Thursday, October 4, 2012

"Faith is just Christian Guts"

Dr. Averbeck went down a rabbit trail in class last night, but it was spiritually encouraging. He went moderately off topic to discuss what faith is. His main point was

"Faith is just Christian guts!"

He went on to say that it is the guts to trust God and endure through the hard stuff for Him because He asked.

I might add that faith is living courageously for God. It is laying it all on the line just to obey! It is leaving yourself so exposed that if Yahweh doesn't show up, you're cooked. But it is more than just taking a risk. It is knowing that despite how much it looks like a risk, it's really not, because of Who God is and what He has said and what He promises to do! Hebrews 11.1 puts it like this:

"Faith IS the metaphysical reality of the things being hoped for, the proof what the stuff that's not seen"

That means that faith is like having it before you have it, its like being sure of what you can't see. When we trust God for the things we're hoping for (that is the things He's called us to hope for, not the stuff we want to hope for like finding a winning lotto ticket (but who wants dirty money?) or finding that special someone), that means that on the deepest possible level we already have it, although we are still waiting to have it on every level. It means the things we don't see yet, but want to, when we trust we have seen them. For example, if we trust in Christ, we have the proof that we will see Him, the faith is the proof. It is all the proof we need that He is real. However, trusting like this does take guts, so let's get gutsy and trust!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Yahweh is God's First Name, So Let's Stop Calling Him "Sir"

So the Gospel Coalition has an article giving some reasons for why we should translate יהוה as "Yahweh" as opposed to "LORD." I completely agree. I also think however that it is helpful for those who are reading their Bible to know what their translations are trying to accomplish.

I just wanted to add to what the article will say that it may be helpful to understand the discussion in light of how we address people in English. In English, most people have a first name and a last name, some have a middle name or even middle names. Additionally, in English, some people have titles such as "Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., Rev., etc." Also, there are words that function as respectful ways of addressing people, such as the above, yet there are some others that are used in some situations, such as when trying to be extra respectful we may ask, "Can I help you, sir/ma'am?" Others have positional titles, such as "General Manager, Judge, President, Queen, etc." We would normally not consider "Mister" or "Sir" or "President" someone's name. However, "lord" is in fact a title that functions halfway between "mister" and "president." So if you watch a movie that emulates some old school English, you may hear, "Yes, m'lord." Or if you go to England today, you can visit the House of Lords with Lords so-and-so and so-and-so. The thing is that יהוה is a name, not a title. Moreover, this causes problems with the Name יהוה (Yahweh) is right next to the title אדני, which means "my lord." You can't really say "The LORD my Lord." Anyways, the article will on to explain more, my point is just that the times your Bible reads LORD in all caps, it is trying to translate God''s Name, the Name He goes by, just like I go by Anthony. Yahweh is the Name God goes by, but you may not have known that because many Bibles translate God's personal name, His given name (He gave it to Himself). In English, we would pronounce and spell God personal Name as "Yahweh."

Please click the link below to get a better handling of the issue as well as some reasons for why the translation of "LORD" came up in the first place as well as reasons for using and enjoying the using of God's Personal Name, Yahweh.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jesus is Impressive Because He Can Heal Anything, and He Keeps His Priorities Straight

Scripture: Mark 1.29-45
Translation: 29And immediately after going out from the synagogue, the went into Simon’s and Andrew’s house with James and John. 30And Simon’s mother-in-law was lying down burning up with fever. And immediately they were speaking to Him about her. 31And after going in, He lifted her up when he grabbed her hand. And the fever left her, and she was served them. 32And after it became evening, when the sun had set, they were bringing to Him all those who were badly sick and those who were being demonized. 33And so the whole city was gathered to the door. 34And He healed lots of people who were badly sick with different kinds of diseases. And He threw out lots of demons, but He didn’t let the demons speak, because they knew Him.

35And after getting up really early in the morning while it was still night, He went out and went away into a deserted place and there He was praying. 36And Simon and those with him were looking all over for Him. 37And they found Him and were saying to Him that “All the people are searching for You.” 38And He was saying to them, “We should go somewhere else, into the next market-towns, so that I can also preach there, because for this purpose I went out.

39And He went—preaching—into their synagogues into the whole region of Galilee, and throwing out the demons. 40And a leper came to Him urging Him and kneeling down and saying to Him that “If you want to be able to make me clean?” 41And because He felt compassion, after stretching out His hand, He touched him all on His own and was saying to him, “I want to. Be made clean!” 42And then immediately the leprosy left him and he was made clean. 43And He was saying to him, “Make sure you say nothing to nobody! Rather go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded as a testimony to them. 45But when he went out he began to preach many things and spread the word, so that He wasn’t able to go into a city openly any longer, rather He was outside at the deserted places. And they were coming to Him from everywhere.
Passage Summary: After preaching with authority and driving out a demon, Jesus  goes to Simon and Andrew’s house and heals a fever, then everyone brings sick people to be healed and demonized people to have the demons expelled, then Jesus gets up early to pray, and people are already looking for Him to, Jesus decides it’s time to move on to the other towns to preach, so He preaches all over the place, but He still casts out demons too, but He also heals a leper who comes to Him because of His compassion. Jesus tells the former leper to keep quiet, but instead he starts preaching and spreading the word/message, so Jesus has to minister in the deserted placed, but people still come from all over.
The Point I’m Stressing from the Text: Jesus is Impressive, because He can heal all kinds of diseases and drive out all demons and because He puts prayer first (His relationship with the Father first) and because He kept His focus on His Primary Calling of Preaching, but also because that did not stop Him from also healing sicknesses, even the incurable ones, and throwing out demons, humanizing the dehumanized, because He was filled with compassion, but as well because He still upheld the Law of Moses, and because fame was not His objective, but faithfulness was. But of course, because Jesus is this impressive, He became mega famous. He is clearly Powerful, more powerful than all demons and all diseases! The people knew what this meant. This meant coming to Jesus for healing, this meant telling the world about Who He Is and what He can do, trusting in Him for healing. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Genesis 39: Translation

Genesis 39

1Now Joseph was brought down to Egypt. And Potiphar, Pharaoh’s officer, the Commander of the Bodyguard, an Egyptian man, bought him from the hand of the Ishmaelites, who brought him down there. 2And Yahweh was with Joseph. And so he was a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. 3And his master saw that Yahweh was with him, and [that] all that he did Yahweh was making successful in his hand. 4And so Joseph found favor in his eyes. And he served him. And he made him an overseer over his house.

Now, he gave all that belonged to him into his care [lit. hand]. 5And from that time on he was overseeing him/it[?] in his house and over all that belonged to him. And so Yahweh blessed the house of the Egyptian because of Joseph.

And the blessing of Yahweh was on all that belonged to him in the house and in the field. 6And he left all that was his in the hand of Joseph, and didn’t worry about [lit. know with himself] anything, except the bread that he was eating.

Now Joseph was sexy in form and sexy in appearance. 7And it happened after these things[lit. words] that his master’s wife started checking out [lit. lifted up her eyes toward] Joseph, and she said, “Sleep with me.” 8And he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master doesn’t worry about [lit. know with himself] whatever’s in his house and all that belongs to him he gave into my care [lit. hand]. 9There’s nobody greater in this house than me, and he didn’t withhold from me anything, except you, because you’re his wife! So how could I do this great evil and sin against God?”

10And there was a similar invitation to Joseph [lit. it was like her word to Joseph] day after day, but he didn’t listen to her to sleep next to her or to be with her. 11And it happened like this day that he went into the house to do his work, but there wasn’t a man in from the men of house there in the house. 12And she grabbed him by his clothes saying, “Sleep with me!” So he left his clothing in her hand and fled and went out to the outside.

 13And it happened as she saw that he left his clothing in her hand and fled to the outside 14that she screamed to men in her house and she said to them saying, “Look, he brought a Hebrew man in to us to make fun of us! He came in to me to sleep with me, so I screamed with a loud voice!” 15And it happened as he heard that  I raised my voice and screamed that he left his clothing next to me and fled and went out to the outside.” 16 And she put his clothes down next to her until his master came in to his house. 17And she told him  like these words by saying, “That Hebrew slave that you brought in to us came into me to make fun of me! 18And it happened as I raised my voice and screamed that he left his clothing next to me and fled to the outside!” 19And it happened as his master heard the words of his wife that she spoke to him saying, “your slave did like these words to me” that he got really angry. 20And so Joseph’s master took him and gave him to the jail-house, a place that the king’s prisoners were being imprisoned.

And he was there in the prison-house. 21And Yahweh was with Joseph. And he extended loyalty to him and He gave His favor in the eyes of the commander of the prison-house. 22And the commander of the prison-house gave into Joseph’s care [lit. hand] all the prisoners that were in the prison-house and he was doing all that they were doing there. 23There wasn’t the commander of the prison-house looking over all of anything in his care [hand] because Yahweh was with him and what he did Yahweh made successful. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jesus is Impressive and Preaches with Power

            Scripture: Mark 1.14-28
Translation: 14After John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee preaching God’s Good News, 15namely by saying that “The time is fulfilled and God’s Kingdom is nearby: Change your minds and trust in the Good News!”

16And while passing by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew Simon’s brother throwing fishnets in the sea, because they were fishermen. 17And Jesus said to them: “Come on after Me, and I will make you become fishers of men! 18And immediately leaving the fishnets, they followed Him. 19And going ahead a little bit, He saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother and them in the boat getting the fishnets ready. 20And immediately He yelled out to them. And leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the employees, they came out after Him.

21And they traveled into Capernaum. And then on the Sabbaths after coming into the Synagogue He taught. 22And they were consistently impressed because of His teaching, because He was teaching them like someone who had authority and not like the scribes. And immediately a man with an unclean spirit was in the their synagogue and he yelled 24saying: “What’s the deal for us and for You, Nazarene Jesus? Did you come to destroy us? I know You, Who You are! God’s Holy One!” 25And Jesus rebuked him by saying: “Be quiet and come out of him!” 26And after the unclean spirit sent him into convulsions and screamed with a loud voice, it came out of him. 27And absolutely all of the people were amazed, so that they discussing with themselves by saying: “What is this?! New teaching according to authority?!” and “He commands the unclean spirits and they obey Him!” 28And the report about Him went out immediately everywhere into the whole surrounding region around Galilee!
Passage Summary: Jesus starts His ministry by preaching the Gospel, calling four fishmen to fish for men with Him, teaching the synagogue, and by casting a demon out of a man, illustrating that He has the Spirit, that He is the One John prophesied, and that He has a powerful message from God: He is not like anyone else.
The Point I’m Stressing: Jesus is the One John Prophesied about, He has the Holy Spirit, He preaches the Gospel of changing one’s mind and trusting the Good News, He is worthy of being followed, He has authority to teach, and He is the boss of demons. Therefore, we should believe His message and change our minds, we should leave everything and follow Him, we should be impressed and amazed, we should rely on Him to deal with demons
1.      We have heard that Jesus has a message with authority, we have seen this Jesus be able to call people away from their work and families, we have seen this Jesus is able to change the direction of people’s lives, we have seen He really has the Holy Spirit and that He is the One John the Baptist was talking about, we have even seen demons, Jesus’ powerful arch-enemies obey Him, so that leaves one question for us: Will we? Indeed, if even the demons obey His command, we shouldn’t we? Are you more self-deceived and arrogant than demons? I hope not, but if you reject obedience to Christ, you are!
2.      The passage starts by telling us that Jesus is preaching God’s Good News and as part of that issuing God’s command: Change your minds and believe the Message! In this Passage we Jesus issue commands to men, and they listen, commands to demons and they listen, but while you may not realize it, He is still issuing commands and those commands are coming to us, to you, to me, and the question remains, will you listen, will I listen, will we listen?
3.      We have seen how the people in Jesus day reacted to His teaching and His doing: they were impressed and amazed, they could tell something was different! But how are we reacting? Are you impressed, are you amazed, can you see that something is different about this Jesus? If you can’t, the problem is not with the Bible, or with Jesus, it’s with you, and me, and us, if you can’t see it, and I can’t see it, and we as a community can’t see it, but of course seeing it means more than just mentally understanding the concepts, it means that we feel impressed, we feel amazed, we feel the differentness of Jesus, but that leaves the question: Do you, do I, do we?
4.      Moreover, Jesus’ command is to change our minds, that means change how we think, feel, and act, to have a change of heart, but His command is also to trust His Good News from God, this means we trust what God has to say not only about the Good News, but about how we should be thinking, feeling, and acting, and making His ways our ways, and making the Good News from God Good News for us from God!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Beginning of the Good News about Jesus

Scripture: Mark 1.1-13
Translation: 1The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son: 2Just like it stands written in Isaiah the prophet: “Look, I’m sending My messenger ahead of Your face, who will prepare Your way! 3A voice of someone shouting is in the desert: ‘Get the Lord’s road ready! Make His paths straight!’” 4John, the one who was baptizing in the desert and preaching a baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins, came. 5And the whole Judean region and all the people from Jerusalem were traveling out to him. And they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River [and] confessing their sins. 6And John was clothing himself with camel hair and leather belt around his waist and eating locusts and wild honey. 7And He preached by saying, “The One Who is stronger than me is after me, Who I’m not worth of for bending down to untie the straps of His sandals! 8I baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”
9And it happened in those days. Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized into the Jordan River by John. 10And immediately while coming up out of the water He saw the heavens being torn apart and the Spirit like a dove coming down into Him! 11And a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My Loved Son! I’m really happy with You!” 12And immediately the Spirit drove Him out into the desert! 13And He was in the desert for forty days being tested by Satan. And He was with the wild animals. And the angels were serving Him.

Descriptive Summary: God made a promise and kept the promise by sending John to prep Jesus’ way, which he did, even to the point of baptizing Jesus with water, but then God the Father baptized Jesus with the Holy Spirit, which may double as His Anointing. The baptism/anointing of the Spirit is proven by the driving to the desert, the temptation success, and the angels service.
The Points I’m Stressing: God keeps all His Promises, so you can trust Him; Jesus is so awesome that God sends someone to get the way ready for Him; Jesus is God’s Son, and His Chosen Servant, which the Baptism shows us! Jesus also obeyed the Spirit and wanted to glorify God more than anything else, but He was also stronger than anyone else by the Holy Spirit, and so He endured testing and angels served Him. We have the same Holy Spirit in us if we believe in Jesus, so that means we can endure testing too and do what God wants us to do.
The Text and Its Truths
1.      Key Themes
a.       God fulfills His Word/keeps His Promises
b.      John the Baptist is the fulfillment of God’s Word/Promises
                                                              i.      He fulfills because he prepares the way by baptizing (vv.4, 5, 8, 9)
                                                            ii.      He fulfills because he prepares by preaching forgiveness of sins (vv.4, 5)
                                                          iii.      He fulfills because he really is in the desert (vv.4, 5, 6, 9)
                                                          iv.      He fulfills because he proclaims Jesus’ Value, Power, and Holiness (vv.7-8)
                                                            v.      He fulfills because he foretells of Jesus’ kind of ministry of Spirit Baptism (v.8)
                                                          vi.      He fulfills because he baptized Jesus (v.9)
c.       Jesus is Worthy of Honor
                                                              i.      John honors Jesus (vv.4-9, esp. 7-8)
1.      By prepping His Way for his ministry with people (v.4-6)
2.      By prepping the people for the difference and preeminence of His ministry (vv.7-8)
                                                            ii.      God the Father honors Jesus
1.      By sending the prophecy (vv.2-3)
2.      By sending the prophecy’s fulfillment in John (vv.4-9)
3.      By splitting the heavens open (v.10)
4.      By sending the Spirit into Him (v.10)
5.      By publically proclaiming Him as His loved Son (v.11)
6.      By publically proclaiming He was happy with Jesus (v.11)
7.      By the driving to the desert, testing by Satan, and the service of angels to show Jesus’ Endurance, Power, and Holiness (vv.12-13)
                                                          iii.      Jesus obeys the Spirit (vv.12-13)
                                                          iv.      Jesus passes the testing from Satan (v.13)
                                                            v.      Jesus has angels serving Him (v.13)
d.      Jesus is Powerful
                                                              i.      He is filled with the Holy Spirit (v.8, 10)
                                                            ii.      He is God’s Son (vv.1, 11)
                                                          iii.      He is Anointed (vv. 1, 10, 12-13)
                                                          iv.      He is Filled with the Spirit (vv.8, 10, 12-13)
                                                            v.      He passed the testing in the desert with the wild animals and the devil (vv.12-13)
1.      He can handle nature
2.      He can handle the devil
3.      He can handle wild animals
                                                          vi.      Angels serve Jesus (the lesser serves the greater) (v.13)
e.       Jesus is God’s Son (vv.1, 10-11)
f.       Jesus is Holy (vv.8-9, 9-11, 12-13)
2.      Key Doctrines
a.       The Faithfulness of God to ALL of His Promises
b.      Divine Sonship of Christ
c.       Infinite Worthiness of Christ
d.      The Necessity of Baptism
e.       Anointing of the Anointed One by the Spirit
f.       The Sinlessness of Christ
                                                              i.      Obedience to the Spirit
                                                            ii.      Resistance to Satan/Sin
g.      The Power of Christ over Satan and Angels (Authority, foreshadowing the following verses)
Applications (Look)
1.      Trust All of God’s Promises
2.      Give Christ the Honor He Deserves
3.      Get Baptized
4.      If saved and thus filled with the Spirit, obey Him and resist the temptations of the devil/sin
5.      Rely on Christ when dealing with demonic warfare
6.      Believe in Christ as God’s Son, and thus King over All
7.      Get the way ready for Christ’s second coming by sharing the Gospel
8.      Be impressed by Jesus’ success in obedience, fasting, and testing
9.      Be thankful that God kept His promises
10.  Be thankful John got Jesus’ way ready, and let that message prep your own heart for Christ
11.  Be thankful Jesus surpasses even what John said in awesomeness and goodness
12.  And whatever else the Spirit works into your soul from the Word, and be like Jesus in listening to His moving, even if its hard or crazy

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"The [Spiritual] Gifts are Really Just Tools for Loving Well"

So tonight in my Pentateuch and Historical Books Class with Dr. Richard Averbeck I heard such a legit quote! Dr. Averbeck was commenting on the meaning of I Cor 12-13 and explained that the point Paul was making was "the [Spiritual] gifts are really just tools for loving well."

That perspective and insight was legit. They really are. I experientially resonate with that idea, because when I preach that is what it is for me, it is my way of expressing my love to my sheep, to the rest of the body of Christ. God gives me this love for people and then it compels me to preach and teach and counsel and pastor and evangelize and lead and disciple! I pray that indeed I use all my Spiritual gifts to love well, and that you do too.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What!? That's in the Bible!?: Ezekiel 4, vv.1-3

So the last edition of this series was a little serious, so this time I thought I would pick a passage that was a little funny. OK, it's pretty funny, although it's still pretty serious. What Yahweh tells Ezekiel to do is pretty funny, and at the same time the meaning behind the action is scary sad. Actually this whole chapter has some pretty humorous/sad stuff in it. The funniest part is the last section, but I think it is better to break the chapter into few bit sized chunks. So for the next few days, each day will get the next chunk added. So without further ado...

Ezekiel 4.1-3

“1And you son of man, take a brick for yourself and put it in front of you and engrave a city on it, Jerusalem [to be exact]. 2And lay siege against it and build a siege-wall against it and pour out a siege-ramp against it and put military-camps against it and set up battering rams against it on all sides. 3And now take for yourself an flat iron pan and put it as a wall of iron between you and the city. And make it stand firm in front of you and it will be under the siege and you will besiege it. This is a sign for the House of Israel."

So, this is really odd. I want you to picture/image how this went. Ezekiel is there, and then Yahweh God speaks to him. "Hey, Zeke, go get a brick! then chisel the name Jerusalem on it. Then I want to you play war with it like when you were a kid. You know, with battering rams and siege ramps and barricades and even the little tents and army men all around it. Then find a nice iron pan and stand it up between you and this whole setup. Then the siege is on and you will be besieging the city. This will be a signal of things to come for Israel!"

Yahweh continues and some more interesting commands are given to Ezekiel. However, this whole thing is kind of funny to picture. Like if you or I were to get this message, it might make us chuckle a little, but then again maybe it wouldn't. You don't see Ezekiel laughing in the passage. That's because God is sending a message Israel with all this. And it is not a happy message. It is kind of like a skit or claymation film showing what is about it happen. These are not fake people. This is not a game. This is a promise of what is about to happen. This promise is not happy, because it is a promise of doom! An entire city is doomed to war, doomed to capture, doomed to destruction. Yahweh in His grace is telling them in advance. And it is so important for His chosen people to really understand that He is giving a sign and a demonstration of what will happen.

I'll be honest I am not completely sure what the iron pan is about, but my guess is that it is supposed to signify that the coming attack and army would be like an impenetrable wall, an indestructible wall. The brick city could never break through it. I suppose another possibility is that God is saying He could be a like an Iron Wall for His City between them an their attackers, assuming they trusted Him to be that for them, but that does not seem to be the force of the passage or the book in general. So, it seems like the point is the point is Jerusalem will be under siege and they won't be able to break through to either escape or claim victory.

But what good does it do for us to know this? Well, while we are not Israelites, Yahweh is still the Same God. We know the kind of God He is. He is the God Who hates sin, and deals with it seriously. He is the God Who will even bring stern punishment against His chosen people. Being chosen by God does not keep God from dealing with our sin issues. But it also tells us that He is a God Who longs for repentance and a restoration to Him. He is giving this sign and message from Ezekiel to not just pull the Israelites to repentance and a restored relationship with Him in the past, but to pull us today to Him, to pull us to confess and turn away from our sinful lifestyles and actions and have a living healthy relationship with Him.

So if you are someone who has already trusted in Christ to save you from your sins and give you life forever with God in perfect relationship with Him, please, join me in being pulled to confessing our sins to God and changing our life to match His lifestyle. God will come after us if necessary, and we don't want that, so let's turn now! And even if God is already coming after, and the punishment won't be stopped, if you really do love and trust Him, turn to Him because that is the whole point of all that is/will happen!

But, if you have never trusted in Christ to save you from the punishment that is coming for all the times you have not listened to what Yahweh the Only True God has told you and to give you new life in Him by the Holy Spirit, then trust Him to do that today and turn to Yahweh before the punishment gets here, because it is just as sure and just as inescapable as the punishment that destroyed Jerusalem 2500 years ago. You have heard/read this blog so that you might turn to God and turn away from all the bad things you've been doing! Listen now, while you still have a chance! If you have more questions, contact me, please!

Monday, July 30, 2012


Because of Christ, for the true Christian death is not a checkmate for the devil, but rather yet another checkmate against him. Why fear it? -- R. Anthony Buck (@Aexius_)

Friday, June 29, 2012

What?! That's in the Bible?! Ezekiel 20.32-33

The thing rising up in your soul won't happen, that is, you are saying,
"We will be like the pagans,
like the families of the of the lands
by serving tree and stone."

I'm Alive--My Lord Yahweh's edict--
I will definitely rule over you as King
with [My] Hand Strong
and with [My] Arm Stretched Out
and with [My] Wrath Poured Out

There are to shocking things here. The first is something we don't expect God's people to say, the second is something we may forget Yahweh has said.

The Israelis were God's chosen people, the ethnic group as a whole have a covenantal relationship with Yahweh, that is, God loves them as His Favorites, that is the nation/ethnicity of Israel is Yahweh's personal friend. He has their back and loves them. They are the people, the only people, in the whole world who know the real God, the Living God, the God Who created the trees and the mountains. Yet, the shocking thing is, they say they don't want the real God, they want the fake "gods" that all there other friends have. Yet, that is not the only thing that shocking, what is perhaps more shocking is that the temptations have not changed that much. We still want to be like all the people we live around, among, or who live around us. We still want to be like the people that don’t know God. We want to worship false gods just as much today as before. Our friends and our neighbors and our culture pull us away just as strongly today. How often do we think, “I’ll be like everyone else, then I’ll be cool, then I’ll fit in, then I’ll be really happy.” We think we can stay cool with God, while we think, feel, and act like people who wouldn’t know Yahweh if He slapped them upside the head. That’s a lie thousands of years old. We cannot want that which by definition is what God’s people hate and don’t want, so let’s not. That is Ezekiel’s point.

Yet, not only do the Israelis arrogantly reject God, they arrogantly proclaim themselves the rules of their own destiny. They have this passion, this idea that they will, that they will definitely be like their friends. They think of themselves as their master. To put the verse in today's language,

"Just You watch, we WILL be like the people who don't know God, we WILL wait on the wooden and stone statues hand and foot! We WILL! Go head! Try and Stop us!

Yet, the scary truth is that this is not just a phenomenon of the past. This is not something that people used to do. This is something that we do. Yet, I doubt we really admit that our hearts don't long to worship and obey and accomplish Yahweh's every desire. NO, sadly, we say the same thing in our hearts, that they said in theirs:

"God can't make me love and obey Him, He can't stop me from loving and serving the things and people I really want! I'm in control of my own life, and if I want to worship and wait hand and foot on Bhudda or Allah or Politics or Money or Education or Sex or Self or Power or Convenience or whatever, I will!"

Or to put it more succinctly: I'll live my life how I want, and You can’t stop me just cause You don’t like it!

The truth is we tell ourselves that we are in control of our own lives as much as we tell us ourselves we will be like the world, we will fit in, we will be all smart and know better that God and serve the real "god" Money, or whatever! This another lie thousands of years old. Only Yahweh, the Creator of all our substitute “gods,” is in control of our lives, not us. No matter how hard we try, we can’t control what happens to us, and in truth we can’t guarantee our responses either. We may be responsible for what we do, but if we think for one moment that we are in total control of everything having to do with us, we are playing God, and our God don’t play with people who play God.

But as shocking as it is that this is what we are like if we search our hearts, many times, hat is even more shocking is how Yahweh responds to His Chosen People.

Yahweh basically says, "Oh, you want to fight? Fine, I'll beat you up and make you face My Anger! I'll dominate you and rule you as a king and there ain't nothing you can do about it!

If you want to try and arm wrestle God for His Deserved Glory and Worship, He will straight up slam your hand so hard against the table in victory that every bone will shatter, so you will do what He says. Our God don't play!

The people--we--say, "We're in control! We'll serve Concrete and Steel if we want to! We'll serve the same powerless pawns as everyone else!" But Yahweh says, "I'm the Real Living God! You're not in control! I am. And I will be Your God whether you want me or not!"

This is a threat, for sure, but it is also a comfort to those of us who really are His People in Christ today. Because as much as it threatens, and as much as it predicts, the purpose is one that is pure grace to the chosen loved ones of God! You’re probably thinking that’s a stretch, but consider that this is a promise that if we are really God’s loved one, then He will do whatever it takes to be our God, even if it means crushing us and beating the stupidness and rebellion and arrogance out of us. For God’s chosen people, then like today, Yahweh will make sure He is their God. There is no stopping Him. We is great news for us rebellious, arrogant sinners. But it is also terrifying news intended to bring the Israelis as well as us back to repentance, because let’s face it, none of us wants to get smashed by God, none us wants to get ruthlessly dominated by God. We want to get graciously dominated!

It would be a misinterpretation to think that God is threatening us, so that we can merely do nice things so we can rule our own lives. NO WAY! Yahweh is calling us to be humble and enjoy His Lordship, because we are under it whether we want it or not. The truth is this calls us back to serving Him, to worshiping Him, to obeying Him like the God He is, because the facts are in and we will one way or another!

So these two verses are a call to repentance for us today as much as they were to the people of Judah when they were written. So let’s repent! Yet, understand that comfort and grace is only found in humility and love for Yahweh the King. If you have trusted in Christ, this is for you. This is a call to return to the God Who saved you!

But if you have not trusted in Christ to give you His clean slate instead of the dirty fouled up mess of a slate you have right now, then these verses are calling you to come to Jesus for that clean slate and to stop wanting to play and actually playing God, because Yahweh has to be the God you love and obey, you King, before these verses can apply to you, that is before you will want these verses to be true. Until you are with Yahweh, you are against Him, and when He comes back it won’t be pretty for you, and then the forever after you get after He kills you will be worse than that execution.

But maybe your life is awful right now and you don’t know why. The truth is then that this verse may be great comfort to you, because it may show that God wants you and that you are His, but you can only know that you are one of God’s chosen when you embrace Him as your King and Savior! So if your life is miserable God is drawing you to Him, He is making you see He is God and you need Him, so trust that Jesus is Yahweh and that He died for all the times you will ever play God and rose from the dead to give you a new life and a citizenship in His Kingdom, and that He is calling you to a life where God is God and you stop trying to play God! Do it NOW, because you might not get another chance!

Let me know if you did accept Jesus as your King and Savior so I can help you grow in you new relationship with Jesus as your King and Savior!

Monday, June 18, 2012

What?! That's in the Bible?!

In the Sovereign grace of God I recently read through all the Major and Minor Prophets of the Old Testament, i.e. Isaiah-Malachi, for a class. Part way through my reading, I realized how shocking and humorous some of the things I were reading were. I've surely read them all before, but the just didn't seem to stand out to me before. I found myself chuckling at times, as well as thinking, "Wow, Abba, people probably didn't know You would ever say that!" So I started writing down the references so that I could share them.

My hope is that at times you will laugh, but at others you will be shocked, as we look through together at some of the things we probably didn't realize were in the Bible. I will warn you though, some of them are pretty offensive. Moreover, almost all of them do not come from happy passages. In many ways, we will see how the heart of God looks and speaks when He is in gratuitous pain. Be prepared, God may rock some of our categories. Be prepared, grace may not always look like we would expect.

I will cover the passages in no particular order. So today I start with Ezekiel 21.6 (English translations, 21.11 in Hebrew).

"And now, human, groan with broken back muscles!
and you will groan with bitterness before their eyes."

Based on some translations, I initially thought it was saying, "Groan like someone kicked you in the crotch" (which obviously is a more colorful and vivid image, especially to men; sorry ladies, we may never understand childbirth, but you will never understand our pain, not that ours is even in the same league as yours by any means) but it seems rather unlikely to mean that, although it is perhaps possible, since it seems that it may at times be a euphemism for genitals. Yet, after a more careful study the gist seems a lot closer to "Groan like you've got a back ache!" Some suggest the idea is more along the lines of "Groan on the ground like you broke your back!" Honestly, I'm not sure which is the best way to understanding, but regardless the image is still the Bible is presenting is still somewhat colorful. That is the first take away, that Yahweh gives occasionally colorful commands.

The second take away is the command God gave.  If you look at the whole passage, you will see that Yahweh is telling the prophet Ezekiel to go act out what everyone will soon be doing. They will groan because of the horrible news they are about to receive, and in context this is that their country's last bastion of resistance has fallen to the enemy, virtually everyone and everything has been destroyed. And this is because the God who created and chose the nation of Israel is the God that the Israelis rejected for other "gods." The God that graced them will now be the God that judged them. Sometimes misery is what God wants for us when we sin, both because we deserve it, and because He will use it to pull us to Him.

So, when we're miserable, we should turn to God and renounce the sin, i.e. the things in our life we prioritize higher than Yahweh. That is the point of the suffering, at least sometimes. Yet, we must ask why Yahweh would send a man to groan in front of everyone. The reason was twofold, to pull people back to Him, and to give people comfort in the midst of the groaning by telling them it was from Him and He is in control of all things, even history. If you are someone who already worships God the Father in Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit, that is what you should do.

But, some of you who read this will not have ever turned to Yahweh, the Holy Trinity, from all the mistakes you've made or acts of rebellion against Him you done, or even just not trusting Him, but the point of the verse is clear, groaning is coming. This is just the warning. You will be miserable, but without trusting in Yahweh, the Holy Trinity, you won't understand your misery, or you won't see it until it's too late. That misery may be in this life, but it will definitely be in the afterlife, if you don't trust Yahweh. Yahweh is the same today as He was when this was written. Yahweh may be making your life miserable right now. If so, turn to Him, because He loves you, and is only making you miserable to pull you to Him, because it is when we are miserable that we should see how much we need Him! So turn from trusting any and everyone and thing else, and trust in Yahweh to save you from your coming punishment and to rescue into the best love and peace ever, a relationship with Him, and forever life with no groans! Turn and Trust today!

If you did turn from yourself or your false belief system to trusting the truth of Who Yahweh is and what He has done and will do, then you are now a Christian and I want to help you grow in being a Christian so comment or email or somehow communicate with me, so I can do that and welcome you into the Christian Family!

My love goes out to all my bros and sisters in Christ! And even to those who are not, but I'll be honest I can't love you like I love my family!

Grace and Peace and Hope and Endurance
Pastor Anthony

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!!!

My Earthly Dad! (Maybe not the best pic)
I happen to like Father's Day. I think it meshes with the Bible to have days dedicated to honoring fathers and mothers (Eph. 6.1-3). This seems appropriate. I even think it has the ability to teach great theology, not just that human fathers deserve honor, but that This Certain Other Father really deserves honor. After all, if we will honor our earthly fathers, how much more should we honor our Heavenly Father Who created, sustains, provides for us, encourages us, loves us, forgives us, heals us, saves us, listens to us, cares about us, strengthens us, calls us, sends us, among other things like sending Jesus to die for us, HIS OWN SON, and the Holy Spirit, TO LIVE IN US! Yeah, I think Father's Day is a great idea, because it helps point us towards some men who deserve honor because of the Father's grace on them His sons, but towards the Heavenly Father Who DESERVES HONOR. So, we Christians should honor our Father in Heaven first, our father on earth second, and fathers on earth in general. It's true, by honoring our fathers on earth, we set a precedent for honoring fathers, of which God the Father is the Prototype. By honoring fathers, we train ourselves individually and as a community (this is why churches should celebrate it) to honor fathers, our fathers, and the Father. So, this is my call to do that. This means we pastors should (if we preached a Mother's Day sermon) preach a Father's Day sermon, one that celebrates fathers and honors them.

But some of you who read this may not have a earthly father, and some of you may not have God as your Heavenly Father, but at least the last half can change. God wants to be your Heavenly Father. And He will be a better dad than you could have ever had. There is no compare. He will be the Father you never had, even if you had a dad. He is the Perfect Dad, so even if He blessed you with a good dad, you've never had a dad like God, a dad who perfect and never bad. Yet, others of you may have had bad dads, and there is little worse, and others may have had no dad--for you, God wants to be the Dad you never had, that is He wants to be your Real and Forever Dad! You probably are not so sure how to feel about that, but I'll tell you from the inside, He is the Best Dad ever, I even call Him Daddy! He loves so powerfully that He gave His Only Son to die for everyone who will trust Him to be their God and Dad, so that He could be our Perfect Dad (John 3.16). But He also loves so powerfully that whoever trust in His Son He pours His Holy Spirit into so that we feel loved and loved and loved!

So if you will just trust that God is Your Heavenly Dad, Who sent His Only Son to die in your place for your mistakes and for breaking His rules (He is still a dad, after all, so there had to be a punishment), and if you trust that He will send His Holy Spirit into you and make you feel so loved its crazy, and if you commit to showing that He is your dad by living by the rules of His House, then BOOM! You're part of the Family, Bro/Sis!

If you just became a part of the family for the first time, please let me know, so I can show you around the house, introduce you to some of the rest of the family, and teach you the groundrules for the family! Love ya, new bro/sis!


And to my earthly father, who's a great dad and always says he loves me,
Thanks, Dad! I love you! !!Happy Father's Day!!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Video that Moved Me to Tears of Hopeful Longing...

There is a lot there that is great, but it is the simple grace of being called to preach and teach the Gospel to all nations that moves my heart to weep with longing both for the Holy Trinity to save all those lost people for God to pour my life out for His Glory in getting them saved!

I pray that you find the Lord stirring in your own heart a longing to be finish'n the Church's Mission. May we be all in, with all our money down (hopefully the betting analogy doesn't offend anyone--only bet on Jesus) on the Holy Trinity and His Good News!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Best Part Is...

The Best Part Is

I know about a guy who’s been suffering quite a bit.
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!
His sheep wonder amongst themselves why that guy doesn’t just quit.
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!
The guy stays on even when his friends say “Get out of it!”
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!
The guy walks that lonely road of loss refusing to sit.
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!
The guy battles the devil when he taunts “Looser. Unfit.”
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!
The guy wrestles his dark heart from slipping into a pit.
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!

Because indeed it was Jesus Who first suffered quite a bit.
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!
It was Jesus’ sheep who wondered why He just would not quit
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!
It was Jesus Who stayed when His friends said, “Get out of it.”
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!
And Jesus Who walked a lonely road refusing to sit.
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!
It was Jesus that defeated Satan by the Spirit!
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!
It was Jesus that by prayer kept His Heart out of the pit.
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!

Legit, it is Jesus when that guy endures quite a bit.
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!
Legit, it is Jesus when that same guy just doesn’t quit.
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!
Legit, it is Jesus when that guy won’t “Get out of it.”
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!
Legit, it is Jesus when that guy walks on and won’t sit.
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!
Legit, it is Jesus when that guy responds, “Winner. Fit.”
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!
Legit, it is Jesus when his heat is pulled from the pit.
And the best part is that just shows that Jesus is LEGIT!

Legit, Jesus is endurance in the midst of vile grit!
Legit, the bestest part is that Jesus is SO LEGIT!

This poem goes out my fellow pastors who are going through a rough time, who have had a rough time, and who will have a rough time (all of us)--to help us remember not just to endure, but why we endure, and how we endure.

This poem also goes out to the rest of my brothers and sisters in Christ because your lives have been rough, are rough, or will be rough and the way that you endure through the ugly and why you should endure through the ugly is the same as how and why your pastoral brothers.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Where is Hope?

Where is Hope?

Where is Hope, that Joyous Necessary Reality
that gets us through  a harsh reality with quality
whether that reality is  past, present or future?
Where is Hope, that Long Beloved, Anticipated Cure?

Where is Hope, that Wondrous Sublime Expectation so pure
That forces our dim hearts to yearn so confidently sure ?
Is Hope found in some situation or circumstance?
Where is Hope, that Long-Sought Despair-Eviscerating Lance?

Where is Hope, that Full Triumphant Certainty in advance
That makes our discouraged, broken ,troubled souls start to dance?
Is Hope found in people, places, things, or felicity?
Where is Hope, that Supreme Desire of All Centrality?

YES!!! Hope is Found! He wears a crown! He rose, but first went down!
YES!!! Hope is Alive! He sits on High! He left, but soon comes nigh!

Christians, OUR Hope is not found in situations, or persons, but in a person. Jesus Christ (see I Timothy 1.1). 

If you're not a Christian, then you really need Jesus too, so trust Him with your whole life because He died for you and rose from the dead for you (because like me you're a jerk to God and can't be His friend without some serious Divine Intervention), if you just bet your whole life on Him and only Him, which means you will also have to give up being the boss of your own life and all the things you have been putting your hope in instead of Jesus, maybe that's your job, romance, friends, sex, booze, success, or some other false-hope, as well as anything else that ticks Jesus off (it's hard to cling to hope if you constantly push it away), like lying, cheating (on tests, taxes, people, or God), unmarried sex (of both the hetero and homosexual varieties), holding grudges, acting violently, disobeying authorities (parents, cops, etc.), and whatever else the Bible says is sin, wrong, foolish, shameful, or improper. So, do this RIGHT NOW!!! Or, if you can questions, message me, email me, etc. and we'll talk! 

I Hope we all have hope now!
Much Love.
Pastor Anthony

Sunday, February 26, 2012

            Scripture: Acts 9.31-43
Translation: 31And so the church distributed in the whole of Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace as it was being edified and going in the fear of the Lord and it was being grown in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit.

32And it happened that Peter who was going through all [those] places went down also to the holy people that were living in Lydda. 33And he found there a man with the name Aeneas who from 8 years old was [stuck] lying down on a mattress, who was in a disabled state. 34And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you! Stand up and make your own [bed]!” And immediately he stood up. 35And all those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him, those kind of people turned to the Lord.

36And in Joppa there was a disciple with the name Tabitha, which after being translated is said “Dorcas”[1]. This woman was full of good works and charitable donations, which she was doing. 37And it happened in those days that after getting sick she died. And after they washed [her body], they put her in an upstairs room. 38And since Lydda is close to Joppa, the disciples, because they heard that Peter is in it, sent two men to him for the purpose of urging, “Don’t hesitate to come through to us.” 39And Peter after he stood up went with them, who after he arrived they brought into the upstairs room and all the widows were present with him as they were weeping and showing off the tunics and clothes which Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40And after he threw all the people outside and after getting on his knees, Peter prayed and after he turned back to the body, he said, “Tabitha, stand up!” And she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41And by giving her [his] hand, he stood her up. And after summing the holy people and the widows, he presented her alive. 42And it became known distributed through the whole of Joppa and many people believed on the Lord. 43And it happed that [Peter] stayed quite a few days in Joppa with one Simon the Leathermaker.
Explanation and Interpretation:
1.      Plot
a.       Peter is traveling around to where all the believers are
b.      Peter makes a stop in Lydda
c.       There Peter heals a man who was confined to a mat since he was 8
d.      The city and the surrounding area hear about what happened
e.       People who heard the story turn to the Lord
2.      Key Words
a.       ανιστημι = get up, wake up, stand up, it is the technical word for resurrection, it is used by Peter in his order to the crippled man in v.34, as well as by the narrator for the man’s action in the same verse. In v.39 to describe Peter’s getting up to go with them, and then in v.40 with Peter’s order to the dead woman to get up, and then in v.41 with Peter getting the woman on her feet
                                                              i.      the point is to highlight the fact that someone got raised from the dead, by someone who believes in the One Who Raised from the dead.
b.      επιστρεφω = turn on/towards, used twice, first in v.35 for the people who turned to the Lord in faith, and second in v.40 when Peter turns towards the body of the dead woman, used to echo the first usage and foreshadow a similar response by the people of that town, but also to color how Peter is operating, viz. faith in the Lord
c.       πιστευω = used only in v.42, but there in an important way, viz. it replaces the expected επιστρεφω as one expected to have in parallel with the close of the first section of the story, but here by replacing it, it tells us how to understand the επιστρεφω in v.35 as well as make the focus here more intense
d.      διερχομαι = meaning to go through, used in v.32, and v.38, which puts the focus on the nature of Peter’s action, which is actually foreshadowing something, probably Paul’s church encouragement trip
3.      Key Themes
a.       Resurrection/Raising
b.      Turning to Faith in Christ
c.       God’s care for believers
d.      God’s care for unbelievers (He used His Care for believers to bring in the unbelievers, which I guess still ultimately makes them believers)
4.      Doctrines
a.       About God
                                                              i.      God can heal and fix and raise what nobody can
                                                            ii.      God works through His People on earth
                                                          iii.      God uses circumstances and His Miracles in people’s lives to bring people to Him
                                                          iv.      The Lord, the Sovereign Jesus, Yahweh is the object of our focus and faith
                                                            v.      Time does not affect God’s ability to heal or transform situations or people or conditions
                                                          vi.      The Holy Trinity, Yahweh, is the God of Resurrection! He can Raise anybody, anytime, anywhere, even using a human vessel to bring the raising!
b.      Misc.
                                                              i.      You get saved by turning to the Lord, in faith
                                                            ii.      What you do can have a big impact on people
                                                          iii.      Peter operates by grace, because he saved someone who did nothing and someone who did everything, both already believers, thus deservedness is not an issue. How many crippled and dead were not raised?
5.      Notes
a.       The function of this story is to give a segway from Paul back to Peter who will be the focus for a while, but moreover to get Peter from Jerusalem and into Joppa, which is where he will soon have a dream and be summoned to Cornelius to share the Gospel with a Roman
1.      God’s got the Power, so trust Him like He’s got it
2.      God really cares about you if you are a believer!
3.      God cares about you if you are an unbeliever so much He wants to you to be a believer
4.      Trust in Christ for Eternal Life, because He is the One Who Raised from the Dead on His Own
5.      God can fix your problems, even if you don’t deserve it, but He may not even if you do deserve it, so trust Him either way
6.       However else the Holy Spirit wants to connect the dots for you.

[1] i.e. gazelle