like rule of law, education, medicine, liberty and human rights.

Can I be a Christian without Christ?

The ARM statement wants all the fundamental behaviors of Christianity (love, peace, kindness, lawfulness, justice, selflessness, et cetera) without Christ. This is a backwards compliment to Christians, a nod that we are following the right way when we follow the principles of Scripture. It’s like saying, “We want to be like you, but we don’t want your bloody Jesus.”

The ARM statement unfortunately overlooks the facts, stuff like history and geography. Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth are all real places that still exist for examination. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are well-documented by eye-witnesses in an abundance of manuscripts in existence today. Anyone can say that Jesus was a mythological character, but they do so against the facts and evidence. They call him a myth as an act of faith and emotion, not as a result of unbiased investigation.

It’s a trap!

It’s a trap!

The author of the original ARM statement was shocked by the reaction of Christians. They didn’t like what she wrote. They let her know that they didn’t like it.

One of the Christians went too far and threatened to pray for her, so our atheist writer responded, I don’t understand why I’m being persecuted for my lack of faith this way. 1st Amendment!(Because, as we all know, the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America [u]FIRST AMENDMENT: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the … Continue reading is the one that protects your right to express disapproval toward religion and prevents rebuttal from the target of your criticism. )

The writer intentionally posted on the hot topic of religion in order for religious readers to respond. She knew before she posted that people would disagree with her with strong emotions.

The writer intentionally used words that oppose the Christian God, “Brutal blood sacrifices” is a verbal assault against the Gospel and the Atonement.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [v]Romans 5:8

The writer placed the bait for Christians. She hoped they would be unkind so that she could justify her attack on their God. What religion tolerates this type of hateful defamation of their God? Well, Christianity does, because our God said, “Love your enemies.” So she was safe from house-burning or tar-and-feathering because she singled out the precious blood of Jesus.

My conclusion is that Christians should respond as Jesus said to respond.

Don’t take the bait and get caught in the trap. Any rebuttal, even an offer to love and pray for someone, will be interpreted as unkind, actually as un-Christlike.

You can’t win this argument with an argument. I don’t know anyone that was angrily squabbled into the Kingdom of God. The best witness is always kind, patient, peaceful, gentle, faithful, selfless, and loving.

I remember that God loves me. And if God can be gracious toward me, He also loves this angry atheist. We need to behave toward this person as she is a person loved by God.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” [w]Matthew 5:43-45

Notes[+]

How to Construct a Worldview

How to Construct a Worldview

While reading Matthew 5:15 it occurred to me that in the same way that a lamp beneath a basket is obscured, that if a person was under a basket he would not clearly see the world outside the basket. He would experience obstructive filtering of external light. [a]While I do not think that this is the intent of this biblical passage, it provided me with a mental picture to serve as an illustration. Only bits and pieces of the outside environment would pass through a woven basket. If you were inside the basket, you may glimpse a bit of blue sky through one hole and a bit of green leaves through another. Your view of the world outside would be incomplete.

I have been thinking about opposing worldviews.

Gather a number of individuals. Have them observe the exact same event. Ask each of them the meaning of what they observed. I predict that you will get as many different views as there are individuals in the group. Some will agree in part. There will be variations. I think that you will see that observers arrive at an event with preconceptions that will shape their observations. I think that some observers arrive hoping to achieve personal agendas.

Our preconceptions and agendas are the basket through which we filter the light. They are essential parts of our worldview.

I propose that it is better to weave your own custom-designed basket rather than passively acquiring a basket that may obscure reality.

An individual may drift into a worldview that is shaped by the culture, environment and influences around him. On the other hand, an individual may examine their culture and influences, decisions and behaviors, preconceptions and intentions and deliberately shape their own worldview in order to provide more coherent and reasonable explanations about life.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[b]Romans 12:2 – ESV

God provides Scripture so that you will allow Him to shape your mind.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.[c]Philippians 4:8

Rather than forming a worldview (or allowing a worldview to form) then filtering Scripture through that basket, we should investigate God’s revelation of Himself and use that information and influence to weave our worldview.

The Scriptures will provide coherence, unity, truth, purpose, and fulfillment.

Notes[+]

How to Overcome Fear

How to Overcome Fear

“Just tell yourself not to fear.”

This is not biblical advice. The Scriptures do not teach us to eliminate fear by refusing to think about it. Faith is not a denial of the truth. Faith does not require me to lie to myself or others.

Person of FearThere is no incantation to speak over fear that will magically banish it away.

Let’s ask the Scriptures about conditions for not fearing.

God’s Presence is stronger than fear.

Psalm 23 is a favorite. “I won’t fear because You are with me” seems to indicate that God’s presence in our lives can be stronger than the source of fear. In Psalm 23, the source of fear is walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

In Deuteronomy 31, God’s character is emphasized in Moses’ prophetic instruction to Joshua.  “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” In the face of conflict or threat, the presence of God is stronger than fear or dismay.

Abide in the presence of God whenever you find yourself temporarily in the presence of something fearful. God’s presence is greater than anything that causes fear.

God holds us in His righteousness.

A good memory verse (and a great song from Seeds Family Worship) is Isaiah 41:10. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” This message to Israel teaches about the righteous character of God. God holds us in His righteousness.

The righteous find a safe place in God.

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.[a]Proverbs 18:10

The righteous possess boldness.

The wicked flee though no one pursues,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.[b]Proverbs 28:1

God is with us. God is with us in times of fear and weakness. Our contact with God is in His righteousness. We ought to wonder what happens to us when we reject righteousness and choose selfishness.

Redemption is a strong factor in conquering fear.

But now thus says the LORD,  he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.'” Isaiah 43:1 indicates that fearlessness is one of the benefits included in redemption.

FAITH | FEAR
or
FAITH | UNBELIEF ?

I propose that fear is not the exact opposite of faith. The antithesis of faith is unbelief.

Antonyms for fear include: assurance, confidence, courage, fearlessness, trust, boldness.

Faith conquers fear by persuading us to fear the right stuff… particularly to properly fear the Lord.

I have a fear of flying. I think it is more of a fear of heights or a fear of falling from a height. I never had it when I was young. I first noticed it in my thirties. It isn’t a mild anxiety. I have physical responses like increased pulse, vertigo, and probably an increase in adrenaline and cortisol.

ANXIOUS FLYER

Telling myself to mentally not think about it doesn’t work. Faith does not require me to lie to myself.

Faith controls my behavior.

I do not want fear to control me, but I cannot overcome my fear by a mental denial or renouncement of my emotional state. My fear comes from being very high up in the air. I can overcome my fear by including information that is strong enough to overrule the fear. I think of the safety protocols that govern the maintenance and operation of the plane. I think of the benefit of arriving at my destination in hours instead of days. I give myself a greater purpose that keeps my fear from controlling my behavior.

Faith acknowledges the truth.

True faith is not a denial of the truth. True faith must surely involve knowing the right thing to fear and not fearing the wrong stuff.

One must stand in awe of anyone that has the power and authority to kill him. One must not fear/awe/respect anyone who attempts to manipulate him. One must not be afraid to do what God wants him to do.

Knowledge without fear does nothing. [c]FOTU: The fear of the unknown may be the fundamental foundation of all other fears.

True faith must result in obedience to God or it is no more than lip-service, taking the name of Christ while rejecting his authority over your life. A faith-filled person must also be a faithful person.

Faithfulness requires the fear of the Lord. Therefore, I propose that the antithesis of worldly fear is the fear of the Lord.

Psalm 111:10. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…[d]New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ps 111:10.

Proverbs 1:7. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.[e]New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Pr 1:7.

Ecclesiastes 8:12-13. Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may lengthen his life, still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly.
But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God.[f]New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ec 8:12–13.

Ecclesiastes 3:14. I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him.[g]New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ec 3:14.

yare˒ (יָרֵא, 3372), “to be afraid, stand in awe, fear.”  …Basically, this verb connotes the psychological reaction of “fear.”[h]W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 79.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.
For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.[i]New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ec 12:13–14.

A young man may know his father’s rules, but will disregard them because he does not respect his father. Is it better to obey the Lord or to disobey the Lord? The right-minded person will say it is better to obey than to disobey. However, a lot of people do not obey the Lord even though they know what is right and believe that it is better to do what is right. The knowledge of right doesn’t result in obedience without the fear of God.

Isaiah 50:10. Who is among you that fears the LORD,
That obeys the voice of His servant,
That walks in darkness and has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.[j]New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Is 50:10.

 

Notes[+]

Prophets of a Future Not Our Own

Prophets of a Future Not Our Own

Bishop Kenneth Edward Untener penned a homily for John Cardinal Dearden, Archbishop of Detroit, to deliver on the occasion of the Mass for Deceased Priests, October 25, 1979. This poetic reflection, “We are Prophets of a Future Not Our Own,” was taken from Untener’s text of Cardinal Dearden’s message.

As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero,[a]On 24 March 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero delivered a sermon in which he called on Salvadoran soldiers, as Christians, to obey God’s higher order and to stop carrying out the government’s … Continue reading

Bishop Untener included it in a reflection titled “The mystery of the Romero Prayer.” The mystery is that words never uttered by Romero are attributed to him.

Pope Francis quoted this reflection verbatim in his remarks to the Roman Curia on December 21, 2015.

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent
enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of
saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master
builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

Notes[+]

Why does God hate people with handicaps?

Why does God hate people with handicaps?

Was the Leviticus meme written by someone completely ignorant about the Bible? …or was this anti-Christian meme written by someone who deliberately wanted to change the real meaning of the Scripture?

Here is an example of the Leviticus meme:

Image result for leviticus meme handicapped

  1. Leviticus 21 contains no reference to God’s hatred of anyone.
  2. Leviticus 21 does not refer to the Church.
    Image result for leviticus meme handicapped
  3. Leviticus 21 does not forbid persons with handicaps from attending or ministering in Church.
  4. Leviticus 21 does not apply to everyone. It applies only to a few specific members of the family of Levi. The name of Levi is in our name for the book: Leviticus.
  5. Leviticus 21 applies only to priests with specific duties connected to the holy sanctuary of the Tabernacle or Temple.
  6. Leviticus 21 does not forbid Levitical priests from serving the Lord in every other way. It only limits the function of those who would serve the holy Temple.
  7. Leviticus 21 does not place any moral or spiritual judgment upon those Levitical priests with blemishes or handicaps.  This was a case of ritual or ceremonial imperfection. It does not indicate that physical blemishes or handicaps are sinful.
  8. This meme deliberately uses an archaic English translation of Leviticus 21 so that the language seems offensive to modern readers.
  9. God never intended that the requirements of Leviticus would be applied to the Church. Those who expect Christians to obey the requirements of the Law are not living in God’s grace.
    1. “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.,, I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:15,16,21
    2. “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” Galatians 5:4
  10. Jesus Christ fulfilled all the requirements of the Levitical priesthood to minister in the true heavenly Temple. He became the Great High Priest.
    1. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” Hebrews 4:14
    2. “If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.” Hebrews 7:11,12
  11. The perfection of Jesus Christ makes every believer a priest, eliminating the need for the Levitical priesthood altogether. This priesthood of believers places value upon everyone regardless of physical blemish or handicap.
    1. “Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’” Luke 14:12-14
    2. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9
    3. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Stop listening to false narratives about God’s Word. Seek the Truth.

What is the ultimate mission of the Church?

What is the ultimate mission of the Church?

Recently, I was in a training in which Scripture was cited and then this question was asked. The Scripture was from Revelation chapter 7.

9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying,
“Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

The group concluded, based upon the great multitude falling on their faces and worshiping God, that the ultimate purpose of the church is to worship God and make worshipers of God.

While the worship of God is an important activity of the holy Church, this passage does not point to that conclusion. In fact, the group that falls on their faces before the throne to worship God are angels, not the Church, not the great multitude.

Someone could comment that “angel” means “messenger,” so these are the messengers of the Church, whether that is apostles, prophets, evangelists, or pastors, etc. However, that definition would require us to deconstruct the meaning of the words in this passage. Revelation clearly states that the supernatural beings here are the angels from Revelation 5:11 and not the Church.

If we want to know the function and purpose of the innumerable multitude, we need to pay attention to their description. They are a mixed group from every ethnos and phule and laos, every nation and tribe/clan and people/race/language. They are standing before the throne and Jesus the Lamb. They are clothed in white stoles. They are holding palm branches.

Furthermore, there is an explanation in verses in verses 14-17.

14 I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 “For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 16 “They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

  • They came out of the Great Tribulation.
  • They have been whitened by the blood of Jesus the Lamb.
  • They work in God’s temple.
  • They dwell in God’s tent.
  • They do not hunger or thirst or overheat in the sun.
  • Jesus the Lamb shepherds and guides them.
  • God wipes their weeping eyes.

The first few items are meaningful to our question. They are a description of the condition of the saints. The remaining items are descriptions of the benefits of living in the eternal home of our heavenly Father.

If we choose Revelation 7 to understand the eternal or ultimate purpose of God’s people, based upon the description of these Tribulation Saints, we would need to focus on the most important functions in this list of descriptions.

  1. The Church needs to be cleansed by Jesus’ blood. No one gets to heaven any other way. Not even the blood of the martyrs can gain them entrance without the blood of the Lamb.
  2. The Church needs to be victorious over sin. The blood of Jesus makes us holy. God’s Holy Spirit is working to make God’s people holy by conforming them to the image of Christ. The palm branches are symbols of victory. In this case, victory over sin and death.

Based upon Revelation chapter seven, my conclusion is that the purpose of the Church is to be transformed into the holy image of Jesus Christ.

How to Cope With the Impending Loss of Your Job

How to Cope With the Impending Loss of Your Job

Death is Not the Only Source of Grief

The loss of a loved one is the most intense grief that a person can experience. However, there are other losses in life that also produce grief.

For example, if you know someone that has health problems and can no longer care for himself, you know that loss of independence is extremely difficult and stressful.

Loss of your job creates real grief.

Surprise! Grief Happens As Soon As You Know

Grief begins when you learn of an impending loss. Some people call it anticipatory grief or preparatory grief. It is the same as grief that occurs when a loss is actual. Some people are surprised by the emotional aspect of this time of grieving, because they thought it wouldn’t hit them until after the loss.

Loss of Identity Precedes Loss of Income

What kind of worker doesn’t personally invest himself into his work activity, doesn’t take pride in what he does? A bad worker.

Humans identify with activity. Therefore, even before you experience the loss of income, when you are told that you won’t be doing your job anymore, expect to feel some self-questioning. “If I’m not a (previous job assignment), then what am I? ”

The level of emotional investment varies with the depth to which you perceive your work. Factor in the amount of time spent developing your career, the amount of education required, the amount of personal resources you have used.

  • “My job is merely a mundane task. I don’t care.” You may not have much grief.
  • “My work is my career. I have worked hard to get where I am.” You should expect a great deal of grief.
  • “My work is a special calling. I have sacrificed everything to answer that call.” Massive loss invites massive grief.

When a supervisor decides that your services are no longer necessary, you are being told that your work was unimportant. You are being rejected. No wonder you feel anxious. Your professional life has a great impact on your personal life, no matter how much you try to separate them.

An important aspect of your job is working as a team member. Some teams act as families to each other providing emotional support that is vital to your well-being. It can be devastating to lose those relationships.

A career change is a change in your daily routine. Our small daily routines create a larger stability and steadfastness in our lives. Routines relieve stress. Change produces stress.

Along with anxiety, stress and grief produce a lot of emotions: shock, anger, guilt, blaming, denial, profound sadness. If you allow it, grief from job loss can damage your personal and family relationships. Grief can damage your ability to move forward and find a new job.

Coping with Anxiety and Stress

  1. Don’t react immediately to the negative emotions of grief. You may burn some bridges that you will need in the future. Try to leave on the best terms possible. Take the high road, no matter what road others take. The period of intensity of grief will pass, so don’t stay there. Move forward with dignity.
  2. Focus on building positive relationships at home. Your spouse is your greatest resource in coping well during grief. Research has shown that a kiss a day produces chemical changes in your body and lowers the effects of stress. Bring as much sunshine into the room as possible.
  3. Ask a trusted friend to come alongside you and assess your feelings of rejection. A good friend or even a professional can give you a more objective opinion. Identify one flaw that you can change to improve. Identify issues that were exaggerated, blown out of proportion, that were used to manipulate you into feeling that the severance was all your fault. Identify issues that were completely fabricated against you. Decide to deal with the real problems, minimize the exaggerated ones, and ignore the lies.
  4. Update your resume and create a list of your marketable skills. Get really creative as you assess your skills. Include your abilities to perceive situations, cope with changes, set goals and implement improvements in the workplace. Include personality traits that would make you a desired team member. As you look over this list, imagine a job that fulfills your talents more than a job that merely pays the bills.
  5. Keep your eyes open to identify resources that bring stability into your life. Create a new daily routine until a new job finds you. Serve in your community and experience the reward of giving selflessly. Participate more in your community of faith. Exercise, do yard work, fix stuff.
  6. React to hopelessness by reaching out for professional help. If your sadness swells to depression, talk to a qualified person. This is especially important if you have a history of depression.

The Bible Reveals the Truth About Grief

Look to the Scriptures during grief.

Many characters in the Bible faced and coped with loss. Job lost everything and held on to his integrity before God. Naomi’s loss of husband and sons preceded the birth of king David. Hannah grieved for children that she did not have and asked God to give her Samuel. David’s sin resulted in loss and intense grief. David poured his grieving heart out to God. His psalms encourage us to do the same. Tell God how you feel and trust His faithfulness as you go through grief.

Look to Jesus during grief.

Jesus wept as he experienced the grief of Mary and Martha when Lazarus died. Throughout his earthly life, Jesus was a man acquainted with grief; he is moved by our feelings of weakness.

Look to the Holy Spirit during grief.

Remember that Jesus sent a Comforter, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God will give you a refreshing new perspective on life and God’s purpose for your life.

God has a purpose for your grief. It is a time to regain stability so that joy can return. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

 

 

How to Break the Jargon Barrier in Your Church

How to Break the Jargon Barrier in Your Church

Jargon is a specialized vocabulary that is distinctive to a specific group.

Jargon creates an impressive image.

If you want to sound like an expert, use the distinctive vocabulary that is specific to that field of knowledge. Knowledge of the correct use of jargon can make you seem like an authority in a given field, regardless of whether or not you have any actual in-depth knowledge of that field.

Jargon provides a tool to create a stronger internal identity.[a]Jargon can function as branding. And sometimes branding becomes jargon, as in Kleenex and Coke.

Each of your social groups creates their own vernacular or vocabulary. Within one group, jargon aids in communicating longer ideas in shorter buzzwords. Outside that group, jargon negatively affects effective communication.

Jargon, like any new language, can be difficult to grasp.

Jargon tends to exclude those who don’t get it.

An increased level of jargon results in increased isolation of a group.  The use of elitist language that only privileged insiders can understand creates an exclusionary environment that is hostile towards outsiders.  Inside jokes are deliberately pretentious and purposefully exclude others from understanding. Jargon may be utilized in order to make others feel uninformed, out-of-touch, ignorant.

Jargon can create distrust.

Listeners may feel that you are hiding something from them when you choose to not speak plainly in concrete terms. Jargon is a verbal disguise. Jargon is a language of concealment because it prevents disclosure of a clear definition. It is natural to distrust a person who avoids providing a clear definition of their terms.

Your church should be careful when speaking jargon.

  1. Recognize words that are jargon, how much of your communication is jargon, and how jargon affects people that are not part of your inner circle.
  2. Use a limited amount of jargon to strengthen internal bonds of identification within your congregation. If your church has too much jargon, trim it. Use easily identifiable phrases rather than witty fad names to brand everything.
  3. Provide clear definitions of jargon. Post definitions where they can be accessed by people that need them. Remember that abbreviations and acronyms are jargon.
  4. Communicate intentionally and clearly at all times. If jargon is hindering good communication, quit using it. Don’t alienate people that you don’t intend to alienate.

Ephesians 4:29 asks us to speak words that build up others, giving grace to others.

Colossians 4:6 tells us to let our speech always be gracious.

Titus 2:7 tells us to have sound speech that cannot be condemned.

1st Peter 4:11 tells us to speak as the oracles of God.


*George Orwell essay: Politics and the English Language

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Notes[+]

Theme: Overlay by Kaira Extra Text
Cape Town, South Africa