Brief Thoughts on Luke 10

The Context: chapter 9 of Luke obviously contains quite a bit of content, but the information given us immediately before the break into “chapter 10” is of several different “followers” and their interactions with Jesus (‘foxes have holes but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’ –Luke 9:57-62) but the driving story before this is Jesus foretelling His death and “setting His face” toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:21-22, 44, and 51).

The Seventy-Two: “After this” is how chapter 10 begins, and thus a proper understanding of what Jesus does and instructs in the beginning of the chapter seems to hinge on keeping in mind what came before it.

Where did Jesus send these disciples out to in pairs? “Every town and place where he himself was about to go.” (Verse 1)… why did he send them out? Presumably – based on verses 5 through 12, and 16 (and 9:1-6) – to preach what He had taught them; but specifically we are told He commanded them to ‘heal the sick and say to them “the kingdom of God has come near to you.”‘As I read through chapter 10 of Luke this evening it occurred to me that the connection of this event to Jesus’ going to Jerusalem to be crucified is of no small significance. In all of the synoptic gospels Jesus’ instruction and teaching of His disciples (particularly the apostles) seems to grow more earnest and “to the point,” if you will, as He approaches the cross compared to earlier in His ministry. Could it be that Jesus sent out the seventy-two to heal the sick and prepare the way for Him not just so that people would know He was coming, but perhaps so that he would not encounter quite as large a mob looking for miracles as He would have otherwise?

Many things to consider and ponder over in why Jesus sent out these men, but let us move on to when they returned to Him for the sake of this particular discussion…

Verse 17 is translated thus in my ESV Bible: “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” … now, what were the Lord’s specific instructions to these disciples? To ‘heal the sick and proclaim the nearness of the Kingdom of God.’ But these people do not come rejoicing that those who have heard their message are repentant and receptive to Christ, but that they could command demons!

Granted, some or many of the sicknesses they were commanded to heal could have been caused by demonic possession or oppression, but Jesus’ response in verses 18 and 20 seem to be more a corrective or warning rebuke than an encouraging affirmation of their joy.

The interpretation above is far different than that given by those who want to hone in on verse 19, I know, but I cannot read that verse separate from everything else going on. Also, those who want to emphasize verse 19 – almost to the exclusion of verse 20 – usually miss several markers that serve to indicate that much of the authority given was specific to that time and group of people in many ways. The phrase “nothing shall hurt you,” for one, is incredibly restrictive to where we can apply to whom and when the “authority” Jesus mentions is given.

Moving on again, since it is in the same chapter, I have heard some try to correlate verses 23 and 24 to verses 17 and/or 19… but it seems more reasonable to me – considering the use of present-tense verbs, the content of Jesus’ rejoicing in verses 21 and 22, and His previous admonition to “rejoice that your names are written in heaven” – to understand that what Jesus is referring to is, in fact, a combination of Himself being God in flesh standing before men and, in that, the further revelation of God’s very nature…

Here my thoughts begin to trail in too many directions to type now… and I’ve already gone longer and in different directions than I intended (hopefully because the text forced me to and/or the Spirit was gracious in restricting me to it 😉

Hope this was an interesting and/or thought-provoking read.

Readables & Listenables (For the Election Aftermath)

So, with all the stupidity that has taken place in the last few days, thought I’d post some stuff I found interesting and thought-provoking this week.

James White’s thoughts- Post-Election Thoughts and an Ecclesiastical Text Video

An article from Phil Vischer- CHURCH, WE’VE GOT SOME EXPLAINING TO DO

And another thought-provoking article that Phil Vischer linked to written by a lady named Stephanie- To my friends who are relieved today

Hope these are helpful and/or thought provoking… (and thanks to those of you who actually read/listen to them all the way through 😉

God’s Not Dead 2 – A Brief Review

There are very few movies that I come away from truly appreciating in its entirety: theme, message, presentation, and individual parts (that last bit is practically impossible for anyone to get from me)… but I have to say, “God’s Not Dead 2” certainly did a far better job than many “Christian” movies of late. First, I appreciated the somewhat more realistic and down to earth dealing with the American system and how our culture views the Religion of Christ. Though there was some typical “cliche-ish” “christianese” that was given through some of the beginning of the film, once we got into the meat of the “court case,” the writer(s?) did an excellent job addressing the imbalance of our country’s judicial system in weighing against Christianity for the sake of a few “offended” adherents to a different worldview.

I also liked the “uncertainty” of the ending. I won’t spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it 😉 – but let’s just say it was incredibly in line with what we (as Christians) can expect from our government in the near future…

I appreciated the simple character of the teacher (I forget her name) that we follow throughout the film. And I especially liked that her lawyer/defender was not a Christian – just someone who “hated to lose” and was fairly objective throughout the film. Frankly, I thought his (the lawyer’s) part was one of the better “bridge” pieces I’ve ever seen in a “hopefully engaging/interesting for all sides” part in any Christian movie I’ve ever seen.

Overall, I very much appreciated the last “I call ___ to the stand” scene, and thought they did a decent job on the overall film.

My only “face palm” complaint is the silly/unnecessary inclusion of the band “Newsboys” in the film, just because they were in the first one and to increase viewer interest (if it even accomplished that).

That said, I would recommend the film to anyone interested in a thought-provoking film that touches upon the freedom of religion and education in the U.S.

Some Thought-Provoking Videos

I am, as I said in my last post, done talking about politics in America. However, I thought I’d share two things (one fairly brief, and the other almost an hour long) from two very thoughtful Christian leaders.

The first is an interview with Rev. Albert Mohler: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=exvuCgWiIGk

The other is a “Dividing Line” broadcast from James White: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_gkWDjDi9-M (NOTE: there was a technical glitch near the end, here is the link to the last 15 minutes or so: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GlMqKrcLdHY )

… I would have imbedded the videos directly into this post… but I can’t figure out how to do that with WordPress 😛

Anyway, I hope someone finds these interesting, if not helpful.

News Flash, Trump Voters: Character DOES Matter

“As a traditional, Christian conservative, Donald Trump’s “hot-mic moment” from 2005 — in which he was caught in some serious “locker-room banter” making lewd comments about some females at the time, while also dropping a few not-so-nice words — should probably come as a shock to me.

But it doesn’t — and frankly, I don’t care.”

~ Addison Riddleberger (on “The Truth Division” LINK: http://thetruthdivision.com/2016/10/dont-give-rip-trumps-hot-mic-moment-heres/ )

Articles like the one I’ve quoted above are one of the reasons I have become so frustrated by “traditional, Christian conservatives” in the U.S. The utter moral/ethical apathy represented in this statement – and the rest of the short article – is the truly shocking part about much of so called “American Christianity.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I was not at all surprised to find this out about Mr. Trump – I could have told you pretty much a few days after looking into Trump’s background that this was how sick and twisted his worldview was. But, unlike most of the America that – by some hideous anti-miracle – will be voting for this Cretan(see Titus 1:12), I DO care.

You see, when I read Scripture, it implies that an evil man like Trump – who has basically NO firm record of anything but one of debauchery… and possibly, depending on sources, a ruthless business sense that can make a lot of money – when he desires a new place of power, will be willing to connive, slander, and weasel his way into that position: no matter what he has to promise or pretend he supports; so long as he has a decent guarantee that it will get him what he wants.

(Side NOTE: for all of you “one issue” voters (I.e. Pro-lifers), that means he will do absolutely nothing to further the war against child murder in general, or Planned Parenthood in particular. He has pretty much said as much.)

Anyway, the writer of the piece quoted goes on to talk about “two stupidly simple reasons” that they feel justify their apathy, and the first primarily consists of excusing Mr. Trump because he worked a long time in the “entertainment industry” and it “is a filthy, secular cesspool” and as such any person from that industry who would “condemn” Mr. Trump for his loathsome speech should be “burned at the stake of hypocrisy.”

Now, I do not necessarily disagree with these observations. However, they are no excuse to ignore the apparently fundamentally evil and twisted nature of Mr. Trump’s attitude and worldview. And the fact that his “apologies” were never on an acceptable level, and almost always were excuses – because he tried to point the “hideous actions” finger back around on the Clintons – indicates he’s not actually repentant, he’s just trying to recover from the damage this information has rightfully done to his campaign.

The second “reason” is so silly it would be laughable if it were not being given as an argument from someone who claims to be a follower of Christ / worshipper of God: and that is that the words spoken by Trump (then, now, or later) don’t “effect” the writer personally, or anyone else in America.

Following which, Riddleberger writes: “And for the record, I care about policy, and policy only.” And goes on to decry Clinton’s ‘policies’ and extol Trump’s.

My response to which is this: does this person not understand that character dictates policy? Not only that, it dictates and guides how that ‘policy’ is carried out or reached!

Also, since when is it even acceptable that a Christian’s ONLY concern in having a part in choosing a leader been political policy???

Another disturbing piece of what this article presents is that economics more specifically seems to be this person’s primary and driving concern – as is Mr. Trump’s. And from listening to Mr. Trump, it’s obvious that even in the area of international affairs, his only concern is rejuvenating America’s economy. And I’ll leave it to the reader to think on that particular part of the issue…

So, my point? Yes God has allowed Christians in America a rare chance to regularly effect and interact with the government they live in – but I am so tired of the apparent blindness and egotism of those who have bought into this two party system.

Nowhere does God, in Scripture, command me to place my endorsement upon and help give power to an evil entity that will spit upon His name and trod upon the weak and oppressed – but it does say quite a bit about fleeing and hating evil while doing and loving good… Psalm 97:10, Amos 5:15, Proverbs 8:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:22, Philippians 4:8, etc…

So please, dear reader, if you are a professing Christian, put aside your natural desire for security (financially or otherwise) and truly consider the problems in our country: the epidemic ‘legal’ murder of children, the growing power of the “uber-rights for the religion of erotica” LGBTQ Movement, the lack of Gospel preaching in “churches” all across this nation, Biblical illiteracy, hatred of and apathy toward one’s neighbor, the lack of care for the homeless and destitute, rampant immorality, etc, etc… and worst of all lack of love for God… in light of these things, and so many others, do you really think voting for someone with only fractionally less deplorable character than “the opposition” will really help anything? There are other options.

But, regardless of what your conscience will permit as a better choice, we must all remember that ultimately God is in control and as He judges this nation, if He does it by our hands or against them, so be it…

RANDOM END NOTE: I am reminded here of a couple quotes from John Calvin, “When God wants to judge a nation, he gives them wicked rulers.” And C H Spurgeon, “Worldly policy is a poor, shortsighted thing, and when men choose it as their road, it leads them over dark mountains.”

But, as always, there may as yet be hope on that end:

“Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD. In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” His ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of his sight; as for all his foes, he puffs at them. He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.” His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity. He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent. His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket; he lurks that he may seize the poor; he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net. The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might. He says in his heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.” Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted. Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”? But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none. The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.” ~ Psalm 10 (ESV)

Life Altering Books

I thank God for books, and try to read as many as I can. It is partly through books (extra-biblical and Biblical) that He saved me.
My wife suggested that for my next post I list and talk about some of the more influential/helpful books that I have read… And that is pretty much what is pictured above.

The first book that truly shook me to my core was The Holiness of God by R C Sproul. I peruse the book now and find the principles taught within it so foundational and simply primary to what the Bible teaches – but when I first read the book, around the age of 19 or 20, I had hardly ever heard the word “holiness” explained, let alone heard it expounded and taught as an essential of God’s nature. My almost constant reaction as I went to reference after reference of Scripture that the book pointed to was a jaw dropped in astonishment at how much of the Bible I was completely ignorant about. Though I have no “conversion story” that could indicate a time and place in which God saved me, I would almost be willing to bet that it was in the course of reading this book that He did.

Having soaked up so much profound truth from that book, I sought out more by R C Sproul at the library I frequented and came across the title Surprised by Suffering – and again God used Mr. Sproul to open my eyes to a gaping hole in my knowledge and understanding of Scripture.

Here I should probably note that my memory on the separation of time between reading the books in this list is a little hazy, because at that point in my life I was always reading several books at a time, and it was around this point that I began to listen to at least three sermons a day that I found online – this was possible because I had no job and only attended a trade school two days out of the week, so I was in my room studying for vast amounts of time.

All that to say I’m not sure if I found A W Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy because I heard it quoted in a sermon or read it quoted in a book. Regardless, I’m fairly certain I read it fairly soon after Mr. Sproul’s work, and found it incredibly helpful and thought-provoking. Although Tozer rarely actually quotes Scripture and deals more with conceptual application, his way of thinking, I believe, is very convicting and helpful for breaking one of any form of mental stupor they might have fallen into.

Again, I’m not sure how I found J I Packer’s Knowing God, but it was extremely helpful in continuing my study of theology in the Bible.

Throughout the course of reading, studying, and listening to sermons, I had heard many people mention and quote a man by the name of John Piper – enter God is the Gospel and Don’t Waste Your Life. I had actually looked up and listened to quite a few hours of Mr. Piper’s preaching through the Desiring God website before I found and read these books (I think). But they were incredibly thought-provoking and convicting on their own particular topics.

I heard about Voddie Baucham and his book Family Driven Faith (which I’ve always thought would have been better titled “Faith Driven Family” 😉 from a good friend at the trade school I was attending at the time. I subsequently added his itinerant and pastoral preaching to my list of things I listened to regularly, and have also read nearly all of his other books since then.

Radical by David Platt, was incredibly helpful and influential in helping me to see the way our culture was effecting Christians’ practice of their religion – and it was supposed to, ‘cuz the book’s subtitle is: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.

Another impactful book I would add to this list is The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a book that I would almost recommend that every Christian read at least once.

Finally – just because this article has already gotten way longer than intended, and I have to stop somewhere – I heard Paul Washer highly recommend The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott on numerous occasions and so eventually bought the book. I found it to be one of the best books aimed specifically at husbands and their duties that I have ever read.

Well, I could add a LOT more to that list – considering that I think I read more than a hundred books in the three+ years following my discovery of The Holiness of God – but again, I need to conclude somewhere; and not everyone has the kind of time to read that I did then and still spend sufficient time in Scripture.

So I will close with an acknowledgement of the sufficiency of Holy Writ, and a reminder to myself and others that – though wide reading is good and necessary for developing the brains God gave us – disciples of Christ must hold Scripture as the highest standard and be students of God’s Word above and before anything else.

Self-Esteem . . . Or God-Esteem?

I once heard a preacher make a great statement that is quite relevant to the last two posts I’ve put up – and his statement actually gave me the title for this post… But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’ve probably been thinking about this way more than is even helpful, but I couldn’t shake the question: does God really command me to love myself? I’ve read and heard a lot about self-esteem and how it can supposedly effect your attitude, relationships, and even “success” – whatever that means – in life. But I’ve always found it hard to believe that any of those teachings are Biblical. Honestly, am I supposed to believe that Scripture actually teaches that one of my problems is that I think too poorly of myself?

So, naturally, to answer my own questions, I go to the Bible – and specifically I go to the places that describe mankind’s essential problem:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them…

…as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.

All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.”

“The venom of asps is under their lips.”

“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”

“Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.”

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… ~ Romans 1:18-32, 3:10-18, & 3:23 (ESV)

(NOTE: see also Psalm 14, Psalm 53, Jeremiah 17:9, Psalm 36:1-6, Ephesians 2:1-3, etc.)

So, according to Scripture, my problem is not that I am “deceived” or self-deprecating, but that I am a God-hater. And thus I pervert the good things God originally made and act against His law, thereby earning for myself the just and righteous wrath of my Almighty Creator. What is worse, I can do nothing to appease the wrath of this thrice-Holy God, because even my attempts to do so are tainted with selfish, evil idolatry.

Now, the good news is that God has appeased that wrath Himself to save a people from Himself, for Himself. Jesus Christ, God the Son, took upon Himself the penalty for sin to redeem a people for Himself, thus making it possible to clothe them in His righteousness and delight in them for God’s own pleasure and glory.

So, since God has saved me and clothes me in the righteousness of His Son through my repentance and belief upon/in Him, I must forever focus upon the work and might of God – as that, and more, is merely the due reward of His act – and in so doing, forget myself (as far as is necessary without forgetting my state apart from Him, and His action) in the ever pursuing of His honor, praise, and glory.

(NOTE: see the entirety of the portions of Romans quoted above, the rest of Psalm 36, Ephesians 2:4-10, and the entirety of the New Testament…)

So, to return to what I opened with – and to close – here is a paraphrastic quote of something I first heard Voddie Baucham say:

“What we need is not more ‘self-esteem.’ What we need is more God-esteem!”

And here are a couple quotes I saw throughout the length of time it took me to gather my thoughts for this post:

“If any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him, for you are worse than he thinks you to be.” ~ C. H. Spurgeon

“Only those who have learned well to be earnestly dissatisfied with themselves, and to be confounded with shame at their own wretchedness, truly understand the Christian gospel.” ~ John Calvin

NOTE: at some point I will post something in response to those silly people that would read these quotes and say “but now your focused back on your ‘wickedness’ instead of God! (I.e. Christians shouldn’t think about their sin)” … But – for now – suffice it to say a healthy (and poor) view of one’s self, balanced with a mindset of self-forgetfulness, SHOULD lead the disciple of Christ to greater and greater love for and confidence in the merciful, gracious, and worthy God and LORD of the universe.