Sunday was Mother's Day. After the sermon, two ladies approached me and asked if I had seen the new decor in the Ladies' Restroom. I hadn't. They said that I should look.
Now, you might think this was an odd comment, because I am a guy. But, there is a new sign in the Ladies' Restroom that is my sermon in a nutshell: "Live by Grace, Not Perfection."
God is cool. He ties everything together, even when we are not trying to.
Motherhood is hard. There is a temptation to be perfect. No one can be perfect. Instead, all are called to be faithful.
Here are some articles that could provide some encouragement or practical ideas (I hope), as you continue to be faithful moms.
"The Pressure to Be Perfect"--Published by HuffPost UK Life--Medium length, truthful--This is not a Christian article. However, the author gives convincing reasons to the pressure of perfection in our Western culture. Hopefully, this provide ammunition to fight the pressure of perfection.
"I Am Not a Perfect Mother"--Published by HuffPost Life--Short, truthful--Again, this is not a Christian article. However, the author is transparent about her own struggle with perfection and about her desire to be faithful.
"5 Tips for Being a Faithful (and Not Just Busy) Mom--Published by Crossway--Short, Christian--The author gives a big-picture idea of faithfulness, applicable to all situations.
"7 Small Ways a Faithful Mother Can Make a Big Difference"--Published by The Better Mom--Short, Christian, Practical--This is a great article of practical ways a mom can be faithful in her daily life.
"I am Not the Perfect Mom But I am the Mom God Knew My Kids Would Need (and That Is Enough)"--Published by Beautifully Rooted--Long, Christian, Must-read--The author is amazingly transparent about the difficulties of motherhood but truthfully explains God's expectations of mothers from Scripture.
Post two from the excess of “Ask the Pastor” Sunday.
The question is: Based on 1 John 2:20, what is “unction” and “know all things”.
I must note first that the wordings are from the King James translation:
1 John 2:20 (KJV 1900)
20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.
Here is the same verse in the NIV:
1 John 2:20 (NIV)
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.
I will handle this question in two parts: 1) The word “unction” and 2) the phrase “know all things”.
First, John uses the word “unction” or “anointing” again in a few verses:
1 John 2:26–27 (NIV)
26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
The word in question (unction/anointing) is related to the word that Paul uses in 2 Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 1:21–22 (NIV)
21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
John uses the noun form, while Paul uses the verb form.
Historically, the noun was used for anointing oil for special occasions, like when a man was anointed king. The Greek translation of the Old Testament (The Septuagint) uses the word to the anointing of the coming Messiah.
Paul takes this concept and applies it to us. You see, when saved, God refashions us into the likeness of Christ, the Anointed One. Paul says that God has set his seal on us, the Holy Spirit, showing that God has guaranteed the Saved in their membership in Christ until the we are perfected.
John takes this term for Christ’s anointing and applies it to us as well, showing that, based upon our relationship with God and our special status as his people, we can have the clarity of faith and judgment and the assurance in life and decision that only comes from God.
Second, the phrase “know all things” or “all of you know the truth” needs some cultural background.
False Christians in John’s day used two special words to describe their experience: “knowledge” and “unction” (anointing). They claimed to have a special unction (anointing) from God which gave them a unique knowledge, above other so-called believers. They were “illuminated” and therefore living on a much higher level than anybody else.
But John points out that all true Christians know God and have received the Spirit of God! They all have the same anointing. Because they have believed the truth, they can recognize a lie when they meet it. Since we all have the same access to God, we can all understand Scripture.
This ties in with what Jesus said before he was crucified:
John 14:25–27 (NIV)
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
What are all the things we know? We know what Jesus taught. We know the things that are recorded for us in his Word.
Several months ago, Calvary Bible Church hosted “Ask the Pastor Sunday.” The congregation could submit questions before this Sunday about anything dealing with Bible knowledge, theology, and practical Christianity.
Though challenging, this is always a fun Sunday …. And there is always too many questions to cover in one session.
So, I told the congregation and myself that I would use those excess questions to fill my blog. My goal was one question a month. However, it has been two months and no blog post. Whoops!
Well, let us rectify that by studying the first question.
If the reader is interested in dates and figures, he or she will quickly become frustrated in trying to follow timelines in the Old Testament. So many dates don’t seem to match! To add insult to injury, when trying to compare those timelines to what is recorded for us in the New Testament, even more confusion seems to arise.
We know that the Bible doesn’t contradict itself so how do we resolve the apparent contradictions?
The length of time that the Israelites were in Egypt is a case in point.
Let us look at two passages:
Exodus 12:40–41 (NIV)
Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD’s divisions left Egypt.
Galatians 3:16–17 (NIV)
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.
The question can be seen as follows:
Moses, in Exodus, records the Israelites in Egypt for 430 years, from when Jacob’s entire family entered Egypt to when Moses led them out.
Paul, in Galatians, records 430 years from Abraham’s call to when the Law is given (one year after Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt). This would include 215 years between the call and Jacob’s arrival in Egypt, leaving only 215 years for Israel to be in Egypt.
There are two possible resolutions to this:
Genesis 46:1–4 (NIV)
So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.
2 And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
3 “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. 4 I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”
When Paul referred to the promises spoken to Abraham and his seed, he was referring to the promises spoken to the seed: Jacob. Incidentally, Genesis 46 happens when Jacob is in Egypt, marking the beginning of the sojourn in Egypt, paralleling the timeline in Exodus 12.
Before Jesus was on earth, the Jews commissioned a Greek translation of the Old Testament, called the Septuagint (The word means 70, referring to the 70 translators who worked on the manuscript).
This translation, when translated, reads:
the sojourn of the children of Israel, during which they dwelt in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, was 430 years,
Notice that the Septuagint adds “in the land of Canaan” which would include the time of Abraham and would parallel Paul’s apparent timeline.
Which possibility is correct?
I tend to favor the first possibility for several reasons, including:
These facts point to a sojourn of 430 years, meaning Paul was referring to the reaffirmation of the covenant to Jacob, rather than the original giving of the covenant.
When studying Galatians, however, we must realize that Paul isn’t trying to create a specific timeline. He isn’t crunching numbers and creating source citations. His point is that God gave the Law some four hundred years after the covenant. During all those years, before the Law, God’s promise to Abraham was in effect.
Reconciling dates and timelines is a fun and useful pastime. But, we cannot let that pursuit detract from the theology of the passage: God's grace apart from the works of the Law.
Truthfully, I expected a theological discussion on same-sex attraction when I opened this book. I was disappointed several pages into the first chapter. Then, I realized what Ron Citlau was doing. He was not writing a theological book. He was writing a pastoral one. Deep in the recesses of the book, one can find plenty of theology. But, at the forefront, one finds hope, understanding, and an appeal for Christian life change.
If you are wanting a theological treatise on same-sex attraction, look someplace else. But, if you want to know how to Biblically help someone through same-sex issues, or if you are struggling with your own sexual sin (same-sex or otherwise), pick up this book.
Citlau speaks to the hearts of his readers, urging them to act like the Bible is true, to apply the Gospel to their lives, to seize their identity in Christ, and to glorify God by growing in His clearly defined gender gifts.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
Andy Crouch writes another home-run; this time, arm-in-arm with Barna Research. In The Tech-Wise Family, Crouch explains his family’s journey to not be controlled by technology. With Barna’s statistics coloring most pages, Crouch’s principles are shown to be important and relevant for our time.
Unfortunately, many Christians have not thought about a theology of technology. Technology affects every area of our life now, but this effect is not neutral to us. Crouch transparently shares his family’s struggles to have a house which glorified God and built character in spite of technology. In the face of what could be viewed as legalistic standards, Crouch brings in grace, choosing to emphasize principles rather than rules. He acknowledges that everyone will have their own rules, while trying to keep the principles, and that everyone will break their own rules.
While reading this book, I wonder how teens would respond to Crouch’s system. I appreciate that his teenage daughter wrote the forward. She shared honestly her struggles with the rules, but also what she appreciated about them. Though this forward is not technically part of the book, I would propose it is the best part of the book.
I recieved this book in exchange for an honest review.
Sissy Goff, David Thomas ,and Melissa Trevathan masterfully lay out 12 milestones for children to reach in way that parents can easily understand. The chapters are split into easy sections: introducing the milestone, explaining stumbling blocks and building blocks for boys, explaining stumbling blocks and building blocks for girls, and finally providing some practical tips to intentionally teach the milestone within the home.
Picking up the book for the first time, I was worried that it might be a slow psychological book. But, I was pleasantly surprised. The authors are engaging, scattering the deep material with anecdotes and humorous stories. They bring in plenty of Scripture to provide a theological backing for their convictions.
I would definitely recommend this book to young and old parents alike. I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
Kenneth Richard Samples has a passion. He wants to exalt Jesus Christ above any other religious figure. He is committed to the idea that Jesus is the only true way of salvation. Therefore, he dismisses any other belief system, even “Christian” systems that allow for salvation apart from explicit belief in Christ. Samples has done a masterful job explaining his view.
This book is not an easy read. Samples wanted to prove his idea. He loads the book with facts, explanations, detailed explanations on logic, and more charts than are necessary. Consequently, this book took me 3 months to read, while I worked, traveled, and took care of an infant.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to have a better understanding of Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, and Mohammad. Samples explains their personal and religious histories very well. I also appreciate the addition at the end of each section explaining how to dialogue with a follower of those individuals for the purpose of evangelism.
I have two critiques. First, Samples does not interact with religious experts within the other religions. All of his quotes are from Christian experts of the other religions. I believe his book would be stronger if he included non-Christian experts. Second, at the end of the book, Samples discusses pluralism and universalism, contrasting them with exclusivism. While he has a good handle on pluralism and universalism, he pushes inclusivism to the side, erroneously tying this belief with universalism. He makes a broad statement that inclusivism is bad, but does not explain why. He then broadens exclusivism to include many beliefs inclusivists have.
Both these critiques are minor. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to dive deeper into world religions.
I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.
John Perkins has a winsome style of writing. He writes from his experiences and his culture. Consequently, many “proper” writers will cringe at some moments. However, his authenticity does not detract from his message. It merely amplifies it for those who are willing to listen.
Perkins is dreaming. Unfortunately, life wakes him up from this dream, day after day. But, life never stops him from dreaming. He has been dreaming ever since he woke up on a jail floor, hurting from a brutal beating, just because he was black. He has been dreaming ever since his brother was shot, because he was black.
What is he dreaming?
He is dreaming about a society where Christians start living their Christianity. He firmly believes that the Gospel is a message of reconciliation. Jesus came and lived in our mess in order that he might reconcile us with God. We, as followers of Christ, need to follow his example, by having an incarnational ministry. We are surrounded by hurting people of all stages of life, of all cultures, but of one race. We need to follow Christ into the hurt around us, seeking to bring reconciliation to those who are estranged from each other, and ultimately to bring reconciliation with God.
Perkins drives this dream home with compelling stories of his past, filled with hurts he has experienced and with healing he has seen. He calls his readers to rise above the emotional hurts of racial conflict, painting a theological picture of the justice of God, tiny hints of what eternity will be like.
Because of his past, Perkins is able to speak hard truths to all cultures and all colors. We all have areas where we should swallow our pride, admit we were wrong, and work towards reconciliation for the glory of God and the furtherance of the Gospel.
I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.
They say that nothing is sure in this world, except death and taxes. Well, currently, I am starting my taxes, so naturally my mind drifts to death. I hope that I do not die from the pain of taxes. I do not know anyone who has, but there is always a first. Just in case, I should make sure everything is in order, if only as an excuse to delay my taxes.
I invite you to join me in this.
Funeral planning should be like voting in Chicago. Early and often. We never know when the unfortunate event is going to happen, so, for the sake of our loved ones, we should have our will and our funeral plans up to date. This way, they can grieve without the pressure of hurried planning.
There are many things to consider as one plans his funeral. The big decision is what one wants done with his body: cremation or burial. Cremation is gaining popularity in recent years because it cuts costs and saves room. But, there is still some controversy around it. Many Christians are uncomfortable with this act. Some go so far as to insist that it is unbiblical, and could affect one’s eternal state, as in Heaven or Hell. Is this true?
Before I continue, I must establish some common ground. Whether one is cremated or buried, one’s body is just a body that will turn to dust either way.
So, with that said, what does the Bible say about cremation?
Frankly, not much.
Starting with the Old Testament and the Law, God did not give any commandments about correct burial. However, he did give burning as punishment for sexual sin, as found in Leviticus 20:14; 21:9. Those who committed certain sexual sins, such as prostitution and marrying both a mother and a daughter were to be burned alive. Not the most pleasant of punishments, and not really applicable to our discussion of cremation.
In the story of Israel coming into the Promised Land, we have the first mention of cremation. As Israel conquered the land of Canaan, certain cities, like Jericho, were to be totally destroyed. The Israelites were not to keep any souvenir. If anyone did keep something, the item kept and the body of the keeper were to be burned, both as a punishment and as a symbol of purifying the nation of Israel of the sin. Fire is a frequently used physical symbol for purification. When God commanded this, I am sure that no one wanted this punishment to actually happen. However, a man named Achan got greedy and kept some of the treasure of Jericho for himself. He was consequently stoned to death and his body was burned.
In 1 Samuel 31, the men of Jabesh-Gilead took the bones of Saul and his sons and burned them. They probably did this to protect Saul’s body from being desecrated by the Philitines. In 2 Kings 23, Josiah burned human bones on the high place altars to desecrate them and ensure that no worship would be done on them again. In Amos 6, people in a city under siege would be burning the bodies of the dead, a normal practice to stop the spread of disease in a close area.
None of these passages condemn the practice of cremation, nor do they condemn the body of the one cremated to eternal punishment. In the instance of Achan, he was condemned before he was stoned. Cremation had no effect on his eternal state.
The only passage that might speak to God’s view on the practice of cremation is Amos 2:1. Moab was punished because they burned the body of Edom’s king. However, the Moabites did this during a raid into Edom. They opened up the graves of the royalty and burned the bodies. This was not a simple cremation. This was an act against the dignity of Edom and the dignity of those who had died. Moab was not punished because of cremation, but because of their slanderous act against the image of God.
That all said, the Israelites had very strong opinions about burial. They believed in the dignity of the body. This is seen in how they would carefully bury all the dead that they could, either in above-ground tombs, or in deep graves. Why? Because each body should be treated with respect as the image of God, because they wanted the bodies to rest peacefully with their fathers, and because one day each body would be resurrected.
The early Christians, being converted Jews, carried this practice with them. In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul writes that our bodies are the temple of God. Many people point to this verse as proof for burial being the “Christian way”. We should treat the body with respect, right? However, Paul’s context is sexual sin. Be careful of how you unite physically with sin, for God dwells in you. This verse does not refer to a dead body. Does God dwell in the dead?
The Bottom Line
What happens to a dead body? Well, as I began this discussion, whether a body is burned or buried, or any other method of disposing, the body ultimately decomposes and turns to dust, as God said in Genesis 3, “For dust you are and to dust you will return.” At death one’s spirit leaves the body, to be with God and await the resurrection, and the body decays. Why would God dwell in this dead body, if the spirit is with him, awaiting the resurrection?
This resurrection will be an amazing thing. All bodies, from all times, through all modes of death and decay, will be resurrected. The Bible is clear that no method of death or disposal will inhibit God from resurrecting each body. 1 Corinthians 15:42-43 states, “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” Our physical body is perishable, and as such, will perish. However, when God raises our body, from whatever state of decay, he will transform it into a spiritual body which will not decay.
Revelation 20 refers to this glorious day of resurrection. “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.” Each person, no matter how they died, no matter how their body decayed, will stand before the judgment seat of God. They will be judged according to their works. However, the reason they will enter Heaven or Hell is based upon whether their name is in the Book of Life, whether they trusted in Christ alone for their salvation. The reason for their death, the disposal of their body, does not matter in that day.
Have you trusted in Christ alone. If you are planning for a funeral, I hope you have. That is the most important preparation you can do for the end of life.
Well, I need to get back to my taxes. Happy funeral planning!
The heart of America has been bleeding since 1776. Though the Declaration of Independence promised the equality of mankind, that promise has not fully been realized. All humanity in the United States have felt like they are not equal, or in the language of popular culture, that their lives do not matter. How do we solve this problem?
Wayne Gordon and John Perkins bring a unique and refreshing perspective to the heated emotions and rhetoric in the past year. While admitting that both sides in the Black Lives Matter debate are right and both sides are wrong, they call the Church to step up and be a force of reconciliation. Christ showed us how to love, as only He can. We need to use this love to break down the barriers of difference and seek to understand, to empathize, and to unify with all people, no matter the race, socioeconomic condition, or gender.
If you are part of the Black Lives Matter movement, or if you are cynical about the movement, read this book to gain a perspective you may not have. Allow it to challenge you and to spur you to be like Christ.
I received a free copy of this book for review.