Hockey mom, pitbull, lipstick!

Pitbulls

So, the difference between and hockey mom and a pitbull…. lipstick! I hope the title was tantalizing enough to draw your attention. It’s hard to believe that the first time I ever paid attention to that catchphrase in its entirety was twelve years ago! Then Republican Governor Sarah Palin was the witty, intelligent, beautiful, successful, traditional, and modest vice-presidential nominee: the definition of Christian counter-culture and an automatic and, therefore, a natural target for all sorts of slander.

I can still see her on the screen saying, “What’s the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom?… The lipstick”. She was militantly Pro-Life, accented by the fact that she had a child born with trisomy and a daughter who had a child out of wedlock; Sarah was a strong proponent of 2nd Amendment rights and religious freedoms and unapologetically Pro-God and Pro-Country. Governor Palin was the kind of gal that would have Tim “the Tool-man” Taylor grunting for hours at all sorts of Americana!

Now before you think this is a post about politics, let’s discuss the pitbull and the hockey mom for a moment. Governor Palin was a self-described hockey mom, shuttling her kids from one sports event to another and basically in charge of her children’s educational and social calendar. She remarked that the only difference between this quintessential American matriarchal figure and a pit bull is just the lipstick: hockey moms have frazzled hair, are knee-deep in messy breakfast dishes, piles of dirty clothes, smelly kids and soiled uniforms, and the only distinguishing characteristic from an animal used as home security system: the lipstick.

What's the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom?... The lipstick - @SarahPalinUSA Click To Tweet

Hockey moms

The media, needless to say, had a field day with her! Overnight, she became the dumbest, dullest, simplest, and most malleable mind in America (as they always attack your education and lack pedigree). Not to mention sexually backward and “anti-women”. That, in essence, is what the world thinks of Christian women and of Christians in general: dull-witted, naïve, gullible, and possessing a natural propensity to a “herd mentality”.  For Sarah Palin had to change to be touted as a bulwark of “what it means to be an American woman” would be, as Pink would say,  is  “everything you are”.

Too many times, as Christians living in this Post-Modern, Post-Christian society, we believe that the only way to get ahead at best, or tread water in the least, is to turn ourselves into whatever the culture expects of everyone; assimilate into automatons repeating whatever the mantra of the moment is. Christians have grown comfortable with the idea  of a compartmentalized “weekend only” Christianity. just don’t tell your friends that you’re going to church unless it’s those new hip churches where the pastors wear baseball caps on the pulpit and everything is a sports metaphor.  Unfortunately, we do little to help our own cause.

Although there is little we can do to address people’s ill-intentions and predispositions, what they readily do see of Christianity is this watered-down, teeth-less, “prosperity now” approach, that leaves people with a bad taste in their mouth even before they even encounter an actual Christian face-to-face.

Lipstick

I find it humorous. While this new spirit of the age preaches individuality and free-thinking and “everyone is right in their own way” they’ve built in an interesting little caveat. It doesn’t apply to a Bible-based Christian worldview or a wider Judeo-Christian worldview. 

The days keep coming and I get older and older. I realize just how very little I have in common with the majority of the people around me. The freedoms that I learned about as a schoolboy has become adulterated into obscenities. Too many people take vile personal licenses and call them “rights”.

So what if they call you names if they make fun of you? What if they ridicule you, belittle you, overlook you, and yes, persecute you!?The Western Church knows little of persecution. We think that hostile leftist politicians are the coming of the Antichrist while our brothers in the 10-40 Window put their lives and those of their families on the line every single day taking a stand for the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Hockey mom, pitbull, lipstick! Click To Tweet

Other not-so-pretty things

Therefore, if your Christianity rubs people the wrong way, don’t stop. If the only redeeming characteristic about you is the lipstick, let it be; if they’re looking at you and wondering “what is Jesus doing adorning the face of that pit-bull?”, give Him praise. Let it be your testimony, that while you were yet a sinner, Jesus died for you (Rom 5), for me, for them, for us!

Therefore, wear your Christian peculiarity not with pride. The world encourages its inter-sectional herds it has created to be proudful. We do it with humility and grace. Give thanks that God saw it fit to save you. Tell them that they too can be wearing the lipstick on their face, all they have to do is ask Jesus to come into their hearts and do a miraculous new work in them.

But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - – Romans 5:8 Click To Tweet

There’s a bumper sticker out there somewhere that says “Not perfect, just forgiven”. Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, or any other politician professing to be Christians are not perfect. Not by a long shot! However, neither are their accusers! We should not see what’s “peculiar” about Sarah Palin as an insult. Not as an insult to us. It is an opportunity for rejoicing. Firstly that we were different enough where people actually noticed. Secondly, we were counted worthy to suffer ridicule for His namesake.

And Buckley’s cough syrup?

If being a Christian was easy, everyone would be a Christian. “It’s not that Christianity was tried and found difficult; it’s that it was found difficult and [therefore] left untried”. Chesterton’s quote reminds me of the Buckley’s cough syrup commercial, “tastes awful and it works”. Every day Believers are called “bad” Christians. As Christians ourselves, let us not go along with the chorus and take a holier-than-thou victory lap for ourselves. But rather, come alongside each other and support those Christians. Remember, the accusation is not of looking like the world. The crime is of trying to hide behind their Jesus lipstick and failing miserably. I’m sure you can relate. 

It's not that Christianity was tried and found difficult; it's that it was found difficult and therefore left untried. - – G.K. Chesterton Click To Tweet

Catch 22? Meet God’s Catch 33!

A mission for the mindless

“We’ve all heard of a “Catch 22”. It’s a situation where no matter which option you choose, you’re always wrong, always in trouble, you’re still stuck. It was made famous by a novel with the same name. As the saying goes, “you’re d—-d if you do and you’re d—-d if you don’t”!

But have you ever considered the implications of the following: “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Romans 14:8

The Apostle Paul, here, introduces us to what I like to call a “Catch 33“! Similarly to catch 22, in a catch 33, the system is also rigged. However, it favors Christians. It favors those who have put their Faith, Hope, and Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, life for the Christian is a win-win proposition. In living, we honor God, and in death we honor God. Now, we are in no means a death cult; Christians want to live abundant lives (John 10:10) but we do not fear death.

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? Click To Tweet

Catch 22: The fear of the hopeless

The number one fear that all unbelievers have, and have in common, is the fear of death, as you can see from the rampant panic on tv. Newscasters continuously introduce all of us to all sorts of new boogiemen: a new disease that is going to decimate the world’s population or the next threat from Iran, North Korea, Russia, China, a food shortage, climate change, hurricanes, earthquakes, asteroids, the “wrong” politician for the job; in a sense, they’re disseminating fear over the one thing no-one has any control: the future.

Catch 33: The hope of the fearless

Christians, on the other hand, have “cheated” the catch 22 system: Jesus defeated sin on the Cross and Death by his resurrection and we are heirs of those victories. Life doesn’t startle us nor does the fear of death paralyze us. There’s a very beautiful secular Italian song where the lyrics speak directly to this phobia; the lyrics, translates literally, read: whoever is not afraid of death only dies once!

Chi non ha paura di morire, muore una volta sola. Click To Tweet

What a beautiful doctrinal Christian Truth! Jesus himself taught us not to fear the first death. The second death is the truly dreadful one: the death that leads to eternal separation from God! If you fear the first death, chances are you are not a Believer. Otherwise, there is something “off” about your walk with God.

Catch 22? Meet God’s Catch 33! Click To Tweet

What’s the catch?

Fear and anxiety will come calling your name. When they do, strengthen yourself in the Lord. In chapter 1 of his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

As Spirit-filled, Bible-believing,  born-again Christians, it is our responsibility to live in the light of this truth: whenever those around us, whether at work, at home, at school, or (more often than not) at church, lose heart over the challenges of everyday life, we must be the people in their lives that they can look to and see someone who hasn’t, who isn’t and who doesn’t lose not only their composure but more importantly their compass, their anchor, their focus, their Hope: Jesus Christ!

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Click To Tweet

Neither Taxes nor Tithes – Part 1

I paid taxes for the first time when I was sixteen. I paid my “tithes” at the age of twenty-six. I’ve been looking forward to a time be without them ever since. Neither taxes nor tithes.

No one likes taxes. After death, taxes are the most hated part of life. Among Believers, tithes are a hot topic. No two Christians think alike. Between taxes and tithes, we have perhaps summed up the bane of most people’s existence.

Although taxes happen to everyone, tithes are not as universal. These topics are heavily debated in the Bible. In the Old Testament, Malachi 1 asks the question: “Are we robbing God”? In the New Testament, the Pharisees ask the question, “do we have to pay both”(Mat 22:15-22)? Ask most pastors and you’ll get a double affirmative; ask a layperson and you’ll find lots of space for debate.

As for Tithes

Full disclosure: I don’t tithe. As for taxes, I try limiting those as well. Let me give some context. Tithing is of the Old Testament. Anyone still bound by the Law tithes. Thankfully, I am not bound. My Bible teaches me that I am part of a Royal Priesthood. Some would argue that Jesus favored tithing. The Text and His teachings point elsewhere (Mat 17:25-27).

Exemption as Sons

Neither Taxes Nor Tithes

We have become children of God through adoption (Gal 4). We are no longer strangers but heirs. Earthly kings don’t tax their own children. They tax strangers. How much more does God not tax His own! At best, I am to receive tithes on behalf of the Father. Levites didn’t own land to tithe from: their tithe came from the tithes that the people gave them (Numbers 18:21-32). As far as taxes, Levites only paid Temple tax. The Davidic kings never taxed the priesthood; they were set apart unto the Lord. The poll taxes applied to the general population only.

Lady Tremaine’s Tutelage

Unfortunately, tithing has been used for centuries to shame Believers into submission. In a myriad of ways, intentionally misleading or genuinely uninformed church leaders have made Christians of every denomination feel as if they had robbed God! Imagine having something of worth that God could possibly want from you! Many critics of the Church point to the atrocities committed towards unbelievers. Upon closer look, greater violence transpired towards Believers. Where the Bible calls us sons and heirs and exempt, the Church took on the role of Cinderella’s stepmom. Whatever our Father left us as inheritance was quickly confiscated and reallocated.

The poster child for such violence was the Catholic church. In the form of the Papal States, Popes, bishops, and other church dignitaries lorded it over Believers to conform to their every whim. This is not an attack on the Catholic church. Rather the men that comprised its hierarchy. They taxed the poor to death with no sign of Christian mercy. All too often the richest and most powerful landowners in medieval Europe were members of the clergy. Very Jesus-like!

As for Taxes

While many think that the Pharisees only exist in Judaism. I disagree. The Pharisaical spirit is alive and well in the Church today. Similarly, the same machinations that brought the learned of Jesus’ day to hide behind empty adherence only to the Word still drives many in the modern Church.

As we have said before, everyone hates taxes. In a perfect world, we would have neither taxes nor tithes. By the wonder-working power of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have been freed from the yoke of the tithe. But what will free us from the yoke of taxes? Not your accountant.

Give unto Caesar

In all fairness, Pharisees and penny-pinching Believers aren’t the only ones trying to skirt the system. Our modern capitalist western world is based on everyone being free to produce and keep what they profit. Nevertheless, their is a cost to capitalism. How much should a good government cost an average citizen? I would like to propose that it was in this spirit that the Pharisees asked Jesus the infamous question, “it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar”?

The Pharisees’ motives were not well-intentioned. However, there is more room for growth here, I believe. No one wants to pay taxes! Some claim that it’s “patriotic” and the “right thing to do”. That may very well be. However, in my own selfish calculations, as a Citizen of Heaven exempt by God Almighty Himself from tithing, what power does a secular authority hold over me to separate me from my hard-earned money? Let’s examine.

Raw Deal

It is plain for all to see that the cost of government keeps going up. As of 2018, the average American needs to work until April 19th just to pay off his tax burden. Taxes go beyond tithes and cost us between a quarter and a third of our income. This is called Tax Freedom Day. This obviously varies by state and has changed over time. The most recent numbers are no better. Americans are having to work well into the second week of May to pay for the burden of government. Compared to other countries, Americans are golden. In fact, it would appear that Europeans are all de facto government employees since many of them keep less than 50% of what they make.

When Christians consider how often tax money gets spent on morally objectionable endeavors it is no surprise that we try to find loops and cracks and crannies to avoid the “Man”. Perhaps the most objectionable earmark is abortion. While Christians are busy preaching “life more abundant” to the world, the government is shoulder deep in blood guilt of 56 million children.

And a child shall lead them

Nonetheless, there is hope. In part 2 we will discuss the unimaginable future that awaits Believers. Regardless of the ideology brought forth to justify this Judaism-lite form of Christianity to what “legitimate” governments did with our tax money, change is coming. Redemption is coming. The “promise land” is near. The Millennium Reign of Jesus Christ will usher in an eternity free from the bondage of slavery to sin, an end to the impossibility of justification by the Law, and an existence where God-given potential is stifled by the fickleness of men. It will finally be an existence free from limits. Neither taxes nor tithes!

Mark of the Yeast and Post Covid Vaccine Christianity

End Time Frenzy

No, no need to check the spelling, the play on words is intentional. We’ve all heard of the “mark of the beast” and seen movies depicting different interpretations of what it could be. Rest assured that this post will not try to assume some groundbreaking theology on the subject. However, we will discuss how while we were all looking for the mark of the beast, the “yeast” and the “leaven” have made their way into the Body of Christ, and nowhere is it more apparent than the current debate over covid and the vaccine.

Look over there! Where?

We’ve all either heard or had the debate: “is the covid vaccine the mark of the beast”? Now, if you ask me I would say an emphatic “no”. I don’t believe that the covid vaccine is the mark of the beast. However, just like we read in the Bible that “many antichrists are already among us” (1 John 2:18-29), the covid vaccine is not necessarily the mark but a mark. If you want evidence just look at what this debate has done to the Church.

On any given Sunday during the covid lockdown, youtube put on full display the separation that covid has created in the body of Christ. Live streams from churches across the country and around the world varied from “Zoom Church” where everyone was in their own house to churches that never went into lockdown. At first, the cautionary tale seemed to have worked: people stayed home so that they “could keep the elderly congregants safe”. So safety replaced attendance. Please note, both the healthy and the sickly self-quarantined.

Leave the gun, take the cannolis

Fast forward a few months and very little has changed. Otherwise healthy and/or vaccinated Believers are staying away from congregating with other Believers. Every other day these parishioners can be found meeting friends, shopping for food, clothes, and going to work. Apparently, church attendance takes a back seat to other priorities.

Now, the problem would be bad enough if we were just talking about wishy-washy Christians that wanted an excuse to stay home on Sunday. Unfortunately, there are many pastors out there that are comfortable with their parishioners staying home from church “as long as their faithful”. That’s pastor-speak for sending in your tithes and offerings. So as long as your money makes it to church, your presence is secondary.

Submit to the authorities

Adding insult to injury, those that decide to stay home are seen as the more mature ones, that understand the needs of others, and that doesn’t put their own “selfish ideologies” ahead of the health of the congregation. So, as you can see, it has become “reasonable” to not attend church, even high-minded! All of it under the consenting and compromising disguise of being “submitted to the authorities”. If I have to hear one more sermon about being submitted to the authorities I’ll start reading the Declaration of Independence out loud from the pew! At this point, you may be asking, “what does the mark of the beast have to do with yeast and the covid vaccine”? Great question! I’m glad we’re on the same page.

To start answering this question, consider this: when was the last time the World emulated the Church? Short answer: probably never. On the other hand, when was the last time the Church emulates the World? Always! I don’t know of many Fortune 500 board meetings and have an opening prayer. However, I can assure you that every church board in the country takes its example from the corporate world. From Roberts Rules to quorums to minutes, just to name a few.

“[Covid vaccine] It’s for the children”

Now, don’t get me wrong, there isn’t anything explicitly evil about quorums or minutes. There is something very wrong, however, when the pulpit starts sounding like a public service announcement encouraging Believers to “get vaccinated”. And that is where we are right now as Believers.

In the same manner, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with vaccines. Except that this particular vaccine is the only one that has received so much political attention in modern history. Those that were for vaccinations before the elections are now pushing for it at lightning speed. Not only that but if you refuse to be vaccinated, you are putting your livelihood at risk. If the covid vaccine isn’t a warm-up for the mark of the “yeast”, I can’t imagine what more explicit sign Believers are looking for.

The World and its demonic marionette handlers have been working for decades, centuries for ways to undo the Church from the inside. So far, those attempts have met with varying levels of success. But when it comes to covid and the vaccine, the Enemy has found some fresh new ground to work on. It has used the love that many in the Church still hold towards legalism and used it in a way that doesn’t trigger the legalism alarm. It’s brilliant really. Just have the congregation split over something that is trivial (it is my belief that Covid is trivial) and elevate it to a matter of “reasonableness” and public health.

Covid and the Leaven of the Pharisees

In the Gospel accounts, Jesus tells His disciples to “be wary of the leaven (yeast) of the Pharisees” (Mat 16:1-12). His disciples, not understanding, thought He was upset because they didn’t have any bread. Jesus had just had a discussion with some teachers of the Law. They had come to test Jesus and ask Him from a sign from Heaven. Jesus had no need to show them a sign, His ministry had been well underway by this point and His miracles were readily known to all.

While they were all looking for signs, Jesus reminded them that they already knew how to recognize signs. Their misfortune is that, with all their learning, they could only forecast the weather and not the times. Similarly, our modern-day would-be spiritual leaders are overwhelmed with fielding questions of end-time prophecy while not understanding the times we are actually in.

The Children of Issachar

The Bible speaks of the descendants of Issachar as being gifted with the ability to “understand the times” (1 chr 12:32). It seems that such a gift is not all too prevalent among our leaders. I wonder what those men of old would say in our current situation. Today the divide along covid and vaccine lines is even more apparent than any other distinguishing characteristic: above party, race, color, ethnicity, and income. Nothing divides the Church today more than the debate over covid, its origin, and the vaccine.

I believe these men of old would say that the vaccine is not necessarily the problem but a symptom. Our division over covid brings to light a whole other myriad of real doctrinal problems. And although everyone is free to disagree as to the magnitude of this issue, the list of grievances is too long to overlook.

Mountains or Molehills

For starters, it shows our division as to the role of government in the Church. Politicians ask “under what conditions can a Church be told to shut its doors?” On the receiving end, too many pastors don’t take the time to field a reply because they are too busy complying with their every demand.

Don’t be deceived, friends. The antichrist and the mark of the beast will arrive on the scene. When they do it will be with the explicit and public complicity of the Church. In the name of “peaceful coexistence” and other such unobjectionable phrases, many would-be Believers will be coerced into doing something their own conscience is screaming at the top of its lungs, “no”!

Truth be told

You see, it doesn’t really matter if the covid vaccine is the mark of the beast. What is most troubling is the peaceful coexistence the Church has found with the World System. Very few churches were forced to shut down. All the rest just went dark without even a second thought. This speaks volumes of the amount of influence even blatantly unconstitutional mandates have among Believers. And all of this just because we took this one verse (1 Pet 2:13) and made it the Verse of the Covid Era. We made submitting to authorities our testimony. Submitting to God instead would have served our testimony better.

Our spiritual forefathers were burned at the stake. Some wouldn’t even catch fire. The wind always blew the flames away from the pyre. Others were fed to hungry lions in the arenas. Others beheaded. Still, others were killed together with their families. All of these things and so many other countless atrocities were suffered by Christians throughout the centuries in the name of their Faith. They were executed because of their refusal to renounce Jesus Christ. They wanted nothing to do with anything that did not exalt the name of Jesus. In total contrast, modern Christian leaders are falling over each other to cozy up to big powerful interests.

Now what?

Again, you may not agree that covid or the vaccine is a sign of the end times of a mark of the beast or that our leadership has been influenced by the “yeast of the Pharisees”. However, I think we can agree, as one famous preacher said, “it’s a dress rehearsal”. Let’s not kid ourselves, they will try to shut us down again. They will tell us that it’s “for the children” or for “the elderly” or for “safety”. The harrowing cry of every autocratic takeover of the rights of Man has always been “safety and bread”.

They will tell us to stay home and send us stimulus checks. Like good lemmings, we will take the money and spend it on the websites of their lobbyists for food, clothing, and entertainment. As Spirit-filled, Bible-believing Christians it is our duty to speak up and speak out against Believers falling asleep at the wheel. Whether the Believers in questions are pew warmers or pulpit thumpers.

The Anatomy of an Insult – Part 2

Sticks and Stones

In a recent post, we discussed how Nathaniel’s unthoughtfully sincere words were not enough to cause offense to Jesus. We also learned how something good can “come out of Nazareth”: whether it be in the natural realm, meaning Jesus Himself, or in the spiritual realm: the majority of the people that will read these words are “gentiles” by birth but Jews and Royal Priests by our adoptions as sons because of what came “out of Nazareth: the Nazarene and His disciples.

The last time you read the passage in John 1:43-51, what probably stuck out to you the most was Nathaniel’s “insult”. Nathaniel’s audacity to speak such a thing about Jesus is not a likely Sunday School lesson. But don’t forget, Nathaniel didn’t know then what he would know just a short time later. Although Nathaniel’s name doesn’t ever return to prominence in the New Testament accounts, his words would surely become the “faithful wounds of a good friend” in short order. 

Fruits worthy of repentance 

For too many people nowadays authentic Nathaniel-like sincerity is insulting. Unfortunately, all too often this is offense-taking sentiment is prevalent in the Church as much it is in the World. Thankfully Jesus shows us how to peer into the heart of the matter, overlook the “letter” of words and find hidden treasures in their “Spirit”. Jesus goes on to teach us the meaning behind “the faithful wounds of a friend”. 

When looking at the loving way Jesus answered Nathaniel’s sincere heart cry for the Truth, it couldn’t have been any more different than the total disdain He reserved for those who insisted they knew better but in fact these scholars and scribes and Pharisees but could not bear witness to anything resembling fruits worthy of repentance“.

One instance where the fruits worthy of such repentance were put on display immediately! In the account of Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:24-29) lies the well-known encounter of Jesus and the disciple Thomas. This passage is where we get the expression “Doubting Thomas”, which we use when people are distrusting of any news, no matter the source. Thomas demanded proof that Jesus had risen from the dead. Thomas told his fellow disciples that he would need to put his finger into His pierced side and perforated hands. An empty tomb is one thing; saying that the body in the tomb is not dead elsewhere is a whole different story. 

Doubtful by default

The Greatest Insult is Doubt

To be honest, in a secularized modern world such as our own, no one blames Thomas for being so… rational. It is reasonable to imagine that Thomas had seen many people crucified in Palestine. The Romans had made crucifying enemies of the State into an art form. Thomas simply couldn’t conceive how anyone could survive such punishment. I’m sure that many other disciples had even shared his pragmatism until they saw Him in the flesh again. Thomas however, was bold enough and honest enough with himself to speak it out loud. 

As they assembled there together days later, Jesus walks through the wall and puts His hands up for closer inspection by Thomas. He shows Thomas His chest wound where the spear had punctured all the way through to His heart. Thomas falls to his knees and bears witness that Jesus is truly the Son of the Almighty God. 

So, what was it that offended Jesus? Was Jesus even offended at all? Were the “faithful wounds of a friend” that Solomon was referring to the insult and offense that comes from those who are the best positioned to do the most damage and yet handle their words with the dexterity of someone with no impulse control? If Jesus really was offended by Thomas’ words there is little evidence here. However, He does make an example of Thomas and his secularist, materialist mindset. After all, believing after having seen is easy. Jesus takes the opportunity to pronounce a blessing on the billions of Believers that would come to Him throughout the millennia: “Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed” (John 20:29). After all believing after seeing that no faith at all. 

Friends and their faithful wounds

Jesus was surely not pleased. After raising the dead, walking on water, feeding the thousands, silencing a storm, and healing the sick, one of His most trusted friends doubted this final triumph over the forces and the Laws of nature. Thomas’s doubt was unbecoming of a man that had spent the better part of 40 months together with Jesus.

Unfortunately, Thomas’ doubt and double-mindedness were not exclusive traits to this one disciple. Judas’ internal conflict brought to the end of his rope, it brought Peter to deny Him to a little servant girl and caused the majority of others to run, scatter and hide. In fact, the Gospel accounts only place John the Beloved at the crucifixion of Jesus.

Unmitigated Tamarity

Thomas, like Nathaniel, spoke from his honest internal dialogue. Unlike the latter, Thomas had a purely worldly view of his surroundings. Thomas was perhaps the kind of man that struggled with his doubts even as he witnessed the miracles themselves. Thomas had room for miracles in his mind and as his relationship grew closer to Jesus he struggled less and less. But there was just something about Jesus raising Himself from the grave that was too much for him to handle.  

Pearl of Great Price

It is therefore our greatest fortune that the “faithful wounds of a friend” are the ones Jesus bears on His body to this day. Jesus overlooked, covered, atoned, and erased the insults of both Thomas and Nathaniel. The blood that oozed out of His hands and gushed out from between His ribs paid for not only the insults of those that accepted His forgiveness; it lies in wait to be discovered as payment in full for the countless millions around the world that have not yet come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. They unwittingly spew insults on Jesus all day long and bearing in their own lives the cost. It is our sacred responsibility to introduce the world to this magnificent Forgiver of wrongs. For those of us who have found this great Pearl, we too often discard it in the busyness of life. 

Professional Profaners

In an upcoming post, we will discuss antiquity’s best orators of calumnies and Jesus’ favorite hypocrites. When it came to this group of people, Jesus held back no punches. He hit back hard in their war of words. His replies were pubic in the form of plain language as well as in the form of parables. I hope you’ll come back for part 3 when we discuss some of my favorite passages from the Gospels. Also, if you’ve missed out, be sure to read Part 1 of this 3-part series on the Anatomy of an Insult. 

When Christians insult other Believers

When Christians insult other Believers

It seems these days that everyone around you keeps getting more and more thin-skinned. Total strangers get third-party offended. Family members that don’t like what you think of a particular behavior of theirs. Church members, deacons, and even pastors. None of them can take any criticism of anything they say or do with the same “sweet reasonableness” they preach that others should have (Phil 4:5). Needless to say that people are easily insulted these days and some make a profession of it. Now please understand that we are talking about Christians here.  Whether it is intentional or not Christians insult other Believers and, perhaps worse, Christians take offense at the words of other Believers.

Any cheek-turners in the room?

But what about Jesus, how did he handle Himself when people said unkind or insulting things about Him. Now, I’m not referring to the openly insulting statements that He received during His ministry, I’m referring to the little things along the way, the innuendos, the side jabs, the play on words, or simply the things that were not said in public where many would have heard and formed an opinion on. How did Jesus handle those?

The sin of sincerity

I’m sure our personal lives are full of instances where the words of other Christians have insulted us. By the same token, our own words have offended other Believers. Whether it was by sheer naivety or aimed with the intention to wound a friend, Christians have been as guilty at insulting other Believers as the “general population”. Fortunately, not many of Christiandom’s foot-in-mouth instances have been recorded in the annals of history. That is of course with the exception of the Biblical record.

One such comment that comes to mind is when Philip went and told Nathaniel that they had found the Messiah. Philip told him that His name of Jesus, the son of Joseph, from Nazareth. Nathaniel, thought to himself and said the first thing that came to his mind and said, “can anything good come out of Nazareth”? When he finally came to Jesus, the Master turned and said to him, “Behold! An Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile”. Not only did Jesus know what Nathaniel had said and not only did He not take offense but rather commended Nathaniel for his sincerity of heart. You see, Nathaniel had his doubts. His doubts were sincere but he still had enough hunger for the Truth to go and find out for himself. When he finally arrived where Jesus was and heard Him say two things. He heard Him say that only was there no guile in him but He was aware of him under the fig tree beforehand, Nathaniel suddenly realized that he was in the presence of God.

Sincerity as a lifestyle

A little background may be called for. Why would Nathaniel blurt out at Philip’s announcement of the Messiah cause offense? In the Jewish custom of the time “nothing good could come from Nazareth”. This was a widespread proverb and this was for two particular reasons. Reasons that are intertwined and, if Jesus was and considered Himself a prophet, He should’ve known better. His (supposed) Nazarene pedigree would automatically bar Him from being considered a prophet by any self-respecting Jew.

The hometown of the thick-skinned

For starters, Nazareth is in Galilee. That’s significant because its border country. Samaria (of the Samaritans) is just southwest of Galilee. Nazareth was a fairly large commercial center. It would have lots of gentile influences (Greeks, Samaritans, Phoenicians, and all manner of other pagan cultural influences). Seeing as Galilee shared a northern border with Phoenicia (of the Syro-Phoenician woman) with cities such as Tyre and Sidon that, although had long outlived their glory days, were still important regional ports of call.

 

Palestine in the time of Jesus

Galilee was not the ideal breeding ground for prophets. With such strong gentile influence,  complicated allegiances to God, Israel, and Rome,  Temple Jews considered Galilee to be a backwater sort of place. Far removed from the Temple cult of Jehovah. The Galileans’ tolerance for outsiders living and working among them made them, for the most part in the eyes of the Temple Jews, ritually unclean. By definition unfit for the office of prophet. This confluence of worldviews created a a “peculiar” people. Galileans were comfortable with speaking their minds and quite accustomed to hearing seemingly controversial comments. The insults and comments simply rolled off their back. It’s the biblical equivalent to being a new yorker. If we were to take offense at everything a stranger said, we would never make it past getting the car out of the parking spot.

Biblical backwater

Along similar lines, in all the history of the law and the Prophets, not one single prophet had ever come from Nazareth. The great majority of them were of Judean descent and many of them with traceable Davidic and/or royal lineage. Jesus, in their eyes, therefore seemingly lacked both the proper stock as well as the correct birthplace to hold such office, whether it be prophet or Messiah.

Surely Jesus was well-aware of the cultural and religious stigma that came from being a Galilean. Although not recorded in the Gospels, many others would have already said or thought such things. Both before then and afterward. However, Jesus was able to see into Nathaniel’s heart and saw the sincere heart-cry of a Seeker. It was  “credited to him as righteousness“. When Philip came to Nathaniel he made specific references to the Law and the Prophets. Surely referring to the countless conversations they had together in the past. Perhaps they scoured the Scriptures together looking for a sign. I imagine many other would-be prophets and Messiahs had come before. As history tells us, many of them and their followers ended up dispersed, discredited, or dead.

An insult revisited

With all of this in mind we can take a fresh look at Nathaniel’s question. It was part incredulous and part hopeful. Nathaniel was open to the idea. He was also hopeful that he had misread or misunderstood something in the Scriptures. He hoped that with a sincere heart he had been sincerely wrong before. Perhaps the time had come for them to finally find the Messiah. Hopefully, to be found by the Messiah.

Jesus revealed to him the condition of his heart. He was perplexed. He asked “how do you know me”? Skipping the actual question  He replies, paraphrasing, “not only do I know you, I even saw you under the fig tree”! Typical Jesus style. What Nathaniel responds tells us a lot about the situation that we, at first glance, are not aware of directly.

Low-lying fruit

Here’s the low-lying fruit here (pun intended). The fig tree must have been out of the line of sight for Jesus. It must have been hidden from from His view. Possibly over a hill or around a bend or something of that nature.  From this Nathaniel would see two things. Not only was the man before Him master over men’s inner thoughts but the forces (read “laws”) of nature. Jesus had correctly identified his internal personal state and his specific geographic location. His thoughts and location would only have been known to Philip.

Foregoing what else Jesus tells the men there assembled about what else they will see and hear in the times to come, we learn a few things about both Nathaniel and the heart of Jesus.  Nathaniel’s eagerness and thirst for Truth pays off. His first answer is a resounding “yes!”. Good things can come out of Nazareth. By association, good things can come from Galilee. Specifically, Jesus and His motley crew of friends. Those men would go on to change history. He also answers his second question. Jesus knows Nathaniel (read your own name there) like a “wheel within a wheel”. Jesus knows our innermost workings even when we are not aware of Him.

Insult, the teacher

Perhaps the most astounding discovery we can take away is His early interaction with His disciples. We see that Jesus is available for questioning. We will study in upcoming posts the way Jesus responds to other sorts of inquiries. Here, we are assured that Jesus does not turn away anyone searching with all their heart (Jer 29:13). Also, He answers the underlying question regardless of presentation. Jesus has no interest in form. His interest is function. Nathaniel’s question may have been or sounded course but it came from a ready heart, from a heart that wanted the Truth, was earnestly seeking the Truth. In exchange for his childlike sincerity, Jesus paid him a truly beautiful compliment, one that we should all aspire to hear from the Master: “an Israelite (read: Christian) indeed, in whom there is no guile”.

Third Temple Believer

How shall we then live? A question for the ages, as the Jews watched the temple being destroyed. The answer can be found in Jesus alone.

In the beginning

Before there was the Temple, there was the Tent of Meeting. Before the Tabernacle in the wilderness, there was Beth-El. There, God’s servant spoke to Him in Spirit. In turn, He answered in Spirit and in Truth. Solomon’s Temple replaced the Tabernacle. Destroyed because of the people’s disobedience. The people rebuilt the Temple. However, because of disobedience, it was once again destroyed. Now both Believers and Jews alike await the final third Temple. 

third temple
Jesus in Disguise

Shadows and dust

Just like anything made by men, the second temple also did not last. After the prophecy of the coming Messiah had been fulfilled, the Lord kept His word and the Temple was destroyed once again.

However, something was different this time. The people scattered to the winds and to the four corners of the earth. Many of them were taken to Rome. They were to become slaves. Others, put to death. Although any hopes of rebuilding the Temple had all but vanished, by some type of miracle, “Jewishness” survived.

To the utter dismay of the Jewish people, millennium-old Temple Judaism came to a sudden and abrupt end. The sect of Judaism that depended on the Temple itself, the Sadducees, disappeared; the Essenes, that preached against the corruption of the Temple, lost their raison de vivre. This left only the Pharisees. These would become what we know now as the rabbinical schools. Also, a new Jewishness also appeared. Christianity.

Honest misunderstanding?

Although no rabbinical scholar would admit, Christianity is Judaism. The reason for not agreeing on this point is purely of a personal nature. Personal in this context refers to Jesus. There is only one difference that separates Temple Judaism from Church Age Christianity. While Jews are still waiting for the Messiah to their own detriment, Christians believe the Messiah has come. 

All else being equal, Christianity is the logical next step of historic Judaism. This is in a very crucial way very unfortunate. I say this because they are scheduled to accept the imitation over the real thing. When the antichrist comes, their eschatology will resemble very closely our own. Obviously with their tragic misunderstandings built in. 

Accepting the imitation

When the antichrist arrives on the scene they will accept as completed all of the Scriptures that Christians already know as fulfilled. This counterfeit Messiah, I believe, will not be Jewish. Neither will he adhere to the ways of his forefathers. Scripture even references him not being…very manly.  

Essentially, there are two types of third Temple believers in this world. On the one hand there are those waiting for the Temple to be built again. On the other hand, although they might not actually be aware, Christians believe it will descend from Heaven in the the form of the Heavenly Jerusalem. So the question is, “who’s right”? Both are.

Built to last

Scripture tells us clearly in Daniel 11 that the antichrist will sit in a physical temple and declare himself to be God. This will come with the initial adoration of the Jews. But in the fullness of time, as Zechariah 14 shows us, Jesus will return and rule the Earth from the Mount of Olives. Having destroyed the antichrist He will bring down the new, permanent, Jerusalem. Enthroned in His rightful place, He will wipe “every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 21). 

One third Temple only

Here’s the clincher. There are only two possibilities for who is reading this post. The first option is that you’re waiting for the third Temple. Both Christians and unbelievers alike are on this Earth together at this point. The other possibility is that you’re living in a time of it being physically present. If the second possibility is true, then you have missed the Rapture of the Church. It also proves that no one bothered to take down this post, at which point I’m insulted. However, I’m glad you’re here. The people that went missing around you haven’t vanished. They’ll be back soon. Then, you’ll see what the real Temple of God looks like! But this is your opportunity to repent. Say these simple words, from the heart:

Dear Jesus, 

I repent of my sins. I agree with you that I sinned against You and Your perfect Law. I receive you as Lord and Savior of my life. I accept the free gift of Salvation. I know that it is not by anything that I have done that I have deserved this. I welcome you into my heart, my mind and my life. I thank you for Eternal Life that you have provided for me. 

In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Like sheep among wolves

Friend, if you have said that simple prayer, from your heart, you are born again. Whether you are in the Tribulation right now or still awaiting the Rapture of the Church, we want to encourage you. Find a Bible-believing, Spirit-filled church and look for ways to serve God by bringing this Gospel to others in your life.  God bless you

 

A call to Ministry – July 12th, 2020 – Lighthouse Assembly of God

Receiving the call to Ministry

From the moment God saves you, you receive a call to ministry: a ministry of service to Him. “Rocking chair” Christians is not our calling in life. We are swim upstream like salmon. Against the current! We are not here to run out the clock. We are to be a visible sign of the invisible God and of the life-changing Power that He has displayed in our lives!

The goal of the life of every Christian? to be like Jesus! Click To Tweet

Answering the Call to Ministry

Today’s message is drawn from the Epistles to the Colossians, where the Apostle Paul explains what is it, exactly, that we can expect from living, or attempting to live, a life that is pleasing to God. Look at shiny tv preachers. Observing them you would think that a call to ministry is a way to be “served” rather than to serve. They mistake the prosperity of the Gospel with a Gospel of Prosperity. I like the way William Carey, the Father of modern-day missions, put it.

Expect great things from God; attempt...great things for God Click To Tweet

Never the same again

As Spirit-filled, Bible-believing Christians we must, as the Pastor Geer proclaimed, “shine”. Let people see the Light in you. Once they do, they’ll want to talk to us about Jesus. Our prayer is that you are blessed as you take time out of your day to be in God’s presence and grow spiritually from the sharing of His Word.

Shameless Plug

We want to remind everyone that Life More Abundant is an outreach ministry of the Men’s Ministry of Lighthouse Assembly of God in Glendale, Queens, New York. Prayerfully consider coming alongside Lighthouse Assembly of God with a gift of any amount. We encourage you to do so through our Venmo Page. Every penny you donate goes fully and directly to the Church. Please share this link with someone, anyone, and everyone you know. May God continue to richly bless you and His Church. Also, please prayerfully consider becoming a patron of Life More Abundant.

 

Father’s Day Message -June 21st – Lighthouse Assembly of God

You do the best you can: bring them to church every week, prayers in the morning before school, at dinnertime and at night before bed; you surround them with godly influences and sound biblical advice but, one day, they are out there, in the wide wide world making decisions, on their own. Today’s message, drawn from 1 Samuel Chapters 9, 10, and 15, Pastor Geer shares with us a familiar story of a once-great man and a father’s heart cry for his wayward son.

Our prayer is that you are blessed as you take time out of your day to be in God’s presence and grow spiritually from the sharing of His Word.

Click the link below to watch the video from a secured server.

What shall I do about my son?

Life More Abundant International Ministries is fully funded and maintained by the Men’s Ministry of Lighthouse Assembly of God in Glendale, Queens, New York. If you would like to prayerfully consider coming alongside Lighthouse Assembly of God with a gift of any amount, we encourage you to do so through our Venmo Page. Every penny you donate goes fully and directly to the Church. And if you have been blessed, as we’re confident you have been, please share this link with someone, anyone, everyone you know. May God continue to richly bless you and His Church.

Folly of Indiscretion – June 7th, 2020 – Lighthouse Assembly of God

You don’t often hear preachers talk about such topics; but, after all, Pastor Geer, is not just any preacher. Western Christianity has, unfortunately, become too accustomed to soft, soothing words that build ego rather than character, remove insult rather than faults, and instill a false sense of righteousness rather than fear and trembling before a Sovereign God.  People tend not to want to know: “What does Jesus have to say on the subject”? In today’s message, entitled The Folly of Indiscretion, Pastor Geer teaches us from the Book of Proverbs on what happens to an unruly youth and how, through God’s saving Grace, even the most far-gone sinner can find his way Home.

Our prayer is that you are blessed as you take time out of your day to be in God’s presence and grow spiritually from the sharing of His Word.

Click the link below to watch the video from a secured server.

Warning Against Adultery

Life More Abundant International Ministries is fully funded and maintained by the Men’s Ministry of Lighthouse Assembly of God in Glendale, Queens, New York. If you would like to prayerfully consider coming alongside Lighthouse Assembly of God with a gift of any amount, we encourage you to do so through our Venmo Page. Every penny you donate goes fully and directly to the Church. And if you have been blessed, as we’re confident you have been, please share this link with someone, anyone, everyone you know. May God continue to richly bless you and His Church.