"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Son of Man Is Punished for the Sin of Man

"The Lord struck the son that Uriah's wife had borne to David, and he became ill...and after seven days the son died." (II Samuel 12:15-18).

In the Old Testament (Covenant), God punished the sin of a man in the son of that man. This concept is very difficult for many to grasp, but any student of the Bible knows it is true. When God revealed Himself to the Hebrews, His covenant people in ancient days, He said, "I visit the iniquity of the fathers on the children" (Exodus 34:6-7). God is not always the way you think He is, but He is always the way He says He is. He punishes the sin of a man in the son of that man.

When Noah became drunk and fell naked on his bed, Ham came into Noah's tent and did something sinful to Noah. Genesis 9:24-25 says that when "Noah awoke and saw what Ham had done," he said, "Cursed be Canaan" (Ham's son). Of course, when the Israelites came into "the land of Canaan," the fulfillment of that curse was seen by the Canaanites utter destruction, commanded by the Lord (Deuteronomy 20:17).

It's easy to gloss over King David's sin of adultery with Bathsheba. We read that King David orchestrated the murder of Uriah, Bathsheba's husband, and we groan at David's attempts to cover his sin, but we identify with him because we do the same thing. However, very few of us seriously contemplate that God punished David for his sin by striking his infant son with death.

We are not Hebrew. It is difficult to understand living under the covenant God had with the Hebrew people. The Old Testament is a record of God's dealings with the Hebrews, but we often spend too little time reading the Old Testament Scriptures. The Hebrews understood that God punished the sin of a man in the son of that man.

That's why the disciples of Jesus, all of them Hebrew, were walking through Jerusalem and came upon a man born blind from birth and asked a question of Jesus that puzzles us who live in a different culture. The disciples asked Jesus, "Teacher, who sinned? This man or his parents?" (John 9:2). That question doesn't make sense unless you understand that God revealed Himself to the Hebrew people as the God who punishes the sin of a man in the son of that man.

Likewise, in the Old Covenant culture (e.g. that is from Genesis to Malachi, or from Adam to Jesus, or better yet from "the first Adam to the last Adam"), a deed of courage and honor was credited to the father. When something stellar is done by someone today, we will say "Who is he?" But in the Old Covenant days of the Hebrews, people would ask, "Whose son is he?"

This is true of young David when He killed Goliath, an act that caused the entire nation of Israel to celebrate. After David killed the giant, King Saul, who knew David well, asked the shepherd boy, "Whose son are you, young man" (I Samuel 17:58). King Saul was saying, "Your father deserves the praise and glory for your heroic actions."

In the same manner, Jesus commended Peter for the confession Peter gave of the Christ by saying, "Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah" (Matthew 16:17). Jesus, raised among the Hebrews in Hebraic culture, once told His disciples "I do what I do that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (John 14:13).

Jesus is the Son of God. He is the Messiah, conceived by the Holy Spirit of a virgin, sent by the Father to glorify Him through the noble, courageous act of delivering sinners from their just punishment. "You shall call His name Yehoshua," said the angel, "For He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).  "For God so loved this world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, will not perish but have immortal life" (John 3:16).

We quickly grasp that Jesus is Emmanuel - God with us. But why is the name "Son of Man" used 84 times in the New Testament?

Answer: Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. That means everything in the Old Testament (and I mean everything) finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "These very Scriptures (the Old Testament) testify of me" (John 5:39).

Jesus came to fulfill the Law of the Hebrews (the Old Testament) and to make that Law "obsolete" (Hebrews 8:13) in order to establish a New Covenant with the nations.

Jesus is the Son of Man because the God who sent Him, the very God who punishes the iniquity of the fathers on the children, has sent His Son as the Son of Man to take punishment for the sin of man on a rugged cross on a hill called Moriah.

Some wrongly dismiss the Old Testament as an errant description of who God is. Others ridicule the ancient Hebrews for not fully understanding God for who He really is.

Count me in as one who believes the Hebrews were chosen by God as the people through whom He would reveal Himself to the world in the form of shadows.

On a sunny day, if you see a shadow coming around the corner of a building, you know that a person is soon to follow. When you read the Old Testament, you see shadows in the Law, the Prophets, the sacrifices, the rituals, the Temple worship, and all the rest of God's dealings with His people. Don't fall in love with the shadow and seek to imitate its form. The Substance has come, and to know Him is far better than to worship the shadows and kiss the pictures (the Law). The Person whom the shadows represent has arrived. The Son of God and the Son of Man has come.

Jesus came to establish a new agreement between God and sinners. God doesn't change, but He sends His Son to fulfill all righteousness. The Son of Man has come (literally, your son), so that the righteous punishment from God due your sins can be placed on your Son, fulfilling the Law. The honorable, noble and courageous act of the One "who knew no sin but became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21) redounds to the glory of the Father - for the Father, in love for sinners, has sent His Son as our Son (e.g. "the Son of Man), to pay the price for our sin. There is no greater love than this. The Father, the Son and the Spirit in covenant together redeems sinners.

Now, for those of us who "embrace the Son of Man," the good news is powerful. It's the answer to our sin, and it is the solution for peace with God and a life full of good promises from God.  "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are all "Yes" in Christ. And so through Him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God' (II Corinthians 1:20).

Two Closing Illustrations

Recently I ministered to a young mother who fell asleep while nursing her baby. When she awoke, her newborn infant son lying dead on the floor. The guilt and excruciating agony in this mom was overwhelming. I'll never forget the question she cried out to me, "Is God punishing me for my sin by taking my son?"

Most evangelicals would quickly say, "Oh no! God would never do anything like that to you." Yet, if you study the Scriptures, that is exactly what God does. He punishes the sin of man in the son of man.

At least, that's what God did in the OLD COVENANT.

But He sure doesn't do it now in the NEW COVENANT. 

I was able to confidently assure this woman who lost her child that the love of God abides on her, and never would she experience punishment from God in this life because her trust is in the Son of Man (which it was). I was able to show her "The Good News' in Jesus Christ, and help her understand that any punishment due her sins was poured out on God's Son who came as the Son of Man in order to bear the sin of man. I showed her Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

After focusing on the gospel, this woman in time began to understand the love of God in a deeper and fuller manner, even though she went through the terrible agony of losing a child. She came to realize that events in this life are not punishments from God, for the punishment from God due her sins has already been meted out on the cross. God forsook the Son He loved that He might never forsake those who love the Son

After our Easter services at Emmanuel (2017), a beautiful young teenage girl spoke with me in the lobby. The details of her life are stunning. She lost her parents and most of her siblings in a tragic tornado as they drowned while taking shelter in a drainage ditch. All of them were swept away by a ravaging flood. This beautiful young girl survived, but her family was killed. Doubts about God's love and goodness for her had flooded her heart since that tragic day.

When she heard the gospel on Easter it set her free.

"God will never punish me for my sins because the Son of Man has come to bear my punishment on the cross. I am free from the fear of God, but more importantly, I am now captivated by the love of God because He sent His Son - the Son of God - to represent me as my son - the Son of Man - that the Law of sin and death might be fulfilled in Him. All the promises of God are now freely mine through the Son, and I have no reason to fear any punishment from God, but desire to grow in my understanding of His daily love, mercy and grace for me. I want to know Christ and Him crucified!" 

That indeed is Good News.

"This Is The Most Embarrassing Verse in the Bible"

Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened" (Matthew 24:34). 
The erudite 20th-century British evangelical C.S. Lewis believed that the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:34 conveyed His belief that all events associated with His Second Coming would transpire within the lifetime of his hearers. Lewis pointed out that these words of Jesus are recorded by two other gospel writers in Mark 13:30; Luke 21:32, so Jesus' belief in His soon-to-be Second Coming was something all the disciples heard Him declare.

A generation in the Hebrew mindset of Jesus' day was a lifetime or forty years. However, because Jesus did not return within the lifetime of those who heard Him say this, Lewis declared Matthew 24:34 "is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible." 

C.S. Lewis was a contemporary of Albert Schweitzer.  Christian theology in Europe during the 20th century (Lewis' lifetime) came under the direct influence of Albert Schweitzer's book The Quest for the Historical Jesus. Schweitzer. an accomplished musician, theologian, philosopher, physician, and humanitarian in his own right, proposed that Jesus and His disciples were obsessed with a very imminent end of the world. Since the world did not end the first century, Schweitzer convincingly argued that Jesus was mistaken about His own return. This mistake by the historical Jesus, according to Schweitzer, is cause for embarrassment among all evangelical Christians, particularly those of us who live 2,000 years after Jesus declared He was coming soon.

C.S. Lewis' solution to this embarrassment is to propose that Jesus in His human nature was actually ignorant of the time of His own return.
"To believe in the Incarnation, to believe that Jesus is God, makes it hard to understand how He could be ignorant. Yet it would be difficult, and to me, repellent, to suppose that Jesus never asked a genuine question, that is, a question to which he did not know the answer. That would make his humanity something so unlike ours as scarcely to desrve the name. I find it easier to believe that when he said, "Who touched me?" (Luke 7:45) he really didn't know." (C.S. Lewis, The World's Last Night). 
The only problem with Lewis' explanation, at least in my mind, is that Jesus wasn't asking a question of the Father about His return, He was declaring a truth to the disciples about His return.  "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened" (Matthew 24:34).

Jesus' words convey certainty, not doubt.

Lewis would later use the famous trilemma to confront peoples' opinion of Christ. "Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or He is Lord." 

I believe Jesus is Lord, and for that reason, when Jesus speaks with certainty, it certainly happens just like He says it will.

The reason many Christians, even wonderfully astute thinkers like C.S. Lewis, have such an embarrassing time with Matthew 24:34 is because they wrongly think Jesus is referring to the end of the world. He wasn't. Jesus was referring to His coming to end the Old Covenant age by destroying the Temple and the system of worship built around the Temple.

That happened in A.D. 70 - within a generation of His words in Matthew 24:34.

Once Christians begin to understand that the Kingdom of God which Christ came to establish looks so much different from the Hebrew Kingdom of Old Covenant Israel, any confusion dissipates. Jesus promised His hearers, "within this generation," to end the entire system of Old Covenant worship. He did exactly what He said He would do. He came to establish a New Covenant with the world and to inaugurate His eternal Kingdom through His fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. When we understand how Christ came to "make obsolete" the Old Covenant (see Hebrews 8:13), then we'll begin to focus more on what the Kingdom of God today looks like today rather than looking for something to come. The Kingdom of Christ is already here.

The Temple of God - is every believer in Christ' it's a people, not a building.
The Priests of God - are those who believe in Christ; it is no longer a hierarchal system of spiritual authority.
Worship - is in Spirit and in truth every day; not in a building once a week.
Law - is simply to "Love one another as Christ loves us": not the Law of Old Covenant Israel.
Life - is led by the Spirit, not regulated by laws of a church, a man, or a system of worship, but only by the Royal Law of love.

All the promises of God are "yes and amen" in Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 1:20), who "fulfilled the Law and the Prophets," made obsolete the Old Covenant system of worship through His death, burial and resurrection (Hebrews 8:13), and gave His followers certain promise that He would soon return and destroy the age of Law which they grew up in (Matthew 24:34). So when it comes to living out the life Jesus calls you to live, you are to "Listen to Him!" (Luke 9:35).

The reason many evangelicals struggle with Matthew 24:34, especially evangelicals from a Presbyterian, Episcopal, or Reformed Protestant background like C.S. Lewis as well as Pentecostals, Charismatics and Dispensationalists who are unlike C.S. Lewis, is because all these Christian groups have a tendency to try to merge the old age (e.g. "the Old Covenant") with the new age (e.g. "The New Covenant").  When you merge the Covenants, you have a difficult time seeing how all the eschatological talks of Jesus (e.g. His "end times" talks) and the apostles are about the END of the OLD COVENANT and not the end of the physical world or the universe.

After Christ died and rose from the grave, He fulfilled the promise He gave to His early disciples and returned in judgment to abolish the very thing which prefigured Him (The Temple and the Law).

There's no need for embarrassment when it comes to Matthew 24:34.

Christians need to know Jesus simply told His disciples He was coming back within a generation to end the old age that He came to make obsolete, not the world.

And He did.

Jesus Died and Rose from the Dead at 33 in A.D. 30

During Passion Week several articles about the death and resurrection of Jesus will be posted on social media. One such article by Christianity Today, written and first published in 2014 by a friend of mine, is entitled Five Errors to Drop from Your Easter Sermon.

The number one error made by preachers, according to the authors of the article, is saying that Jesus died when he was 33 years old. They confidently describe this "error" preachers should avoid on Easter by writing:
The common assertion seems reasonable that if Jesus "began his ministry" when he "was about thirty years of age" (Luke 3:23) and engaged in a three-year ministry (John mentions three Passovers, and there might have been a fourth one), then he was 33 years old at the time of his death. However, virtually no scholar believes Jesus was actually 33 when he died. Jesus was born before Herod the Great issued the decree to execute "all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under" (Matt. 2:16, ESV) and before Herod died in the spring of 4 B.C. If Jesus was born in the fall of 5 or 6 B.C., and if we remember that we don't count the "0" between B.C. and A.D., then Jesus would have been 37 or 38 years old when he died in the spring of A.D. 33 (as we believe is most likely). Even if Jesus died in the year A.D. 30 (the only serious alternative date), he would have been 34 or 35, not 33 years old. No major doctrine is affected by this common misconception. But don't damage your credibility by confidently proclaiming "facts" from the pulpit that are not true.

"Virtually no scholar believes Jesus was 33 when He died?"


Sorry CT, Jesus did die and rise from the dead at 33 in A.D. 30. I'm not claiming to be a scholar, but I am calling out the Christianity Today authors for their error.

Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) writes,
"When Jesus began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age (see Luke 3:23). Most scholars agree that Jesus' ministry lasted 3 1/2 years. So 30 plus 3 1/2 years equals the age of 33." 
It's puzzling how  Christianity Today cautions pastors about "damage (to) your credibility by confidently proclaiming 'facts' from the pulpit that are not true," when Christianity Today is allowing the authors of the article they published to do that very thing.

How can Christianity Today retain credibility by claiming "virtually no scholar believes Jesus was actually 33 when he died" yet CARM states "most scholars agree...Jesus was 33 (when He died)"?

The CT article states emphatically "Herod died in the spring of 4 B.C." But in reality, Biblical Archeology states "there are reasons to reconsider the date of Herod's death," moving it to the fall of 4 B.C. or even later.

We are told by Josephus (Antiquities 17.6.4) that there was a lunar eclipse "shortly before Herod died."  Lunar eclipses were a very big deal during the era that ancients kept time by the moon (e.g. the lunar calendar). A lunar eclipse portended ominous events for world leaders, and there is reason to believe Herod himself felt something ominous was coming his way.

A lunar eclipse occurred in March of 4 B.C. (this we know). There was also another lunar eclipse in 1 B.C., leading some to think Herod didn't die until that year (1 B.C.). Regardless to which lunar eclipse Josephus refers when he tells of Herod's death, we know that shortly after the eclipse Herod died. What we don't know is how long "shortly after" is to Josephus. The Jewish historian doesn't tell us, and no date for Herod's death from antiquity exists. It could have been as long as 6, 7 or even 8 months after the eclipse of 4 B.C., meaning October or November of 4 B.C., or it could have been a few months after the lunar eclipse of 1 B.C.

What we do know is that Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt to avoid King Herod's decree to kill newborn boys "two years and under" (Matthew 2:16),  and they only came "out of Egypt" back to their home in the hills of Galilee after Herod's death (see Matthew 2:13-15). So Jesus was either one year of age or four years of age when Herod died (4 B.C. or 1 B.C.) and his parents came back to Israel.

The important point remains. Jesus was born during "The Feast of Tabernacles" (September 10, 5 B.C.) while King Herod the Great reigned over the Jews. The great Matthew Henry writes:
"It is supposed by many that our blessed Saviour was born much about the time of this holiday; then He left his mansions of light above to tabernacle among us (John 1:14), and he dwelt in booths. And the worship of God under the New Testament is prophesied of under the notion of keeping the Feast of Tabernacles (Zec.14: 16).
It matters not when Herod died as far as the date of the birth of Jesus or the date and/or age of Jesus when He died and rose from the grave.

Jesus died and rose from the dead at 33 in A.D. 30.

Let me show you why.

Since Jesus was born in the fall of 5 B.C.  - the very time that even the Christianity Today article gives as the most likely date for the birth of Christ -  Jesus would have been age 33 at His death on Passover in A.D. 30.

The authors of the Christianity Today article wrongly state, " Even if Jesus died in the year A.D. 30, he would have been 34 or 35, not 33 years old when He died (had he been born in the fall of 5 B.C.).

Sorry, Christianity Today, that's simply not true.

Here's why.

Jesus was born during September (The Feast of Tabernacles) in 5 B.C.

Age 1  - 4 B.C.
Age 2  - 3 B.C.
Age 3  - 2 B.C.
Age 4  - 1 B.C.
Age 5  - A.D. 1 (There is no "0" Year)
Age 6  - A.D. 2
Age 7  - A.D. 3
Age 8  - A.D. 4
Age 9  - A.D. 5
Age 10 - A.D. 6
Age 11 - A.D. 7
Age 12 - A.D. 8
Age 13 - A.C. 9
Age 14 - A.D. 10
Age 15 - A.D. 11
Age 16 - A.D. 12
Age 17 - A.D. 13
Age 18 - A.D. 14
Age 19 - A.D. 15
Age 20 - A.D. 16
Age 21 - A.D. 17
Age 22 - A.D. 18
Age 23 - A.D. 19
Age 24 - A.D. 20
Age 25 - A.D. 21
Age 26 - A.D. 22
Age 27 - A.D. 23
Age 28 - A.D. 24
Age 29 - A.D. 25
Age 30 - A.D. 26
Age 31 - A.D. 27
Age 32 - A.D. 28
Age 33 - A.D. 29
Age 34 - A.D. 30

Remember, Jesus birthday would have been September. He would have turned 34 in September of A.D. 30. But Jesus died in the spring (Passover - April) of A.D. 30 - which means He had not yet turned 34. 

So Jesus died at the age of 33 in A.D. 30.

40 years later (a very important number of transition in Scripture), the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, ending the Old Covenant.

God is now in a New Agreement (Covenant) with the world.

Christianity Today, it would be wise to take your own caution to heart and refrain from confidently proclaiming "facts" in your magazine which are not true.

Knowing the Lingo Isn't the Same As Letting Sin Go

The following is a letter I received from a woman that goes by Hupomone when she comments. She listens regularly to our podcasts from overseas, and she also reads Istoria's Blog. The past year has been a difficult one for her. In an effort to process some of the things that transpired, she decided to write the equivalent of a "blog post." She doesn't have a blog and or even Facebook, so the letter was really initially intended for immediate family/friends. She's given me permission to publish it on Istoria. I believe it illustrates beautifully how principles of the Scripture are either applied - or not applied - in the lives of Christ's people.

"I remember my childhood home well. I grew up with my brother, sister and my parents. "My mom always tried to do such a great job making it feel like not just a house, but a home. She tried to decorate in a way that would be nice, but economical. Most vividly, I remember her hanging up pictures all over our upstairs hallway to cover the holes in the wall punched through by my father. It saddens me that those pictures stand out the most. You see, my dad didn’t just punch holes through the drywall in our family home; he managed to punch holes through our family itself.

I grew up knowing my parents didn’t have a perfect marriage. In fact, I often wondered if they even loved each other. I think they once did, a long time ago… but after three kids, full time jobs and “life” set in, their relationship devolved drastically. They both started to look outside each other for fulfillment. My mom poured everything into her kids. My dad took to another woman. It wasn’t just a fling, either. He told her he wasn’t married and she fell in love with him. He wanted a life different than what he had. He would eventually get that, just not in the way he would expect.

 I am not sure why my mom took him back. She certainly never seemed happy with him since she found out about the affair. I remember countless threats of divorce, yelling, screaming, fighting… My dad even ended up in jail when my mom finally called the police after he hit her.
The thing is, my dad was one of the most outwardly professing Christians I knew. He spoke openly of his love for Christ and the forgiveness he knew through Him. He knew what to say and when to say it and it often left everyone feeling that if they disagreed with him, they were directly disagreeing with God. After all, how can a professing Christian argue with how forgiven another believer is?
My mom understood this dichotomy better than anyone. She lived with an outwardly professing Christian man who wanted very little to do with her. She could never understand the vast expanse between his words and his actions. I imagine that after a while, she felt like she was going a little out of her mind. The problems surrounding their marriage were placed on her shoulders: she hadn’t forgiven him completely, she didn’t understand him, she couldn’t get over the past, she… she… she.
I think time took its toll. As the years went by and her children grew up, her depression became even more evident. She sought professional help, tried various medications, and did her best on a human level to overcome the darkness that enveloped her.
Meanwhile, my father grew in his spirituality. He concentrated on daily devotions, blogging, even writing books and plays. His attention was anywhere but on my mother. And because his pursuits were “godly”, he was beyond reproach.
The breaking point came one August afternoon when my father called and said my mother was in the hospital. He told me that she had tried to kill herself with an overdose of pills. 911 was called and the ambulance took her to the emergency room. Doctors anticipated she would be able to “sleep it off”. Within 24 hours she was moved to the ICU and put on life support. I took the next flight out with my two young daughters in tow. By the time we arrived, she had coded blue twice and they were able to revive her, but it wasn’t looking good.  She lived another 36 hours, never to wake out of her coma, and then passed away. An autopsy would later show she had over seven different medications in her system, all at high doses. She never really stood a chance.
She left a 3-page letter behind, as to why she did what she did. I am not exaggerating when I say that over 2/3 of this letter was an indictment of my father. She clearly communicated that his behavior and the way he treated her were what contributed to her decision to end her life. I have no doubt that she meant every word she wrote.
One of the many things that saddened me about this, was actually culminated in a blog I read two months prior to her death. A former pastor of mine, Wade Burleson, of Emmanuel, Enid, Oklahoma, wrote an article on his “Istoria Ministries” website about marriage. Specifically, he wrote about 15 words that can save a broken marriage: “You are neither the source nor the solution for the trouble or pain within me.”
 I knew as soon as I read these words, that if my mom could grasp them and the power of Christ behind them, her life could change. If she could find her identity in Christ and what he did for her, instead of what my father does or does not do – then she could find peace. I prayed for her often and specifically in this regard. Clearly, despite my prayers, this was not the direction the Lord would lead her in. Her suicide did not surprise my Lord, and I know He remains sovereign despite the outcome.
The sovereignty of God was about to take another turn in my life. My mom died on Wednesday, August 17th, 2016. The very next day, Thursday, August 18th, while I was still reeling from everything that had happened, my dad called me downstairs. My daughters and I were staying at the house my parents had owned for the last 18 years. It was the only house my daughters ever knew of their grandparents. It was an important home to me, my siblings and all six grandchildren.  So, my dad had asked that I come downstairs into the office. He seemed… excited. It was not an emotion I expected, so I was eager to see what he wanted to show me. He sat down in front of the computer and proceeded to show me the “Christian Mingle” dating profile he had just set up. He asked about his picture, how everything came across… I was suspended in disbelief. It had been less than 24 hours since my mom died and my dad had already set up a profile on a dating website?  I had no idea how to respond.
The memorial and burial services came and went over that next week. Things with my dad were just…. strange. I tried to remind myself that often people aren’t aware of their actions when something like this happens. I tried to put myself in my dads’ position – If a suicide note blamed me for everything, how would I handle it?  I really tried.
As I write this, just about 7 months have passed since my mom’s death. In that time, my father joined many online dating sites, started dating, found a girlfriend, and is now talking of marriage. He also sold his house, moved away from his 2 children and four grandchildren who lived within a ten-minute proximity and found a house on the other side of the country. He calls it “Sanctuary.” 
The hardest part for me in all of this, is that from the day my mother died, my father has cloaked everything he has done with godly-sounding euphemisms.  All I would hear is, “The Lord has given me a peace that surpasses all understanding…” or, “The Lord has clearly directed my steps in all these endeavors…” As someone who professes Christ, how can I argue with a “peace that surpasses understanding”? How can I dismiss the “sovereignty and will of God” as my dad made these snap decisions? He never even looked behind him, at the destruction left from this storm. He didn’t seem to care that my sister began cutting herself to abate the pain, or that my brother found his solace in the bottom of Vodka bottles. It was all about his “turn” to find happiness.
Here is the best of what I can surmise: I know that the heart is deceitful above all things. I know that people can hide behind a façade of Christ. I know that I am not to sit in judgment of my father, but to show him the same love and grace Christ has shown me. But I also look at his actions and see no sign of sacrifice. I see no evidence of him loving his family (or anyone else, for that matter) more than he loves himself. How can I reconcile these things? In many ways, it would be far easier for my mind to comprehend this situation if he was an atheist, or agnostic, or held a belief I knew was outside of biblical doctrine. But for him to justify the very actions that hurt others as “following where the Spirit leads...” is just impossible for me to resolve. Or at least, it was.
Pastor Burleson just this week, posted another blog on Istoria Ministries. As God in His providence would dictate, here is the last part of what that blog said:
            “…it would be an appropriate time to remind us who follow Jesus that we are to be known for our love and truth - in that order. The Royal Commandment is love (see James 2:8).  People will know I am a follower of Christ by my love, not my truth (see John 13:35). The love I show is more important than truth I know, because in reality my Truth is a Person, and He tells me to love you as He loves me.

Here's the good news about love. You can't fake it. You either have it or you don't (see I Corinthians 13:4-8). 

Love is patient.
Love is kind. 
Love does not envy.
Love does not boast.
Love is not proud.  
Love does not dishonor others.
Love is not self-seeking.
Love is not easily angered.
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil.
Love rejoices with the truth. 
Love always protects.
Love always trusts.
Love always hopes.
Love always perseveres.
Love never fails

I may tell you I love you, but if I don't show you I love you, then I'm faking love. The good news about true love is that fact checking it is easy for me. Before I condemn those who pass on Fake News as gospel truth, I ought to examine to see if I am attempting to hoodwink you with my fake love. 

I think the latter is worse because it often involves self-delusion. 

At least the Fake News purveyors know they are liars.” 
So, it became quite evident to me that my family has been hoodwinked. I still am not sure what to do with this, but at least I am not trying to reconcile the truth my father purported with his actions. And in the end, it almost seems fitting: his actions were like his punching holes in drywall. His truth? Just pretty pictures he hung in front of the damage done."

Fake News, Fake Truth, but You Can't Fake Love

60 Minutes did a story on Fake News last night. Our TIVO recording only allowed us to watch a portion of the segment because local weather broadcasts kept interrupting 60 Minutes issuing tornado warnings. If only there were Fake Tornadoes in Oklahoma.

Anyway, of the portion of the 60 Minutes piece I saw, I went slack-jawed when the producers showed that some people and websites actually invent falsehoods and publicize them as "truth" for monetary gain. The more duped people click on their websites, the more money they make from ads. Unbelievable. 

Yet, what is even more tragic than the publication of Fake News are the highly educated, otherwise non-gullible, even Christian people who swallow Fake News as legitimate. And, yes, this occurs on both sides of the aisle, whether conservative or liberal. 

I came across one such Fake News story today about the exhumation of the body of Vince Foster. Some of my Christian friends shared this Fake News in praise of conservative Representative Trey Gowdy, who allegedly petitioned the courts to have the body exhumed to prove Foster's death was actually murder and not suicide; all in an attempt to smear Bill and Hillary Clinton. The story is false, but it doesn't keep the authors of the lie from making money on their websites. We Christians hand gold to the Egyptians (an allegory from Exodus) when we spread Fake News. 

With the advent of intentional untruth spread as "newsworthy fact," it would be an appropriate time to remind us who follow Jesus that we are to be known for our love and truth - in that order. The Royal Commandment is love (see James 2:8).  People will know I am a follower of Christ by my love, not my truth (see John 13:35). The love I show is more important than truth I know, because in reality my Truth is a Person, and He tells me to love you as He loves me.

Here's the good news about love. You can't fake it. You either have it or you don't (see I Corinthians 13:4-8). 

Love is patient.
Love is kind. 
Love does not envy.
Love does not boast.
Love is not proud.  
Love does not dishonor others.
Love is not self-seeking.
Love is not easily angered.
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil.
Love rejoices with the truth. 
Love always protects.
Love always trusts.
Love always hopes.
Love always perseveres.
Love never fails

I may tell you I love you, but if I don't show you I love you, then I'm faking love. The good news about true love is that fact checking it is easy for me. Before I condemn those who pass on Fake News as gospel truth, I ought to examine to see if I am attempting to hoodwink you with my fake love. 

I think the latter is worse because it often involves self-delusion. 

At least the Fake News purveyors know they are liars.

A Jew, a Baptist, Oklahoma and the State of Israel

"Before there were position papers, or parlor meetings, or a policy conference, before there was the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), before there was the State of Israel, one man changed the course of history. His name was Eddie Jacobson."    Ron Cohen, President of AIPAC
Eddie Jacobson
Edward Jacobson was Harry Truman's life-long best friend. President Truman would say of Jacobson, "He was one of the finest men I ever had anything to do with."

Though Eddie and Harry grew up in Kansas City, they became friends in 1917 while living in Oklahoma and training with 129th Field Artillery, 60th Brigade, 35th Division, U.S. Army at Fort Sill, preparing to enter World War I.  Private Eddie Jacobson clerked for Lieutenant Harry Truman at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Harry wrote to his future wife Bess that he had “a Jew clerk” running his canteen and he was a “crackerjack.” The Baptist (Truman) and the Jew (Jacobson), turned their initial $2 investment into a $10,000 windfall. It was also at Fort Sill that Truman met Lieutenant James M. Pendergast, nephew of Thomas Joseph (Tom) Pendergast, a Kansas City political boss. This second friendship would have a profound influence on Truman's later political life when Harry S. Truman decided to enter local politics.

Eddie Jacobson (left) with President Truman
After the war had ended, Jacobson and Truman took their large earnings from the canteen, as well as their winnings from the occasional poker game, and they pooled their money to open a clothing store in downtown Kansas City called Truman & Jacobson Haberdashery (104 West 12th St., Kansas City, Missouri). The store would eventually go bankrupt, precipitating Harry Truman's entrance into politics, but Harry and Eddie remained life long friends. Eddie would be the one person who could walk into President Truman’s office uninvited.

Harry S. Truman became the unlikely President of the United States on April 12, 1945, following the death of President Franklin Roosevelt. President Truman faced many important decisions while President, including the dropping of the atomic bomb. But no decision would have as profound of an influence on current world geopolitical concerns as the United States recognition of the new state of Israel.

That would have never happened without the fateful friendship and partnership that developed between Eddie Jacobson and Harry Truman while in Oklahoma.

In 1917, the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour expressed on behalf of the British government the belief that the Jews should have a homeland in Palestine. This public statement, which came to be known as The Balfour Declaration, opened the door officially to the modern Zionist Movement.

After World War II and the discovery that Nazi Germany tortured and killed over 6,000,000 Jews, the United Nations, on November 29, 1947, adopted Resolution 181 (also known as the Partition Resolution), which would create both a Jewish State and a Palestinian State in the land of Palestine still under British control. The Brits agreed to pull their army out on May 14, 1948, and the new Jewish State and the new Palestinian State would be formed.

The Jews were ecstatic! The Arabs were furious. 

Everyone knew that war was on the horizon. Whom would the United States back Israel or the Arabs?

In 1948. Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, arrived in New York from London to meet with U.S. President Harry S. Truman. But Truman canceled the meeting. He was in no mood to discuss the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Truman was backing away from support of Israel.

The President was offended by the Zionists. Earlier in the year, an American Zionist delegation had met with him in the White House and demanded immediate action on behalf of the thousands of homeless Holocaust victims seeking refuge in a Jewish state.

When Truman's response fell short of their expectations, the visitors became adamant. Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver of Cleveland, OH literally pounded on the president's desk. Truman was outraged. "No one, but no one, comes into the office of the President of the United States and shouts at him, or pounds on his desk. If anyone is going to do any shouting or pounding in here, it will be me," and with that, Truman had them ushered out of the Oval Office. "I've had it with those hotheads," he told his staff. "Don't ever admit them again, and what's more, I also never want to hear the word Palestine mentioned again."

When Weizmann learned about the incident, he was devastated. "Who," he kept asking, "who could get the president to change his mind?" One name came up repeatedly: Truman's lifelong friend, Eddie Jacobson.

Because Jewish leaders in the U.S. knew Jacobson was a friend of the President, they approached him to lobby Truman on behalf of the new Jewish state. This request was difficult for Jacobson because he had never once asked his lifelong friend for anything, even when he became President of the United States. But because he was a Jew, and because he believed in a Jewish state for his people, Eddie Jacobson decided to leave his home in the middle of the night and travel to the White House. 

According to Truman's biographer David McCullough, Jacobson arrived at the White House and was escorted into the Oval Office through a private entrance to avoid the media. The president welcomed him warmly and pointed to a chair. Jacobson sat down. Truman asked about Eddie's family. (Truman had visited the Jacobson home frequently and, on occasion, had played piano duets with Eddie's daughter, Gloria.) Jacobson responded in kind, inquiring about Mrs. Truman and Margaret.'

"They're all fine. What brings you to Washington this time?"

"Harry, you know me. I'm no diplomat. I don't know how to beat around the bush. Please. I want you to talk to Dr. Weizmann."

"You what! I can't believe this. Despite my objection, you dare ask that I see Weizmann?"

"Well, Mr. President, at least I honored your request. I didn't mention Palestine."

Truman interrupted harshly. "Eddie, I'm fed up. I'm sick and tired of Zionists who think they can tell me what to do. They will eventually prejudice everyone trying to help them. They came in here and shouted at me, and made threats concerning the future political support of American Jews."

Placing both hands on his desk, Truman leaned forward and exclaimed, "If Jesus couldn't please them when he was on earth, how can you or anyone else expect me to have any luck?"

Listening to the president's outburst, Jacobson was dumbfounded. In all their years of friendship, no sharp words had ever passed between them; yet here was Harry Truman bellowing at him. At that moment Eddie Jacobson felt for the first time that his dear old friend was close to becoming anti-Semitic. He sat frozen in his chair, tears in his eyes.

Then Jacobson caught sight of a table with a miniature statue of General Andrew Jackson mounted on a horse, one of Truman's most prized possessions. Walking over to the statue, Jacobson placed one hand on Jackson's shoulder and reached out with the other to the president. In an almost inaudible voice he made a final plea.

"Harry! All your life you've had a hero. You probably know more about Andrew Jackson than anyone in America. I remember you were always reading about him. Then when you were county judge you had a new Jackson County Court House built in Kansas City, and you had a life-size statue of this very model cast and placed on the lawn in front of the courthouse. "Well, Harry, I too have a hero. A man I've never met, but a real gentleman and a great statesman. I'm talking about Chaim Weizmann. He is a very sick man. Yet he traveled thousands of miles just to see you and plead the cause of his people. Now you refuse to see him because you were insulted by some impudent American Zionists, even though you know that Weizmann had absolutely nothing to do with them. It doesn't sound like you, Harry. I thought you could take this stuff. I wouldn't be here if I didn't know that you would see him so you can be properly and accurately informed about the situation as it exists in Palestine."

When Jacobson finished, Truman didn't say a word; he turned and looked out over the Rose Garden. All Jacobson could see was the back of his friend's chair.

As they sat there in silence, Jacobson remembered Truman telling him about the time he spent two days alone, looking out another window, before making up his mind to drop the bomb on Hiroshima. "The longer we sat," Jacobson later recalled, "the more I prayed he wouldn't drop one on me!"

Then the stillness in the room was broken by the sound of Truman's fingers drumming on the arm of his chair. Slowly he turned around, stopped, looked directly into the eyes of his old friend, and said, "Okay. You baldheaded son of a bitch.... I'll see him."

Keeping his word, Truman invited Weizmann to the White House on March 18, 1948. During the
meeting the president assured Weizmann that he wished to see justice done in Palestine without bloodshed. If a Jewish state is declared, with or without United Nations affirmation, the United States would recognize it without delay, he promised.

On that same day, the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine reported its failure to arrange any compromise between Jews and Arabs. It recommended that the UN undertake a temporary trusteeship of Palestine.

Truman had promised both Jacobson and Weizmann that the U.S. would recognize a Jewish state if it were proclaimed. Yet, on March 19, 1948, Warren Austin, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, without the president's knowledge or White House clearance, announced on national radio that the American government opposed the partition of Palestine.

Truman quickly contacted Jacobson and Weizmann to reassure them that Austin had misrepresented the U.S. position. He wrote in his diary: "This morning I find that the State Department has reversed my Palestine policy. The first I know about it is what I see in the papers! Now, I am placed in a position of a liar and double-crosser. I never felt so low in my life. What is not generally understood is that the Zionists are not the only ones to be considered in the Palestine question. There are other interests that come into play, each with its own agenda. The military is concerned with the problems of defending a newly created small country from attacks by much larger and better trained Arab nations. Others have selfish interests concerning the flow of Arab oil to the U.S. Since they all cannot have their way, it is a perfect example of why I had to remember that 'The Buck Stops Here.'"

On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, read a "Declaration of
Independence" proclaiming the establishment of the State of Israel. Ben-Gurion was in a bunker in Tel-Aviv because he knew that five Arab nations would attack the moment Israel declared itself a state. Eleven minutes after reading the Declaration of Independence, the United States issued the following statement, signed by President Truman: "This government has been informed that a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine, and recognition has been requested by the provisional government thereof. The United States recognizes the provisional government as the de facto authority of the new State of Israel." The United States and Russia became the first two nations to officially recognize the new State of Israel. 

The 1948 War of Independence began at midnight, May 15, 1948 when five Arab nations - Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon - attacked Israel. With only one tank and no airplanes, it is truly a modern miracle that Israel won the war.

But the State of Israel might never have been declared were it not for a Jew and a Baptist who formed their friendship in Oklahoma three decades earlier. 

Eddie Jacobson's grandson, Tulsa oilman Charles Shusterman, and Charles' wife, Lynn, established the Charles and Lynn Shusterman Family Foundation. The proceeds from this $5 billion dollar foundation goes to support Jewish (75%) and Oklahoma (25%) causes. 

The legacy of Eddie Jacobson lives on.

Courtesy of Aish.com

The Stone the Builders Rejected Is the Cornerstone

This is my seventh time to Israel, but the first time I've walked through the Western Wall tunnel underneath the entire length of the Western Wall of the ancient Jewish Temple Mount. After the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and Jordan, the Israelis took control of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Though they handed back to the Palestinians their Dome of the Rock, the Israelis began secretly excavating an underground tunnel along the Western Wall. In 1997 the Palestinians rioted when the Israelis opened the northern end of their excavations to allow those who walk the tunnel an exit in the Muslim quarter of old Jerusalem.

When Jesus was alive, the northern end of the Temple mountain (Moriah) was the location of Antonio's Fortress, the place where Roman soldiers headquartered and where Pontius Pilate resided when he visited Jerusalem from his headquarters in Caesarea by the Sea. Antonio's Fortress, built by Herod, was dedicated to the deceased Roman Caesar, Mark Antony. Herod had thousands of quarry men cut out stones from the bedrock of Mount Moriah to build the Temple, the Temple platform, Antonio's Fortress, and the massive Colonnade on the southern end of the Temple Mount.

Antonio's fortress had four towers, one on the southwest, one on the northwest, one on the southeast, above the people in the Temple courtyard and those outside the courtyard on the sidewalk (the sidewalk we now walk in the excavations along the Western Wall). It was here that the people cried "Crucify Him, Crucify Him" and demanded that Barabbas be released and that Jesus die.
and one on the northeast (see picture). It was in the southwest tower that Jesus was brought high

Underneath this southwestern tower of Antonio's Fortress where Jesus stood condemned before the people, on the sidewalk that all the people of Jerusalem walked, was a rock that is part of the bedrock of Mount Moriah. When one walks the excavated Western Wall tunnel, the excavated sidewalk comes to an end directly underneath the southwest tower of Antonio's Fortress. Here, on a public sidewalk, a massive rock stands. The Jews in Jesus day would have been very familiar with this rock. The quarry workers in the days of King Herod (37-4 B.C.) had started to cut the rock out of the bedrock of Mount Moriah (you can see the chiseling), but for some reason, the builders of the Temple rejected the rock and stopped their work to pull it out. So, in the day of Jesus, anyone walking south to north along the sidewalk outside the Western Wall would have come to the rock "rejected by the builders." 

Above that very familiar rock, Jesus Christ was condemned by the Jews. He was...

"The stone the builders rejected." (Psalm 118:22).

Jesus knew the significance of the rock underneath the tower on which He would be rejected and condemned by His own people, and He said, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The Stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.'" (Matthew 21:42).

Relationships Are the Essence of the Christian Faith

Rachelle and I are part of a 28-member group touring Israel. Most of those with us belong to Emmanuel Enid, but a couple from Texas, Rex and Judy Ray, have joined us for this trip. I only knew of Rex through his online presence. He has commented on blogs I've written for the past decade, and we have corresponded periodically via email. Today, our group toured Caesarea by the Sea, Mount Carmel, Megiddo, and Cana. Rex is 85-years-young and he kept us with us from beginning to the end. Today also happens to be Rex's 85th birthday. At Cana, I remarked that as wine ages it can either become better or bitter. So too, when a human being ages, the prospects are either betterment or bitterness. In wishing Rex a "Happy Birthday" at the place Jesus performed His first public miracle, I told the group that Rex is definitely getting better as he ages. Though I'd never met Rex or his wife Judy until we gathered at the OKC airport on Wednesday. After three days in Israel, I feel he's been a friend for life. I'm reminded through people like Rex and Judy, our friend Jan Pointner in New Hamphsire, and a host of other people Rachelle and I have known and loved from a distance, that the essence of Christianity is relationships. Happy Birthday, Rex Ray. We trust the Lord will grace you with many more to come.

Changing Feelings Without Changing Appearance

A 22-year-old man named Vinny Ohh has spent $50,000 and undergone at least 100 procedures in his desire to transition into a “genderless” alien (see photo to the left). Vinny works as a make-up artist and part-time model in California. He says he felt like an outcast during his teenage years, so he grew motivated to pursue various facial surgeries to look extra-terrestrial. "Over the years, I’ve realized I’m not gay, bi, trans or any of these things. I just want to be me. I want to be a sexless alien being. I want my outside to reflect how I feel on the inside.”

This post is not aimed at ridiculing Vinny. I would ask that anyone who comments be respectful and kind to Vinny. In fact, I hope Vinny reads this article. I compliment Vinny Ohh for saying something that has helped turned the light bulb in my mind over something with which I've been wrestling. Vinny said:

"I want my outside to reflect how I feel on the inside."

Vinny feels like a sexless alien from another planet. One can't fault Vinny for feeling. Feelings are amoral. Not all feelings, however, are pleasant. And feeling like "an alien" on your own planet can't be a pleasant feeling at all.

Twenty-five years ago science would have been unable to change "the outside" of Vinny to reflect what Vinny feels "on the inside." But now it's both surgically possible and affordable for many people to do like Vinny. Thus, we have transgendered surgeries, alien surgeries, plastic surgeries for each part of human anatomy, and a host of medicines and procedures "to change the outside" to reflect what is felt "on the inside."

Is this wrong? I'm not sure I'd put it in terms of right or wrong. I think we should consider these things in more pragmatic ways.

Someone once said, "Unless there is a change in the atmosphere, what thaws in the sun will once again freeze in the shade." Every plastic surgery, whether it be Bruce Jenner's, Michael Jackson's, or Vinny Ohhs, will bring a temporary "thawing of the cold feelings." The exuberance and excitement of change  - and the affirmation of a world that affirms changing the outside to reflect what one feels on the inside - will definitely give a temporary warmth to internal feelings. But unless there is a change in the way one thinks (atmosphere), those warm feelings will once again freeze.

The gospel of Jesus Christ changes what one feels on the inside, regardless of the way things are on the outside. To be consumed with the knowledge that God loves you so much that He cmgave His Life for you, that you might find real life in Him, led Paul to write:

"I have learned to be content with whatever I have or I don't have" (Philippians 4:11).

"For by the grace of God I am who I am" (I Corinthians 15:10).

It seems each of us has an option. We can either change our outside to reflect how we feel on the inside, or we can ask God - by His grace - to give us new feelings on the inside.

I'd rather find contentment in the love of God for me in Jesus Christ, and grow old or sick physically, and eventually dying with inner contentment, than spending a fortune trying to control or manipulate my environment for the outside to reflect what I feel on the inside.

Before any of us followers of Jesus condemn Vinny Ohh, we need to take a hard look at ourselves. It's easy to condemn a transgender, lesbian, or alien who changes their body to reflect what they feel on the inside; but sometimes we Christians can't see our own desire for food, or another person, or sports, or things going our way in church, or other desires to change or control our environment as doing the very same thing Vinny is doing.

I want to learn to be content on the inside with who I am by the grace of God. I want to learn to trust God that everything that comes my way outside of or around me is part of His plan to keep me dependent on Christ and His grace.

Lame In Both Feet While Sitting at the King's Table

My favorite chapter in the entire Old Testament is II Samuel 9. It's the story of Mephibosheth (sounds like "Me - Fib - O - Sheth"). His story is my story. His story is your story. His story is the story of us.  II Samuel 9 is the John 3:16 of the Old Testament.

Mephibosheth is a cripple, "lame in both feet" (II Samuel 9:3). King David wished to show kindness to Mephibosheth "for Jonathan's sake" (II Samuel 9:7). Jonathan, Mephibosheth's father, had died at the hand of the Philistines. Mephibosheth's nurse tripped and fell while fleeing from the Philistines with the young prince in her arms. When the nurse fell, Mephibosheth's vertebrate broke, causing the son of Jonathan to be a cripple (see II Samuel 4:4).

So Mephibosheth is just like you and me. Due to a tragic fall, he no longer was the person he was born to be. Crippled and broken, he grew up hiding from others in the little city of Lodebar. His name changed to Mari-baal to possibly reflect his shame and loss of fame. Baal was the god of culture in Canaan, and somehow, the son of Jonathan found himself lost in Lodebar, following the gods of Canaan.

Yet King David, in sovereign grace for a cripple, "fetched" Mephibosheth from his dark place "for the sake of Jonathan."

King David is a type or picture of our heavenly Father who shows kindness to crippled sinners "for Jesus sake." Religion tells you God is kind to saints for their religious performances. Christianity tells you God is kind to cripples "for Christ's sake." God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ (II see Corinthians 5:19).

So the story of Mephibosheth is the story of grace.

David fetched Mephibosheth from Lodebar, "and he sat at King David's table like one of the king's sons" (II Samuel 9:11). So too, when God saves us by His grace in Jesus Christ, He fetches us in our dark, shameful places and brings us to His table and meets our every need by His grace, for our good and for His glory (Philippians 4:19).

Lame in Both Feet

What strikes me in this fascinating story of grace is the description of Mephibosheth at the beginning of the story (II Samuel 9:3) and at the end of the story (II Samuel 9:13). At both the beginning and the end, Mephibosheth is described in this manner:

"He was lame in both feet."

One would think Mephibosheth's story of grace would end like this: "And God healed Mephibosheth of his lameness and he sat at the table of the king as one of his sons." 


Mephibosheth's story begins with lameness, and Mephibosheth's story ends with lameness. 

However, there are two Hebrew words in II Samuel 9, both translated lameness.

The first word, which begins Mephibosheth's story is nakeh, which means stricken, or smitten. It is used of lameness of both body and soul. It speaks of a broken spirit. In other words, while hiding in shame in Lodebar, Mephibosheth was a broken man, both on his feet and in his spirit. 

The best way to illustrate nakeh is with what I've seen in hundreds of suicides. It's been my job during the years of my work with police departments to go to scenes of suicide, take the note that is often left, and inform next of kin of their loved one's death. These suicide notes are filled with nakeh. They are written by broken spirits. 

This describes Mephibosheth prior to the experience of the king's grace.

The second word translated lame in II Samuel 9 is the Hebrew word pisseach. It is ONLY used in Scripture to refer to physical lameness. 

When we first meet Mephibosheth in II Samuel 9, he is a broken man in body and in spirit. At the end of II Samuel 9, after experiencing the king's grace, Mephibosheth is only broken in body. He remains lame under the king's roof, but he's learned "to be content regardless of his circumstances" (Philippians 4:12), because "he's learned he who is by the grace of God" (I Corinthians 15:10). 

God's grace may not cure your cancer, but God's grace will definitely cure your lack of contentment. God's grace may not heal your body, but God's grace will definitely heal your soul. You will sit at the King of Kings table, and have all your needs met, but sometimes what is wanted may remain. 

Grace changes the heart to teach us contentment in all things.

God Looks with Favor on Those with a Nakeh Spirit

I am often asked what I think about lesbians, gays and transgendered people. I sometimes wonder why I'm not as often asked about how I feel about gossips, over-eaters, egotistical, and controlling people. It's amazing how we tend to categorize sin, emphasizing those sins with which we don't struggle. But, let me respond. Do I love sinners? Of course. Will God treat them with favor? 

It depends.

The only other time the Bible uses the word nakeh is in Isaiah 66:2. Listen to what God says.

“But on this one will I look with favor:
On the one who is poor and contrite (nakeh) in spirit."

God is gracious and shows kindness "for Jesus' sake" to the one who is crippled in spirit and realizes nothing good is deserved from God because we "have fallen and can't get up." We are not as He created us to be. To boast and brag and demand that we MUST be accepted and loved in our sin is to not feel brokenness and contriteness over our sin. There is no Savior for anyone who feels they have no sin.

But God looks on the broken in spirit with favor. 

That's why we who sit at the King's table are still lame.

We have nothing of which we can boast but Him.

Warning to Churches Who LIVE Broadcast Services

Faith Assembly Hitachi ZHD5000 cameras 10 11 12 8
A Syrian Muslim converted to Christianity and was baptized at First Presbyterian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His baptism was publicized by the church on the Internet. When the Syrian convert traveled back to his home country of Syria, he was kidnapped and tortured by radicalized Muslims who "learned about the baptism from the Internet." The man said he was "blindfolded, beaten and forced into a 55-gallon drum for long stretches at a time, and continually threatened with beheading." The torture only ended when he was able to free himself from his bonds, obtain a gun from his captors, and kill an uncle who was participating in the torture. The man is now wanted for murder in Syria.

Some articles you read in the newspaper send chills up your spine. Today's Daily Oklahoman article by reporter Kyle Schwab, recounting the Syrian man's conversion and baptism in Oklahoma and his capture and torture in Syria, was one such article. 

After the Syrian finally escaped his captors and made it back to the United States, he filed suit against First Presbyterian Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The man argued before the court that he never consented to the church's publicizing his baptism, and made it clear he wished it to be confidential. The pastor, disputing the man's account, said he never requested "that the church depart from its normal practices, which includes making records of baptisms publicly available."

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled yesterday on behalf of First Presbyterian Church, Tulsa. The court ruled "the publication of the baptism was an act rooted in religious belief." Further, the court stated,

I have a friend on the Oklahoma Supreme Court named Yvonne J. Kauger. She wrote a dissenting opinion and stated, "the church's autonomy doctrine is only applicable to internal administrative matters and to church action involving members."  First Presbyterian Church frequently baptizes converts to Christ who do not desire membership in their church, similar to the baptism of this Syrian man. Associate Supreme Court Justice Yvonne Kauger argued in her dissenting opinion that the church should be held liable for the torture of this convert.


Regardless of your feelings about the majority opinion or the dissenting opinion, this extraordinary case should cause all of us who broadcast our services over the Internet to pause.  We live in a different world today than we did even 20 years ago. What we used to say in the comfort and security of our local churches is now being broadcast to the world.

In the 1980's police television show Hill Street Blues, a police supervisor would always end roll call with words that are appropriate for churches who use the Internet in 2017: 

"It's a dangerous world. Be careful out there."