Sunday, April 30, 2017

One of Jesus' titles is "The Coming One". He IS coming again. Are you ready?

In listening to John MacArthur's series in Revelation, this sermon yielded some glorious truths, once again. The sermon is titled The Certainty of the Second Coming. Now, we all know Jesus is coming to earth again. This time He will not be a meek servant, but a powerful judge. But do we know just how certain His coming is? How often the Bible makes reference to it? We don't hear the Second Coming preached much, or spoken of often. But it is the next prophetic event on the calendar (along with the rapture, which will happen just prior). Here is an excerpt from the sermon:

"The Coming One" was a title for Messiah. "The Coming One" was a special name for Messiah. In fact, back in Matthew we have an interesting reference to it. I’ll just read it to you. In Matthew, John the Baptist was in prison and he sent word by his disciples to Jesus. And they said to Him, "Are You the Coming One?" You see, the Jews all knew that the Coming One was a Messianic title. Jesus is the Coming One. That same verb, erchomai [???], that means "coming," is used directly or indirectly with reference to Christ nine times in the book of Revelation. Seven of those nine times it is the words of Jesus Himself, referring to Himself as "the Coming One." 
This book, then, is about the coming of the Coming One. And the present tense indicates to us that He’s already coming, so that we have this sense of expectation that leads John to say, "Look, He is coming," as if we are to be living in eager expectation. This, again, is the great heart of the book [of Revelation]. 
For every time the Bible mentions the first coming of Christ, it mentions the second coming 8 times. For each time the atonement is mentioned once, the second coming is mentioned twice. Jesus refers to His second coming 21 times, and over 50 times we are told to be ready for His return.

Over 50 times we are warned to be ready for His return? Wow. Yet for all the lack of preaching and teaching on it, one would think it is not important. But it is highly important. I recommend MacArthur's sermon series in Revelation, linked above. My personal opinion is that his best book has been Because the Time is Near, an overview of Revelation.

Through death, rapture, or Judgment, you will meet Him. Are you ready?

Further Reading

Alistair Begg/Truth for Life Devotional: Be Ready

Ligonier Devotional: Discerning the Signs

Grace to You Article: Marks of a Committed Christian

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Brass in the Bible, and brassy, brazen women

Did you ever think about brass? Looking at some of the items in the Bible more closely is enjoyable. Linen, pomegranates, ants, and palm trees have all been examined on this blog. Soon it will be fishing boats. Today I'm interested in brass.

My interest was piqued when I was listening to a John MacArthur sermon on Revelation 1. As an aside I'd like to add a personal note. I've listened to Dr MacArthur's sermons on the eschatological passages and I have researched his doctrinal stances on eschatology. I have of course also studied the eschatological doctrines myself directly in the Bible, and have listened to many other men preach on them. I believe Dr MacArthur is the most solid and biblical. Here, he preaches "Why every Calvinist should be a Premillennialist" and explains all the main eschatological viewpoints, biblically. He is firm but graceful on his pre-tribulation stance because it's biblically rooted (a stance to which I hold and I believe to be the only correct one).

In the sermon, Dr MacArthur was going through the vision given to John of Patmos in Revelation 1:12-14.
"His feet were like burnished bronze when it has been caused to glow in a furnace." What is that? Red hot. You've seen metal in a furnace, glowing, burning brass, or bronze. By the way, as a footnote, all of the temple and all of the tabernacle furniture that was in any way used in a sin offering was always brass. When you see brass in this situation, you know it has something to do with sin. And here you have feet glowing hot...very clear reference to judgment."
Then MacArthur said,
By the way, as a footnote, all of the temple and all of the tabernacle furniture that was in any way used in a sin offering was always brass. When you see brass in this situation, you know it has something to do with sin.
Hmmm. Immediately I thought of the verse in 1 Corinthians 13:1 where Paul said,

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

The Greek word used in the verse for gong is brass. Now, not every biblical mention of brass is a symbol of sin. Brass instruments are mentioned. Bronze statues are made. Bronze tools are helpful. Alternately, the Calf the Israelites made was golden, not bronze. However, the bronze serpent called Nehushtan became an idol that had to be destroyed.

While brass or bronze in the temple is not used in a positive sense, now that I think about it, culturally, brass is not positive much either.

The word brazen means acting or done in a very open and shocking way without shame or embarrassment, to face with defiance or impudence —usually used in the phrase brazen it out

If someone calls you brazen, it's not a compliment. For women, it's even worse. A cultural epithet feminists continue to try and twist into an accolade is "the brassy woman." This 2014 Elle Magazine article titled "Is it Really Okay for Women to be Brassy?" looked at one famous brassy woman and her life and death, comedienne Joan Rivers.
In all of the glowing memorials of Joan Rivers, who died last week at 81, she is lovingly referred to as "brassy." And comedy, it seems, has begun to embrace the Schumerian vulgarity in all women. But, does society really, truly love a brassy gal? ... 
In nearly every piece of writing on the life and death of Joan Rivers, she is referred to as such. Her admirers say "brassy" like it's a good thing. That wasn't always the consensus.
The halfhearted answer in the magazine article is that it's kind of OK to be brassy, but the biblical answer is, no. Though the article calls brassy women "assertive" and "confident", brassy women are more like the aforementioned clanging brass and clanging cymbal- just noise without music. Think of women who are or were considered brassy, Joan Rivers, Mae West, Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman. Now think of women who have never been called brassy, Jennifer Aniston, Olivia De Haviland, Meg Ryan. The former are profane, vulgar, and loud. The latter are demure, self-possessed, and dignified. Who would you rather be around? Which woman possesses the more biblical definition of womanliness?
Fun fact: If you mix other metals with copper, you get bronze and brass. Bronze is a mixture of about 90% copper and 10% tin. It’s darker than copper, and the color is less warm. In fact, bronze turns green when it oxidizes. Dark bronze can look almost chocolatey. 
Take 70% to 85% copper and mix it with zinc, and you get brass. It’s a yellow-gold color. So how do you tell brass and gold apart? Brass is slightly darker and duller; gold is lighter and shinier. ... An easy way to see if something is gold or brass is to use a magnet. Brass will attract the magnet, but gold won’t. If something says “K” or “karats,” it’s gold. Gold is also about twice as heavy as brass.
The brass implements at the temple were used just outside the holy of holies. Inside the holy of holies, was gold. For example, the bronze laver in which to wash and purify from sin before tending to priestly duties is a case in point.

The Bible is precise. The Holy Spirit inspired the men to write what they did for a reason, even down to the kinds of metal God chose to use for various items for various reasons. It would be fun to study the refining process, which metals are composed of how much dross and the biblical uses of various metals.

In High School I took "Shop." One of the projects we did was working with metal. I made an iron capital E, similar to the large capital letter "M" that Mary Tyler Moore had on her apartment wall in the old TV show. Though the half semester course was over 40 years ago, I distinctly remember excitedly donning all the safety gear and carefully pouring the liquid metal into my mold. I could hardly wait until the item cooled. It came out great!

I was amazed by the beauty of the molten metal, the glowing colors and the gracefulness of how it poured. I was satisfied to learn how it changed from solid to liquid to solid again. Metal is beautiful and interesting. I lost my 'sculpture' long ago, I wish I hadn't.

Brass, bronze, brazen. Think about it. Would you rather be "good as gold" with a "heart of gold"? Or a "brassy women" who is "bold as brass"?

**Ed Note: even searching for examples of "brazen women" to use in this essay yielded many sites and photos of women toting guns (as in criminals like gun moll), being profane and immodest, and/or involved in public sex or known for "confident" sexuality. I rest my case.


Further Reading

Brazen Women: vintage postcards and photos with captions of historically daring women

Friday, April 28, 2017

The LORD is Creator and Commander of the animal kingdom

The Lord in His power directs every atom, every person, every angel, every demon, and every animal on earth (and in heaven). He created all and He is in control over all.

Not that He makes humans like robots, but His providence sees to it that His will and His plans are carried out. I enjoy pondering His power over His creation, don't you? There are many verses that speak to this fact. Here are a mere few that demonstrate His sovereignty.

"The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters" (Psalm 24:1-2).

"Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God" (Psalm 90:2).

"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17).

One demonstration of His power is His control over the animals. Let's take a look.

The most obvious one is His control over animals when He sent them to Noah to board the ark.

Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. (Genesis 6:20).

In Exodus, He sent the plagues of flies, gnats (Exodus 8:16-19), frogs (Exodus 8:1-15) and killed all the cattle- except the ones who belonged to the Hebrews. Lest someone believe that it was an accident, the Bible declares that the LORD did it.

And the Lord did so. There came great swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh and into his servants' houses. Throughout all the land of Egypt the land was ruined by the swarms of flies. (Exodus 8:24).

EPrata photo

And the next day the Lord did this thing. All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one of the livestock of the people of Israel died
. (Exodus 9:6).

Prophet Elijah was fed by ravens.

And the word of the Lord came to him: 3 "Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 4 You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there." (1 Kings 17:2-4).

Lest anyone think it was an accident, note that the LORD "commanded" the birds to do this. It was His will and desire that this should occur. And it did.

In Numbers 22:28 He made a donkey speak. What I found funny was that Balaam argued back. He was arguing with a donkey! He didn't say, "Hm, this donkey which I have ridden all my life and it never spoke before, suddenly began acting strangely and then it talked to me. It must be the LORD.' No, Balaam said he was so mad at the donkey he would like to kill it. The donkey then pleaded his case. A strange scene, for sure. But the LORD made the donkey speak. Once again, He is in control.

Of course one can think of the bears God sent to maul the taunting youths, the great fish He sent to swallow Jonah, the lions' mouths he closed in the lion's den for Daniel, the ram he sent to Abraham caught in the thicket atop Mt Moriah, and many other instances of how the LORD used animals to fulfill His will.

In the New Testament, He made the fish overload the disciples' nets so much that their net broke. (Luke 5:6). In Matthew 17:24-27 he put a drachma coin into a fish's mouth. He will call the birds of the air to the Great Supper of God. (Revelation 19:17).
EPrata photo

God communicates with His creatures. He cares for them. They indicate that there IS a Creator as a product of God’s creative energy and will.

I enjoy thinking about the sovereignty of God through these topics. His created order, the world, and heaven contain animals of which he creates, communicates with, and cares for. They do what He wishes and they even give praise to their creator. (Psalm 148:10-13).

We can do the same.

EPrata photo

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Throwback Thursday: If We had X-ray Vision, what would Sin Look Like?

This was first published in January 2014 on this blog.

When satan was created, He was the most beautiful angel. Ezekiel 28:12 says

Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty."

Inside or out, satan was not only beautiful, but he was the very seal of perfection. But it didn't last. Though he was created perfect, one day, unrighteousness was found in him.

You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you." (Ezekiel 28:15)

Initially, sin might look beautiful but the more a person becomes trapped in it, the less beautiful it seems to them and the more they are eternally destroyed.

The woman may be beautiful, and the sin so enticing, Proverbs 5:3 says,

For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey and her speech is smoother than oil.

But the end of it all is is hell.

In the end she’s as bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps head straight for Sheol. (Proverbs 5:4-5)

But sin at first has to look great, and not like ot really looks, or else no one would engage in it.

How does sin really look? Remember Superman's X-Ray vision?

THIS is what sin might look like. Here is the Old Man. Once so beautiful and shining, it is what satan's soul looks like. Eve thought the fruit looked good and a delight to the eyes, (Genesis 3:6) but shortly after all it had brought was pain and bondage (Genesis 3:16). If we had X-ray vision and could see beyond the enticing surface, this is what we would see:

"Sin", collage on handmade paste paper, by EPrata

O, would that sin looked like this to our eyes, then we would not be so attracted to it! And sadly, horrifically, it is what us inside us. This ugliness is what Jesus sees when He looks at a non-believer. Lovingly, He still died for us.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

However, being that sin is so gross and deadly, it makes the triumph of Jesus all the more glorious. Where satan is all-darkness that fools us into thinking it is light, Jesus never had one blot, one lie, one corrupt thought, one serpent slither. Not once, not ever. He IS the Light!

God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

If we had X-ray vision looking at Jesus, our eyes would see only glory upon glory, shining like the sun. He is a prism of Light, reflecting throughout all the universe and into the eternity we will share with Him! When He looks upon a believer He sees that same righteousness-

For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Don't be fooled by the initially enticing beauty of sin. It is gross, destructive, horrible. Put on your X-ray vision to see beyond the surface lie. Run from it toward Jesus who set us free from its bondage, and gave us the Spirit's vision to see through its enticing spoils. Satan's offerings are nothing. Jesus is our all in all.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I'm not broken

Do you hear a lot of conversation these days involving the word 'broken' and 'brokenness'? I do. It is the newest trendy word.

Words matter. They present reality, create meaning, knit a cultural understanding. Words matter.

The Lord revealed Himself to us by His Word. He IS the Word made flesh. He could have revealed Himself to us in pictures, symbols, or any other method. He chose the Word.

We will be judged by our words. Jesus said, "I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:36).

Words matter.

In Genesis 11:1 we read, "Now the whole earth had one language and the same words." In Genesis 11:7 God said, "Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech." [Literally, 'one lip'].

How did the LORD choose to restrain man? By confusing their languages. He will reverse that on His Day. Zephaniah 3:9 has the prophecy-

"For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord." [literally, "one lip"].

Words matter.

Christians speak the one language of faith. Or we are supposed to, anyway. The Bible clearly explains the important concepts by which we live and construct meaning. They are in words, and the words are: sin, wrath, grace, sanctification, justification, imputation, atonement, good, evil ... & etc. When we speak them to each other the meanings of these words should be clear to Christians. When we say, "I am a sinner" we know what we mean. When we say "God is good" we know what is meant by it. "I'm a depraved sinner" is understood. We should be 'of one lip.' But we're not. By dropping and substituting words commonly understood for millennia, we are creating new understandings of the basics of the faith.

In today's example, no longer are we sinners. We're 'broken.'

Brokenness the way it's used nowadays does not mean what you think it means. In this piece by The Gospel Coalition, the opening paragraph succinctly describes my concerns with the increasing use of the word 'brokenness.' Unfortunately, the rest of the essay goes on to state the exact opposite of my point here today, so I don't endorse the article.
In Christian circles, much has been made of brokenness, vulnerability, and authenticity in recent years. Some have expressed concern that these ideas have been overemphasized while holiness has taken a backseat. Brokenness in this context has tended to be of a faux variety. Much of it amounts to a confession of socially acceptable sins and mommy bloggers making messiness cool.
How does using brokenness the trendy way it is being used in Christian circles underestimate sin's power? Brokenness evokes minor imperfections, not depravity. It removes the impetus from the sinner as the one performing the sin. We've gone from 'I am a depraved sinner in need of grace' to 'I'm broken through no fault of my own and I need a heavenly butler to fix me'.

These mommy bloggers with messy lives authentically telling you about their brokenness are no different from the Pharisees who lengthen their tassels or make long prayers with long faces in order to show they are good.

Showing you are 'bad/broken' is no different than the Pharisees showing they were 'good'. It's still 'look at me'. The result is the same also - hypocrisy.
"Maybe wholeness is embracing brokenness as part of your life." Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way.
Maybe NOT. When we display our shining faces and our heavenly glow, we are demonstrating His victory to the world. Embracing brokenness is not displaying a victorious life.

And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (Matthew 6:16).

I do not know where these women are getting all this brokenness from, because before we're saved, we're not broken and in need of a little fix, as Lysa Terkeurst seems to think-
Brokenness where we are split open. Redemption where God knits us back together. Lysa TerKeurst
Before salvation, we are whole. Wholly evil, wholly depraved. We function unbroken and unabated in a cursed world where we fit in perfectly fine. After salvation, we are not fixed (as is the opposite of broken.) We are made a new creation. It's not that our thoroughly depraved soul is dented and needs pounding out and fixing like a car mechanic doing body work on a bumper or a little knitting and voila, we're fixed. We are so thoroughly evil that we must be made a new creation. So after salvation, nothing is broken then, either.

We're not supposed to promote our brokenness by mooning around with a long face, writing endlessly about how broken we are. Personally, I believe doing so is an insult to Jesus, who saved us perfectly. Lest someone think I am being heartless, I do know that both before salvation and after salvation, we grieve, are bereft, lonely, sad, melancholy, stricken, and all the rest. Life hurts. It really does.

If ever there was anyone who had cause to call himself "broken" it was Paul. He was betrayed, abandoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked, beaten, lonely and even at one point "despaired of life"! He wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:8,

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.

Broken! For sure! But did he write anywhere in the Bible that we should dwell in our griefs? Wallow in brokenness? Embrace it? Never! What a ghastly thought! He wrote,

But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. (Philippians 2:18).

In whatever circumstance Paul found himself in, he urged rejoicing in the Lord. He never urged his people to wallow in brokenness. He never even said that as grief-stricken as he was at times that he himself was 'broken.'

Sisters, we are not broken. If the current trendsetters using the word mean broken as in prior to salvation, well, before salvation we're evil and depraved sinners who have no chance to please God, not broken. After salvation, we are a new creature, not broken.

If the trendsetters using the word broken to indicate a certain emotional state, well, call it what it is. Grief, broken-hearted, depression, melancholy, annoyance, overwhelmed. That's OK, we all feel those things at times. But again, that's not being broken. And in any case, as Paul said, rejoice, sisters, rejoice! Mooning around with a long face as a broken individual doesn't earn you any points with Jesus. He said as much regarding the Pharisees, as I stated above.

If you're sad, depressed, rejected, melancholy, whatever it is, rejoice! I know it's hard. I'm not making light. But watch the words you say (and sing, and write). Saying that you're broken is insulting to Jesus and unnecessarily transforming the Christian vocabulary into something trendy and indistinct.

I'm not broken. Are you?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Paul's warm letters

These are the openings of all of Paul's letters, except Galatians. Please don't skip, read them through.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:3-6).

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:4-9).

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. ... Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:2,7)

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers... (Ephesians 1:15-16).

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven (Colossians 1:3-5).

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:203).

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. (2 Thessalonians 3-4).

To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. (1 Timothy 1:2).

To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. (2 Timothy 2:2-4).

To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. (Titus 1:4).

To Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2 and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. (Philemon 1:1-7).

A hallmark of Christianity is love.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35).

Barnes Notes says of the John verse,
That is, your love for each other shall be so decisive evidence that you are like the Saviour, that all people shall see and know it. It shall be the thing by which you shall be known among all men. You shall not be known by special rites or habits; not by a special form of dress or manner of speech; not by special austerities and unusual customs, like the Pharisees, the Essenes, or the scribes, but by deep, genuine, and tender affection. And it is well known it was this which eminently distinguished the first Christians, and was the subject of remark by the surrounding pagans. "See," said the pagan, "see how they love one another! They are ready to lay down their lives for each other." 
I think it's clear that Paul genuinely loved his people and cherished his overseers. His letters were full of approbation for them. He had high regard for his fellow workers, and wasn't shy about saying so.

Wouldn't it be lovely to receive a letter like Paul's? Wouldn't it be great to be received in person the way that Paul greets his friends? It would, on both counts. I fail the standard Paul sets here, both in reaching out with loving, personal messages to warmly encourage as Paul does, and in displaying a genuine love in person for the believers "in the common faith."

How about you? Is there something more you can do to 'boast of a friend' to other friends? To pray for them earnestly? To visit with them in love, exulting in your common love of Christ?

Please re-read the letter introductions, and think of someone you can love and encourage today. I know I will.

Monday, April 24, 2017

What about a Christian's Weakness?

There's weakness, and then there's weakness. It depends on which kind you're talking about.

Christian women are noted as the weaker vessel. (1 Peter 3:7). GotQuestions explains in this excerpt:
This is not a popular idea among many women or even many men. However, the Scripture tells us that the woman was deceived (1 Timothy 2:14), she is subject to her husband (1 Peter 3:1) and that she is a “weaker” vessel. That women are usually physically weaker is undeniable, but the implication of the fall is that by virtue of her being deceived by Satan, women may also sometimes be weaker in other ways. That definitely does not mean she is less valuable (Ephesians 1:6) or that she does not have equal access to grace (Galatians 3:28). 
As for Christian weakness in general, we’re all weak, we are supposed to be. Paul said that Jesus replied to him,

'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, 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).

There's weak because we're laden with sin that makes us weak. That is one reason we strive not to sin. We pick up our cross daily and slay it. When we do sin, it's important to address it by repenting to Jesus and making things right with theother person, if you had involved another person in your sin. Sin is one reason we become weak and ineffective.

There's weak because we understand our depravity and seek the Spirit's strength. There's weak when we see how powerful Jesus is, and understand our own powerlessness in the face of His omnipotence. There's physically weak, due to illness temporary or permanent.

In some cases, God gives us weakness. He gave to Paul a "thorn in the side" both to keep Paul humble, and to demonstrate that all we need is His grace (not our own strength). (2 Corinthians 12:7)

In America where I'm from, strength is valued. Strength, bravado, and self-sufficiency are nationally recognized attributes, idols, even. In addition, American Feminism has also contributed to a national consciousness that we woman are supposed to have it all together and be capable of all things at all times. "I can bring home the bacon AND fry it up in a pan" and so on.

The attributes of weakness, meekness, and humility aren't as valued as they are in other nations. But it's OK to be weak. It's good. Why?

It's God who strengthens us. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13).

Wouldn't you rather have His strength than your own strength, anyway? :)


Further Reading

Here are a few resources on our weakness.

Desiring God: Don't Waste Your Weakness

The End Time: Are you a weak woman, or are you a weak woman?

Grace To You blog post: God's Sufficient Grace

Ligonier Devotional: Power in Weakness

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Visual Exegesis: The Life of Every Living Thing

Chris Powers of Full of Eyes creates exegetical art, still and moving images, intended to point people to the beauty of God in the crucified and risen Son. His work can be found on Youtube, Patreon, and his website, There are study guides to accompany the videos, tracts, and art- free to use for the edification of the global church and the exaltation of Jesus' name. 
Today's presentation is called The Life of Every Living Thing. Below Powers' illustration is the artist's statement.

Job 12:10, "In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind." 
It was tough to come up with a verse picture today. I spent most of my time reading this morning in Genesis considering some of the patterns we see in the Creation week....some wonderful stuff there, but nothing that seemed to lend itself to a picture. I also read a bit in Job and came across 12:10.....I was hesitant to make the picture that I did because it is similar to another that I did a few months ago, but--since I try to get these done early without spending TOO much time on them, I went ahead with this design. 
I'm also studying the "hypostatic union" right now (the orthodox understanding of Christ as one Person--God the Son--with two natures--divine and human) for a Wednesday night class I teach at our local church....that's got me thinking about some more of the glorious realities we see in of which is that He--as God the Son--is sustaining the universe ("in His hand is the life of every living thing...") even as His hands are pierced and His creaturely life ebbs away. It's an "old" truth but one that ought always to stagger....the sovereign mingling of omnipotence and helplessness that we see at the cross is unlike anything the world can produce and a self-authenticating witness to the beauty of God's Name. 
So, I hope that this picture echoes both the idea that the God-Man upheld the life of the universe with His hands even as His flesh was pierced on the cross AND that, the piercing of His hands was also the means by which He purchased the life that He was upholding. All created life--at least all terrestrial life--would rightly have been extinguished because of sin had not the wrath a ten thousand justly-deserved Noahic floods been stored up to be poured on on the Beloved Son at Calvary.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The biblical worldview is that there is the righteous and the wicked

When you read chunks of the Bible at one time, patterns and themes emerge that may not be as noticeable as when you read just a few verses more deeply. That's why both kinds of study are valuable.

In reading the Psalms, one immediately notices David's worldview. It's stark, solid, and biblical. With David, there are the righteous, and the wicked. Period.

We live in times where Christians are pressured to blur those lines. We're told to accept and tolerate all manner of sin, value any and all professions of faith even if they're unaccompanied by fruit, and to view all people as inherently good. Failure to do the above invites catcalls of "Pharisee", "judgmental", or worse.

However, when we blur those lines, the loss to the church is that mission fields shrink and disappear. Doctrinal lines are dismissed. Sadly, if we don't know who is in and who is out, who do we evangelize?

I found this article from a church in MO, called The Righteous and the Wicked. I don't agree with their KJV-only stance, but I do agree with this article.
We believe that there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked; that such only as through faith are justified in the name of the lord Jesus, and sanctified by the spirit of our god, are truly righteous in his esteem while all such as continue in impenitence and unbelief are in his sight wicked, and under the curse; and this distinction holds among men both in and after death. ...
This article also emphasizes the fact that with God, there is no middle ground. With men, we see much middle ground or gray area. With God it is all black or white, right or wrong, for him or against him. Joshua made this very clear in Joshua 24:14,15 when he demanded that Israel make a choice to either serve God or not serve God. "Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
The Bible makes it clear so many times, using opposites in a plethora of descriptions. This verse from Isaiah 5:20 is just one:

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

The verse presents three of the stark opposites:


We read of those who are cursed and those who are blessed.

Those who are dead and those who are living.

There are those in Christ and those who are in outer darkness.

There are those who draw near, and those who fall away.

There are those who are hot, and those who are cold. The middle ground of lukewarm is something Jesus hates!

The sad thing is that some of these unsaved, evil people are professing Christians. Others are simply true Christians who are stumbling. Without practicing biblical discernment, we are losing our ability as a global church to detect the difference. This is to our detriment. The biblical worldview is that it is either-or.

We need to be mindful of the two-path approach to Jesus. Now, we don't have the omnipotence that God does. When I try to have these conversations with fellow believers, they quickly shut it down, saying, "Only God knows the heart." That is true. I can't see the heart of people to say with the same certainty as God that a person is saved or not saved. I'm not omnipotent. But discernment doesn't require omnipotence.  "You will know them by their fruits," Jesus said, twice in the same lesson. (Matthew 7:15-20). He gave us the ability to discern the difference between a thistle and a fig, the difference between a grape and a thorn.

He didn't say, 'You won't know them.' He didn't say, 'You may know them, perhaps. Try again later.' He didn't say, 'Stay quiet because only God knows the heart.'

Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:20)

I'm not saying to go around and make unsound declarations about people's position in Christ. But I am saying two things that revolve around this concept - inconsistency and hypocrisy in Christian life bring reproach upon the cause of truth.

Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; (2 Peter 2:2).

So for that reason,

1. Remember that there are two roads and two roads only. Societal pressure, cultural tolerance, personal timidity add to the reluctance of people to remember that. The biblical worldview is that it's either-or with nothing in the middle! The middle road with mushy doctrinal lines is lukewarm. Jesus hates lukewarm. Do not tolerate sinners among you who preach false doctrine! (Revelation 2:20).

2. If you see a long-term pattern of sin in a person or a long time of no fruit, it is allowed and even commanded by His word, to do something about it. Some of these verses are aimed at pastors but it is also incumbent on lay-people to both edify and rebuke in sincere concern for their restoration. (1 Cor. 5:1-13, 1 Timothy 5:20, 2 Timothy 4:2, Titus 1:13, Galatians 2:14, Ephesians 5:11...)

In an attempt to be kind, or caring, or non-judgmental, we too often allow a believer (or a non-believer "believer") to go on their wicked path. The believer, if he is a believer, loses rewards every moment he continues on his course of sin. More importantly, professing believers who continue on a wicked path bring reproach onto the name of Jesus. (Romans 2:23-24). The professing person who is self-deluded and not a believer at all, may, in fact, be shaken out of their deluded complacency unto salvation if one confronts them about their lack of fruit.

Even if they aren't shaken out of complacency or a sinning path, and the Lord hardens them further instead, His glory is manifested in that person as a vessel of wrath. Plus, you are giving Him glory by obeying. Just as the result of our salvation discussions is left to the Holy Spirit, sin-correcting discussion results are also left to Him. Sometimes the person will be amenable, sometimes they will become angry and then amenable, and sometimes they will get mad and stay mad. If you have prayed, if you have been diligent to follow His statutes, if you've removed the log from your own eye, if you've spoken with a sincerity for the betterment and concern for the person, then leave the results to the Spirit. You've done your part.

The Takeaway:

There are two roads. There are the righteous and the wicked. The two roads people travel lead to His domain, whether it is the kingdom of Light in heaven or His domain of Outer Darkness in the Lake of Fire. After death, there is a great gulf fixed, that none many travel from one to the other. Speak the truth in love to those who you have concerns for before the roads become unalterably fixed after death.

As David said in Psalm 6:5,

For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?

Matthew Henry is concise regarding this verse, and of today's concept, his comment on Psalm 6:5 is a good way to end it:
6:1-7 These verses speak the language of a heart truly humbled, of a broken and contrite spirit under great afflictions, sent to awaken conscience and mortify corruption. Sickness brought sin to his remembrance, and he looked upon it as a token of God's displeasure against him. The affliction of his body will be tolerable, if he has comfort in his soul. Christ's sorest complaint, in his sufferings, was of the trouble of his soul, and the want of his Father's smiles. Every page of Scripture proclaims the fact, that salvation is only of the Lord.
Man is a sinner, his case can only be reached by mercy; and never is mercy more illustrious than in restoring backsliders. With good reason we may pray, that if it be the will of God, and he has any further work for us or our friends to do in this world, he will yet spare us or them to serve him. To depart and be with Christ is happiest for the saints; but for them to abide in the flesh is more profitable for the church.

Further Reading

Dealing with Sinning Christians

When Should a Christian try to correct another Christian?

In keeping with the theme of knowing there are only two roads and that there are only the righteous and the wicked, let's look at what a Biblical worldview is, and when a Christian's biblical worldview can become diluted:

What's a Christian worldview anyway?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Sin's poison is visible in the world

A version of this was originally published on The End Time in December 2009

Jan Brueghel the Elder

In these waning days of the Age, do you think about the Garden of Eden? What untainted creation must have looked like? I do. The only mirror I have of earth as originally intended is in Genesis 1, and there, the LORD called it "good." The reverse of that is earth in today's condition. And today it looks pretty bad.

How far and deep has the effect of sin permeated our waters, our land, our food, and our very bodies and brains? Everything seems as poison now. Creation itself is laboring under the poisonous effects of a sinful world. "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now." (Romans 8:20-22)

"[T]herefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, "behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood and give them poisoned water to drink." (Jer 9:15) Matthew Henry writes of that verse, "Every thing about them, till it comes to their very meat and drink, shall be a terror and torment to them. God will curse their blessings." Malachi 2:2 is that reminder of His promise to curse even the blessings of food and water.

I am not referring to the curse of oil spills or overflowing landfills or garbage scows nor greenhouse effects. I am talking the tide of sin-pollution and its impact on a falling world. "Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets, 'Behold, I am going to feed them wormwood And make them drink poisonous water, For from the prophets of Jerusalem pollution has gone forth into all the land.'" (Jeremiah 23:15). If we insist on wallowing in sin, then the Lord obliges by sending its visible manifestation to us and causes us to eat and drink of it.

Worse, "Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it." (Malachi 2:4). Does the dung promise to mean that if we speak refuse, live in refuse, offer Him refuse, that we will eat refuse? That just as we punish a puppy who messes in the house with rubbing his face in it, God will do the same?

How we have allowed sin's effects to creep like a tide of polluted water to poison the world. How often we see the bitter herb 'wormwood' used in the bible as a visible materialization of our sin. And so it will be again: "The name of the star is called Wormwood, and a third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter." (Revelation 8:11)

Sin is a terminal condition. Do not underestimate how seriously God takes it when we refuse to turn away from sin!! Do not underestimate your own sin! Do not think you will escape! The only remedy is the blessed Hope, His forgiveness, made possible because of His sacrifice of blood on the cross. If you feel burdened with guilt for your misdeeds, and believe Jesus died and rose again for your sin, then ask him with sincere heart to forgive you. Believe on His name. Only the forgiven of sin can dwell with the Most High and Holy. Those with sin in them will be given over to the poison that it truly is, now made increasingly visible and manifest in this dying world.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Help! My Friend Is Reading a Dangerous Book

A question was asked at our Bible Discussion Group on how to sensitively approach someone who is in a false religion in order to open discussion as to the truth. This same question has been asked of me personally regarding how to approach a friend whom you see carrying around a book by a false teacher.

At Discussion Group, I'd offered my process of how I deal with friends involved with false teachers, false doctrine, or false religion. I'd said that first, it depends on the relationship you have with them. If you don't know the person or are only bare acquaintances, it won't do to walk up to them and just say something brusque or out of the blue that in effect, amounts to saying "You're doing it wrong."

The Bible encourages and commands discipling relationships with one another. This is so we can keep each other accountable. We can carry each other's burdens. Ultimately, close involvement with each other means can edify and grow one another and one way we do this is by helping sisters course-correct.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

We can't build up a sister if we let them wallow in false doctrine. (Jude 1:23). Alternately, we won't build them up if we are tactless and brusque. (2 Timothy 2:25, Galatians 6:1).

Assuming you are close enough with the sister to have established trust and are known to each other in a friendly way, then what I do is begin by asking questions. Perhaps the person is reading the book for research purposes. Maybe someone less discerning gave it to them and they haven't thrown it out yet. Maybe they are getting ready to give it to someone else. Maybe a lot of things. Just ask. "Are you reading that book? What do you think of it?" "Let me know when you're done, I'd love to get your take on it..." Etc.

Finally, I always have something else to offer the person in the books' stead. It doesn't help the person as much to just say that their book is a dangerous book, without having something in which to substitute. If they'd lacked discernment enough in the first place to get or read that book, then offering them material written by a credible author steers them into a better direction.

I was pleased when I'd come across this short discussion from 2016 where Noël Piper, Kathleen Nielson, and Gloria Furman discuss this very question. I was even more pleased when they shared that they do the same: ask, be gentle, discuss. Phew, at least I'm not off the deep end with this.

The women also discuss two other questions. If you can't play back videos, here is a link to just listen.

One final thing. Their title mentions 'a dangerous book." Undoctrinal books ARE dangerous. Books like The Shack, Love Wins, The Circle Maker, any and all non-doctrinal, unorthodox books present a danger to the Christian. Adam and Eve only had to obey one command, and within a shockingly short time, satan easily managed to twist that command into a suggestion. Paul said to Titus that false doctrine upsets whole families (Titus 1:11). Paul warned Timothy that false doctrine undermines the faith. (2 Timothy 2:18). Make no mistake, (because satan isn't making the same mistake), the false doctrine contained in books, movies, pamphlets, and studies is a very present danger to the Christian mind and heart.

Here is the blurb for the short video:
Your friend is gushing about that book she’s been reading. It’s on the Christian Living bestseller list, but for whatever reason you suspect the book is more influenced by the spirit of the age than by a biblical worldview. ... Nielson cautions against the overcorrection of reading only the Bible, since reading widely can actually enhance Bible reading, and Piper warns against becoming the kind of reader who only reads books from your own "tribe."

Help! My Friend Is Reading a Dangerous Book
Noël Piper, Kathleen Nielson, and Gloria Furman Discuss

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Sad Story of the Wind Phone

The lost are in the night, the cold, the outside. The lost are stumbling around, leading each other into a pit. They know not what they do. They dwell in a land of darkness with no hope.

For that reason, we can have compassion and pity.

This week I read an article that pulled at my heart strings. It was one of those articles that evoked pity, but also gratitude. I say gratitude because the Lord transferred me from the Kingdom of Darkness into His kingdom of Light. I have hope for an afterlife, the assurance of His more sure word on what is going to happen.

The phone of the wind. CC BY-SA 4.0

Wind Telephone
A disconnected rotary phone for "calling" lost loved ones offered a unique way of dealing with grief in disaster-stricken Japan.
When Itaru Sasaki lost his cousin in 2010, he decided to build a glass-paneled phone booth in his hilltop garden with a disconnected rotary phone inside for communicating with his lost relative, to help him deal with his grief. 
Only a year later, Japan faced the horrors of a triple disaster: an earthquake followed by a tsunami, which caused a nuclear meltdown. Sasaki’s coastal hometown of Otsuchi was hit with 30-foot waves. Ten percent of the town died in the flood. 
Sasaki opened his kaze no denwa or “wind phone” to the now huge number of people in the community mourning the loss of loved ones. Eventually, word spread and others experiencing grief made the pilgrimage from around the country. It is believed that 10,000 visitors journeyed to this hilltop outside Otsuchi within three years of the disaster.
The article goes on to assure the reader that the wind phone is meant to be used as a one-way communication. In other words, the people dialing the rotary dial and speaking their grief to the wind do not expect to hear anything in return at all. It's just a symbol, a process, and an activity to help people feel more in control during their time of grief.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Not knowing about what happens after death is a number one issue for the unsaved. They might utter it, or they might never utter it, but we know that the gaping maw that is the great, unanswered question of eternity always lurks behind their thoughts. We know this because they are children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3) and the wrath abides on them all the time. (John 3:36). As Paul said, If our hope in Christ is for this life alone, we are to be pitied more than all men. (1 Corinthians 15:19).

We Christians have the assurance of a sinless, perfect afterlife with Jesus. We also have the promise of loving attention by a God who hears our prayers. (Psalm 34:15). We do not need a wind phone, we have the ear of the Almighty God! What praise there is in that! We are encouraged to take our supplications to Him, He hears us from His mighty temple. (Psalm 18:6).

Doesn't it just tug your heart strings to see something like a wind phone atop a lonely hill in Japan Doesn't it pierce you, knowing the sadness and grief of the lost will not be salved? But doesn't it also pierce you (as it does me) to have the ability to pray to the Holy One, and not? While the lost are installing phantom phones to whisper their grief into the wind, we are assured we have the ear of the High Priest at our disposal.

Pray more. Jesus is the God who sees and hears. He knows the voices of His sheep. Our griefs, supplications, petitions, cares, burdens, praises, and joys reach Him even though He is an unutterable distance away. But He is this close, too, inside us, knowing our sinews and heartbeats. He knows what we will ask before we ask it. He knows the need to be comforted even as we clasp our hands and open our mouth. He is great, attentive, wise, and concerned. Pray more. And tell the lost before they need a wind phone, that there is One who will listen, if they repent.


Further Reading

The Master's Seminary: When an Unbeliever Dies: Offering Comfort without Distorting the Truth

Desiring God: How Do You Deal with the Death of an Unsaved Loved One?

Monday, April 17, 2017

David's brave prayer

In Matthew 16:24-26 we read,

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

We know that passage means we turn our back on the kingdom of darkness and everything it represents, including self-aggrandizement, self-absorption, selfishness, anything self, &etc. We know we are supposed to die to self. We know we are supposed to hold others in higher regard than ourselves. We know it is written that we should be willing to lay down our life for our friends.

It's hard.

Very hard.

Oh, does the flesh rebel against this.

We read in Psalm 7:3-5, the following prayer by David.

O Lord my God, if I have done this,
if there is wrong in my hands,
if I have repaid my friend with evil
or plundered my enemy without cause,
let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
and let him trample my life to the ground
and lay my glory in the dust.

In that section of the Psalm, David is saying that if he has violated his Godly principles and done evil to a friend, may the Lord crush him. He is saying that if he has done evil to an enemy without cause, may him be trampled to the ground without honor.

Barnes Notes explains,
repaid friend with evil - The meaning here is simply that if he were a guilty man, in the manner charged on him, he would be willing to be treated accordingly. He did not wish to screen himself from any just treatment; and if he had been guilty he would not complain even if he were cut off from the land of the living.
plundered enemy without cause - The allusion here is to the manner in which the vanquished were often treated in battle, when they were rode over by horses, or trampled by men into the dust. The idea of David is, that if he was guilty he would be willing that his enemy should triumph over him, should subdue him, should treat him with the utmost indignity and scorn.
No wonder David was a man after God's own heart. It is a hard thing to pray. Because, God will do it.

Sometimes I try to pray this kind of prayer. The words stick in my throat. Or, as the words come out, I soften them. I am a weakling when it comes to the battle between myself and others. 'Lay my glory in the dust'? I am far from mastering that.

Praise God for the Psalms. They are comforting yes, but they are convicting too. Lord, help me by giving me the strength to more deeply obey Your principles. As I take up my cross today and go down the dusty road, give me the strength to truly care for others beyond myself, in spite of myself, denying myself.

EPrata photo

Sunday, April 16, 2017

He is risen!

Jesus accomplished the work God sent Him here to do. He did it perfectly, sinlessly, and died on the cross after absorbing all God's wrath for sin. He even endured a horrific separation from the Father. Jesus had only ever known perfect harmony with God and love and sweet communion. O! To be cruelly dismissed from His presence! Jesus was not afeared of the pain of the crucifixion as much as he was dreading being separated from God. It was the loneliest moment in history forever.

He endured that separation and bore the wrath, so we would never have to. We can come into sweet communion with the Father, justified, sanctified, and someday, glorified.

God was pleased with His Son, and resurrected Him from the dead.

God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. (Acts 2:24)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Woe and Lamentation!

For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. (Psalm 16:10)

Therefore he says also in another psalm,
'"You will not let your Holy One see corruption.'

For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. (Acts 13:35-37).

O! It is grievous to think of our precious Lord being nailed to the cross as He was on 'Good' Friday. It IS a Good Friday because His life, death, and resurrection makes it possible for sins to be forgiven once and for all. Jesus' work on the cross made permanent reconciliation with His called ones possible. It was effectual and final.

But oh! To think of his broken body being carefully lowered from the cross, quickly prepared for burial, and laid in a dark tomb.... it wounds the conscience. It darkens the heart. It grieves the flesh. Death is final, the body no more thriving with movement and color. Only limp, pale, dead flesh- a lump of nothing that came from dust and will turn to dust.

And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. (Mark 15:46).

But no! Not Christ's body! He will not see decay. However, the grief and suffering of His disciples who did not know that at the time, is woeful to consider.

Giotto painted the lamentation over Christ's death in the early 1300s. Grief is palpable to the viewer. The dead tree on the hillside symbolizing the tree in the garden where Adam and Eve made their fatal choice...the three women surrounding his limp body, likely Mary Magdalene gently cradling His feet and the mother Mary holding His head, the angels who long to look into these thing also shown affected by the death and burial of Christ, their God whom they had known since their own creation created in eons past.

Titian also depicted the entombment of Christ, painting the more intimate scene below in 1520. The major figures are at Christ's death, including Mary, John, Nicodemus, Peter, and Joseph of Arimathea, displaying more restraint that Giotto's depiction, still carefully remove the body and prepare Him for entombement. The twilight timing allowed Titian's usual use of darkened tones to add depth to the lamentation. Christ's upper body itself is receding into the darkness, foreshadowing the tomb. What strength they had to let Him go, and place Him behind the rock!

Bela Čikoš Sesija's Mourning of Christ is an even more intimate portrait of grief. Painted sometime in the late 1800s, this Croatian painter shows the undeniably lifeless Christ in shadow, but His white robe, symbolizing purity and sinlessness is highlighted by a heavenly glow, along with the crown of thorns, symbolizing His suffering. The grief of the two women is also palpable, as is their resignation to the finality of death.

Praise God, Sunday is coming! What joy they will know in one more day's time! For all eternity, death is conquered, swallowed by His suffering and propitiation for sin, absorbing the wrath for His chosen sinners once for all. Hallelujah!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Chris Powers: In This Is Love

Full of Eyes is a support-based ministry of exegetical art that creates still and moving images intended to point people to the beauty of God in the crucified and risen Son. All art and animations are done by Chris Powers. Powers' goal is to help people see and savor the faith-strengthening, hope-instilling, love-kindling beauty of God in Christ. And he does this by creating free exegetical art in the form of pictures, animations, and discussion guides. His work is at, Youtube, and his website


In This Is Love.
Artist's statement
By Chris Powers:
1 John 4:10, "In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 
Today, from 9am to 3pm, Jesus--fully man and fully God--would swallow all of our death and hell and horror and hopelessness into Himself so that we could be drawn into eternal fellowship with God. 
May we be given grace to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge and so be filled with all the fullness of God.


I wish you all a happy Good Friday. Because of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, our sins can be forgiven. We can be reconciled to God. Praise the Lamb!

And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again. (Mark 10:34).

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Throwback Thursday: 340 year old bible found, reminds me of Hilkiah's finding the Law in the temple

This was first published in January, 2011 at The End Time

Here is a small thing that is good and nice. It is a news piece out of Wisconsin, ripped from 2 Kings 22. First, the modern version:

"A centuries old relic has been discovered in a Bonduel (WI) church, tucked away for decades. No one realized it was even there, or what it was. In a cramped, rarely seen safe, no bigger than a kitchen pantry, at St. Paul Lutheran Church are heaps of old books and pamphlets. Many of which are more than 100 years old and in foreign languages. Most of the artifacts wouldn't fetch a high price at auction, but represent the church's nearly 150 year history and heritage. Now, one item kept there for an unknown length of time has taken the entire congregation by surprise. "This is an authentic 340-year-old Bible. We don't know how we got it. We don't know how it got into the safe. We've been asking some of our elderly folks and people in the nursing home and nobody seems to remember," said Pastor Timothy Shoup." source

How amazing! A beautiful original bible from over three centuries ago! How could they forget that it was there? Here is a bit more:

"A 340-year-old bible discovery can attest to the fact that they sure don't make things like they used to. The German bible was discovered by a sixth grade teacher inside an old safe in a small Lutheran church school where she works in Bonduel, Wisconsin. "I was looking for the old baptism records to show my students and then up here in the corner was where the Bible was tucked," explained Court, not realizing what a rare find she stumbled upon."

Imagine, in a dusty closet of the church, lay the precious treasure, there all along but quite forgotten.

And a bit more:

"How the book ended up in Bonduel is still a mystery. But either way, Pastor Shoup says the 17th century discovery has brought him closer to his faith."

How beautiful that the revealing of the Word caused the pastor such a sensitive and blessed reaction.  Did you know that the Old Testament records another, similar instance? I'm not making a huge doctrine out of it, I believe that the news spot out of Wisconsin is a nice event that happens more often than we know. But the similarities with the bible's discovery and our Sunday School lesson focusing on Hilkiah, Huldah, and King Josiah was too sweet to ignore drawing some parallels. In Josiah's reign, a long and evil, corrupt line of kingship was coming to an end. Josiah's grandfather and father were terrible kings that did much evil in the eyes of the LORD and provoked the LORD greatly. His people had not only fallen away, had forgotten Him and His word, but they engaged in perverse and horrible worship practices to other gods. Finally came Josiah, a good king of Israel, was endeavoring to have the Temple repaired. As you can imagine, no one really used the Temple for real worship and had not for a very long time. Here is the biblical piece about it:

The Lost Book (2 Kings 22:8-11)

Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan who read it. Shaphan the scribe came to the king and brought back word to the king and said, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the LORD.” Moreover, Shaphan the scribe told the king saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it in the presence of the king. When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes..."

As the workmen were moving furniture around and inventorying items, this book of the Law was found! Hilkiah the Priest wasn't sure what exactly it was, and Shaphan the scribe wasn't exactly sure, either! The two men, along with three others searched high and low at the king's command, so they could inquire of the LORD. (2Kings 22:13) They found Huldah the Prophetess, who told them.

Huldah Predicts (2 Kings 22:14)

"So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter); and they spoke to her."

Ahikam was Shaphan's son, a helper. Achbor was an officer of Josiah, as was Asaiah. Shaphan was a scribe of King Josiah. It is shame and a testament on the men that though they held lofty positions in the religious hierarchy, none felt they had the ear of the LORD, and they went to find someone who did, ending up with Huldah. Huldah is named as "keeper of the wardrobe", and wardrobe then is as it is now: a closet for storing clothes. 2 Kings 10:22 is another example of the keeper of the wardrobe: "And Jehu said to the keeper of the wardrobe, "Bring robes for all the ministers of Baal." So he brought out robes for them."

The small closet where the bible had been stored
Huldah was also a prophet. She told the men that the LORD said that since Josiah had been repentant and tender in his heart toward the LORD, the LORD would stay His wrath upon Judah until Josiah was laying peacefully in his grave.

It is interesting to note that the King's faith deepened upon finding the Word. Tearing of clothes was an act that was meant to convey either great grief or great righteous indignation. The custom was also done as a symbolic removal of authority i.e. the tearing of a king's royal robe. Here is a link to a short study on the biblical act of tearing of clothes, by Wayne Blank. Josiah was immediately convicted upon hearing the words of the LORD, and he tore his clothes. He sent out a search for a person who could relate the meaning of the words and help them come into obedience to them. It is also interesting to note that the Wisconsin Pastor's faith deepened upon finding the word. Finding the precious treasure that is God's word is always a blessing.

Josiah's men found the Scriptures in an old wardrobe when doing routine repairs and inventory, and the School teacher found the word of the Lord while doing routine rummaging in a forgotten closet in search of old records. The LORD reveals Himself when and where He chooses, and at unexpected times!
I think about the bible itself, being twenty pounds. It's huge! Someone carried that bible all the way from Germany across Europe, across the Atlantic Ocean, across half the American continent! Look at it, its size and heft. Yet, the Word of God meant so much to him that he took the trouble and expense to bring it with him , on horseback, in canoes, in ships, by hand...and protected it so well all along the way!

I hope that if you own several bibles, that none of them are laying on the back of the car window, fading as the sunlight drains the print away. I hope that your bible is meaningful to you and that it is used daily, lovingly, reverently. I hope that you do not travel so far away from the Word that you forget what it says and have trouble even finding a person who can relate its meaning to you.

The Wisconsin Pastor said of the find, "To hold something that tells us in 1670 the same message of God's grace in Christ, that tell one another other today helps me be even more thankful." Yes, the best lesson out of all of this is God's word is eternal! (Mt 24:35)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

O to see ourselves as others see us! Or maybe not...

Robert Burns was a Scottish poet who lived in the second half of the 1700s. You might know his work from singing Auld Lang Syne on New Year's Eve, or "my love is like a red, red rose." Holden Caulfield famously misquoted Burns' poem Coming' Thro the Rye as Catcher in the Rye.

Another famous poem Burns wrote is "To A Louse." Many people don't know the title nor the context of the poem, but they remember the most famous line:

O would some Power with vision teach us
To see ourselves as others see us!

The context is that Burns was attending church service one Sunday, sitting behind a lovely young lady dressed in all her finery. His attention drifted from the sermon to the lady's hat and ribbons, as Burns became captivated with watching a louse (plural, lice) wander indiscriminately through her hair, hat, and ribbons.

The bulk of the poem is wryly suggesting that the louse go off to fine more customary living grounds, perhaps a housewife's flannel tie, or maybe on some ragged boy's pale undervest. But on a lady's bonnet? Surely you jest!

The lady had dressed in all her finery and frippery that morning, and had traveled to church to see and be seen in it. She was sitting in the pew, with gloves and best dress, scrubbed and looking splendid. She was, of course, completely unaware that a louse was traversing her elaborately coiffed curls. She thought she was looking good. The man sitting behind her saw the louse that she could not. The embarrassing pestilential creature ruined the entire carefully crafted public presentation the lady had no doubt taken many pains to complete.

Burns' finals stanza with the pertinent line, To see oursels as ithers see us! is a plea which has been heard.

1. The Lord see sees us as Burns saw the lady, except worse. He sees us as we are. He sees the metaphysical lice crawling all over us, which are the sins we preform, traversing our body like Burns' so-called "hair fly". He sees the rubbish as Paul would say, the dung clinging to us in our natural state. He loved us anyway.

2. He allows us to see ourselves as He sees us, thorough the written word. The Bible is a reflection of us, in our sin and depravity, and it is a reflection of Him, in His glory and power. We see ourselves as He sees us when we go into a woman who is another man's wife, as David did. When we murder Christians because we are a religious zealot in a false religion, as Paul was. He shows us our lice ridden selves when Peter denied Christ to save himself in his own cowardice. In Cain who murdered, in Eli who was complicit in blasphemy, in Abraham who lied.

When we do see ourselves as He sees us, we cry out, O! It is too much! I cannot stand it! I am too corrupt! perverted! deviant! degenerate! debased! immoral! unprincipled!

In truth, the lice are actually better than the natural man, 'For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly' (Romans 8:20a) but Adam chose to Fall.

As we would crumble into instant dust if in the natural we saw God's glory, we also would crumble if we saw ourselves as truly depraved as we are. Sinners, all. The Bible reveals it, confirms it, shows it so any who care to look.

The cross is the place where depravity met glory. He loved us so much, He sent His Son, to live, teach, and die for sinners, who are in truth no better than the louse on the lady's hair, though we try to dress up. With every heartbeat, love flowed through His veins.

Lord, thank you for opening your veins and sharing Your love with us.

During this week upcoming to Resurrection Sunday, please be in prayer to thank the Lord for shielding us from the true depths of our own depravity and from the true heights of Your glory, both of which if we saw in the natural, we would instantly die. And yet because of the cross, we live.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Holy Week: A Personal God

God is a personal God. Even the thunderous, Mt. Sinai, pestilence-bringing, smiting God of the Old Testament. Yes. Especially the Old Testament God. And of course in the New Testament God is a personal God, too. We see Him in Jesus, who is both fully man and fully God. He had come to serve. He did so meekly and humbly, even washing feet.

We read in Genesis that God created the worlds, He did it personally and carefully, with precision. He spoke them into life.

'In the beginning, God said'... He spoke.

And God said, And God said, Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24.

When it came time to form man, God did not speak. He did it Himself, personally, and with His own breath.

then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature... (Genesis 2:7)

Therefore, we see that God's intimate formation of the world got even more intimate when He made man.

It gets even better.

Because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we have an even more intimate relationship with Him and He with us. We are His body, His blood covers us. We are IN Him.

It is holy week, so it bears thinking about Him on a special level. We are "in Christ". We read it in 1 Peter 5:14; Philippians 1:1; Romans 8:1, Colossians 3:3. We have it explained in Galatians 3:26-28-

for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

John MacArthur explained about what it means to be "in Christ" in his inimitable way in the sermon, Under the Law, or In Christ? He opened the salient portion of the sermon this way before going on to spend time expounding what it means to be In Christ. I recommend the sermon.
To ask the question, "What is a Christian?" That question is simply answered, right here. A Christian is one who is in Christ. That's all. You can imagine following the teachings of Buddha, following the teachings of Confucius, or following the teachings of Muhammad, but you can't imaging anyone saying, "I'm in Confucius. I'm in Buddha. I'm in Muhammad." There's no such thing as a Christian who isn't in Christ. You see, we're not following the teachings of a man, we're in union with Him. If that boggles your brain, you haven't heard anything yet. In Christ.
We have a personal God. We have a loving God. He is expressly concerned with His creation, and particularly concerned with His children.

It is holy week. Hallelujah to the Lamb!

About the face...

But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the fa...