Do We Really Believe in God?

…if we seldom pray to Him, and then mostly when we need help in an emergency?

…if we cannot find it in ourselves to sing praises to Him (hymns) when we can easily find the voice to sing along with secular (worldly) songs despite any off key notes?

…if we find ourselves more concerned with politics and world events than the sad spiritual condition of those we know and claim to love but who are drowning and dying in sin?

…if we are willing to risk exposure to disease at stores, markets and other secular events but recoil and abstain from attending church services for just one hour?

…if our money is so precious to us that we find it painful to part with it for helping the needy and missionaries, but freely dole it out for worldly pleasures and luxuries for ourselves?

…if we simply cannot muster any sorrow over the relentless annihilation of innocent babies in the womb but have no hesitation to (rightly) lament mistreatment of animals?

…if we know and seek to know much about things of the world, but can barely find time to dig into and digest the Word of God, so that we condemn ourselves to forever remain mere “babes” in Christ?

Doesn’t belief in God require more than just lip service?

“…Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” –Jesus Christ (Luke 18:8)

Sometimes I also wonder if He really will.

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The Center of Christian Worship: A Reminder

The government has ordered church assemblies, among other things, to cease due to the pandemic. I understand that idea and will comply. I do not, however, like the idea nor some of the ways in which people are finding it simple enough to offset the problem.

What appears to be lost is the failure of many people to realize that the church worship service and assembly is not mainly about the preacher’s/pastor’s message nor the inspiring singing of the congregation/choir.

Church worship assemblies, at least on Sunday, is about the Communion of the saints; the Lord’s Supper foremost.

It is about Jesus, not about us, nor the preacher, nor anything else.

Now, for most “Christian” groups, this is not a problem; they don’t observe it on the first day of every week anyway. Those who DO care about New Testament patterns of worship, however, will observe it weekly (Acts 20:7).

Sunday is the first day of the week, the day the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ triumphed over death, the grave, and Satan’s power to paralyze us with fear of death, by rising from death.

From the outset Christians assembled together to pay homage to Him and “proclaim” His death until He comes by honoring and venerating Him through the joint participation in the Communion service. This is established fact both in Scripture (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:17-26) and in secular, historical, eyewitness context (see Justin Martyr’s description of a Sunday service in his First Apology*).

So when one removes that aspect of Sunday worship, the collective assembly of saints partaking of the Communion, you have effectively neutralized the main venue of worshiping Jesus Christ. Instead it centers on the preaching and the music as the highlights.

I know Jesus says, “…where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). That is not, however, a blanket license for Christians to fail to meet as health and opportunity permit. It certainly was not meant to be used as a means to justify deliberate excusing oneself from assemblies of the saints in favoring of just staying home and “worshiping.”

During the persecution of the church by the Roman Empire, Christians could have used the fear of discovery and death by the authorities to stop gathering. Some did quit meeting together habitually (Hebrews 10:25).  Many refused to quit and paid for it with their lives. (I can safely assure you that a sword is just as effective at killing as is a disease). They refused to allow their fear of death to stop them from congregating over decades of fearful and relentless persecution by the governmental authorities.

I am not urging anyone to disobey the law of the land. That, too, is a sin (Romans 13:1-7). However, do not ask me to believe that Christians can just as easily “worship at home” or via “live streaming” the preacher’s message during any time of crisis and it suffices in place of an assembly of the saints for “Sunday worship.” Let that never put our minds so at ease that we imagine all is as it should be.  Never allow it to lower our guard against forsaking the assembly to be diminished even slightly. We should chafe at having to do this, not welcoming it as if were a satisfying second best.

My fear is that we may become numbed by this procedure, have it become ingrained in our minds that we forget just what we are missing of the value and importance of our collective assembly worship: the veneration of Jesus Christ via Communion with Him as His Body, His church.

It is not merely hearing an inspiring message, singing, or praying, but the joy of being together, unified in spirit, sober-minded, proclaiming to the world that on a Sunday, long ago, our Savior won the victory over death and the fear of it.

In the taking of Communion TOGETHER we convey a united front and unified voice in proclamation to the world of that victory. We show them by our gatherings that we have no overriding fear of death because our Champion, Jesus Christ, is the only One who overcame it, and in so doing gives us the right to partake of His eternal life.

Sitting at home, isolated in tiny groups, we just cannot do that as well no matter how hard we try. Yes, we may have to do so for a time, to be obedient citizens or safety-conscious of others, but let us never forget that it is a far cry from the optimum.

The first chance, the very first opportunity we have to return to the center of our assembly worship; Holy Communion in honor of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us do so with grateful relief, heart-felt thanks. exuberant joyfulness and re-dedication to the Cause.


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Christians and Politics

Our nation is more deeply divided than it has been since the Civil War.  Some say another one is on the way.  It is not the fault of any one person or group of people no matter what you hear on the news.  It is a sign of the times and the result of years of our nation moving further from God.

There are many issues which divide us but have led us to the brink:  abortion (leading cause of death in the world at 42 million); education (it’s role in teaching our children evolution and sex activities/orientations); money appropriations (funding for organizations which foster abortion and waste taxpayer money); urban homelessness and the lack of any intervention to correct it; the attempt to override the second amendment by government; mass illegal immigration (basically invasion of the country); racism among all races – the barb of choice now (how often do you hear that word being directed at people of an opposite color?); sexual confusion (gender identity, pedophilia, homosexuality in all its forms and degrees); rampant fornication and divorce; covetousness (materialism and worldliness); atheism; underhanded politicians; treasonous, slanderous, malicious, profanity-laced rants against elected officials…to name a few.  These are forcing us to choose sides and the rhetoric is becoming insanely threatening and violent.

Many of those issues are “works of the flesh” and engagement in any of them will bring God’s judgment upon an individual (Galatians 5:19-21) but will certainly doom a nation which practices them wholesale.  God took out Assyria, Babylon, Israel, Judah, and Rome on account of the national sins.  What makes anyone think He will allow it all to continue and dominate in America unimpeded?

Our beloved nation has reached the “tipping point” in its rebellion against God.  There are those who are trying to “right the ship” but there are many who are intent on sinking her with their sinful behavior and way of life.  They do so ignorantly.  Yet there are Christians who want to partake of this as well, who want to contribute some part to the overall mess of things.  Some of them are the worst offenders and sinners.

We may not be able to forestall national judgment due to pervasive sin, but here is what the Holy Spirit tells Christians to do concerning our behavior and attitude toward government:

“I urge, then, FIRST OF ALL, that PETITIONS, PRAYERS, INTERCESSION and THANKSGIVING be made for all people – for KINGS and ALL THOSE IN AUTHORITY, that we may live PEACEFUL and QUIET LIVES in all GODLINESS and HOLINESS.  This is GOOD and PLEASES God our Savior, who wants ALL PEOPLE to be SAVED and come to a KNOWLEDGE of the TRUTH” (1 Timothy 5:4, Caps are mine – DM).

Are you and I praying and interceding (asking for mercy for the sins of others) for our elected leaders?  Are we giving thanks for them?  Are we pleasing God by doing this or are we engaged in the EXACT OPPOSITE, by willfully, verbally and otherwise publicly undermining them??  If that is true of us, then we must repent of it and cease immediately or risk continuing to practice sin and earn divine judgment for it.

Don’t believe me?  Maybe you will believe what Paul said, also by inspiration:

“Let everyone be SUBJECT to the governing authorities, for  there is NO AUTHORITY except that which GOD HAS ESTABLISHED.  The authorities that exist HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED BY GOD.  Consequently, whoever REBELS AGAINST THE AUTHORITY is REBELLING AGAINST WHAT GOD HAS INSTITUTED, and those who do so WILL BRING JUDGMENT ON THEMSELVES…This is also why you pay taxes, FOR THE AUTHORITIES ARE GOD’S SERVANTS, who give their full time to governing.  Give to everyone what you owe them:  If you owe taxes, pay taxes, if revenue, then revenue, IF RESPECT THEN RESPECT; if HONOR THEN HONOR” (Romans 13:1-2, 6-7, Caps mine – DM).

Don’t give me the “He’s not my president because he’s so nasty” rot – the emperor Nero was ruling in Rome at the time of this writing and Paul commanded Christians to HONOR him as God’s representative.  Research “Nero” if you don’t know what kind of man he was.  He likely had Paul beheaded.  No president I know of has advocated killing Christians – at least not yet.

Christians, therefore, have a clear choice:  we can participate and engage in the incivility of the pagans and pseudo Christians around us against people, especially elected leaders, we dislike, or we can pray for them and invoke God’s help to them and our nation.  We cannot do both at the same time.  Feel free to dislike policies of elected officials; there are some policies that must be opposed of course, but joining in the uncivil discord against authorities is out.  So says God, like it or not.


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Fatal Exposure

There are two possible reactions or responses when people are confronted and exposed as having sinned.  One will be the way of King Saul and the other of King David.  One will lead to further sin and a journey farther from God, and the other will lead to contrition and a walk closer to God.

King Saul in the beginning was a humble man.  He was the biggest man around in Israel.  He was a shy person, so shy that he hid among the baggage animals the day he was anointed as Israel’s first king.[1]  For a good while he led Israel as a leader should, bravely throwing out the sorcerers in Israel and combating its enemies, the Philistines.[2]  He had a very good son in Jonathan, who was, as it turned out, a much better man than he.

The Amalekites had been a nomadic tribe who evidently had settled in Palestine.  They were a vicious, godless, people who took no pity on their enemies and when the Israelites departed Egypt, they attacked them but in a supremely cowardly fashion.[3]  For their unprovoked and malicious attack, God decreed that they would be wiped out totally one day.[4]

He let them go on for a good while and then gave King Saul the opportunity to fulfill His word against them.  (We must realize that God, being omniscient, knew Saul would fail Him; but one cannot cast blame on someone who has yet to do the wrong!  This was a test of Saul’s heart as much as anything; his fitness to be Israel’s king).  The prophet and judge, Samuel, gave the order:  the Amalekites were to be destroyed; their possessions “devoted” to Yahweh (in similar fashion as Jericho).  None were to be left alive.  (For those of you who think this unfair, please consider that God factors in everything; He knew what kind of people they were and everything they had done through the centuries.  If anything He is a God of justice, and His patience with their brutality had to be addressed.  They got as they had given through the years – no mercy).[5]  Saul had this opportunity to show His faithfulness.  He went on the mission and was successful in the battle.

But he began a war with God.

Instead of obeying Yahweh’s command to obliterate them, he chose to keep the best of the herd animals and livestock.  Worst of all he captured their king, Agag, obviously intending to bring him back to enhance his own personal prestige.  God had expressed His regret to Samuel over this, and the prophet went to meet Saul coming home with the spoils.  The entire story may be read in 1 Samuel 15.

Let us evaluate Saul’s response to the exposure of his sin in disobeying God.

  • He claimed he did what he was told despite evidence to the contrary.
  • He tried to deflect the guilt onto others to clear himself.
  • He claimed his disobedience was for a worthy cause, his own invention.
  • He was concerned only with saving face in the eyes of his peers.
  • He grew angry and vindictive when he did not get his way.

These are all things people, even Christians, will do when confronted by a rebuke to their sin.  Each of them reveals the status of the heart toward themselves and God.

  • There is a serious lack of humility, but an overabundance of pride.
  • There is little concern for their own error, but much concern for the error of others.
  • They play the “blame game” but refuse to be participants therein.
  • They will claim to apologize, but make it conditional, and hold out until their own terms are met first or at least partially.
  • They fail to fulfill their own obligation and duty to God by repentance and restoration (where at all possible).  Samuel himself cut Agag to pieces to rectify that failed duty.

On the other hand there is King David’s sin with Bathsheba.  Actually he sinned against Uriah even more and even worse.  This story is found in 2 Samuel, chapters 11 and 12 .  He made several noteworthy errors leading up to this horrific event in his life:

  • He was not where he should have been, doing other than what kings normally did at that time.  (Does this not tell us to keep our mind on our work, keeping it active, and not letting it loiter too much?)
  • He took the “second look.” The first look may have been Bathsheba’s fault, exposing herself to his view while bathing, but instead of turning away, he gazed upon her beauty and lusted so that it led him to sin with her.  (What does this tell us about lust and pornography?)
  • When she revealed to him she was pregnant by him, he tried to conceal it. The Law   demanded death by stoning for adulterers and both would have died if that Law had been carried out.  He was naturally fearful of this and who wouldn’t be?
  • He compounded his sin of adultery by the murder of Uriah by the “sword of the Ammonites.”  It didn’t matter who killed Uriah, her husband, as long as he died thus freeing him to wed Bathsheba to pretend the baby was legitimately his.

After Uriah’s predictable demise he married Bathsheba.  Yet the Psalms reveal he was anything but happy and blissfully unaffected by what he had done; he was thoroughly miserable.  (Read Psalms 32, 38, and especially 51).   Yahweh sent Nathan the prophet to rebuke David’s sins.  His reaction is the key element in this lesson, one that we must take to heart and duplicate as needed:

  • He simply acknowledged, confessed, his sin and publicly at that.
  • He offered no excuses for it, as King Saul had, never trying to justify himself.
  • He did not get angry at Nathan. In fact, he apparently named one of his children after him.[6]
  • He accepted the consequences of his chastisement, which were very severe, without being bitter against God.  He actually prophesied the exact penalty (four-fold restoration) for his twisted scheme which included securing Uriah’s death:  David lost four sons as a consequence, beginning with the child Bathsheba carried.  The others were Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah.  What a hefty price to pay for such needless, reckless, foolishness!  God had blessed David with multiple wives (including Saul’s) and great abundance, “and if that had been too little” (that had to sting!)  God would have given him even more.
  • He praised God for having delivered him from his error and recommitted himself to greater service to God.

David’s response must be our response when we are confronted with our sins.   We are all going to sin and blunder at times.  Fatal exposure comes if we react as did King Saul instead of how King David did.  Let us remember this the next time someone who has courage enough to confront, rebuke, and expose our sin to our face because they love us.

Our reaction and response will say much about the condition of our heart which is surely laid bare before God, He whom we can never deceive, nor conceal, our sins.

[1] 1 Samuel 10:20-24
[2] 1 Samuel 28:3; 1 Samuel 11-14
[3] Deuteronomy 25:17-19
[4] Exodus 17:14; Deuteronomy 25:19
[5] 1 Samuel 15:32, 33
[6] 2 Samuel 5:13, 14
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Missing Members?

Imagine you woke up one morning to find an arm missing, or a hand, or a leg, or some other part of your body. Even if you got past the initial shock and tried to function normally, how could you? If your feet went missing, how would you move about? If your hands went missing, imagine trying to clothe yourself or eat. If you woke up without eyes or ears—well, what would keep you from falling into despair? We could not function at one hundred percent at the very least.

The church of Christ is the Body of Christ (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:12, 27). It is literally the physical embodiment of Jesus Christ on earth at present, left here to fulfill His work of saving souls. When Christians are gathered together in one place at one time, we are worshiping our Lord, building up one another in faith, learning His will, and honoring His name by proclaiming His death in the Lord’s Supper (Communion) (1 Cor. 11:26).

Just as the physical body is severely impaired by the absence of its members, so the Body of Christ is severely impaired by the absence of its members.

Yes, there are times and good reasons why we MUST be absent from worship services, but they are very few. Health isn’t always the best one, for sometimes people will leave their homes to go shopping, visit loved ones, attend birthday parties and events, etc., feeling poorly but when it comes time to attend church services, will use that as an excuse to skip out. We may fool people with those antics, but we will not fool God.

Work is another reason often used. Yes, we have to work to make a living; it is required of believers especially heads of households (1 Tim. 5:8), but why should God receive less because we receive more? Can we not make arrangements with employers? Can we not see that it is God who gave us the job and who can take it away?

Habitual, willful, absenteeism from worship services is a sin, pure and simple (James 4:17; Hebrews 10:25ff). It requires repentance. Repentance means we stop missing services for “reasons” that are in actuality lousy excuses.

If there is a “heart” problem causing the absenteeism, remember Jesus’ agony on the cross for our sake. If there is a “blame” problem (you are mad at someone who attends), remember Jesus forgave His enemies while on that cross. If there is a “sin” problem, remember that Jesus removed and will remove its guilt and stain if we will bring it to Him.

In short, let’s get over it brothers and sisters! A body missing members is not going to function well and get the job done. A Body of Christ missing members will not either. Time is growing short. The Body of Christ needs its full strength to persevere in this evil age.

Do not be a missing member, but be, or remain, a living, active, vibrant, fully functioning member of the Body of Christ in the world at large as well as in every worship service of the Lord’s Church.  The Lord Jesus Christ deserves no less.

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Unless You Become as Little Children

The Lord Jesus made it abundantly clear that there are qualifiers for anyone to “inherit the kingdom of God.”  In one instance, He declared that those who wish to do so must be “converted” and “become as little children” (Matt. 18:3).  There are some kinds of  behaviors often associated with children, generally, which are not part of that injunction: childishness, selfishness, self-centeredness, naivete, gullibility, to name a few.  However there are good aspects of becoming as children which are worth more than a glance.

Children can be very trusting. This is evidenced by how they respond when they are very little at times their parents play with them.  Even when tossed up in the air a short distance, they giggle and laugh as they descend into a parent’s waiting, hands.  They know those hands will be there every time.  Sadly, that innocent trust can be misplaced when they are lured by offers of candy into the grasp of strangers who have evil intent.  Yet I am positive this kind of trust is a quality of children that Jesus expects of us.  We have to have complete, total, trust in Him and His love for us.  We must, like the nobleman said, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24) during times of great stress and hardship when we are tempted to doubt God’s love.

Children are color-blind by nature. Very small children do not see skin color or take account of race.  That does not factor into any of their dealings with other children, that is, when or until they have learned differences from older people who often seek to infuse their racial prejudices into them.  God wants us to be like them in that way.  Skin color has no bearing on anything in God’s scheme of redemption!  From “one blood” God made the human race (Acts 17:26).  As my father told me about the Japanese prisoners he met in the Philippines in WWII, “they are people just like us.”  We all bleed red no matter what color skin we have.  God made us all and loves us all equally.  In God’s plan of salvation, Paul said, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile,” (Gal. 3:28a).  God would have us all saved; He wants nobody to be lost (2 Peter 3:9).  So if we are to reach out to the lost people of the world and love one another, we must also be colorblind like little children. Racism has no place in the Christian system and it will surely keep us out of heaven.

Children can be content, happy, and optimistic in any situation.  Even children from broken homes and “dysfunctional families” have times of fulfillment and joy.  They make do with whatever they can find for toys.  I have seen photos of kids at school without nice clothes or shoes and they seem happy.  You toss them some candy and watch them smile.  They use whatever they have to entertain themselves, build things, imagine things, so they can laugh and enjoy life.  They find small ways to escape the worse aspects of their lives.  Jesus gives us true hope and an eternal home in the heavens “not made with hands” (2 Cor. 5:1).  He wants us to be happy, content, and optimistic about life and the future (Phil. 3:13-14).  He wants us, like children and the apostle Paul, to be content in whatever place we find ourselves in life (Phil. 4:11).  “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6).  We must learn this, or we shall become covetous, inheriting all its attendant ills.

Little children can teach us a lot about managing life, but Jesus says to be like them in good ways is paramount to salvation.

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Do You Really Think…

An all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere-present, entirely-benevolent God[1] would take all the time, effort, and trouble to create a world, fill it with people to whom He imparted the essence of life thereby creating immortal souls within them, only to leave it on its own, bereft of any direct or indirect contact with Himself as He stood idly by while it devolved slowly and inevitably into abject chaos, ruin, and destruction?[2]

Or that, having made observable contact over hundreds of years involving numerous personalities and nations, He would clumsily or haphazardly neglect to leave enough reliable and vital information about His activities in earth affairs unrecorded for posterity, knowing that His intervention, and the required evidence of it, was absolutely essential in His eternal plan to reunite Himself with this wayward creation?[3]

Or that He would eventually appear on earth as a human being to model His righteousness and fulfill the demands of His lawful nature and offer Himself as a vicarious, atoning, sacrifice for the issues (sins) that preclude intimate fellowship with Him, and then somehow fail to tell us why and how that was to be accomplished so we might discern truth from fable?[4]

Or that He would permit some hopelessly inferior person, group of people, angel or any other being, interfere with His plan of human salvation, redemption, and glorification to the extent that He would allow them to corrupt, distort, or obliterate the record of that work?[5]

Or that, having allowed that to happen, He would, willingly or otherwise, fail to convey a warning of impending judgment for our sinfulness but still judge us by the corrupted or obliterated criteria?[6]

Or that He would fail to give us the terms by which we could receive His pardon through a record that is so confusing and cryptic that He would leave it to an individual’s own imagination and interpretation as their own personal understanding and application of it directed them?[7]

Or that He would permit other competing plans (religions) to serve just as efficacious as the singular plan He devised in eternity; one that He successfully implemented requiring His personal appearance in the flesh, leading to His brutalization, degradation, and the shameful spectacle of the cross, to the extent that this shedding of His own blood for sin was no better sacrifice for sin than any other humanly engineered, random, moral code and its inherent ritualism?[8]

Or that, having accomplished His purpose of redemption in the world, He would, as time and culture dictated, permit and accept human alterations in the definition of sin – sins for which He bled and died to remove the guilt thereof, and to eradicate their dominating influence, only to see them being revised to gain human approval as acts of decency and righteousness?[9]

Or that He would postpone His kingdom (rule of the earth) of which prophecy foretold in abundant and explicit detail, simply because those to whom He went did not immediately accept it at the time (forcing Him to withdraw the offer), an event which He, despite being omniscient deity, failed to foresee occurring?[10]

Or that He would allow Himself to be beaten nearly to death and ultimately die on a Roman cross, taking upon Himself the just penalty due all of us, not because He loves us and wants to empower us so that we may share glory in eternity with Him, but because He enjoys brutality or it absolves Him of having to “save to the uttermost those who come to God through in Him.”[11]

Or that, in dying in such cruel fashion for our sins, He would gladly permit us to continue in those sins unabated, unrepentant, and unashamed, ignoring the shameful mockery we would be making of His noble sacrifice?[12]

Do you really think and believe any of these things?  I pray you do not.  If you do, however, for your soul’s sake, please study the New Testament with an open mind and heart.  The affirmation and confirmation of all that is God’s Own Truth lies waiting there to save you and bless you with eternal life.[13]

[1] Omni4 (B. Burns)

[2] Ephesians 1:3-12, 17-21; 2:8-10; 3:20-21

[3] Deuteronomy 29:10-29; Isaiah 55:1

[4] John 20:30; 21:24-25

[5] John 17:17-19

[6] John 12:48-50

[7] Romans 10:17; John 8:24; Matthew 10:32; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16

[8] John 14:6; Ephesians 2:8-10

[9] Isaiah 5:20; Revelation 22:18-19

[10] Daniel 2:44; Matthew 28:18-20; Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:5-6, 9

[11] Hebrews 7:25a

[12] Romans 6:1-6; 8:8-14

[13] John 6:63

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It Had to Happen

This was bound to come up.  At some point in time, some atheist had to suggest that God had taken sexual advantage of Mary (if not actual and literal rape).  They just cannot help themselves.

Eric Sprankle, a university professor (atheist and satanist) recently had posted this to twitter:  “The virgin birth story is about an all-knowing, all-powerful deity impregnating a human teen. There is no definition of consent that would include that scenario. Happy Holidays.”

When it was pointed out to him that Mary did give consent, he replied:  “The biblical god regularly punished disobedience. The power difference (deity vs mortal) and the potential for violence for saying “no” negates her “yes.” To put someone in this position is an unethical abuse of power at best and grossly predatory at worst.”

In other words, God put her in a position where she had no choice in the matter.

If you look at, say, Mark’s account, it may seem  that God told her what He was going to do and that’s that.  It might appear she had no choice, but only to the shallow thinkers and those who dismiss the facts having an axe to grind against God.  Luke’s account shows that clearly that Mary gave God her consent to do it:  “Behold the maidservant of the Lord!  Let it be to me according to your word.”[1] His answer to that is basically, “Well, He is God and if you disobey Him, you could get into trouble and that was why she agreed to it, not because she wanted to.”

First of all, let’s clear up the rape charge.  There was no physical sexual activity involved on God’s part at all.  God is spirit, nor corporeal (John 4:24).  The Holy Spirit did not impregnate Mary in the way humans do; there was no human sperm or coupling involved at all.  This was accomplished entirely by miracle.  God was coming into the world in the flesh and this was the only way to do it.  Think it over.  If God can speak worlds into existence by words, non-physical things, then sending the eternal Word, Jesus, into the world via the womb by non-physical means, is nothing for Him.  So it could never be rape as we know it.  The best that could be charged is – God took advantage of her.  He most certainly did not.

It must be understood that God never chose Mary randomly.  He created her for this very thing.  Being omniscient and unshackled by time constraints, God could gaze down the streams, the channels, of time and select a woman He created whom He deemed worthy to deliver the Messiah, Jesus, into the world who would agree to it voluntarily.  He would not have chosen her if He knew she would NOT have consented to it.  That’s the perk of being God – you know the end from the beginning.   He, therefore, had her consent from the onset, before the event even happened.  Wrap your head around that thought for a moment.  Let it sink in.

Put simply, God chose Mary because He created her knowing she would be the one to agree to bear the Christ child, would love, nourish, and protect Him, never remotely considering abortion (even if they did that back then, which I doubt).  He placed the entire future and destiny of the human race in the womb of the one person He could trust to bring the Christ into the world without a hitch – Mary – and that is why she is blessed among women, highly favored.[5]

With God masterminding salvation, nothing and no one: angel, demon, Satan himself, would be able to derail His plan.[2]  And do not think Satan didn’t try!  The multitudinous times Satan tried to destroy God’s people Israel (think Cain murdering Abel, the apparent line of the “seed” promise which was actually the line of Seth[3]; the ungodly world threatening to corrupt the messianic line through Noah which God saved through a flood[4]; the Pharaoh who ordered the male children of Israel to be killed; the nations around Israel which tried repeatedly throughout history to wipe it out; the machinations of Haman who wanted the Jews destroyed, etc., etc.)  Yes, Satan even used King Herod to try to destroy the child in its infancy.  Satan wanted to destroy the Messiah.  He still does with blasphemous, unsubstantiated, attacks like this made against God.

Don’t be unsettled that Gabriel spoke of the event as a “done deal” with her.  He knew what her choice would be because he knew God well enough to know that He planned it this way, that she would consent.  She, like every other Israelite woman, greatly desired the prospect of being the one through whom the Messiah would come – which must have been why being barren was considered, by them, as a curse of God, worthy of reproach.[6]  You can tell by her beautiful song that she was humbled and blessed by having been chosen for this:

And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name,” Luke 1:46-49.

Hmmm.  Doesn’t sound like something a victim of unlawful sexual abuse would say, much less sing about, does it?

It is quite obvious that Satan is still in the “snake oil medicine” business.  He still tries to peddle his absurd, scurrilous, lies about the One Person whom God sent into the world to save us all from the place that he, Satan, and his God-envious ilk, are destined to inhabit for eternity, for saying things like this.  No surprise here.  This is just one more way for him to do it via the mental-gymnastic perversions of his unwitting, or perhaps witless, surrogates.

Doctorates and intellectualism may impress a lot of people, but they don’t impress God or those who know Him and the truth of His Word.

We know what Mary believed about the situation by what she did and said about her part in bringing our Lord Jesus Christ, the Victor over sin, death, and Satan, into the world.

All the rest of this nonsense is just another bite of sour grapes from a three-time-loser and his bitter band of not so merry men.

[1] Luke 1:38

[2] Colossians 2:13-15

[3] Genesis 3:15

[4] 1 Peter 3:18-20

[5] Luke 1:28

[6] Luke 1:24-25

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What Evil in the World Proves

An atheist’s favorite argument against God, or at least an all-benevolent God, is the existence of evil in the world.  Their line of reasoning is:  if God is good, why does He permit evil to exist and be pervasive in the world?  On the surface, it seems like a good way to approach the subject.  It looks like an air-tight argument, does it not?

If you think long enough, however, their reasoning actually PROVES that God is good and not evil at all.

Say what?!!

Imagine if Satan ruled the world.  I believe it is safe to say he would be doing much worse than he is now in tormenting us.  Can you imagine him allowing us to shake our fists at him, like many do God now?  Would he shower us with untold blessings in giving us his rain, his air, his food, in due season?[1]  Hardly.  He would, like all human dictators, tyrants, and godless despots, crack down hard.  He would punish the opposition, wipe them off the face of the earth.  He would rule by sheer terror and fear (imagine the world being like North Korea, or better, Cambodia, when Pol Pot was running things there!).  There would be no end to his destruction, misery and through it all, he would find his amusement.  His world, whatever Hell that would be like, would be a world full of unwilling worshipers, bowing before him, praising him, not out of love and adoration for him, but out of fear—pure, unbridled, all-consuming, fear.  Do this, or face immediate death, would be the character of his horrific reign.  That’s how evil operates.

Our God, while omnipotent, and who does bring temporal judgments on men and nations for sure, and an end to all this one day, is not like that[2].  If He were evil, He would not permit our constant rebellion to His will virtually unchallenged.  He would not permit His creation, inferior in every way, to treat Him with routine, nonchalant, limitless and shameless, contempt.

 Yet He does!

He offers us a choice and a chance to escape judgment to come[3].  That process cost Him the beating, brutality, and death of His Son, Jesus Christ.  The question should not be “How can a good God condemn anyone,” it should be “How can a good God save anyone?”  Only a good, loving, gracious, God would even want to try.

He came in the person of Jesus Christ to provide a way out, the only way out, of eternal condemnation.[4]  In the meantime, He continues to give us good things, but best of all that part of Himself that only HE can give us—love (AGAPE) which we can give to Him and others.  He gives these things despite the fact that the majority of people despise, disdain, discredit and otherwise blaspheme His name.  Would an evil dictator allow that?  Would Satan allow it?  No.  God does because He is love; because He hopes we will change our ways and our way of thinking that we might live eternally with Him in a perfect, sin-free, pain-free, death-free new world made especially for those of us who believe in Christ.  (I still marvel that God actually wants our company, yours and mine.  Imagine that).

Next time an agnostic or atheist friend brings out the “a good God wouldn’t…” argument, share this with them.  God loves them too, and would have them saved.

[1] Matthew 5:45

[2] 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff

[3] John 8:24

[4] John 14:6; Acts 4:12

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Why Should I Care?

I can imagine a conversation between God and Satan about us, the human race.  I dare not and will not speak for either of them, but I can imagine what might be said from viewpoints they could possibly entertain about us, from what I know about them in Scripture.  And from what I know about us in general.

I can imagine Satan asking God, “Why do you care for them?  What good are they?  After all You have done for them, all You have given them, even bled for them and died, what use is it?  Look at them!  They are selfish, self-centered, egotistical, plotting, perverted, degenerates, reprobates, whining, complaining, bitter, dissatisfied, evil-speaking, conscienceless, merciless, stubborn haters, unloving (except themselves), pathetic, fragile nobodies encased in dirt thinking themselves to be impervious little gods.  Why should You care???”  (In fact, in most cases, this is all too true of us collectively, is it not?)

I can imagine God simply replying, “You wouldn’t understand; they’re my children.”

There is something about the love one has (or should have) for one’s children that cannot be fathomed nor explained.  Sometimes it makes no sense at all.  There is much more than an emotional attachment, something more than bequeathing another person our history, our DNA, our genes, and our name in the human relationship we share with our children.  We are tempted to make excuses for them, to be supportive of them when they say and do truly stupid things; to be overly protective and dismiss their faults with often weak excuses.  The bond we share with them can be very strong.  We will fight for them and we will die for them.  The first thing a parent thinks when they hear a tornado siren is something like: “Oh Lord!  Where are my children; are they safe?!”

Perhaps the most overlooked passage in the entire Bible which depicts as well as anything God’s love for us, is when He said through Hosea, “My people are bent on backsliding from Me.  Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him.  ‘How can I give you up, Ephraim?  How can I hand you over, Israel?  How can I make you like Admah?  How can I set you like Zeboiim?  My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred,’” (Hosea 11:7-8).

Jesus Christ echoed this sentiment as He looked upon the city of Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37).  Jerusalem is a microcosm of God’s love for people everywhere.  He is unwilling that any should perish, but all should come to eternal life through repentance (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9).

Love this strong, of this sort, will cover a “multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8); in fact, tons of them, over and over and over again.  It is relentless.  It never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8a).

I remember a movie where a woman was bemoaning her love for a scoundrel, a real godless, evil, sinful, man, and she carried his child.  He had thrown her away after he learned she was pregnant.  She confessed she still loved him and asked a woman who had taken her in if her helpless, hopeless, love for him was not the worst sin of them all.  The lady with her gave the perfect answer:  “Love is never a sin; only the lack of it.”

There is no limit to love (Galatians 5:22-23).  It cannot be abused, wasted, overworked, or overdone.  It simply is and always will be, for God is eternal, and He is love (1 John 4:8).

The next time you or I need a reason to love the unlovable, to pursue those who try to hide their tracks in the wastes of sin, who do not want our love or God’s either, whose lives are so mutilated by sin and godless living, whose faces and bodies betray their total immersion in drugs, alcohol, and fornication, and you are asked or imagine why as if the devil were doing the asking, “Why should you care?” the answer is simple:  “Because God does.”  Because He loves me, because I love Him and He lives within me, so will I.”

Never quit loving people.  It is of God.  He offers no explanation nor apology for it.  Neither must we.

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