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Evangelist, Baptist, Husband, Father, Mid-30's.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

My Worth is Not in What I Own

I remember in disbelief reading part of the recantation biography of Jim Bakker called, I Was Wrong. In it he talks about watching on television his home in Tega Cay, South Carolina, burn to the ground from a prison cafeteria. The lavish $1M (in 1989 money) home represented much of what was wrong with his first ministry, and his response to much of what is wrong with his latter ministry. In his biography he agonizes over the loss of the home and what it represented in his life and family. His statement is telling, "Sitting in that prison TV room watching my former home crumble in flames was one of the most traumatic times of my life."

I read the entire worthless attempt at repentance with a judgmental eye, but I was especially exacerbated by the chapter idolizing his home. How someone could lose his ministry to the consequences of sin, his wife to an unfaithful friend, and his son to the secular culture and yet claim that the losing of his home (that didn't even belong to him at the time) was amongst the most traumatic events of his life was clearly a sin that had not been repented of.

But then Hurricane Michael happened. And I realized I had a log in my eye at least as big as Jim Bakker's.

Hurricane Michael slammed into Panama City last week. I called Panama City home for four and a half years, I met my wife there, my twins were born there. I purchased an old run down home near the Air Force base for half of what it was worth, and over four years spent countless hours and quite a bit of money repairing things that previous owners had neglected, and improving other things. I carried my wife across the threshold, my middlest daughter and both twins learned to walk there, we taught Bible Study almost every Monday for years, we transformed the office into the girl's room. I discipled young men in the living room, two dear friends helped renovate the garage and make it a useable space. I came to love the home there, which, albeit small, is jam packed with memories.

But then Hurricane Michael hit, and though we already sold the home and moved far north, it was still a crushing feeling to know that a house right on the bay would not survive the hurricane unscathed. And then a dear friend sent this picture:

It shows the garage decimated, a water pipe burst that has flooded the driveway, the roof damage almost guarantees that everything we did in the kitchen is destroyed. Even though we no longer own the home, it still uncovered a level of affection I have for this world that I did not even know I was still holding onto.

For my entire time in Panama City I was blessed to be a member of Carlisle Baptist Church in Callaway. I married my wife there, I was blessed to fill the pulpit several times, I watched young men and women transformed by the gospel, and I baptized one of my best friends there. But the roof couldn't handle a Cat 4/5 hurricane, and the church structure we enjoyed and loved is gone forever.

But a dear friend from that church said it best, "The church is the people, not the building." And that is true, the church building will perish sooner or later, but the living church will endure forever.

So why am I so downcast over the destruction of two buildings? While I would not say, like Bakker, that it is amongst the most traumatic events of my life, I will say that it is quite traumatic. And I'm not even there, or have a monetary stake in it, and as far as has been reported, all of our brothers and sisters have survived the storm.

My hope is not in what I own, and thankfully so, because in my life I've seen things that I have built or maintained (F-15E S/N 304 that I worked on a few years before it crashed in Libya) that I thought would last forever, but have quickly fallen apart. As a young man it was merely the words of Jesus that I was trusting when he said, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matt 6:20)." As I've gotten older I've now experienced that verse and I trust it both because Jesus said it, and because I've experienced it at a far greater pace than I ever imagined.

The late Adrian Rogers defined human life in three epochs of temptation, the first being the temptation of the body (lust, laziness, violence, drugs/alcohol), the second being the temptation of possessions and position, and last being the temptation of fear and doubt.

I suppose I have officially transitioned into the middle epoch, and having identified it I must lift my eyes to Heaven to seek the kingdom that is to come. We seek a city to come, for hear we have no lasting city.  My mind is a jumble in writing and recalling so many facts, but I remember that when prorating a house the insurance companies generally assume a house is a usable structure for 55-70 years. That is quite a short time span for a kingdom which we invest so much of our lives building. Let us then build up, with living stones, a kingdom that will endure for eternity, and will not be shaken.

Let us pray with Keith and Kristyn Getty, "When I cling to what I have, please wrest it quickly from my grasp. I'd rather lose all the tings of earth to gain the things of heaven (Simple Living, 2011)." But at the same time, let us seek what will truly last:

Rescue the perishing
care for the dying
Jesus is merciful
Jesus will save
Church, open your eyes once more
and see what Christ died for
Jesus is merciful
Jesus will save. ~ Billy Foote, Rescue the Perishing, 2003

Keith and Kristyn Getty - My Wealth is Not in What I Own

Sunday, June 3, 2018

All is Discovered! Flee Now!


Consider for a moment that you just received a text from an unknown number, 
All is Discovered! Flee Now!
How would you react?

In the late 19th century, and popularized by Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), a tragically humorous anecdote was told of a person sending six telegrams to six upstanding Christian gentlemen (or pastors) stating only, “All is Discovered: Flee at Once!” The following day (or Sunday) not a single one of the men could be found, having left town in a hurry.

Tell this story at any gathering and you are sure to hear some nervous laughter. The joke is not that these six were accidentally discovered, for the author of the telegram had no knowledge or inkling of any secret sin, but that every man has a deep dark secret of which he would flee if it were found out, convicted by their own conscience.

The church has not been immune from secret sin, but beloved, there should be no unconfessed sin in your life that, if found out, would result in the end of your ministry, family, or life. This has been exacerbated in recent days by the findings of a major SBC investigation into Paige Patterson. The investigation began not because of secret sin, but because of public statements which were made in very poor judgment. Dr. Patterson had little to deny or even be ashamed of in his defense, other than a lack of clarity and of being out of line with the culture, but rather should have clarified and preached. But the investigation did not stop with public and defendable statements.

What was found that was utterly shocking and repugnant in Dr. Patterson’s investigation was that which was known by only a few people, that he had purposefully covered up rape allegations to either protect his seminary, or to protect the rapist. Either is abhorrent and a secret, which, when found out, led to his firing from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I had supported Paige Patterson up until I learned why he was fired, as the board revealed, this was truly “new information” and was a sin worthy of firing.

Paul writes to Timothy on these matters, speaking about being slow to associate with just any man who shows interest in ministry, because you may be found taking part in his sin. Paige Patterson is a hero in the Southern Baptist Convention and by almost all accounts seems to bear fruit keeping with repentance. I truly hope that his cover-up was a serious stumble, and not the exposure of much deeper spiritual issues.

Paul continued his thought, “The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later (1 Timothy 5:24).” I’ve always felt this was a direct allusion to Moses regarding whether the tribes of Reuben and Gad would provide warriors to conquer what would become Israel, “Be sure your sin will find you out (Numbers 32:23).” Some men are obviously sinners and few are surprised when they fall, such were Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard, Paul Crouch, Mark Driscoll, etc, etc, ad nauseum, but the sins of others are hidden, such as those of Josh Duggar, Paige Patterson, and Paul Pressler, and many are surprised when they are brought to light. I believe that the Apostle Paul was making the point that some sins are exposed before judgment, and others won’t appear until after judgment.

The tragedy of many is that they will never get a wake up call, “All is Discovered! Flee Now!” but their sins will only be made manifest on the great and terrible day of judgment when their faith is shown to be a fraud and their sin finds them out. For, dear reader, you may hide your sin from many people, but you will never hide your sin from God, for his Word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:12-13). God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus (Romans 2:16).

Our associate pastor recently recommended a wonderful book to us on teaching children to keep their body’s safe, it is called God Made All of Me by Justin Holcomb. It makes many great points (the main failing is that it does not address the gospel, but dear parent, that is ultimately your job), but the most important for me was where it talks about how secrets make people feel confused, hurt, scared, sad, etc and how secrets have no place in the kingdom of Heaven. Christ came as light into the world and the darkness fled from him, lest their deeds be exposed. There is no place for secrets in the household of faith. We could argue minutia such as not revealing the identity of a rape victim, but we will not argue whether the rape should be reported, investigated, and punished. A secret has no place in Christian's life if we have truly come to the light.

Dear reader, make this decision now, that no secret will exist in your life that, if revealed, would ruin your career, your family, your life, or your eternity. Let no sin go unconfessed to God and man, and unrepented of. The blood of Christ cleanses from all unrighteousness.

There are some whom I know whose sin is evident to all but themselves; there are others whose sin is undeniably there, but which sin is unclear; there are others whom I pray would receive a wakeup call on par with, “All is Discovered, Flee Now!” Beloved, where do you stand on this scale, if a telegraph appeared at your door tomorrow would you have enough time to pack your bags, or would you know that all of your sin is already laid at the foot of a bloodstained cross and has no power over you?

And if all truly were discovered, to whom would you flee? At the end of the age many will flee to caves in mountains and under rocks but will have no reprieve from him who is seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. John the Baptist asked a wicked and perverse generation whose sin was more than conspicuous, “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come (Matthew 3:7)!?”

Beloved, there is one Saviour, one name given under Heaven by which we must be saved, to whom we must flee: Jesus, raised from the dead, who delivers us from the wrath to come. Flee to him yourself, and call others to flee, instead of a telegram as a joke, implore men with all seriousness and love, “All is Discovered! Flee now to Christ Jesus who died for you while you were yet a sinner, defeated death, and is able to save completely all who draw near to him in faith!” For how will they call on him who is able to save and how will you declare it?
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages, but now has been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. ~ Romans 16:25-27

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The World Without Easter

Behold: my people have acted foolishly,
            and shall be cast down.
The nations are without a witness,
            the Kings speak boastful and unrestrained words.
            The Word of God which we have not heard is forgotten and lost.
We are despised and rejected by men;
            men of sorrows and forever acquainted with grief.
Surely we will bear our griefs, even to Hell;
            our sorrow is our faithful companion all the days of our lives.
We are stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
            We are cursed for our transgressions;
            We are crushed for our iniquities;
            We are without peace and without hope in the World.
            Our sores are gangrenous and licked by the wild dogs; without remedy.
We like sheep have gone astray,
            and no shepherd leaves the flock to search for us.
Our iniquities fester and multiply.
We are oppressed, afflicted,
            we cry out in agony, torn asunder like lost lambs amongst the wolves.
By injustice and oppression we find no reprieve in the lawless courts of men;
            my generation is lost, stricken for my transgression and theirs.
Our graves are hewn for the wicked;
            rich and poor alike; we shall perish and shall see corruption in them.
Our violence has taken us away,
            and our deceit has sealed our fate.
And it was the will of the Lord to punish us,
            He has put us to grief,
            There is no guilt offering, no substitute;
            We and our children are lost forever.
Of the anguish of our soul! We shall never be free;
            I could not save myself, I can neither save others;
            I cannot bear even the weight of mine own iniquities.
My portion is lost, my spoil is wasted on those who will fall after me;
            My lifeblood is splattered on the ground,
            amongst the blood of a multitude of transgressors.
            Each bearing the immeasurable weight of his sins.
            There is no intercession for the transgressors.

But…Jesus… (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)


Monday, July 31, 2017

Build the House

With the proliferation of House-Flipper and Home-Renovation shows it has become very popular to improve the quality of a physical structure. This has become so popular that various experts in the real-estate market see an impending fall coming: another real-estate bubble. We saw this as we purchased a home recently, and several of the houses we looked at were what I called, “Flips Gone Bad” in which case it was clear that the flipper ran out of money before the house was ready to be sold, and the flipper would be fortunate to break even on their venture. House flipping and renovation are costly ventures and usually they cost much more than they are worth.

Let me take you to post-exilic Israel where another housing boom was in full swing. The year is 520BC (Haggai 1:1). After Ezra and others had led a multitude of Jews back to Judah and Jerusalem they had rebuilt their homes but had been stopped by the reigning government from rebuilding the House of God (Ezra 4:23-24). For eighteen years the Jews rebuilt their great houses, no detail was overlooked, and the neighborhoods were beautiful, with the exception of a big burned out husk of a temple at the top of Mount Moriah. If they had reality TV, I imagine everyone would have had their own show, and the view of a destroyed temple would be a turn-off for potential investors.


But,

Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.”
Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” declares the LORD of hosts. “Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.” – Haggai 1:3-11
The Israelites heard and responded, they rebuilt the temple. Everyone who had seen Solomon’s temple wept, but those who had not seen it rejoiced. And God promised that the glory of this temple would be greater than the glory of Solomon’s temple. For it was all pointing towards a better temple: Jesus said,
Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up...” He was speaking about the temple of his body. – John 2:19,21
Now, the application. It’s going to hurt. Brace yourself. The world says you ought to be working on your own house, on knocking down walls, on replacing cabinets, on improving the value of your earthly dwelling. But God asks if it is not time for you to be working on his house, on his dwelling? God is not looking for a home on Moriah, for he said,
The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father…but the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. – John 4:21-24
The dwelling place of God is with man. You, Christian, are the house of God, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God (1 Corinthians 6:19). God does not dwell in houses made of stone, or brick, or wood, or gypsum, or granite, or marble; he dwells in the human heart.

Which house have you been building? A worldly house for yourself? Focusing on the necessities of this world? Or building the house of God, which is yourself?


One of these houses is stored up for fire, or a housing bubble collapse, or both. The other is stored up for glory, for usefulness in this life and in the life to come. There are no lack of Bible verses that speak to this topic, not least of all concerns storing your treasure in heaven, not on earth, where earthquake, flood, fire, wood rot, changing fads, etc consume. Repent of building an earthly kingdom, of focusing on things more than souls, check your motivation, build up the spiritual house of the Lord.


Beloved, I encourage you to read Psalm 132 today, and heed its exhortation. You may have a very nice place to rest your head tonight, but does God have a place in you? Pray with King David,

I will not enter my house
or get into my bed,
I will not give sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
until I find a place for the LORD,
a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob. – Psalm 132:3-5
And never give up the renovation of his house while you still inhabit it,
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1-2
for,
I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. - Philippians 1:6 

Monday, June 5, 2017

7 Things You Need to Know About the Newest Planet or Solar System JUST Discovered by NASA

Introduction

With the plethora of new telescopes that are capable of reaching out to the stars in the Milky Way there are no lack of astronomers making statements that sound certain about their uncertain discoveries. The study of the stars and their satellites is definitely an interesting pursuit, one that has valuable benefits for mankind, but also one that can be used to waste a whole lot of money, and even the lives of those who devote themselves to it.

When you hear of the newest planet or solar system or star, it is important to remember these 7 things:

1. God Created It

The primary purpose of the stars, exoplanets, and moons is to “declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world (Psalm 19:1-4).” Skeptic Dr. Michael Shermer paraphrases Psalm 19:1 magnificently when he says, “A Hubble Space Telescope photograph of the universe evokes far more awe for creation than light streaming through a stained glass window in a cathedral.”

God created the stars, in their vast expanse and impossible number, with a Word (Genesis 1:14-19) on the fourth day. It is estimated that in the known Universe (Latin - single phrase) that there are enough stars for every person on earth to personally own 11 trillion of them. There are no lack of stars/planets/satellites in the universe for astronomers to discover and research, each tells a story of God’s creative power. Carl Sagan got it right when he said, “There are far more galaxies than people.”

God’s creation is far grander than anything mankind can produce. Astronomy is merely seeing God's creation after he created it.

2. Mankind Discovered Something About It

What mankind has discovered about exoplanets and solar systems heretofore has been entirely confined to the Milky Way Galaxy, a galaxy of nearly 100 billion stars. There are an estimated 100 billion more galaxies to explore, though Hubble’s Ultra Deep Field estimates that as a severe underestimation, if technology and theology allow.

So far the exoplanets discovered by astronomers all tell an interesting story, not a single one has been boring. Some are gas giants, others as small as earth, some are superheated past the temperature of lesser stars, others are supercooled, some rotate, others are tidally locked, some orbit on their star’s equator, others orbit around their star’s poles, some may have been stars once, others may be collapsed gas giants, some have stars as sister satellites, others are so far from their star that if you were standing on the exoplanet you couldn’t discern your star from the starry backdrop, etc.

But what mankind has discovered is currently, drastically, limited by technology. Mankind does not know the molecular makeup of most of the discovered exoplanets, nor even what they look like, and many of the details, such as temperature, atmosphere, and physical attributes are nothing but hypotheses presented by the astronomer or reporter as fact. Anytime you see a picture of a supposed planet that looks like Earth, it is because an artist drew up a picture of an earthlike planet and slapped a name on it of a dim spot on a star trillions of miles away. If technology allows us to see the true pictures of these planets I have no doubt we will be less bored than ever, and enjoy pictures of alien landscapes beyond our imaginations. But they won’t look like Earth, that’d be boring.

3. God is Demonstrating His Creativity Through It

In a universe where no snowflake, no human, no star is exactly the same, God demonstrates his vast creativity. In a universe where a gas giant can orbit its star in 36 hours and exist at 7,800 degrees farenheit (Planet KELT-9b) and another will have its first birthday in about 154,000 Earth years (GU Piscium b has a 160,000 year lap around its star), we see the vast creativity of our Creator. Each of our ~200 billion galaxies has a uniqueness and detail that should make us see the awesome mind of our God.

Not only is its topography, location, temperature, composition, speed, and appearance different, but it even has its own name. “God determines the number of the heavenly bodies; he gives to all of them their names (Psalm 147:4).”

4. God is Sustaining It

KELT-9b, mentioned above as a 7800 degree gas giant, should not exist. The temperatures, radiation, and gravity of its host star should have put an end to it long ago. But what is impossible with stars is possible with God. Likewise, Earth, even in her supposed “Goldilocks Zone” wouldn’t exist for a moment if she were not constantly and totally tweaked by the Sustainer of the Universe.

“He upholds the Universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3).”

5. It is Not in the Goldilocks Zone

Gliese 581d is a planet the right distance from its star for the temperature to sustain water…but if there is water it needs a greenhouse type atmosphere, and it is 8 times the mass of Earth, and its star 1/3 the brightness as the sun, and it has 0% the rotation axis of Earth…in other words, it is tidally locked. Earth exists in what many astronomers call the “Goldilock’s Zone” where conditions are “just right” to sustain life. When you hear of a planet being a Goldilocks planet, look at what they mean, usually they mean that one of a million conditions has been met. Hardly a sustainable planet. In other words, don’t buy a one-way ticket to Gliese 581d.

For another example, Earth has a magnetic field that is likely caused by a molten core, where-as Mars lacks this magnetic field and will never be habitable. Neither will any other planet ever meet the necessary life sustaining aspects of Earth, whether this is by design or by consequence it is true.

6. It has been Fatally Affected by Sin

While history has allowed many people to watch stars die, no observable planet has yet met its demise observed by human eyes. That may soon not be the case. Astronomers believe WASP-18b has crossed the event horizon which will end in it being consumed by its host star, as it spirals in a theoretically unsustainable diminishing orbit into the star WASP-18.

All of the exoplanets previously observed and to be observed, and even those that will never be observed by human eyes have an expiration date. Whether they are being consumed by their host, or blasted into smithereens, or will face the purifying fire of the end of the age, they will not exist forever.

So why do stars/planets/humans die? Death is a result of the broken Universe, a universe which has been ravaged by futility, not willingly, but because death entered into the cosmos through sin, the sin of one man Adam, and perpetuated by every human to come after him. Death and decay is the consequence of sin, which ravages everything, and desperately calls for relief, even in the stars groaning (Romans 8:19-22).

7. Redemption is Needed and Coming

But the Creator has not subjected his creation to futility for naught. A New Heaven is hoped for, a recreation of the fallen Universe. Through the cursed death of Jesus Christ and the power of his resurrection God is “reconciling to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:20).”

The cosmos currently exists in a state of bondage to the law of sin and death. But a time is coming when all things will be placed under subjection to the reigning king, Jesus Christ, at which time all who hope in the Son of God will be set free from their bondage to corruption.

Conclusion

The planets in this solar system were called of old, “Wandering Stars”, because if you plotted your course and placed your hope in them, they would lead you astray. Their paths are unpredictable without computer processing, and the traveler who hoped to navigate his path by them would meet with a difficult journey and may arrive in a place he did not intend or hope to go.

But Jesus Christ is fixed forever on the Throne of Grace, set your eyes upon him, and spend your time studying him and his word. The exoplanets and other heavenly bodies have their purpose in showing you the glory of God, but they are not the end goal of your existence or your salvation. There is one name given under the stars by which we must be saved, there is salvation in no one else. Look to Jesus, and be saved.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Portuguese Gospel Tract

We have recently moved, the hardest part was leaving our wonderful church and the work they were doing in Brazil. We went through much translation effort and design to make sure the following tract was biblical and accurate. Now that our new church is going to Haiti instead of Brazil, we want to make sure that this Portuguese tract is preserved and made available to others doing work in Portuguese speaking nations.

This tract is based on the American English "Pop Quiz" tract. Either tract is free to use in its entirety without permission. Any edits must be approved prior to printing/distribution.

Front

Pop Quiz

Verdadeiro ou Falso
1. Eu mantenho Deus em primeiro lugar no meu coração.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
2. Eu não tenho adorado (venerado) Dinheiro, Natureza, ou Imagens.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
3. Eu nunca usei o nome do Senhor em vão.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
4. Eu sempre honrei o domingo - dia para descansar.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
5. Eu sempre escutei meus pais, sem falhar.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
6. Eu nunca senti ódio em meu coração.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
7. Eu tive apenas pensamentos puros sobre pessoas bonitas.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
8. Eu nunca roubei nada.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
9. Eu sou verdadeiro em toda declaração que eu faço.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
10. Eu nunca desejei as coisas dos outros.

Back

Instruções

(Por favor, leia o outro lado primeiro)

Conte cada afirmação “verdadeira”.
Cada “verdadeira” recebe 1 ponto.

Converta sua pontuação em porcentagem dividindo por dez.
100% = Passou            90% ou Menos = Falhou

Se você não conseguiu, não vai impedi-lo de se formar para a série seguinte, ou de ganhar seu certificcado; este é o exame de admissão para o céu, uma nota negativa é a sua condenação ao inferno.  Estas perguntas são baseadas nos 10 Mandamentos, o fundamento do julgamento da justiça de Deus.

Seu destino está escrito na Bíblia quando diz; “Não sabeis que os injustos não herdarão o reino de Deus?  Não se deixe enganar ; nem os devassos, nem os idólatras, nem os adúlteros, nem homens que praticam a homossexualidade, nem os ladrões, nem os avarentos, nem bêbados, nem maldizentes, nem roubadores herdarão o reino de Deus.”

Pergunta Crédito Extra

Verdadeiro ou Falso
Deus enviou o Seu único Filho para morrer na cruz por meus pecados, para que eu possa ser perdoado. O que é exigido de mim para receber esse perdão é se arrepender de ( por sua vez, a partir de ) meus pecados e confiam em Jesus Cristo para foi os meus pecados e entregar-me ao Céu.

Resposta: Verdadeiro

Se você se Arrepender de seus pecados e Confiar em Jesus Cristo ressuscitado, o verso seguinte será verdade para você : “Mas vocês foram lavados, mas fostes santificados, mas fostes justificados em o nome do Senhor Jesus Cristo e pelo Espírito do nosso Deus .”

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Daughter of Mordecai

In the wonderful biblical book of Esther are many godly lessons to be learned. As a father of three boys and two girls and having a third girl stay with us temporarily, I noticed something in Esther that I had never seen before: I noticed the fatherly role of Mordecai and the things he taught Esther in her youth that blessed her and her people when she became an adult.

In Mordecai we have not only a righteous man who stands for the truth, stands against (in refusing to physically stand) evil, and who rests on the providence of God, but we also have a great example of a biblical father. We see him teaching Esther obedience, compassion, prayer, and courage, among other things.

Mordecai Stepped up to Raise Esther

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (James 2:27).” We see Mordecai stepping up to raise the orphaned Hadassah (later called Esther) in the death of her parents, who are Mordecai’s uncle and aunt.

He was bringing up Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother…Mordecai took her as his own daughter. ~Esther 2:7
Mordecai Cared for Esther

Mordecai not only stepped up to take care of Hadassah, but he stepped into the biblical role of father, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).” He was much older than Hadassah, and so perhaps he might have thought that it would have been better to turn her over to a younger Hebrew family, but as we see later in the book, he trusted in the divine providence of God, and perhaps, he thought, she had come into his house for a reason.

Mordecai loved and cherished and cared for Hadassah. When the king of Persia sought out a new beautiful young queen, Hadassah was gathered into the citadel. During her time of preparation, one year, to meet the king, the Bible tells us, “Every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her (Esther 2:11).”

In his love for her, he looked after her safety and made sure she was being taken care of. Mordecai had raised Hadassah to walk in the way she should, and he had done a good job.

Let’s look at some things that Mordecai had taught his daughter.

A Meek and Obedient Heart

The time in which Mordecai and Hadassah lived in Persia was a very dangerous one. And to make matters worse, Haman the Agagite held onto a 550 year old family feud with the family of Kish, which just so happened to be Mordecai and Hadassah’s great-grandfather many times removed. Haman greatly desired to put an end to the Jewish people. For this reason Mordecai felt it wise for Hadassah to conceal her genealogy.

Mordecai commanded Hadassah to keep quiet in this matter (Esther 2:10), and she did. This was not the first or only time that Hadassah had obeyed Mordecai, she was obedient in this very important matter because she had been brought up in obedience.
Esther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him.
~ Esther 2:20
Obedience in the small things will be translated to obedience in the large things. Beloved, it is not a stretch of the imagination to see that if your child listens to you in your living room when you command them to put their shoes away, that it might save their life in a busy parking lot when you command them not to step off the curb, and it certainly will save their soul when they hear the command of God to obey the gospel of grace (cf 1 Peter 4:17).

Hadassah was quite possibly the most beautiful woman in Persia, she was well liked by everyone she met, she had her own entourage; she most certainly could have chosen to disobey Mordecai seeing as her political position was higher than his, but her strength bowed to Mordecai’s will, and it saved not only her life, but the lives of countless others.

Hadassah loved, obeyed, and respected her father.

A Respectful Demeanor

When Hadassah meets the eunuch who has charge over her, she wins his favor. We see in Esther 2:15 that the would-be-queens who go to meet the king are allowed to bring something with them, but Esther, in her trust in God, chooses to bring nothing special with her, except that which her Eunuch, Hegai, instructs her to bring. She respects his wisdom and position, and though she knows she has God’s favor and needs to bring nothing to meet the king, she respects Hegai and takes what he advised.

Because of this, she not only won the respect of Hegai, but also that of everyone who saw her (Esther 2:15). This was in no small part because of her respectful heart and demeanor. And where did she learn these things? From her father, Mordecai. Esther was kind to everyone, not just those that could benefit her, this was not something that could be taught with words, undoubtedly Esther learned this through watching her father interact with others.

It ought to be every Christian’s goal to be “well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil (1 Timothy 3:7).” The Christian ought to live a life of kindness, generosity, respect, and love. Surely the message of the cross is offensive and the Christian will be hated for it, but the only offense of the Christian ought to be message of the cross, not of a failed and offensive character (cf also 1 Peter 2:11-12).

Hadassah, just as all Christians, could show grace to a lost and worldly people because of a complete trust in God to grant mercy or mete out justice according to his infinite wisdom.

Trust in God

The maidens who appeared before the king of Persia had the option of asking for accompaniment into the king’s court. Some have speculated that this may have been music to show their prowess in dancing, or an expensive wine or perfume to seek to sway the king’s heart, or an important escort such as a prince or politician to show the king their importance. But Hadassah chose none of these things, she trusted in God that he would go before her and grant her favor in the eyes of the king. While Hadassah was very beautiful, she knew the Proverb, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30).” Hadassah knew that if she won the king’s favor with her beauty, then in time when the years had eroded away at her beauty and figure, the king might replace her for a younger woman. Instead, Hadassah trusted God and met the king with her true and lasting beauty, the beauty of her spirit. Peter would write five hundred years later, “Do not let your adorning be external-the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear-but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quite spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious (1 Peter 3:3-4).”

Hadassah undoubtedly won the heart of the king through her respectful and pure conduct (Esther 2:17).

Purity

As we sit in the 21st century it is easy to think that sin is easier to find than it ever has been. We have television that brings wanton immorality straight into our homes, we have the internet that with just a keystroke can open up destructive things that will scar our souls for a lifetime, we have sexualized culture in every facet. But beloved, things were no easier for Mordecai and Esther. Sin has always been treacherous and abundant, and no temptation has appeared in the 21st century that has not always been common to man.

This is abundantly clear in the twelve month waiting period before a maiden would meet the king. These girls were locked away in the citadel with no men but eunuchs to guard them. It has been accurately surmised that the yearlong wait was partly meant to filter out the girls who were pregnant when the king’s decree was made. And while the Bible does not say so, I suspect at least a few girls were disqualified from meeting the king because of the wait.

Mordecai had trained up his daughter in such a way that she was chaste, pure, and worthy to marry a king.

Graceful and Submissive

One of the reasons that the king was in search of a new wife was because his previous wife had been contentious and disobedient. It must have been a tremendous relief to him to meet Esther in her submissive and graceful demeanor. “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels (Proverbs 31:10),” and “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all (Proverbs 31:29).”

Fathers, did you know, or more importantly does your son know, that Proverbs 31 is not written to teach women how to act? It is written to a son to instruct him on the value of a virtuous wife. I pray that I will raise my daughters to be a blessing to their husbands as they exhibit grace and embrace submissiveness and that my sons will not be destroyed (Proverbs 31:3) by worldly women.

I pray that they will reach out to the poor, speak for the mute, and open their hands to lift the downcast up to see Jesus, to love mercy, seek justice, and walk humbly with their God (Proverbs 31:9,20, Micah 6:8).

How to Read People

When Haman gains the ear of the king he devises a plot to wipe out all of the Jews in the Mede-Persian Empire, which for all intents and purposes included every Jew alive at the time. When Mordecai learns of the plot, he is obviously driven to despair and tears his clothes, dresses in sackcloth, and heaps ashes upon his head. Hadassah, oblivious to the danger, sought to comfort her father by sending him new clothing to wear. When Mordecai refuses, Esther realizes that something important is happening. She did not press him to change clothes, or cheer up, but instead listens to him and hears his distress.

From her position, it would have been very easy for Hadassah to have assumed Mordecai was overreacting or being ungrateful to her husband the king or sought to press him to end his lamentations (cf Nehemiah 2:2). Mordecai had probably taught her the proverb, “Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda (Proverbs 25:20).” So instead of fighting Mordecai, she empathized with him, and accurately identified that she needed to invest more time and effort into his current situation.

Hadassah knew how to read Mordecai, and knew that his distress was important to him, so she made it important to her, and in so doing she saved many lives, including her own.

Compassion

When Hadassah learns of the plot to exterminate the Jews she acts and in so doing saves not only the lives of her people, but also her own life. A case could be made that she acted only out of self preservation and not a compassionate heart. But that does not stand up to scrutiny, for by Esther 8:3 Hadassah is safe from harm, but she once against entreats the favor of the king to save her people. She puts her own life in danger (Esther 4:11, 8:3) to intercede for her people, even when her life is quite secure.

Mordecai had taught her well to love God and love people, and to make sacrifices in order to help, protect, and even save others. May we, like the Messiah Jesus, be teaching our children that it is “More blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).” May we, like the Apostle Paul, be willing to sacrifice everything for others (Romans 9:3). May we, like Christ, do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than ourselves, looking not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 4:3-4).

Let us set the example for our children, as Mordecai did in adopting Hadassah and raising her, and then pray for them that they would be imitators of us as we are of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Prayer

The most important lesson that Mordecai taught Hadassah was how to pray and seek God. When the disciples approached Christ they did not ask him to teach them how to walk on water, or turn water into wine, or multiply fishes, or heal the sick, or even to raise the dead, they asked him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1). Beloved, if you teach your children only one thing, teach them how to come to God (John 14:6) and know the one true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent (John 17:3).

When Hadassah was faced with impossible circumstances she did not despair for her life, but turned to God in prayer and fasting, and entreated all of the Jews in town to likewise fast and pray for her (Esther 4:16). Hadassah did not suggest a menial prayer at mealtime, she called for a three day fast of food AND water. Three days without water is nearly fatal, but without God’s favor the Jews would surely die. Hadassah took her entreaty to God very seriously, and found faith, favor, and courage in God’s providence. For after all, if God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?

Courage

Finally, in Hadassah’s life we see a tremendous amount of courage. She takes her life in her hands when she walks uninvited into the presence of the king, not once but twice (Esther 5:1, 8:3-5). She had replaced an unsubmissive wife and so contextually she was in far more danger than most in stepping into the king’s court without being summoned, but the necessity outweighed the risk and she put on strength (Proverbs 31:25) and accepted the danger. She told her father, “If I perish, I perish (Esther 4:16).”

I imagine a five year old Hadassah sitting on her grey-haired father's lap and him telling her, “Fear not those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear God who can destroy both soul and body in Hell (Matthew 10:28)." Esther put away her fear of man and kings, she took courage in the providence of God, and knew that God does not believe in coincidences and had not put her in the palace for no reason (Esther 4:14), but that she was to, as William Carey put it 2300 years later, “Expect great things from God, and attempt great things for God.”

Courage is something that God can muster out of nothing, but more often it is a character trait trained through years of practice. Young David did not rush out to meet Goliath without a character of courage that had risked life and limb earlier in his life (1 Samuel 17:34-36). Certainly Hadassah had not decided to be courageous for the first time in the king's palace, but Mordecai had raised her up to walk in courage and know that it was God who walked before her, and who commanded angels to guard her in all her ways (Psalm 91, especially Psalm 91:11). Hadassah was trained in courage, so when great courage was required of her, she was prepared to rise and meet the challenge.

Conclusion

Mordecai was undoubtedly proud of the things his daughter accomplished through the sovereignty and working of God. But beloved, I doubt he was surprised by them. He had ingrained these things in his little girl from the time she could understand his words, and probably even before that. He had trained up his child in the way she should go, and when she was older and a queen in a hostile and strange land, she did not depart from the statutes of God.

Take Mordecai’s example, step up to be the father your children or the children in your house (church, community, etc) need. Care for their needs, see that they are safe, and bring them up to fear God and be used by him in the way in which he has prepared (Ephesians 2:10). Teach them to respect others, to show empathy and compassion, to obey your commands so they will obey God’s commands, to submit and trust to God’s will, how to pray, and how to be strong and courageous. Teach your boys, and even your girls, to laugh in the face of danger (Proverbs 31:25).

You have come into your childrens’ lives for just such a task as this. And who knows, perhaps you and God are preparing them to see nations saved and the name of Jesus lifted high as his peace is published throughout a foreign and hostile land.

In closing, Esther means “Star” and I believe it refers to God shining his righteousness and steadfast love through her. I am also apt to say that it is a partial fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel, “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever (Daniel 12:3).”

May it be, and may your name and the names of your children be forever remembered in regards to your faith in the living God who loved us and gave himself for us, and by the many that you and your family turn to righteousness, just as Mordecai and Hadassah are remembered and immortalized in the Book of Esther and in the hearts of millions of Persian Jews who were saved from the snare of the evil one. May your family be a starry cluster trained up in the way in which they should go.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

God is Pleased to Cut Down Some to Warn Others – Josh Duggar

Josh Duggar is back in the news, and this time the sin he has been discovered in, and confirmed, is after his supposed conversion to Jesus Christ. It is a devastating fall and it is bringing disgrace upon the name of Christ, hurting the church, and crushing his family. It is a terrible and sad sin, but dear believer, God is using all things for good to those who love him and are called according to his purposes.

I pray that one of God’s purposes in the midst of this seeming irredeemable sin is to bring Duggar to repentance. I know that one of God’s purposes in exposing Duggar is to warn the church that secret and unrepentant sin is serious and dreadful.

It was said by Jonathan Edwards, “God is pleased to cut down some to warn others.” His original context is concerning death in young age, however, it is also very apt when a believer is caught in horrifying sin. Now, I am not confirming that Josh Duggar is a born-again follower of Jesus Christ, but it is not place to judge his salvation. That is the job of his close friends, his pastor, and his elders, and ultimately Jesus Christ, but based on his profession of faith, I hope he is a true believer in the Way.

Regardless, if we want to benefit spiritually from his fall, we must assume that he believed he is born-again, and also understand that is possible for believers to fall. The “Slippery-Slope” argument is sound, Josh Duggar did not choose to sin in a minute, his sin started in childhood, was nurtured through pornography, and blossomed in adultery; sin unchecked in the believer is more than capable of escalating to the levels that it has in Josh Duggar’s life.

Consider Ananias and Sapphira, there is scant evidence that they were true believers, but beloved, I submit that there is NO evidence that they were not. When their greed and deceptiveness manifested in lying to the Holy Spirit and they were cut down look at the response of the church, “Great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things (Acts 5:11).” God cut down Ananias and Sapphira as a warning to believers and unbelievers alike that he takes sin seriously and the consequences are dire.

The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was found out almost immediately, Duggar on the other hand has concealed his sin for months and years. Paul warns, “The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later (1 Timothy 5:24).” Beloved, search your heart, which sin in your life are you successfully hiding from the world? Be sure that it will come to light sooner rather than later, and beloved, it behooves you to deal with this sin sooner than later!

It could be that right now Ananias and Sapphira are in the agony of Hell crying out in warning to you not to come to this place of torment. Do not rest on the solace that they may be in Heaven praising the exceeding grace of a risen Saviour. When you pass into eternity, let there be no question in anyone’s mind concerning your salvation. There is no-one alive who can tell you where Ananias and Sapphira are spending eternity, and there are many who worry that if Josh Duggar stepped out of this world today, he would face God in his terrible fury. The warning from God in Ananias, Sapphira, and Josh Duggar is this: Be sure your sin will find you out.

Be sure your sin will find you out.

The sins into which Josh Duggar has fallen publicly are all sexual sins. Molestation, pornography, adultery. These sins are rampant today in and out of the church. Truly the days are evil. Dr. Kevin Leman, in his book Sheet Music, notes an interesting phenomenon regarding sexual sin; that unconfessed, hidden sin is impossible to repent of. He specifically relates this in the context of unwed couples engaging in fornication, that regardless of how much each wants to stop sinning and abstain from fornication it is impossible as long as the couple is the only two who know of the sin. Only once a pastor, parent, or friend are told, asked to pray, and keep the couple accountable, do the couple start making righteous decisions and stop their sin. Paul pleads with you, "Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, who you have from God (1 Corinthians 6:18-19)."

To flee from sexual sin requires light. Believer, if you are caught in sexual sin, you must tell someone who will keep you accountable and encourage you to repent of your sin. Tell your wife, your pastor, a close friend, tell someone. Depending on your sin their response may be judgment, but beloved, it is far better to be judged by a brother this side of eternity than by God, or to be found out like Josh Duggar. James exhorts you! “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins (James 5:19-20).” Employ a Christian brother to bring you back from your sin. Most likely, no matter how terrible your sin is, you will be met with empathy and a willing heart to help you if you bring the sin to light. Regardless, sexual sin requires light, and hiding it in the dark will never benefit your spiritual condition.

Look at the sinners in Ezekiel’s day hiding their sin, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us (Ezekiel 8:12)…”

Likewise Jesus warns, “This is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed (John 3:19-20).

Let Josh Duggar be a warning to you. Your sin will find you out. Dear reader, first make your calling and election sure, are you in the faith? Confess your sin to Jesus Christ and look to his work on the cross as your salvation, thank him that he saw fit to save a wretch like you. Second, repent of your sin! Take drastic measures to repent and be forgiven. Look to Caleb in the movie Fireproof when he destroys and disposes of his computer. Tell someone, tell your wife, your pastor, someone, and seek godly counsel to help you overcome and defeat your sin.

Paul promises, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).”

Josh Duggar has been cut down for your sake. Be thankful for this warning and repent of your sin. Stop trying to hide it; it might be revealed today, or it might be revealed on the Day of Judgment, but it will be revealed, that is sure.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Three Reasons Frozen was Not a Good Movie

Introduction

I bought into the hype of Frozen, I’ll admit. The songs posted on Facebook, the constant references, the frenzy of interest…I had to watch it…and I liked it…at first. But then I watched it twice more (with kids!) and then thought about it, and realized that it’s not just not a good movie, it’s actually a bad movie that could have been epic.

I usually don’t write about things like this, but when you’re a writer in a drought you jump at the chance to write about anything. And this is something big, something that will have long lasting effects on the culture, and something that will pass for a good movie, when, if you think about it, is really not.

Summary

If you can’t read more than a few sentences because of your Facebook/Twitter addiction, then let me sum it up for you.

Frozen would have been a good movie if:
1. Olaf knew what summer was
2. Hans didn’t reveal his plan too early
3. There had been a contiguous story

So for my reader’s with attention spans, let’s get started with ways Frozen could have been better:

1. Olaf should have known about summer

There is definitely a hilarity and endearing quality to a snowman who dreams of summer. When Kristoff says, “I’m guessing you don’t have much experience with heat”, then “I’m gonna tell him”, and finally, “Somebody’s gotta tell him”, he stumbles upon what could have been an epic character crisis of a snowman who wants to love people and help his friends, but in so doing, would ultimately seal his doom (no-one could have foreseen his salvation at the hands of Elsa in the original version).

Imagine the internal struggle of a snowman who recognizes he must choose between either the complete ruin of summer-loving people or suicide. As it stands, Olaf’s naïvety only makes for a trite joke that is too easily rectified at the end of the movie. If it were done right, it would have put Tolkien’s Smeagol/Golum struggle to shame, but alas, it was not.

I even rewrote the song to perfectly encompass this drastic plot twist,
Winter’s a great time to stay in and cuddle,
But put me in summer, and I’ll be a…
Conflicted Snowman.
If only snowmen could foresee consequences like men should be able to.

2. Hans should have held onto his secret until the princess was actually dead

Prince Hans was a smart and laudable fellow for most of the movie, he even seems to have had a feasible plan in place for gaining a kingdom. His complete and unexpected turn to diabolicalness was far too fast and far less of a letdown than it was meant to be. Princess Anna is clearly having feelings for Kristoff midway through the movie, but in genuine loyalty to her betrothed, stands firm with Hans. Let’s say Hans was as diabolical as they want us to believe (though most of the movie does not square with his turn), then we would have to assume he thinks things through and is smarter than the average supervillain.

Prince Hans, in a good movie, would have kissed Anna, except only to the horror of everyone it would not have cured her frozen heart. Hans then easily could have said, “This is why we unfortunately cannot trust the love/magic advice of trolls.” and moved towards marriage of his “beloved” Anna, only to inherit the kingdom rightfully when hypothermia took his royal bride. Or in a better love story, Hans’ kiss does nothing, Kristoff connects the dots, rushes to her aide, and then the movie ends the way it does with Anna sacrificing herself for her sister.

As it stands, Prince Hans loses his future, the kingdom, and the movie for his impatience and lack of forethought by announcing to the world that he had married Anna before she died…but he announces her death before she actually dies. This ruined the movie because a diabolical supervillain would have thought this through, and would have left the audience guessing/wondering for a lot longer, with a more fulfilling reveal, and therefore a more fulfilling movie.

But that would have required a contiguous story.

3. A Contiguous Story

If there is one place where Frozen is a failure, it is in the lack of a streamlined story. It’s like the writers had a brainstorming session, liked everything that was proposed, and shoehorned it ALL into the movie.

The opening scene with the ice-cutter song is clever and engaging, but utterly useless in furthering the story. It lends to the idea that Kristoff was born to ice-cutters, adopted by trolls, and became an ice-cutter? It’s foolhardy and useless. Then move to the King and Queen, who come across as loving parents…who lock their daughters in the castle. In other Disney movies they would be the villains. Their death is awkwardly quick, but extremely convenient to the plot. Then Anna is scorned for falling in love with a man in a day, but nobody bats an eyelash when she kisses Kristoff after only a few days. I’ll admit, I glazed over these plot holes the first time I watched because my imagination wanted this to be a better movie than it was.

But where it gets glaringly bad is in the almost stories that are told. One person saw an attempt to force homosexuality on the viewers. Another saw a seemingly Christian theme of self-sacrifice and redemption. While there are supporting details for both, neither exists, because neither is clearly expressed, fleshed out, or corroborated. If the writers were trying to say that homosexuality is a trait that one is born with, that can’t be hidden, and is best expressed in small/controlled doses, they failed because it is in direct opposition to Elsa’s “Let it Go” song. If they were trying to say, “True love has no woman than this; that she lay down her life for her sister.” they failed because either Hans or Kristoff or Olaf could have broken the curse as quickly and completely without a sacrifice, and that is in direct opposition to the exclusivity of Christ.

Frozen is a muddle of stories that have little in common with each other. For the most part the characters are bland and unimaginative, and they were written to sing rather than tell a good story. The songs, standalone, are well written and catchy, but placed in the context of the film, the songs do not support the plot and are thus wrecked. Definitively “Let it Go” is the moment Elsa embraces the evil within herself, but when she turns back to good at the end of the movie, this song is effectively reneged, and thus is not the ballad of unbridled expression it is meant to be. Likewise, Anna and Hans’ love song is invalidated by Hans being a poor planner, a bad fiancé, and a born failure.

Conclusion

Frozen is somewhat fun and has memorable music with some endearing characters, but it contains such lazy writing and continuity that it ultimately is a forgettable and bad movie. Hans is too quickly and conveniently exposed as evil, and no-one really believes he’s as evil as the writers intend him to be; Olaf is a naïve sidekick who is far less thought provoking and silly as first impressions indicate.

But this is the quality of movie we accept now, our short attention spans require out-of-context ballads to keep us entertained, and we don’t care if there are massive plot holes or wrinkles, so long as the scene changes quickly enough and we can giggle over mildly (and in one case, wildly) inappropriate jokes.

Beloved, as you seek to redeem the time, consider if such poorly executed movies are worth your brain power or the dulling of your discernment, or decreasing your appreciation of drama. Find a good movie to watch or read a book or spend some time with people. In fact, it reminded me of a great quote from Robert Murray McCheyne’s biography (a book worth reading!), don’t let this be you,
Not a trait worth remembering! And yet these four and-twenty hours must be accounted for. - RM McCheyne

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Lessons from the Snowflake

For your edification and encouragement this Christmas, I’d like to give you some lessons from the snowflake.

Purity

Fresh snow is the epitome of whiteness, it covers every scar, every blemish, every mark on the landscape. Ray Comfort uses a great analogy of the purity of snow by stating that a white sheep in a green field looks brilliant, but a white sheep in a snowy field is revealed to be a dingy and imperfect grey. Similarly, if we compare ourselves to anything other than God and his revealed law, we can make ourselves look quite good, but compared to the perfection of God, our impurity is revealed.

Therefore snow shows us two things about God, first that we are imperfect, but gloriously it shows us also that we may be washed, covered, and all of our blemishes erased and purified by the work of Jesus Christ. God said so in Isaiah 1:18,
Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow.
And revealed in Revelation 7:14,
“They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Beauty

Wilson A. Bentley is renowned for his work in snowflake photography. In his lifetime he captured 5,000 snowflake images long before digital cameras or digital microscopes were invented. He captured the beauty of snowflakes far better than I ever could,
I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design…
When we look to the stars we see beautiful designs, in our everyday life we see beautiful sunsets and landscapes, and when we look at the minutia of the snowflake we see that God is a master craftsman, working on every scale, and creating and recreating beauty that mankind can only dream of replicating. And while I know of no verse that succinctly captures this thought, it is surely found in many biblical themes, and consider that God does it on grand scales every day, he asked Job 38:22,
Have you entered the storehouses of the snow?
Complexity

At first glance, a snowflake looks rather unassuming, but as Bentley found, they are miracles of design. Each one has an architecture, a symmetry, a purpose, and a means for growth. They are tiny miracles full of intricacy that take far more than a glance to appreciate.

Likewise God is a God of intricacy, we see it in mankind, we see it in creation from the largest star to the smallest snowflake, and, especially, we see it in the Word of God. A seemingly simple passage of scripture contains more depth than all of the writings of men. Above all, the intricacy of the Creator himself must be considered; one of the reasons Heaven will last forever is because we will need an eternity to plumb the depths of our infinite God.

Proverbs 25:3 states that the heart of men has the heavens for height and the earth for depth, how-much more then is the complexity of God.

Uniqueness

Wilson A. Bentley postulated that no two snowflakes were alike. I remember reading a study which mathematically estimated the number of people required to have a physically identical person, and while I can’t find the study, the number was in the hundreds of Trillions. Snowflakes are less complex than human beings, so it is entirely plausible that two identical flakes have fallen, but they are so unique that the chances of you or I ever seeing a duplicate flake is impossible. Bentley looked at 5000 flakes and didn’t even come close. Recent scientists have catalogued between 35 and 41 individual types of snowflake, each made up of multiple quintillion molecules (that’s 1000000000000000000 molecules) each of which has exponential possibilities in uniqueness.

For their beauty and complexity, God still manages to make each individual snowflake unique in its own way. No two galaxies, no two stars, no two people, no two snowflakes are exactly alike, God is the God of incredible imagination and creativity. And he made you and I.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
- Psalm 139:13
Resplendence

Resplendence is my favorite word. It is the act of shining. The snowflake falling in the dark has lost much of its purpose and glory. Yes, it still does many things that are glorious, but it fails to refract light, it fails to shine, and its glory is diminished.

It mirrors much of the purpose of man. Mankind is meant to reflect its Creator. Unlike snowflakes, we are created in his image and his likeness. Our primary purpose in life is to show the world Jesus, to be resplendent in his grace, to shine his power, forgiveness, justice, and love, and to make him known. A person living in the dark, outside of his light, has lost much of their purpose and glory.

The snowflake reminds us to reflect the Light of the world, and because of his work in us, he will be glorified in us and through us.
At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. – Ephesians 5:8
(And related, another snow verse, the coolness of snow is refreshing when much work is required, which Proverbs 25:13 equates to the refreshing nature of a faithful messenger. Be a faithful messenger publishing his mercy to the world.)

Fleeting

Finally, beloved, the snowflake reminds us that we live a short and doomed existence. The largest snowflake on record measured over a foot in diameter, yet there is no picture of it, for it melted before a camera could be found. Every snowflake that has ever fallen will melt someday, just as we all have an appointment with death.

Your lifespan, in your eyes, is a bit longer than a snowflake's, however in God’s eyes and the grand scheme of things your life is equated to a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes (James 4:14). You are terminal, you have an expiration date, and you have an appointment with Judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
Drought and heat snatch away the snow;
so does Hell those who have sinned. - Job 24:19
Conclusion and Invitation

But beloved, God has provided a remedy, he has defeated death, cleansed sinners, covered them, and recreated them. He sent his own Son from Heaven, he created for him a body to inhabit, he set him as the standard of purity. In him was life, and the life was the light of men, the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Jesus of Nazareth was not just reflecting the light, he was the light. And yet when the world saw his light, they did not know him, and they loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. But in his great love, he willingly went to a cross to face the just condemnation that sinners deserved, he substituted himself and faced the penalty of death though he had never sinned. He laid down his life that others may live, and then he took it back up again, the Lamb slain to wash men in his blood.

Pray with David,
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. – Psalm 51:7
And God will hear you and we will rejoice with Paul,
You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
– 1 Corinthians 6:11
And then we will reflect his light,
…Proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:10
Beloved, you were created to demonstrate that God is powerful, creative, pure, a Saviour, and capable of recreating mankind to show his glory. You only have one life, and it will soon be past, and only what’s done for Christ will last.

Finally, if you have been washed in the blood, then encourage someone today that they are worth far more than snowflakes, and that you appreciate them and the work God is doing in them. Above all, tell them of the soul cleansing blood that was shed on Calvary.