In Deed and In Truth

thoughts from a Christian

Easter? Resurrection.

As a Christian, I for one, cannot refer to this holiday as the “Easter” holiday.  Here is an excerpt from the sermon last year during this holiday:

Let’s discuss the term: Easter.  It has now been associated with Christ’s resurrection for as long as we can remember.  Unfortunately, the Scriptures nor any Biblical scholars ever agree that the term Easter should be associated with Christ’s resurrection.  The term “easter” stems from ancient polytheistic religions.  It is a pagan term dating back to the flood, the original beginning of the Babylonian empire.  “Easter” is the name of the Teutonic goddess of Spring or fertility, which was then associated Semiramis, the wife of the first ruler of Babylon.

As far as the bunny goes, rabbits have always been known as the sexual symbol of fertility.  Additionally, the easter bunny is associated with the mother goddess of Spring.  The easter egg, draws from it’s ancient traditions that the egg is a sacred symbol from where the Spring goddess of fertility, Semiramis hatched.

Isn’t it interesting that the act of Jesus Christ that destroyed death has now been obscured by the term easter, Ishtar, bunnies, and eggs, all of which come from pagan traditions that mock the story of Christ?  Isn’t it even more interesting that we’ve accepted it and never questioned it, not even church leaders today?  This is the reason why we try to change the thinking and call this day, Resurrection Sunday.

This day should be about Christ.  And too often, the word association of easter contains words of bunnies, pastels, and eggs, hunting and painting.  Today, we try to remind ourselves and teach ourselves new things regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The devil is the great deceiver and the father of lies. (John 8:44)  He’s taken this crucial moment of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice and has created a misconception that has not only infiltrated the general society but the Christian church itself!  Does anyone really think that it’s a coincidence that the automatic response to this day is that of pastels, bunnies, and egg hunts?  Do we really assume that during Christmas the character of Santa Claus just miraculously and coincidentally appeared for the convenience of little children everywhere?  Remember the line from C.S. Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters that the greatest victory that Satan has achieved is making the world believe he doesn’t exist. (paraphrase).  For us to assume that on the day of Christ’s birth and the day of His resurrection, these other fables have manifested itself by sheer coincidence would be buying into that very statement.

Even a subtle title change of acknowledging that this is the day we celebrate Christ’s resurrection to the pagan goddess of Spring is a victory, not for the Christian, but for the deceiver.  It’s even more sad that proclaimed Christian leaders all around the world still will not hesitate to call this holiday Easter, not because of their understanding of the term, but because of the name association that falls behind it.

“I’ve always known it to be Easter.”

Yeah.  And I’ve always known Christ to have risen from the grave, not because of deceit, but because of truth.

(Picture taken from http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_b1riZLz_O3c/SeHd1WtxGlI/AAAAAAAABBM/sjttyRPnbpk/s400/easter.jpg)

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April 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Social Change

So many groups today strive to change the world, hoping to affect and influence their respective societies by inundating them with information and proactive propaganda, activities and events, rallies to publicly display their support or opposition against their personal axiological beliefs.  This is their aim.  This is their purpose.  And this is their prerogative.

Eventually, the responsibility and burden of social change also falls upon the church.  Various denominations focus ministries and money toward social change for the betterment of society.  (The definition of “betterment” is thoroughly subjective, according to the one arguing for it).  People are always striving to change societal perceptions, values, and priorities.  They reach out to the law makers, the judges, the politicians, the church leaders, the business minded and wealthy, with hopes of stirring change in these highly influential people that will one day cause a chain reaction, bringing attention to the evils (or good) that plague mankind.

Here’s where the change needs to be made.  If one truly wants to make a change in the world, in society, in a school, in their church, one must understand that education is an agent for social change.  The problem is that we’re focusing our attention on educating the wrong demographic.

In order to change the world, change society, or change our church, it’s not so much about educating those who are in positions of leadership, authority, and influence.  It’s about educating those who will be.

It’s about educating our youth.

And it’s not just about educating our youth, but providing our youth with a Christian education, understanding that the Bible must be the integration point for their entire knowledge.  Christian education is to provide a protected atmosphere for the young where this transmission can take place and where Christian values may be imparted to the young in their formative years through formal curriculum and through more informal aspects of the educational contexts such as peer group or extra-curricular activities.[1]

These are the minds that must be introduced to sound, conservative Biblical principles, principles that they will base their epistemology upon, principles that will guide and direct their lives.  It is these principles that will produce a strong hold against the things of this world that will inevitably corrupt a young mind bound for positions of authority.  If we can protect the values of our youth, they will endure society, firm in their Biblical and Christological conviction, and will carry that same conviction into the authoritative roles that they will one day occupy.

It’s not about trying to change the mind of our leaders today.  It’s about developing the minds of the leaders of tomorrow.

If you want to change society, take your focus off the rallies, the flyers, letters to the politicians, the stand-ins, the protests, the t-shirts, the websites, and the blogs.  Instead, make the 20 year investment by teaching Biblical principles to our children today, from the moment they can determine their axiological beliefs.  And when they are old, when they become our future politicians, future business entrepreneurs, future presidents, and future church leaders, we can trust the Lord that they will not depart from it.

(Picture taken from http://cheritasmith.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/I-want-change.jpg)


[1] Philosophical Foundations of Christian Education, The Social Function of Christian Education pg. 79

March 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lust of the Flesh

Since there’s been an added interest in the topic of sex and carnal desires, I figured it was high time to write another blog post about that which people can relate to and that which some cannot seem to get enough.  Here is the first of the three descriptions of the “things of this world.”

LUST OF THE FLESH

It is important that each and everyone of us takes a look at our own personal daily lives and determine what takes precedence in our lives.  What do we keep in front of our eyes?  What do we focus our minds on?  What are our hearts filled with?  Is it with the things of God or the things of this world?

Once we determine what takes priority in our lives we must make a decision.  Do we stay the course or do we change direction?  If we’ve remained obedient to the things of God then we are on the right track.  But if we’ve come to the revelation that our lives are filled more with the things of this world, what must we do then?  It is then that we must turn away from the things that are destructive and turn back to God.  The question we then ask ourselves is, “what are we turning away from?”

I. The Lust of the Flesh

1 John 2:16- “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.”

I was once enlightened to an important and critical fact.  We in this world must learn to transform our love for sin into our love for God.  We must learn to love sin less and love God more.  We must exchange our love for sin for the love of God.  This is of course very difficult for many of us.  We find gratification with sin.  We find fulfillment.  We feel as if we are whole by committing the sins that we commit.  When we try and exchange our sin for God, that fulfillment may not be as tangible.  We try to stay satisfied with God, but it’s difficult because God isn’t as visible or tangible as the sin we’ve been holding to.

Then eventually we feel empty.  We need to be filled.  God is absent.  We don’t feel him.  But we sure do know the feeling we get when we commit a sin.  We remember how good it felt.  We remember how it satisfied our longings.  We could not wait for God to fill the void in our hearts.  It’s much more easily satisfied by sin.

But we remember what Christ told the Samaritan woman at the well.  He who drinks of the water of this well will thirst again but he who drinks of the water that I give him will never thirst.  We may satisfy our cravings temporarily by committing the sins that we know make us feel good, but it is a short term gratification.  We must turn away from these things and turn to God.

We are fortunate enough that the apostle John introduced us to the things that we should be wary of.  In the introduction, we asked ourselves, what are the things that we are supposed to turn from?  Sin, sure.  But more specifically John gives us three weapons the enemy uses that we must look out for.

The first is the lust of the flesh.  The Greek word for “lust” is epithumia.  It speaks of “a desire, a craving, a longing, a desire for what is forbidden.”[1] This desire is for the flesh.  The Greek word for “”flesh” is sarx.  It “denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God.”[2] In simpler terms, when talking of the lust of the flesh, it talks of the humanly desires.  “The lust of the flesh is, subjectively, the humour and appetite of indulging fleshly pleasures; and objectively, all those things that excite and inflame the pleasures of the flesh.”[3]

This is the nature of man.  Fleshly, carnal obsession and desires constitute the makeup of mankind.  As sin permeates throughout our entire being, we are characterized by the desire to fulfill the desires of our flesh.  It is our wanting, our longing, to indulge in pleasures of the earthly kind.  Do we not find ourselves desiring to indulge in the appetites of that which ultimately corrupts our character, our integrity, our morality and thwarts any progress of our relationship with God?

Sensual and impure desires overtake that which we know is correct and moral.  This world allows these desires to be accessible, attainable, and acceptable.  They are lusts that are freely given.  They are desires sought after by the majority of this world that if one desires not to pursue, they are of the minority, are looked down upon, spat upon, and called intolerant.

And yet, they are still desires that we justify.  We crave it.  We desire it.  We need it.  I’m suffering and it brings me temporary gratification.  The flesh is good at the moment my lust is being satisfied.  I only consider what is immediately in front of me.  And what is in front of me is lust.  Lust for violence, for gore, for sex, for men, for women, for alcohol, for drugs, for hate, for wrath, for envy, for jealousy, and uncleanness.  For everything discussed in Galatians 5:19.  There are nearly twice as many works of the flesh than there are works of the Spirit.  We must be wary of what takes precedence in our lives.

We discussed earlier that we must decide to not fill our hearts with the things of this world, but rather to turn away from those things and fill our hearts with the things of God.  This is necessary because we remind ourselves that to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually mind is life and peace.

We must consider our own lives and decide if the lust of the flesh supersedes our love for God.  Are we overridden with sensual impure thoughts?  Worse yet, are we overridden with sensual impure actions?  Do we seek immediate gratification even at the expense of our soul?

With each temptation we succumb to we make a bold statement that we would rather live for the lust of our flesh than for the glory of God.  We’ve heard so many times to repent and to turn away but never the specific answer of what to turn away from.  With conviction we know that which we must steer clear of.  The lust of the flesh keeps us far away from God.

(Picture taken from http://pics.livejournal.com/ric14u/pic/0002h9qk/s320x240)


[1] Blueletterbible.com

[2] Ibid

[3] Matthew Henry’s Commentary

March 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Journey’s Through Skype

After having two separate sessions of video chat via Skype with two of the closest people/persons to us, it seems highly appropriate that the conviction on my heart and mind to discuss is that regarding the uncertainty of the unknown and the inescapable unbearable.

There are 3 different families, (mine included) that are living completely different lives, on three separate continents, all with different surrounding circumstances, with one very specific calling: to continue the work of the Lord’s ministry.  One family has inherited a small local church which they have transformed into a flourishing weekly Bible study, reconnecting on a discipleship level that was never attained before during their previous pastor’s tenure.  The other family departed for their home country after waiting more than 20 years to be called back home, eager to answer the call of the ministry, only to find out that there is still more waiting to be done and more patience to try.  And then the last is dealing with the difficulty of determining what takes precedence, the ministry or the immediate family.

We all put our heart and soul into what God has called us to do.  And on very different levels, He’s called us to fully trust in Him.

After walking away from both conversations, it’s clear to me that the challenge of trusting in God during this very tumultuous journey is a sentiment that I can claim to have with two of the families that we love so much.  We expressed our concerns, anxieties, and fears.  We talked of how difficult it is to trust in God and the recent personal experiences of when our trust was successful and when it failed.  Our countenance was sharpened as we leaned on one another for words of encouragement and strength, realizing that tens of thousands of miles apart, we were all going through the same exact testing of faith.

And personally, this realization helped bring directly to the forefront of my mind that I, and my family, am not alone.  Yes, God is our very present help during times of trouble.  But oddly enough, the feeling that He never left and continues to be by our side, comes in the form of the reality that some of our closest friends are enduring the same test of faith that we are, just in different circumstances.  It’s almost as if He’s telling me, “I know this is difficult.  To show you I am considerate of your situation, I am allowing you to endure this with some of your closest friends, to commiserate and empathize with what you are going through, so that they can be used by Me to bring you strength, peace, comfort, and joy… and so that you can be used to bring them the same.”

Every day, we wake up never understanding how God will work in our lives, and we go to sleep, amazed at the way He did.  Some days are more difficult than others to trust in Him.  Those are the days I go online and check my Skype to see if my closest loved ones are there to carry me through.

The simple truth that they are enduring times where they lack trust and are filled with discouragement and pain yet they press on toward the goal in Christ, pushes me to do the same.  Because they trust in God, it encourages me to trust in Him.  Because they love Him, they can trust Him.

And because they love Him…. I love them.

For all those who are dealing with the difficulty of trusting in God, some words of encouragement from the only source of our epistemology.  May you continue to trust in Him, with all your heart, for not once, has He ever left nor forsaken you.

James 1:2,3 – “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

(Picture taken from http://cdn.venturebeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/webcam-chat-im-video-chat-free-chat-rooms-paltalk.jpg)

February 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concerns for Un-Biblical Worship Pt. 2

MAN

(Taken from work on my current doctoral dissertation)

Our first part of Concerns for Un-Biblical Worship centered around the improper perception or perspective of who God is.  The second part focuses on the object of our worship no longer being directed toward the God of the Bible but rather on man.

1 Peter 4:11 cautions us that “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.  If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things, God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.  Amen.”

Concerning the exegesis of 1 Peter 4:11, the context is in regards to preaching.  This is an aspect of the ministry that cannot take away from the attention given toward God.  Preaching, spoken by man, must give glory to God through Christ Jesus.  The word “oracle” here is logion.  “This word refers to God’s written revelation.  The ministry of preaching must be confined within the bounds of God’s inspired Scriptures.  And this should be done according to the power, ischuos, which God supplies.  The supreme aim in preaching is to glorify God through Jesus Christ.  When Christ is proclaimed in His power and glory, then God is glorified.”[1]

Many preachers approach the pulpit lacking a sense of reverence and humility, but instead, as if the gift and calling bestowed upon them was of their own volition, preach with the subtext of God, but implicitly (or at times explicitly) claim the power as their own.  It becomes a stage to introduce and showcase the wonderful talents, skills, knowledge, and intelligence, masked by the intent of preaching the Word of God for the purpose of the congregation’s edification, when in fact, the preaching is done to excite, motivate, inspire, and direct the emotional appeal of the lay person toward the one preaching, yet done, “all in the name of God.”  When the preaching is given so that the attention is directed toward a fallen person, in need of a Savior, as opposed to the God who saves him, it is no longer Biblical.

How often do we come across preachers who bask in the glory they receive from their congregation members after preaching?  Unfortunately, there are those who step off of the pulpit looking forward to the admiration given to them by their respective laity.  It is what fuels them, inspires, motivates, and encourages them to continue “preaching” to others, as opposed to the sincere desire to bring glory to God by preaching His Word and edifying God’s children.

(Picture taken from http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/thumblarge_314/1222459336H79UV3.jpg)


[1] Isidro Annotated New Testament, p.454

February 21, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love Not The World

Intro:

One thing can be argued: We love this world.  We love the things of this world.  We love the sex, the scandals, the profanity, the debauchery, the adultery, the fornication, the drugs, the fights, the alcohol, the anger, the resentment, the lies, the corruption, the pornography, the hate, the violence, and the gore.  We love it.

Every other television show provides some sort of angle that tries to hook and lure others in.  When it’s sweeps week, every television producer knows one thing: sex sells.  They bombard us with borderline gratuitous nudity and sex knowing that we would be hard pressed to turn away or turn the channel.

We love this world.  Why shouldn’t we?  The answer is given by the apostle John that as believers in Jesus Christ, we should not love the world in order to manifest ourselves as children of God.

I. Love not the world

1 John 2:15- “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

  1. The Appearance of Our Love

The apostle John continues to remind us that others will know that we are believers in Jesus Christ, not by our physical appearance, not by our knowledge of God’s Word, not our theology, but by the love that we display to others.  There is a hymn that reads, “And they’ll know that we are Christians by our love.”  This is all very well true.

As we take a look into our lives, do others know that we are Christians by our love?  Do we love others to the point of witnessing and sharing our faith?  Do we love others to the point of sacrificing what’s convenient to us for the betterment of another person?  Do we love someone enough to tell them that if they don’t have Christ in their heart and life, that there is no choice for God but to judge them to eternal damnation?  I asked the question, will people know that we are Christian’s by our love?  In a more broader sense, can people defined and describe us by what we love in our lives?

If people can tell that we are Christian’s by our love, then we can argue that people can know or estimate what sort of people we are if they know what takes priority as the loves of our lives.  Can we argue that genuine believers could very well be giving off some sort of vibe, a character trait that evidences that someone is a follower of Christ?  Earlier this week, someone asked me, “Justin you’re a Christian huh?”  When I responded positively, she replied, “I could tell that about you.”  One pastor who wrote a book on evangelism gave a story of his interview to pastor a church.  When the church board asked him, what his plan was, he replied, “My plan is to love you.”  We’ve already stressed the importance of love in a church, but we cannot forget the aspect of love in our lives.

  1. The Object of Our Love

The question then becomes, what love to we have and what do we have love for?  Is it for any of the things mentioned in the introduction? Because if so, we definitely have to consider a change in lifestyle.  Let’s take a look at the verb, “love.”  It is an urging or a pleading from the apostle John not to love the world.  When the apostle John spoke of not loving the world, he stressed not to continue to love the world.  The love spoken about here is not an absolute love for the world but a consistent repeated love.

As believers, we cannot get caught up in loving the world on a constant basis.  On the contrary, the love of one’s life should be God rather than the world.  “God, not the world, must have the first place in the Christian’s life… Love here signifies affection and devotion.  Positively, the Christian loves God and fellow Christians.  Negatively, an absence of love for the world must habitually characterize the love life of those to be considered born again.”[1]

Once again, we revert back to the question, what do we have love for?   Do we fill our hearts with love for God and for our fellow brothers and sisters?  Or do we fill our hearts with love for things of the world?  We must be characterized by having a fullness of love for the things of God and lacking a consistent love for the things of this world.  Things of this world, and the love of them, are detrimental to the growth of a believer and could very well serve as a stumbling block for others.  The statement made by the apostle John that those who “love the world” (subjunctive mood) underscores the idea that those who purposefully love the world, the love of God is not in them.  (Personal consideration of further exegetical insight:

“Love” is in the nominative case.  It is a predicative nominative, it is normally in the accusative case.  “Father” is in the genitive case because it is used with a verb that expresses a physical or emotional sense, thereby requiring it to be genitive rather than the normal accusative.  “In him” is the dative of indirect, indicating the indirect object.  The verb estin is the copulative, linking verb, linking the subject, “anyone who loves the world”, and the predicate, the “love of the Father is not in him.”  The linking verb estin shows that there is no transfer of action.  God’s love is not transferred to the person who continues to love the world.  The dative case of en autos simply reveals the sphere of location, or locative dative, specifying where the love of God is not.

  1. The Focus of Our Love

In the event that someone loves the world more than God, it is clearly spoken that the love of the Father is not in him.  It boils down to one truth.  “Either one is a genuine Christian marked by love and obedience to God, or one is a non-Christian in rebellion against God, in love with and enslaved by the satanically controlled world system.  No middle ground between these two…exists for someone claiming to be born again.”  We must remember that the context was that of false teachers, preaching and adhering to doctrines of philosophy, but still claiming to be believers in Jesus Christ.  Their love for their worldly beliefs proved that their devotion was to the world rather than God.

Where does our devotion lie?  Is it with the things of the God or the things of the world?  Where is our focus?  Where are our priorities?  Where is our dedication?  Where do we spend the most time?  Is it at the throne of grace or in the bowels of human immorality?  Is in the light of God’s goodness or the darkness of iniquity?  What have we filled our hearts with?  Show me a person who applies God’s truth in their lives and I’ll show you a loving human being.  Show me a selfish individual who cares only of matters concerning themselves and I’ll show you someone who has more love for the world that for God.

Conclusion:

We need to focus on filling our hearts, our lives, our minds with the things of God rather than the things of this world.  The love that should define us should be the love we have for God not the love we have for this world.

Rightfully so, the object, direction, and focus of our love should be toward God and His merciful attitude toward us.  Showing God the love He deserves leans on our understanding of obedience to His will.  We obey Him because we love Him.

What we learn today is two-fold.  Love the Lord God with all our hearts and simultaneously, remove the love that we have for the world.  And as we strive to display the love for those here on earth, let’s not forget our love for our Heavenly Father, as well as His love for us.

(picture taken from http://img.timeinc.net/time/photoessays/2009/john_316/john_316_03.jpg)


[1] MacArthur study Bible

February 12, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Concerns for Un-Biblical Worship

Concerns for Un-Biblical Worship

(Excerpt taken from the current work on my doctoral dissertation)

The practice and programming of Biblical worship will be addressed in later chapters.  The definition of “un-Biblical” worship stated here is the approach or reason for worship that has been evidenced and manifested throughout churches in this world.  It is un-Biblical because the worship is no longer centered on God the Father, but has now been directed to many other targets.

  1. Personal Subjective Opinion of God

This is one of the more subtle deceptions when one considers the act of worship.  The key to understanding Biblical worship is to whom is our worship directed to.  Many, if not all acts of Christian worship, claim to direct their worship toward God.  But the question that remains to be answered is “What perception of God is being worshipped?”  All the major religions of the world claim to worship the one true God and various ecumenical positions hold that the God of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are the same God.  If this holds true, does this mean that the program of worship implemented by Muslims is Biblical?  Does this same principle apply to Judaism?

God the Father, Yahweh, Jehovah, is a specific personality.  The details of His personality and character are revealed through His Word.  The God of the Bible is the God that is worthy of our worship.  Any other perception of God is unacceptable.  It must be the God of Scriptures, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

If a person claims to be worshipping God, but does not have the correct Biblical understanding of who God is, but rather holds a post-modernistic, personal, and subjective view of their own God, masquerading and perpetrating as the God of the Scriptures, then the worship of this said “god” is un-Biblical.

The simple truth remains.  For worship to be characterized as Biblical, the object of that worship must be God as the Bible reveals Him, not as our own personal opinions hold him to be.

Unfortunately, there are many individuals and churches who claim to be sincerely and genuinely worshipping God, but their interpretation and understanding of who God is, is skewed because they have not properly studied and interpreted the Biblical passages that reveal God’s personality.

The simple truth is how can one truly and Biblically worship God if they do not know who He is?  One cannot ascribe worship to one’s own personal idea of God and claim it to be Biblical.

 

(Picture taken from http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_miD0kXYg7Y4/TTj2qf4phCI/AAAAAAAAAIk/ysiaC16XFHA/s1600/passion_05_worship_edit.jpg)

February 10, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sun Stand Still

For all you theologians and Bible scholars, I thought I would share with you the message I gave during the EL-Theological Seminary Chapel session on Tuesday, regarding the controversial story of Joshua, the Amorites, and the Sun.  Caution: For Edification Purposes Only.

SUN STAND STILL

Intro:

1.       Science and religion have always been at ends ever since the dawning of the age of reason.  It is then that the sources of epistemology have been credited, not to the God of this universe, or to His inspired revelation, the Word of God, but rather through rational thought construed from empirical evidence.

2.       The post-modernistic, existentialist thought has festered and developed through the medium that is science.  It is through this that naturalists have established themselves and their core belief system.  One can even argue that relativism and humanism have somewhat originated from various scientific findings.  But to argue that would contradict the whole nature of relativism, humanism, and idealism alike.

3.       Nonetheless, it is clear that many people believe that science and religion are naturally antithetical of one another: that to prove one would contradict the other.  As pastors, preachers, and ultimately, Christians in general, we can use logical thought, coupled with empirical evidence, governed by the faith instilled in us by the Holy Spirit to defend our metaphysical reality that is founded on our theological epistemology.

I. The Miracle of Metaphysics

Joshua 10:12-14- “The spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun stand thou still upon Gideon and thou, Moon in the valley of Aijalon.  And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies.  Is not this written in the book of Jasher?  So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven and hasted not to go down about a whole day.  And there was no day like that before it or after it that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of man: for the Lord fought for Israel.”

A. Historical Background

1.       The 5 Amorite kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Eglon, and Lachish feared Joshua because of his military conquests over Jericho and Ai and had heard that Gibeon, who was mightier than Ai, had made peace with the Israelites (v.1-3).  Out of this fear, they sought to attack Gibeon, the newest ally of the Israelites.  Upon hearing word that these 5 kings were gathering together to attack Gibeon, Joshua travelled to Gibeon and met the Amorites where they were slaughtered and retreated.  During their retreat, the Lord rained down large hailstones, killing more than those who were killed by the sword.

2.       It is then, during the finality of the battle, that Joshua sent his request to God for the “sun to stand still.”

Various Interpretations And Related Refutations

1.       Understandably so, there are varying explanations for this passage.  Each explanation is relative to each person’s respective epistemology, either literally, figuratively, scientifically, idealistically, theologically, naturally, or supernaturally.

2.       First, some assume that this passage cannot be taken literally, but rather poetically, due to the change in narrative style from prose to poetical, found in verses 12 and 13.  Consider this reasoning from the Pulpit Commentary:

”The poetic form of this passage is clear to anyone who has the smallest acquaintance with the laws of Hebrew poetry . . . These words belong rather to the domain of poetry than history, and this language is that of hyperbole rather than the exact narration of facts”[1]

This rather concise and condescending insight is a simple answer to a convoluted passage.  It is obvious that the narration style has changed from prose to poetry, however to imply that the implication and significance is simply reconciled through this explicit change in narration is both dangerous and wrong.

If one simply considers the phrase “stayed” in v. 13 in reference to the moon, it is the Hebrew word amad.  It is a qal preterite.  The preterite in Hebrew meaning past tense, also serves as a particular narrative function.  Its purpose is to advance the plot of that particular narration.  Therefore, verses 12 and 13, even though are poetical in form, the use of the preterite for the word amad indicates that they are advancing the plot of the story, which is a literal, not figurative account.

3.       Secondly, some argue that it was not the sun that stopped but rather that the earth stopped rotating on its axis, therefore making it seem as if the sun had stood still.  Those who argue this view from a scientific standpoint are also doomed by it because it is also based on their own findings that any deviance from the current rotation of the earth, or a slowing down of it for that matter, would lead to large, natural catastrophic events.  Though the thought could occur that the sovereignty of God did stop or slow the rotation of the earth and also prevent the occurrence of a natural catastrophe of seismic proportions.  This argument has its weakness in the lack of Biblical exegesis, placing more emphasis on idealistic ideology rather than objective, Biblical exegesis.

4.       The third most dynamic explanation for this account is that the interpretation of the “sun standing still” is not to identify the sun as not moving, but rather, not shining.  Consider this explanation from theologian Don Stewart:  “Another view is that the prayer of Joshua was not for the prolongation of the day, but rather that the sun would cease pouring down its heat on him and his troops. The prayer was actually for the cessation of light, not its prolongation. God answered by sending a hailstorm that allowed Joshua’s weary troops to win the battle. Thus stand still means to keep from shining.”

Included in this explanation is also held another smaller explanation, arguing that the sun standing still was in actuality a solar eclipse.  This does nothing to explain for the lengthening of the day or stoppage of time which is the true controversy.

B. Exegetical Explanation

1.       There are many ideas as to how and why this could have transpired however there is only one correct answer.  In order to arrive at the correct conclusion, the only process is through an exegetical study that is founded on systematic theology.

2.       Let’s consider the two main verbs found in v. 13, when  the sun “stood still” and the moon “stayed.”  The Hebrew word for “stand still” is damam which means, “to wait, to be still, depicting the state of being motionless.  In verse 12, it is an imperative, indicating the sense of urgency from Joshua for the sun to stand still.  In v. 13, it is in the Qal imperfect.  The presence of the waw conversive renders the follow verb amad in the imperfect tense as well.

3.       There are three issues to be resolved to understand comprehensively this miracle: 1. What time of the day did this occur?  2. What was the purpose behind Joshua’s request for the sun standing still?  3. How did the miracle actually occur?

4.       First regarding the time, consider the insight from Dr. Isidro annotation: “Does this mean there was no sunset for almost a day or no sunrise?  The KJV translation is not so accurate.  For the Hebrew translated “go down” is bo which could either mean go down or go up as in Gen 6:13 when the animals will “come” or go into the ark.  Going into the ark means going up into the ark.  So the sun did not rise and the moon did not set.  So this miracle occurred at dawn for the moon was still shining and the battle occurred at dawn.  This means that God prolonged the rising of the sun to enable the Israelites to complete the defeat of the Amorites at dawn, but the moon to continue to shine to give some light to the Israelites to also fight against the Amorite soldiers.”[2] This is supported by the time frame given in v.9 –“Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly and went up from Gilgal all night.  An interesting side note regarding the Hebrew word for “night”.  Layelah is a masculine noun that comes from the root word luwl meaning “to fold back”[3] or a twisting away of light, i.e. night.  In other words, when the light “holds back,” darkness sets in.  In the case of Joshua’s battle with the Amorites, God Himself held the light back, so that the moon can stay for the benefit of the Israelites.

5.       Therefore, the sun was not commanded to stand still for prolonging the day and sustenance of light for the purpose of doing battle.  Instead, it was commanded so that the sun would not rise and therefore lengthen the time of night.  This finding helps to explain the second point, the purpose behind of Joshua’s request to God for the sun to stand still.  What was his reason for this?  E.W. Maunder sheds light on this:

It is not possible that, engaged as he was in a desperate battle, he was even so much as thinking of the suns motion at all. But its shining, its scorching heat, must have been most seriously felt by him. At noon, in high summer, southern Palestine is one of the hottest countries in the world. It is impossible to suppose Joshua wished for the sun to be fixed overhead, where it must have been distressing his men who had already been seventeen hours on foot. A very arduous pursuit lay before them and the enemy must have been fresher than the Israelites. The suns heat therefore must have been a serious hindrance, and Joshua must have desired it to be tempered.

Here can be the explanation of reason why Joshua asked God to keep the sun from rising.  Being a great military commander, he knew the dynamics of war and the end of the battle was in sight.  He held to the promise of God that “not a man of them shall stand before thee” (v.8).  The time of day and the nature of his request, one can deduce that it is so that his army will not have to endure the difficulty of the scorching heat.  They no longer had to fight under the duress of extreme heat.  The moon and the hail storm provided enough light for them to finish their task of defeating the Amorites in the brisk and coolness of a prolonged evening.

6.       Lastly, the imperfect tense of both verbs, damam and amad, signifies a process for the sun standing still and the moon staying.  In explaining how this miracle happened, this implication would lean toward the idea that the rotation of the earth was not stopped but slowed down so that it took longer for the sun to rise on that day.  The slowing down of the rotation of the earth’s axis would keep the sun from rising earlier than God had intended.

Conclusion:

1.       Even though this miracle may be difficult to grasp and explain, the underlying message is regarding the faithfulness and sovereignty of God.  In the midst of battle, God’s chosen servant, Joshua was encouraged not to fear, and that no man would stand before Him.  God kept His promise.  Additionally, this is a great and wonderful account of a day when the Lord hearkened unto the voice of man (v. 14).  He hears us and never abandons us during our time of need.

2.       There have been many scientific stories claiming the discovery of a historical account that the world is missing one 24 hour period.  Coming from sources such as NASA, their explanation comes from this story in Joshua, arguing that it was a total of 23 hours and 20 min that is unaccounted for.  The other 40 min can be attributed to when the Lord prolonged the life of King Hezekiah with the sign of turning back the sun dial 10 degrees.  Though these may be unfounded and pure speculation from a scientific point of view it cannot be doubted that these miracles occurred.  We serve a great and mighty God that works in mysterious ways.

3.       It takes a miracle for the sun to stand still and the moon to stay.  As large a miracle as it is, it’s an even greater miracle to reconcile sinful man to a righteous and Holy God.  This is the miracle that supersedes all others: the miracle of Jesus Christ and that through simple faith and belief in Him, we may have eternal life.

(Picture taken from http://web.ukonline.co.uk/silabob/jpegs/big-orange-sun-4.jpg)


[2] IAOT Joshua 10:12-14

[3] Zodhiates Key Word Study Bible 1625, Hebrew Caldee ref. 59

December 7, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog Lovin

So, apparently my two sisters, younger and older, have decided to start their own blogs and give their own personal rant on subjects and ideas that they deem worthy enough to take away time from their families in order to write.  Interestingly enough the three siblings, though having all come from the same womb and nurtured in like kind, have completely different views and ideologies when it comes to the intimate thoughts wanting to be shared with those willing to share it with us.

This, of course, introduces and reinforces the notion that blogs were created for our post-modernistic idealistic society that allows our own truths be governed by our own mind, which is then socially shared through the medium that is the world wide web so that others can also buy into our ideology of the world and without any empirical evidence, declare it right or wrong, and/or ascertain that it takes multiple ideas to create one personal metaphysical belief system.

Fortunately, I’m grateful (shameless but necessary Thanksgiving plug), that for my sisters and I, our epistemological, axiological, and metaphysical beliefs are based not on personal opinion, for even though we were all raised in the same household, we were nurtured quite differently (and our physical anatomies declare our “nature” unequivocally different).  Our own personal philosophies are governed and directed by one thing: the Word of God.  It was instilled in us from the very beginning, from birth, throughout our childhood and the incessant hour long drives to and from church listening to country music, eating chicken soft tacos from Del Taco, trying but failing to understand the musical underpinnings of one Gordon Lightfoot.  The Word of God, the Scriptures, the Bible today permeates throughout our entire being as we raise our respective families and strive for marriages without regret.  The Word of God is never changing.  It is what we hope to base our philosophical foundation of life upon.

But it doesn’t mean we don’t have personal opinions bursting at the seams to be shared with the world.  Deep down, I suppose, we’re all insecure little children, asking our parents to put our colored drawing on the refrigerator door as a way to validate our existence in the eyes of others.  The internet is just that.  A refrigerator door.  And our blogs are our drawings, colored in and outside of the lines.

And even though I might be quite pessimistic about this entire situation, I’m quite ecstatic that my sisters are throwing themselves over this cliff with me.  I’m thousands of miles away from them and miss them tremendously.  Reading their blogs helps me reconnect with them in a subtle way.  They’re quirky, they’re witty, and they can be very misunderstood (right Ash and Er?) and very difficult (right Phil and Joe?).   But their take on the world and the insight to their own lives needs to be shared with those willing to share in it.  As my younger sister said:

this is just me trying to find an outlet for the nuttiness (not psycho-crazy-nuttiness, but just plain nutty) that bounces around in this head of mine, yet is eventually suffocated by my never-ending To Do List… then once again resuscitated by some (usually depressing) catalytic realization about myself or the world around me. 🙂

Well said…

And my older sisters response?…

Umm.. also.. well said.

In any case, welcome sibs, to the wonderful world of blogging.  It’s just another way for the three of us to fight over the refrigerator door.  The door is just a little bit bigger this time.

 

Please take the time to visit their websites, its good stuff…:

www.araeofstyle.blogspot.com

www.ladyerinleigh.blogspot.com

First photo taken from http://jdorganizer.blogspot.com/2008/12/magnetic-boards-beyond-refrigerator.html

Second photo taken from http://araeofstyle.blogspot.com

November 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sexual Sin

Lust.  Flesh.  Carnal.  Sex.  These are words that carry a strong negative stigma to some while to others, it carries desire, cravings, and reinforcement of a way of life.  It is a thorn in the flesh for many, teenagers and adults, single and married alike.  Our moth-like tendencies are being drawn to the fleshly, lust driven flame.

It is taboo.  People are hesitant to speak about it out of embarrassment while other refuse to speak about it out of shame.  Church’s feel it is too difficult a topic to speak about, too close to home, to sensitive an issue that it is best to keep quiet rather than offend others.  Most church’s would rather preach about the spiritual, neglecting the flesh.  It’s a slight nod toward dualism.  If we ignore it and possibly imply various circumstantial teachings that are applicable to the taboo subject, then quite possibly, we hope that it may speak to them.

It simply doesn’t work that way.  It needs to be addressed, not just in one post of a blog rant, not just one sermon series behind the pulpit, not just one week night support group, but from the very bowels of humanity’s livelihood.  Parents need to get involved, pastors need to get involved, church leaders need to get involved, peers need to get involved…  and BE involved.  It is a constant battle.  And no longer can we argue that sexual sin is simply a sin that affects the body and not the soul.  Let’s step away from the application of dualistic theology when it comes to sexual matters.  Sexual sins affect far more than that.

In 1 Corinthians 6:13-18, we are given explicit instruction regarding sexual sin.  Verse 13: “Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them.  Now the body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”  The context here in this passage written by Paul is in regards to glorifying God both in body and spirit.  Paul addresses the food that we eat.  But he extends his message to engagements of sexual acts.  For some of your translations, the words “sexual immorality” is translated fornication.  The Greek word for “sexual immorality” or “fornication” is porneia, from which we derive the English word pornography.  It speaks of “illicit sexual intercourse.”  This speaks of any sexual relations that are not permitted or unlawful.  This can include adultery.  But it also distances itself from adultery in that adultery means sex outside of marriage whereas fornication can mean sex before marriage.

In verse 18, Paul tells us to flee fornication.  It’s not a command, but rather a plea and strong wish, an urging by the apostle Paul for us to keep fleeing fornication.  The emphasis is placed on the fact that we need to constantly flee fornication.  It’s not a single act.  We don’t run away once and feel as if we’ve escaped it.  We must constantly flee.  And Paul did not indicate a time when we should stop fleeing it, indicating that we must continue to flee sexual immorality even after marriage.  Just because some of us are now married does not mean we are exempt from sexual temptation.

Here is the reason why we must respect these boundaries for sex, no fornication, no adultery.  It is because sexual immorality is a sin against our own body, verse 18, and as we’ve been told in verse 15, our bodies are members of Christ.  “The Christian’s body is a spiritual temple in which Christ lives, therefore when a believer commits a sexual sin, it involves Christ…All sexual sin is harlotry.  There is a sense in which sexual sin destroys a person like no other, because it is so intimate and entangling, corrupting on the deepest human level.”[1]

This is the reason why we must abstain from and flee sexual immorality.  If you have given your life to the Lord, if you have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, you are a Christian.  And “a Christian’s body belongs to the Lord, is a member of Christ, and is the Holy Spirit’s temple.  Every act of fornication, adultery, or any other sin is committed by the believer in the sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, where God dwells.”[2] As Paul reminds us, every other sin that man does is outside the body.  But any sexual immorality is a sin against our own body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, our oneness in Christ.

It involves more than our flesh.  And we must consider this.  It’s a battle that rages on, a sin that continues to grow and fester.  It won’t end with one night of “passion.”  It won’t end with magazine or video of pornography.  It won’t end with one act of weakness.  And it definitely won’t end because we say it will.

When we engage in sexual activities, we sin against our own body, the temple of the Holy Spirit.  And definitely after this post, another one will be written.  Because after reading it, many of us will have pre-marital sex, commit adultery against our spouse, look at pornography, engage in oral sex, and anything else that gets us off.

Lets call a spade a spade.  Amongst ourselves and within us… this is war.

(If you need help with sexual sin, you can visit

http://www.befreeinchrist.com/and http://www.freedomeveryday.org/

or forums such as http://www.dailystrength.org/c/Sex-Pornography-Addiction/support-group

Lastly, visit your local church and receive counseling and support from your pastors and church leaders.)

(Picture taken from http://www.heartcompassion.org/Victoriously_Free_Bound_by_Sexual_Sin.jpg)


[1] MacArthur Study Bible

[2] Ibid

October 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment