Tag Archives: God

Hate, Love, and Homosexuality

Did you know that there are verses in the Bible that say that God hated Esau? (Malachi 1:3, Romans 9:13) I have read the verses over and over in my lifetime but never gave them much thought.

One day, a man in our church preached about it. He challenged me and compelled me to come to terms with the meaning of those passages. He and I arrived at different conclusions, but nonetheless, I am indebted to him for forcing me to look into this topic.

You see, it’s NOT okay to read the Bible, soak up the parts that sound good to us, and let the rest fall to the ground. (Which is, unfortunately, what most people do. They create their own god – based on the parts of the Bible that they like.)

The painful truth is, if the verses about God hating anyone were true, then He was not the God that I’d always believed Him to be. Or, so I thought.

I went home from that church service unable to sleep or do anything other than think about what I’d been forced to read. I stayed up late that night and got up early the next day, insistent on getting to the heart of the matter. I would not rest until I had the answers in my hand. I turned to just about every reference book I owned, searched the web, looked up every possible related passage in the Bible, wrote pages of notes. I WOULD have resolution, and I would have it soon.

Here is a note that I wrote to myself in the margin of one of those pages:

“How can we fit those verses into the same Bible? How can He be the same God? We know He is, by the many proofs we have seen (Feast days, OT points to Christ). If it doesn’t seem to fit, there must be a misunderstanding of some kind.”

You see, in the quest for truth, one thing is absolutely necessary: that we learn to be honest with ourselves.

At first, I went looking for excuses. I thought that perhaps it was okay to hate people who were doomed anyway – I rationalized by wondering if it was because they deserved the penalty for their sins. But that didn’t make sense to me because I knew that God did not desire for anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Also, I deserve the penalty for my sin, but God doesn’t hate me. In addition, David said that he himself hated people with a perfect hatred. Was David righteous enough to hate an imperfect perfect person? No.

Next, I thought to myself – perhaps the meaning of “hate” has changed since 1611. For the next page or so of notes, I based all of my research on this idea. After all, we know that English words like “conversation” (lifestyle), “knew” (had sex with), “let” (hinder), “meat” (food), “quick” (living), “quit” (keep on), and “suffer” (allow) have all changed in meaning since 1611.

This argument was close enough, and I finally got some sleep.

Skip forward to today.

For the past 18 months or so, I have been studying Hebrew. And lately, I have learned a few things about their language and the way they see the world: Hate is not what I thought it was. Neither is love.

Try to fully define either of those words for yourself, and what do you get? Paragraphs of explanations and examples. They are called abstract ideas for a reason. And if you compare your perception of these nouns to anyone else’s, there will be inconsistencies, contradictions, arguments. I have discovered that the Western way of thinking is wholly to blame for this. The reason we don’t understand things such as faith, love, or hate is because we are looking at them through a Western lens.

The Word of God was penned by people who understood the reality of these terms. The Eastern mindset is concrete. In order to love someone, you have to do it, not feel it. And that makes sense, doesn’t it? If you don’t do it, then you don’t really feel it either. A mother who fails to feed her starving baby does not love that baby, no matter how she thinks she feels about him. Hate and many other abstract words function the same way.

When God spoke of hating Esau, He wasn’t telling us how He felt about them. He was telling us that He actively worked against them. He brought judgment down upon them. Not because He wanted to destroy them, but because His righteousness demands that all sin must be paid for.

In reality, He desired to save them, just as He desires to save everyone. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

If you persist in rejecting the Messiah’s substitutional sacrifice in your behalf, then you will necessarily pay for your own sins, which will prevent you from inheriting eternal life. (The wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23)

So that’s the biblical definition of hate. Then what is love? The Almighty God loves us by doing what is best for us. God’s entire Law hinges on love. In it, He tells us how to live a healthy and successful life. The Law is love. The Law is life. After informing us of the best way to live, He allows us to choose whether we want to walk in the ways of life or abandon it.

If there is sin in our lives, then the Law prescribes correction. It’s not always pleasant, and it’s not always what we would choose for ourselves, but it is always best. If you are a parent that loves your child, then surely you have corrected him. Parenthood is the perfect object lesson. There’s a reason He calls Himself our Father.

So how do we even begin to love Him in return? I have one word for you, and that is obedience. Look it up. Read your whole Bible this year, and when you have finished it, tell me if I’m wrong. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15

The following is a story about a lawyer who was trying to trick Jesus into tripping over His words. I believe that He wanted Jesus to belittle some of God’s words (making them less important in comparison to others). Here’s how the story goes:

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,  Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40

How did Jesus score? Did He pass the test? Yes, He did. His answer was rhetorical. All of God’s words are equally important. So Jesus said to love Him and love people. In doing these two things, you will walk in all of God’s commandments because:

Love for God = obedience

Love for your neighbor = lawful behavior toward mankind

Jesus’ response to the lawyer points out the weight of the whole Law. He had the same response for satan: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that procedeeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 – not just some words, but all of them.

Time for a few more abstract terms:

Forgiveness. Have you ever wondered how to forgive someone? It’s not in how you feel about them. It’s how you behave toward them. It’s what you say behind their back; it’s how you treat them to their face.

What is faith? Behaving like you believe. That’s it. Faith manifests itself in action. It is the evidence of things not seen. If there’s no action, there’s no faith. James 2:18 is rhetorical: “shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” Read the whole chapter to get the big picture.

One more really controversial topic; I will say as little as possible while still making myself clear: homosexuality itself is concrete. If you aren’t sleeping with members of the same sex, then you aren’t a homosexual. If you sleep with a member of the same sex, and then stop again, then you aren’t a homosexual. In fact, we really shouldn’t be using the adjective homosexual to define a person at all. There is homosexuality – that is the noun, the act. For Christians to call another human being a homosexual is for Christianity to buy into the belief that we are born that way and have no say in the matter.

Perhaps you stole a candy bar from the gas station 30 years ago. Do you refer to yourself as a thief for the rest of your life? Perhaps you know the combination to the safe at work. You daydream about making off with the money and retiring to a tropical island. Do you refer to yourself as a thief because of your temptation? No. Thievery is what you do – how you behave. It is an action.

What about a recovering sugar-addict? You may dream about ice cream, donuts, and candy bars all day long. Yet you care more about your health, so you deny yourself sugar. (IMHO, this is the same reason that God told us not to commit homosexuality – because it’s not healthy, and he wanted us to know that it isn’t good for us.) Do you label yourself a sugar addict forever, or do your actions define who you really are?

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t refrain from thinking homosexual thoughts. We should also refrain from fantasizing about burglary, extra-marital sex, vengeance, any number of things. Thoughts lead to action. However, I am worried about all of the kids and teens and even adults out there who are going to start labeling themselves as homosexuals just because an impure thought crossed their mind. We don’t label ourselves fornicators and adulterers at the slightest temptation. Why would we do the same for homosexuality? I’m afraid that these people will buy into the idea that they are “homosexuals” and that their belief will lead to behavior. What do you think?

Again, I know I’ve touched on some highly controversial topics here. I would venture to say that many Christians and many homosexuals will be offended by some of the things I’ve said here today. However, I do want to hear from you. My mind is forever adapting to new information, so I encourage any feedback you may have for me. Let’s just give our best effort to respect each other and keep things civil. 

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Did God Change His Law?

I have been thinking for a long while about the Law of the Medes and Persia. What do we know about it? From the scriptures, we can see that it got foolish kings into trouble.

“Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.” Daniel 6:15

In the book of Esther, Ahasuerus was bribed into making a law that would extinguish the Jews from his domain.  Little did he know that his precious wife and her people were the folks he had hastily condemned to death. In the book of Daniel, Darius is advised to make a law requiring that every member of his kingdom make petitions to only the king for 30 days. He makes this decree and immediately regrets his decision. Upon reading these stories, I have often thought about how incredibly foolish these kings were. I have asked myself why they would make such laws, knowing that they couldn’t change their minds even if they wanted to.

Let’s break this down a little. I can imagine two reasons why a code of laws would work in such a way:

  1. Perhaps it was believed that these kings were deities, incarnations, or just so righteous that they could make no mistakes. In this case, to break their own decree would be a sign of pretending to be something they were not, or at the very least a sign of weakness.
  2. Perhaps it was considered fair that the king be subject to his own laws, to prevent an unrighteous king from showing favoritism or from getting away with murder.

Let’s talk a little bit about point one. If these kings had been gods, it would have made sense that they wouldn’t go around making up laws and then later changing their minds. Let’s consider our God for a moment. When He makes a decree, is it subject to change? Would he regret that He demanded righteousness from His people and later erase the Law, rendering it worthless? Or would He rather provide a way for mankind to somehow meet the requirements of His righteous Law?

Consider this problem in religion today. How do we know that Mohammed was not truly Allah’s prophet? One of the easiest ways is to take a look at the list of Mohammed’s inconsistencies. You can find an explanation and a list on this page. If Mohammed had truly heard from God, you wouldn’t expect him to be constantly changing his mind all the time.

How about Catholicism? They claim to have the power to change God’s ordinances at will. Just look into their history a little bit, and you will see how presumptuous they are. But can the righteousness of God be altered? Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, and I have a perfect example for you. On Fridays during Lent, it is forbidden for Catholics to eat meat. Oh, except, well, nevermind if St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday. Just never mind. Go ahead and have that corned beef or whatever. It’s okay, but just for one day. We don’t want to ruin your party. (More like we don’t want a reason to excommunicate folks who would otherwise be paying tithes.)

Do you see? Is it clear? Inconsistency is key to determining whether a religion or a religious observance is legit. The Jews know this and have good reason to scoff at Christians when we tell them that the Law is no longer valid. “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” Deuteronomy 4:2 (Also see Deut. 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, and Revelation 22:18-19)

Note: I am not condemning Muslims, Catholics, Christians, or anyone else who has been fooled by a religious leader. I am issuing a wake-up call. See tomorrow’s post for more on that topic.

How about point two? Is it reasonable to expect that our righteous God would abide by His own righteousness? Or does He somehow exist outside of righteousness? Is He “above the Law”? What we sometimes fail to remember is that God and His righteousness are inseparable. They are not two different things – they are one and the same: The Law is the righteousness of God (Psalm 119). Jesus is the Torah, the Word made flesh (John 1) – the very righteousness of God revealed (Romans 1).

So, did God change His mind about His Law?

“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” Numbers 23:19

“And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.” I Samuel 15:29

“My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” Psalm 89:34

I read this article about the topic, and thought you might find it interesting. The comments and responses are also worth the read.

I also found the second half of this page interesting, concerning Law-abidingness.

 

I Stand in Awe of Him

Here is the sixth reason why I persist in studying the Old Testament through a Jewish lens: it has put me in utter amazement. I have been familiar with the gospel for over 30 years, but until a couple of years ago, I had never experienced the mind-blowing comprehension of the gospel as it is foreshadowed in the Old Testament.

His providence astounds me. His redemption is beyond fathoming. I cannot put into words for you how God’s plan for mankind affects me. He gave Adam everything he needed, including a relationship with the Almighty. Adam walked away from that relationship, and the Father has been plotting a way to restore it ever since. “We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.” 2 Samuel 14:14 (ESV)

i-am-the-door

(Picture from 119 Ministries)

He is constantly working on our behalf: “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:” Job 23:8-9

I have been smitten by God’s enormous love and brought to tears over and over again as I discover more about His personality and provision for us. Sometimes I feel like my human body can not bear up under the presence of His overwhelming holiness. Just catching a small glimpse of Him here and there throughout the scriptures has made me fully aware that a man cannot see God and live. (Exodus 33:20)

In light of my recent studies, I am convinced that we cannot so much as comprehend Him and live! I am certainly going to need a new body before I meet Him face to face, so I won’t have to worry about whether my heart stops or whether I’m still breathing. And I will need a new mind that will not crumple in the light of His magnificent truth. And then I’m going to need an eternity with Him to search out His goodness, His wisdom, His love.

Let me tell you something. Satan and the forces of this world do not want you to study the Old Testament. The richness of God’s salvation is hidden on every page, and Satan doesn’t want us to know about that. Satan is good at deceiving, so he tells us that some things (aka the OT) are just not important anymore.

God, on the other hand, desires to have a relationship with us. He wants us to know everything we can about Him, to be constantly hungry for more. God wants you to study the entire Word. That’s why He left it for us. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” Psalm 42:1-2

Let me leave you with a song that praises Him for His indescribable nature:

You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp you infinite wisdom
Who can fathom the depth of your love
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty enthroned above

And I stand, I stand in awe of you
I stand, I stand in awe of you
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of you

(I Stand in Awe of You, Hillsong)

Proof of God

8624465192_1d123f2711_nOkay, so it’s a legitimate question. Why do I believe that God exists? Maybe I’m repeating myself here, but it came up on my FaceBook page today, and I’d like to share this post with a wider audience, so here it is.
Here’s one reason among many: Bible prophecy.
“The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” Psalm 118:22.
How did the Psalmist know hundreds of years in advance that the Jewish people would reject Him when He got here? It’s not like the Jewish folks are doing it to make the Bible seem true. If they were doing it on purpose, they would have to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ eventually, and most of them flat-out refuse. They don’t want anything to do with Jesus. They are waiting on pins and needles for their Messiah to come in and set up an earthly government, yet, if they have read their own scriptures, penned by their own people, authored by their own God, you would think it might occur to them that He would have to first be rejected.
Also, how can they look for a kingdom to last forever when they have this prophecy: “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself:” Daniel 9:26 Are they wanting Him to come in, set up a kingdom, and THEN be cut off? That doesn’t make an ounce of sense. In fact, I have discovered through research that the Jews long believed that there would be two Messiahs. It was the only way they could reconcile the fact that He was prophesied to suffer and die for us (Isaiah 53 – which they used to acknowledge was about Him, but deny it now), and also prophesied to establish an eternal kingdom on the earth. Now they refuse Jesus on the basis that He didn’t fulfill ALL of the prophecies and therefore can not be the Messiah. They should really look into their own religion a little more and see what changed in rabbinical thinking and literature AFTER Jesus came and fulfilled the first part of the prophecies. The changes are quite telling.
Their own prophecies only make sense in the light of the birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, and return of Yeshua Messiah. He fulfilled the prophecies in a way that they couldn’t have fathomed, much less predicted.
In general, I have found that modern Christendom is pretty inadequate at giving any proof that Jesus is the Christ because many believers refuse to comb the Old Testament. Many will say – “you just have to have faith.” And I do believe that God gives us all the measure of faith we need to believe, but it kind of upsets me that we have such a body of evidence that we are completely neglecting, especially in light of Luke’s treatise that he gave to Theophilus (which word I think breaks down into “lover of God” in Greek). He says he gave it to us “That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” Luke 1:4 This book was written with the care and scholarship of an educated man, a man who didn’t expect people to believe him just because he said so, a man dedicated to presenting the truth in a manner that could be confirmed by anyone who chose to look into the facts. The book of Acts was written in the same fashion, also authored by Luke. It should come as no surprise then, that Luke quotes from the Old Testament A LOT throughout both books, giving the proof that Jesus is exactly who He says He is.
The proof that God exists is found in the perfect harmony between the Old Testament and the New – in the continual and perfect foreshadowing of an event that nobody ever saw coming. In fact, I have not found a single New Testament doctrine that wasn’t foreshadowed in the Old. Everything from baptism to the final trumpet blast is represented in the OT. Even the mystery of the gospel, which has to do with the salvation of the Gentiles.
And why make it a mystery? Why keep everything a secret, continually foreshadowing but explaining nothing? “…we speak of the mysterious and hidden wisdom of God, which He destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it. For if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1 Corinthians 2:7-8. Also, for you, Seeker, so that you will know that something that marvelous couldn’t have been mysteriously hinted at countless times, yet come to pass in a way that ties up every loose end, answers every riddle, laughs in the face of coincidence.
I’m not finished looking yet, but I am beginning to suspect that everything the New Testament teaches has its foundation in the Old. We know that everything Paul taught originated with the Old: “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.” Acts 26:22-23.
God gave us brains for a purpose; He gave us logic and reasoning skills. He wants us to use them and encourage others to do the same. Believing something just because mommy said so or because society says so is a cop-out for someone who doesn’t want to take the time or make the effort to do any real research. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15. And of course, after you accept Him, you will know beyond the shadow of a doubt because “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” Romans 8:16.
These things may not mean anything to folks who have already made up their minds about God, but it may speak to someone who is searching. I have many more scriptures to share from the OT that were amazingly fulfilled by Christ.

Why I Believe

I know that everything in my life adds up. It all makes sense, like a puzzle coming together perfectly. Because of this, and because of the amazing things I read in the Word, and because of the wonderful things that science cannot explain (but the Word of God can), I find it easy to believe in God and to trust Him. Yet, somehow, I have difficulty explaining my belief to others.

I feel that salvation is not an argument to be won – as if I could somehow pass my belief along to others if I could only use the right words. Salvation – and by extension, Christianity – is not merely a philosophy or a way to live; it is something more. It is something that defines every aspect of the Christian’s life, informs every decision. It is a whole-hearted acceptance of the Creator-God and His authority, love, and forgiveness over your life.

I believe that those seeking Him will find Him, and those who choose to reject Him will overlook Him, even if He appears physically before them. (Let’s face it, it’s happened before.) However, I want my words, my actions, my very existence to be a testimony to the fact that He does indeed exist and take part in our lives. I want to be vocal and approachable for any potential seekers that come into contact with me or my writing.

Train Up a Child: Prayer

Ever since Ian told me that God has called him as a missionary, I’ve been taking his training a lot more seriously. I know that I should have been diligent to train him all along – it’s not like he will always be surrounded by like-minded folks, or that he will never fall into temptation – but suddenly, his Christian development has taken precedence over everything else. For instance, we’ve been praying out loud together every day. The first day, I prayed out loud; the second day, he did, etc. By doing this, I hope to accomplish a few things:

1. Give him an idea about the variety of things we can talk to God about (aka, everything).

2. Teach him to be thankful and worshipful above all things – that these are the most important aspects of his communion with God.

3. Train him to only ask for personal things occasionally. This is not the sole purpose of prayer. I have said before – God is not a vending machine. However, we pray for salvation of the lost pretty frequently.

4. Show him that prayer is not meant to be mindlessly repetitious or ritualistic. Every approach to the throne of God should be fresh and unique to that moment, and our hearts and minds should be focused on Him.

5. Get him in the habit of taking the time to pray. Every. Single. Day. It should be non-negotiable, just like brushing his teeth.

6. Increase his comfort level in praying out loud. As a man, he will be called on to pray in church with some regularity, and as a missionary, he will have to take the initiative and teach others how to pray.

7. It just occurred to me – I should also teach him to be silent for a few moments as well – to give God our undivided attention, and allow Him the opportunity to answer back.

8. We haven’t done this yet, but I also need to emphasize the importance of searching our hearts, admitting to sin, and earnestly repenting.

I Can’t Sleep

I wonder how much of my life has been spent tossing and turning, trying to go to sleep, only to fail for hours on end before drifting off from total mental and physical exhaustion? I have no idea why I am having so much trouble sleeping lately, except that my mind has been going, going, going. You would think that I would be so tired of thinking by the end of the day, but ideas seem to multiply themselves like rabbits. I guess I could watch TV before going to bed and numb my mind down to nothing, but I really don’t want to. What I want to do is write, and what I don’t want to do is lay in bed and become frustrated. So, even though I have a pretty busy day planned tomorrow, I am going to stop torturing myself by trying to sleep. If I am tired tomorrow night, I will just go to bed earlier, so there. Maybe then I’ll be able to sleep like a regular human being.

So, I had a different post planned for in the morning, but here is what I am thinking about right now. In fact, I wrote parts of the following portion of this post from my phone, in bed, about 10 minutes ago:

During church service Sunday morning, we sang “This Is My Father’s World.” Our song leader mentioned that he always thinks of that song when he spends time outside hunting. I usually think of “I Sing the mighty Power of God” or “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

I love spending time outside because it reminds me of the Creator. It puts us closer to the mind of God, helps us The Creationunderstand Him a little better. He loves beauty. He loves serenity. He loves painting new masterpieces in the sky for our entertainment. He enjoys watching the industry of the animals and the interaction between the plant and animal world. In short, He loves His creation. He loves us.

I am afraid that the more time we spend indoors, and the more we surround ourselves with man-made things, the less we will remember our Creator. And, until I started going to the city every day, I would sometimes go for days on end without ever stepping foot outside. Our lives revolve around technology (I say, as I sit up late at night typing instead of sleeping). I remember once or twice last winter, I wanted to know whether it was snowing. But instead of getting up to look out the window, I picked up my phone and looked at my weather app. I know better, but I am still hopeless! I really need to make an effort to spend time outside every day, remembering my Creator and talking to Him.

Do you think there is a disconnect between humans and nature?

Do you think it’s important to spend time outdoors?

Do any of you all make it a point to go outside on a regular basis?