The Truth, Grace, and Forgiveness

The Truth, Grace, and Forgiveness

Lately I’ve been thinking about how we as Christians (namely in the US) need to relate to the people around us. How do we tell people the truth without offending them, yet leave them with a sense of conviction about sin and point them to the cross? How do we tell people the good news of Jesus’ forgiveness and love in a culture absorbed with their rights to do this and that, when that message requires repentance (a change in your life). It’s a delicate balance, to be sure, and the truth is, no matter what we do, someone is going to be offended. But we don’t have to be obnoxious jerks.

So how did Jesus deal with truth, grace, and forgiveness in His day? As He walked among all sorts of people, how did He relate to them?

If we look at His life, it actually depends on who you’re dealing with. Jesus was a master at discerning the needs of the people around Him: the people who would be receptive to His love and gentle call of forgiveness, and the people who He needed to shoot real straight with. Jesus never minced His words, and at the same time, He was gentle and compassionate toward people.

John 8 records a great example of His gentleness:

The religious leaders of the day brought this woman who had been caught in adultery to Jesus. They said, ‘Moses commanded us in the law that she should be stoned to death, but what do You say?’ Really they were trying to trap Him by showing He was a law-breaker (another post for another day). He didn’t say anything but began writing something in the sand. When they kept pressing Him about the matter, He said, ‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.’ He just went back to doodling in the dirt. All those people were convicted, dropped their stones, and left. The exchange He had with this woman is awesome:

“Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, Lord.”
“Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more.”

For people who have been forgiven much, this resonates deep within us. Although we have sin, and we have no excuse for it, and we deserve the punishment for it, Jesus shows His great love for us by offering His grace and forgiveness.

He offers forgiveness, but note the second part of His statement to her:

“…go, and sin no more.”

There’s grace, and then there’s the call to change your life. This is the basic gospel message, offered to this woman in compassion and love.

At the same time, Jesus shot really straight with the religious leaders of the day in Matthew 23. He pronounced several “woes” on them, called them fools and blind, serpents and vipers, whitewashed sepulchers. You might think He wasn’t being very loving toward them, but if you read that chapter you’ll realize why He had such a beef with them. (And by the way, it is much more loving to call people out on what’s wrong on this side of eternity than to never call them out) While Jesus was usually very gentle with the worst sinners He encountered, He never shied away from telling people how things really are.

May we get this delicate balance of truth-telling and gentleness down in this day and age. God knows we need to.


Does the Bible Promote Slavery?

There’s a passage in Leviticus 25 that refers to Israel taking permanent slaves for themselves once they enter the land of Canaan. At first glance, it’s kind of a disturbing passage, seeing that the Lord Himself is telling Israel to own slaves. But a closer look reveals there’s more to the story than the Lord promoting the enslaving of a people.

I recently ran across a blog where the author attempts to show the Bible and its precepts to be outdated, absurd, and even hateful by citing difficult scriptures from Leviticus, such as the one about slavery from chapter 25. The author’s argument is actually about homosexuality and goes something like this:

Christians like to cite Leviticus 18 for God’s view on homosexuality. But what else does Leviticus say? In chapter 25 Leviticus actually promotes slavery. Since Leviticus promotes something as barbaric and hateful as slavery, can we really listen to what Leviticus says about other things, including homosexuality?

The author attempts to paint the picture that Leviticus (and the entire Bible in general) is an absurd and outdated book, and because Christians like to cite Leviticus for God’s view on homosexuality, Christians are as out of touch with reality as Leviticus is.

The unfortunate thing about the whole situation is, I would venture to say that an exceptionally small number of Christians would even be able to attempt a decent answer to this scripture-wrangling. I wonder how many Christians could even find Leviticus in their Bibles, let alone offer an intelligent answer to this argument.

So I decided to do a little digging of my own to find out if there is more to the story. Turns out there is more to the story than what this blog author is letting on.

To understand the passage in question, it would be helpful to look at the actual wording:

"And as for your male and female slaves whom you may have--from the nations that are around you, from them you may buy male and female slaves. Moreover you may buy the children of the strangers who dwell among you, and their families who are with you, which they beget in your land; and they shall become your property." Lev. 25:44,45

Who are these people? Whose land is this? And why is God bringing Israel into this land to possess it, when there are already people there? Isn’t it an injustice in itself that God is taking someone else’s land and giving it to Israel?

The land that God was giving to Israel belonged to the Canannites, the Amorites, the Jebusites, and a whole host of other “-ites.” And as it turns out, these people were up to their necks in exceptionally perverted sexual practices. Note what God says of these people in Leviticus 18:

“According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances.” (v. 3)

“Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants.” (v. 24, 25)

We need to understand that God was judging the people of this land for their sin. We also need to understand that each of us is responsible before God for our own actions. If we choose to follow after unrighteousness, God will take action sooner or later. In today’s society we think we can do whatever we want because we are accountable to no one. This simply is not true.

What exactly were these people doing to warrant God’s judgment? All we need to do is look at the context of the verses cited above to get an idea. Leviticus 18 prohibits several types of sexual relationships (not just homosexuality). God is telling Israel they are not to have sex with:

Their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, step-brothers, step-sisters, aunts, uncles, grandchildren, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, mothers and daughters (you can’t have sex with a woman then go have sex with her daughter), their neighbors’ wives, people of the same gender, and animals. You’re also not supposed to have sex with a woman who is having her period.

So many people say the Bible’s prohibition of homosexuality is absurd, but what about the prohibition of all these other sexual acts? Is the prohibition of bestiality absurd? Is the prohibition of having sex with grandchildren absurd? Is the prohibition of having sex with your own dad absurd? Then why is the prohibition of homosexuality absurd?

There’s one other practice of the people of Canaan I’d like to look at. Leviticus 18 refers to not letting their descendants “pass through the fire to Molech.” Why is this such an abominable practice?

This is a reference to sacrificing children to a god named Molech, or Moloch. The people of that land, who were engaging in all those perverted sexual relationships were also burning their children alive in sacrifice to their god, Molech. The image of Molech was hollow so a fire could be built inside. Molech’s arms were stretched out, and when it was extremely hot, they would place their children in Molech’s arms until they would die.

These are the inhabitants of the land that God was judging. What we need to understand about the slavery passage from Leviticus 25 is that, if we continue long enough in following after unrighteousness and abominable practices, much like the Canannites, judgment (which may include slavery) will ensue.

People get the idea that slavery and racism are very closely linked. In some cases they are, but the Bible does not promote this type of slavery. Nowhere in Leviticus does it say that Israel is allowed to take slaves of the Canaanites because they are an inferior race. Remember that Israel had just been delivered from centuries of slavery in Egypt. If you look closely in Leviticus 18, you’ll see that it doesn’t matter what your nationality is, if you follow after unrighteousness, destruction and slavery will be your reward:

“You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit [any] of these abominations…lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that [were] before you.” (v. 26, 28)

If you know Israel’s history, you know that actually happened to them during the divided kingdom era to Israel first (with Assyria judging them), and Judah second (with Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon judging them).

What scares me about all of this is, the United States is starting to look like this. We are allowing abominations listed in Leviticus 18, such as homosexuality and adultery (yes, taking your neighbor’s wife is just as wrong as homosexuality). We even allow our children to pass through the fire to Molech (our god is named “Convenience” and the fire they pass through is called abortion). If we don’t get our act together soon, we’re headed for destruction and slavery as well.


Some Survey Thing

100 Things Survery

This was on one of the websites I like to read, thought it looked like fun!

RULES: There are 100 statements and you bold the ones you have done. Grab it and play for yourself!!

***I refuse to bold the ones I did. I will just mark with yes or no.***

1. Started your own blog - Duh.
2. Slept under the stars - Y
3. Played in a band - Yeah Right.
4. Visited Hawaii - no
5. Watched a meteor shower yes, cool, but not worth getting up at 3am
6. Given more than you can afford to charity. - I can't afford anything, so yes.
7. Been to Disneyland - Yeah, boring.
8. Climbed a mountain. - The big rock at Thompson Park, yes. Mt. McKinley, no.
9. Held a praying mantis - plenty of times.
10. Sang a solo - n
12. Visited Paris - n
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea - n
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch - yes, if CNC programming is an art
15. Adopted a child - n
16. Had food poisoning - y
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty - n
18. Grown your own vegetables - no but i threw a pumpkin out one fall and had a pumpkin in the spring
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France - n
20. Slept in an overnight train - n
21. Had a pillow fight - y
22. Hitchhiked - n
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill - n
24. Built a snow fort - y
25. Held a lamb - no, this one is dumb
26. Gone skinny dipping - gross.
27. Run a marathon - n
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice - no, but i rode in my brother in law's fishing boat
29. Seen a total eclipse (solar) - i forget
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset - y
31. Hit a home run - once in kickball in middle school gym
32. Been on a cruise - i own a 1971 Viking Yacht (google it). i don't need a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person - y
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors - yes, I've been in West Virginia
35. Seen an Amish community - yep, just looked out the window
36. Taught yourself a new language - since i live in an amish community, dutch.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied - y
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person - n
39. Gone rock climbing - big rock, Thompson Park
40. Seen Michelangelo's David - I've seen other people's Davids.
41. Sung karaoke - n
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt - n
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant - no, how many questions are left?
44. Visited Africa - n
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight - n
46. Been transported in an ambulance - n
47. Had your portrait painted - n
48. Gone deep sea fishing - n
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person - n
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris - n
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling - yes, swallowed saltwater in Jamaica, almost barfed
52. Kissed in the rain - brooke won't let me
53. Played in the mud - brooke won't let me
55. Been in a movie - n
56. Visited the Great Wall of China - n
57. Started a business - y
58. Taken a martial arts class - n
59. Visited Russia - n
60. Served at a soup kitchen - y
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies - i'm a dude
62. Gone whale watching - n
63. Got flowers for no reason - my wife did ;)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp - n
67. Bounced a check - no, just use the cc
68. Flown in a helicopter - n
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy - y
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial - n
71. Eaten cavier. - whatever. no way
72. Pieced a quilt - n
73. Stood in Times Square - n
74. Toured the Everglades - n
75. Been fired from a job - n
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London - n
77. Broken a bone - y
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle - y
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person - n
80. Published a book - n
81. Visited the Vatican - n
82. Bought a brand new car - y
83. Walked in Jerusalem - really want to, will someday
84. Had your picture in the newspaper - y
85. Read the entire Bible - y
86. Visited the White House - n
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating - y
88. Had chicken pox - y
89. Saved someone's life - y
90. Sat on a jury - n
91. Met someone famous - n
92. Joined a book club - n
93. Lost a loved one - yes, Lacie
94. Had a baby - i'm a dude
95. Seen the Alamo in person - n
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake - n
97. Been involved in a lawsuit - yes, we won. dorky renters
98. Owned a cell phone - still do
99. Been stung by a bee - y
100. Read an entire book in one day - do that with my kids all the time


Tell 'Em No

I've been thinking about this economic crisis lately. I've come to the conclusion that many, many people don't want to be told they can't afford something. We need to learn that there are just some things we cannot afford. We need to be told no. We need to tell ourselves no. And for heaven's sake, let's tell our kids no every once in awhile.

I heard a phrase several years ago that I think is appropriate for the day: "delayed gratification."

We won't save now to pay cash for later; no, we will use credit to buy now and pay over time. Or in many cases, we'll run up a bill and not pay at all. No wonder we are where we are.

I'm guilty. But I'm working on it. Are you?

Hard Questions

I ran across a "blog" the other day (not really a blogger blog, but a Facebook note) where this person is really questioning using the Bible (especially the Old Testament) to refute homosexuality.

The basis of her argument is this: 'So you want to use Leviticus to tell the rest of society that homosexuality is wrong...okay, let's see what else Leviticus says." She then gives a couple of scriptures from Leviticus in an attempt to ruin the credibility of the Bible as a whole.

One of those scriptures is this:

"And as for your male and female slaves whom you may have--from the nations that are around you, from them you may buy male and female slaves. Moreover you may buy the children of the strangers who dwell among you, and their families who are with you, which they beget in your land; and they shall become your property." Lev. 25:44,45

Wow. I've read through the Bible before, and I don't remember this one. At first glance, this gal has an excellent point. Leviticus says homosexuality is wrong, and at the same time, it promotes slavery.

How does a Christian offer a loving answer to an extreme skeptic about a verse like this?

Trust me, I'm working on this one, and I think I've got the answer. But what about the church in general?

When people ask hard questions, are we willing to accept the challenge of getting an answer? So many times we as Christians look like dufases because we are not as well-read, nor do we know the Bible as well as skeptics.

What I got from the Lord is that I need to be diligent in getting answers to hard questions. And if that means research, reading, digging into my Bible, then I need to do it.



But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and [into] many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all [kinds of] evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:9,10)

These are some great words from Paul. I've often thought about two phrases from this passage:

"But those who desire to be rich...." Do I desire to be rich? Is this what my life is all about? You can really work yourself to death trying to get rich. We can make money our god, following after it like our lives depend on it. And have you ever noticed that when it comes to worshipping false gods, we're really good at it?

"...peirced themselves through with many sorrows." Notice it doesn't say 'peirced themselves through with sorrow,' but "many sorrows." If you love money, and this is what your life is all about, you may as well go find a knife and stab yourself several times in the gut. It's pretty much the same thing. Following so hard after money can really do you in.

Several weeks ago I happened upon a show on TV called, "I Love Money." I maybe watched a total of 3 minutes of that show. I don't really know what it's about, but I don't think it would be worth my time to watch it, so I never have. But come on, really, I Love Money? Are you serious? That is the dumbest name for a show ever. But it just goes to show you where this country's heart is. And given the current economic status, I think we're peircing ourselves through with many sorrows.


The Falling Away

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

As I read over this, I couldn't help but think how ripe American society and culture is for this kind of thing. Think about how many TV shows, how much of the internet, how much our video games, how many people have personalities that "opposes and exalts [itself] above all that is called God...." Notice also that people exalt themselves above, not against all that is godly...these words really emphasize the absolute arrogance of people who are in opposition to everything that God stands for.

I read a "blogalogue" the other day between two Christians that were supposed to be having some sort of civil dialogue over the internet about whether Christians should accept the homosexual lifestyle. One had, over the years, come to the conclusion that we ought to endorse and bless homosexual relationships. The other opposed this viewpoint.

I left a few comments. In one comment I said it was really a wonder that we are so completely out of touch that we are unable to discern if homosexuality is okay. When the Bible clearly, in black and white, in several instances, both explicitly and implicity states that homosexuality is wrong, and we just aren't sure about that...it just blows me away. That's tantamount to saying, "You know, I'm just not sure if 2+2=4. It might be, but I'm going to have to think about this some more. It might be 5, or even 4.5, I'm just not sure." STUPID.

How have we gotten so stinkin' lost on the truth?

The truth of the matter is, we're living in a time when people just are in complete opposition to everything God stands for. In the garden, God created Adam and Eve. They were male and female; He created them for each other. Homosexuality just goes back to the very beginning of everything and denies God's original design for mankind. It's just one more instance of people opposing God.

Come Lord Jesus.


Another Good One

Forgive the lack of creativity in this blog title. I ran across a verse today and couldn't think of a good title. Oh well. Here it is:

"Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all." 1 Thes. 5:14, 15

I haven't read 1 or 2 Thessalonians for some time. This is some good stuff. Here are some good points to think on:

1.)Be patient with all - yep, gotta work on this one.

2.)See that no one renders evil for evil - why is it a part of human nature to seek revenge rather than forgive? 1 Cor. 6 talks about not suing brethren. Check out verse 7:

"Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?"

This is a high standard. I would venture to say those who are capable of attaining to this are those who are closest to Christ's nature. Remember what they did to Him on the cross?

I had a run in with this principle recently. Got an F on that test.

3.)Always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all - I thought about what Paul meant by "pursue what is good for yourselves" and I thought about how that might be misconstrued in this day and age. I've been talking recently with friends and family about the current economic crisis, and it seems to me that the problems we're having today don't necessarily come from high gas prices, mass layoffs, or the housing problem. I think there are principles underlying all these things: greed, instant self-gratification, the entitlement mentality, and the lack of sense of moral obligation.

In other words, people, in one sense have been "pursuing what is good for themselves," or at least what they perceive as being good for themselves. People come out of high school and college with the mentality that they deserve to make $30/hr, drive cars that have a $400/month payment, and live in a $300,000 house. People get these things, and then when they can't make their payments, it doesn't bother them to quit paying their bills and default on their loans. This is an indicator of a loss of moral obligation in this country.

Anyway, pursuing material things is not what Paul means here. After all, later in the chapter he says, "Abstain from every form of evil."

Good stuff.


Awesome Video

Found this strange video on YouTube. Make sure you mute or pause my playlist at the bottom of my blog.


One of My Favorites

This is one of my favorite songs. Listen closely to the lyrics. You'll have to scroll down to the bottom of the screen and pause or mute my playlist.


Which Are You?

"Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was born of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic." (Galatians 4:21-24a)

What is this symbolic of?

"For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage...." (v. 24b)

What is the covenant from Mount Sinai? That would be the law, right? Why does it give birth to bondage? It's because the law calls upon the resource of the flesh to live up to God's holy standards (see Gal. 4:23 and Ex. 19:5). We cannot live up to God's holy standards. Plain and simple. If you know anything about Old Testament worship, you can see very clearly that the law could not patch up the loss of fellowship between God and man. Just look at who was allowed into the Holiest of All--no one was. The law is an unattainable goal. Imagine spending your life trying to attain to something you can never accomplish. This is why Paul refers to the law as giving birth to bondage.

So what's the other covenant? That's the one that's outlined in Jeremiah 31:31-34. This is the one that "gives birth" to freedom. Why is that?

Why does the New Covenant bring freedom?

It's because the New Covenant is based on His promises. There is nothing more sure than God's promises. Note how many times God says, "I will" in the New Covenant. It is all based on what He does/has done for us. It has nothing to do with what we can do. Oh, praise be to our God and Father...it's all based on Him and His promises! If that doesn't make you get out of your chair and go nuts, I don't know what will.

And when Jesus died, the veil in the temple was torn. Because of the New Covenant, we can now all go into the Holiest of All and be with God...any time we want...all the time.

Oh how freeing is that!

Note the final verse of chapter 4:

"So then, brethren, we are NOT children of the bondwoman but of the free." (emphasis mine)

Paul is saying clearly, we are not children of the Old Covenant, but of the new.

Which are you?


Which Way to Live?

Here's another thing I was thinking about from Galatians 3:10-12

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them." (Galatians 3:10-12)

So "the just shall live by faith." But if you look at the last sentence Paul draws a comparison: "but the man who does [the law] shall live by them." The two are contrary to one another.

The interesting thing is, in 2 Corinthians 3, Paul says this of the law:

"But if the ministry of death, written [and] engraved on stones, was glorious...." (verse 7)

and this:

"For if the ministry of condemnation [had] glory...." (verse 9a)

He refers to the law as the ministry of condemnation and death. The law is not the ministry of life, but of condemnation and death.

In sum, our passage in Galatians basically says you can either live by faith, or you can live by the law. But from what we see in 2 Corinthians, we can conclude that you really cannot live by the law. After all, cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.


The Law Is Not of Faith

Here's a passage I've been thinking about since I wrote my last two posts:

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them." (Galatians 3:10-12)

The part of this passage that especially strikes me is this: "Yet the law is not of faith...."


A Warning

"But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8,9

Previously I wrote about some confusion regarding the Old and New Covenants. Here's a passage from Galatians that came to mind this morning as I thought about what I wrote.

Paul issues a warning to the Galatians about those who go around propagating a gospel different from his. Apparently there are those who teach things contrary to the true gospel. Galatians is all about turning toward the grace of God, and not turning back to the law. So Paul is warning the Galatians against those who pervert the grace of Christ.

These are the people who push the law in the life of the believer. Paul is telling the Galatians (and us) to watch out for these people, because they're out there.

And in this passage, Paul says it twice: let these people be accursed. Those are strong words, but the issue is critical. More on this later.


The Old and New Covenants

Recently I've run across some confusion about the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Apparently there are some folks out there that believe we as Christians are still under the Old Covenant. It's actually kind of strange, especially in light of Galatians 4:21+, but as Peter says, there are those who wrest scriptures to their own destruction. It's sad.

Now don't get me wrong; I do not advocate lawlessness. After all, one provision of the New Covenant is that God writes His law on our minds and hearts. When we truly become Christians, we love righteousness and hate wickedness, so that's not even what I'm addressing here. When the Holy Spirit lives inside us, holiness ensues, right?

But there are those who vehemently argue, contrary to what the New Testament says, that we as Christians are obligated to the Old Covenant of law. The fact of the matter is, we are no longer under the law. But through an incredible amount of scripture-twisting and tapdancing, there are those that argue that we are.

Here are two passages I'd like to link together and look at closely:

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth [is] Mine. (Exodus 19:5)

Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah--not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day [that] I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:31, 32, emphasis mine)

In the first passage, the Lord is just about to deliver the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai. It's crucial that we watch these words very closely, because God lays out the terms of the first (Old) covenant with Israel: "...if you will indeed obey my voice...." These people's relationship with God was dependent upon their obedience: "...if...." Their being God's special treasure was dependent on their obedience to Him.

You don't have to be a theologian to know that it didn't work. Israel was already worshipping idols before Moses even came down from Sinai. The covenant was broken immediately. Remember Moses throwing down the tablets of stone? This should be an indicator to us that if the loss of fellowship between man and God was ever going to be fixed, it would have to come another way.

That's why there was the need for a New Covenant, one that was not contingent on our obedience. The Lord said in our second passage that He would make a new covenant with Israel "not according to the covenant I made with their fathers...." In other words, it would not be dependent on our obedience. Do you see those words? "...Not according...." The New Covenant was to be different.

Another way of putting it is this: our relationship with God is not dependent on what we do, but rather, it's dependent on what Jesus did for us. Anyone who contends that the Old and New Covenants are the same don't have a clue.

The Old tells us we're sinners. The New erases our sin.

The Old tells us we're filthy. The New washes us clean.

The Old tells us we need a Savior. The New provides us with a Savior.

The Old tells us we can't go in to the Holiest of All. The New allows us to go in boldly.

Now, there are two quick things I'd like to address in light of all this. People will contend, 'well, God never changes, so the law is still in place.' God does not change, but what these folks don't realize is that the way God relates to man has changed. That's what Jesus did on the cross. Remember when the veil was torn? No one but the high priest was allowed in there. Now anyone can go in under the blood of Jesus. That's a change. That's a BIG change.

Here's the other thing people will contend: there's a verse from Matthew 5 that says Jesus did not come to destroy the law and the prophets. He didn't come to destroy the law and the prophets, but He came to fulfill them. It also says that, until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle will pass from the law till all is fulfilled. So they say, since heaven and earth are still around, the law is still in place. That is true. The law is still in place--for the lawless and sinners. Since heaven and earth have not passed away, and there are still those who need to turn to Christ (isn't that the purpose of the law according to Galatians 3:24?), the law is still in place. But since I have to turned to Christ by faith, the law has been fulfilled in my life. The perfect righteous life has been fulfilled by the life of Christ. The death penalty of the law has been fulfilled by Christ on the cross. Death has been defeated by the resurrection of Christ. All this has been fulfilled in me by faith. What more fulfillment is there?



Shining Like Stars

Colossians 1:27

"To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."

This is some really good stuff. Pastor Dave spoke today about "shining like stars" from Philippians 2:15 (NIV). He made the point that, when it comes to shining like stars in the world, it's NOT about reforming behavior from the outside in; but rather, it's all about Christ living within each of us, changing us from the inside out. It would seem to some people like splitting hairs or playing word games, but it's not. I wonder how many Christians think that we need to be better people at this or that...that we need to get ourselves cleaned up on the outside so we appear to other people to be better.

It's not about reforming outside behavior.

It's all about Christ living His life through us.

I don't want people to see a better Bill on the outside.

I want people to see Jesus coming through. THAT'S what it's all about.

THAT'S the "hope of glory."

Home Sick Today

Well today I'm home sick from church. Brooke and the girls all went to church without me...so it's quiet and lonely in the house. I'll be listening to the message on the radio.... Perhaps I'll try blogging about the message while it's on, just to do something different.


An Invitation

Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed [are] those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'" And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God." Revelation 19:9

There's some new Jeremy Camp song out where he starts the chorus with, "There will be a day...." That's really all I have memorized of the song, otherwise I'd share more (and I don't really feel like going to look up the lyrics). Anway, it has really got me thinking about that day when God will wipe away all our tears; the day when He makes all things new; the day when I will no longer have the life I have now.

That day will be an awesome day. Jesus will rule and reign on the earth (it won't be a democracy; we won't get to vote). There will be unprecedented peace. There will be rest. There will be singing and dancing and praising. I will be good at singing and dancing and praising! The worries of this life will be gone.

It's not that I don't like my life now. I love what God is doing in my life right now. But we mustn't lose sight of the fact that we are just pilgrims passing through.

Jesus is going to have a party someday. That's the day when Jesus will be united with His bride, the church. That's us, people. That party will be the party to top all parties. There's no way to describe just how completely and utterly blessed those people are who are called to this wedding supper.

I have my invitation. Do you?


Gifts and Offices

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, [let us use them:] if prophecy, [let us] [prophesy] in proportion to our faith; or ministry, [let us use it] in [our] ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6-8

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit [of all:] for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another [different] kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:28

And He Himself gave some [to be] apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.... Ephesians 4:11

As I was going through Ephesians 4 this evening, I came across that familiar passage about certain positions or offices in the body of Christ. So I went to look up a few other passages and found these from Romans and 1 Corinthians.

As far as I can tell, there are certain offices that the Lord has in the body, and He gives those offices to certain people by His grace. There are also gifts (miracles, healings, tongues, etc.) that He gives as well, which are slightly different than the offices. Here are a few observations about these gifts and offices:

1.) It's the Lord who distributes these gifts. No one takes these gifts for himself.

2.) The people who operate in these gifts/offices do so by His power, not their own.

3.) These gifts are given for the profit of the entire body. We ought to use them with others in mind.

4.) Not everyone has certain gifts/offices. Just like on a football team, not everyone is a quarterback or lineman. Each has his own spot on the team for the benefit of the entire team.

5.) Love should be the over-arching attitude of all gifts and offices.

Another thing I've been thinking about lately with respect to where I'm serving "on the team" is something I read in a book awhile ago. It might be Jim Collins' Good to Great, but I'm not sure. The idea is (in any corporation or the church) that you want to have the right people in the right positions. God puts people in certain positions and gives people certain gifts so that the body can engage in ministry for maximum effect. In keeping with the football analogy, as a coach you don't draft 20 quarterbacks. No, you need certain people with certain gifts in certain positions so that the team can operate optimally.

There's an interesting phenomenon that takes place sometimes called the curse of competence. The idea here is that there are some people who are decent at a lot of things. These are the decathletes...they can be competitive in several different events. The problem is, if they have a gift for a certain thing, it can be hard to detect what it is because these people serve well in a variety of different positions. The curse comes when you just can't step out of the things you're good at to do the one thing you're great at. Sometimes people get burned out serving where they're not very well-equipped to serve. I wonder if this kind of stuff happens quite a bit in the body of Christ.

I've heard a lot of people say, "Oh he's got a gift for this..." or, "she's got a gift for that..." when in reality, that's not even a gift. Maybe sometimes we just aren't very familiar with what the Bible says are gifts and offices. I don't know.



I shared in small group tonight about how the Lord provides for us. We talked about the story of Israel wandering in the wilderness for forty years before coming into the promised land. Each day they were to get up and go gather manna (this bread from heaven that the Lord gave them) for the day. On the sixth day they were to gather twice as much so they had food for the Sabbath.

The interesting thing is, they gathered enough for that day, and they were not to leave any "leftovers." As such, they only got enough food for each day. Every night they went to bed they had no food in the house (or in the tent as it were). They had to trust that God would give them food for the next day.

As things get tight, especially in an economy like this, we must keep in mind that the Lord will provide for each of us, no matter how bad things get. Would it ever get to the point where we would have to look to Him each and every day for food? I don't know. But I know that the Lord will provide for us.


New Cool App

Normally I just post on Bible passages I'm reading. But my friend Scott Engbrecht told me about Twitter. Now I can do status updates to my blog and my Facebook from my cell phone via text messaging. Talk about useless (but very fun) technology.


Two Great Verses, One Great Truth

I read this in Ephesians 2 this morning:

"...even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)... "(verse 5)

It reminded me of one of my favorite verses elsewhere:

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

That verse in Ephesians is a great verse. Here Paul is telling us that even though we were wallowing in our own sin, Christ made us alive. This is the wonder of grace. It's not that Jesus waited around for us to straighten up our acts, or to try to clean up our lives a little bit so we would be good enough to save...no, right in the midst of our being dead in our sins, Christ made us alive. I love the parenthetical statement: "by grace you have been saved."

Grace saves you.

It's not works.

Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves.


The Law - Our Tutor

Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Galatians 4:1-7

But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

Galatians 3:22-25

Paul is explaining to the Galatians the purpose of the law. After having accepted Paul's teaching about Jesus Christ (that He died and rose again for our justification and sanctification), the Galatians were beginning to turn back to the law. He is reminding them that the purpose of the law is to point out sin. Once we come to the realization in our lives that we are sinners, that there is nothing we can do to clean up our own act, the purpose of the law has been fulfilled in our lives. We realize our filth, and we realize we need to go to Someone beyond ourselves for justification and sanctification. Once faith in Jesus comes, we mustn't turn back to the law. We are heirs of God through faith, not through the duty of law. We are sons and daughters of God because of what Jesus did, and not because of what we are trying to do. Make no mistake: faith is all about putting our trust in what Jesus did (past tense); law is all about doing this and doing that, and if we don't, we live under a curse. The law calls us to perfection, which we cannot live up to. Once we realize this, we have been "tutored" to realize that righteousness comes a different way: the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Our being children of God is based on faith, not the works of the law.


The Grace of Christ - Galatians

I started Galatians tonight. What a wonderful epistle! The words from Paul that strike me in this first chapter are:

"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel, which is not another...."

The grace of Christ is such an incredible topic in and of itself...it is what separates Christianity from any other religion. God loves us aside from our works and showed us this love on the cross. The relationship with God that we can now have hinges fully on what God has done for us, rather than what we try and fail to do for Him.

The Galatians, after having received the grace of Christ, the free, unconditional love of God, were starting to turn back to the law. In other words, they were attempting to relate to God under the terms of the Law. It was so important for them to remember (as well as each of us), that we cannot, CANNOT relate to God under the terms of the law. Under the law, only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, once per year. No one else could. No one. That fact is still true. There's a lot more to it than this, but I don't have the time or space on this blog.

Anyway, Paul was saying that they were turning to another gospel, which is not another. In other words, they were turning to another "good news" which really was not "good news." Going back to a performance-based relationship with God is not good news, because we simply cannot live up to the holy standards He desires. That's the whole point of the law anyway: to show us we cannot live up to what He wants. Once we realize that, we are ready (more than ready!) to hear the true good news. The law is there to point us to Christ. Once we are pointed in the right direction, the grace of Christ takes us from there and teaches us how we can have a living, vibrant relationship with God. Those who have received the grace of Christ are welcome to come into the Holy of Holies as much as they want. In fact, we can live every minute there. Awesome!



Continuing to move through 2 Corinthians, I learned something out of chapter 9:

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written:

"He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever."

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness....(v. 6-10)

I would say 99.9% of the time we are concerning ourselves with the wrong thing. We concern ourselves with our jobs and making a living so we can provide for our families. Of course we have to go to work and pay the bills, but is this the main focus of our lives? If the point of living is to make a living and pile up money for retirement, then life is meaningless. In this passage it says that God is able to make all grace abound toward us, that we, having all sufficiency in all things, will have an abundance out of which we will be able to give. Wow. It's almost as if God is saying, "Hey look, I will take care of your needs so you can remain focused on taking care of others' needs." Those needs may be physical or spiritual, but either way, we should take this verse to mean that we can remain focused on kingdom stuff while He takes care of physical stuff. This verse goes perfectly hand in hand with that passage out of Matthew: "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." We must keep in mind that work and paychecks are side issues in comparison to kingdom issues.

I guess I stand corrected.


Need Some Help

OK, if you read this blog, I need some help figuring this out. There's a set of verses in 2 Corinthians that's intriguing to me, but I want to learn more about it. Here it is:

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says:
"In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you."

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

This is the end of chapter 5 and the beginning of chapter 6. I'm curious to know what this means: "...[do] not receive the grace of God in vain."

Any takers?


The Ministry of Reconciliation

In chapter 5 of 2 Corinthians Paul refers to the gospel as the ministry of reconciliation, or the word of reconciliation. It's not too hard to understand that, because of our sin, we were all at odds with God at one point in time. But now that Christ has come and paid the penalty for our sins, as we put our faith in Him, we are now reconciled to our Father.

But this passage carries with it another application, one that I sometimes have trouble doing. If God has forgiven us so that we might be reconciled, we need to be very intentional in forgiving one another so that we can be reconciled with one another. Sure, we won't see eye to eye sometimes, but it's a testament to the ministry of reconciliation to those who are on the outside looking in if we can just forgive each other and be reconciled to one another. That means no holding grudges and no unforgiveness. That means tell your wife you're sorry for being a bull-headed idiot.

How can we teach others about this word of reconciliation if we won't be reconciled to each other?


Treasure in Earthen Vessels

2 Corinthians is one of my favorite books. I'm at that critical verse in chapter 4:

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." NKJV

And in the NIV:

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

Here you have two things. First off, you have this "treasure." Of course, it's the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As Colossians puts it, "...Christ in you, the hope of glory." (1:27) As Jesus lives inside all of us who believe, we must keep in mind what exactly He is living in--clay pots. So we have this "treasure" in "clay pots." It really should put some perspective into our lives. In other words, remember, who is the clay pot, and who is the treasure?

So many of us have extremely high opinions of ourselves. I know I do. As a matter of fact, we are trained in the public school system on the importance of having "high self-esteem." And that's exactly what we do...we esteem ourselves very highly. But if we take an honest inventory of ourselves, we realize we're really not all that great. We have pride, attitudes, and short tempers, not to mention the more hideous sins we harbor deep in our thought lives.

We are clay pots to be sure...nothing much to look at, very fragile, and they don't really do much...except provide a place for beautiful flowers. Understand what I'm getting at?

However, despite all this, God delights in using us clay pots. He puts nothing less than Himself in us to use us for His glory. Even though we have many shortcomings, He doesn't abandon us or give up on us. This brings a great deal of joy and comfort to me, because no matter how many times I mess up, as long as I have a repentant heart and keep turning back to Him, I will always have this treasure in me. This is grace.

It would do us well to remember who's the treasure, and who's the clay pot.


The Ministry of Righteousness

"For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory." 2 Cor. 3:9

This passage is loaded with so much about the superiority of the New Covenant over the old. I could write a whole book on this chapter alone, but I didn't want to do that. This thought crossed my mind though:

The Law - referred to by Paul as the ministry of "condemnation"

The New Covenant of grace - referred to as the ministry of righteousness

Righteousness does not come through good deeds or following the law. Righteousness comes another way...through the cross. And because I believe, I have this righteousness! I can think of no other way to put it than this:

Woo hoo!

Some days it's very easy to realize that we don't have it together. Our lives are full of mistakes, bad attitudes, and pride. But it's so important to remember that, apart from our performance, we have the righteousness of Christ. That is so awesome!


One of My Favorites

The first chapters of 2 Corinthians are some of my favorite passages in all of scripture. I went over one of those again this morning:

"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant...."

It's so important to be reminded that, apart from Christ, we can do nothing. It's also important to remember that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. It brings peace to know that we can rest in His abilities rather than trusting in our own. In other words, when God gives us a mission to accomplish, He gives us the enabling of His Holy Spirit to get things done. We don't need to (nor should we try to) accomplish a spiritual mission through natural means.

"...our sufficiency is from God...."

I love that.

Remember that today.


The Fragrance of His Knowledge

"Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place." 2 Cor. 2:14

This is a great verse. Note the phrase, "always leads us in triumph in Christ...." In Christ, no matter what is happening, no matter how dire the situation, there's always triumph. Nothing can keep us from God's love, nothing can keep us from the life God has for us, and sin no longer has dominion over us. How awesome is that?!

I also love the second part: "...and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. My in laws make potpourri for their business. When they make it, the scent is very strong, and you can smell it everywhere and on everything. The same is true when we have the Holy Spirit inside of us. People can "smell" Him...people can know that He's real and that He loves them through us.



"Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us...." 2 Cor. 1:9-10

Here are a couple of verses that struck me the other day. Actually, the one part that really struck me is the three different "time applications" of the deliverance from death.

We know that death results from sin...so what Paul is saying with the phrase, "who delivered us from so great a death," is that God has stepped in with regard to our sin. By the death and resurrection of Jesus we have been delivered from the death that we all deserve. And no matter how many times it's said, it never gets old to hear that Jesus took our place, and took the penalty of death for us. We've been delivered from death to life.

Now Paul also says, "and does deliver us...." This is a personal application on the part of Paul and his company. Jesus was working in the midst of their troubles in Asia. They really did face death on a number of occasions for their confession of Jesus. Even so, Jesus was still delivering them.

Finally he says that they trust "He will still deliver us." Paul speaks of a future time when death, the last enemy, will be defeated. There will come a day when all who believe in Jesus will no longer face pain, or sorrow, or death. We will fully realize the life that Jesus purchased for us.

I guess the implications of this passage really spoke to me. The victory that Jesus gives us over sin and death is all encompassing, complete, and full. As He said on the cross, "It is finished."

Completed. Totally. Once for all.


The Body

Well I'm currently in 1 Corinthians. I recently read chapter 12 where Paul is talking about the Holy Spirit and gifts and functions in the body. Two points I noticed:

1.) The Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.

No one can claim they have no gift. We all need to find out what it is and use it. The idea that ministry is left up to the paid professional with the four year degree is not biblical. God empowers regular people by the Spirit for the profit of the entire body. Not using your gift is (putting in harshly) disobedience.

2.) God has put apostles, prophets, and teachers (along with others) in the body.

The "teachers" interest me. Who are these people, and what are they supposed to be teaching? Obviously, they are to be teaching the truths God has set out in His Word. How important are they? I'm not so sure that we can "rank" the importance of each gift in this fashion: you're more important than him because you're a teacher and he just has the gift of helps. No, Paul actually addresses this mindset in this chapter. But he does say, "first apostles, second prophets, third teachers," meaning that these offices are critical to the health of the body. It makes me wonder if we have men and women like this. Each local church needs men and women like this.

Life is Good

The other day I was walking down the drive from the shop back to my house. It was a beautiful day; the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and I'm loving my new job. I've got great kids, a gorgeous wife, and work is busy. Life is good!


An Interesting OT Verse

I ran across an interesting verse today:

So the Lord said to the children of Israel, "Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites and from the people of Ammon and from the Philistines? Also the Sidonians and Amalekites and Maonites oppressed you; and you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hand. Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods. Therefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress."

And the children of Israel said to the Lord, "We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray." So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel. (emphasis mine)

Judges 10:11-15

What an incredible glimpse into God's heart! One thing I've learned over the past few years is this: if you're not paying attention, you could miss an opportunity to learn something about God. It's like those Highlights pictures. At just a glance, it looks like just a picture. But if you spend time looking, you can find hidden stuff. I think God likes showing us hidden stuff in His Word. It develops your relationship with Him.

Anyway, when I look at this verse, I think God as having the heart of a father. He was punishing them for their disobedience, to be sure, but His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel. So He did something about it.

Here's a verse that came to mind as I thought about this thing:

But Zion said, "The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me." "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

Isaiah 49:14-16



Lately I've been thinking about leadership. What happens in an organization of some sort if there is a lack of leaders? What effect does a lack of leaders have on the overall mission of an organization? What effect does that have on the leaders that are there?

If a church exists (an organism rather than an organization) that is a little behind the curve on the number of leaders it has, is it because people are saying "no" to God? After all, it's Jesus that builds the church as He sees fit, and I find it hard to believe that He would build something that is missing leaders. Or perhaps He is building dependence in the leaders that are there. There's so much work to be done and few people to do it. And in a situation like this, you can either be bummed out or you can pray. I choose to pray.





Okay, okay, so its been awhile since I posted. But I did start my other blog recently, and I didn't think this particular post should go on there. So I'm kind of getting into this blogging thing again. I finally have time to do it since I only have one job now!

This last Sunday we finished a series called "Waiting." We talked about one particular aspect of waiting that is (should be anyway) a part of every Christian's life: waiting for the return of Jesus Christ. We talked about some of the aspects of the days leading up to His return, especially how these days will be like the days of Noah, where unrighteousness is quite prevalent.

Now I just finished Joshua and I'm starting Judges. The stones that Israel took out of Jordan really intrigued me. Essentially they were to be a reminder to the generations after of how God worked in their midst.

"You see that pile of stones over there, son?"

"Yeah, Dad."

"Well let me tell you where they came from." And so the parents were to pass on to their children how God worked in amazing ways. It was their responsibility to make sure they knew what God had done.

As I got into Judges, chapter 2, verse 18 caught my eye:

"When all that generation [Joshua's generation] had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel." Wow! How did this happen? How could an entire generation of people among whom God worked so mightily NOT pass on these incredible things to their kids? The real question is, am I doing the same thing? Do I recognize God's work in my life? And if so, am I telling my kids about it? And if I'm not, what will be the consequences?

Here's one more passage I came across today:

"But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents...."

This comes from 2 Timothy 3. I find it very interesting that in Paul's description of the last days he includes that the younger generation will have a reputation for being disobedient to parents. Even more interesting is what Paul says to Timothy later in the same chapter:

"But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures...."

So what's the common denominator? Well, here's what we should learn from the Joshua and Judges passages: pass the things of God on to your kids. Tell them how God is working in your life. Read them Bible stories and pass on biblical principles to them. Pray with them. The Lord is their heritage, and it's your job to give Him to them. Otherwise, an entire generation of people will grow up and not know the Lord. And what would this do for society? Well this is what happens in the last days. There will be an entire generation of young people who will not know the Lord. Society as a whole will abandon godly principles and holy living. It will become like it was in Noah's day. And how much of that responsibility will lie with parents who did not pass the things of God on to their kids?