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A Boy & His Shepherd (1 Samuel 17/Psalm 23)

The Philistine’s challenge rang across the valley like the drums of war often played before the siege of a city:

“Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us. I defy the ranks of Israel this day.”

The entire valley grew silent at the challenge, which had been offered now for forty days in a row, each day with a similar response from the Israelite camp: nervous mutters from trembling lips, but no champion who would dare fight the giant. They were stationed just opposite the Philistine army, the Valley of Elah lying bare between them as a natural amphitheater that amplified the giant’s voice. He stood nearly ten feet tall – nearly twice the height of most grown men amongst the Israelite rank – and his armor was forged from iron, a durable metal that the Israelites had not yet perfected their use of. He was an intimidating foe, and even Saul, the Israelite king who stood a head taller than any other man in the camp, would not dare fight him. To do so would be certain death. And with the death of the Israelite warrior, the enslavement of the people. And with the enslavement of the people, the end of the nation. They had spent years enslaved in Egypt…they would not be enslaved again.

A Boy & His Shepherd (1 Samuel 17/Psalm 23)

The Object of God's Anger

The following is a reflection on 1 Kings 16:7: “…because of all the evil that he did in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger.”

My soul, do not be mistaken: as surely as “the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Ps 103:8), so does He likewise hate sin, and it angers Him when one does what is evil in His sight.

When Jesus walked into that temple-turned-marketplace, He went and made a whip.

When God laid eyes upon the golden calf, He desired to destroy the people of Israel.

And so here we have 5 kings, and 5 times we hear that their actions provoke the Lord to anger (1 Ki 16:2, 7, 13, 26, 33), and 5 times we hear that they did what was evil (v.7, 19, 25 twice, 30). Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, and Ahab alike all feed the Lord’s anger, living in unrighteousness and dwelling in evil, the tents of darkness.

Oh my soul, how easy it is to look upon these kings and think, “I am better than they. I did not, as Zimri, strike down my master, nor did I, as Ahab, erect an altar to Baal or make an Asherah or take in vile Jezebel as my wife.” But my soul, the issue goes deeper than that: the Lord hates sin! It matters not how much sin there is: whether you have killed a hundred innocent men or unfairly looked upon one man in anger, whether you have 700 wives and 300 concubines or have gazed upon one woman with lustful eyes… the Lord hates your sin. Do not be mistaken, the Lord loves you – and without a doubt the Lord is just and will judge sins according to the measure of their atrocity – but let not His love for you nor His heftier punishments on others more vile than you cause you to be comfortable in your sin, lethargic to its manifesting presence within you, fostering up a hard heart against the ways of the Lord.

The Object of God's Anger

The Paradox of Our Faith

The following is a reflection on 1 Samuel 26.

“Who can put out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?” (1 Sa 26:9)

Think about this question, posed by David in response to his second opportunity at taking Saul’s life. His point is obvious: Regardless of who is in the right and who is in the wrong, to act against the Lord’s anointed is to seemingly disregard the will of the Lord. To act against the Lord’s anointed is to act against the Lord Himself.

And yet this is precisely what we did when we impaled the Son of Man!

The Paradox of Our Faith

The Exceeding Worth of God

Oh, the worth of God.

When I woke up early this morning to do my daily Bible reading, I felt the conviction to approach it differently than I usually do. I pulled out my journal and penned a short little prayer:

O God, You are my God. Early will I seek Thee. Earnestly will I seek Thee. As I meditate upon Your Word this morning, O Love of my soul, let me not approach it through the lens of mental stimulation, principle formation, dignity elevation, nor secure foundation. Neither let me approach it as a means of achieving knowledge of promise, calling to office, counters to the doubting Thomas, nor seeking power dishonest. No! I read not this book, O Lord, to stimulate my mind or discover principles or make my life successful or discover blessed promises or provide myself with a sense of safety or to defend it against the heathen or to receive sermons to preach or because it is my job or because I seek some mystical power. No; I read Your Word that I might know You more. I meditate upon it all the day because I search for the Man who wrote it. Meet me here this day, O God, and let my searching not be in vain. If You provide those other things, all the better, but this alone do I seek: Do not let me lose focus on You! Help me read it as You would read it; reveal to me that which lifts Your name highest. May each word be a conviction to my very soul. Meet me here, O God. I pine for Thee.

Then I began to read…

The Exceeding Worth of God

Resurrecting God the Father

It is essential to my argument that I begin today’s writing with a disclaimer:

** Before even beginning to address specific gender roles as they are outlined in the Bible – especially as it pertains to why God is consistently, throughout the biblical narrative, referred to with male pronouns – we must establish that we are discussing things from a strictly Christian perspective. It is easy to object to the biblical ideas of masculinity and femininity when considering the sinfulness of man and the oppression that submission might so easily espouse within power-hungry and demeaning individuals, but we must accept, going into the argument, that we are speaking from the ideal as established by God in His creation of man. In this, we must discuss matters such as submission, sacrifice, headship, and leadership not according to the negative connotations established by a prideful and lustful society, but rather according to the biblical standard to which we all must strive. When you give a man a gun, he may use it to either protect or to slay – we may guide him towards the former, but the option by which he uses it is up to him. All rules and roles in any governance or society stand the possibility of being abused; the Bible seeks to establish gender roles in a manner that is holy and set apart, glorifying to God for the betterment of mankind. A rational and concise conversation regarding such matters is impossible if we do not first establish a stable worldview which we can then extrapolate. Thus, for the purposes of this article, it is my request that we set aside secular ideologies and rather read the “He” of God the Father according to the Biblical context, that we might better understand Christian ideals and even more greatly come to grasp the beauty of God’s love towards us. **

I will begin my argument by stating this: God is spirit. Of course, He stepped into the flesh via the person of Jesus Christ and thus lived on the earth for approximately thirty-three and a half years as a Middle Eastern man, but from eternity past to eternity future God is, according to His divine nature, spirit. Thus, He is neither male nor female; however, the way in which God manifests Himself is masculine in nature, in that he designed man as an image meant to reflect Him. Therefore my thesis is that our use of the pronouns “He,” “Him,” “His,” etc. are essential in comprehending our own selves in relationship to God.

Resurrecting God the Father

Zeal For Your House

(On the subject of righteous anger.)

How is a Christian supposed to respond to injustice in the world? In the presence of sinful society and oppressed peoples, how is the Christian supposed to handle himself? Shall we unleash the tongue as did Elijah and John the Baptizer, suffer the scourge as did Christ and Paul, wield the sword as did Joshua and David? Of prophets and priests and kings, by what manner shall we act? When is the appropriate time to overturn tables and fashion a whip of cords?

In this write-up on the matter, I do not [expressly] seek to push a single point of view, but rather to provide more of a systematic study on the subject of anger as it is found in the biblical text.

Zeal For Your House

On a Trip Fully Paid

In one of my classes this morning – amidst talk of morality and revenge and Nietzsche’s [frankly odd] views of justice and punishment – we arrived at the happy tangent of the Gospel promise and what it meant for the Christian life, especially as it pertains to the factor of human choice coupled by divine sovereignty.

“imagine you have been offered the chance at a luxurious trip by which you can skip school without punishment, and that trip is fully paid,” said one student, or something along those lines. “That is the Gospel.”

“If it’s been fully paid, why would you not accept the offer?” asked another.

Precisely, thought many people throughout the room. A few said it out loud.

“But if you get on the plane and go on the trip, what prevents you from doing bad things?” asked another, this in response to the matter we had been discussing, that idea of a true Christian not continuing on in an abundantly sinful life. “What motive do they have to do the will of the one who paid the price? The metaphorical salvation has already been grasped, so why do good things at all?” From this broke out discourse over definitions of mercy and grace and sin, and in no time we had wandered so deeply into the weeds that every Calvinist and Arminian in the room was getting sweaty at their palms.

Then Nietzsche came calling once again, and our tangent came to an abrupt end. Back to what we were actually supposed to be studying.

But this thought stuck with me throughout the day…

On a Trip Fully Paid

The Fruit of Grace (Reflections on Genesis 41)

Hey everyone. Here's another reflection for today:
GENESIS 41. Leku el Yosep, aser yonan lakem ta’asu. “Go to Joseph. What he says to you, do” (v.55). This calls to mind the first miracle of Christ, when His mother Mary said to the servants at Cana, “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5).
Both stories provide an evident shift in power—Joseph, the prisoner, has now become a czar, and Jesus, the perfect son, now addresses His own mother as “Woman” (v.4), signifying that His ministry has begun and they now share a different relationship.

The Fruit of Grace (Reflections on Genesis 41)

From Graciousness to Grace (Reflections on Genesis 33)

Hey, everyone.

Here’s something a little different, I guess. It’s been a while since I posted on here, but just so you know I didn’t slip off the face of the earth, I figured I’d share one of my reflections with you today. I’ve started reading through the Bible chapter by chapter, day by day, and today, July 24, was Genesis chapter 33. Here’s what I got out of it:

GENESIS 33. Chanan – to yearn towards, long for, be merciful, compassionate, favorable, inclined towards. Graciousness. We have encountered a derivative of this word many times before – in 6:8; 18:3; 19:19; 30:27; 32:5; and even here, in 33:8, 10, and 15 – but here we encounter it as an action, something actively poured out. These previous occurrences are the noun chen (typically translated “favor” or “Grace”), but they are nothing without their source derivative of chanan, graciousness, without which they would cease to be. There would be no grace if there was not first a gracious person who chose to give that grace life. So we see here. As Jacob and Esau reunite, thrice Jacob says unto his brother that he desires to find favor in his sight: “To find favor in the sight of my lord” (Limso chen be’ene Adonai, v.8)…”if I have found favor in your sight” (Im na masati chen be’eneka, v.10)…

From Graciousness to Grace (Reflections on Genesis 33)

The Artist's Intent

ART AND BEAUTY – creation and attractiveness – are two entities that are as inseparably linked together as they are curious to the pining soul. One’s definition of art might differ from another’s just as easily as what they call beautiful might differ from their best friend’s definition. Nevertheless, despite cultural changes and despite stretches through millennia and despite various styles and products and mediums being passed throughout all history, art and beauty are indissolubly bound together, connected by the fact that art cannot be art without layers of beauty, and what is beautiful cannot be beautiful if it is not in some way artistic. They are two sides to the same coin, one the entity as described by the quality and the other the quality given expression through the entity. When you begin to interpret these two things in conjunction with one another, you arrive at the point of purpose, what some would call “meaning.”

The Artist's Intent

Why Are We Surprised?

"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools."

That phrase was written in Greek to a church in Italy by a Jewish tentmaker nearly 2,000 years ago, but perhaps it applies even more so to modern-day America.

A few days ago, YouTuber Logan Paul gave rise to massive controversy when he posted a video containing footage of a hanging dead man, which they found while filming a vlog in the Japanese suicide forest. The internet erupted in hatred and started slamming the 22-year old left and right, with politicians and celebrities alike condemning him for displaying “sociopathic qualities” and failing to “honor those who have committed suicide.” Within two days, Paul issued a public apology in which he admitted that his actions were wrong and went on to set aside “time to reflect” on his actions, yet people continue to blast him, continue to defame him, continue to tear him to shreds. Angsty internet users tell him to kill himself. A recent petition asking YouTube to terminate his account has reached over 200,000 signatures.

My question is this: Why?

Why Are We Surprised?

Here & Now

In my own humble opinion, one of the most enticing and yet aggravating concepts of all Scripture is that of Eden.

What must it have been like to walk with God in the garden? For Adam specifically, what must it have been like to be alone with your Creator for days, weeks, months, perhaps even years on end, walking and talking and laughing and working? We do not know how long Adam was in the garden before Eve was introduced, but if he successfully named each animal before recognizing there was no suitable companion for himself, it surely must have been some time. What was it like to spend such an extended period of uninterrupted intimacy with the Lord, to wake up every morning with knowledge of His presence and go to sleep each night knowing that He would be there to meet with you next day?

What was it like to be free from the burden of sin? What was it like to walk openly amongst the plants and animals, naked and unashamed? What was it like to see things in their true beauty, untainted by man’s fallen blindness? What was is it like to taste the fruit from un-cursed ground, to drink from streams purified beyond any form of natural purification? What was it like to see animals in harmony with one another – no death, no disruption, but just peace? What was it like to dream? Were dreams mere reflections of the reality around you, or was every dream a nightmare when compared to the magnificent world in which you lived?

Here & Now

Christ is Enough

Christ is enough for me…Christ is enough for me…Everything I need is in You…Everything I need…

What do we mean when we sing these words? Do we soak in their meaning and consider the weight of what they are saying, and then sing them out in humble admittance and glorious recognition? Or do we sing them merely because they are the words that are on the screen, and since the melody is familiar to us we find no fault in harmonizing?

Perhaps neither. Perhaps you find yourself somewhere in the middle. The words ring vaguely true in your head, but in reality you are focused on the errands you have to run after church or perhaps taking notice of the elegant pattern-work and stitching in the suit coat of the church member sitting in the pew ahead of you. Perhaps you know these words to be true, but you have heard them sung so often that they have lost their meaning.

Christ is Enough

Batman & the Death of Morality

We had a guest lecturer in my Business class this morning.

He was a nice man, an entrepreneur and multi-time author who was wanting to teach us the methods of being successful, but no sooner had he posed his first question than division spread through the entire class. Motioning to two cardboard cutouts he had brought with him and placed in the front of the class, he turned to us and spoke three class-shattering words:

“Batman or Superman?”

He called for a vote. “Who likes Superman better?” he asked first. Twelve people – myself included – raised our hands, most of them timidly. “And Batman?” he asked. Over a hundred hands shot into the air, bold and unashamed.

This was very interesting to me. I like to consider myself a superhero fan – a nerd, some might even say – but the thing that has unfailingly amazed me is people’s absolutely love for Batman. I understand the interest in him and find him quite fascinating myself – the Joker is without a doubt my favorite fictional villain of all time – but how on earth is he more favorable than Superman? I’ve heard the various arguments, but none seem to hold up.

Batman & the Death of Morality

A Parable Revisited

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’” (Luke 13:6-8)

Anger burned through the Father’s heart as He watched the man and woman exchange words with the serpent. He could hear each word exchanged, could sense their thoughts straying from what was true, could feel their throats growing thirsty for the juice the fruit had to offer. Don’t do it, He thought. Don’t  do it. But even as He watched, He knew the action they would take. He had known from the very beginning. Since before He had given His Son the authority to create them. Since before He had given His son the authority to create anything. Even back then, He had known.

A Parable Revisited

How to Make Reading Genealogies Fun

Doesn't it fall in line with God's character that He might place little Easter eggs of truth throughout the Bible for His disciples to find, little tidbits that help reaffirm those truths found throughout the rest of the text?

In this video, David addresses one of these possible "hidden messages," found in the genealogy of Genesis chapter 5, which traces Adam down to Noah.

How to Make Reading Genealogies Fun

Vegas

59 dead. Over 500 injured. The deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

This is the news that we all woke up to on Monday morning as a result of the tragic events that took place in Las Vegas on Sunday night. A 64-year old man made his way up to the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and sent a hailstorm raining down on innocent concert-goers for Lord knows what reason, and now we wake up and fall to our knees as we ask God a short but extremely important question: “Why?”

What does this mean for all of us? What does it mean for Christians as people begin to accuse our God of malevolence or claim that this incomprehensible evil is proof of His inexistence? How are we supposed to live faithfully in a world where evil runs rampant and we are striving to live like Noah in a world that’s unaware of the Flood that’s coming? How do we respond to this pain, this suffering, this tragedy? What cold we possibly do to cope with the outbreaks of hatred and violence in the world that surrounds us?

Vegas

With Great Power...

“The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

Isn’t it interesting how the first sin is shortly followed by the first excuse? God sees Adam, Adam sees God, God asks Adam what’s going on, Adam says he’s ashamed because he’s naked, God points out that Adam isn’t supposed to know that he’s naked and the only way for him to know that was if he had eaten from the tree he wasn’t supposed to eat from, and then Adam blames Eve, and if that wasn’t good enough, he blames God too. “Well, you see, God, ultimately this is your fault. Things were fine until the woman came along, and didn’t you make her?” Adam is trying to deflect responsibility off of himself at all costs.

But God plays along. He turns to Eve, who proceeds to blame the serpent, which you can imagine ticks Adam off a bit, since it makes a lot more sense to blame the devil for your sin than it does to blame a holy and perfect God. Nevertheless, God continues to play along, and He turns to the serpent, who knows better than to provide an excuse. God reveals that it was in fact all three of them that were to blame, and their shared sin will affect not only them, but the entire world.

How often do we do the same thing as Adam and Eve?

With Great Power...

Will the Real JC Please Stand Up?

It’s Sunday morning and your church is going up in a riot.

A crazy man from out of town is running through the entrance hall, knocking over the bookcases in the gift shop and spilling the money from the cash register all over the ground, yelling loudly and shaking with anger. Ignorant to anything more than the man’s name (because you have most definitely heard of him before), you turn to your friend and ask him to dish out more details.

He’s from a small town you’ve never heard of, but people speak of the town like it has a bad reputation. He is apparently a “teacher” even though he himself is uneducated, and he has grown in popularity thanks to his acts of witchcraft that he performs on a near-daily basis. He and his closest friends are all homeless, wandering from town to town just to argue nonstop with the local authorities; he preaches a message about the loving and goodness and holiness of God, but he himself seems to contradict this apparent “holiness” by constantly hanging out with well-known thugs, thieves, prostitutes, swindlers, murderers, and whores.

Will the Real JC Please Stand Up?

Why You Should Stop Inviting Jesus Into Your Heart

Church, we’ve got a huge problem, and it has to do with our Gospel.

Maybe I should show you where I would like to place the emphasis here. You see, the problem doesn’t have do with our Gospel, but it has to do with our Gospel. We are the problem, not the Gospel itself, and this is what I mean: the way in which we present the Good News of Christ to every single lost soul we encounter on a day-to-day basis is flawed, rooted in something extremely unbiblical. The Gospel itself is something so beautiful and unique that only a church run by imperfect sinners could screw it up, but the sad thing is that, I hate to break it to you, but we are a group of imperfect sinners, and it’s negatively affected this group of people we call our Church.

We’ve screwed up the Gospel.

Why You Should Stop Inviting Jesus Into Your Heart