In life, or at least in mine, it has been very tough to find good, quality role models. People I can look up to and say with confidence and enthusiasm that I want to be like them one day. As a guy, obviously the role models I’m looking for are males. I’ve found a couple, but they have been few and far between. I have grown up most of my life without my dad in the picture. I didn’t grow up in church, I am the oldest of two, I’ve never been close to either of my uncles or my cousins, so for me the pickings have been slim. I’m not telling you this to get sympathy, I simply want you to understand where I’m coming from when I say the things that I do.
I’m writing this because I have a message that I would like to relay to anyone who reads this, especially any men or soon to be men, A message concerning the qualities and characteristics I would like to see, that the world needs, and which God has called all the men of this world to live up to. This world desperately needs men who are willing to go above and beyond what society says is required of them. Men who aren’t afraid to rebel against the cultural norms expected of them. Men who live according to their true calling and purpose from God.
I am often times accused of being a negative person. While I do consider myself a very pessimistic and critical individual, I will not apologize for calling things the way I see them. If it’s raining I’m not going to lie and pretend it’s sunny. I say that because my intentions are not to bash guys and tell them they’re doing an awful job or completely tear them down, but to point them to something more.
I am deeply dissatisfied with the lives many of the men I know lead. In my head, my heart, even down to the very depths of my soul, I am troubled by the apathy that plagues the men of this world. We have no passion, no sense of urgency, and no clue of what we’re doing.
I’m going to be brutally honest, so guys please pay careful attention. You’re looks, however good they are, mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of God’s plan. Nobody cares how much you can bench or lift, or about your workout plan, how fit you are, how many girls you’ve slept with, the job you have, the car you drive, etc. Nobody. I know for certain I don’t. So please stop posting about them all over facebook, twitter, and instagram. You’ve fallen into the trap society gas set for you, you’ve become a cliche. Don’t you see, you were made for more than that. God has created you with a purpose higher than you being able to lift heavy weights. Society has created a guideline for what it looks like to be a man and you’ve traded in the identity and calling God has given you in Christ and settled for it.
When you think of what a man should be what do you envision? My guess is a guy whose tall, strong, fit, has a decent amount of money, good job, charismatic, good with girls, to name a few. You think I’m wrong? Watch any movie, T.V. show, or check instagram on a Monday, and look at the guys. 95% of them fit that description. These are not the qualities or characteristics God is looking for.
Some of the most beautiful moments I’ve seen are dads with their sons. The way they talk to them, hold them, teach them, etc. You can hear the love and passion in their voice. You can see the purpose and calling that God has given them in their actions. This is what the world needs. These are the men who truly matter, who actually make a difference, the ones who change the world. We need more men worried about serving God than worrying about their muscle size, men who passionately serve the church and others, men who not only stay pure and leave sex for marriage, but strive for godliness. Men who are more worried about becoming spiritually strong than physically strong. Men who value a woman’s heart more than her looks, because if you don’t already know or understand, yours and hers will fade away soon. Men who pray over their kids, and try their best by the grace of God to emulate Jesus. Men who give their whole life to Jesus and follow him in every way, teaching and inspiring their kids to do the same.
The best opportunity for discipleship is the family, where the husband is suppose to be the spiritual leader. His duty is to love, serve, and lead his wife while discipling his kids, teaching them in the way of the Lord. Guess what? You can’t do that if you’re still a spiritual child, a boy pretending to be a man.
A real godly, world changing, culture setting man is someone who loves God with all his heart, mind, and soul, serves the church passionately, loves, serves, and protects all women, above all his wife, and sacrifices his life for the good of others. The trumpet is sounding, the call is echoing throughout the world for the boys who are pretending to be men to stand up and answer it.
Calling all men, please stand up.
Before you begin reading through this blog, take a moment and ponder this question. What is the greatest attribute of God?
Recently I’ve noticed a trend of Christians claiming certain attributes are the greatest attributes of God. It’s quite fascinating and it has caused me to ponder over which one is truly the alpha male of all the attributes of God.
You can probably guess which one is the most popular answer. 1 John 4:8 says that God is love and I certainly do not disagree with it. The statement that love is God’s greatest attribute has been especially popular in a few of the Calvinism vs. Arminianism discussions I’ve had this semester.
But what about the book of Leviticus? Numerous times God is quoted as saying that He is holy. Is holiness God’s greatest attribute? In fact, one of the main themes of Leviticus is the holiness of God.
Don’t forget about God’s justice. You can’t read the Bible without coming across verses which speak of God as being just.
The Bible also speaks of other attributes of God such as His mercy, wisdom, glory, etc. Which one could it possibly be?
For some, they make their decision based on their theology. Many Calvinists would choose sovereignty while the Arminians are on the other side proclaiming love as the king of them all. Others may choose the one that they feel they’ve had personal experience with. I find the rationale behind this thinking and this question very amusing. It’s as if we’ve created a pie chart and divided up God’s attributes within it, giving love half of the chart and leaving the rest of His attributes to fight for what’s left.
Let’s take this argument and bring it to the cross. Some look at the cross and see God’s love on display. Others see His justice, holiness, mercy, faithfulness, or wrath. How arrogant is it of us to assume that the attribute we see when we look at the cross is the dominant attribute within the character of the Almighty?
Wait, why must we assume that there has to be a dominant attribute? What if there isn’t one dominant attribute within the character of God, but all of God’s attributes are equal and complement one another. They are not pieces that are added to God to make Him who He is but rather a representation of HIs whole being.
"We would not want to say that these attributes are only characteristic of some parts of God, but rather that they are characteristic of God himself and therefore characteristic of all of God."- Wayne Grudem
Later on he writes, "Rather, we must remember that God’s whole being includes all of his attributes: he is entirely loving, entirely merciful, entirely just, and so forth. Every attribute of God that we find in scripture is true of all of God’s being, and we therefore can say that every attribute of God also qualifies every other attribute."- Wayne Grudem
I wholeheartedly agree with Grudem’s breakdown of the attributes of God. God’s attributes are not at odds with one another in scripture over which one is the greatest. They complement one another and work together. John Stott in his famous work The Cross of Christ would say that God was moved by the perfection of His holy love to substitute Himself for us sinners.
Therefore, to champion one attribute of God over the others is to misinterpret scripture and misrepresent the character of God. When we look at the cross, although we may see a specific attribute on display, we must not forget that it is all of God’s attributes at work to reveal His whole character. God’s holy wrath collides with His holy love, His mercy with HIs justice, His glory and His wisdom. The finished result is not one attribute reigning over the others, but all of them reigning together displaying who He is.
It’s been over three months since I last wrote in my blog. I find it difficult to write during the school semester because I feel guilty that I’m not busy with my school work, which I have a lot of. That being said, the semester is almost drawing to a close and I do have something weighing on my mind this Sunday night which I would like to express in words.
Every semester is different, bringing new challenges, worries, doubts, surprises, joyful moments, etc. This semester is no different. I’ve made new friends, grown apart from some, learned some new tidbits of information, forgotten some of what I’ve learned in previous semesters, procrastinated until I can’t bear it anymore, aced a few tests in school, matured, and even disappointed. However, the biggest event that I’ve experienced this semester is a loss, something which I had never experienced before. A little more than a month ago, just 16 days after my birthday and 9 days after hers, my beloved grandmother passed away. It was somewhat expected but at the same time it was unexpected. I had dreaded that day for the last few years, knowing it was drawing closer and closer, an impending fate which I could not escape, the dramatic upheaval of my world which I could never totally be ready for, a tragic inevitability.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve never really lost anyone close to me before. My grandpa passed away when I was ten but I was too young and did not know him very well to be affected by it. My grandma however is a totally different story. She was/is the most loving person God has blessed me with. I had lived with her since I was 5, being fortunate enough to spend twenty plus years living with her and experiencing her love, joy, and kindness. Without that opportunity, I would not be the person I am today. She was my favorite person, someone who I was almost never mad at, the one person in my family I could always talk to and tell any and everything. After she passed, I had the reluctant honor and privilege to give the eulogy at her funeral. During the days leading up to her funeral, I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle such an emotional time. I consider myself to be a very sensitive person although I do not like showing it to others. For some reason, whether it’s right or wrong, I do not like showing too much emotion and in this situation I did not want to show how truly sad I was and I definitely didn’t want anyone in my family to see me cry. The drive home from school after I got the call she had passed and when I tried to sleep that night were the worst moments for me, struggling with the thoughts of sadness and regret that I wasn’t able to hug her and tell her I love you one last time. After that first night however, I have not been overly emotional in dealing with her passing. Even during the funeral and the eulogy I had to give, I was surprisingly calm and under control. Writing all this, I should make it known that yes my grandma did love Jesus so I am certain of her salvation. I also understand that it was her time and she is now resting, not having to deal with the pain and trials of this world anymore. I am not writing this post to lament that she’s gone, but more to express and explore how I”m handling her loss. Something that is interesting and bordering on curiosity to me is that since the night she passed, I have not been overcome with a tremendous feeling of sadness or emotion. I miss her, but it has not been to an overwhelming degree that I don’t know what to do. I’m not sure if this is normal or if everyone just has their own way of handling death. I haven’t even been to the point to where I feel I need to drown myself in prayer to get through such a time. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve prayed a little bit and have asked for prayer since I figured that is what I was suppose to do, and I am certainly grateful for all the prayers and thoughts that have been sent my way, but I don’t feel as if I need them to get through, I hope that makes sense, and if it does, I hope that doesn’t sound as bad as it seems writing it. I am not underestimating prayer, or maybe I am, but as huge as her loss was to me, I am extremely surprised that it has not affected me more on an emotional level.
Well that’s all for now. I found this blog to be very helpful as it helped me see in words what I have been going through in my head. Thanks for reading!
Part 3: Who to date?
When it comes to figuring out who you should date, I believe it’s important that you have a strong foundation from which you can work with to navigate through all the murky waters that we call dating. For me that foundation is my faith, which is in the Bible as God’s word, the Holy Spirit as my comforter and counselor, Jesus as the Son of God, the risen Lord and Savior of the world, and Yahweh, the creator and sustainer of all things. When working from this foundation, I can come to the Bible for wisdom and guidance, and to see where it has spoken on certain things, I can pray to the Holy Spirit to lead me in God’s will, I can worship Jesus and through that become more like him, and since God is who he is as written in the Bible, I know that my purpose in life is to glorify him so every decision I make should be with that in mind. Unfortunately, since kids in high school and even middle school date, they are usually too young and inexperienced to rely on their faith to deal with this subject, instead gaining all of their ideas and knowledge of it from television and movies. For fear of this becoming too long, I will reign myself back in and focus on two areas within the Christian circles that need to be addressed. The first one is should Christians date non-believers or not, and secondly, which Christians should they date.
When it comes to whether or not you should date a non-christian, my first two blog posts talk about the purpose of dating and what it looks like and I believe if you have those two things figured out then this one will naturally fall in line. I don’t believe Christians should date like the rest of the world, doing it just because they feel like it or because everyone else is doing it. I believe it to be immature and dangerous. I also don’t believe Christians should have sex outside of marriage even if it is in a committed dating relationship, nor should it look like secular relationships either. These problems are magnified when you are dating a non-christian. It is rare that I encounter a Christian who has a mature view of dating, let alone a non-christian. It’s not really their fault either, their worldview simply doesn’t call for anything more. The same goes with the physical aspect of dating, for non-christians there is nothing sacred about marriage and sex. As a result, when you enter into a relationship with a non-christian, and they may be the best person you know, more than likely they are going to pressure you into things that are wrong and sinful. These are side issues however, so let me get into the meat of my post. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 talks about not being unequally yoked with a non-christian, for what has darkness to do with light, or Christ with Satan. It does not mention marriage specifically but you can figure out the implications. There are two types of people in the world, those that love Jesus and those that hate him. A non-christian may be accepting of Jesus but if he doesn’t follow him then he doesn’t love him, he hates him, there is no middle ground. Therefore, if you enter into a relationship with a non-christian, you are tying yourself together with someone who hates Jesus. Marriage is two people becoming one, working as one on mission for the Gospel and to serve the Kingdom of God. Being one, they are to do things together to help each other grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, things like studying the Bible together, praying together, going to church together, teaching your kids about God, Jesus and the Bible, etc. Dating is suppose to be a reflection of marriage and you should try as best as you can to do the things you would if you were married, albeit with some obvious exceptions. The fact is, you cannot do any of these when you date a non-christian. You can’t pray together because you are praying to two different people. One of you is praying to Jesus, the only mediator between us and God, and the other to some false god. You can’t study the Bible together because they don’t believe it to be the inspired Word of God. Its value to them is nothing more than good suggestions and stories, maybe even a deep respect for its compilation of varying literary styles. You can never become one, even if you’re married, because they still hate Jesus and you love him. You can go to church together, but it will be an empty shallow experience, maybe even stressful as you hope that day, that sermon, that altar call, or that worship experience is finally the one that will break him, the one where the Holy Spirit pierces into his heart and draws him to Jesus as his Lord and Savior. But sadly, that might never happen, and you’ll be left disappointed and distraught at the relationship you’re in, at the shallow spiritual connection you and your “one true love” share.
Now on to another pressing matter that I think needs as much if not more attention than the one above. When I and others say christians should only date christians, after the proverbial onslaught happens of being called hateful, judgmental, etc, christians start running around looking for anyone who goes to church or says they love Jesus. It doesn’t even matter if their life shows no reflection of love for Christ or his church, all they seem to need is for them to either go to church or say they love Jesus and the christian says bingo I’ve found the one! This is not how it should be. When I or someone else says christians should date christians, it is with the implication that you are both mature followers of Christ. I guess we need to start saying mature christians should date mature christians to avoid any confusion. There are just too many high schoolers, college kids, and young adults who are weak and immature in their faith going around trying to date. Eventually it fails and they are an emotional wreck which in turn affects their spiritual life because they are not mature enough to handle it. So for every Christian out there reading this, if you’re going to date, make sure you’re mature enough to do so and then make sure your partner is mature in their faith as well.
For girls, it’s important to understand that the guy you are looking for is suppose to be the head of the household. Without getting off topic talking about roles, you should be looking for someone that first loves Jesus, the church, and then you. He should be mature spiritually and someone that will lead your household to serve God and love Jesus with everything you have.
For guys, I will speak more strongly on this since I am a guy, if you are looking for a girl with a certain look, a girl who you think is “hot” then you are immature and should not be pursuing any relationships at this time. You first need to make sure that you reflect well on who Christ is in your life and the church. If you are not spiritually mature, disciplined in prayer and reading scripture, how can you lead your partner? How can you lead your home? These are not things you develop once you’re dating or married, these are things you develop during the time you have as a single man, so that when you are in a relationship you can lead your partner well. Be wary of girls who do not reflect the lifestyle of a godly woman, or who are immature and have a promiscuous lifestyle. These things will only bring you down.
My final thoughts are that I hope this is helpful to all, encouraging to some and challenging others. Please do not date a non-christian hoping that they will convert and everything ends happily ever after. Even if you’re not dating and they convert, please be patient and give them time to figure things out as they are going to be changing and living a whole new lifestyle with a lot to learn about who they are in Christ and what the christian life should be. Finally, I do believe it is sinful to date or marry a non-believer and I want to make it clear that this should all be done with clear conscience and within the boundaries of a heterosexual relationship. Some may be confused because I used the word partner a lot but that was due to lack of a better word.
Thank you for reading and please leave any comments, thoughts, or questions you might have. If you found this helpful then please let me know and share it if you’d like. Look out for my final post about dating sometime in the next couple of days! God bless!
Part 2: What is dating?
This is the second post in my series “My Views on Dating.” The first post attempted to cover why I think people should date, and this one will be the what of dating, what does it look like, what do you do in a dating relationship, etc. There is a lot to say on this topic as well, but I will only summarize my views on three areas of dating which I have labeled the emotional, physical, and spiritual areas or aspects of a dating relationship.
• Emotional- This is probably not the correct term to use for this aspect considering the topics I am going to cover under it, but it’ll do. What I mean by the emotional aspect of dating is the way a couple in a dating relationship, regardless of whether it’s casual or serious, interact which each other on a communication level, or how they connect in a non-physical way. To start off, I think everyone can and will agree that any relationship needs to be built on honesty and trust. If you’re not honest with someone or one of you has a lack of trust in the other, then there will be some major issues. But how do you gain that trust? How honest should you be with the person you are dating? I believe they go hand in hand. If you are honest with someone and tell them deep and personal things, they will develop trust in you because you have proven to trust them. When it comes to honesty however, I have seen many people try and wiggle their way around it. Many people believe being honest just means never telling a lie, never uttering something false to the other person, but that it has nothing to do with keeping secrets or holding back. It is my belief, and not just me but I know most if not all Christian pre-marital sessions teach this as well, that when you get married, or in this case date, that you should both take time and talk to one another before you begin your relationship about the deep and personal things that have happened in your lives. What I mean by this is, I believe it is extremely important that each of you tell your partner the sins you struggle with, any major or catastrophic events that have happened in your lives and everything you can about your sexual history. This is very important but I understand it is also very scary. You are opening yourself up and being intimate with someone, letting them know all of the things that have shaped you and made who you are today. Now in my conversations with others, the first two things have not been a big deal but when I have said we should tell the person we want to date before we start dating all of our sexual history and they should tell us theirs, I have gotten a lot of backlash. For some, this is a lengthy list filled with regret, shame, fear and pain. For others, it may be a short list filled with temptation but nothing more than that. It is important to understand that when I say we should tell our soon to be partner our history, it is with the expectation that we both have agreed we want to date each other and are coming into this not to judge or reject the person based on their past history, but as I said earlier to understand who they are and what they’ve been through. Many have said to me that they don’t care about the others past history because they don’t want to judge them or they simply do not want to know. As I said, we are not coming into this to judge because as Christians we understand people have made mistakes and the important thing is they’ve learned and moved on. I become very irritated however, when I hear people say they just don’t want to know, or that it doesn’t matter, because they could not be farther from the truth. If you truly love the person, then you should want to know the things that have happened to them, that have shaped them, because these may still be things that cause them pain, struggles and shame and if you do not know what they are how can you be there for them and help them through it with love and patience?
• Physical- What should the physical aspect of a dating relationship look like? Well I’ll come right out and talk about the major issue, which is sex, and say there should be absolutely no sex between two people who are just dating. I know what people will use to argue against this, they will use my own words against me but it doesn’t work. I’ve said that you should only serious date someone, and that dating is a reflection of marriage, so why not have sex? Simple, because the Bible, which is God’s word, has declared it sinful, which means God declares it sin. For the record, people need to understand that sex is not sinful and that the Bible is not against sex, it’s simply against it outside of marriage. It is meant to be done within the boundaries of a covenant marriage and only there. So for those who are disappointed, I’m sorry but maybe you can use this time to connect with your partner emotionally and spiritually, so that when you finally get married, you’ll actually have something new to be excited about and enjoy.
Getting past the sex issue, there are still other ways to be physical that I would like to address. Many of the ways people interact physically with one another besides sex is kissing and making out. Now there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with that on the surface. Back during my first semester of college at Richland, I came across a couple that had just graduated high school and had been dating for a few months. They were Christian and a very nice, smart and open couple. Somehow the topic of their dating relationship came up and they explained that they don’t hold hands or even kiss. I was surprised because I have never heard of that before so when I asked more about it they explained that at first they would hold hands and kiss but eventually that led to them making out and that led to even more temptations. Before things got out of hand they decided to give up almost all intimate physical interaction with the exception of hugging, because they did not want to cross any lines. I found this a little weird at first but the more I thought about it over the years I completely agree with them. Now I am not saying it is a sin to kiss or make out, I am just saying that I applaud and appreciate the sacrifice and thought that they put into their relationship. Since this is a blog on my views of dating, I can honestly and confidently say that when I am in a serious dating relationship, it is my desire to and hope to leave out all forms of intimate physical interaction with the exception of hugging, so that we can eliminate temptation and learn to grow with each other in other areas and focus on more important things.
• Spiritual- This is the one that I am most looking forward to in my relationship. Sadly however, it is one that I rarely ever hear talked about and that angers me. What should the spiritual aspect of a dating relationship look like, especially one between two Christians? As neglected as it is, I believe it is the most important aspect of not only a dating relationship, but also of marriage. Marriage should be looked at as a ministry, a mission where two people work together to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, to serve the Kingdom of God together, and to pray and study the bible TOGETHER! I believe that is what a dating relationship should be about as well. As important as it is to have your time with God praying and studying his word, once you are in a dating relationship it is equally important that you both spend time together praying and reading the bible. You are each other’s accountability partner, confessing your sins, repenting and praying over different areas of your lives, people, and events. You are on a mission in the Kingdom of God together, and if you neglect this area when you are dating, how much harder will it be to develop this area once you are married!
This is the second of a four post series on dating. Please check back on Wednesday for Part 3 on “Who to Date?” and leave your thoughts, questions, comments, etc. I know there are some controversial items in here, and some things that I could expound on, so I would love to hear everyone’s feedback. If you would like to ask a question in private then please check out my facebook or twitter and send me a private message!
Part 1: Why
Boy: “I like you.”
Girl: "I like you too."
Boy: "Want to go out with me?"
Girl: “Yeah sure.”
Above is how I picture a conversation between middle schoolers would turn out when the topic of dating comes up. Although I’m not being totally fair, I suspect that more thought isn’t put into it the older we get. Since I am a guy in my mid twenties, a question I get asked quite often is if I have a girlfriend, and when I answer no the most common reply back is “why not?” In today’s culture, dating is something almost everyone does but not many people put a lot of thought into it from what I can tell. The purpose of this blog is to basically summarize my views on dating, and if you are not aware, my views on this topic are shaped by the Bible.
The way I see it, there are two mindsets when it comes to dating, one is casual and the other is serious. My definition for casual daters is people who may be committed to seeing only each other, but they have no goals or purpose for it other than enjoying the moment and evaluating what they like and don’t like in a person. I would guess the majority of people who date are casual daters. Serious daters in my opinion are people who date with a purpose, with intention, and that intention is to one day get married to the person they are currently dating. I would consider myself a serious dater. Let’s explore both of these a little more.
From conversations and observations I’ve had, it seems the main reasons people date casually are because they like a person and because they feel the need to use dating to figure out what they like in a person and to somehow get to know themselves better. The why for them, the purpose of dating, is nothing more than a way to please themselves, to live in the moment. The relationship usually ends when one or the other decides they no longer feel as strong about the person as they used to, or until they find someone or something else better. I am not a big fan of this because it creates a lot of issues. For one, it inevitably leads to at least one person getting hurt, sometimes both, but it definitely changes both people, the relationship will leave an imprint both. Why? Off the top of my head, let’s just say the average length of a relationship for people in high school and above is six months. You can not give your time, energy, effort, emotions and sometimes body to someone without it leaving a mark. When you are friends with someone, you connect with them emotionally and sometimes spiritually. This is magnified in dating, plus you are most likely interacting physically as well. So when it ends, and I’m assuming a majority of people have dated multiple people, you are scarred and damaged. That damage takes a while to get over because we have given ourselves to that person and were vulnerable. Often times that damage affects our lives in the near future, we are sad and depressed, plus it changes the way we look at things and people in the future. For girls, they are scarred to get hurt by another guy maybe. For guys, maybe they hide their hurt under a mask of someone who is confident and attracts many women. Inevitably though, someone is hurt and both are changed because they had no purpose or reason to be in the relationship other than their own need to act selfishly on their desires.
For me, my why is partly about my feelings and mostly about God’s will. When I tell people that I plan to date with the intention of marriage, they look at me as if I’m crazy. You see if I’m going to date someone, first I’ll have to be attracted to them. Not just physically though, but personality, emotionally, and even spiritually. Secondly, after getting to know them, I would pray to God for his will, wisdom and guidance as to what he wants me to do. If it is his will that I pursue the girl, then I trust in him to lead me in the right direction, to give me a peace about it, and a desire to love, serve and pray for her. I believe marriage is a reflection of God’s love and that dating is a reflection of marriage just without things like living together or the stuff only married couples should be doing. Since I believe dating is a reflection of marriage, and that the ultimate purpose of dating is to find someone you are going to spend the rest of your life with, it makes perfect sense to me to date with the sole intention of marrying that person one day.
This is the first of a four post series on dating. Please check back on Monday for Part 2 on “What Is Dating?” and leave your thoughts, questions, comments, etc. I am sure there is much more to be said about this from my end, but I will save some for later.
The following paragraphs in quotations is the foreword to the book I had the great pleasure of reading for my Cinematic Theology class called Amusing Ourselves To Death by Neil Postman. It was a great book and I really loved this foreword because I believe it to be so true. Our country, our societies, have taken the things they love and warped them into what will inevitably be our downfall.
For those who read this, please take some time and read through the foreword a couple of times, and if you are curious or interested, go and read this book. I will post a link to it form amazon at the very bottom. If there is anyone who has read it or that enjoyed the quotations, please feel free to leave any thoughts or comments that you might have.
"We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.
But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”. In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”
It is the Christmas season and I’m sure by now that many of us have heard or read the passages from Matthew and Luke concerning Christ’s birth being foretold, the night it happened, and what came after it. In the first half of Matthew 2, we read of the Wise Men who were sent by King Herod to go find this newborn king. They set out and ultimately find him some time after his birth. Anyone who has grown up in Church has read, heard, and seen this acted out in plays, television, and movies countless times. After a while, the story can become dull to some folks because they have heard it so many times. In times like these, it is beneficial that we find a new way to look at it, to try and find some new detail, something that we’ve been reading but that we may have never noticed. Before I continue, let me explain how this is done. Hermeneutics is a way of studying the Bible, and when coming to the Bible, we must practice proper hermeneutics if we want to get the most out of our studying. One of the key things to studying the Bible is observation. Every word is carefully, chosen, inspired by the Holy Spirit and has a place, purpose, and meaning. Therefore when we read, we must observe what we are reading and take note of every detail, every word that we come across. When you do that, you find new things in your study of the Bible every day. Let’s apply this to Matthew 2:11 and see what we come up with.
"And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh." - (Matthew 2:11 ESV)
When we read this verse, let’s ask ourselves why does it say they offered him gifts and then mention three of the gifts they offered. There has to be some reason, some meaning hidden in the details for us to explore, and there is! Let’s take a look.
1. Gold- Gold is the most valuable metal and a sign of wealth and prosperity in biblical times. Since the Wise Men were able to give gold and other gifts we can assume that they were very wealthy. The question is however, why would they give gold at all? In those times it would be given as a gift for primarily two reasons, the first is as an offering to God (Ex 35:22; 2 Sa 8:11;Nehemiah 7:70-72) and the second as a tribute to a king or ruler (1 Ki 10:14-15; 2 Ch 9:23-24). In my opinion, from looking at the surrounding context, the gift of gold for them would have been a sign of his kingship. Ultimately, the gift of gold is a symbol of Jesus’ divinity and kingship. He is the Messiah and the Christ, the god-man, the Lord of all.
2. Frankincense- Frankincense is the second gift mentioned. It is a gum resin that when burned, produces a very sweet smell. It was used for perfume and other smells but in the Bible it is usually mentioned as a sweet fragrance to God, uses in sacrifices, offerings, and as a sign of prayer (Ex 30:34; Lev 2:1; Is 66:3; Ps 14:12; Luke 1:10; Rev 5:8; 8:3). The gift of frankincense can have two meanings as well. Since it was used in sacrifices and offerings, it could be a symbol of Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice, that his death signaled the end of all sacrifices since he fulfilled them all on the cross. Secondly, due to its relationship to prayer, it could be a symbol of his priestly role. For we know that he fulfilled the office of Melchizedek and is the High Priest who hears our prayers and offers prayers on our behalf to the Father.
3. Myrrh- The third gift of myrrh was often used in embalming and it was a custom of the Jews to give those who were condemned to death by crucifixion wine mingled with myrrh. Myrrh symbolizes that Jesus was a baby born to die, that his death would not be an ordinary death, but one that had meaning, that changed the world. it could also be a small clue as to the type of death he would die.
It is widely assumed that these were not the only gifts given, just the only ones mentioned which makes it clear that these three gifts had meaning, they symbolized something about Christ and his life. While there are many uses for each one of these and could lead some to believe that we can not narrow it down as to what they symbolize, I believe we can. I believe the gold is a symbol of his kingship, frankincense a symbol of his High Priest role, and myrrh to be a symbol that he was a baby born to die. For those who disagree and believe these are still open to many different interpretations, I urge to to do your own study to see what new and fresh things God’s spirit can show you about Jesus from his word.
God Bless and Merry Christmas!
Anyone who reads this has surely been affected by the terrible event that happened last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut and has probably read, listened, and seen, a vast amount of thoughts regarding it. The point of this blog post is mainly to write down how it has affected me.
First off, as little comfort as this may be to those who are grieving right now, I would like to say I am praying to the Lord of all creation to comfort and heal those who have been affected by this horrible act.
As I was sitting in my room last Friday morning, trying to finish up my last college exam for the semester, I found out about what happened in Newtown through twitter, Facebook, and the news. When I learned that it was children who were the victims, I was shocked. The horror of what happened sent my mind racing into a many different directions. To keep this relatively short, one of the main things I thought about and saw many others post social media as well was the return of Jesus. This event, like no other, has caused me to meditate and hope for the second coming of the Messiah. When the unthinkable happens, when innocent lives, those of six year old children, are taken away for no reason, I, and I’m sure many others, are left to question many things. Why did it happen, why little kids, is there anything that could have been done to prevent this, is there anything we can do now to make sure nothing like this never happens again, and so forth. I feel helpless, as if nothing I do, the preaching of the Gospel, helping the less fortunate, serving at church, helping others, will ever make this world what it should be, or make this place we live truly safe. And do you want to know something? There is nothing we can do. Since all of creation is under the curse of sin, the only person who can do anything about it is Christ. The good news is he has already paid the price of sin on the cross, and defeated sin and death when he rose from the grave. The sad part is, until his second coming, sin and death will still be rampant in the world. But, the moment he returns, they will be thrown into the lake of fire and there will be nothing to worry about for those who called on his name. This is the great hope of the Gospel. The good news of it is that sin has been taken care of, that those who repent of their sin and trust in Jesus are forgiven and receive the Holy Spirit, but the hope is that Christ will return one day and make everything new. It seems to me that we as Christians too often neglect or minimize the importance of Christ’s second coming in favor of many other things. Tragedies like this however remind us that until he returns, there will still be pain, sin, death, injustice, tragedy, heartbreak, and evil. There will be things that happen to us and to others that devastate us, that cause us to question everything we believe in. However, for those who hope in God, they will be renewed and will cast their hopes to the future, to that glorious day when Christ returns and everything will be perfect. Instead of explaining it further, I will just leave a few Bible verses that are suitable to my post.
“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”- Revelation 21:4
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”- Romans 5:1-5
- “Only God can judge me.”
- “Don’t be so judgmental.”
- “Doesn’t the Bible say not to judge?”
The above three quotes are just a few of the sayings I’ve heard as a Christian and I’m sure many others have too as they call out the wrongs that others have done, discern the difference between right and wrong, and make stands against the immoral and unjust things of this world. What I understand when I hear people say things like this or similar is mainly don’t tell me that I’m not right or that I’m doing something wrong. You see, nowadays people are painfully sensitive to any form of criticism, especially when it is coming from within the Christian circle. It has become a terrible habit in today’s time for those who use this type of defense to abandon any form of context in order to twist certain verses from the Bible so that they can have a shield against anyone who attempts to rebuke or correct them in their ways or thinking. Now getting back to my main point, I would like, actually I would love it, if those who use the “Only God can judge me” defense were actually consistent. Let me explain. For the most part, people don’t enjoy criticism or being rebuked but they enjoy being complemented or praised. Well, the “Only God can judge me defense” comes in to play the moment criticism comes but when complements or praises come you never hear them say “Stop! Only God can judge me.” If you don’t want someone to judge your mistakes or screw ups, why do you want their praise or complements when you are right or are doing well? It seems to me if those who use the “Only God can judge me” defense when they are criticized or rebuked, then they should be consistent and also say only God can judge them when they are complemented or praised. Now I highly doubt anyone will say that, but I enjoy shining light on the inconsistencies of others.
Please leave any comments or questions you have about what I have written and maybe we can have some good dialogue. Thanks for reading!