Dear Pop Theology-
I’m always seeing memes on social media that sound kind of “Christian-ish,” but I’ve got a funny feeling about them. Enclosed is my latest collection. Can you help me out? What’s your take on these?
I’m always down with helping a hermeneutical homie keep it real on the F.B. Here’s the 4-1-1 on the pix you laid down:
Whazzup with that? Might as well do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around, ‘cuz that’s what it’s all about on this one. Jesus Himself says the EXACT OPPOSITE of this, feel me? Check it:
So the last will be first, and the first, last.
And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
Anybody who puts God first will be looking for the last spot in line. Word. Read it.
Yo Dawg, how do you know that, hmmm, you anonymous meme-maker, you? You don’t know me, you don’t know whether or not I’m saved, and you don’t know what’s going on in my life. Maybe everything is going great today and it’s all going to go down the toilet tomorrow. (That’s what happened to Job, after all.) Plus, how do you know what God has planned for me? Can you read God’s mind? No? Then step off and stop making blasphemous memes where you pretend like you can.
For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?
Oh heck to the no. Another poser thinking he knows me and my deets, only this one is psychic to the angels, not God. How do you know the angels say “it’s over”? You must not be tight with any angels because if you were, you’d know that saying anything is “over” ain’t their turf. And since when did angels test anybody? And where does the Bible say that re-posting something on Facebook is a test? And how do you know the angels are going to fix two things? Why not one? Why not 47? How do you know they’re going to be big things? Why not small? Why not venti? Like I said, a poser looking for his 15 minutes.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
So, if you do the thing, you get the bling, right? Show me the money? Really? Slip me some Scripture, bro. Where’s that at? Christianity ain’t no tit for tat, quid to the pro quo. God doesn’t owe you anything special for going through a battle. You’re a soldier, a slave. That’s your job. Does God bless us? Fo shizzle. But blessings aren’t a payoff for active duty. We got our pay on the front end. God has already blessed us infinitely beyond what we deserve by saving our sorry, sinful carcasses out of hell. He blesses us daily with His love, listening to our prayers, forgiveness, provision for our needs, comfort, strength, mercy, and so much more. Expecting bling for what’s already in your job description? Oh no you di-int.
“Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
There it is, Frannie. You pick up what I’m layin’ down? Keep your nose in the Book and your eyes on the prize, and remember, Jesus ain’t your homeboy, He’s your King.
Election day, November 4, is right around the corner. How should Christians vote?
First things first. Christians, especially Christian women, should vote. Not voting would not only be an insult to the sacrifice of the dedicated men and women who have given their lives in the cause of freedom and suffrage over the years that we might have the luxury of having a voice in our governance, but voting is a gift from God. Should we treat this gift lightly by failing to exercise it?
If you have never had the opportunity to visit a country, such as those in the Middle East, in which basic freedoms and women’s rights are limited if in existence at all, I urge you to do so if at all possible. After I returned to the U.S. from a visit to the Middle East a few years ago, I realized just how much we take for granted what an enormous blessing it is that God has seen fit to place us in a land of liberty, abundance, and opportunity. When I vote, I see it as a way of returning thanks to God for the gift of freedom, and honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to secure our liberties.
For whom should Christians vote? The Bible says in I Corinthians 10:31 that whatever we do, we should do all things for the glory of God. “Whatever” and “all things” includes voting. Christians should vote for the person they believe will bring the most glory to God. Considering the candidate options with which we’re often presented, this, at times, seems an impossible task.
How do we know which candidate to vote for? Like all other decisions in a Christian’s life, this one should be governed by God’s leading through prayer and Biblical principles. Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5) to make a Godly decision.
Study the candidate’s platform and where he stands on each issue. Is he a proponent of anything that clearly conflicts with Scripture? Would he push to legalize or undergird things God calls sin? Can we, as Christians– whose goal in life is supposed to be turning from sin and pursuing holiness –knowingly and intentionally disregard the fact that a candidate would stand in favor of sin rather than fighting against it, and give him our support?
Sometimes we lean towards voting for the candidate who would benefit us the most personally. Perhaps he has promised a tax cut for our particular bracket, or said he would improve the roads we use for traveling to work. In and of themselves, those are good things, but does his platform also include favoring things which would hurt others or be detrimental to the fabric of our society in general? In other words, should a Christian vote for something or someone who will benefit herself at the expense of harming others?
I don’t believe we can do that and remain true to Biblical principles such as:
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4
Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; Romans 15:1-3a
As is frequently the case these days, the person we vote for, believing he will make the most Christ-like decisions, loses the election. I don’t know about you, but I’m usually pretty disappointed when this happens.
I try to keep it in perspective, though. It’s within the realm of possibility that the person who won the election will get radically saved after taking office and make even more Godly decisions than the other candidate would have made. It’s also possible that he will unintentionally make the decisions God wants him to make for other reasons, such as political expediency or pleasing a particular special interest group. The Bible says in Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes. ”
Not only should we pray before we vote, but we have a Biblical mandate to pray for the winner after the election is over:
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
I Timothy 2:1-4
Above all, we must remember that, while the upcoming elections may determine who will sit in the White House, the Congress, or the State House, they do not, nor will they ever, determine who sits on the throne of the universe as King.
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
1. What is the purpose of the book of Matthew? Which genre(s) of biblical literature (prophecy, epistle, narrative, wisdom, etc.) is the book of Matthew? What is the historical backdrop for this book?
2. What is the setting for Matthew 28? Briefly describe the events that led up to this chapter. How might the events of this chapter have been different if the women and the disciples had understood and/or believed Jesus the numerous times He told them He would die and rise again?
3. Compare and contrast the way the angel presented himself to the guards (unbelievers) (2-4) with the way he presented himself to the women (believers) (5-7) and the reaction to the angel by the guards (4) and by the women (8). What did the angel tell the women that he didn’t tell the guards? Why didn’t the angel tell the guards not to be afraid, or explain to them what was happening? What was the women’s reaction to encountering Jesus? (9-10) Did the guards get to see Jesus? Why is it good and right for unbelievers to be fearful and hopeless when encountering God, but for Believers to be joyful and reassured when encountering God?
4. Who was the guards’ employer – the Roman government or the chief priests? Yet, to whom did the guards report back after the resurrection? (11) What does 11-15 tell us about how deeply enmeshed the leaders of God’s people had become with pagans? Apply these passages to this relationship between the Jewish leaders and the Roman leaders. What does all of this teach you about your own life? Do you have any yokings (close partnerships or intimate relationships) with unbelievers that you need to reevaluate?
5. Notice the sequence of 16-20: Obedience (16) >> Nearness to Jesus (17a) >> Worship (17) >> Being sent out and used by God to further His Kingdom (18-20). How does this demonstrate the principle of “faithful in little, faithful in much“? What if one of the disciples had decided not to go to the mountain (16)? What would he have missed as a result of his disobedience? How does obedience to Christ draw us nearer to Him, which then fuels our worship of Him? Why should ministry work always be founded on worship?
Why was it important for Jesus to announce His authority (18) before commissioning the disciples (and by extension, all future disciples, including us today)? Does anyone else – pope, pastor, priest, etc. – have the authority to create, establish, or declare the mission of the church and individual Christians? What is the mission of the church and individual Christians? (18-20) Are you carrying out this mission? Is your church?
These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.
Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 43 ~ Oct. 19-25 Matthew 15-18, Mark 7-9, Luke 9:18-11:54, John 7-10 Sin-opsis
Sin. That word can cause us to think of a lot of different things, from our sin, to people who have sinned against us, to forgiveness. Today, we’re going to hear what Jesus has to say about five different aspects of sin.
Causing Another Believer to Sin (1-5, Matthew 20:20-24)
Have you ever noticed that the disciples asked a lot of interesting questions? Why do you think they wanted to know who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Pride? A desire for clout or recognition? The disciples and Jesus lived in a society in which people were acutely aware of who had rank, recognition, and power (the Pharisees, scribes, Saducees, lawyers, priests, and Levites), and who did not (everybody else, including Jesus and them), when it came to the way Judaism was structured. We talked last week about what people, even the disciples, expected the Messiah to be: a conquering king who would overthrow Rome and restore Israel to prominence and prosperity. Here, as in the case of Mrs. Sons of Thunder asking if her boys could sit on either side of Jesus’ throne (Matt. 20), they were likely thinking of their offices in the new government they imagined Jesus would head up once He reestablished the kingdom.
Once again, Jesus had to set them straight. “It’s not about how high on the power ladder you can climb, Boys. It’s about how humble you can be, as humble as a little child.” And why did Jesus have to set them straight? Because they had been, skandalizo, “entrapped” or “tripped up” as verse 6 puts it, by faulty teaching from those who were responsible to rightly handle God’s word. The disciples would soon be in the position of teacher and preacher themselves. It was imperative they had a correct understanding of God’s word and God’s ways so they could accurately teach the new “little children” coming into the church.
When we share the gospel with others, teach the Bible, offer others advice or counsel, etc., we must make absolutely certain we have a correct understanding of what God’s word says. Otherwise, we might be tripping others up by leading them to believe things that are in conflict with the Bible. Jesus takes that very seriously saying (7) “it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Pretty strong words.
When I Am Tempted (7-9) What about when someone else tempts me to sin? Again, Jesus has strong words for anyone who entices someone into any kind of sin: “woe.” What are some ways we can cause people to sin or be drawn into someone else’s sin, even in the church? Gossip, adultery, inciting other church members against the pastor or other leaders, playing “politics”, etc.
But whether tempted by a church member or the world, Jesus paints a serious picture of how we should respond to that temptation. Now, Jesus isn’t suggesting we literally maim ourselves, because, if you think about it, even a blind person can lust. Sin is an issue of the heart. Jesus is saying that we are to get away from temptation to guard our hearts, whatever the cost. Your relationship with Christ is worth it.
What might “gouging your eye out” or “cutting your hand off” look like for someone facing a certain temptation? For a person tempted to drunkenness, it might mean not drinking at all or not going to certain social events where they know the booze will be flowing freely. A person tempted to lust and adultery might need to make certain she is never alone with a man she’s not married to. She may even have to avoid spending any time with certain men she’s attracted to. Sin is serious, and we sometimes have to take big, inconvenient steps to stay out of it, but our relationship with Christ is completely worth it.
When Another Christian Sins (10-14, Romans 8:1) Our brothers and sisters in Christ are going to sin. There’s just no way around it. How should we respond to a fellow Christian who has wandered off into sin? Ignore it and hope she’ll stop? Stop speaking to to her? Castigate her? No. We are to respond to her the same way Jesus does with the lost sheep:
10– We are not to treat any of our brothers or sisters unkindly; we are to treat all with kindness and love.
12– We remember that Christ came to save the lost from their sin. Of course, He does not want those He has saved to wander off back into their sin. Jesus goes after the wandering sheep to bring it back into the safety of the fold. We are to do the same. If someone wanders off, we don’t just let her go. We go after her in love and concern to bring her back to where she needs to be.
13-14– “If he finds it…” If is kind of an interesting word to use here, since Jesus is the shepherd in the story. Will there ever be a case in which Jesus can’t find someone who has wandered off? No. God is sovereign over all things. He knows where we are, what we’re doing, and the state of our hearts at all times. These verses are referring to the lost sheep who is willing to be found and return to the fold with Jesus. When a Christian repents and returns to Christ, Christ rejoices over her. While there may be consequences of the sin to face, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom.) Isn’t that awesome? When that repentant sheep comes back to the fold, we are to have the same loving, embracing, and forgiving attitude towards her that Christ has. Christ’s desire is always restoration and reconciliation, and that should be our desire as well.
When Another Christian Sins Against Me (15-20) One of the most important things we can focus on in this passage is the word “sins”. In the church body, there are going to be times when things happen to us that we don’t like. That doesn’t necessarily mean these things are SIN. Maybe we don’t like the style of music, or a particular mannerism of the pastor. Maybe somebody tells us a truth we need to hear that stings a little, or someone is annoying or inadvertently hurts our feelings. Our feelings don’t determine what sin is, the Bible does. When deciding whether to confront the person, we first need to determine if what she did is sin according to the Bible (not according to our opinion), or if it’s a non-sinful offense, and we can overlook it and extend grace, realizing that people have probably done the same for us on many occasions.
On the other hand, if the person IS sinning, we can’t shy away from an awkward conversation with her about it. Remember the wandering sheep? We need to have the same love for that wandering brother or sister and try to restore and reconcile him/her. First, we go to the person privately -not in front of a group, not on Facebook- one on one, and, remembering the way we would want someone to approach us, kindly and lovingly, yet firmly, talk to her about her sin. If she repents and returns, let the rejoicing and forgiving commence! If she persists, we take a couple of other Believers with us to kindly, lovingly, and firmly approach her again. If she still persists in her sin, the next appropriate and required step is to take the matter before the church body for disciplinary action. If the person still refuses to repent, we are to treat her as “a Gentile and a tax collector.”
What does that mean? Are we supposed to shun her? Hate her? No. Look how Jesus treated Gentiles and tax collectors (like Matthew and Zacchaeus). He loved them, shared the gospel with them, and called them to repent and believe in Him. In other words, He treated them like the unbelievers they were. People who persist in unrepentant sin show us that they are not Believers. When we have exhausted all attempts at restoration, we agree with their behavior that they are not Believers and treat them that way. We remove their names from church membership and remove them from any positions of leadership or responsibility in the church, but we keep loving them, keep sharing the gospel with them, and keep praying for their salvation.
Why We Forgive (21-35, Ephesians 4:32) This parable can be summed up in the words of Ephesians 4:32:
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Who is the king in this parable? Jesus. Who is the first servant? Me. How big is our sin debt to Jesus? Verse 24 describes it as ten thousand talents. One talent was a unit of money equal to twenty years’ wages for a laborer. Therefore, ten thousand talents would have equaled 200,000 years’ worth of wages, an impossible amount to even begin to repay, just like our sin debt. But when we throw ourselves on the mercy of Christ and repent, He forgives us that enormous debt. Just wipes it right out. Any sin that anyone can commit against us, no matter how egregious, is peanuts (verse 28 calls it 100 denarii, or 100 days’ wages) compared to the grief and agony we put Christ through on the cross. How can we, knowing how hugely we have sinned against Christ, refuse to forgive others anything they might do to us?
The “Sin-Opsis” There’s an old Carman song that contains the line
“Black is black, and white is white.
And Hell is hot, and sin ain’t right.”
It’s a pretty good “sin-opsis” of the what sin is. It is Christ’s desire that we stay out of sin ourselves, not lead others into sin, rescue others who have fallen into sin, and forgive those who have sinned against us.
Since there is no specific Bible verse that says, “Thou shalt/shalt not participate in Halloween and its related activities,” this is an area of Christian liberty that must be decided by each individual or couple on the basis of scriptural principles and prayer. If there are Halloween activities available to you that do not violate scriptural principles or your conscience or cause you to become a stumbling block to someone weaker in the faith (which may even be your spouse or child), you are free to participate in those aspects of Halloween.
Here are some Scriptures and principles that may be of help as you make your decision:
1 Corinthians 10:23: “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
Is it helpful? Does it build you/your family up?
1 Corinthians 10:24-30: Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
Who is watching what your family does? Are you serving your neighbor and drawing him closer to Christ by the activities you participate in?
1 Corinthians 10:31: So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Are you glorifying God by participating in the activity you’re considering?
Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Does the activity exemplify and cause you to think about things that are pure, lovely, etc.?
Ephesians 5:11-12- Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.
Is the activity spiritually unfruitful, a work of darkness, shameful? Are you taking part in evil or exposing it?
Isaiah 5:20: Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Does the activity celebrate, honor, or make light of sin, evil, and darkness?
1 Corinthians 15:54b-55: Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
Christ died to put death to death. Does the activity you’re considering glorify death?