The Meeting

There was a little tension that could be felt just before the meeting was about to begin. Two brothers sat opposite each other, each anxious to get the meeting going. There were others in the room also anxious, also feeling the slight tension.

The person in charge of the meeting passed out an agenda--each looked to his spot in the schedule, determining when they would give an update of their respective ministries. A short, sincere word of prayer was shared and the meeting was underway.

Distant words were shared about the budget and menial operating details when the war began.

"What will you say? Did you bring enough information to share? Did you do enough this past month? Have you seen any success, any progress? What will they think? What will they say? Will you have their approval?"

A beastly, otherworldy figure slid his arm around one of the guys and whispered in his ear, pointing to the guy across the table from him with his other arm. While the attack was a blatant attempt at division, it was almost completely unnoticeable to that guy in the meeting.

"Look at him. He thinks you're doing a poor job. He thinks you're no good. He thinks it's a waste to have you in this position over this ministry."

At the same time another figure had his arm around the guy on the opposite side of the table. He was a little different...his arm looked like a snake on his shoulder, but his motive was the same.

"Who does he think he is? He thinks his ministry is more important than yours. He thinks he's more important than you. But he doesn't even do that much. This church could definitely survive without him. You could do a better job than he does."

The figure seemed to almost spit on him as he injected lie after lie into the man's mind.

"Look at him. He's doing a poor job. He's no good. It's a waste to have him in this position over this ministry."


After the meeting was over, each man went to his car to go home, and each beast got in on the passenger side.

"He thinks you're no good. Did you see the way he looked at you as you gave your report?"

"He's no good. His report was crap."

And thus the battled continued. Each man tried to fight the sense that the other had a low opinion of him, but it was hard. It was near impossible. For some reason, although the lies were blatant, they were easy to believe. This war to cause division had begun, and the beasts settled in for a long seige. They knew all too well that if they fought long and hard enough, they could win over the humans.


Here's my sorry attempt to illustrate a spiritual battle where the enemy tries to bring division. I'm not sure if this is close to how it really plays out, but make no mistake, Satan tries to bring division among brothers and sisters in Christ. My guess is that it's a pretty big strategy of the enemy to get brothers to believe false things about each other. Extreme miscommunication occurs and we begin to assume this or that about our brothers and sisters. And usually what we assume about people is pretty negative.

Why bring division? Division causes us to become distracted from what really matters. The enemy knows that many of us have a pretty serious hang up about what others think of us. And if we're consumed about what others think of us, then we can become greatly distracted from the work that God has for each of us. Remember Peter and the little servant girl? She accused him of being a follower of Christ. And out of fear of other people, he denied Him. Could it be that he was afraid of what other people would think of him? Well, I don't know about that (I know he was scared because Jesus was about to be crucified and he might be next), but I can guarantee that many of the rest of us do have a problem with this.

Anyway, simply put, my warning is this: be wary of the lies of the enemy. Because although we may be able to discern them as lies, they are still extremely believable. Be wary of the division that he seeks to bring. That division can do a lot of damage.

WJS (also known as "BS," but I was encouraged to not sign my posts with these initials for obvious reasons)


A White Christmas

There was no white Christmas this year in Lagrange, Indiana. As a matter of fact, we have had very little snow so far this winter. It's actually kind of disappointing. My family and I usually hope for at least one "snow-in" each year, and so far this year we've only had about three or four inches.

There's been talk among the people with whom I used to rub elbows that Christ was not actually born during this time of year. Some say that He was born during October or even April. I really don't know that much about it. However, I am glad that we celebrate His birth during this time of year.

Having a white Christmas is, for those of us who believe in Jesus, a great reminder of His work. He came to Earth as a baby, grew up, gave a great example of how to live...but this does not encompass His full mission. His mission was death...and in dying, to bring life to all who would accept Him.

Having a white Christmas is a reminder of what that death has accomplished for us. That death was the full and complete payment for our sins. Having taken our sins upon Himself, we have been made righteous in the sight of God--there is no more sin, no more stain, no more imperfection--we have been made fully and completely white in His sight.

Seeing the snow fall on everything, covering all the dirty browns and grays of the season, brings joy during the Christmas season. And for those of us who have accepted this payment, this atonement, the snow covering all things dirty carries a weightier connotation--it reminds us of Him making us completely white, His grace falling on everything so gently, so beautifully, eliminating all vestiges of brown and gray. Surely this another expression of His great love for us.

Perhaps you didn't have a white Christmas this year either. But in another very real sense, you can have a white Christmas. All you have to do is believe in that sacrifice that Christ made. And your life also can be made white as snow. His grace will cover all things brown and gray in your life, fully and completely, in much the same way a snowstorm covers everything in white.

"After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands...." ~ Rev. 7:9




Merry Christmas

I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Let us remember to give thanks to God our Father for sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate gift to mankind. No other gift can rival this gift.

Consider these verses from Isaiah 9:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of [his] government and peace [there shall be] no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

"His name shall be called 'Wonderful'"....

Also consider the words of this hymn, which also came to mind:

His Name is Wonderful
His Name is Wonderful
His Name is Wonderful
Jesus My Lord
He is the Mighty King
Master of everything
His Name is Wonderful
Jesus My Lord
He’s the Great Shepherd
The Rock of All Ages
Almighty God is He
Bow down before Him
Love and adore Him
His Name is Wonderful
Jesus My Lord




Why Jesus Is Our Great High Priest

Here are my notes on Hebrews 5:

Chapter 5

V1-“taken from among men and appointed for men”-offers gifts and sacrifices
V2-Since priests are also “subject to weakness,” they can have compassion on those going astray—empathy
-they can say, ‘I know what you’re going through’
v4-This honor of being a priest is bestowed upon an individual by God Himself

~~These are the characteristics of priests in the established Levitical priesthood~~
~~They are meant to show some of the same characteristics of Jesus, our great High Priest~~

**This implicitly shows the full humanity of Jesus, our great High Priest**

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” - Heb. 4:15

This verse also came to mind: “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” – Heb. 7:25

-Make note of the phrase, “save to the uttermost” – this means fully and completely, without regard of any of our shortcomings – full, complete, comprehensive salvation from the entire scope of the curse

v5,6-Jesus’ call into the role of His great High Priesthood-full humanity-“Today I have begotten You” and full Godhood “A priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek (who had neither beginning of days nor end of life, Heb. 7:3)

v7-10 – This is about Jesus’ experience on this earth, and how it has made Him the perfect High Priest (the perfect Mediator between Holy God and sinful man)

v7 – The days of His flesh-these are the times when He was subject to sufferings – It is because of these sufferings that He has been made (for lack of a better term) our perfect High Priest (see Luke 22:39-46 when Jesus, being in agony, prayed in Gethsemane. It was here that His sweat became as great drops of blood. It is this agony that allows Him to operate in the role of High Priest, being greatly compassionate toward us. Remember what it means to be compassionate; it means to ache for someone.)



We watch TV.

We play video games.

We email each other.

We watch movies.

We dink around on the internet.

We can virtually live our lives in apparent realities, which really are no realities at all.

What does this do to a person? What does this do to a collective society, where social norms are quickly and grossly eroded away? (Snippets of Dateline's "To Catch a Predator" quickly come to mind. Where do these grown men get the idea that having an illicit relationship with a teenager is ok?)

The other day at lunch we were talking about the impact that video games, TV, cell phones, and the internet have on young people today. We are the teachers; we are the ones that work with these kids day in and day out, hour after hour. And to be honest, when you think about it, it's quite scary what these non-realities can do to these kids.

Sure, we were talking about having to do the "song and dance" day after day just to keep these kids' attention. In the non-reality of TV, images change every few seconds, so the mind never has the chance to dwell (it never has the chance to think and reflect); it simply has to keep moving from stimulus to stimulus, processing a new image all the time. What does this do to the attention span of a student? It destroys it. In an entertainment-driven society, what does that do to schooling? It causes the student to view school as boring and a waste of time. The simple statement that this class or that class is boring implies that the student expects to be entertained.

However, what is more scary is the notion that these young people are actually incapable of discerning what is real and what is not; what is decent and appropriate and what is not; what is respectful and what is disrespectful. The stories started to come...'I heard about these kids that went out and killed these homeless people...and they didn't even realize how grossly wrong it is to take life like that.' And of course we remember Columbine and the various other school shootings that have taken place in this country.

Can it be that these non-realities can actually cause kids on a large scale to become socially retarded and morally bankrupt? Personally I would say yes....



What Kind of Rest?

So the Lord desires for us to enter into His rest by faith...what kind of rest is this?

Of course this rest refers to the rest that comes through Christ and His finished work on the cross. It is that rest from the penalty of sin. When we become keenly aware of our shortcomings, and we realize that we really have nothing to offer to God, we come to the end of ourselves. It truly is the death that the law administers. We are guilty, to be sure, and we know it all too well. It is at this point that rest and assurance come from our great High Priest Himself, as He says, "It is finished." In effect, He says, 'I took it all. It has been paid in full. Rest...rest, My child.'

It is also that rest from the authority of sin in our lives. Too often we as Christians put our eternities in the hands of the living God, trusting fully that He has delivered us from death and hell, but we don't trust Him for our "day to day." It is a little known (or little believed) promise of the New Covenant of grace that not only are we delivered from the penalty of sin, which is death, but we are also delivered from the authority of sin in our day to day lives.

Surely the death of Christ has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness...did you get that? He has given us everything for life and godliness. I am, by no means, making the claim that we can escape sin completely (that is, the attainment of what is commonly referred to as "sinless perfection"), as we are still in these bodies descended from Adam, but we can begin to see a consistent pattern of victory over sin. To those who would think that a certain vice will always have dominion over them I would pose this: just how comprehensive is the salvation of Christ? Is there anything too hard for the Lord? I would say no.

Let us therefore be diligent to enter into this rest that the Lord has provided for us: the rest from knowing that we are no longer condemned--not only being condemned to death, but living a life condemned to wallowing in sin. He can deliver us, completely and fully--will we believe?


Entering Into His Rest

Okay, everyone, back to Hebrews. Here are some rough notes and observations on the end of chapter 3. I'm sure there's more to it, but this is what I've picked up so far:

Chapter 3 (continued)

“The beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end”

We see this phrase (or at least two similar phrases) in this chapter in v6 and v14

V9-11 – This is a reference out of Ps. 95:7-11 that is looking back to the time when they refused to enter the promised land. The writer to the Hebrews is using that situation to teach them about the word of salvation which has been spoken to us by His Son.

This is a great spiritual parallel that teaches us about entering in His promised land, His promised rest (the rest from our slavery in Egypt, a type of the sin to which we were in bondage).

**Notice that this is about entering into His rest by faith (by believing Him).**

These folks were led out of Egypt and were on their way to the promised land (see Num. 13,14). The spies (except for Joshua and Caleb) brought back a bad word of the people of the land, and pretty much all the congregation of Israel complained, whined, cried about the whole situation. They said it would have been better to die in Egypt or the wilderness. They did not believe God that He could deliver this land to them. God referred to it as rejection and unbelief. They actually wanted to stone and kill Joshua and Caleb. This shows how sick we as humans are, and what kind of help we need.

**They refused to believe. Therefore, they did not enter His rest.**

The writer to the Hebrews uses this scenario to warn them to not harden their hearts to the Son and His word of salvation.

**If the Hebrews refused to believe in the Son, they also would not enter His rest.**

v16-“For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?”

This “led by Moses” phrase carries deep spiritual implications.

For those who were led by Moses did not enter into the promised land; only those led by Joshua (a type of Jesus; even their names are similar) entered the promised land.

The end of this chapter and the beginning of the next seeks to set out to the Hebrews that entering into His rest occurs by faith. Not having faith is tantamount to disobedience.

The point? As the Son speaks this word of salvation (to all of us, not just the Hebrews) let us be careful to not be of the same spirit or mindset of those who were led by Moses out of Egypt. Rather, let us have the same humble, dependent spirit as Joshua and Caleb, having faith that God can give us that rest that only comes through His Son.

**Let us not harden our hearts. Let us humbly believe Him that we might enter into His rest.**


The Entitlement Generation

The other day I was talking to another teacher in my building about the typical woes of the education world, how that students today are not interested in working hard/thinking for themselves/taking pride in a job well done, etc., etc. He had mentioned that his brother-in-law referred to this generation of students (or perhaps young people in general) as the "Entitlement Generation." The idea is (and this theory plays itself out well, at least at my high school) that students aren't interested in working hard to obtain a good education; rather, they feel that they are entitled to certain grades and credits for classes without having to put forth any effort (or at least minimal effort, which translates into just "showing up") to earn these grades and subsequent credits.

Now, this certainly is not true for all students. However, the overriding mentality is that we as teachers owe them something. If the students miss a day, it is up to me to give them the assignment, the notes, teach an entire lesson to them at their convenience, etc. If they don't understand something it's my fault that I didn't teach it well enough. If they are bored with the class, it's my fault that I haven't done something (anything at all, including but not limited to, showing cool math videos (do any of these exist?!), thinking up cool projects to do (but if the projects require them to do complicated calculations then the project is not cool), doing songs and dances, bringing in candy, pop, cake, pizza, etc.) to make it "exciting."

Could it be possible that we as a culture have fostered this "entitlement mentality?" Is the "entitlement mentality" a function of today's American society? Have we really forgotten to show our children the importance of hard work, the satisfaction that comes from a job well done, the virtues of humility and politeness, and just the plain and simple notion of being a nice person?

I should probably say that I myself have been guilty of the same things, and by no means am I 100% qualified to point out the faults of our society, because no doubt, I am sure I've contributed to this quandary, at least in some degree. But it doesn't make it right. I know that at times, I feel like I'm entitled to this or that, but in reality (and here's where my Christian worldview comes in) I'm entitled to one thing: hell.

I really wonder if this "entitlement mentality" stops at 3:10, or if pervades every aspect of their (our) lives. My hunch is that it's a huge chunk of our American personalities (or more generally, our human personalities). I really wonder what that does to spirituality in America. I wonder if it makes their (our) receptiveness to the gospel of Jesus Christ basically nil. I would bet that it does.

This seems to me to be a situation well worth thinking about in greater depth....


Lighten Up!

Today I went to work (I'm a high school math teacher) and found my entire room had been TP'd.

A few weeks ago my homeroom class took it upon themselves to decorate the room for Christmas. I must say, the lights (some blinking, some not), the fake tree (with purple decorations and no star), and the "Happy Holidays" light are...oh should we say...a little on the tacky side. But it is festive nonetheless. And oh yeah, let's not forget the "Santa's Workshop" sign outside the door.

Anyway, I thought the TP job was performed by some nefarious foes, seeking to dampen our Christmas spirit with the dangling litter of toilet paper. After all, our "Santa's Workshop" sign has already been stolen (and returned) twice. And yes, they not only had spread toilet paper all around the room, and even around some of my calculators, but they also had hung the TP from the ceiling tiles--it was, needless to say, a mess; a mess that I did not want to clean up before school.

I got pretty angry about the whole thing. I found out about 20 minutes later that the plot had actually been carried out by members of my own chess club. My own custodian let them in, and a few of my colleagues had actually seen them the day prior doing the deed. As I thought about the whole thing throughout the day, I realized that I had overreacted. It was done in good humor. I should have left the mess (or should I say, the teens' morbid act of appreciation and kindness) for all to see throughout the day.

Then something else happened at lunch. I stepped into the men's room for a few moments, leaving my lunch on the table by the coffee pot. When I returned, I found my lunch to be missing. I actually thought, "Great...here I have another opportunity to overreact. Don't blow it this time." Sure enough, I blew it.

As it turns out, one of the other teachers hid it from me. As I went into another part of the office to locate it, it "mysteriously" reappeared where I had lost it originally. The other teacher thought it was funny; I didn't. After all, I only had 10 minutes left to scarf my lunch.

A couple of people got the best of me today. In our house when I was young we used to have a saying: "If you can't take it, don't dish it out." I learned that I need to lighten up sometimes!


Christ-Faithful as a Son

Chapter 3

V1-the heavenly calling-this is the word of salvation of which the Son speaks
V2-the Son was faithful, as was Moses, but receives much more glory than Moses
V5-this is what caught my eye this time-Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, where Christ was faithful as a Son over His own house

-who’s a part of His house? We are, if we hold fast our confidence and rejoicing firm to the end

-also, Moses was a faithful servant in God’s house, which was a testimony of the things that would be spoken afterward-what is it that has been spoken afterward? It is that word of salvation to which we ought to give the more earnest heed

should we give the more earnest heed to the word spoken through angels,or
should we give the more earnest heed to the word of salvation, spoken to us through the Son?

Heb 3:5,6 NLT

Moses was certainly faithful in God's house, but only as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. But Christ, the faithful Son, was in charge of the entire household.

Moses-faithful as a servant in God’s house
Jesus-faithful as a Son in God’s house (or as the NKJV says, His own house, i.e, the Father and Son are one, Jn. 10:30)

See Col. 2:13-23, esp. v 17—these things are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ

Moses’ work was just a foreshadowing of that which was to come—Jesus is the fulfillment of all that the Jews had been waiting for. Moses and the prophets all pointed to Jesus. To the Hebrews, this was of critical importance. Moses wasn’t the end; the prophets weren’t the end. Jesus is the end. Jesus is the fulfillment. Remember ch 1:1-God spoke to us in various ways (through Moses and the prophets) but now has spoken this word of salvation to us by His own Son.

We are of His house by faith. Moses was only a servant in this same house.

Why is it important to show Christ’s superiority over Moses?


Crazy Shout Out

Ok, so I normally don't do this, but my flaming-cheese eating friend (it was the cheese that was flaming, not my friend) wanted to to give a crazy shout out to him and his out-of-date blog. To be honest, I don't know if his blog is even still up. Actually, he's not updating it on purpose in order to see just how long it will be before no one checks his blog.

So here's your shout, Scott!