We've been considering buying our own stock of "pew Bibles" so that we know that we will have enough ESV Bibles for the Sunday School class that we teach.  We'd bring them with us, or store them in a locked cabinet for our use.

I was looking for Bibles, and (when looking at a book, I find the 1-star reviews more useful than the 5-star reviews) I saw a few 1-stars.  There were a couple of "the print is too small" and "the binding fell apart."

But the majority of 1-star reviews were people who simply reviewed a variety of Bibles in order to mock Christianity.

In what is supposed to be a country based on liberty and religious tolerance, there is an increasing amount of vitriol aimed at Christianity.

It's not going to stop and American Christians are simply not prepared for the coming "worst hard time."

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I'm trying to get my Sunday School class to "get" the importance of Scripture - bringing their Bible to class and memorizing God's Word.

Our March "Sword Passage" is Psalm 23 - which I learned in KJV.  This is a really good illustration about how what you learn when you're young stays with you!  My commitment is that whatever I'm asking them to learn, I'll come to class ready to recite.

Re-learning Psalm 23 in ESV is harder than I thought it would be...

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

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I was reciting the chapter today and stopped short.

"even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering..."

I've heard it many times...but today something more...drink offering upon WHAT?

the altar?  no, although that's what I'd always been taught, but it's really, really obvious.

Memorizing the whole book has taught me a lot about the "therefores."  Paul adds on to the add-ons, building on the previous part to make a point.

I had been taught that Paul was referring to becoming a martyr, being tortured and burned for the gospel.

But *offerings* are made by the religious adherents *to* God.  If somebody else sacrifices *you*, it's hardly your offering!

the "drink offering" was not poured on the altar.  It was poured on the sacrifice!

Throughout this letter, Paul has been referring to the fact that he is currently imprisoned for the gospel, and he has been urging the Philippians to act out their faith...  The people that he is writing to are sacrificing themselves for the faith of the gospel.

Jews would have been familiar with the offering system.  The animal sacrifice was made, and burned - a symbol looking forward to Jesus' final sacrifice.  Then, a specific amount of wine (the drink offering) was poured over the burning meat, symbolizing the blood of Christ.  (This is important:) the drink offering was only offered to God after His people entered into their promised land.

Paul knew that he would be killed for his faith; so put the drink offering in the context of that.

His beloved students were given Christ as an example who was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross...therefore, his students should also obey.  As their obedience becomes their sacrifice Paul himself would be the drink offering adorning that sacrifice.

The drink offering was not poured on the altar.

for me to live is Christ and to die is gain...my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better...

Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering up the sacrificial offering of your faith..."

You also should be glad and rejoice with me...

Paul was ready to die.  As his students laid their faith down, Paul's life would be the libation that adorned their faith.  And he was glad.

And they should rejoice with him.



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From time to time I run again across this minor prophet in the Old Testament.

Once more reading Amos reminds me that God uses who He wills, including mere shepherds.  Amos was in the fields when God spoke through Him.

This time through, I looked at what God judged these nations for.

"threshing" (we would call it "trashing") Gilead, kidnapping into slavery a whole people, fighting among brothers, targeting the weak (pregnant women,) desecrating the dead...

Then Israel and Judah:

Rejecting the Law of the LORD, and exploiting the poor.

Sexual immorality and idolatry.

And this:

“But you made the Nazirites drink wine,
    and commanded the prophets,
    saying, ‘You shall not prophesy.’

Nazirites were bound by conscience and by oath to certain behavior (abstaining from alcohol, for one) and the state of Israel had forced Nazirites to violate their conscience and break their vow.

Knowing that prophets were the ones who warned the people that they were sinning and God's judgment was on the way, they were told to "shut up"

This impacted me on this day, we live in a state where people of faith are being told by the state that they must violate their conscience, and those who would speak up are being told (in an attempt to shame or scare into silence) to "shut up."

Food for thought...

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A couple of weeks ago I heard a sermon that surrounded "tradition."

There is a tendency in "Modern Evangelicalism" to reject all things "tradition" because...well...tradition.  (NOT saying that's what this sermon said, just making a starting place for this post.)

At the same time, I read a few posts about how practicing Lent might was well mean going back to Rome because...well...tradition.

What both positions mean is "legalism" - by making "tradition" into "Law" we miss the point of both.

Law holds us to a standard.

Tradition (at its best) gives us the platform by which to connect  with 2,000 years of Christians who have gone before us.  Tradition connects us.The "anti-Lent" folks needed to treat all practice of Lent into "law."  That is a straw man that leaves no room for the right use of the practice.Lent, as a spiritual discipline that prepares us for "Holy Week" (including Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Resurrection Day) is a good thing.The "anti-Lent" folks also needed to make a poke at feast days, etc., tying them to the Law, therefore saying that to use a church calendar is crucifying Christ all over again.  Again, a straw man.God have us seasons, and he gave us time.  Life moves in cycles, and it's okay if we use those cycles as periods to mark spiritual time.I don't practice Lent every year.  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I fast from something, sometimes I add something, other years I don't.  Sometimes I simply use a Lenten devotional to refresh my spiritual memory of the last days of Christ.  Some years I do that same devotional at other times of the year!Bottom line:  I'm not going to jettison Lent because...tradition; I'm not going to practice Lent because...tradition.For clarity, this year I had every intention of going through a devotional, and it fell apart...after about 2 days.  But, since it's not Law or tradition, I can pick it up anew!

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So, I lost the "blog every day" bug (yeah, it happens every February, but this year I want it back  ;-)

This is going to be sort of "stream of consciousness" sort of post, but this is something I want to articulate and I'm not sure how to do it.

I read in one place that the writer would never be able to read Hebrews 11 without seeing orange jumpsuits...

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth...


of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

And in the midst of this, I read in other places that "Coptic 'Christians' are not saved, since they don't get the nature of Christ right."

The Coptic church is the one that the apostle Mark founded when they was sent out to evangelize the world - it's not like they made up their own religion.

The split happened later on, when Arius was preaching his heresy.  Arius taught that Jesus was not God.  Jesus (Arius taught) was a created being, and thus, he denied the Trinity.

There was a big church council, and Arius was declared a heretic.  Here's where I'm a little fuzzy, but I think I have the basics.

All of the "streams" - Alexandria (Coptic) and Constantinople (Orthodox) and Rome (well...Rome) agreed that Arius was wrong.  They all affirm the Divinity of Christ, they all affirm the doctrine of the Trinity.  They all affirm salvation by faith.  They all affirm the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin.

If a person is going to judge the salvation of Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Copts, Arminians, and pretty much everybody other than the "truly Reformed" because of the works debate, I cannot go there.

Even if I don't understand the role of works, is it Jesus Christ who saves me through faith?

Do I hold Christ through my faith, or does He hold me?

How right does my doctrine need to be before Romans 10 is found to be valid?

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Is it "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead *AND you get the hypostatic union right...you will be saved?"

Is it "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead *AND you get the relationship between works and faith right you will be saved?


Is it "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead *AND you get TULIP right, you will be saved?

Is it "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead *AND** you can quote from the Catechisms and Confessions, you will be saved?

How big is your asterisk?


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layersThere was something about THIS rock that caught my eye.

the layer that separates the flat layers from the tilted layers, the pebbles in the water...

This was taken in Utah on our honeymoon, walking through a "slot canyon" - the swooping of the canyon walls.  I don't make a secret that I lean "old earth creationist" - but no matter the age of the earth I am sure of this.

God is everlasting.  God created.

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Okay, at the beginning of yesterday's sermon, the pastor showed a PowerPoint slide of a yogurt foil label.

I took that visual in a different direction than I think the pastor intended.

Stirrers, skimmers, diggers...We have all of these types in the Christian body.


Those who stir, those who skim, and those who dig.  The beauty is that each of us shows all of these tendencies at some point or another.

When you hear "stir" - what do you think of?  Is it the negative "stir up bottom muck?"

Or do you think positive?

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, (Hebrews 10:24 ESV)

As believers, do we stir up one another to look more like Christ?  How does this work?  For me, getting into the fringes of something, then finding another person, taking that "something" and running with it...with that other person, pulling more and more people into this "something."

Or simply encouraging another into a deeper walk.



I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, (1 Peter 1:13)

what was Peter "stirring?"  The list begins... faith, virtue, knowledge.

I see (rightly or wrongly) a lot of anti-intellectualism in a lot of people.  "Knowledge" is third on Peter's list and knowledge is what leads to self-control,  steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love.

They're in this order for a reason, and each acts a foundation for the next.

How do we stir our spiritual siblings to greater faith, virtue, knowledge?



Merriam-Websters has one definition:

to look over or read (something) quickly especially to find the main ideas

Yeah, okay.  That works.   Why would a Christian "skim?"

We may skim a chapter of Scripture, then settle on the "main idea" and go for a deeper study of that idea that the Holy Spirit is laying on our heart and mind.

We may skim the church bulletin and rest our eyes on something that intrigues us.

We may skim community groups until we find one that we really click with.

Somebody may ask a question and we skim material looking for information.

These can show good fruit.  I know a little bit about a lot of different things.  Enough so that if somebody asks me a question, I can point them to good resources.  A lot of these things I have not dug into deeply.

I pass over a lot of ministry opportunities that are not in my range of interest...

Waiting to find the right place is good.

but...you if you stay in that "skim" place, or if ALL of your places are skim place, that shows a shallowness that does not show good fruit.

You have to


I can skim Philippians, then land on "I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,"

What does the Bible say about persecution?  Start digging...

I can skim the church bulletin, then land on one opportunity that screams at me...start digging.

But we don't exist in a vacuum.  Help others dig!

So, in some things, I'm a skimmer, others places a digger.  In still other places, I can stir up others to do their own skimming and digging.

And...that's where I took that PowerPoint slide...

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Wow, a month into 2015 already!   I've got a few links this week, so...

"From bombings to bubblehead income: The diversity of persecution in new testament perspective"

According to the New Testament, persecution occurs in various forms — from beatings (Acts 5:40), stonings (Acts 7), and imprisonment (Acts 16) to insults (Matthew 5:11), slander (Acts 14:2), and lies (Luke 26:59). The New Testament does not define persecution by the kind of action taken against Christians. Rather, the New Testament defines persecution by the nature of the hostility. Simply put, the New Testament labels any hostile action against Christ or his righteousness a form of persecution.


I follow a ministry called "Trash Mountain" - and they're starting an aquaponics project!  (I have a mini aquaponics set on my desk, where I grow peace lilies and green onions, and where the "four horsemen of the aquapocalypse" live.)

“Teaching people how to provide food for their community is sustainable poverty alleviation,” Gibson said. “It brings dignity and hope to the community. To modify an old adage, if you give a man a fish, he can eat for a day, but if you teach him to run aquaponics, he can feed his entire community.”


LGBT groups says "No compromise."

This "compromise" is a poison pill that the LGBT civil rights movement must never accept. We can never allow "because Jesus" to become a legally protected excuse to discriminate against LGBT folks in the public square.

Liberty for me, but not for thee...AKA "you will celebrate the gay."


"Save the Earth, Don't Give Birth"



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I've read on this for a while (years) and I remain a creationist.  I believe that God created - not evolved.  I don't think that God-directed evolution is correct.  God created.

I'm just not sure that the "day" of Genesis 1 represents a literal 24-hour period.

Then Justin Taylor wrote "Biblical Reasons to Doubt the Creation Days Were 24-Hour Periods"

One of his points I've heard before.

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Okay...are we reading a prelude, a heading title, or a summary of what follows?

Taylor writes:

Genesis 1:1 tells us that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

This is not a title or a summary of the narrative that follows. Rather, it is a background statement that describes how the universe came to be.

In other words.

At some point in the past, God created the universe.

Then (starting in Genesis 1:2) He formed our planet into our place.

At some point, the universe came into existence, then some time later,

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:2-3)

In this case, even the six days of creation took place inside of a larger history.


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