Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Providence of God, an Election, and Answered Prayer

Praise the Lord for His providential hand in His execution of His eternal decree!  I am comforted knowing that God works ALL things according to the counsel of His will.  And ALL things includes an election such as took place yesterday.

The Presidential race was between 2 fallen candidates, 2 sinners; how could it be otherwise?  Both have sins charged against their account and both will add to that list over the remaining days of their lives.  No one, except Christ, is perfect.  Apart from the grace of God and the redemption of sin found in Christ, neither of these 2 individuals will spend eternity with the Savior.  

Because of their falleness, their plans are also not perfect.  Neither of them can save this nation.  Only God can do that.  But one candidate has a plan to restore this country to its greatness while the other has a plan merely to maintain the direction of the past 8 (or, perhaps, 24 years), a plan which has proven to be a failure.  The latter plan has led our country to the precipice of bankruptcy and insignificance in the world.  That plan has, at its core, a hatred of nationalism, patriotism, religion, and individual rights.  It seeks to have government, the federal government, serve as the master of each individual.  The income of the people, in this view, belongs to the ruling class in Washington, not to the people themselves.

Surely such a plan is straight from the devil's pen.  I firmly believe Satan has been behind those working to elect Hillary Clinton.  Oh, I doubt any of them believe or even sense that has been the case.  But the deceptions and outright lies attached to her candidacy adds support to this theory.  Satan is the master of lies, the master of deceit; certainly he has been a major contributor to that campaign.

Many prayers were offered up to God that He would intervene and save us from Hillary Clinton for the good of this country and the greatness of His name.  He certainly had no reason to do so.  Our nation has strayed far from Him.  He could have sat back and simply said, "you will reap what you have sowed", pretty much what has happened over the past 2 decades.  But prayers went up before His throne pleading, once more, for His mercy and grace.  I believe, God, in His providence, has answered our prayers.  Donald Trump, a fallen man, is now the President-elect; the certain success of Hillary Clinton has been thwarted, again, by the hand of the Almighty.

Let us give thanks to our God for giving us another opportunity to return to our Savior.  And let us lift up those elected yesterday, praying that each one comes to Christ, if lost, and serves this nation best by serving the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Why Did You Leave Your Pastorate?

Since leaving the pastorate of Bethesda Baptist Church in mid-October, I've had a few queries from friends as to why I did so.  Speculations abound so I want to lay those aside.

I left Bethesda because, for 6 months, I sensed God telling me that was the right thing to do.  He finally convinced me in June that I needed to move on and that Bethesda needed a different pastor.  There was no personal sin in my life leading to this decision.  There was no problem at the church either.  My departure is entirely due to the Lord's prompting just as my coming to that pastorate was solely by His prompting.

The church is in great financial shape.  The people there are some of the most generous Christians I have ever known.  Some of them have grown spiritually over the past few years.  The total membership number has not grown but it is the Lord who gives the harvest.

This is not to say that those of us at Bethesda are perfect.  Far from perfection, we each have sin in our lives which demand our daily wrestling.  Some members there are fighting, suffering, and growing for the Lord.  Others are sliding backwards.  Some, like in most churches, are probably not saved in the first place, despite being members of the church.

Bethesda is a fairly typical Baptist church with good people.  I would have stayed there until the day I died if the Lord had permitted me to do so.  But that is not His will for me at this moment.

So I have left the pastorate by His hand and am now waiting to see what He has for me next.

Nothing more and nothing less!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Providence of God

I have been convinced from the Scriptures for several years concerning the Providence of God.  All things occur according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11).  We are in His hands.  Nothing surprises Him or catches Him off guard.  All is working according to His immutable, infallible, eternal decree.

A week ago today that decree included my physical salvation.  As I was driving 60 mph, a semi pulled out in front of me.  I thought for sure I was going to hit it.  But I quickly jerked the car to the left.  Then I was certain I was going into the median but I managed to jerk the car back to the right and around the truck.  Now I was heading for the right shoulder and the ensuing ditch, certain I would crash or flip my car.  But, again, I jerked back to the left.  This time something changed and I went into a spin.  The spin stopped my forward motion and I found myself facing north in the southbound lane.  After taking a minute to grasp what had happened, I turned my car around and simply drove home.

I should have hit the truck.  I should have hit the median.  I should have gone into the ditch.  I should have flipped the car.  But God had His purpose for my salvation that evening and He and His angels spared my life.  My escape from what I thought should have been death was not due to my great driving skills. 

My salvation from death was due to the mighty Providential Hand of God!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Poetry

Late last evening I published a poem on this blog.  However, this morning I determined it was not quite ready for publication.  So I have backed it off for now.

I have found writing poetry from time to time to be a relaxing yet stimulating device.  I am not very good at it and most of my poems seem as if they are constrained.  But since I don't care if anything ever comes of them, I don't really care if the poetry experts like what I write or not.  

Let's all admit it.  Some of the poems by some of the "great" poets STINK!  They make no sense or they do not rhyme, or there is no meter.  I would rather write a badly worded poem that someone can understand than a well written poem which no one can understand.

I'm a poet and my poems stink.
But at least you will know what I think!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Dedicated to "Christians" Who Take Their Marbles and Go Home



There once was a member of a church,
Who left other members in the lurch.
   He got very upset,
   And so he quickly left,
To remain at home upon his perch.

He thought he had been wrongly accused,
By someone from among the church crew.
   A P. I.  he became,
   And searched for who to blame,
Until upon one he dropped the shoe.

Of course his target was the wrong head.
You see no charge had ever been said.
   He had misunderstood,
   A concern for his good.
And his imagination was fed.

The pastor called and wrote to correct.
Each attempt the member did reject.
   His heart was now on fire.
   He called pastor, "Liar"!
For weeks his church he did not respect.

Cloistered in his home, he took his stand!
Admitting his problem? Not this man.
   Impossible thought he,
   the problem could be me.
Pastor and church from life he did ban.


Then that pastor departed the scene.
Next week the member at church was seen.
    He never repented,
    Or even relented.
Yet the church greeted him as a king!

For weeks he abandoned his brothers,
His deacon list as well as others.
    But the church didn't care,
    They just wanted him there.
So it was a day like any other.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Concerned

As a Christian and especially as a pastor, I am deeply concerned for the people who DO attend churches for Sunday worship.  I am concerned because something is amiss in many of their lives, at least, from that part of their lives which I can see.  They profess the name of Jesus, claim to have been saved or born again, probably are a member of a local church, and very often attend church almost every Sunday.  Yet when I listen to them speak and watch their actions (or lack thereof) outside the church's worship service, I see works which do not match their professed faith.

For example, how can a person who has been born anew by God's Spirit and indwelt by the Spirit have little interest or desire to be in God's Word.  Oh, some of them tell me they read their Bible every day.  Yet their ignorance of Scripture is very apparent.  They lack a simple familiarity with the Word of God which belies their claim to be students of the Word.  They often will not attend Sunday School classes or other free opportunities provided by the church to study the Scripture.  How can you be truly saved and not thirst for the Word?  Something is wrong and I am concerned.

Others who are members of a church will never attend a prayer meeting.  Why?  How can you be a child of God yet not want to meet with your brothers and sisters in Christ and lift up the needs of your church to God's throne?  Something is wrong and I am concerned.

For many of these self-proclaimed Christians, there is no evidence of growth in Christ.  There is no apparent desire to grow.  How can one be born from above and have no desire to grow in Christ.  Something is wrong and I am concerned.

I know a lady who, over a 5+ year period, has attended morning worship twice at most.  She claims to know Christ and is a member of a local church.  She often attends an evening Bible class at the church but never comes to Sunday School or prayer meeting or almost any church fellowship.  When asked why, she says she has trouble sleeping and can't get up early enough.  Yet some of her Facebook posts have been made on many mornings before 9 a.m.  No, not being able to sleep is not her problem; it is her excuse.  She does not want to come to Sunday School, worship service, or prayer meeting.  PERIOD.  How can a church member have such an attitude and truly believe they are born again, saved, and covered by the blood of Christ?  No, something is wrong, something is very wrong, and I am concerned.

Perhaps this has always been true in Christianity.  Perhaps the overwhelming number of local church members and attendees have actually been lost individuals either faking their Christianity or deceived into a false security of salvation.  But, given the impact of Christianity upon society over many centuries, I suspect this has not been the norm .  

Actually, it doesn't matter if this is normal for our faith or not.  Something is wrong and I am concerned.

I tremble and shake when I read the Lord's words on judgment day as recorded in Matthew 7:  "I never knew you; depart from me,  you workers of lawlessness."  Lord, what can I do for such individuals?

I appeal to everyone who reads this post.  Examine yourself as Paul tells us to do.  Is there spiritual growth in your life?  Be honest with yourself for your eternity depends on it.  Is there a true, deep, heart-felt desire to be like Christ?  Don't be deceived.  God will not be mocked in the end.  Claiming you are born again but living a life with no fruit (or even a desire!) loudly proclaims "I am LOST!"  Are you lost or are you saved?  Wanting to be saved and having a home in eternity is not the same as possessing such salvation.  You can't just want it or pretend to have or merely think you have it.  You must be born again!

If our local churches had true, converted, growing believers in them, we would be dynamically impacting our communities.  The saints would be living godly lives and proclaiming Christ daily.  How many churches are truly impacting their neighborhoods?  Often the pastor is blamed for the lack of community involvement.  But where are the church members who claim they know Christ?  

Probably sitting at home watching the NFL or some other sporting event; anything but ministering for Christ.

Something is wrong and I am concerned. 


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Commonly Senseless



At the time of the Revolutionary War and the writing of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine wrote a simple pamphlet called “Common Sense”.  His words helped inspire Americans to take up arms against Great Britain.  Simple common sense revealed this was the necessary path for those living in North America. 

In our United States today, the majority of people appear to have lost all common sense.  Instead I deem them “commonly senseless”.  The recent Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Count decision is a perfect example of the loss of human reasoning and common sense.

This court decision will live in American history as another damning demonstration of our nation’s degrading morality in the same way the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision did.  According to the court’s 5-4 majority report,

The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.

Same sex marriage is now legal in the United States of America.  As noted in the report, this decision was based on the 14th Amendment to our Constitution.  Unfortunately, this amendment has been much abused since its ratification in 1868.

Since I am not a Constitution scholar, I will refrain from debating the use of the 14th Amendment to support this decision.  But the bottom line is that same sex marriages are now a right just as abortion has been deemed by this Court as a right. 

Such rights as abortion and same sex marriage, however, are “man-made” rights.  These rights are NOT on the same level as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as is often claimed.  If you remember the words of our Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.  That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men driving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Our government exists, therefore, to secure the rights endowed “by their Creator”.  These rights coming from God are summarized as “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”.  Since these rights come from God, such rights do NOT include the right of abortion or same sex marriage no matter what men might say.

God has given life and commanded us to respect the lives He has created.  To kill an unborn child is not an idea that comes from God but from Satan.  Hence, abortion (‘baby killing’) is not a right “endowed by their Creator”.

God has defined and given marriage to establish the institution of family.  Genesis 2 clearly indicates marriage is one man, one woman, united before God in holy covenant forever.  God knows nothing of the right of two men to get married or two women.  In fact, He condemns such behavior both in the Old and New Testaments (e.g., Romans 1:18ff).  Therefore, same sex marriage is not a right “endowed by their Creator”.

So abortion is legal in our nation.  Same sex marriage is legal in our nation.  But both remain sin and immoral (and illegal) in the eyes of God.

Our justices have left the common sense of the words of both the Declaration and the Constitution in rendering such a decision.  Furthermore, they have left the Judeo-Christian foundations of our Founding Fathers.  Morality has been swept away from the minds of the people.  For so many Americans to rejoice over such a decision clearly shows that our nation is commonly senseless.

Let’s just call “commonly senseless” what it really is:  FOOLISHNESS!



Monday, July 6, 2015

Flags Unfurled!





The winds have not been blowing well for the flag of the Confederate States of America (C.S.A.) in recent days.  All across the nation there have been cries for its removal not only from flagpoles but also from monuments!  Stores at Civil War battlefields are withdrawing merchandise containing the “Stars and Bars”.  Political correctness is everywhere.  Even the “General Lee” from “The Dukes of Hazzard” has come under attack!
The reason given for this all-out assault on the “Rebel flag” is that the flag brings back memories of slavery.  The flag supposedly teaches that slavery is ok and represents bigotry.  As some folks see it, that flag only reminds them of slavery. 

For what it’s worth, I thought I would chime in on this lunacy.  First, some disclosures:

1.  I have a couple of “Stars and Bars” flying alongside some “Stars and Stripes” in my study at home.
2.  I despise slavery.  Involuntary servitude is wrong no matter who practices it (including several of our nation’s Founding Fathers).
3.  I am not and never have been a bigot or a racist.
4.  My ancestors served in the Union army during the Civil War.  It is possible some served in the Confederacy but, if they did, I am not aware of it.  I do know one ancestor died at Vicksburg and another defended the base of Cemetery Hill in Gettysburg.
5.  I was born and raised in Illinois so I am a “Northerner”.
6.  Two of my favorite persons from history are Robert E. Lee & Stonewall Jackson, both Southern generals, both slave owners.


Now, let’s look at the Stars and Bars.  Certainly slavery was a key factor in the outbreak of the War.  Slavery was a millstone around our nation’s neck since its founding and the “institution” needed to be removed.  But my study of the Civil War has led me to conclude that many of those Southern men who died fighting for the C.S.A. were not slave holders.  Despite how the South is often portrayed, not all “Johnny Rebs” had slaves.  Yet they died just the same.  You see, there is more than slavery wrapped up in the Confederate flag.

If you have spent any time in the South, you know the Civil War is referred to as the War of Northern Aggression.  Indeed, the Northern armies invaded the Southern states and attempted to force them to change their form of government.  Yet the 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States confirms that the Southern states were free to govern themselves.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

When the War began, the Constitution said nothing about the illegality of the institution of slavery.  This intentional omission (intentional from our Founding Fathers’ perspective) was, thankfully, remedied by the 13th Amendment, ratified months AFTER the war.  The Northern states had no Constitutional right to force the Southern states to change their government.  And the South did not see anything “right” about the armies of the United States invading the Southern states and attempting to implement changes by force. 

So, you could also say the Stars and Bars not only represent slavery but the rights of States to govern themselves.  Our Constitution provided for a limited Federal government.  The true governing was to be at the state and local level, not from Washington.  In fact, one of the results of President Lincoln’s use of force in the Civil War is the continued growth of the Federal government to the detriment of the state governments.  Prior to the Civil War, that was not the case.

Many of those rebel soldiers gave their lives in order to defend their state and their way of life (even for those who owned no slaves).  The Confederate flag is viewed positively by many who lost ancestors fighting for states’ rights.  You see, that flag also has some very positive connotations.

But some can’t see past the slavery issue and that’s a shame.  They are so closed minded and hard-hearted, they see only what they want to see.  To them, there is nothing positive in the flag of the Confederacy even though slavery officially ended in this nation 150 years ago.

I think before leaving this subject, though, I need to take a moment and look at the “Stars and Stripes”.  What a beautiful flag it is!  It represents freedom and liberty and opportunity.  People from around the world want to come to America.  We are the land of the free and the home of the brave!

I love our country and believe we are the greatest nation on the earth.  We have the greatest governing document every devised by man, our Constitution, and the greatest philosophical document written by man, our Declaration of Independence.  Many of our citizens have boldly and bravely given their lives to defend our freedoms and I am truly thankful for them.  I love celebrating the nation’s birthday on July 4th and would never want to be a citizen of any other country.  It is a wonderful feeling to see our flag flying high across the land.

At the same time, our flag is not untarnished.  While the Stars and Bars “supported slavery”, our Stars and Stripes “supports abortion”, does it not?  You tell me, which of the two is to be preferred:  enslaving men or killing them before they are born?  The Confederate States had no right of abortion while they existed and, hence, that stain is not on their flag.  But our nation permits unborn children to be killed, even as they are being birthed!  How does this action differ from the Holocaust, the terrible crime associated with the Nazi flag?! 

Perhaps there should be an outcry among our citizens about flying the American flag these days.  When you see the Red, White, and Blue, does it remind you of abortion?  Even if it doesn’t, can you deny that the flag represents that “right”?

Now I certainly do not want us to take down our American flags.  Yes, abortion is horrific and I hope and pray one day that crime will once again be banned by our nation.  Yet, compared to all the other nations in the world, we live in the greatest nation.  

So let us fly our flags gladly and reflect upon the freedom and liberty it represents.  But, at the same time, perhaps we should back off a bit about the flag of the C.S.A.   Yes, slavery is a part of that heritage.  But so is a defense of the rights of states to govern themselves.  Surely if one can overlook abortion they can overlook slavery.  The Stars and Bars no more causes slavery than the Stars and Stripes causes abortion.

So unfurl those flags.  Let both fly!  They are part of our imperfect but glorious history!


Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Attorney General Eric Holder

The Attorney General of the United States has resigned and is leaving office.  The Honorable Eric Holder is ending his service as the chief lawyer of our nation.  Personally, all I can say is "Praise the Lord and may CHRIST reign forever!

In reflecting back over his years in this position, I can not recall even one action taken by Mr. Holder that I supported or believed was in the best interests of our great nation.  In my opinion, he is the lowest ranking Attrney General in our country's history.

In his exit interview, Mr. Holder said his critics may be partly driven by race.  I guess that means my low opinion of this man will be viewed by many as racist.  Well, I know my heart and I am not a racist.  My thoughts on his "reign" as Attorney General has NOTHING to do with his skin color or his ancestry.  The man was an absolute joke of an Attorney General.

In the same interview Mr. Holder was asked what book he would recommend young men coming to Washington, D.C. read.  Of all the wonderful books which have been written and published over the centuries which one did this man recommend?  "The Autobiography of Malcolm X".  Does Mr. Holder even know who Malcolm X was?!  Let me quote from the biography.com web site:

Born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm X was a prominent black nationalist leader who served as a spokesman for the Nation of Islam during the 1950s and '60s. Due largely to his efforts, the Nation of Islam grew from a mere 400 members at the time he was released from prison in 1952 to 40,000 members by 1960. Articulate, passionate and a naturally gifted and inspirational orator, Malcolm X exhorted blacks to cast off the shackles of racism "by any means necessary," including violence. (http://www.biography.com/people/malcolm-x-9396195#synopsis)
To me that recommendation speaks volumes about the character and practices of our Attorney General.  Would not a work on Washington, Lincoln, or Dr. Martin Luther King be much more valuable reading than Malcolm X?  How about the Bible itself as a recommended work?  There are thousands of books of FAR greater value and which would contribute infinitely more worth to a young reader than a book on the life of this 1960s radical.

No wonder our judicial system has taken such a massive hit during his tenure.  From "Fast and Furious", "the IRS Scandal" to his remarks on the Martin and Brown events, I will, for the rest of my life, cionsider Eric Holder as the most disgraceful Attorney General our country has ever seen.

I pray to God no one worse is ever nominated or approved for that position!

OK, I'm done.  Throw your stones.  Prove to me why I am wrong and Eric Holder is such a great servant of our nation.

P.S.  I also read that President Obama wept at Mr. Holder's exit.  I believe such behavior says something about our President's character as well.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Lilith Myth



Several years ago, one of my students selected “Lilith” as the Old Testament person on which they wrote a report for my Old Testament History class.  Since I had not “exempted Lilith” from the selection choices of the students, I accepted the paper.  The paper was well written and received a good grade.  However, it also received several comments from me, specifically one that read “Lilith is not in the Old Testament”. 

More than once over the years I have had students ask me about Lilith.  Recently I was asked again and, instead of spending class time discussing this myth, I told the class I would send them a link to an article on this subject which I had previously posted on my blog.  I guess I had at one time intended to post such an article but never did!  So here are my thoughts on the subject.

1.  Who or What is Lilith?

a.  A Brief Answer to the Question.

Lilith (sometimes spelled “Lillith”) is a myth or legend.  Briefly, the story teaches Adam had a wife before Eve and her name was Lilith.  Evidently Lilith was a modern feminist for she had no interest in submitting to her husband.  Therefore she left him.  While there are several variations to the legend, Lilith is usually pictured as a wicked woman.   

b.  A More Detailed Answer.

For those who wish more information on Lilith, there are many books containing the story.  In fact, the story varies somewhat from one telling to another.  The following, however, is the more detailed answer I give to those who ask about Lilith.

(1)  According to the legend, God created man and woman on the 6th day of creation but that woman was not Eve. 

(2)  He created Adam from the dust of the ground and brought the animals before him to be named.  Time and time again, Adam saw the animals in pairs, male and female.  He became jealous of the love these pairs shared for one another  (some interpretations of this myth claim Adam even tried to copulate with the female of each species!).

(3)  Adam cried out to God that he needed a proper mate.  So God then formed Lilith also using the dust as He had done with Adam. 

(4)  Some teach that Adam and Lilith’s union produced an innumerable amount of demons that still trouble men today.  Others teach Lilith, after leaving Adam, had sex with Satan and that’s where the demons originated.

(5)  This 1st couple never had any peace together.  During sexual relations, Lilith did not want to lie beneath Adam because she viewed herself as his equal (both were formed from the dust).  As a result, Lilith left Adam.

(6)  Adam again complained to God, indicating a need for another helpmate.  God sent 3 angels to bring Lilith back.  They found her by the Red Sea (some say she was producing demons at the rate of 100 a day!).  The angels demanded she return to Adam or they would drown her.  Lilith refused and, after some debating with the angels, they finally left her.

(7)  Several variations of the story exist to explain the appearance of Eve.  The bottom line is that Adam needed a mate and God ultimately used one of Adam’s ribs to form Eve.

(8)  Some accounts of this myth have Lilith appearing in other Biblical accounts.  For example, some claim she is the demon who killed Job’s children.  Others claim she became the queen of Sheba with whom Solomon met.


2.  Is there any Scriptural Support for Lilith?

The short answer is “NO”.  Nevertheless, supporters of the myth use certain passages in their attempt to prove the existence of Lilith.

a.  Isaiah 34:14 – The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation of the original Hebrew reads:

“Wildcats shall meet with hyenas, goat-demons shall call to each other, there too Lilith shall repose, and find a place to rest.”

Other translations render “Lilith” as “screech owl” or “night bird” or some other similar phrase.

The original (Hebrew) word is pronounced “Lilith”.  Quoting from Gesenius’ Lexicon concerning this word:

“… a nocturnal spectre, which had, according to the rabbins, the form of a beautiful woman, and lay wait for children by night.    It is really lamentable that any one could connect the word of God with such utter absurdity; many understand this nocturnal creature spoken of to be simply the screech owl.”

b.  Genesis 1:26-28 and Genesis 2:18-25

These two passages teach the creation of man.  To those who hold to the Lilith myth, Genesis 1 reveals the creation of Adam and Lilith while the Genesis chapter 2 passage is the creation of Eve.

What they fail to mention is that the context of Genesis 2 includes the creation of Adam.  Is this Adam different from the one created in Genesis 1?  If not then why do two separate creation narratives teach the creation of 1 man but 2 women?

Anyone who has spent some time studying Genesis 1 and 2 understand that Genesis 1 is simply a summary of God’s creative work.  Since the Scripture is God’s revelation to man and the work of Christ is the redemption of man, a more detailed explanation of the creation of man (and woman) is in order.  So Genesis 2 retells the creation of mankind in a more specific way.  There are two accounts but the creation of one man (Adam) and one woman (Eve).  Lilith is nowhere to be found.

3.  How did Such a Legend Begin?

Around the time of Christ, the Jews attempted to explain what appeared to be contradictions or inconsistencies with the Scriptures (e.g., Old Testament).  They developed a complex system of interpretation called the midrash.  One of the supposed inconsistencies was the two separate accounts of creation found in Genesis 1 and 2. 

Similar questions were addressed by the Jewish mystical literature of the 13th century known as the Kabbalah.  In various publications dating from the 9th to the 13th century, the legend of Lilith appears to develop.  These works include “The Alphabet of Ben Sira” (probably compiled in the 11th century) and “The Book of Splendour”, a Kabbalah work of the 13th century.

Lilith appears in various pieces of literature, even in Goethe’s 19th century work “Faust”. Lilith is part of the conversation between Faust and Mephistopheles.  While I never watched the show, I understand the TV sitcom “Cheers” had a character named Lilith who appeared to be modeled after the woman of this myth.  Furthermore, modern feminists have adopted Lilith as the symbol for their philosophy.

4.  Conclusion

While it is an interesting myth, that is all Lilith is:  a myth.  She and the account of her life is nowhere to be found in the Scripture.  She did not exist; she was never real; the stories are untrue.

I would recommend those who are fascinated by Lilith pick up their Bibles and become more interested in the revelation GOD has given to us rather than spending time in legends men have provided.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Knowing Others in Heaven: Answering a Question from a Younger Brother



To Nolan, my younger brother in Christ:

On Sunday evening your mother asked me a question which she said you wanted to ask me.  I’m very grateful you have questions.  That’s a good indication that God’s Spirit is at work within you as you grow each day to be more like your Savior. 

I tried to answer the question which led to related questions and, afterward, decided I would write this post to put my answers in writing.  So here are my thoughts on what we will look like when we are resurrected and whether we will know one another.

God created us as beings having both a physical (our body) and a spiritual (our soul or spirit) component (Genesis 2:7).  He intends for us to live eternally in that form.  At death our soul goes to be with Christ while our body goes to the grave.  But there will be a future resurrection in which Christ will raise (and change) our physical body and reunite it with our soul and that will be our resurrected body (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).  Such a resurrection is found in both the Old and New Testaments in numerous passages.  Probably the best single passage to review concerning the resurrection body is 1 Corinthians chapter 15.

Scripture indicates we will be given a resurrected body which is like Christ’s resurrected body.  Based on the Bible’s description of Jesus’ resurrected body as well as other passages in the New Testament which describes this future body, we may say that:

1.  Our resurrection body will have flesh.
2.  Our resurrection body will be able to eat food.
3.  Our resurrection body has speech capability.
4.  Our resurrection body is capable of normal, human activities.
5.  Our resurrection body may appear and disappear.
6.  Our resurrection body has a recognizable appearance.
7.  Our resurrection body will not actually be fully new.
8.  Our resurrection body will be incorruptible (no decay, no sickness, no death).
9.  Our resurrection body will be glorious.
10.  Our resurrection body will be powerful.
11. Our resurrection body will be a spiritual body (controlled totally by the spirit).
12.  Our resurrected body will be a heavenly body, one designed for its eternal environment.  In other words, we will be “right at home” in it.

The truth of our future resurrection often leads to the question:  “Will we recognize others in heaven?”  Scripture does not directly answer this question but I believe there is enough evidence to conclude that the correct answer is “Yes”.  Here is some of that evidence.

1.  At the mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17), Jesus is transformed before the eyes of Peter, James, and John.  Suddenly Moses and Elijah appear on the mountain with him.  There is no indication in Scripture that anyone introduced Peter to these two men yet he recognized them.  There were no photographs or videos or trading cards containing Moses’ and Elijah’s image so someone must have told Peter who they were.  The Bible does not say how he knew who they were but, based on Peter’s confession in Matthew 16, I believe the Father revealed their identities to him.

If God the Father can suddenly reveal to Peter the identities of two men he has never met, could He not do the same for us in heaven?

2.  In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16), the rich man in Hades recognizes both Lazarus and Abraham.  While he may have known Lazarus in life, he had never met Abraham.  Again, someone must have revealed Abraham’s identity to him.

3.  When Jesus was raised from the dead and given a resurrection body (remember, our resurrection body will be like His), Jesus recognized others.  Of course, Jesus was God in the flesh so He possessed omniscience and knew all things.  Nevertheless, I think the fact He did recognize others after His death and resurrection, is evidence that we will too.

4.  In the institution of the Lord’s Supper Jesus said “I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29).  Jesus indicates there will be a day in glory when He sits down with His followers and they drink together (which also indicates our resurrection body will be able to drink!).  Drinking together is a form of fellowship and to fellowship with one another you need some knowledge of who they are.

Again, the Bible is very silent on this subject.  A related matter on which Scripture says little is the topic concerning what will we look like in heaven?  In other words, will my resurrected body be my body at age 2 or age 10 or age 30 or age 65?  Will those who know me see me at an age in which they remembered me?  In other words will my parents see me as a young boy while me church friends see me as an adult? 

I can’t find much in the Scripture on this specific matter.  But I have drawn some conclusions which I want to share with you.  I challenge you to do your own study of God’s Word and see what you think.

1.  Jesus, whose resurrection body is our model, was seen as an adult of the same age He had at his death.  Everyone who saw the resurrected Lord saw Him as an adult.  Remember, His resurrection body even contained the marks of His crucifixion.

2.  Moses and Elijah at the Mount of Transfiguration also appeared as adults.

3.  I cannot recall any Scripture which describes resurrected saints as looking like children.

4.  Nothing in Scripture leads me to believe that our appearance, in terms of age, varies between individuals.  Our resurrection body is a physical body, not a body which morphs.

So I believe we will appear as adults to everyone.  But I can also tell you that our resurrected body will NOT age.  We will NOT grow older in appearance.  Such aging is a mark of sin.  Our present body breaks down over time.  Our resurrected bodies, however, will have no sin and, therefore, will not age in appearance.  It will never get sick and it will never die.

After I explain to folks why I believe we will appear as adults in our resurrected bodies, usually the next question asked is “How old of an adult?  20, 30, 40, 50?”  Well, once again, Scripture does not reveal this to us.

But I do have a sense of what we might find when we finally receive our resurrection bodies.  When God created this universe and made man in His image, He created man as an adult in the Garden of Eden.  Furthermore, Adam was created without sin or a sin nature.  His body, therefore, would not age in terms of appearance.  The aging process began when he sinned and his physical body began to die.  I think our resurrected bodies will be like that of Adam at creation.  No more sin, no more aging, no more death.  We will appear to one another as adults “in the prime of life”.  And we will know one another.   

I hope this helps you better understand the Scripture, Nolan.  I suspect it will raise even more questions for you.  Don’t be afraid to ask other Christians (for example, your parents or me) for answers.  Asking questions is a great way to grow in Jesus.

Pastor Bruce

Monday, April 8, 2013

Saul and the Witch of En-dor

1 In those days the Philistines gathered their forces for war, to fight against Israel. And Achish said to David, “Understand that you and your men are to go out with me in the army.” 2 David said to Achish, “Very well, you shall know what your servant can do.” And Achish said to David, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”

3 Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the necromancers out of the land. 4 The Philistines assembled and came and encamped at Shunem. And Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. 6 And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. 7 Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.”

8 So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments and went, he and two men with him. And they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Divine for me by a spirit and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.” 9 The woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the necromancers from the land. Why then are you laying a trap for my life to bring about my death?” 10 But Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.” 11 Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” He said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” 12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul.” 13 The king said to her, “Do not be afraid. What do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.” 14 He said to her, “What is his appearance?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and paid homage.

15 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. Therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do.” 16 And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me, for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. 18 Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day. 19 Moreover, the Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me.  The Lord will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.”

20 Then Saul fell at once full length on the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel. And there was no strength in him, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night. 21 And the woman came to Saul, and when she saw that he was terrified, she said to him, “Behold, your servant has obeyed you. I have taken my life in my hand and have listened to what you have said to me. 22 Now therefore, you also obey your servant. Let me set a morsel of bread before you; and eat, that you may have strength when you go on your way.” 23 He refused and said, “I will not eat.” But his servants, together with the woman, urged him, and he listened to their words. So he arose from the earth and sat on the bed. 24 Now the woman had a fattened calf in the house, and she quickly killed it, and she took flour and kneaded it and baked unleavened bread of it, 25 and she put it before Saul and his servants, and they ate. Then they rose and went away that night. (1 Samuel 28:1-25)


Instead of dealing with the entire text, I will focus my thoughts on some of the key questions which have long been debated on this chapter of Scripture.  Did the woman actually raise the spirit of Samuel?  Was the one who appeared actually Samuel?  Does this episode support the position that certain individuals can and should contact the dead for counsel?

If we consider the possibilities of what actually happened at En-dor, I see the following being the options for an explanation as well as an answer to the first 2 questions:

1.  The woman actually raised the spirit of Samuel appeared.
2.  The woman actually raised a spirit who pretended to be Samuel.
3.  The woman did not raise a spirit, nevertheless, a spirit pretending to be Samuel appeared.
4.  The woman did not raise a spirit, nevertheless, the spirit of Samuel appeared.

The woman, one who has performed this forbidden practice before, appears surprised at what takes place.  Verses 12 and 13 reveal that she was not expecting what was taking place.  It is very possible her previous attempts at contacting the dead were most likely fake, hence, she always knew what was going to happen.  But that is not the case in this situation.  I don't believe the woman actually did the "raising" of the spirit.  She may have went through the motions of doing so but, in the end, she is as surprised as anyone as to the results.  This interpretation of the text eliminates possibilities 1 and 2.

But a spirit did appear.  Hence, the next question concerns the identity of that spirit.  Is it Samuel or is it not?  Verse 14 indicates Saul knew it was Samuel and he certainly knew Samuel's appearance.  Verse 15 indicates it was Samuel speaking to Saul.  Now, it is possible, some spirit has come forth appearing in both form and word to be Samuel but who is not actually Samuel.  Angels often take the form of a man in Scripture.  Certainly that is within the realm of possibility.  Some angel has appeared as Samuel.

Yet, if this spirit appears as Samuel and claims to be Samuel (explaining verse 15), then this spirit must be demonic for no angel of the God of truth would ever commit such a deception.  Therefore, if this spirit is NOT actually the spirit of Samuel, it must be a demon.  Such an act is well within the capability of Satan and his demon followers.  It would be easy for a demon to fool both the king and the woman.  Perhaps demons had answered the woman's pleas in the past, appearing as certain loved ones for those who inquired.  If the woman did not raise Samuel's spirit, rather, a demon appeared on its own as Samuel, then the 3rd possibility is the solution.

But again, this is problematic for one essential reason.  The words given by the spirit in the subsequent verses are exactly what take place.  Why would a demonic spirit arise as Samuel and then give Saul a truthful message?  Such behavior is far too uncharacteristic of a demon, a follower of the "father of lies".

That leaves us with possibility 4 which I believe is the correct interpretation.  The woman went into her routine to raise the spirit of Samuel and Samuel's spirit actually arose and spoke to Saul.  The woman was shocked to see Samuel actually come forth.  This was not the result she expected for never before had her routine produced a true spirit!

The spirit which appeared was, indeed, the spirit of Samuel from Sheol (the place of the dead).  Samuel shares with Saul the truth about his future which was completely fulfilled.  The one who raised his spirit to give Saul this message of doom was God Himself, the one who is "the resurrection and the life", the one who has the power over life and death.  None who believes in the God of the Bible can doubt God's ability to permit the spirit of a deceased individual from speaking to someone who is living. 

The fact God so raised Samuel's spirit on this occasion does not imply He will do so at the request of an individual.  God repeatedly condemns the practice of attempting to communicate with the dead (necromancy, e.g., Deut. 18:9-12).  For reasons not revealed by our Lord, He chose, in this specific situation, to allow Samuel once again to declare His message to this failed king.  I think to say much more about the event would be more speculation than interpretation.

I should note that not all Christian scholars agree with my understanding of this text.  Martin Luther, himself, wrote the following about this text:

"From this we may easily learn, that the coming up of Samuel was an apparition, 1 Sam. 28, 13, inasmuch as it is altogether contrary to this commandment of God.  It is therefore not to be assumed that the real prophet Samuel came up by the power of the witch of En-dor.  But that the Scriptures are silent on this point, not telling us whether it was the real of false Samuel, is because they demand of everybody to remember well that through Moses God forbade to consult the dead.  And he never revokes his Word, as Job says and Balaam also, Num. 23, 19.  How can the witch have any power over the saints, who are resting in God's hands?"

I reserve the privilege of conscience to change my mind upon further study of God's Word!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Some Thoughts on the 2012 Election

Like many Americans I watched the election returns on Tuesday with great hope our country would see a positive change.  By 7:30 I began to detect such change would not be occurring. When North Carolina and Virginia were not quickly called for Governor Romney, I began to see the handwriting on the wall. The only words I remember saying to my wife as we watched the story unfold was "What are these people thinking?" After four horrible years under President Obama, the American people were electing him to another four years. That, to me, was unbelievable.

When the President was projected as the winner, I was amazingly calm. I recall in 2008 being greatly disturbed over his win. His published views convinced me at the time that great harm was about to come upon our nation. Certainly that is the case: continual high unemployment, foreclosures, drastically increasing national debt, passing of government health insurance, acceptance of gay marriage, reductions in defense, printing money over and over again, and so forth. Yes, I was concerned and my fears were realized with President Obama's first term.

But on Tuesday I did not react the same way. I basically got up and went to bed. Yesterday, apart from a couple of comments on the election via social media, I went about my day pretty much as normal.

Now, a day out from the election, I thought I would jot down some of my thoughts and possibly explain, at least to myself, my present attitude.

1. On Tuesday, God's eternal plan, his secret will for our country, was once again revealed in the election of President Obama. From eternity God had so decided this would be the outcome. He has installed this man to be our leader for another four years.

"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." (Romans 13:1)

2. God's will was accomplished through the votes of millions of Americans (over 60 million voted for the President) especially in key electoral states. Americans exercised their free choice and the man they chose was God's choice all along. Oh the wonder of God's predestination and man's freedom of choice!

3. For four years the President's administration has clearly demonstrated they govern using principles which are antithetical to the Bible. In other words, they govern in opposition to the ways of God. Almost every principle they support is opposed by the Word of God. In other words, the President and those who share his views govern from a position of evil (if its opposed to God's revealed will what else can we call it?).

4. So why would the eternal, predetermined plan of Almighty God include the 2012 reelection of a man who governs as an evil governor? Since I am not God I can not fully answer that statement. However, let me offer up at least two possible reasons why:

(1) God is continuing to judge our nation. We, as a people, were founded as a Christian nation but we have greatly strayed from our faith. Even many of those who call themselves Christian today give no indication in their personal lives that they know Christ or have been regenerated. The worldviews and philosophies of many in our land, including self-professed Christians, are positions in opposition to God's Word. We have replaced the love of God with the love of  "things" and those "things" come in many forms: money, fame, influence, entertainment, sports, luxuries, "freedom to live as I want", etc. God will not permit any nation to continue their pursuit of idolatry without judgment. God is judging our nation.

(2) There has been no true repentance on the part of Americans. President Obama was first elected four years ago. The American people have seen his principles in action. He promotes abortion. He promotes sodomy. He promotes gay marriage. He promotes illegal immigration. He promotes increased national debt at unthinkable levels. And yet, their minds are so darkened and far from God, that, when given an opportunity to replace our President in an election, over half the country picks him again. That is a clear indication there is no repentance among our people.

5. I believe America has turned from God and embraced the ways of man. In response, God is bringing judgment, slow judgment. For years we have watched the continual decay of our nation yet we do not repent. Now we have a leader who not only opposes many of our traditional practices but also opposes God's revealed will. Look at the rapidly increasing moral decay in our country. Two states legalized marijuana on Tuesday. Two others legalized gay marriage. States voted to spend more money when they don't have it. And over 60 million Americans voted to reelect the same man who has governed over the most rapid decay our country has ever witnessed.

6. Is there still hope for our country? Personally, I thought a Governor Romney victory on Tuesday would have provided a slight opportunity to halt the downfall and begin a turnaround. The victory of President Obama, though, casts doubt in my own heart that our nation will ever again be what it once was. We may have gone past the point of no return. I am somewhat older and have enjoyed living most of my life in a great nation. So, personally, I am not overly concerned.

But my children, my grandchildren, and my future descendants will likely live in an America that is inferior, socialistic, and ungodly. That thought breaks my heart.

7. God, however, may still have another plan for our nation. Judgment is here but, as I noted, it has been slow.   Perhaps the eyes of those who are truly Christian will be opened and they will begin calling upon the Lord for mercy and grace. We, the followers of Jesus, can plead with Him for another opportunity in America. Let us cry out to God for a revival throughout our land. The only true way for this country to turn around is through revival. Souls turned to Jesus and devoted to following His Word will bring positive change to America!

8. Therefore, let us seek revival in America. Let's beseech God to pour out His Spirit upon each of us. Let us be faithful in what God has revealed for us to do: pray, give, worship, study, serve, live, and proclaim the wonderful Gospel of His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sinner, is Thy Heart at Rest?

I ran across the following words from a hymn which was once published in hymnals and thought they were worth sharing.



Sinner, is Thy Heart at Rest?
(Jared Bell Waterbury, 1799-1876)


Sinner, is thy heart at rest?
 Is thy bosom void of fear?
Art thou not by guilt oppress’d?
 Speaks not conscience in thine ear?

Can this world afford thee bliss?
 Can it chase away thy gloom?
Flatt’ring, false, and vain it is:--
 Tremble at the worldling’s doom.

Think, O sinner, on thine end;
 See the judgment-day appear!
Thither must thy spirit wend;
 There thy righteous sentence hear.

Wretched, ruin’d, helpless soul,
 To a Savior’s blood apply;
He alone can make thee whole;
 Fly to Jesus, --sinner, fly!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why Christianity?

I have been asked several times over the years why I believe the teachings of Christianity but reject the beliefs of the other religions of the world.  In our politically correct society we are constantly told that each religion is valid, each will get its followers to God (or whatever they call God), and no one can judge another's religion.  Well, I completely disagree.  They can't all be right.  In fact, they are NOT all correct.  Christianity is the only true religion and the only way to God.

So why do I believe this?  There are many reasons but I will only list a few in no particular order.

1.  The resurrection of its founder and leader.

Jesus Christ is the only founder and leader of a great world religion who is no longer in the tomb!  God has raised Him from the dead following His crucifixion partly to attest to God's acceptance of Christ's work on the cross.  When the founder and leader of a religion has come back to life then its time to sit up and take notice!  Not all religions ARE the same after all!

I realize there are many who would interject their denial of the resurrection at this point of the argument.  To counter such a denail would take more time and print than I wish to give on the subject at the moment.  However, here are some thoughts why I believe any denial of the resurrection to be foolish.

(1)  The history recorded by contemporaries of the 1st century apostles confirm the existence of a great prophet/teacher named Jesus of Nazareth.  Furtermore, they confirm he was executed by the Romans.  To deny the historical existence of Jesus is foolish in the light of the evidence.

(2)  If the teachings and historical events of Jesus (such as the resurrection) were untrue, it is highly unlikely that most of the closest followers of Jesus in the 1st century would give their lives for such falsehoods.

(3)  If you view Jesus as a great teacher or moral leader then you must answer the question:  What do I do with Jesus' own claims?  He claimed He would die for sin.  He claimed He would rise from the dead.  He even claimed, "No man can come to the Father but through Me."  The famous argument used by many concludes Jesus must either be a Legend (not possible given the historical evidence), Liar (some moral leader!), a Lunatic (some great teacher!), or exactly who He claimed to be:  LORD.

(4)  His resurrection attests to the truth that Jesus is Lord.

2.  I also believe Christianity to be the only true religion because of the profound impact on the entire world for good it has had when truly practiced as Christ taught.

Yes, Christians still commit evil, sinful acts on occasion.  However, no religion has had such a positive impact on the world as Christianity.  Seriously, does Islam impact the world for good (treatment of women, killing non-Muslims, etc.)?

3.  I have seen the lives of many individuals who have been changed by Christ.

The influence of Jesus and His teachings on the lives of many people have resulted in completely changed lives.  Individuals have been converted from a life of wickedness to a life of good.  Personally, I have witnessed such changes in others over my lifetime.  Furthermore, the changes which do occur in these individuals align with the very teachings of Jesus from the Scriptures.

4.  I know how Jesus changed my own life.

I believe in Jesus because of the Word of God.  Scripture gives me an objective basis for my faith.  The word tells me if I confess with my mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead, I will be saved.  I believed it and still do.

But I also believe in Jesus because of the subjective changes I have experienced in my own life as a result of repenting of my sin and trusting Christ.  I obeyed objectively the written Word of God and was subjectively changed by the Living Word of God, Jesus!  My nature, character, and life changed just before my 23rd birthday.  Things I never cared about (e.g., prayer, reading the Bible, going to church) became central to my life almost immediately.  Sinful acts I once engaged in at least weekly (some daily) I no longer practiced.  This wasn't my will power, no way!  Jesus Christ transformed me and is still transforming me today.

So those are some of the reasons I am a believer in Jesus.  Jesus claims to be the only way for a man to get right with God.  He was raised from the dead.  Others have been radically transformed by believing in Him.  I, too, have personally experienced this transformation.

Praise God!

If you have not you may.  The Word of God calls on us to repent (turn from) our sin.  And, as we turn from our sin, the Bible calls on us to trust (turn to) Christ.  Put your faith in Him.  Trust Him with the keeping of your soul and its ultimate delivery to God.