Allow me to Introduce Myself…

I am a married carpenter, parent of ten children (six sons, four daughters) and a currently serving Medic in the National Guard. I currently reside in a metropolitan city in the Midwest, though I’m a native Texan.

In case any are wondering, EngMed is short for Engineer Medic. I’m currently serving as a Platoon Medic in a Combat Engineer Company, so that seemed a fitting name, wouldn’t y’all think?

My interests vary between religion, politics, art, literature, hunting, camping, fishing, hiking, music, writing and serving the Lord. Yes, I am an evangelical Christian and I won’t ever shy away from the subject. I invite any to ask questions, debate and will gladly pray for any who ask.

In terms of politics, I’m a Conservative Constitutionalist. No, I’m not a Republican. I’m actually very disaffected with them, given that their commitment to conservative values tend to disappear faster than water on the surface of the sun.

I’m pro-gun, pro-life, pro-death penalty, and pro-limited government. I believe that the Constitution is the law of the land, not social whim.

I’m anti-Islam (a topic I will expand upon in the future), against virtually all forms of gun control, and I’m totally OK with the idea of legalizing marijuana, though I personally detest the stuff.

Well, I think that’s about all I have at this time. If y’all wanna know more, feel free to ask. I’ll just end with this quote:

“Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori.” “It is sweet and fitting to die for your country.”

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What is the relationship between the Old Testament and the New?

When I first rededicated my life to Christ, I found that I had a hard time understanding the relationship between the two Testaments. My childhood training on this matter had been sparse at best, so I had absolutely no framework on which to fall back. I have since come to a better understanding through intensive study and prayer. I have determined that the link between the two is Jesus, it has always been Him, and I intend to show all of you how. My hope is that you, the readers, will come away with a better understanding as well.

In recent times, I have had several people declare that there is no connection between the two Testaments. They have also declared that there is absolutely no relationship between the Old Testament, Judaism, and Jesus’ teachings. They seem to think that Jesus and His teachings just sort of appeared out of nowhere, almost as if on cue. In the words of one objector, “His teachings have nothing to do with Judaism. Quite the opposite.”

Truth be told, there was a time when I would have been hard pressed to come up with an answer to this objection. The good news is, that is no longer a problem. If you are someone who has had a hard time understanding the interplay between the two, or if you are one of those who has been taught that there is no interplay, then this post is most definitely for you. As always, I invite comment, regardless of whether or not you agree.

Jesus and the Old Testament

In the First Century, when Jesus was wandering the countryside, preaching on mountains, plains, in cities, synagogues, and on street corners, the Bible consisted solely of the Old Testament, or Tanakh as it is known in Hebrew. Every time Jesus made reference to Scripture, quoted Scripture, or taught from Scripture, He was teaching from the Old Testament. This is important, because there are too many who try to divorce the Old Testament from the New, and wrongly so. Jesus’ teachings were strongly rooted in the principles of the Tanakh, as He was and is the physical embodiment of the Law.

In his book, “Jewish Literacy”, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin says, “The New Testament depiction of Jesus suggests that he was largely a law-abiding and highly nationalistic Jew, and a man with strong ethical concerns. Like many of Judaism’s great rabbis, he saw love of neighbor as religion’s central demand…On at least one specific legal issue, Jesus identified with the stricter rather than the more lenient rabbis. The prevailing School of Hillel taught that divorce was permitted for any reason, while the School of Shammai only permitted it in cases of sexual misconduct (Mishna Gittin 9:10)- the position later attributed to Jesus in the New Testament (Matthew 5:31-32).” (“Jewish Literacy”, pg. 126)

As Rabbi Telushkin has pointed out, Jesus’ teachings were in line with Jewish teachings, which means they were grounded in the Old Testament. He goes on to note that there were, of course, exceptions. “Most statements attributed to Jesus in the New Testament conform to Jewish teachings. This is, of course, not surprising, since Jesus generally practiced Pharisaic (rabbinic) Judaism. However, at least three innovative teachings ascribed to Jesus diametrically oppose Jewish teachings.

  1. Jesus forgives all sins…
  2. Jesus’ attitude toward evil people…
  3. Jesus’ claim that people can come to God only through him…” (“Jewish Literacy”, pg. 128) [Note: I shortened the second quote for the sake of brevity. If you wish to see the full text, you will have to acquire your own copy of “Jewish Literacy”, which I highly recommend anyway.]

The Sermon on the Mount

During a recent discussion on the relationship between both Testaments, I had occasion to take a quick tally of how many direct and indirect references to Old Testament Scripture were made by Jesus during His famous Sermon on the Mount. All told, there were more than 50 references made, both direct and indirect. In case any of you are wondering, the Sermon on the Mount begins in Matthew, Chapter Five, and ends in Chapter Seven. I was able to arrive at this number by way of my Study Bible, which has a very thorough cross-reference in the center of each page.

To give an example of the interplay between the Old Testament, and Jesus’ teachings, we will look at a portion of the Sermon on the Mount, along with a corresponding passage a few chapters later, where Jesus deals with the issue of divorce. Matthew 5:31-32 says, “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” As you may have noted, this is one of the examples Rabbi Telushkin gave to highlight his assertion that Jesus’ teachings were Jewish in origin, which is why I chose to use it here.

According to my Study Bible, verse 31 is a direct reference to Deuteronomy 24:1, “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house,”. As Rabbi Telushkin noted, the School of Hillel believed that one could divorce his wife for any reason he deemed sufficient. This was likely one of the verses Rabbi Hillel used to justify his position. Verse 32 has no Old Testament reference, however, in Chapter 19, Jesus is asked to expound on His position on divorce, and He goes into much more detail there, providing the Old Testament justification for His statement in verse 32.

Matthew 19:4-5, “And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” These two verses have two direct references, and one indirect. In verse 4, Jesus is quoting Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” He is also making reference to Malachi 2:15, “But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit?” In verse 5, Jesus is quoting Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

Now, let’s take a moment and delve a little deeper into Malachi 2, specifically verses 15 and 16, “But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.

16 “For the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the Lord of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.”

To further highlight the interplay of all of these references, let’s turn to my favorite Bible commentator, Alfred Barnes, a noted 18th Century preacher and theologian. With reference to Matthew 19:4-6, he says in part, “The argument of Jesus here is, that since they are so intimately united as to be one, and since in the beginning God made but one woman for one man, it follows that they cannot be separated but by the authority of God. Man may not put away his wife for every cause. What God has joined together man may not put asunder. In this decision he really decided in favour of one of the parties; and it shows that when it was proper, Jesus answered questions without regard to consequences, from whatever cause they might have been proposed, and however much difficulty it might have involved him in. Our Lord, in this, also showed consummate wisdom. He answered the question, not from Hillel or Shammai, their teachers, but from Moses, and thus defeated their malice.”

Clearly, Jesus’ teachings were very much based in the Tanakh, given that He not only directly quotes from Scripture, but also makes indirect reference. That He was also able to use it to speak circles around His opponents only sweetens the deal. There is a certain bit of satisfaction that goes into seeing how they laid out multiple traps for Him, and He was able to stop them in their tracks every time.

Jesus IN the Old Testament

If you have read my previous posts, you may have noted that I make a case for Jesus’ appearance in the Old Testament, in the person of the Angel of the Lord, or Malakh Adonai. I was sent down that particular line of reasoning by something Jesus said in the Gospel according to John. He says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:48-59) You may recall that one of the names for the Lord God is “I AM”. This comes from the story of Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-15).

The first thing to note in this story is that this passage states that the one who called out to Moses was the Angel of the Lord. Next, the text somehow shifts over into a conversation between the Lord and Moses, but somehow does not mention anything about a change in who was speaking.

In verse 2, the account states, “And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.” Then, in verse 4, it states, “So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!”

While one might be inclined to believe that this is indicative that there was a switch from the Angel of the Lord and the Lord God, we must remember that there are other points where the Angel of the Lord is called “God” (Genesis 16), and even where He calls Himself “God” (Genesis 22, 31). Given the claims of divinity, it’s safe to infer that the Lord here is the Angel of the Lord.

There is a point in the story where Moses dares to ask who he is to tell his people sent him. The response from the Lord was, “I AM who I AM”. This is the part that I believe is really indicative of what Jesus was intimating to the Jews in John 8:58, especially when you consider that the very next verse shows that the Jews Jesus was speaking with immediately took up stones with which to stone Him. Why did they do that? Because Jesus had just made a claim to divinity, which they took to be blasphemy.

Jesus in the New Testament

While it is obvious that Jesus is every bit the main reason for the existence of the New Testament, the reason why we’re going here is that His every action pointed back to the Old Testament. As we say here in the U.S., “Actions speak louder than words”, and His actions pointed to Messianic texts, while His teachings pointed back to the rest of the Old Testament. For a categorical list of His words, and deeds, as they relate to Messianic texts, we must turn first to the Gospel according to Matthew.

The Book of Matthew is very much a Jewish book, written by a Jew, with the intent of convincing a Jewish audience of the Messiahship of Jesus. This is evidenced by the fact that Matthew’s narration makes reference to Old Testament prophesies every time Jesus fulfilled one, and this goes all the way back to His birth. For example, in Matthew 2:6, “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’

This is reference to a prophecy found in Micah 5:2, which states, ““But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.” This means that Micah 5:2 is the prophecy that was fulfilled in Matthew 2, with the birth of Jesus. This is just a snapshot, mind you, but you get the point. As Jesus was running through the Messianic checklist, Matthew was keeping track.

Conclusion

Throughout this post, I have taken great pains to clearly demonstrate how the two Testaments relate to each other, how Jesus’ Mission was not to do away with the Law, but rather to bring us back into the right relationship with God as the Law was intended to. My hope is that you, the reader, came away from this with a much better understanding of our Lord and Savior. I’ll just finish with this final note.

In John 1:1, 14, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men...14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” What we find is, I think, the greatest correlation between both Testaments, the revelation that Jesus is the one who created the universe. He is our Creator, and to Him we owe our entire existence. As if that is not humbling enough, we then must realize that our Creator CHOSE to clothe Himself in human flesh, come to the earth to live among us, and finally die on the Cross to atone for our sins, all with the goal of returning us to the state of grace that existed prior to the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden. If the profound nature of that realization is enough to bring you to your knees, that is what is known as an “Aha” moment, and you are welcome.

Thoughts on Memorial Day

Though it’s a bit late in the day, I thought I’d take a few moments to share some of the thoughts running through my head. I’ll begin with the purpose to this day.

This day is to honor the veterans who gave their lives in service to their country, not for those who have served. If you thank a vet today, please let it be while standing at their headstone in the cemetery. Those of us still alive will understand.

Truth be told, I’m always more than a little uncomfortable when thanked for my service. I always feel as if I’ve been put on the spot, and I don’t really deserve it. My stock response is, “Thank you for the support”, but that just feels cheesy.

If you really want to thank a veteran, find one wearing a “Vietnam Veteran” hat. Go thank those guys, and please be sure to welcome them home. Use those words, “Welcome Home”. Better late than never, right?

They didn’t come home to marching bands, welcoming committees, and warm hugs. They came home to hostility, hatred, and division. Do your bit to help heal the hearts of men and women who came home to abuse from their fellow citizens.

Our Current Situation

This morning, I stumbled across this video on YouTube:

It brought to mind a great many thoughts that I’ve had these past few years. Thoughts relating to the phenomenon of Megachurches, such as the one in this video, known as “Hillsong”.

Far from benefiting Christianity, they are a hindrance, and here is why.  Not only do they highlight a problem with the modern American Church, but the main problem with modern Western Christianity as a whole, in that they have distorted and watered down the Message, allowing the world to dictate doctrine. For some odd reason, we have collectively forgotten what Jesus had to say about the world, and it’s place in our lives.

Jesus made clear, not only are we to expect persecution and hatred, but that we should welcome it. In Matthew 5:11-14, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.”

Clearly, we are meant to preserve the Word, even as people revile and persecute us. That is our charge, our mission, to protect and preserve the Word, to share the Word, and to be the truth against the world.

Yet, many have failed in this. Churches like Hillsong have made a fortune by watering down the Gospel Message, and perpetuating a false image of Christ. Jesus’ teachings covered this as well.

Matthew 7:21-23 says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Imagine, the horror that comes when you realize that so many people have unknowingly been led into condemnation because of these groups. This church enjoys massive attendance, massive amounts of revenue, and is seen by the world as representatives of actual Christianity, when the truth is they are apostates. They are idolators, and they teach that Christians are to be right before the world, even if it means being wrong before God.

They bought into the lie that Christianity is supposed to be a numbers game. They compete for the largest share, and hold up the fact that people stand in line for hours as proof that they are doing it right. This could not be further from the truth.

The truth is that keeping to Jesus’ teachings will leave us open for all manner of hate. Matthew 10:22, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”

We definitely see that today. What happens when we stand outside Planned Parenthood and seek to prevent the slaughter of unborn babies? We are reviled and spat upon, called all manner of ugly names, and shown nothing but hate.

What would it look like if we stood outside Planned Parenthood and told the inbound women that God loves them and accepts what they are about to do? We would receive nothing but accolades and acceptance, much like the so-called Christians who stand on the pro-choice side. God, on the other hand, would have something else to say.

What happens when we go to Gay Pride parades, and try to preach the Gospel? We are shouted down, threatened with violence, assaulted, and shown nothing but hate. Why? Because we are seeking to teach the Truth of our Lord and Savior.

What would it look like if we stood with the LGBT community, and told them that God does not in fact condemn their lifestyles as abomination? Again, we would be greeted with hugs, tears, and acceptance. We would be the most beloved liars on the face of the earth, and God would have something to say about it.

That is not what we are called to do. We are called to speak Truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), to be uncompromising, to show kindness, to be honest, to share the actual message that Jesus commanded us to share with every nation, and every tongue. (Matthew 28:19-20)

It is worth noting, Jesus did not bring a message of niceness and inclusiveness. He did not teach that we ought to accept people, regardless of their beliefs. In fact, He was very intolerant of Sin, and did not mince words about it. Matthew 10:35-40, “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.”

At what point did we as a civilization lose this message? We have forgotten that this is not a numbers game. We have forgotten that many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:14) So, many churches go on this quest to try to attract the greatest numbers, mistakenly believing that this was what Jesus wanted. It truly is not.

Matthew 22:14 illustrates that Jesus knew the reality. He knew that, most people would run away when shown His true message and its actual meaning.

They would believe that He is asking too much of them. Jesus makes clear what He wants in Matthew 16:24-26, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Did you catch that? He wants us to surrender ourselves, to die to self, to follow Him wholeheartedly, and to even be willing to die for His sake. In dying on the Cross, the Lord Jesus set the standard: speak the Truth, and be uncompromising in it, even if it means you must endure physical pain, torture, and/or death. (See Matthew 10:28) In other words, not only did His death on the Cross atone for our sins, but He also set the standard for how we are to live and die!

Finally, John 15:18-22, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.”

The world is meant to hate us because it is fallen, and hates all that is Truth. Jesus is God, God is Truth, and the world hates the Truth. So, when you see some massive church, with thousands in attendance, just know that there is a good chance that they are foreigners to Jesus, as He never knew them.

If you are seeking Truth, that is not where you will find it. Might I recommend you find the tiny old country church in the middle of nowhere with no A/C, seating for 30, and the Holy Spirit permeating every single millimeter of its building? Better still, look in your own communities for those tiny house churches, the ones where people gather in small groups to worship in each other’s living rooms.

Places like Hillsong have abandoned the teachings of Jesus, choosing to please the world instead. They have forgotten that the wages of sin in death. (Romans 6:23) In so doing, they have chosen to ally themselves with darkness.

A prime example is this video, in which the Pastor of Hillsong New York, Carl Lentz, tells the ladies of The View that he is pro-choice, along with taking a variety of other stances at odds with Scripture:

They go wrong because they selectively emphasize God’s love, mercy, and grace, while downplaying or outright ignoring what is required in order to become saved. Salvation comes through faith in Christ, through placing trust in Him, and in following what He taught. People like Carl Lentz are busily involved in leading people down the wrong path, and they will one day hear the phrase, “depart from me”.

In the end, you have to ask yourself, “Who is more important, me or God?” If your answer is God, then you must take it upon yourself to learn His standard, and what He has planned for your life. Never forget that He does have a perfect plan for each and every one of us, and that it is ALL for His glory.

May you find peace, Ma’am.

Tuesday, the world lost a bright light. Former First Lady Barbara Bush passed at the age of 92. On that day, she walked among the clouds, and learned more about God than any of us could possibly imagine.

I was in Middle School when she was First Lady, but one thing I can remember is that she had class. Looking back on her, and the women who have followed in her stead, she was definitely one of a kind.

To the Bush family, my sincerest condolences. Don’t worry, she’s walking with the Lord, and I don’t doubt she’s eagerly awaiting the family reunion.

Just how Trinitarian are We? Looking at the Text we Neglect too Often

Stop me if you have heard this one before, “There is no Old Testament evidence for the Trinity”. The assertion is not new, it was the real reason for the Council of Nicea, after all. As the word “Trinity” does not appear in the Old Testament, then it is obviously unsupported they say. Unitarians reason that the word and the concept are inextricably linked, and that you cannot have one without the other.

The question then becomes, are they right? The answer is, yes, and no. The word Trinity does not appear anywhere in the Old Testament text, but not to worry, because that does not prove the critics right. As it turns out, though not explicitly named, there exists a veritable treasure trove of hints, clues, and even direct references to the members of the godhead, beginning in Genesis and ending in Malachi.

Background

I admit to being a bit of a YouTube junkie, and not just for the cat videos. Much to my wife’s occasional frustration, I have spent hours watching lectures, sermons, and informational videos on a variety of topics ranging from woodworking, to blacksmithing, and especially theology. For the last few years, I have been engaged in an all-you-can-eat learning spree which has helped me catch up on the 20+ years of growth I missed out on when I walked away from the Church as a teen, and I’m still hungry.

In addition to that, I have also spent countless hours studying the Bible, books on apologetics, theology, eschatology, the Trinity, and Messianic prophesies. I have studied Martin Luther, Saint Augustine, and a few others, all in pursuit of a better understanding of the Lord God, in as many of His facets as humans are capable of understanding. While I may not be a Bible scholar, yet, I certainly have seen enough to know from whence I speak.

Proving the Trinity

In 1 Peter 3:15, we are admonished to always be ready to give a good defense for why we believe, and this applies more today than ever before. We have been beset from all sides by the Enemy, through his various avenues of approach. Everything from atheism, Islam, New Age religions, and even popular culture, has taken a turn at attempting to undermine or water down the true Gospel Message.

One such attack is on the Trinity itself, which is significant, because Jesus stated that the only unpardonable Sin is to deny, or blaspheme, the Holy Spirit. (Mark 3:28-30) If he is able to drive people away from the true nature of God, then they will not be able to make relationship with Him, which means countless sincere believers will end up condemned. It is a tragedy, and it is up to us to combat this problem.

To that end, I have come up with a list of questions to ask our Unitarian friends. All of these questions are based in Scripture, are framed in such a way as to make looking up the answers very easy, and are designed to clearly demonstrate the Trinity as it appears in Scripture. You need only a Bible to answer these questions; commentaries are optional.

If you are a Unitarian, I hope you will look at these questions, and undertake a serious effort to chase down the answers, so that you may find the living God, and be able to submit yourself to Him.

Without further ado, here are the questions:

1. Who is the Angel of the Lord?
2. In Genesis 16, by what name does Hagar call the Angel of the Lord?
3. In Genesis 22, who orders Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and who later orders him to stay his hand? Why?
4. In Genesis 31:11-13, what does the Angel of the Lord call Himself?
5. In Exodus 3, who calls to Moses from the burning bush?
6. In Exodus 23, God states that the Angel He is sending to lead the Israelites will not pardon their transgressions. Why?
7. In light of the previous question, what do you think of what God says in Isaiah 42:8?
8. In Genesis 19, when the Lord is destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, from where does the Lord rain fire and brimstone?
9. What are the answers to the questions posed in Proverbs 30:4?
10. Take a moment and compare John 1:1, 15 with the creation accounts in Genesis 1. What do you find?
11. As you deny the Trinity, what do you make of Zechariah 12:10?
12. What do you make of Malachi 3:1?
13. What do you think of the Suffering Servant found in Isaiah 53, and how He willingly dies for us?
14. Who can forgive our sins?
15. Who is the Great I AM?
16. For whom are we to reserve our worship?
17. Who has the power to forgive us our sins?
18. In both 2 Samuel 23:2-3, and Ezekiel 11:5, who spoke?
19. In Job 33:4, who does Job say made him?
20. Who is speaking in Isaiah 48:16?

As you can see, these questions point to The Angel of the Lord, and His very divine attributes, many of which clearly point to the idea that the Lord Jesus is The Angel of the Lord. They also point to the very real fact that Jesus is God, along with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. They show that the Holy Spirit is not just divine, but that He actually does speak. In three of those references, Hagar, The Angel of the Lord, and God Himself, all state that The Angel of the Lord is divine. We know from Scripture that there is only one divine being, the Lord God, who created the heavens and the earth. Therefore, Jesus is The Angel of the Lord, and The Angel of the Lord is God. Conclusion: Jesus is God, and God is most certainly a Trinity.

While I have presented these questions to quite a few people, not one Unitarian has actually taken time to try and answer or dispute them. I find this deeply regrettable.

Belated Thoughts

I’ll begin by saying that I’ve been a bit behind the curve, because my unit was involved in Annual Training for most of the month of February. Yes, I spent Valentine’s Day away from my wife and kids, surrounded by 79 other Soldiers.

Things were so busy that I wasn’t able to devote more than a basic level of attention to the events of the day. Rest assured, my prayers have been with all involved since that day. I still feel a sense of horror.

The training period ended last Saturday, and I’ve devoted some time to coming to terms, not only with the abject evil that was allowed to run rampant that day, but also with the fact that this evil was allowed to run rampant at all. It is nothing less than infuriating, the level of moral cowardice displayed, not only on that day, but Every. Day. Before. It!

There is a reason I chose to name my blog after the prophet Ezekiel. That reason can be found in Ezekiel 33:6, “But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.”

My chosen path is that of the watchman, in that I have chosen to sound the alarm about our Lord and Savior, and His Gospel Message. This situation is different.

Imagine my utter outrage as each new link in the chain of failure was revealed in the media! Imagine my grief as each new detail revealed yet another watchman, hands dripping with the blood of innocent people far better than the monster who took them, and the monsters who allowed it. Am I being too harsh? Not in the slightest.

Here, we have a child who did absolutely nothing to hide who he was, what he was, or his plans. He made absolutely no bones about the twisted and demonic evil living inside of him. This child announced his desire, his intent to do exactly what he did; no remorse, no regrets.

This wasn’t a new thing, either. He had been expressing his desire for some time, all to a long list of selectively deaf cowards who gave him the green light simply by letting him be. I’ll be honest, I can’t condemn the choices and actions that enabled this madness in strong enough terms.

These people didn’t merely choose to let this kid run free, they were complicit; silence is consent. Each one of them may as well have fired each and every round that stole away someone’s Baby Girl, Little Man, or Beloved. Each body left where it fell was absolutely precious and priceless to someone who must now go through life with a gaping hole inside that can’t ever be healed by anything on this earth. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can take those wounds and heal them, and I pray that He does.

From beginning to end, this incident highlighted a very real failing in the system that no one seems willing to address: humans. This incident wasn’t a failure of the law, this kid violated every law even somewhat related, it was a failure of humanity.

That he made no secret of his intent is relevant as it renders irrelevant the legality of his firearms purchase. It was made with ill intent, and I’d wager the dealer was among the few people in the dark on the matter. If you buy a gun with the intent of committing mass murder, then that sale isn’t legal.

All throughout, people made very human choices, in this case, choices that led to numerous preventable deaths and injuries. Choices that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives, in an endless game of “What If”. In spite of myself, I feel for them, because I know they were hoping he wasn’t serious, on one level or another.

This isn’t to excuse them, mind you, I still wish to see justice done. Nor should that justice only include that School Resource Officer seen cowering, sidearm drawn, outside of the school while people’s babies were being murdered. Every person who knew, but chose to do nothing, is guilty. Those who did speak up are blameless, it’s as simple as that.

Now, do I agree that gun control would have done anything to stop this? Most emphatically, no. This incident, much like nearly every other mass shooting, was a failure of the system already in place. Tougher laws won’t do a thing if human failure won’t give them a chance to. All it would accomplish is to make life more difficult for hundreds of millions of innocent people, as it slowly erodes away our Constitutionally protected rights.

What needs to happen is that we need to give currently existing laws more teeth. First, where it is a crime to sit on this kind of information, be sure to punish offenders to the fullest extent of the law. Where it isn’t a crime, make it so, and enforce it as if your own life depends on it, because it just might.

Next, look at all sides of the debate. Really listen and find understanding. Pro-2A folks, look at the Anti-gun arguments, and see where they’re coming from. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, just that you understand.

Pro-gun control folks, do the same. Again, it doesn’t mean you have to agree, just that you understand. Once we understand each other, then we can have a meaningful discussion.

Special note to gun control supporters. Don’t fall under the mistaken impression that we are unreasonable because we’re unwilling to compromise our rights. We hold that line as much for you, as we do for ourselves and our loved ones. Bear that in mind, and all will be well.

Adventures in Raising Children

If you’ve been a parent for more than five minutes, you know that your children can be an endless source of entertainment, embarrassment, frustration, and laughter; often running the full gamut in less than five minutes. My kids are no exception, and our six-year-old gave us one such example.

My wife and I sat the kids down to watch a documentary on Africa when a segment about meerkats came on. The entire endeavor was derailed by our six-year-old’s hilarious attempts to pronounce “meerkat”.

His initial attempt, meercrap, touched off the need to share this episode. His second attempt, murcrack, was enough to reduce my wife to tears. It was at this point that I decided to coach my young son on how to say “meerkat”. Here’s how it went:

Me: Meer

Him: Meer

Me: Meer

Him: Meer

Me: Kat

Him: Kat!

Me: Meer…Kat

Him: Meer…Kat!

Me: Meer…Kat

Him: Meer…Kat!

Me: Meerkat

Him: Meerclat!

Me: Facepalm

My wife: (choking)

While he did eventually master the pronunciation of meerkat, my wife and I barely survived the experience.

Is Matthew 7:1 the most misrepresented verse?

I was brought up in the United Methodist Church, in a very liberal congregation. As a result, I had a very liberal view of Jesus and His teachings. This is a view that I now know to be incomplete, if not completely wrong.

If you will take a moment and look back through my posts, you will find one entitled “Meat or Milk”. In it, you will note where I stand on the importance of Scripture in doctrine, along with what I think of doctrine that has no basis in Scripture.

In short, the world has no place in the determination of church doctrine. None at all. Doctrine should not be determined by politics, social justice, or anything that isn’t found somewhere between Genesis and Revelation.

This was the main reason why I ultimately left the UMC. Their doctrine is dictated by the world, not the Lord or His Word. They have taken themselves down a path I can’t follow, by permitting homosexuals, transgenders, and even Muslims to worship in their churches without conversion or repentance.

This brings me to the topic of this post, Matthew 7:1. One of the things I was taught was that this verse meant that we could not pass any form of judgement on anyone, as doing so would be hypocritical, because we are all sinners, right? As I am sure some have heard it said, “Why would I hate someone for sinning differently from me?”

Here’s the verse, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” That is it, a single sentence that highlights why I make a habit of reading the surrounding text before coming to a conclusion about the meaning of a given verse. Taken by itself, it seems to be rather clear, does it not? Don’t judge, or you will be judged, too. But wait, there is always more.

Thankfully, the passage that follows manages to turn this overly simplistic interpretation on its head. For example, in Matthew 7:6 we find, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

Ask yourself, how are we to identify the dogs and swine if we are prohibited from passing judgement? That interpretation renders this verse mission impossible. Cannot be done. Identifying them requires that we pass judgement.

The truth is, it is impossible for any human to go through a single day without passing judgement. Every time you step across the street to avoid someone you don’t like the look of, you are passing judgement on them.

Even when you decide you like someone for any reason, you are passing judgement, so the opposite applies as well. Forming an opinion of anyone, good or bad, is passing judgement on them.

What, then, does this verse mean, if it does not mean that we cannot judge? The short version is, it means that we are prohibited from being judgemental. In case there may be some confusion, here is the Oxford dictionary definition of judgemental:

“Having or displaying an overly critical point of view.”

Taking things a step further, here is what the Barnes’ Notes commentaries say about Matthew 7:1, “This command refers to rash, censorious, and unjust judgment. Luke explains it in the sense of “condemning.” Christ does not condemn judging as a magistrate, for that, when according to justice, is lawful and necessary. Nor does he condemn our “forming an opinion” of the conduct of others, for it is impossible “not” to form an opinion of conduct that we know to be evil.”

What does that mean for the idea that we should not judge? Clearly, it lays the idea to rest. When Matthew 7:1-6 is read and carefully considered, Christians and Messianic Jews are commanded by our Lord and Savior to judge.

What does it actually prohibit? We are prohibited from passing harsh, hasty, and overly critical judgement. Any time you rush to judgement, jump to conclusions, or make a decision without knowing all of the facts, you are being judgemental. That is what Jesus was cautioning us against.

The unvarnished truth is that each and every one of us was born into a war that was already being waged when Adam drew his first breath. We cannot avoid it, we cannot sit it out, and we must choose a side.

In the Book of Revelation, it is revealed that everything will lead to a single fixed point in time, in which there will only be two armies: the Army of Light and the Army of Darkness. This is why it is so important to get Scripture right.

Whether you know it or not, many will find themselves on the wrong side because of false teachings, false doctrines, and misapplied Scripture. Many will be led astray, while firmly believing that they are following the Lord. Sadly, these people will hear, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:23, KJV)

Jesus also warned His followers about false teachings, and false teachers in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheeps clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” He knew that Satan would come to dilute, confuse, and distort the Gospel Message.

The end result is that we now have churches that have abandoned the Gospel Message, choosing doctrine that is pleasing to the world, rather than doctrine that is pleasing to the Lord. Today, there are too many people who would rather be right before the world, and it is due in part to misrepresented Scripture, of which Matthew 7:1 is a prime example.

In conclusion, I call Matthew 7:1 the most misrepresented verse in the Bible because of the way it’s been used to silence any opposition from the Christian right. It has been misinterpreted, and that wrongful interpretation has been used as a weapon against any Christians who object to what our society wants. Of course, that isn’t to say that it is the only one, but it is doing the greatest damage.

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14, KJV)

Why I Believe

In all of my posts, I have delved into what I believe, but not really why. The short answer to why it is that I can still believe in God, Jesus, miracles, and the Bible is that I just do. That it is all true is not anything I need to question, I am convinced.

In spite of the prevailing culture, which seems more focused on hedonism, moral and cognitive relativism, and the increasingly stupid antics of Hollywood celebrities, I’m still ready, willing, and able to follow God and His Law. For me, it really is not a question. I proudly proclaim that God is real, and that Jesus is the only way to Him.

In John 14:6, Jesus proclaims, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” In that one statement, Jesus manages to negate the claims of every other religious and spiritual faith out there. In that moment, He declared them all false.

This brings up a very obvious question. Why the Christian faith? To the people completely inured in our modern world, this seems a rather logical question, right?

To begin, the idea that only one faith is true makes logical sense, contrary to public opinion on the matter. There are thousands of faiths worldwide, all of which make completely exclusive claims, and virtually all of them contradict each other on very fundamental levels. The logical conclusion is that only one can be true.

For example, the Hindu faith makes the claim that the immortal soul exists, while the Buddhist faith categorically denies it. That is a fundamental and irreconcilable difference; either it exists, or it does not.

Similarly, Hinduism makes the claim that there are millions of gods, while Buddhism is essentially atheistic in nature. Which one is correct and which one is false? The question seems unanswerable, but what if I was to tell you that the answer is very simple?

Let us begin with God, shall we? If He does not exist, then this whole exercise is pointless. As such, it makes sense to begin with God and the question of whether or not He exists. I firmly believe He does, but maybe you’re on the fence?

Now, there are those atheists who are absolutely committed to the idea that science has proven that there is no God, that all religions are false, and that anyone who chooses to believe are doing so because they are too stupid, and/or gullible, to be reasoned with. Examples of this attitude are rather openly and forcefully provided by people like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

Unfortunately, they manage to ignore the fact that there are trained scientists who also happen to believe in God, and present very compelling arguments in support of that position. Given that these people exist, one must logically conclude that the scientific community is by no means unified on this. In other words, the science is not settled.

This idea is further supported by the fact that no one can conclusively point to a single scientific proof which definitively states that God does not exist. Therefore, this lends credence to the idea that we can neither prove nor disprove His existence. What we can do, however, is demonstrate that His existence can be extrapolated through the odds, among other factors.

In His book, “Why the Universe is the way it is”, Dr. Hugh Ross says, “Innumerable conditions must be exquisitely optimized for the support of humanity and of civilization. Many of them are highly time variable. Evidence showing that a wide variety of independent conditions all reached optimality during the identical narrow epoch when human beings appeared on the cosmic and terrestrial scene testifies of supernatural design and purpose rather than mere coincidence.”

He also says, “Theologically, the space energy density demonstrates that for physical life to be possible at any time or place in the history of the universe the value of the mass density of the universe must be fine-tuned to within one part in 1060, and the value of the cosmological constant must be fine-tuned to within one part in 10120. To put this in perspective, the best example of human engineering design that I am aware of is a gravity wave telescope capable of making measurements to within one part in 1023. This implies that the Creator at a minimum is ten trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion times more intelligent, knowledgeable, creative, and powerful than we humans.”

With odds like that, it is clear that the chances of God’s existence pretty much amount to a certainty. To create an entire universe would require a super-intellect so far beyond human comprehension that we would not be able to fathom it. As God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9, KJV)

The stark reality is that the chances against a universe as ordered as ours existing without any outside force acting upon it are so clearly one-sided, it renders continued disbelief in the existence of God illogical and irrational. It is similar to believing that the earth is flat, in spite of the available and very obvious evidence.

On the matter of the odds, Fred Hoyle says, “The likelihood of the formation of life from inanimate matter is 1 to a number with 40,000 noughts after it…. It is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution. There was no primeval soup, neither on this planet nor any other, and if the beginnings of life were not random, they must therefore have been the product of purposeful intelligence.”

A purposeful intelligence many trillions of times more powerful than the best and brightest that humanity has to offer. That sounds an awful lot like the Almighty God of the Bible, but there is still more to this. Neither of the quotes I have provided clarifies why YHWH is the One True God.

To begin, consider the nature of the universe we live in. In the Book of Isaiah, God describes the universe as expanding. “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:” (Isaiah 40:22, KJV)

If the Book of Isaiah, which was written during the 8th century BC, does in fact describe the universe as expanding, then that makes it the only ancient document on the earth to make that claim until Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. This means that the Bible not only had it right, while the rest of the world had it wrong, but that was the case for nearly 3,000 years. How could that be, unless someone with higher knowledge revealed such a thing?

At the time the Book of Isaiah was written, the known world was absolutely convinced that the universe existed in a steady state; that is to say, no expansion or contraction, no beginning and no end. They believed that the universe was completely, utterly, and totally unchanging and infinite. Where, then, did this idea come from?

This idea, of course, was put to rest when Einstein developed his Theory of General Relativity, and later confirmed by Edwin Hubble through observation of the red-shift phenomenon found on moving celestial bodies. This discovery confirmed what the Bible had been saying about the essential nature of the universe for nearly three millennia.

This fact alone removes virtually every other religious faith from the running. Buddhism lost out to Hinduism on the issue of God’s existence. Hinduism ends up shut out over the issue of the expanding universe because the Hindu texts teach the steady state model.

In fact, there are only two faiths I know of that teaches that the universe is expanding: Judaism and Christianity. Which one, then, is the right one? Both use most of the same Scriptures and purport to worship the same God, so what makes Christianity correct and Judaism wrong? The answer comes in the form of Yeshua, also known as Jesus.

Contained within Old Testament Scripture is a class of text known as Messianic text. These are prophesies that predict the coming of a singular being known as the Messiah, or Anointed One. To date, Christian and Messianic Jewish scholars have identified more than 350 separate prophesies relating to the Messiah.

These prophesies outline His entire life with so much detail that we know when and where He was to be born, the circumstances of His life, His divinity, His life, betrayal, trial, death, and resurrection. Literally every aspect of His life is contained within all of those texts.

In the 1960’s, a mathematician named Peter Stoner took it upon himself to attempt to determine the statistical chances of one person in history actually fulfilling all of those prophesies. He got as far as 40 prophesies, because that was the point where the statistical probability against such a person existing crossed out of the realm of human comprehension.

He determined that the odds of one person fulfilling all of those prophesies was 1 in 10^157. That is a 10 with 157 zeros behind it. Rather a large number, don’t you think? Yet, Jesus not only existed, but He had a profound impact on the world we live in.

In every sense, Jesus’ existence was a statistical impossibility, so when the person who should not have existed says He is God, the Messiah, the Son of Man, the Son of God, the Alpha and the Omega, I am more than a little inclined to believe Him. Not only was His existence impossible, but the details of His existence match up too well with prophesy to ignore.

While it is true that I have never needed any of this to know that God exists, it certainly does come in handy when sharing the Gospel with non-believers. I know for a fact that God exists, do you?

It isn’t as if the question is trivial, given that your answer to the question will have such a profound effect on what your afterlife will look like. My hope is that you will read this, and consider carefully all that I have presented. What you choose to do from there is your choice.