Divine Paradox

A paradox by definition consists of contradictory posits that defy logic — or at the very least, defy the bounds of our ability to comprehend them. There are those conflicting facts that provoke meticulous research and analysis and investigation. Yet there are those mysteries that remain irresolvable — wherein even the greatest minds eventually find their intellectual capacity for logical interpretation or expression completely exceeded.

And that is God.

We know Him as He reveals Himself to us — and yet God is so much more!

Where the divine paradox that is God exceeds all logic is revealed — that is where we find the need for belief/faith/trust (pistis)… the posture from which we can choose either to rebel and retreat into our finitude or to surrender to the divine embrace that calls us to worship and adoration.

Is Jesus wholly man?
Is Jesus wholly God?
Yes & Yes!

Is God three?
Is God one?
Yes & Yes!

Is the Lord’s Supper bread and the fruit of the vine?
Is the Lord’s Supper the Body and Blood of our Lord?
Yes & Yes!

Is God here abiding within all who are His own?
Do we invite God to come and fill us again and again?
Yes & Yes!

Does God know everything?
Does God invite me to bring my requests boldly before the throne of grace?
Yes & Yes!

Within the constraints of our feeble human understanding, God’s revelation of Himself is sometimes in ways that are irresolvable — and yet, in knowing Him and knowing that we are known by Him, we can rest in that glorious, mind-blowing majesty!

…even as we humbly and lovingly work through that of which we are convinced and are yet being convinced with fear and trembling.

For centuries now there have been strong differences not only in opinions but in doctrines as well — among the most sincere and godly men and women. We would all do well to not only work out our own salvation and be thoroughly convinced of that which we believe but also to humbly acknowledge our finitude — seeking first the Kingdom of which we are citizens in obedience to the holy and royal law of love.

LGBTQ+ Pride: a Celebration of Self-Deception … the Grand Delusion

The “Pride” movement and all its related celebrations and parades present themselves and are planned and embraced as acts of kindness, inclusion, affirmation, etc. – yet they are sadly little more than proclamations of corruption and perversion – human depravity. It all emanates from a worship of pleasure that is saturating society – indeed, its roots are nothing other than the god of self. And inherent to all sin is an inescapable condemnation and guilt – the soul of every human being ultimately knows that sin violates it in some way. Yet, rather than seek freedom in forgiveness, the demand of self is to persist in gratification of its desires – further compounding its weight of guilt. And the greater the burden of condemnation becomes, the louder the cry and demand of the rebellious heart for someone … no, everyone, to affirm and justify it.

Even many who claim the name of Christ have been deceived into believing that they are demonstrating love for LGBTQ+ individuals by affirming their sinful lifestyle with the language of acceptance or support or even love. Yet one of the most poignant characteristics of authentic, Holy Love is that it “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Co 13:6). Now, the broader context of 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 also serves to emphasize that we as Christians cannot be arrogant or rude or unkind toward any, let alone those in sin… especially those in sin who are against you! (Luke 6:27-33) We must love as Jesus loved us! (John 13:34; Mark 12:30-31)

Subsequent to the description given by the Apostle Paul of “dishonorable passions” wherein “women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men” (Ro 1:26–27), he continues enumerating other behavior that characterizes those who reject God. Then Paul emphasizes the depth of their depravity in that “they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (Ro 1:32).

All of this behavior seems eerily indicative of the “strong delusion” that God will send on those who “refused to love the truth… so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Th 2:10–12).

Beware and be forewarned – you who identify as and live the LGBTQ+ lifestyle, as well as you who affirm them – God has proclaimed your condemnation! Your end will be delusion and destruction! Repent of your sin and receive the forgiveness and salvation freely offered through the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:5-10; Rev 1:5) to all who will believe! Don’t succumb to temporal desires, however powerful they may seem, in exchange for eternal suffering and death. Your true identity can only be made complete and whole in and by the God Who created you in His image – only He can restore that image (Col 3:7-10) to what it was intended to be and know… true freedom from all condemnation and guilt (John 8:10-11; Ro 8:1), and eternal fellowship (1 Cor 1:9; 2 Cor 13:14; 1 John 1:6-7) with God the Father, through His Son, in the power of His Holy Spirit dwelling in you.

Christian Discrimination: Intolerance is Biblical

It is less than unfortunate that many bring up the strawman of discrimination with regard to the UMC debacle and related/similar situations. The fundamental disagreement here that cannot be dismissed is whether sexual behavior/relations outside of heterosexual marriage constitute sin. LGBTQA+ behavior (practicing, condoning, etc.) is nothing other than giving in to desires of the flesh – the carnal nature.

The reason this is so critical/crucial is that the Bible calls Christians to not even associate with someone who claims the name of Christ but refuses to repent of their sin. Rather, Christians are to exclude/remove them from any fellowship/gathering. (1 Corinthians 5:11-13). Being obedient to that teaching completely precludes any facade of unity that a church/denomination could claim or aspire to around the inclusion of those who are unrepentant of any sin.

This also emphasizes the absolute need for any faithful church to not ignore sin within/among its members but to continually call for confession and repentance leading to restoration and reconciliation.

Many churches are setting themselves up to have their lampstand removed (Revelation 2:4-5) by the Lord for these practices of tolerance and inclusion – those practices are nothing other than the fruit of those who have lost their first love. You cannot love God and at the same time love the world and its pleasures (1 John 2:15-17).

Christianity is exclusive! All are welcome to come as they are (John 3:16-21; 2 Peter 3:9). None are welcome to stay as they are.

Child-Sacrifice: sadly “…nothing new under the sun.” (Ecc 1:9)

As society sinks ever-further into the delusional effects of self-worship, the irony of the headlines is seldom so striking as these two stories.

On one hand, NatGeo ponders what circumstances could have possibly led an ancient society to sacrifice its own children while at the same time the state of New York, to allow for the mental health of the mother, eases its restrictions on child-sacrifice up, to the point of birth.

We are, of course, far too civilized to refer to abortion as child-sacrifice, yet the net effect is that the mother – not only if her mortal life is endangered, but even if her quality of life is threatened – can “legally” choose to have her unborn child put to death … however ceremoniously the medical practitioner (priest of her self-worship) may carry out the execution.

Yes, even to put this into words is chokingly painful… We seldom want to see sin as ugly as it really is.

For that reason if none other, we can never fail to proclaim and share the beauty of the Cross of Christ that freely lavishes forgiveness and freedom from God on every repentant soul… no matter how ugly our sin.

Jesus’ Intolerance

“Not all tolerance is godly, and it is Christ-like to be intolerant of certain things. Not taking a side on this issue is to take a side. To decide it is a matter of indifference is to risk having Jesus against you.”

Same Sex Relationships: Should We Just Agree to Disagree? (by Sam Allberry) speaks clearly and succinctly… especially to the churches that have gone astray, are indecisive, or just want to be tolerant (whatever the motives or rationale may be).

Same sex behavior is irrefutably sinful and in conflict with marriage as designed and intended by God. This is no mere secondary doctrinal issue…rather, those who practice such behavior and are unrepentant will not inherit eternal life in the kingdom of God. Furthermore, Jesus explicitly condemns and is against those whose teaching leads into sexual sin.

Seed-bearing Fruit

In seeking to please and appeal to consumers, man conceived of and “improved” upon that which God created (Gen 1:11-12) and, behold… seedless fruit! … easier to enjoy but serving no other purpose.

Contrastingly, the fruit of the True Vine will always be fruit bearing the Seed of the Vine… the Spirit Himself whereby more fruit can and will be produced as the branch bearing the fruit continues to abide in the True Vine. (John 15:1-5; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 John 3:9)

May we never be content with seedless fruit! Come, Holy Spirit!

Possessed by Indifference… Worshipping Self

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ ” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
(Mark 10:17–22)

It’s so easy to dismiss this as a unique situation… “It certainly can’t apply to me. I’m by no means wealthy.” In comparison to most of my neighbors, perhaps not. But there are undeniably needy persons and families in my community, village, or city. Do my possessions so possess me that I’m content with passively acknowledging others in need? Has indulgence led me to indifference? What do I sacrifice for the sake of helping the needy and the lost and the broken? How does my budget (time/energy and money) for entertainment/recreation (sports, hobbies, cable, movies, shows, vacations) or dining out (nicer restaurants) compare with my charity (love/care for others)?

Yet this young man’s possessions were truly only the symptom. Jesus used his possessions as the trigger for revealing the “one thing” that was lacking. For this young man, self was ultimately his god. Even his greeting is exposed by Jesus (Who knew his heart) as posturing…a way to hopefully get this “famous rabbi” bolster his ego.

Is my love for God really just a facade…masking my need to feel good about myself? In actuality, that can make it easy to pursue good behavior…to compete and perform, even if privately (pride doesn’t always like to be too obvious). Conversely, authentic love for God will exhibit as worship of and obedience for Him and in love for my neighbor as myself…doing unto my neighbor as I would have them do unto me…indeed loving all of God’s creation as He does!

What does my Christian identity look like?

Reading Leviticus 23:37-38 this morning, I had to pause and reflect on what daily Christian living looks like…

“These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the LORD food offerings, burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day, besides the LORD’s Sabbaths and besides your gifts and besides all your vow offerings and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD.”

In just these two verses from Leviticus, there is a snapshot of how thoroughly the lives of the Israelites were identified with and defined by their covenant relationship with YHWH God. Yet, in this age, Christianity seems to welcome a part-time relationship with the Creator, its Savior and King. Now we are certainly not under the Mosaic law. But, in ignorance and even selfishness, we demonstrate a certain neglect of its purpose and beauty … for it reveals the holiness of God and our rightful place as humble subjects of our King, living in abandonment to any other … our lives utterly saturated with the recognition and worship of the One, the Almighty God, our Lord and Savior Jesus, in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit! Indeed, by the Spirit of adoption, our hearts cry out to God our Father and Jesus our Brother … and at the same time we are a Holy Priesthood unto our God! May every aspect of our daily lives proclaim our identity in Christ Jesus. May our salt and light in this world be a sweet aroma before God … the incense of His Holy Love working in and flowing through us.

Friendship Redefined

Jesus said to him, “Friend…” (Matthew 26:50)

Just as Judas had betrayed Jesus with, of all things, a kiss…even in that moment, Jesus called him “friend”. This is both a fulfillment of prophecy (Psalm 41:9) and at the same time a simply astounding demonstration of the mercy of God the Father. It is we who chose to be His enemies! Yet how amazing is His grace that Jesus gave His very life-blood (John 15:13) to reconcile us to Himself while we were still helpless, sinful enemies of God (Romans 5:6-11)!

But what does this divine friendship look like? Much more than a social media post! Jesus invites us into an abundantly joyful life with Him. But accepting that invitation begins with belief and repentance … literally turning away from friendship with the world (James 4:4) and being born by the Spirit (John 3:5-6) into a life of obedience to Jesus (John 15:14).

Obedience? Yes. Because we have been so loved (1 John 4:19), we love in return … in this is a perfect summation of the Christian life (1 John 4:7-21). This is no fickle love that requires nothing of us … it requires absolutely everything! (Mark 12:30-31)

This is divine friendship by the power of the Spirit in the fellowship of God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior and King eternal.