Monthly Archives: May 2017

I WON’T APOLOGIZE

I will not apologize for loving life. I won’t apologize for weeping at sad movies that portray sad realities that many of us actually experience in life. If God hadn’t wanted us to enjoy honorable love-relationships He wouldn’t have given us the capacity and opportunity to enjoy them. And if He gave us the capacity to rejoice in them then He gave us the capacity to miss them when we lose them. I won’t apologize for feeling my heart jerk when I hear a little boy weep because he misses his dad or mom. I won’t apologize for loving happy endings even though I know that in life not every ending is a happy one. Maybe especially because I know that every ending is not a happy one.

I won’t apologize for dismissing cynics and those that jeer at people they call sentimental just because they themselves have hearts of stone about (almost) everything. I won’t apologize for dreaming of a day when everybody will treat everyone as they ought to be treated. I won’t apologize for believing that God will right all wrongs and make it up to all the defenseless who down the generations have been robbed and abused from the day they arrived here until the day they were butchered or starved right out of life.

I won’t apologize for saying that realism includes the lovely in life as well as the horrible. I know about child abuse, up close and personal, but I also know about little children in their millions that are loved and protected, fed and adored. I know about literary and movie muck but I also know about great movies, wonderful music and mesmerizingly great literature. I know about marital infidelity and the swaggering braggarts among us that exult in it but I also know of those who not only don’t engage in it but don’t even think of it because they couldn’t be more content than they are with their spouse and because they honor their word in faithfulness.

I won’t apologize for thinking that John Lennon was a fool to look (as in his hauntingly lovely song Imagine) to “the brotherhood of Man” to supply humanity’s needs and do away with the need for God, heaven and judgment. I won’t apologize either for wanting what his song spoke of—no war, no need to kill someone for something fine and right. What he wanted was no problem; in our best moments we all want as much but to think we can achieve it without God’s help and influence is untrue. The best about John Lennon (and he wasn’t all bad) he got from God and the influence of the Lord Jesus though John didn’t know it.

I won’t apologize for thinking that celebrities like Bob Geldof and others are supremely selfish when they ignore the injustice heaped on countless millions down the years and say they’re pleased that life ends with eternal sleep. That might be good news for the wealthy who enjoy freedom and the comforts of life and and are free from abusive tyrants and Nazi commandants but how could we be pleased that there’s no vindication for the countless oppressed, sold or slaughtered?

I won’t apologize for believing that Christians should bend over backwards to be kinder to people with whom they disagree nor will I apologize for believing that religious people should bend over backwards to obey God’s commands rather than debate them. I won’t apologize for thinking that the “agony aunt” was morally and socially blind who flippantly advised the girl who said she didn’t find males attractive—that she shouldn’t worry about it but to go look for girls. Maybe she’ll advise the next one who finds neither males nor females attractive to go to the zoo. I won’t apologize for thinking that there’s more moral and social worth in the Christian’s position (to say no more) than all this muddledheadedness.

PRAYER FOR A TORMENTED WORLD

Holy One we have heard stories about you from eye-witnesses of your wonders. Stories about your rescuing nations from slavery and oppression under tyrants without mercy or conscience. We believe them and thank you. We ask you please to do such things again and deliver heartsick people from their awful suffering and their paralyzing despair—deliver them who live in the hell-holes of the world here at home and abroad. Do it for them and do it to glorify your holy name that they might come to seek after you and find you for we who have the privilege to believe know that you are not far from any of us.
But Holy Father, their Holy Father as well as ours, they don’t know how to know you. They’re poor and ignorant and forcibly kept that way and know nothing of you or your Beloved Son. They weep and no one dries their tears, they’re lonely and no one comes to their side, they’re mentioned in headlines but no one prays for them, they’re hungry and those who would feed and clothe and bless them are kept from doing it by heartless crime bosses and the corrupted powerful.
We have a little—though only a little—understanding of the complexities involved in your dealing with these awful realities when it is humans against humans and you care for us all, the evil and the good. But we know that you are the Lord of heaven and earth and they have no other to stand by their side against the heartless predators that love to feed on their sorrow and dance to the crying of their little children. It appears Holy One that only those who rejoice in brutality and torturing others are free to exercise free will—the many millions are raped and pillaged and herded around like livestock, dumb animals, kept only to be sold or as food to be eaten and their remains scattered in the dust.
We who do care—Christians and non-Christians—don’t know what to do or how to do it so we come to you, for where else is there to go? We who are free can’t help rejoicing in our freedom while our brothers and sisters, little children and parents, huddle together in panic at the news that predators are returning, young here in our own towns, lie in fear of a bedroom door opening again, the unemployed and unemployable, the abandoned and betrayed—there is no end, they awake or lie sleepless only to meet another day of the same.
Ahhhhhhh, how long, they want to know; when will it stop they wonder; they fear that no one can stop it—ever. Holy One we know we are selfish but you must know because you have worked within us that we are not so selfish that we cannot at times enter into their pain and so now for a while we feel it and pray for them, Father, for them. Now! For them—for them!
Grant that we who have freedom will join with you to effect some change and that we will use our freedom for more than self-service. Shape our hearts and speech and actions with the person and meaning of Jesus Christ that if we can’t take away the sorrow and hurt of the world we can in the name of the Lord Jesus do something for those within our reach.
Grant that as we Supper with the Lord Jesus on the Lord’s Day that we will keep the Story alive that He is returning and that all wrongs will be righted and cruelty and injustice and suffering will be no more. Oh, Holy One, whatever the cost to us deliver us your people from any sense that we are your pets and remind us that we live to rejoice in your kindness to us and to serve the world because by faith we were baptized into union with your Holy Son who united Himself with them and with us forever. This prayer in His name.

THERE’S MORE, NOT LESS, MORE

Disease and death are so ugly and brutal. Maybe a terminal ward where everyone is a little child has an added pathos. Because I believe that every little child anywhere in the world is a servant of God I find consolation in knowing that however things appear there’s more in it than meets the eye and when the world is better we’ll clap our hands over our mouths in enlightened astonishment.

Like everyone else it guts me to see them suffer and die.

The raging fever is real, the gasping for air is real, the incubators, straps, tubes, leads, needles, pumps, drips—they’re all real. The silent screaming, the wide-open mouths and the tiny toothless gums, the jerking, twisting, the shrill crying or the silent panting—all real.

There’s no point in denying the reality of all that!

But what if what we see is not all there is?

What if there’s more (not less!) to what we see than what we see?

Would you not want to be able to believe that there was more?

One day outside Jerusalem there was a young man hanging on the public gallows. The spit, the sweat, the blood, the jeers, the taunts, the treachery, the hypocrisy, the race hatred—all real. The thirst, the loneliness, the sense of abandonment, the grief of a mother and friends, the injustice, the evil—all real.

But there was more!

In all that—not simply after it—in and through all that there was more.

There wasn’t less than that! There was more!

John 12:31: SENTENCE WAS BEING PASSED ON THE WORLD! SATAN WAS BEING KICKED OUT!

In the Mel Gibson movie, Christ, badly beating, not allowed to sleep, falling one more time, His mother runs to Him and He says, “Look, mother, I’m making everything new.” Using Revelation 21:5.

Without denying a bit of the ugly and brutal in it there was the wondrous in it, paid for in enduring anguish and pain.

There is more in the disease and death of a child! Let’s not reduce the child to an object of pity. Sadness we should feel but we should learn from them.

It speaks profound truths to the world, into which we have brought anguish, agony and loss, and what it says is said to us at a heartbreaking cost!
And what does it say?

ANGELS “HAVING SEX WITH WOMEN.”

I’m not sure if this is worth the time and space. Walk away if it’s not your kind of piece.
Does Genesis 6:1-2 teach us satanic angels “had sex with women” (which is how I’ve heard it phrased again and again)? Well, whatever those verses teach us they don’t teach us that anyone “had sex with women.” They tell us someone (“sons of God”) married women and had children by them (6:2,4).
This is a far cry from painting the picture of satanic angels manufacturing human bodies and “sleeping with women/” If these were satanic angels it seems they had more virtue than a host of humans today since they had the decency to get married. 
The picture of evil angels having a night out on the town with women is more bizarre but surely easier to swallow than seeing them settling down to marriage and raising a family.
Maybe, after all, though it still leaves us wondering, the more conservative view is correct: “sons of God” is a reference to godly people giving way to ungodly ways. (The context certainly suggests some evil involved and the implication may be, and I take it to be, that they were committing polygamy. See Genesis 5:19.)
The Jerusalem Bible renders 6:2 this way, “the sons of God, looking at the daughters of men, saw they were pleasing and married as many as they chose.” The NJB retains that reading and several other versions seem to agree though the language is a bit ambiguous. Note Genesis 4:26 that is suggestive of existence of a godly line.)
Psalm 82:6 has an equivalent expression (“you are all sons of the Most High”) which Jesus seems to use to refer to human rulers. See John 10:34-35. It’s clear enough that in the psalm God is rebuking wicked rulers of the vulnerable and dependent, The psalmist may be using mythological speech (God calling the gods into a council meeting to expose their wickedness in oppressing the vulnerable but being worshiped instead of abandoned). I take it that Jewish apostate human rulers are the embodiment and instruments of evil forces worshiped as “gods”.
And Luke 3:38 has the Greek equivalent used of Adam who was a “son of God” (the word “son” is in 3:21 ). If this is a legitimate use of the phrase then perhaps it can refer to some in the line of the godly that behaved in an ungodly fashion. Note again Genesis 4:26
(When people tell you that the phrase “sons of God” MEANS angelic beings tell them that a word or phrase MEANS what the writer MEANS IT TO MEAN. In the end, CONTEXT is king and not doubtful lexical claims. Because a word or a phrase is characteristically used in one way does not mean it isn’t used in another. We hear of “agape” MEANING godly love, God’s love for us and our love for Him and our fellow-believers. We find it used that way all over the place (1 Corinthians 13, the books of John). So we’re told that’s what it “means”. But Paul uses it of Demas “loving” the world in 1 Timothy 4, 1 John 2 uses it of people who would “love” the world. Jesus uses it of people who would “love” only those that “love” them (as pagan did) and implicitly rebukes them for such love. The word “agape” means what a writer means it to mean and context, near and remote, determines that, though we can’t get to the bottom of some questions.)
No one’s sure about the derivation of “Nephilim”. Some say it is “the fallen (ones)” and have fallen angels in mind but the passage doesn’t call the sons of God Nephilim, that’s the name given to the alleged offspring. . I say “alleged” because the text doesn’t expressly say the Nephilim were the offspring; it says the offspring were “the heroes of old, men of renown” (6:4). It’s perhaps an open question whether these two groups are to be identified or perhaps I’m being too cautious and missing the obvious.
In any case, there’s this interesting sidelight. This was all before Flood behavior and presumably (since all humans died but eight) the Nephilim were dead. But Israel came across the Nephilim (Numbers 13:33)  in Canaan and we’re given their tribal connections. If we’re to take the stance that Nephilim are the offspring of satanic angels and women we’d have to suppose that these marauding predators who believed in marriage (!) must have been active more than once. And on we go like a string of Hollywood movies.
It’s possible that the Nephilim were the mighty men of renown in Genesis 6:4. It may even be likely. If this is true, the Nephilim were men and men who gained for themselves a great reputation as heroic (whether good or bad we aren’t told). There is the suggestion in Numbers 13:32-33 that the Nephilim may have been very tall men. See Deuteronomy 1:28. Joshua 11:21 says Joshua defeated the Anakites and the record makes no big deal about it. Apparently they were simply tall men rather than half angel/half human aliens.
I’ve taken a fair amount of space on this question mainly, I think, to suggest how tricky texts like these can be. To read them, make sweeping assertions and then use them to build a far-reaching theology of Satan and satanic angels is precarious indeed.  it says the offspring were “the heroes of old, men of renown” (6:4).