Christianity, Passover, religion, Uncategorized

Get The Leaven Out!

On Friday evening, March 30, 2018, it will be Erev Pesah, and Passover will begin. This celebrates the departure from Egypt and slavery and will last for eight days. Passover is also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In preparation for the Passover, Jewish families remove all leaven from their homes. This is an effort that goes beyond a normal cleaning:

Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land (Exodus 12:19, NASB).

A last search is made of the house before Passover, and any remaining leaven is burned, followed by reciting a declaration that all leaven has been removed. As I thought about this, I realized there is an application for us I would like to share.

 

The New Testament also has something to say about leaven and unleavened bread we should consider. First, unleavened bread is a type of those who are born again. Jesus tells us “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, NASB). Before a person is born again, that person is like leavened bread. They have been leavened with malice, greed, idolatry, arrogance, hatred, strife, bitterness, rebellion and so forth. None of these things will ever make a person fit for God’s kingdom, and so the leaven must be removed. When a person is born again, the old leaven is purged, much like when all the leaven is removed from the house for Passover. Like the house is cleared of leaven and clean, the born again person also has their old leaven purged; they become like unleavened bread.

 

The problem is, we must guard ourselves to keep ourselves in an unleavened state. Leaven has a way of creeping back in if we don’t guard against it, and it only takes a little to do great damage. Paul addressed this in his first letter to the Corinthians:

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover has also been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Cor 5: 6-8, NASB)

We all remember what Jesus warned the disciples: “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matt 16:6, NASB). And Paul was distressed that the Galatian church had become infected with the leaven of false brethren: “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” (Gal 3:1, NASB).
Leaven can sneak in many ways, such as the cares of life and corrupted teachers who seek to draw away followers for themselves. As a matter of spiritual housekeeping, we must make sure this leaven finds no home with us. We may not be conscious of any problems, but that doesn’t mean everything is alright. The Laodicean church thought they were fine, but they were unaware of their true condition:

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Because you say ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing, and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. (Rev 3: 15-17, NASB)

We may fool ourselves about our condition, but not Him. We need His perfect eyes to search us for the leaven that may be hidden in our house so it can be removed. Remember, all it takes is a little leaven to mess things up, so get it out! Make your temple a “leaven free zone.”

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thought; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way (Psalm 139: 23-24, NASB).

Shalom and blessings my brothers and sisters!
Nisan 10, 5778
 

 

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Apologetics, Christianity, Evangelism, God, religion, Uncategorized

Love The Right Answer

I don’t know when it started exactly, but in my mind I keep hearing the words “love the right answer,” and I would like to share some thoughts with you about this. I think this is related to some online discussions that I have had and observed others participate in. I have been in talks with atheists and skeptics, and I remember that we should “always [be] ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15, NASB). When Peter tells the readers to use “gentleness and reverence,” it means love the right answer.

 

I have seen plenty of exchanges online between believers and unbelievers, and sometimes I have to wonder if believers have forgotten that we need to include gentleness and reverence in our responses. If we start trading insult for insult, and evil for evil, how can we sow the good seed of the word of God? James tells us “And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (3:18, NASB), and the Lord tells us “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God” (Matt 5: 9, NASB). Being quarrelsome is like Peter taking his eyes of the Lord as he walked on the water. It doesn’t work. Love the right answer, and do your sowing in peace.

 

Loving the right answer must include the right response, even if it is something you would rather not do. I will take a page from my own life to show what I mean. When you have a family member that you love and want to spend time with, but their response is indifference and apathy, it can be a source of frustration and contention. It is natural that when you love someone, you want to be loved back, and if this doesn’t happen over a long period of time, it can be a terrible experience. I thought about this in connection to loving the right answer, and this came to mind: “if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5: 46-48, NASB). The right answer is to continue to love, even when that love is not returned. There will always be whispers from the tempter to give up and leave for greener pastures, but it is better to love the right answer, do the right thing, and stay true. You love the right answer when you do the right thing.

 

When we love the right answer, we are fair to everyone, even those who are in opposition. It can be easy to be unfair, when emotions are hot and strong, or when a group of people are despised by society (as tax collectors in Jesus’ day). The Bible tells us about the importance of fairness when we read “A just balance and scales belong to the LORD; all the weights of the bag are His concern” (Proverbs 16:11, NASB). In apologetics, it means we must evaluate the arguments of those in opposition and represent them fairly. If we misrepresent their arguments or what they say, we are not being fair to them. In that case our balance and scales have become unfair, and that ought not to be. That is the wrong answer, and we should not love it. They may not agree with us, but they should have confidence that we will be fair. There is another application I would like to mention for the readers who may be teachers.

 

I taught first year composition at my university for a season, and whenever it came time to grade assignments, the thought of a just balance and scales would be on my mind. There were some papers in which I really had to struggle for what would be a fair grade, but I wanted each paper to be the product of a just balance and scales, so I would pause, pray, and ask for help in doing the right thing. This is what got me through my grading process, and I hope it will be a benefit to others as well. You love the right answer by being fair.

 

I would like to mention one last thing in closing to the Christian apologist. Make sure that your motives for defending the faith are right. Are you there to win an argument, or are you wanting to win a heart? If you want to win arguments, you may win the battle, but you will lose the war. People don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care. You love the right answer when you love those you are reasoning with.

 

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly, it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Cor 13: 4-8, NASB).
Love the right answer and share it.

 

A prayer:

 

Lord, I realize I cannot do the work of changing hearts. You, and You alone have the power to give them ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to understand. Help me to decrease so that You may do Your work through me, and the people see You, not me. Have mercy on the people and forgive them. Open their minds to understand the Gospel so they may recover themselves from the snares of the enemy. I pray that they will be fruitful boughs in Your Kingdom, and that they will be worthy to walk with You in robes of white, and to be with You always. Amen.

 

Adar 4, 5778

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Christianity, current events, God, morality, November 2016 election, politics, religion, Uncategorized

Now That The Election Is Over….

Mr. Trump has been elected to the great relief of many conservatives and Christians, but this is no time to think the battle is over and the work is done. More than ever this is the time the church needs to be in prayer for our President-elect and our nation. Here are some things to keep in prayer:

 

Presidential leadership/appointments

 

President-elect Trump will be at the helm of this nation as it goes through some of the most difficult times it has ever faced. This will require wisdom that is superior to what the world has to offer. Our President-elect will need wisdom from above to do the right thing no matter how much it conflicts with the world’s point of view. Our President-elect will also need strength and perseverance because the forces that will oppose him are strong, they are entrenched, and they aren’t about to just give up and go away. It may be a long and protracted fight, but it’s a fight we cannot afford to lose. We must pray that our President-elect surrounds himself with the right people and has a team that will faithfully stand by him when the battles rage. It’s going to get very hot in the kitchen, and our new President needs people who can handle the heat. I would also urge us to pray that our President-elect will steer a course that God wants us to take. I have heard a lot about “Make America Great Again,” but that will only happen if our priorities align with God’s priorities. I am sorry, but this really isn’t that time to focus on jobs and the economy; it’s time to focus on the repentance and repair the spiritual problems that got us in this mess in the first place. Our President-elect will need godly priorities!

 

Judgment is still coming

 

Judgment may be delayed, but it is still coming; it will begin in the house of God. The church will be shaken like a tree in a strong wind, and what is rotten will fall off. This is the time to get your house in order. Leave the nets behind like Peter did and follow the Lord Yeshua with all your heart. Go in with all your heart without looking back or go home; it’s better to be hot or cold than lukewarm.

 

We must also keep our nation in prayer. The spiritual condition of America is very serious, as evidenced by the election results. Over 60 million voters voted to go in a direction that would make things even worse, so we need to realize we aren’t out of the woods just because this election is over. The reason we have this is because of division. Division has always been a favorite strategy of the enemy, and America is deeply divided. We have deep divisions over God, race, priorities, politics, right and wrong, etc. This isn’t just division in the world, the church has a bad case of division itself. The Adversary loves it when the people of God are fighting each other because it makes it so much easier for him to do his work undisturbed. We get so distracted fighting each other we don’t understand that we have allowed the enemy to set up shop in our midst. Christ is not divided, and so let’s unite against the real enemy of our souls and country and stop fighting among ourselves.

 

We see that in politics Donald Trump’s transition team is already at work in Washington, but the kingdom of God also has a transition team. God has chosen certain vessels who will work to prepare the way for the King of kings! The reign of darkness is coming to an end, and they aren’t about to go away quietly. The darkness knows that its time is short. All of God’s people are supposed to be on this transition team, but for whatever reason, not everyone is making themselves available. Things are also going to heat up spiritually, and this is the time to prepare. That’s what wise people do; they know what’s coming down the road and take appropriate action. If you have choking weeds in your heart, repent and ask God for help so you can be fully focused on His will. Let all other considerations be rescinded so that His will has first place in your heart. The judgment is still coming; will you make yourself available for God’s transition team?

 

This is just a short post and a call to prayer. Judgment begins in the house of God, and America will become great again by humbling herself before God and repenting first. Please pray!

 

Shalom friends!

 

Heshvan 18, 5777

 

 

 

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Christianity, current events, God, religion, Uncategorized

From Rome to Corinth, and Back Again: Reclaiming What Was Taken from Us

“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd” (John 10: 16, NASB Update)

When Paul wrote to the Roman church, its congregation was composed of Jews and Gentiles. It was no doubt Roman Jews in Jerusalem during Pentecost that carried the Gospel back to Rome and was a factor in starting this church. It would be nice if the Gospel message of unity was in full effect in the Roman church, but there was rivalry between Jews and Gentiles. The birth pangs of division were starting to sprout to be felt, so Paul had to remind the Roman church that “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him” (Rom 10: 12, NASB Update).

 
If the Roman church was experiencing the birth pangs of division, the Corinthian church had delivered the baby. Paul writes:

For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor 1: 11-13, NASB Update)

This persuasion did not come from the Lord or the word of God, but from man-made doctrines that cause division and contention. We still see this division today. If you visit a Baptist church, you find a congregation of Baptists. The same holds true for Methodists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, etc. Most of the time, the only people who are not of the same persuasion are visitors. But let me ask you this, when was the last time you saw a Jewish believer in your congregation? In all of my days in church, I can honestly say I have never seen it, and this ought not to be.

 
Where are the Jews?

 
After the Holy Spirit filled believers on Pentecost and Peter gave his sermon, the believers returned home taking the word with them, but they only spoke to Jews. Later God gave Peter a revelation about the Gentiles; they were to be fellow heirs of salvation! This was confirmed when the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles just like He did in Jerusalem with the Jews (Acts 10: 1-48). God’s will is to tear down the wall between Jew and Gentile and so create one flock, as His word said. Unity is something the Adversary doesn’t like, and soon he was fanning the flames of rivalry between believing Jews and Gentiles. The split became a chasm when church leadership argued that because the Jews rebelled against the Savior and had Him killed, therefore God transferred the covenants and promises from the Jews to the Church; they also changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday to make a clear distinction between Jews and Gentiles. This is part of replacement theology, and it is a sickness that still affects the Church today. It has a terrible legacy; Church leadership used this man-made doctrine to justify persecuting the Jews instead of loving them as the Lord commanded. Martin Luther did try to reconcile the Church with the Jews in his early writings, but later he became anti-Semitic and argued for synagogues to be destroyed and Jewish wealth to be confiscated. His latter writings were so poisonous that they were used by Hitler’s Third Reich to justify the “final solution,” which was the extermination of the Jews. Centuries of oppression and persecution by those who called themselves Christians has caused Jews to turn away the Gospel message. Even mentioning the name of Jesus can provoke a strong reaction with some people.

 
The word of God tells us that there will always be a believing remnant, and so there has always been a believing Jewish remnant: “The Messianic Jews.” I believe what God wants in these last days is to depart from the Corinthian church and its many divisions (Baptists, Pentecostals, Nazarenes, et al.) and again become one flock in which Jews and Gentiles worship the Savior together as they did in Rome (minus the rivalry, of course).

 
What you have been missing

 
Replacement theology has done a lot of damage, one of which was causing the Church to disregard the Feasts of the Lord. It’s been argued that since we are under grace, and not the Law, we don’t need to be concerned about such things. “That would be legalistic” is something I have heard. May I say to you friend, you’ve been misled and missed a great blessing. It’s premature to dismiss the feasts as something we don’t need to worry about anymore. Here’s what I mean.

 
It was written in the Torah that the men of Israel were to assemble in Jerusalem three times a year for the feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Two thousand years ago the Jews saw the Passover fulfilled when Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead. On Pentecost the Jews saw Joel’s prophecy fulfilled when the Holy Spirit was poured out on believers. The Feast of Tabernacles has yet to be fulfilled, and one day when the people gather in Jerusalem, the Lord will fulfill it before their eyes just like He did on Passover and Pentecost. Wouldn’t you like to be on hand when that happens? Until the Lord returns, each time the Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot) is celebrated, it’s like a dress rehearsal for the real event. With that in mind, here is my recommendation.

 
You are invited!

 
I know this will be short notice for many of you, but I feel it strongly to make you aware of the upcoming holy days. Most of us have never been to these celebrations and they have passed unnoticed, but I hope that will be different after this year because I am inviting you. Rosh Hashanah (New Year) will begin at sundown October 2 and end on the evening of October 4. Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) will begin at sundown on October 11 and end

the sukkah

Celebrating Tabernacles

on the evening of October 12, and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) begins at sundown on October 16 and ends the evening of October 23. I would strongly encourage everyone to find a Messianic congregation and observe these events this year and see what you have been missing out on. These events are part of our heritage as believers, but replacement theology has caused the Church to disregard them. Let’s reclaim them and experience them first hand, and in so doing we help restore the unity of the one flock that the Lord established. If you are able to participate, please share your experience with others (and I would like to hear about it too!). Be blessed!

 

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Rewinding the Torah scroll

Elul 23, 5776

 
“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3: 27-28, NASB Update)

 

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Christianity, current events, God, religion

The Superman Questions

Charlie Rose: “What are we talking about then? Must there be a Superman?”
Senator June Finch: “There is.”
Dialogue from the movie “Batman v. Superman” (2016)

In the Batman v Superman movie, there is a scene where various contributors discuss the Superman question and its implications. What does it mean to have a being in your midst whose power transcends and overshadows anything humanity has? The very possibility of such a reality is frightening. Vikram Gandhi raised the point that while most people believe in a higher power, when a savior character actually does come, we want him to abide by our rules. Andrew Sullivan was concerned about what, if any, moral constraints this person would follow. Glen Woodburn rightly points out that humanity has often followed after powerful people into great atrocities. Niel DeGrasse Tyson points out how having a Superman challenges our place in the universe, and shows that mankind doesn’t hold a special place in the universe after all. Charlie Rose and Senator June Finch are concerned about Superman’s interventions in human history because he acts as he sees fit (unilaterally) rather than by the consent and will of the people. These are all interesting contributions, but let’s examine the question Charlie Rose asks Senator Finch.

Must there be a Superman? Yes, because humanity has a depravity problem and we cannot solve this problem with our own power and wisdom. People don’t get along well with each other, and there should be no argument on this point because there is so much empirical evidence to support it. People malign one another and gossip about others. People divide themselves into groups based on ethnicity, economic status, etc., and are suspicious and even hostile to outsiders. When they don’t have what they want, they quarrel and fight one another to get it. We have seen rulers throughout history rise to power and then become depraved and murderous. This all points to the work of depravity, and something that is missing in the human condition, an empty place in every human heart that needs to be filled to make us complete so that we can overcome the effects of depravity: So that we will stop using our words to destroy other human beings and lift them up instead. So we come together in true unity and not divide into cliques and groups. So that leaders will rule wisely and well, and the people won’t live in fear of a government that has gone out of control. Humanity has been plagued by its problems for thousands of years, and to paraphrase the Humpty-Dumpty fairy tale, “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t make humanity whole again,” even though they have tried for throughout time. Since we cannot solve our own problems with our power and wisdom, it follows that we need someone who has power and wisdom that is greater than humans who can solve the problems of depravity. The good news is that there really is a Superman today, but this person isn’t a man in a cape flying around saving the day. The real Superman has powers that far exceed anything the creators of the caped Superman could ever conceive of.

The real Superman and the most powerful man the world has ever known is our Savior, Jesus, and as such it is not surprising that He is also a figure of controversy. Throughout the centuries since He walked among us, He has been loved by some, vilified by others, and misunderstood by many. When Jesus asked His disciples who the people said He was, some said He was John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. Then He asks the disciples “who do you say that I am?” and Peter replies “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16: 13-16). When Peter identifies Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, he shows us that Jesus is not an ordinary man. Jesus is the “theanthropos,” the God-man. He is fully human and fully divine. Jesus’ life and works also testify that He is no ordinary man. In John we read this about His divine identity:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4, NASB)

John goes on to say: “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him” (John 1: 10 NASB). Can you imagine that? The Creator of everything came down to Earth and lived among us! He created us in His image, and He took on the form of man when He came down to us. He was God in the flesh, the theanthropos! Listen to what the writer of Hebrews tells us about Him; it’s truly awesome:

But of the Son He says ‘THY THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM. THOU HAST LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS; THEREFORE GOD, THY GOD, HATH ANOINTED THEE WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE THY COMPANIONS.’ And ‘THOU, LORD, IN THE BEGINNING DIDST LAY THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS; THEY WILL PERISH, BUT THOU REMAINEST; AND THEY WILL BECOME OLD AS A GARMENT, AND AS A MANTLE THOU WILT ROLL THEM UP; AS A GARMENT THEY WILL BE CHANGED. BUT THOU ART THE SAME, AND THY YEARS WILL NOT COME TO AN END.’ (Hebrews 1: 8-12, NASB)

Since God walked among us in human form, this is the reason we can say there really is a Superman.

We have all heard the saying “truth can be stranger than fiction,” but in this case, truth is much more wonderful and amazing than fiction. The fictional Superman could bend steel and leap over tall buildings, but the real Superman did the impossible: When thousands can to hear Him speak and He wanted to feed them, He used a few loaves and fishes to miraculously fed them all from what would only have been enough for one person (Matthew 14: 13-21; 15: 32-38). When people needed any kind of healing, He spoke the word and they were healed (John 4: 46-54; Matthew 8: 5-13). When demons oppressed and tormented people, He drove them out by His word and authority (Matthew 8:16-17, 28-34; 15: 21-28). Even death doesn’t have the last word because He has the power to raise people from the dead (John 11: 1-44; Luke 7: 11-15). When a storm threatened to sink the boat He was travelling in, He caused a great calm when He rebuked the wind and waves (Matthew 8: 23-27). He knew what people were thinking and what was in their hearts (John 2: 24-25; Matthew 12: 22-25). His sacrifice made it possible for people to be forgiven and born again (Luke 23: 34; John 3: 16-17). There is nothing He cannot do, which is what makes a real Superman; this is the one who has the power to solve humanity’s depravity problem and fill our hearts with His presence.

Towards the end of the Batman v Superman movie, there is a scene where people are honoring and remembering Superman and his life. The words written about Superman say “If you seek his monument, look around you.” These words remind people that Superman’s legacy can be seen in the lives he affected and changed while he was alive. Superman's monumentUnlike the fictional Superman, the theanthropos Jesus cannot die. After He was crucified and buried, He rose from the dead; if you were to seek His monument, it would be an empty tomb. He lives on as our High Priest, always making intercession for us before the Father in heaven. His perfect sacrifice made it possible to have friendship with God again and overcome the power of depravity that has caused so much suffering in our history. His presence fills the empty void in our hearts and makes us content in whatever circumstance we are in. His power to change lives is found in the Gospel message:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith. (Romans 1: 16-17, NASB).

He lives in the hearts of millions of people and still interacts with us today. Just ask any of His people to tell you their story about how they met Jesus and what He did for them. Then ask them what He can do for you today!

Who do you say Jesus is? This is the Superman question Jesus asks of us, and everyone must answer. Will you believe the Gospel and come to Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins? If you will take that step of faith today and come to Jesus, the real Superman, you will find forgiveness, mercy, and grace. All your sins and mistakes will be forgiven and you will start life anew. Come by faith believing that He is the Son of the living God and pray this prayer:

Lord Jesus, I confess that I have done many things against you. I confess that I have sinned and been rebellious, and for that I am truly sorry. I repent of all of this and I ask for your mercy and forgiveness (You can list specific things to ask forgiveness for if you want). I believe you are the Son of God, and I place everything in my life under your control. I ask you to come and live in my heart. Create a clean heart in me and give me a right spirit so that I may always do what is right in your eyes. Thank you for saving me Lord Jesus!

If you have prayed this prayer, you are a new creation, and your old life is over. Your new life has begun! Congratulations and welcome to the family of God! The important thing now is to find a good body of believers to fellowship with for discipleship and spiritual growth. Now the adventure begins!

Av 22, 5776

1 John 1 9

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Christianity, current events, diversity, gender identity, morality, politics, prophecy, religion, Uncategorized

Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female?

By wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
And by knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches
(Proverbs 24: 3-4 NASB).

 
America’s moral code is in the process of being rewritten and what was right yesterday is wrong today and vice versa. In this case we are talking about an ideology of gender identity, or fluidity. When the city of Charlotte passed an ordinance allowing men to access the women’s room, House Bill 2 was signed into law to stop this ordinance and anything like it from happening statewide. Target retail stores followed suit and instituted an in store policy that also allowed men to use the women’s room. Attorney General Loretta Lynch recently issued a statement about North Carolina’s House Bill 2 and made her intention known that she will counter sue North Carolina to stop its implementation throughout the state.

 
Attorney General Lynch has clothed her arguments about this gender ideology in the language of civil rights, and has said North Carolina’s response like all “discriminatory responses to historic moments of progress for our nation” such as Jim Crow laws after Emancipation, resistance to Brown v. Board of Education, and numerous statewide bans on same sex unions. Lynch goes in to say that these responses come from a fear of the unknown and discomfort with change and tells us “this is not a time to act out of fear. This is a time to summon our national virtues of inclusivity, diversity, compassion and open-mindedness.” Having said this, did anyone catch what was missing from this last quote? We all recognize the politically correct buzzwords of “inclusivity, diversity, compassion and open-mindedness,” but it’s what’s missing that ought to concern all of us. AG Lynch didn’t say our national virtues include holiness, righteousness, and the fear of God, and when these virtues are not part of our national identity, the nation becomes adrift on a sea of relativism. Absolute truth is mocked and dismissed to make room for the cause celebre of the day, which in this case is the currently emerging ideology of gender identity. This is where the problem may be found.

 

The ideology of gender identity makes the case that gender is a social construct. If gender identity is regarded as something determined by society, then it is artificial and not firmly anchored. If people can be convinced that gender identity is an artificial product of society, it’s a short walk to the next belief in which there is fluidity between genders. A man can identify as female and dress and act accordingly, but as we will see, he can never wash himself clean from his male identity. Nevertheless, government has now injected itself into this moral realignment and is fighting for males who identify as female to have access to women’s restrooms and locker rooms. The Washington Post reports that Lynch’s remarks about the government’s decision to intervene have resonated with the transgender community “For Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, the appeal of Lynch’s speech was something simple: ‘All she said was that we’re people.’”

 

AG Lynch is speaking for the Obama Administration when she made her remarks, and she makes the case that opposing House Bill 2 is a step in the right direction with these words:

This country was founded on a promise of equal rights for all, and we have always managed to move closer to that promise, little by little, one day at a time. It may not be easy – but we’ll get there together.

She also says that we must learn from history and not repeat our mistakes, and I will agree that this is correct, but in order for this admonition to be accurate, it must include history as God gave it to us in His word. Let’s review what God’s history has told us about gender identity.

 

The book of Genesis begins with the words “in the beginning God created…,” and then the writer goes on to list the things God created. When it comes to humanity and our topic of gender identity, we find this “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them” (Genesis 1: 27, NASB). Notice that it says we are created by God, and when God creates something, there’s a reason and purpose for it. In the case of humanity, the word of God tells us:

And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth. (Genesis 1: 28, NASB)

We can clearly see three things from verses 27 and 28: we are here on purpose, not accidentally, we see that God wants to interact with us, and that when God created humanity, He made them male and female. But if God establishes a boundary, or distinction between male and female, is it fixed forever? Does God allow fluidity between males and females? The answer is that the boundary is firmly fixed and fluidity is not allowed. On what basis do I say this? Here’s a look at what God says about His boundaries:

“Do you not fear Me?” declares the LORD. “Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, an eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it.Though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.” (Jeremiah 5: 22, NASB)

A boundary that has been set by God cannot be moved by any created being or power as God makes clear in this passage about His power:”For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 14: 27). When we consider these things, we can say confidently that when God does something, it stays done and there’s nothing anyone can do to change it.

 

In the case of gender identity, God made us male and female, and His word makes it clear He intends for this distinction to stand. We see this boundary reinforced in the Torah: “A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 22: 5). And notice how this prohibition against same sex sexual relations is worded:

If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act: They shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them. (Leviticus 20:13, NASB).

There are other places we could go, but these verses give ample proof that God wants the distinction between male and female respected and left intact. I wish that was the end of the matter, but just as the serpent beguiled Eve, he has also beguiled this generation.

 

God deals in certainties and truth, but we know the enemy of our souls is at work when we see confusion and every evil work. Fluidity is confusion because it erases the distinction God established between male and female. This can only happen when the real history of humanity is ignored. The ideology of gender identity that Lynch is defending is a wisdom of the world, and it is demonic. It is nothing less than an exchange of God’s truth for a lie; those who defend it suppress the truth in unrighteousness, and they are in danger of being handed over to their own lusts and depravity. They may think they are being wise, inclusive, and promoting diversity, compassion and open-mindedness, but they are really fools, and they have been blinded about their true condition by the god of this world.

 
I must disagree with the AG that acting on the basis of fear is wrong. She makes it sound as though acting on the basis of fear is never correct, but there is a time when acting from fear is beneficial and lifesaving. We see it time and again in Scripture when God’s people realized the terror of the LORD and they did everything they could to repent and reconcile with Him. That’s how acting from fear saves your life. If AG Lynch wants to avoid the mistakes of the past, let her remember this lesson from history: Nations that once knew God but turned away later suffer judgment. If you doubt me, just read the book of Judges; the same pattern happens again and again.

 

The reality is as follows. Even though a man may rage against his male identity, may dress and act as a female, and even if he were to undergo gender reassignment surgery, he is still male because God made him that way. He will never be completely female except in his mind and in his imagination. Man never has nor never will have the power to change what God has established, and since he can never make the change he wants, he will never find the fulfillment he looks for. But everyone can find true peace, happiness, and healing through our Savior Jesus. He’s already knocking at the door of your heart waiting to be invited in.

 

Iyar 4,  5776

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Christianity, current events, morality, politics, religion

A Christian response to President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union (SOTU) address

Shevat 3, 5775

There will be a lot of political commentary and analysis now that President Obama has given his State of the Union speech, and most of this will focus on government policies and the proposals set forth by the President. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) has given the Republican response, but it would be a tremendous disservice to the Christian community if there was not a Christian response to the SOTU because the Apostle Paul tells us to examine all things, and hold fast to what is good. How can we know if government policies and philosophies are destructive or good without first examining them with the light of God’s word? The world’s standards are arbitrary and capricious; what’s right today will be wrong tomorrow, but the word of God is unchanging. In order to institute and maintain good government, its philosophies and policies must align with and honor the word of God.  There are many things that could be said about different points made in this address, but there is one important short passage that needs to be discussed.

“The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.”

This is the thesis statement of the SOTU and the most worrisome statement this address for three reasons: it wrongly identifies what the crisis is, it claims the crisis is over, and gives us a false assessment of the union. This is not surprising in part because the views expressed in the SOTU are horizontally oriented. What I mean by this is that these claims are based only on a worldly point of view; such a view only concerns itself with what can be seen and perceived by the senses. The SOTU lacks any vertical orientation at all, which takes into account not only what we can see, but what is invisible and spiritual (Hebrews 11: 1-3). The vertical orientation comes from the word of God, and when we shine the word of God on things, we truly understand their depravity or merit. Any leader who strives to fully inform an audience about the true condition of a country must include a vertical orientation in his presentation, otherwise his efforts are of limited value, and in the case of an unscrupulous person, can be outright deception.

SOTU wrongly identifies what the crisis is

We do have a crisis, but it is not the crisis President Obama makes it out to be. Everything the President listed in his SOTU identifies the crisis as a socioeconomic one. This view overlooks spiritual events that have recently occurred in this nation’s history. Traditionally, our position between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans has isolated and protected our country. For example, while Europe suffered terribly from the ravages of war in WWII, there was only one casualty attributed to enemy action on the continental US. All of that changed on 9/11, when Islamic terrorists hijacked commercial jetliners and used them on suicide missions which killed thousands of people. No enemy had ever caused such destruction before in our history, and when the stock market finally reopened after the attack, one of the worst stock market crashes in US history occurred. In 2008, an even bigger stack market crash occurred, and these crashes had an adverse effect on the economy of the nation. These seem to be random events from a worldly perspective, but when you include God’s word in your analysis, you get the whole picture. The events of 9/11 and 2008 occurred exactly during a seven year cycle known as the shemitah. This means we cannot attribute the resulting bad economy solely to socioeconomic factors; there is a definite spiritual connection to these events. They were set in motion by spiritual events and are directly linked to them. The origin of our crisis is spiritual and does not originate from socioeconomic factors as President Obama argues.

The crisis this nation faced was not a bad economy, rising unemployment, low high school graduation rates, oil dependency, a broken healthcare system, or the war in Afghanistan. The real crisis this nation faced is a spiritual crisis, not a crisis of a bad economy etc. This nation has been steering a course that has been taking it farther away from God for a long time.

SOTU claims the crisis is over

There may be some who object and say that the improving numbers reported in the SOTU must mean we are getting better. From a worldly perspective, these factors seem to indicate that better days are ahead, but they don’t tell the whole story and given Divine revelation, it would be shortsighted and naive to believe they did. The cause of our national problems is a spiritual one, not socioeconomic; therefore unless this nation repents and reconciles with God, the crisis is not over. A nation that continues to be at variance with God is always in danger of His judgment.

SOTU gives us a false assessment of the union

The President has told us that our nation’s economy is getting better, ergo “the State of the Union is strong.” That makes sense from a worldly perspective, but it is non sequitur from a spiritual perspective. Let’s not forget this example from history. Canaan was a land flowing with milk and honey. If we described Canaan using today’s language, we would say that Canaan was an economic miracle. They had bumper crops year after year. The economy was constantly growing and showed no sign of slowing. They weren’t dependent on other nations for anything. They had strong defenses against invasion that were state of the art for their day. If we looked at Canaan from a horizontal, worldly perspective, they had everything going for them in their favor. The problem is, their spiritual condition was so bad the Scriptures said the land itself couldn’t stand them and vomited them out. Canaan was economically prosperous, but they were in a spiritual crisis because of their depravity. The wealth of Canaan was increased so it could be transferred to another nation. When Joshua crossed the Jordan, none of their strong defenses could stop the invasion.

The historical example of Canaan shows us the futility of believing that there is a correlation between strength and a strong economy; a nation is truly strong only when it enjoys the blessing of God. When God watches over a nation, the people are safe from harm and prosperous. If they do go out to war, they win impossible victories over armies that are greater than they are. If we don’t have God’s favor and blessing, our union will never be strong. The question is, does America have God’s blessing?

The real state of our country

America is repeating the same pattern of disobedience that ancient Israel followed. When Israel did what was right in God’s eyes, the nation had rest from war and was prosperous. God exalted Israel and brought their enemies down. But when Israel rebelled, God brought Israel down and raised up enemies against them. When this happened, the land suffered from defeat in war, harsh occupation, destitution, oppression, and injustice. We see this pattern repeated again and again in the book of Judges. The same thing is happening now; America’s rebellion and its declining fortunes are linked.

The true measure of a nation is found in the spiritual health of a nation, not socioeconomic indicators. We can see very quickly that the state of America’s spiritual health is on life support. Absolute truth is regarded as a myth, and under the capricious tutelage of political correctness and its weaponized stepsisters of equality and tolerance, the values of the American people are reversing; what was once considered good and esteemed is now regarded as evil, and vice versa. People who rage against God utter the same arrogant words that Pharaoh spoke to Moses: “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice…I do not know the Lord” (Exodus 5: 2). The concept of “love your neighbor” and “love your enemies” was thoroughly trampled as demonstrated in the Ferguson riots. There is ample evidence of America’s declining spiritual health in the daily news, and it is a sad thing to witness. It is looking more and more like the republic our Founders fought to give us will be lost and replaced by a tyrannical successor.

The solution we need

There are three things we need to include in our solution to America’s situation. First, we must understand the times we live in. If you have done your math, you know that 2015 is seven years from 2008, and it is a shemitah year. This is also not just any shemitah year; four blood moons (also known as a tetrad) are part of this shemitah cycle. This is also the third shemitah year in our season of grace. If we combine this fact with the signs in the heavens, it is time to get serious and prepare for what is going to happen.

Second, we must not delude ourselves to believe that just because the President cites economic improvement that our problems are over. The fact is, America’s worst crisis is on the horizon, and it will come regardless of what the economic indicators say. When the President says “the shadow of crisis has passed,” he is really saying “peace and safety,” but we know that judgment will fall suddenly when peace and safety are proclaimed. This country will be shaken as never before in its history. Everything that people have put their faith in outside of God will be shaken. Pensions, savings, stocks, and retirement plans will be wiped out. Abundant food and water supplies will become scarce. The dollar will fall as the world’s premier currency. Government will throw off the restraints of the Constitution and become tyrannical. Government surveillance and control of the people will increase, and dissenting voices will be ruthlessly suppressed and confined in detention camps. God gave Israel a season of grace to repent and reconcile with Him, but when that season was over and Israel didn’t repent, God’s judgment came. America is also in a season of grace after 9/11, but that season is approaching its end. Time is running out to make amends, and the Daniels among us who can read the writing on the wall need to prepare for what’s coming.

Third, we must realize that a spiritual problem will never be solved by any government economic policies or legislation. A spiritual problem will only be solved by a spiritual solution. The solution is national repentance and reconciliation with God. When Senator Daschle quoted Isaiah 9: 10 as part of America’s official response to 9/11, he really put a curse on us. The time has come to cancel this curse and seek the Lord with our whole heart.

The season of grace is still open, and we have a promise from God that if we will repent and reconcile with God, He will heal our land:

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chron 7:14 (ESV)

This is the true state of the union, and I urge all our leaders to take advantage of this generous forgiveness that God offers while there is still time. Christians, please continue to pray fervently and effectively for this nation to be saved. Be wise virgins who have enough oil on hand for the time ahead; the darkness is coming when no one can work. Fulfill your ministries, and prepare the people like Joseph did. He faithfully prepared the people for famine before it happened, and as a result many people were saved alive. Be found busy with the Lord’s business, and Shabbat shalom everyone!

 Yeshua (Jesus) Kadosh (Holy)

Shabbat shalom image 2

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