9 things (June 11, 2022)

Marriage is a covenant, which means that it can be broken. Vows were taken. We vowed to love, cherish, cleave to, forsake all others, honor…when those vows are continually broken without repentance, divorce might be in order. The innocent party is free to make her (his) own decision without further control and abuse from outside parties.

I’ve been listening to Time for Three lately. A truly wonderful group. “Joy” makes my heart happy.

If a covenant by definition cannot be broken, then Adam would not have died and the death of Jesus would not have been necessary. The broken covenant is the tapestry on which the story of redemption is painted.

In 1 Peter 3:1, the apostle is giving practical advice to husbands and wives in the context of the spread of the gospel to Jews and Greeks alike. When you have thousands of converts a day, questions like “Do I get a divorce from my pagan husband?” abound. To apply that counsel to abusive or harsh husbands in the 21st century is like going to a chiropractor for a brain tumor. We need wisdom, people.

Life with fibromyalgia: “Oh! That one is new! I wonder if I have contracted a deadly disease or if it is just a fibro-flare?”

Those of you on Twitter who make it a practice to revile and mock women – you will someday stand before God with all of your Tweets open and you will have to explain to the Lion of Judah why you did not fear to speak about His co-heirs like you have.

If the salt has lost its saltiness, what will you salt it with? When the church sounds just like Fox News, is it distinguishable as the Bride of Christ anymore?

The sad part to me is that we as the church have forgotten how to think. We’ve become soundbites and caricatures of ourselves. Anyone who forces us to think through our positions is considered an enemy to be destroyed.

When the great commission is framed as a “culture war”, then it must be won by the weapons of the flesh by any means necessary. Disagreements cannot be tolerated. Enemies must be destroyed. Lying, harshness, reviling and slander are all necessary for the greater good. This has nothing to do with Christ.

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taking up space

Have you ever been tormented by the thought that you take up too much space? Have you ever thought that no one wants to hear from you, that your body is offensive, that your breathe too loud?

Trauma often has that effect. If you could only make yourself invisible, maybe they will stop hurting you.

So you turn your voice down; you cover up all of your body parts. You slouch down. Don’t make eye-contact. Hide in the corner. Curl up in a ball.

And you wish that you didn’t take up so much space.

In my translation, this Psalm is given the heading, “God’s Perfect Knowledge of Man.”

My heading would be “The Psalm for those who think they take up too much space”

Read it.

Psalm 139:1–24 (NKJV)

1      O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2      You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3      You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4      For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
5      You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6      Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.

7      Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8      If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9      If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10      Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11      If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12      Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

13      For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14      I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15      My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16      Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

17      How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18      If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.

19      Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God!
Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men.
20      For they speak against You wickedly;
Your enemies take Your name in vain.
21      Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22      I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.

23      Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24      And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Stand up straight. Look me in the eye. Speak loud enough to be heard. Because you matter. Your space matters, because God made it.

In fact, we find out that after the Holy Spirit is poured out, your space is sacred space. Your body is the Holy of Holies of the Lord God who dwells in you. Jesus ascended into heaven and poured out his spirit on his sons and daughters, his old men and maidens. All of his people. Even you.

You matter. You can speak. Never apologize for taking up space. God loves you and the space you inhabit and he dwells there with you.

Read the Psalm again. And then again. Hide it in your heart.

Those who hate your space hate the God who made that space and placed you in it to be his Holy Temple. Now read verse 22 again. Take your space.

1 Corinthians 3:16–17 (NASB 2020)
16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

Take your space. Don’t hear those who seek to destroy. They are warring against you.

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with a heavy heart

My heart is heavy today. I feel so helpless.

Wickedness is everywhere. Those with power use that power to ridicule, abuse and silence the sheep. And they get away with it over and over again.

The most unspeakable atrocities are inflicted on the weak in our very churches by the very people who are supposed to encourage, strengthen and lift up.

And when ones speaks out, they are ridiculed, cut off, outcast.

The wealthy and powerful ministers, leaders, husbands and pastors use that power to feed themselves and trample the sheep. They crush the spirit of their wives and children and believe that they do God service.

And the sheep are forced to silence out of fear. If the powerful wicked inflict such terror when they are at ease and dwelling safely, what will they do when their power is threatened by the truth.

It is terrifying, and my heart is heavy. And it is very, very personal.

And everyone says, “It isn’t that bad. People are basically good.”

No, they aren’t. Their only thoughts are only evil continually, unless the Lord intervene.

“Good people with guns protect the weak.” No, they don’t.

“Strong patriarchs protect wives and daughters.” Please. When did they do that? I must have missed it. Never have they ever, ever. Read your bibles again about the “strong patriarchs.” Which ones protected their wives and daughters again?

“The church needs more manly men” – please. I’ve seen what that kind does. I’ll pass.

The quokka throws its babies at predators in order to protect themselves. The powerful ones do the same thing with their sheep, their wives, their children. Sacrifice the weak. The ministry must be upheld!

My heart is very heavy, as I’ve said.

Some days, the imprecatory Psalms resonate deeply.

This one, in particular, is a great comfort to my soul.

Psalm 12:1–8 (NIV)

      1 Help, LORD, for no one is faithful anymore;
          those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
       2 Everyone lies to their neighbor;
          they flatter with their lips
          but harbor deception in their hearts.

      3 May the LORD silence all flattering lips
          and every boastful tongue—
       4 those who say,
          “By our tongues we will prevail;
          our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”

      5 “Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan,
          I will now arise,” says the LORD.
          “I will protect them from those who malign them.”
       6 And the words of the LORD are flawless,
          like silver purified in a crucible,
          like gold refined seven times.

      7 You, LORD, will keep the needy safe
          and will protect us forever from the wicked,
       8 who freely strut about
          when what is vile is honored by the human race.

Nothing destroys the heart faster than a “man of God” who uses the name of Christ to plunder the poor and delight in their groaning.

Nothing destroys the church faster than wicked tongues that speak blessing on Sunday morning and destroy and curse behind closed doors.

But the Lord sees. He knows. He WILL protect us from the wicked, whoever they are.

Whatever “ministries” they have built. Whatever flatteries they receive. Whatever “successes” they have had. God sees. He judges. He knows the heart.

When a heart is heavy, it can rest here.

Please, dear Lord, spare us from the manly men. Deliver us from the wolves who dress and act like sheep. Deliver us from the wolves who don’t bother with the ovine clothing, but devour anyway without the mask because the world doesn’t care and the shepherds are cowards. Please deliver us from the celebrity evangelists who bite and devour. Deliver us from evil men with evil motives and black hearts.

Give us instead men and women who look and act like Jesus.

Philippians 2:5–11 (NKJV)

5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Amen. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

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9 things (May 23)

1. Jesus said, “You shall know them by their fruits.” And yet, so many organizations that go by the name “church” continually ignore, cover up, and deny the fruits, embracing the wolf. I think it is time to name these organizations for what they are. If “the least of these” are not safe inside your walls, you are not a church, no matter how your PR firm spins it.

2. When one is cast out of a wolf-embracing organization, or has fled for their own safety, they have not left the church. They simply saw the fruits and realized that what they were in was not a church.

3. The SBC hasn’t been a church for a long, long time. Ever, really. An organization founded for the purpose of keeping slaves under control might say some good things from time to time, but so does the devil. You can’t tell a church by what is plastered on their website or printed in their bulletins. You will know them by their fruits.

4. I pray that the people of God who are still in bondage in the SBC will be able to flee and find safety.

5. I also pray that we all would see the warning signs before the candlestick is removed. If our “ministry” is more concerned about culture than the gospel; if our “ministry” is more concerned about keeping women in their place; if our “ministry” is based on money, power, numbers, and privilege; NOW is the time to repent and return to our former love.

6. Is anyone else extremely disturbed that so-called Christian leaders are denouncing winsomeness and kindness because of the “hostility” of the culture?? There are so many problems with this I don’t even know what to say. The outright exchange of the ethics taught by Jesus (and all of scripture) for the ethics of Fox News should shake us to the core. But it does expose the god that so many serve.

7. Placing one’s trust in strength or riches will always lead to oppression and robbery (Psalm 62). You will know them by their fruits. If there is oppression or robbery, there is no Biblical faith.

8. We are all sinners. If a church is doing its job, we will be made uncomfortable by our sins and urged to find cleansing and healing in Christ. But if your person, your dignity, your body, your worth and your voice are not safeguarded and protected, then you are not in a church.

9. Everyone is continually being catechized. It is the nature of being human. If you are being catechized by porn, you will not have a healthy view of relationships and sexuality. If you are being catechized by the media (whether right or left wing) you will make decisions based on fear. If you are being catechized by right wing nationalism, you will not understand Christianity and will find yourself worshiping another god. We become like the idols we serve (Psalm 115).

Read the Psalms.

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9 things (May 13)

Lots of celebrity pastors express concern (condemnation) for so many ex-evangelicals who are “deconstructing.” Pause. New subject. Josh Duggar’s pastor, a leading evangelical voice for a leading evangelical family, is begging the judge to allow Josh to return to his children. Let that sink in a little. There might be a connection.

For 40 years now, since the “moral majority” became a thing, the leading voices in evangelicalism have united for “traditional family values”. The result is that Anna Duggar does not believe that she has biblical grounds for divorce and that her children need a father like Josh. This makes me brutally sad. Perhaps Christians should unite over good exegesis, mercy for the oppressed, and being a voice for the voiceless.

Every time I think about writing something, I wonder if there is even a point. Then I remember that the battle isn’t against flesh and blood, but against demonic spirits in high places. So I breathe. Look to Christ. And say what has to be said, even if no one listens.

The most influential religion in America is no longer “moral therapeutic deism”, in my opinion. It has given way to Trumpism and “Christian” nationalism. These are the ugly stepchildren of Dominionism, the moral majority, and revivalism. This false religion, incidentally, grows from the same soil that bred Josh Duggar, just as the Bible said it would. But it has nothing to do with Christianity.

To Anna Duggar: You can do better.

The Bible says that we are “complete in Christ” (Col. 2:10). If this is the inerrant word of God, then it is true. If it is true, then your salvation does not depend upon your emotions, your mood, your works, your doubts, your fears, your anxieties, your questions. Flee to Christ. In Him, you have everything that you need for life and salvation.

Really. Everything. Please turn off the celebrity preachers telling you otherwise (Yes, I’m looking at John Piper). You have everything. This is the root of all joy, all love, all peace – and when you have love and joy and peace, everything else follows from there. In other words, you have life from Christ, for he paid it all.

We should normalize marking ourselves safe from celebrity preachers. There is money to be made and power to be wielded by convincing people that Christ is not enough. When Jesus is known, the religious experts of every age lose their power. This is the heart of persecution.

Go and listen to the preachers that say, “He must increase. I must decrease”. There are a few of them out there. They generally have tiny churches and wear clothes from Target and Penney’s, but they are at peace. They would also love to show you how to have peace with God.

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9 things (May 6)

1. Does anyone remember Beetle Bailey (the comic strip). I’m thinking specifically about the drawing of Beetle after Sarge gets done with him, crumpled into a heap on the floor. Anyway, some days that is exactly what fibromyalgia feels like. Today, for example.

2. When I was younger, memorization was never a problem. When I was about 8, I was playing a piece by Beethoven for a recital and I had the music out and ready. I was so nervous I forgot to take the music off the top of the piano, but I didn’t realize it until I was finished. Memory was so easy for me that my sight reading ability suffered tremendously. But now I’m old. Memory is harder now.

3. But I’m still doing it! I started plowing my way through Mendelssohn’s “Songs without Words” and loving every minute of it. It just takes me longer than it used to. The puzzles of great music are endlessly fascinating and bring peace and calm.

4. I wonder if we are thinking about holiness all wrong. We always think of it as basically synonymous with righteousness. But what if holiness is more related to being clean, clothed, beautiful, accepted, and welcomed in God’s presence? What if the Song of Songs was a book about holiness and its beauty? Of course, that involves righteousness, but it is so much grander, isn’t it?

5. The question I dread whenever I leave the house is this one: “So, what are you up to today? Any plans for the weekend?” When did they start doing this? Why should I tell a stranger my plans? Are they just a government or church spy making sure I’m complying with acceptable social mores? When did they add all of this pressure to every shopping trip?

6. Here’s a fact of dubious interest. If there is a movie that is considered “iconic” or “culture defining”, chances are quite high that I haven’t seen it.

7. Yesterday, the couple behind me at the line at the grocery store were looking at the gigantic display of M&M candies. I overheard the woman say, “No. No. I don’t do outside the box with M&Ms.” I felt that deeply. The same with potato chips, oreos, and Ice Cream. OK. Food. All food. Why does everything have to be extreme?

8. Related to number 7, the best coffee is the one that can be ordered with the fewest syllables. “I’ll have a coffee, please.” Few things were more satisfying than sitting at a Denny’s in the 90s with coffee and a cigarette.

9. One can be concerned about the consequences of overturning Roe v. Wade and believe that abortion is murder at the same time. Perhaps we should talk to each other instead of hurling anathemas.

That’s all for today. Carry on. Let this moment pass and don’t let worry cloud your hearts and minds.

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Pro-life

Today I saw this:

“The reason people want abortion is because they do not want to submit to God’s moral commands.”

I need to speak about this, for I find it shameful and not Christian at all.

But first, I need to repeat something over and over and over and over.

I am pro-life, and believe that abortion is morally wrong. I believe that Roe v. Wade was the wrong decision.

That being said, lets talk about shame.

Millions of people in this country believe that outlawing abortion will be a blow for women’s rights. I’ve heard those arguments my whole life. I used to brush them off as the arguments of stupid, immoral people who just wanted to do what they wanted to do.

And then I met people. Life is rarely as black and white as we wish it to be. We would love to have our own agency removed and just have someone older and wiser telling us what to do.

But we aren’t in a musical, are we? (So now I need to repeat something:

I am pro-life, and believe that abortion is morally wrong. I believe that Roe v. Wade was the wrong decision.)

Lets move on.

We might argue with our opponents for being wrong on this issue, but it isn’t because they are stupid. We might actually learn something about human nature and something about God if we will stop shouting and actually listen to people.

Why do so many connect abortion rights with women’s dignity? (and yes, I believe they are on the WRONG track – but it isn’t because they are stupid.)

We could ask the question “Why is abortion a thing? What makes a woman so desperate that she will take the life of her own baby?”

And when we seek to honestly answer that question, we may be on the right track to actually be able to put a stop to abortions no matter what the legislatures and courts decide. But waiting for others to pass a law is the easy way out, isn’t it?

We believers don’t actually derive our power from Supreme Courts or any law-makers. We have tremendous power, but it isn’t like any other power in the world. We have the power to be salt and light, if only we had the courage to be. Our power is in taking the lowest place, not learning how to enforce laws.

Why is abortion a thing? NOT because of Roe v. Wade. It was a thing before then, and millions of Americans supported abortion rights – and NOT because they were stupid or any more rebellious than anyone else. They had all sorts of reasons, but I think the real reason is the reality of shame.

It has to do with shame.

I know that this is hard, but try to imagine yourself as a young woman growing up in a typical conservative Christian family.

You were being prepared to submit to your husband. You were being prepared to be a chaste virgin to serve at the feet of the husband God would have for you.

You were NOT encouraged to use any gifts that God gave you, unless they fit into submission to your husband. You were not encouraged to go to school. You were told to keep your body covered at all times or grown men would lust after you, because that is how they were made.

(For documentation on all of this, one only needs to look at Bill Gothard’s manual after manual after manual of “training material.”)

If your uncle leered at you or groped you, you were told that “that is just how men are. We learn to deal with it.”

If you were assaulted, you were asked what you were wearing, what you did to lead him on. Perhaps you were even publicly shamed in front of the church for being a harlot, a crushed rose that no one would want.

In other words, you were created in the image of God with gifts and honor and dignity, but you were repeatedly shamed, dishonored, unheard, and shunned.

“Run along dear. This is men’s work.”

“Not today, honey. Let the men do their work.”

“You get your period because God cursed women after the fall.”

“You don’t need a job, let the men-folk take care of you.”

“You don’t need to buy a house. You don’t need a credit line. You don’t need a bank account.”

And, yes, every one of these things was a “thing” in my lifetime. In most states, a woman couldn’t get a bank account, a credit line, a house, a car, without a man’s signature.

All of what she saw and was taught in church contradicted what she knew in her heart. That she was an image-bearer of God, with dignity and worth and deserving of honor and respect.

And when there is a conflict between how we were created and how we are now, the gap is called “shame”. A longing for Eden. A longing to again belong and use gifts and be honored as a woman.

Because an animal wasn’t suitable to be a fitting helper for Adam, God created a woman – to fit him as in front of his face. To stand upright, look him in the eye, work alongside him, have dominion alongside him, and cultivate the earth along side him.

But you were sidelined by your church and trained for a life of servitude, to be kept barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen.

“Now run along, dear, and fetch my drink.”

Shame is intolerable. It is like water, in that it won’t stay where it is put but it will always burst forth one way or another.

So a boy comes along. He is handsome. He looks at you and treats you like an equal. He makes you feel valued, like you have never felt before. He makes you feel safe and makes you feel like it is OK for you to take up space. He makes you feel like a person, which you have never felt before. And one thing leads to another, and now you find that you are pregnant. Maybe he was sincere. Maybe he was a rake. The effect was the same.

Because you are a sinner; and because you have never been taught how to address your shame. You have only been told how to behave. You didn’t have any of the tools to protect yourself, because you were never taught wisdom. You were only taught shame. (See Proverbs 2-3)

Now what do you do?

Tell your father?

Tell your pastor?

You remember when they made your friend stand up before the whole church and “confess” the sin of fornication.

You remember how your other friend was raped by a deacon and forced to confront him and forgive him but instead she left town and never came back.

Do you remember how the church took up a collection and got a lawyer for the pastor who had been beating his wife and children?

How they shamed the 14 year old for wearing a tank-top, but looked the other way when the deacon’s computer was full of child porn?

You remember how your father told you that if you ever got into trouble he would disown you and have nothing more to do with you.

You remember how they talked about women who were “loose”.

So what do you do?

I am pro-life, and believe that abortion is morally wrong. I believe that Roe v. Wade was the wrong decision.

I am pro-life, and believe that abortion is morally wrong. I believe that Roe v. Wade was the wrong decision.

I am pro-life, and believe that abortion is morally wrong. I believe that Roe v. Wade was the wrong decision.

The reason that Roe v Wade was the wrong decision was that it did nothing to take away shame.

The reason that I am so afraid of it being overturned is that it will do nothing to take away shame. It will only increase the power of the bullies, the hateful, the rapists and pornographers – especially the ones in positions of power in the church. I fear this to be true because I see the character of those who were elected because of the fear of abortion. Thugs, charlatans, conmen, and thieves.

I hear how everyone talks over on Twitter and fear for the future. What are we going to do?

Stand them up in front of the church again?

Call them the stinky rose that no one wants?

Make sure that they are outcasts, constantly reminded that they aren’t really as clean as the others? Make sure that everyone knows that they are “fallen”?

I heard years ago about a young man who was sexually assaulted as a child. The young women were warned away from him. “He will always be broken” they were told.

So now, back in the mind of the young woman. Suppose the “fornication” wasn’t consensual. Suppose it was your youth pastor. Suppose it was a frat boy in an alley.

What will you do?

Report it? Remember what happened when your friend was raped and she was kicked out of school her senior year for violating her purity oath?

Remember how you had to sign a non-disclosure oath and never talk about it?

Remember when your mother and your father didn’t even believe you?

And suppose you got pregnant from that rape.

Do you report it to the police, knowing that the rapist will get custody of the child?

Do you put his name on the birth certificate and be forced to deal with him your whole life?

Did you know that most states allow a rapist to sue for custody?

I assure you that every single scenario here is true. It happens over and over and over. It has been well-documented with more evidence and more unimpeachable testimony than any court would require in any other situation. It has been documented again and again by all of those who have been or are currently being run out of the establishments for being “feminists. Liberals. Socialists.” Only because they dared to speak the truth.

But we don’t want to “ruin a man’s life” over “20 minutes of action, do we?”

We don’t have a problem with ruining HER life, after all, if she weren’t a sinner, she wouldn’t be in trouble now, would she?

I am pro-life, and believe that abortion is morally wrong. I believe that Roe v. Wade was the wrong decision.

I am pro-life, and believe that abortion is morally wrong. I believe that Roe v. Wade was the wrong decision.

But it goes a lot deeper than the “single issue voters” want it to be. Knowing that something is morally reprehensible, and knowing how to stop it are two different things. Is our calling as the church to enforce law? Or is it to proclaim the gospel? We keep getting sidetracked.

The law was given by God himself from Mt. Sinai and enforced with thunder and lighting and fire. The ground opened up at one point and dragged whole families down to hell. The threats and the curses were real.

But that wasn’t the gospel. And that never dealt with the problem of shame. The law on stone could beat someone to death, but it couldn’t bring life. It still can’t. All it can do is increase shame, which increases guilt, which increases sin.

So, if you recognize yourself in this scenario, let me give you the gospel.

Your shame is real, and I am so, so sorry for all of those who sought to control you by heaping more shame on you. Jesus didn’t come to heap shame.

He was stripped naked on the cross in front of the world and hung there to die. He took all of our shame upon himself, so that he might unite himself to you.

And he did this because he wanted YOU. He wants to embrace you and give you life. He wants to wash away all of your sin and misery, and wants to restore you to how He created you to be. With dignity, with honor, with beauty.

And because of his work, you ARE beautiful. If you have gotten pregnant, you are still beautiful and your baby is beautiful. You aren’t ruined, you aren’t second best, you aren’t spoiled. You are His daughter, and he is making you beautiful, without spot and without blemish. You are welcomed at His table and if the organization that calls itself a church doesn’t welcome you to theirs, then they don’t know Him. Flee from there into the arms of the One who loves you and gave himself for you.

For everyone else, who are you to judge another man’s servant? It is so much deeper than “they just don’t want to submit”. We have more work to do that goes deeper than picket lines, protest lines, and single issue voting.

Maybe if you think about this a little bit, you will see what Jesus meant when he said to the woman caught in the act, “Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.”

I am pro-life, and believe that abortion is morally wrong. I believe that Roe v. Wade was the wrong decision.

And that is true. But it isn’t the gospel. The gospel is something far, far more powerful. The gospel goes to the heart and causes men and women to bend the knee, not because they are afraid, but that they have been overwhelmed by the power of love.

That’s a different thing.

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How to be thankful

How does one be “thankful”. Why does God tell us to be thankful?

What happens if we aren’t thankful enough. Does God punish us?

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Ps. 106:1)

I think the problem is that our default position is to think of “thanksgiving” somewhat like a kid being forced to write notes to a distant aunt.

“Dear auntie. Thank you for the bunny pajamas. They are cool. Love Sam.”

But this is not what the Bible means by thanksgiving.

Look at it instead this way – in the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve everything they could possibly imagine or want. They were rich beyond compare. And they fell for Satan’s lie: “There is one thing God didn’t give you. He is stingy and mean. He won’t take care of you. He isn’t good.”

This is the default position of the human race now: “God isn’t good. He hasn’t done enough. He is a stingy taskmaster demanding sacrifices from us and if we are good enough we might be able to wring a blessing from his tight-fisted hand.”

I might suggest that this is even the way that we view thanksgiving – as if it is a service that you have to render to a harsh god to avoid punishment.

God doesn’t need our thank-you cards and our rote prayers.

Instead, he came to do away with the curse and draw us into fellowship – Jesus is the groom and we are the bride; he has given us everything we can possibly imagine and treasures that we can’t even fathom wait for us in heaven.

But greater than all of it is that the day will come when we will see him face to face and we will have no more sin and shame and alienation and we will be open and intimate and face to face with God Himself.

Thanksgiving is living with that reality in front of our eyes. It isn’t a job we do. It is a life we live – poorly, most of the time. But that doesn’t change God’s goodness or his love for us.

Imagine a long engagement:

5 “I arose to open to my beloved; And my hands dripped with myrrh, And my fingers with liquid myrrh, On the handles of the bolt.
  6 “I opened to my beloved, But my beloved had turned away and had gone! My heart went out to him as he spoke. I searched for him, but I did not find him; I called him, but he did not answer me.
  (Cant. 5:5-6)

He is gone, and you can’t find him! How your soul longs for his touch and your mouth longs for his kisses! But he is gone.

“Gone away from me. Gone away from me. Life is long, my love is gone away from me” (Ray Lamontagne)

And then he returns. He takes you up in his arms and embraces you. You shout and sing for joy. Your soul is so full it is bursting!

Do you want to know what thanksgiving is? Read the Song of Songs. It is falling into the embrace of the One who loves you and gave himself for you.

So it isn’t like writing an obligatory thank you card to a rather clueless aunt. It is a joyful embrace of love!

This changes everything, doesn’t it?

Today, we are the separated lovers longing for the fulfillment of everything, longing for the marriage supper.

This is what we sigh for and wait for. Thanksgiving is living life waiting for the embrace of your groom, your lover, your friend.

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9 Things (April 28)

1. Sometimes grieving death isn’t the worst kind of grief. We grieve broken friendships, we grieve alienated children, we grieve a loss of health and vitality. We grieve the broken things of the past that we can’t fix. We grieve not having those things that others take for granted. We grieve poisonous relationships that force distance. Some of the hardest grief is the grief that one mourns alone.

2. One of my greatest griefs is watching the Church that I love being hijacked by domineering, unbelieving, cruel, racist, women-hating bullies. They pretend to be fighting the “reformed downgrade” and “feminism” but in reality they are fighting against the image of God in their neighbor and baptizing their pathologies.

3. The husband is not the savior of the wife in any way. Ephesians 5 says that he is to love his wife as Christ loves the church – and then the REST of it is about Jesus. If you want to know how to love your wife, learn about Jesus and how he loves his church. Read the Song of Songs and Philippians 2 for a start.

4. My wife was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome about 10 years ago. It was a blow and a relief. A blow because we partly knew that she would never be the same again and her mobility would decline. A relief because we finally had some answers. There were members of our church at the time, including an elder, who were offended that I asked for prayer for her “too much”. I still don’t know how to process that.

5.  I love Reformed theology as it is summarized in the Three Forms of Unity. This, to me, is what it means to be Reformed. However, there is a disconnect between the theology and the practice of the Reformed world. There is something in the culture of the Reformed world that breeds a very, very ugly spirit. Social media takes that spirit and makes it public.

6.  I read this week that 55 percent of Americans believe that the US Constitution is inspired by God. Either they have no idea what inspiration means, or they have a serious problem with idolatry. Either way, we have a huge problem.

7. Nationalism and Christianity are not compatible. They are competing religions. One seeks salvation in power and control. The other is proclaimed through weakness and the foolishness of the message preached. You cannot serve God and Mammon.

8. I long for the day when seminaries training pastors will not only teach languages and theology, but will also provide the guidance and space to begin their healing from past traumas. Until a man deals with his trauma honestly, he cannot be an effective pastor. Until he understands himself, he will invariably feed himself rather than the sheep.

9.  When one believes that God will only bless a nation based upon their national obedience, then one can easily justify the oppression and hatred of the sinner who won’t get on board. It is a scary place to be. Blessings for national obedience is not Christianity.

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“I hate divorce” follow up…

Sometimes I use this platform so I don’t have to keep typing the same thing over and over.

Several years ago, I posted about Malachi 2:16 “God hates divorce?”

And I followed it up here:

Every few years, someone brings up objections to my exegesis. If they are not reviling me (which is fairly common) I answer them. Generally like this:

Every translator translated it like I mentioned until the King James, and then they all followed suit. It became hallowed with use, but it, respectfully, is wrong.

The KJV also translated it assuming that the word “to send away” was an infinitive construct, as you do.

The problem is that the hebrew almost always uses the preposition “lamed” attached to the verb to indicate it as a helping verb. For an infinitive construct to stand alone without a preposition (as is the case here) it only admits of a very few uses, and a helping verb is not one of them. The infinitive construct without a verb is relatively rare in Hebrew.

So, when I translated this some years ago, I struggled with it. It was awkward, it wasn’t how Hebrew was normally used.

And then it occured to me – the 2s imperative has the exact same spelling and vowel points. Why do we assume it is an infinitive construct when the imperative is spelled exactly the same?

So I looked at the semantics that way

“Because” – or “that” (depends on context)

“He hates” – really can’t be translated honestly any other way – but I’ve read comments that say that it is a mistake, and the first person consonant dropped off by scribes centuries ago….)

Let go.

Run a quick search, with vowel points, on the word “send away” with the exact same spelling.

it comes up about 10 times, if I remember, and every time it means “set loose” send away, and almost always it was used by Moses while speaking to Pharaoh.

Thus sayeth the Lord “Let my people go”

Translated, let go, in this instance.

In Deuteromony 24 – the word to send away and the word “divorce” are contrasted to one another and not identical.

Quite frankly it just doesn’t mean what the KJV said it meant – other modern translations kept it the same because most evangelicals (those who buy bibles) don’t want to hear it. It is their favorite verse.

I know that I lost friends, lost church members, and was reviled publicly because of it. That is hard to go through.

But the Hebrew says what it says.

And thank you for the discussion. I have been reviled on it so many times, that an honest and intelligent discussion on it is a breath of fresh air.

Anyway, one other point – the “he”, which is the subject of “hates” can only refer to the treacherous man.

If it is referring to God, why does the Lord God refer to himself in the third person? Sometimes that is the case, but then it is clear that he is speaking of his triune persons. Here it is not at all that clear.

Also, if the first clause IS referring to God, “he hates”, then why does the second clause revert back to the treacherous man “For he covers violence with his garment…”

So the whole context – he is speaking in the third person of the treacherous man and then, all of the sudden, for three words, he is referring to the Lord God of Israel, and then back to the treacherous man.

It is just awkward.

This is why one grammar that I was checking on it posited that the “aleph” indicating first person must have dropped off in the copying process over the centuries and it REALLY says, “For I hate (to send away) – which, by the way, STILL doesn’t say, I hate divorce.

You would then have to change the infinitive construct to a participle to get it there and say, For I hate THE sending away – )

And that is closer, but still not there….so let’s make “send away” the same as “divorce”

For I hate divorce…”

And now you have something that isn’t there at all, but is repeated over and over and over again until it is believed to be biblical.

A couple of final points:

It matters. If you translate it correctly, you have not become a “liberal”, you have not become a white knight, and you are not, all of the sudden, against marriage and for easy divorce. Please try to separate what the scripture says from your modern social agenda.

What God hates is the treachery that leads up to divorce. What God hates is covenant breaking and hard hearts that sometimes makes divorce necessary.

What God hates is twisting his words to call the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent.

When you translate the verse correctly, you see God’s heart in this difficult passage. God hates treachery, violence, and hatred and he will come to judge the living and the dead. He is giving the opportunity for repentance, “Take heed to your spirit and do not act treacherously.”

To twist this around to “God hates divorce”, you turn it into a catch phrase to turn against the suffering and to send them back to their abuser.

“God hates divorce. So you have to suffer for his sake, just like Jesus did.”

Absolutely horrible and it really has to stop. WE’VE become the treacherous man that God is so strongly condemning.

Why do you think so many are willing to suffer so much reviling to get this passage right?

It matters.

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