Thursday, October 25, 2018

Is God A Genocidal Madman? -Part 1



"When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee. Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee:"  Deut 20:10-17

 It's a common trope among scorners to present passages like this one to the Christian in order to confront the Christian with the presumably bloodthirsty and vengeful God of the Bible.  This  highlights the tragic misunderstanding the scorner has towards the Bible, and their insincerity while 'searching for the truth'. Even more tragic , however, is how many Christians have no real reply for this, instead adopting a sort of embarrassed stance with some believers drawing at least a mental distinction between the 'mean God' of the Old Testament and the 'nice guy Jesus' of the New Testament.
  The Bible offers no such path of escape, though. The Bible claims to be an accurate, inspired, consistent revelation of the Creator to His creation.The same God quoted in Deuteronomy 20 is, according to scripture, the same God who took on the likeness of sinful flesh and gave His life on Calvary in order to redeem His enemies. The Bible does not allow an honest reader to  draw any distinction between the two.
  I submit to you, as a Bible believer, that we owe it to ourselves to face this issue. After all, a Christianity that cannot withstand the scrutiny of intellectual midgets like Voltaire or the scribbling of a self-professed monkey man like Dawkins is not a Christianity worth defending.  Rather than dismiss this attribute of God, we should examine in the full light of scripture. In doing so, we will find that the removal of the Canaanites was not only consistent with God's character throughout the Bible, but was the morally right thing to do.

1. You Aren't God, He is.

  In the same way an ignorant child draws incorrect conclusions about the world, the scorner assumes that just because God didn't do things they way they would have, God was either wrong or non-existent.  In order to establish the proper perspective, let's be frank; God doesn't solicit opinions from His creation. In fact, God says many times in scripture that His opinions and judgements are superior to that of man on the basis of Who He is and what He has done.  In Isaiah 40, the Holy Spirit says;
"Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?
With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. ....All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity."
  In Isaiah 59:8-9 God says, in unequivocal terms that he is smarter than you.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
  God asserts in Romans 9 that he stands above mankind, and outside the realm of man's ability to appropriately assess His actions.
Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
The Lord, when speaking to Job, makes it very clear that Job should remember his place in the grand scheme of things.

Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it, And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed? Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it? ..... Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth? Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death? Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all. Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof, That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof? Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great? Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war? By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth? Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder; To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man; To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth? Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew? Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it? ... Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth? Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee? Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are? Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart? Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven, When the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together? Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions,When they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie in wait?Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat.
  In Deut 32, God claims to have the final authority in matters of life and death.

See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me.

 Just to reiterate, God is smarter, wiser, and more powerful than His critics.  He has superior intellect, superior information, superior ability and regularly does things that no man is even capable of understanding. He made all things, and He sustains all things. In fact, He is so far ahead of the curve of human intellect that His ways are "past finding out".  God doesn't always explain Himself because not only are we not owed an explanation, but we wouldn't understand His explanation if He did.
  That's interesting, because according to Romans 1, God wrote His law  on the hearts of men, giving them a hard-wired sense of right and wrong, however marred by sin and muddled by culture it may be.  God, as a moral being, created beings with a sense of morality derived from Him. He then interacts with those beings, knowing that His creation has the capacity to assess His actions in the light of the rules He laid down and based on the information He has provided them. He ensures, through scripture that an accurate record of these interactions exists for future humans to see.
  It's perfectly legitimate for a man to look at what God has revealed about Himself, and, use his God-given sense of morality to assess those actions taken by God. But to make a proper assessment, a man must weigh all the factors before him, not just he ones that fit his bias against his Creator.  The scoffer and the scorner see what they want to see, blinded by the darkness of their own heart.

Fret not, this is not my entire argument.  I'm just laying the groundwork.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Life is Ministry, Ministry is Life





 Our community has an annual event; a downtown festival of sorts  that they dub 'The Scarecrow Stroll.  When it began  it was truly a community endeavor in which families would  build a scarecrow and display it in the local downtown area for several days, culminating in 'the Stroll'.  We built a scarecrow every year for years and used it as platform to get the gospel out.  As of late though, the Stroll has turned into a promotional event; a Halloween festival with local businesses and politicians throwing together some half-hearted scarecrow and handing out candy to kids in costumes.
  I’m opposed to Halloween, but I can’t rally a consistent argument against free candy, so my wife takes the kids down there with gym bags and we load up, sans costumes.  Later on, I extract a small portion of the proceeds that my children call ‘the chocolate tax’.
  The way this particular day worked was that I went street preaching, and then met my wife downtown. We walked around, looked at scarecrows, talked to our neighbors and scarfed up free candy. But I was unsettled the whole time. Maybe it’s because I was still in ‘street mode’ or whatever, but I looked at this crowd of  easily over a thousand people, including church folks , and realized that, other than me getting rid of  20 or 30 tracts, there was no visible gospel witness at this event. Nobody was preaching, nobody was handing out tracts, nothing.
  I’m not advocating a church get a booth down there as that would be inappropriate. Besides most church booths are, in my opinion, horribly ineffective and come across as a plea of  ‘Please like us! We’re nice!’. For example,  if the early church had opened up a booth at the Jupiter festival in  pagan Rome and made balloon animals, I hope we can agree that would have been a little bit 'off-mission'.
 I freely admit to you, dear readers, that I  don’t know what I think should be done.  I think the church has an obligation to distance itself from some aspects of the culture, and to purposefully visibly abstain from some of the more questionable cultural practices.  I think you can be present at an event without being part of it. You do what you're supposed to do and people will understand that you aren't with them in their revelry. You wont even have to tell them.
  What is our obligation, as the church, and as individuals, to the community at events like this? I think it’s clear; the people in our towns need to be confronted with the gospel at every opportunity.    That usually means they will hate you, and  most professing Christians will be annoyed with you. That’s my little red wagon to pull, and I pull it with gusto.
  I also freely admit to being a workaholic in the ministry. I see every public gathering as an chance to present the gospel. If it's within 100 miles of my house and I can make it there, I try.  I preach at street corners and football games and parades and festivals. I preach on vacation. I preach when I'm sick. I've preached in every weather condition except snow. I relish in buying tracts and putting gas in the car to drive hither and yon preaching.  Jesus Christ took the handwriting of ordinances that was against me and took them out of the way, nailing them to His cross. I owe Him my life. I owe Him my time. I owe my fellow man the chance to hear what God has done for them and what He will do to them in they persist in their rebellion.
  But I also have a family, and  I also have a wife that sometimes just wants to walk around and look at scarecrows and scarf up free candy without me being 'that guy' that disrupts everybodys good time.  She wants to be, for lack of a better word,'normal'. I do have obligations to her. I have an obligation to not make her life any harder than it has to be.  But I also am under orders from the King.
  This tug of war takes up a significant portion of my thoughts.

 I left the Stroll, as I  leave many public gatherings, thinking about the people there. I thought about what I have and what they need and how to balance  family life and ministry life.  I thought about how they ought not be separate things, but sometimes they are. 


 I'm only one guy who has been given the biggest job ever. How do I do it? And how do I get the gospel to them next year?
 




Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What Every Muslim Needs to Know About the Prophet Jesus (PBUH)

 

  The Quran clearly points to Jesus Christ, as being a holy man, and a prophet, and so he cannot be a liar. The following essay presents to you, my dear Muslim friends, the words of Jesus himself. I ask you to carefully consider these things and search out whether they be true.


1. Jesus Christ claimed to be God.

In Mark Chapter 2, Jesus is preaching inside a man's house, and a sick man is brought to him. In verse 5, Jesus says 
 "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee."
 Now consider, my friends, what an amazing claim that is to  make in front of other people.Everyone understands that the power to forgive sins belongs to God alone. I would not make the claim to be able to forgive sins, and I  suspect you would not either.  In fact, the assembled crowd responds, saying "Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?"
 Jesus answers them and says:
 " Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk. But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house."
 In John chapter 10, Jesus is being pressed by the Jews to give a plain answer as to whether or not he was God manifest in the flesh. He answers them:
 "I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one."
  The people listening responded by offering to stone him. Jesus asks them why they want to stone him, and they answer "For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God."  
   Now my dear Muslim friend, by Jesus's own words you can see that he claimed to be able to forgive sins, he claimed to be able to give men eternal life, and he claimed to be equal with God. All of these are attributes of God alone. Was this holy prophet telling the truth when he spoke of himself?

2. Jesus Christ Died on the Cross, and Rose again

 Before he was captured and crucified, Jesus Christ predicted his own death, and his own resurrection. In John chapter 10, he says:
"I lay down my life, that I might take it again.No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."
In Luke chapter 18, Jesus prophesies again regarding his own death, and says:
 "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again."
In Mark 9, Jesus is teaching his disciples and tells them:
"The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day."
 In Matthew 26, Jesus says:
 "Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified."
 After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples and told them:
 "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."
 "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing."
 In the first chapter of  book of Revelation, John encounters Jesus Christ again, and Jesus tells him:
"Fear not; I am the first and the last:I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."
 Consider these things, friend. By his own words, Jesus knew he was going to die on the cross before it happened. He knew he was going to rise from the dead. He appeared to his disciples with the wounds of death in his body, and proclaimed to John that he had been dead, but now was alive. Was Jesus telling the truth?

3. Jesus Christ is the Only way to Heaven

  In John chapter 11, Jesus is speaking to the sister of his friend Lazarus, and he tells her:
"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"
 In John 14, Jesus tells his disciples:
"I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
 Jesus Christ, from his own mouth claimed to be the source of eternal life and the only way for men to achieve a resurrection from the dead. He claimed to be the only way for a man to get to God. Jesus Christ claimed that your good works cannot save you, your devotion to God cannot save you; only he can save you from your sins. He accomplished this by paying the penalty for your sins with his own death upon the cross. He displayed victory over death by raising himself from the dead, and he promises the forgiveness of sin to all those who will put their faith and trust in him alone.
  What if the prophet Jesus Christ was telling the truth?
  I beseech you to consider these things in your heart. Are these things true? And if they are, why have you never been told?



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Mostly Human

 I have sitting, in my yard, a  broken green 1995 Geo Metro. We'll get back to that in a moment.
  When I got saved  in 1995, I was 21 years old, and without any undue embellishment, take my word for it, I was a hard man.  I had seen tragedy and heartbreak and death, and although others have doubtless seen worse, the experiences of my brief life thus far had hardened me. I understood rage, and I understood anger, but I had done my best to jettison from my  soul everything else. I walked around in a human body, but the affections and sentiments that are supposed to be common to the human experience were, from my vantage point, something that happened to other people.  I had no friends, and I was OK with that. I had no close affections, and I was OK with that. You could hit me, but you could not hurt me, and that was on purpose. I don't say this to make myself sound like a tough guy, but rather to lay the groundwork for what God has done.
  Of course now I sit here, more than 20 years later a new creature in Christ. I look at the man I used to be with  a certain amount of detachment, and with two decades of experience on him.  He's gone but not gone. That hard-hearted brawler still roams the hallways of my mind, and his influence bubbles up from time to time, but God has helped me in ways I could never explain.  God has patiently stripped away the dross and is preparing a vessel for His use.
  When I got saved, God gave me friends, or at least people who endured me for the ministries sake.  I'm still not the life of the party, and I'll never be voted Mister Congeniality (thank God) but God has, over the years, placed some people in my life, and used those people, whether they knew it or not, to help reassemble the broken man that He redeemed.  Of course, that sort of thing comes with a price.
  Doug is one of those friends.  I wish I could say that I had been the help to him that he's been to me, but that simply wouldn't be true. Really, my association with Doug has always struck me as pretty unlikely, but somehow it's worked. A few years back I was in a bind car-wise, and I bought this 1995 Geo from Doug and his wife.  The car has always been sort of moody, and it's always been prone to failures that defy explanation and that come and go on their own, but I took that little car with its unmatchable gas mileage and put around 100,000 miles on it in the last  3 or 4 years.  In that time, as I've worked through one issue or another (often with Doug's guidance or muscle) , many people have wondered why I didn't just get another car. My extended family have questioned my very sanity as to why I would  strive over and over again to keep this one car on the road.  I have bought other cars in this time, but it always comes back to this Geo.  This time around, it has sat still for several months plagued with a host of symptoms that have the best and brightest shrugging their shoulders. People ask me, "What are you going to do with that thing?" I'm sure I could muster up a handful of practical reasons to keep the car. It's paid for. I know it inside and out. It gets 50 miles to the gallon. But that's probably not the real reason.
  Look, I'm a smart guy. I can understand intellectually that this car is simply a 2,600 pound pile of metal and glass and rubber and plastic. I may talk to it, but it does not hear me. I get that.  I understand the concept of 'diminishing returns'. I'm far from stupid. But an unintended side-effect of my restored humanity is that I am, on occasion an irrational, pathetically sentimental sap.  I look at this pile of non functioning mechanical parts and I think of how I asked for prayer one night at a Saturday night prayer meeting because I needed a vehicle, and how Doug and his wife sold me that car for less than they could have. I think about Doug's wife, and how I wasn't sure if I was going to like her, but how our family has grown to love her.  She is, like me, a trophy of God's grace, living proof of God's kindness, and a broken thing under divine reassembly. I think about how the newlyweds loaded up her stuff in a trailer and hauled it down here in that Geo, and how they both cast aside their own sentimental attachment to it and sold it to me.  I think about all the time and knowledge Doug has donated to get this car back up on the road; time he could have spent with his lovely bride and his growing family. I think of how nobody would have done that for the cranky scrapper I used to be.  I stand there in my yard with a tool in my hand and the hood up thinking about all of this, and with all the rational arguments to stop echoing in my head, I say to myself "well, let's try this one more thing...".
  Having bared this little piece of myself to you, Oh Internet Reader Person, can you blame me? After all, I'm mostly human.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Superman as a Type of Christ




"There's only about 30 plots in every movie, book or TV show in the world and all these plots are found in the Bible"- Peter S. Ruckman

  It is common , for a variety of reasons, to find recurrent themes in literature that also echo great themes of the Bible.  The simple fact is that the world steals these themes, and twists them a bit to get a good story. When it comes time to create a hero, it's impossible  to write a great and noble hero without borrowing the attributes of the greatest Hero of  them all, the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything that is praiseworthy resides in Him, and if your hero is going to have any redeeming qualities at all, he is going to have to have some qualities in common with the Redeemer Himself.  But these attributes manifest themselves rather explicitly in a fictional character who burst on the scene in 1938 and almost  single-handedly defined the  superhero archetype. I speak of course of the Last Son of Krypton, Kal-El, also known as Superman.  I will go on record and say that I know of no other fictional character with so many blatant commonalities with Jesus Christ., and that these commonalities are most obvious in the two movies, Superman and Superman II. These films,  both starring Christopher Reeve in the title role, were originally conceived as one movie, and taken as one movie show an amazing (though imperfect and somewhat out of sequence) typology of the past, present and future work of Jesus Christ.
  Skeptical? You should be. But let's examine the evidence, shall we?



1. The Trial of Zod
  The movie begins on Krypton, the doomed planet of Superman's birth. We the audience are witness to the closing arguments on a trial of Krypton's three greatest criminals. From expository dialogue we know that  the leader of this trio is Zod, once a great Kryptonian general whose lust for power led him to try to overthrow the  Kryptonian government.  Here he stands, in judgment of his failed plot, on the verge of being banished.  Jor-el the great  scientist , appropriately clad in the black robes of judgment, casts the final vote to imprison the trio into outer darkness. Jor -el describes  Zod after this fashion:
"Finally, General Zod. Once trusted by this Council, charged with maintaining the defense of the planet Krypton itself. Chief architect of this intended revolution and author of this insidious plot to establish a new order amongst us. With himself as absolute ruler."



    The Bible says in  Isaiah 14, "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit."  
   Zod had Luciferian ambitions, and suffered the same fate. General Zod is the devil in this story, and as the devil he fulfills the role perhaps even better than the writers intended. Listen to his final words before the imprisonment engulfs him, and consider the words of the devil in Matthew 4;  "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." 


 
  We'll address his two companions in a few moments.

2. Krypton Itself and the El family


  Jor-el does an interesting wardrobe shift immediately after the sentencing of Zod and company. he casts aside the dark robes of judgment and wears the white glowing clothing that apparently is his usual attire. In fact, everyone on Krypton appears to be clothed in white raiment of some kind. Interestingly, the Bible says, in regards to God; "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool:" Jor-El is a benevolent father; the wisest among a population full of radiant beings, and if Zod is the devil, then Jor-El neatly fits the role of God the Father, with Kal-El's mother inhabiting a rather sketchy role as the Holy Spirit.  
 As an aside, in the later Superman movie "The Man of Steel" , Kal-El is described as being  the only naturally occurring baby on Krypton in centuries, which would technically make him the 'only begotten' of his Father.   I promised myself I would stick to these two movies, but that's just too good to pass up. 
 In the movie , we don't see much of Krypton, but enough to know that is a place with crystal-based technology and light-based technology.  In this it resembles a certain other place, which the Bible says "And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above." (Ezek 1) and "And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal.." ( Rev 4). The habitation of God is described in Rev 21 as thus "And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."  Krypton, like Heaven, is a place of crystal and light inhabited by at least  one family whose last name (El) is one of the Hebrew words for God.
 
  With the imminent destruction of the planet on its way , Jor-el and Laura opt to send their baby to Earth, making him the Last Son of Krypton, as compared to "the last Adam". In this particular telling of the story, they  build not a rocket ship, as in earlier incarnations, but a pod comprised of the crystal technology common to Krypton. The pod, when completed, resembles a star. This is especially interesting when you consider that Jesus Christ refers to himself as "the bright and morning star" in Rev. 22:16.
Image result for baby superman pod 1978
  Just before launching their infant son into the void of space, Jor-el makes a speech. 
 Listen carefully to his speech and then consider the  following statements by Jesus Christ.:
  •  "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me." Matthew 10:40
  •  "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."  John 5:30
  • "..As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father..." John 6:57
  • "..he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.." John 14:9
  • "...the Father is in me, and I in him." John 10:38
  • "I and my Father are one." John 10:30


3. Young Clark Kent
   
  The Kryptonian pod  makes its way to earth, where its tiny occupant is found by Jonathan and Martha Kent. A simple etymological search reveals that 'Martha ' is a variation on the name 'Mary', which is interesting in itself.  From the very beginning the young Kal-El,(reminiscent of "Emmanuel") hereafter called 'Clark' exhibits a wild variety of unusual abilities including having "eyes as a flaming fire". 


He hides those abilities though, as you can see in this scene.
  As a matter of fact, Clark's self-imposed humility and obscurity reminds me of another Man who the Bible says "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:"  After the death of Jonathan Kent (mirroring that absence of Joseph in the later life of Jesus), Clark makes his way to Metropolis where he gets a job at the daily Planet,and also soon thereafter, makes his first public appearance as Superman.
Image result for superman headline 1978
She also gives him the name 'Superman', by the way

     At one point in the movie, after Lois Lane scores her interview with Superman , Lex Luthor quotes the article and says that the planet Krypton exploded in 1948. The movie takes place in 1978 which means that Superman is 30 years old when he makes his public appearance!
  For the purposes of this post, we're going to  ignore the whole 'flying backwards around the world to turn back time ' silliness, although it's worth mentioning that, among the Jesus-like attributes that Superman exhibits in that encounter is, technically, the ability raise the dead.
Image result for margot kidder 1978
Lois Lane- dead for now

 4. Meanwhile in the Phantom Zone
  
Image result for superman ii phantom zone
The Phantom Zone doubles as an album cover
 
  At the beginning of Superman II, the Man of Steel has been on the scene for some time. In fact, the movie came out in 1980, which means the case could be made that  Superman has been a public figure for almost 3 years at the outset of the movie, making him almost 33.  All this time the three greatest criminals of Krypton have been trapped in the Phantom Zone, and are only released when a nuclear explosion in space shatters their prison.  Unbeknownst to the Last Son of Krypton, the three of them  land on the moon and begin making their way to earth.
  When they land on Earth, they discover that they have amazing powers; the same powers any Kryptonian enjoys under the  glare of earth's yellow sun.  Much like the devil is able to duplicate the miracles of God via "lying signs and wonders", Zod and company are able to do things like walk on water.

 


Zod as Jesus
  But the comparison doesn't stop there.  It's telling that there are three of them, making them the perfect movie counterparts to the "devil...beast..and false prophet" of Revelation. Once on the scene Zod quickly establishes himself as the head of a one-world government. He clearly isn't opposed to being worshipped and even enjoys being mistaken for "the most High".


5. Where is Superman?
   In the movie, while Zod and his cohorts are taking over the world, Clark Kent has love on his mind; he decides to reveal his identity to Lois and ask the permission of his holographic parents to wed a human.  It's very clearly spelled out by his mother that , in order to attain a bride, he must take on normal human flesh with all its frailties and mortality .  The parallel with Jesus Christ is clear; Christ came "in the likeness of sinful flesh" and "submitted himself unto death" for His brides sake. Superman even sheds his blood before it's all over.

He endured the contradiction of truckers against himself

  Lex Luthor, ever the ambitious quisling, strikes a deal with Zod and reveals key information to the General; the son of his enemy Jor-el is here on earth.  Meanwhile , Clark and Lois see how the world has fallen under Zod in his absence and Clark heads back to the Fortress of Solitude in order to try to regain his powers. The movie is really unclear on how exactly he reverses the irreversible , but here's the parallel; the world thinks Superman is dead, and only his bride knows he's still alive and is coming back for her. 
  Carrying the analogy forward, even Lois begins to despair when suddenly, just when his enemies appear to have the victory, her hero returns, with his powers restored.  The battle goes from Metropolis to the Fortress of Solitude where the Man of Steel dispatches his enemies by placing them in "a bottomless pit".

 The natural order of things restored, and the bully vanquished, the movie ends with Superman helping rebuild the white House and promising to never let the President down again. Or, as the Bible says it "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."


  There, presented for your consideration, from His birth to His death to His resurrection to His eventual victory over His enemies, is the greatest typology of Jesus Christ in  secular literature.  What do you think?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What Now, Church?


 Well church, it's over.  One reprobate won over the other reprobate.  The dust is still settling, but it's over.  Mr. Trump rode to victory on the backs of evangelicals and I'm certain that he will now treat us as his kind have always treated us, with disdain and contempt until we are needed again.  I hope you're happy. I hope you did what you thought was right.   But either way, it's over.  Now, as your brother in Christ, let me beseech you to get back to what we should have been doing all along.
   You've gone door knocking for Trump, now go door knocking for Jesus. You put a Trump sign in your yard; now put a scripture sign out. You familiarized yourself the intricacies of both candidates and their positions; now you should make yourself just as familiar with your Bible.  You were zealous and passionate and concerned about the turnout; now be just as devoted to the souls of men.  You contended for Trump; now you should contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.
    And while you're at it, it might be time to apologize to those brothers with whom you disagreed.  It might be time to apologize to those that you said were helping the opposition by voting their conscience, or by not voting at all. It might be time to 're-friend' that fellow saint that you 'un-friended'. It might be time to remind yourself that no matter how this had turned out, we are all in this together.
  For my part, I didn't vote. Instead I  stood out in the open air and preached the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ just like I have done for  over 2 decades now.  I passed out tracts just like I always have. I gave the way I always have. If Mrs Clinton had won, I would have continued on, laboring not for the GOP, but for the Lord Jesus Christ.  For those of you who, by God's grace, didn't get distracted over all this, now is your chance to be gracious to your brethren.  To those of you who got off track and off-message, we love you and we want to see you do right.  Come on back, we need the help.
  What now, church?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Trap of the Dishonest Skeptic


It was a spring day in Savannah Ga probably over 10 years ago.  I was preaching in the park to a scattering of mostly college-age kids  enjoying the lovely weather and the aftermath of the St. Patrick's Day Festival.  They were seated on benches and some on blankets in the grass, lounging around, talking amongst themselves and generally behaving as if I wasn't there.  One of their number, however, decided that he had endured quite enough of me. He rose to his feet and   presented himself between the crowd and myself.  With a loud voice and appropriately dramatic hand gestures he told the crowd "This man's god would burn me for all eternity  simply because I don't believe in him. What kind of god does that?"  He went on to accuse the God of the Bible of being a petty tyrant who would rather destroy his creation than be ignored by it. By this man's reckoning, "God" was the worst sort of monster; an entity who presents man with either  the option of absolute obedience to His every trivial whim, or  unending torment.
  While its true that a good heckler is worth his weight in gold, sometimes a judgment call must be made. Do you engage, or do you ignore?  For reasons long forgotten to me, I opted to ignore him.
  I use that man as an example of what I call 'the trap of the dishonest skeptic'.   There is an honest skepticism that causes one to carefully evaluate the claims of others and not throw your hat in until you have all the facts.  That's not what I'm talking about.  Most people who call themselves skeptics actually deploy a dishonest kind of skepticism; a suspicion or incredulity towards things they already don't like.  A dishonest skeptic will spend a lot of time being a smart-aleck railer involving things he has a prejudice against while telling himself and all his like-minded cronies that he is more intelligent or more logical or more enlightened than his ideological adversaries.  The internet is full of this sort of thing, and  truth be told, all of us do this to some degree, and to whatever degree we indulge this part of our flawed nature, we blind ourselves to the truth.
  Returning to our heckler in the park, his basic premise was that the God of the Bible was somehow unfair or unjust for instituting eternal consequences for unbelief.  Now while it's true that unbelief is a sin, this man in the park took his limited understanding of his predicament, filtered it through the darkness of his own heart, and missed the point.  Let me explain.
  First of all, we must address unbelief. The Bible says "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard."  According to scripture, creation is self-evident across every kindred and tribe and tongue.  A man who rejects creation rejects the evidence of his own eyes.  The Bible goes on to say in the book of Hebrews "...he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him".  Somebody made everything you see, and He can be found, if He is sought on His terms.  It stands to reason then that if a man doesn't find Him, it must be because he didn't look properly. Why would a man not look? The Bible addresses that too, saying in John 3 "light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.". Men don't seek the God of the Bible because they somehow instinctively understand that His very existence is a reproach to their sin, and they love their sin. They would rather walk "...in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness."  Job says men drink "iniquity like water" and love it.   Unbelief is a sin because of why the unbelief exists; as a cloak for your sin.  A man who rejects God as he has revealed Himself is a man who has chosen to disregard reality itself and instead embrace the  warm comfort of his own self-centered filthiness.  Unbelief is not just an insult to God, it's a crime against yourself.
  The reasons for unbelief carry a penalty as well. The Bible says "the wages of sin is death". Your lies, your adultery, your pride, your self-centeredness drove you to unbelief, and that same unbelief cuts you off from the solution.  While you pat yourself on the back for what an open-minded skeptic you are, you have closed your mind off to He who is truth itself.  You congratulate yourself on how free you are from the trappings of belief even as you bind yourself up with the cords of your own iniquity and stubbornly refuse the only One who can help you. You carry on, making  little internet memes that poke fun at God and mock Jesus, never realizing that you are destroying yourself.  In fact, according to the scriptures, "... after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds"  
  The God of the Bible looked down at you in  your pathetic, filthy, unrepentant, self-deluded, self-destructive state and took pity on you.  He  took on the "likeness of sinful flesh" and became "as a servant". He went to the cross and bore your sin and your shame  in his own body, and took the punishment for your sins on Himself. He rose from the dead, and has secured your justification and your reconciliation  with the only condition being "repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."  With that sort of unfathomable grace staring you in the face, would you really rather stand in a park and bellow out about how unfair he is?
 You see, the real issue with a  dishonest skeptic is that he's dishonest. The motivations he presents , perhaps even to himself, are so intertwined in his own self-love that he is literally willing to commit intellectual suicide and  earn eternal damnation rather than forsake it. Why should you take a good hard look at the God of the Bible, Mr. Skeptic? Because He's the only hope you have.