Monthly Archives: April 2015

Side Effects

A quick side-effect to hearts that are being made uncomfortable is anger.  When we perceive something outside ourselves that is so much more than we are, it hurts us.  This can be part of the process of Christian growth, it can be part of the process of conversion.

While some can be easily seduced by beauty, truth, or goodness, others react with hostility.  This should not be taken as a discouragement, because it means that the target is definitely feeling the sweet pang of conscience brought by the Holy Spirit Himself.  We humans, blessed to have any hand at all in the proceedings, should get on with what we’ve been given to do.

I wish I could say that such anger would always be succeeded by conversion, but I cannot.  Eyes deliberately shut, backs deliberately turn away.  Art throughout the ages has been subject to the desecration of mobs, choosing to burn beauty rather than be scalded by its truth.  Denial, redefinition, twisting… these are also possible reactions.

But such is the nature of choice.

John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.  (NASB)

It grieves my heart.   And then I think, if it grieves me, who loves but little, how much  must it grieve our Lord?

Beauty… Goodness… Truth

Stingray was so lovely as to link me a couple of great sources in my comment box in regards to the death of truth (insofar as the World is concerned) and I’d like to discuss one of the theories in a little more depth.

I always liked this Father Barron video on evangelizing through beauty.

So how do we apply it? It’s not easy, but I think the most noticeable is how we live. People will notice it. Some may hate it, some may find it intriguing. But people see it. I think when we do our best to live as we are taught we should live, there is beauty there. We can use this beauty to show the Truth and for those willing to listen, to talk to them about it.

Also, I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but John C. Wright, who was a militant atheist and is now a devout Catholic, has his own ideas in how to do this.

Father Barron’s theory is that atheists and agnostics are often brought to God via the road of beauty.  That once beauty (in action as well as visual beauty – because beauty incorporates goodness and truth) penetrates the mind, the heart turns to goodness and discovers an appetite for it, and then goodness leads to truth.

I don’t have anything to argue with that – as a matter of fact, i have another blog entirely devoted to beauty and craft .  I absolutely DO agree – I think that we are doing the world as a whole a service when we create beauty in our actions, in our bodies, in our homes, in the things we produce, in the words that we say.  I think that this true beauty is a wonderful ambassador for God, our Creator, and the source of all that is good and pure.

But just as Truth has been under attack for a century or so, so has Beauty – quite explicitly.  Surely I don’t have to provide the examples of the things that are referred to as art in this day and age…  or as beauty…,204,203,200_.jpg  (but I did, anyway).

Our souls might know Beauty when we see it (and I believe that we do – there are studies of infants who have a desire for beauty) but our minds, our minds are under attack.   Beauty is a real thing, and we really desire it.  So there is a movement that attacks beauty, that seeks to “redefine” it as something other than wholeness, health, and that bit of something more.

There has also been a great cheapening of Beauty – since Beauty is a hard thing to define (even if we all know it when it comes ’round) some of the things that were once called beauty have been reproduced as second-quality and made un-beautiful, mere plasticine copies of the pure original.

So – since we, as Christians, have a defense against this constant assault against Beauty, and are free to know the Truth of same… how do we break through the armies assaulting the minds of those around us?

  • Consistency:   We have to pursue Beauty consistently – in our behavior, in our lives, in every thing.
  • Intensity:  We have to make the things we call Beautiful *so* beautiful that anyone can feel the draw
  • Integrity:  What we create must point to our Creator, by being pure and good and true.
  • Availability:  If what we have to offer is to be evangelistic, it has to be available to others.  That doesn’t mean that our private spaces shouldn’t be beautiful – after all, our souls need feeding too – but if everything Beautiful in our lives is behind a closed gate, how will we use Beauty as an evangelistic tool?
  • Prayer.  For the Holy Spirit is the One who convicts, the One who calls hearts to Jesus, the One who does the work in the soul.  We have the responsibility to work the ground, to throw out the seed, but only He can bring the rain that makes the plant of new life in Jesus take root.

This essay has been hugely comforting and encouraging to me.  I am passionately in love with Beauty, and my soul is very easily affected by it.  It’s easy to give in to the idea that because what we create on this earth is ephemeral, it isn’t worth our efforts or time.  But if I can remember that as God is reflected in all of creation, though this earth will pass away, so – if I keep God in mind, and do all things as unto Him, perhaps He can be revealed through the works of my hands too.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
As in water face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

After all, this time of evangelism is but for a moment… and then we will live for all eternity surrounded by more Beauty than we can imagine.  So what if the works of my hands, the words of my mouth, so what if they burn?  If they can be used to bring any soul closer to Christ, if they can be used like cool water on a fevered brow to give solace to a weary heart, if they can encourage someone more clever or talented to do a greater work, then they have done their part.  And so have I.

And this is part of my work – Beauty.  So, thank you to Stingray for leading me back to one of my first loves…….. and making me see why, perhaps, I love Beauty so very much.

The World tried to kill Truth, but they only blinded themselves

Proverbs 1:20 Wisdom shouts in the street,
She lifts her voice in the square;
21 At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:
22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?
And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing
And fools hate knowledge?
23 “Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.
24 “Because I called and you refused,
I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;
25 And you neglected all my counsel
And did not want my reproof;
26 I will also laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your dread comes,
27 When your dread comes like a storm
And your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.
28 “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,
29 Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the Lord.
30 “They would not accept my counsel,
They spurned all my reproof.
31 “So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way
And be satiated with their own devices.
32 “For the waywardness of the naive will kill them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them.
33 “But he who listens to me shall live securely
And will be at ease from the dread of evil.” (NASB)

How many atheists/agnostics do you know who talk about their chakras, buy centering crystals, or rearrange their furniture for the best chi?  They fidget around with the trappings of religion, while ignoring the religion itself.  (It is refreshing to debate an honest practitioner of another religion – but may I imagine that the devout Hindu is as disgusted with the popularizing of the externals of their faith as we Christians are of people who use crosses as fashion statements?)

How many people do you know who have rearranged their mental definitions of basic things, like gender and marriage and appropriate things to talk to kindergarteners about, based on the opinion of the herd?

How many people do you know who don’t think there is a God (or god) and yet… they pray and ask for prayers (or positive thoughts) when something goes badly?

No one examines these things.  No one thinks “what makes the rainbow chakra work?”  “Why do positive thoughts help heal?”  “Who am I praying to, and why do I think he/she/it cares about me at all?”  “Well, then – what does it mean to be male, female, or married?”  No one extrapolates.   No one examines.  They accept reiki and never wonder what makes it work…


John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.  (NASB)

Because if we are encouraged to think about Truth, to examine reality, then there is a chance that we will come to Christ.  We can’t be satisfied with sugar once we’ve tasted steak.  That’s why post-modernism came, to kill truth.  Because if you think, “What makes my meditation meaningful” and extrapolate out to the gods and goddesses of Hinduism, or the spirits of Tibetan Buddhism, or the worship of Astarte… perhaps you find that the God of the Bible is suddenly *much* more appealing?  Truth frees you from falsehood.  Yes, some of the pagans were forced to convert – but the gospel was good news to so many, many more.

In the World, truth is dead – and it is dead because it is dangerous.  Conservative Christian attempts to use logic to argue with Worldlings is like trying to perform CPR on a corpse.  They don’t speak logic any more, and the bracing cold of truth is but a breeze that ruffles their hair.  They are defended by their own willful delusions.

2 Thessalonians 2:10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

It is *so* frustrating.  How do you explain yourself, to a Worldling?  How do you explain your faith?

Again I come to the place where I look around and see that the paradigm of apologetics and intelligent argument is dying, and I ask myself – and then more usefully, ask the Lord – “what now?”  “How do we communicate the Truth, when truth is just an opinion, lightly held?”  We no longer use the same words as the Worldlings, for our words mean something very different – so discourse is rapidly becoming meaningless.

And yet, and yet – we must get out the Word, for they are not yet dead, and so may be saved.

So, what now?  I would *like* some thoughts and discussion about this, if y’all have any!!!

Pingback to Chris, who is apparently thinking some of the same things today.


This is what I prepared for my latest sitdown with the Jehovah’s Witness lady… which has led to a discussion of the immortal soul (anyone who wants to contribute verses, please do).  Today we talked about hellfire.   And I found out they don’t believe that souls are immortal.

Sharing what I put together, maybe it will be of use to you, maybe not.  Sibs do that, right?  🙂

Notes on Gehenna, Hades, Tartarus…

Hades and Tartarus are from Greek mythology, but since the NT was written in Greek and divinely inspired, we can assume that the Lord knew what He was doing in choosing these terms.

Hades is a general term for the afterlife – it’s not a pleasant place, and most dead go there.   Tartarus is a specially nasty place where punishments are handed out.  (Ellysium is the only positive Greek afterlife, but of course it is not mentioned in the Bible. )

Gehenna (/ɡɪˈhɛnə/Ancient Greek: γέεννα), Gehinnom (Rabbinical Hebrew: גהנום/גהנם) and Yiddish Gehinnam, are terms derived from a place outside ancient Jerusalem known in the Hebrew Bible as the Valley of the Son of Hinnom (Hebrew: גֵיא בֶן־הִנֹּם or גיא בן-הינום); one of the two principal valleys surrounding the Old City.

In the Hebrew Bible, the site was initially where apostate Israelites and followers of various Ba’als and other Canaanite gods, including Moloch (or Molech), sacrificed their children by fire (2 Chr. 28:333:6). Thereafter it was deemed to be cursed (Jer. 7:3119:2-6).[1]

In Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scripture, Gehenna is a destination of the wicked.[2] This is different from the more neutral Sheol/Hades, the abode of the dead, although the King James Version of the Bible usually translates both with the Anglo-Saxon word Hell.

(That’s wiki, but we study this in church.  I just wanted a text reference).

As a Christian, I understand Hades as a holding place for the damned who have not yet been judged.   It’s really awful, but it’s not as awful as Gehenna will be – as Hades is set to be burned up IN Hell.

(All Scripture used is NASB, which is the closest word-for-word translation available excepting an interlinear).

Revelation 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whosepresence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

(I know Dante wrote an epic poem called “Inferno” and that the concepts have infected our cultural understanding of the afterlife, but that’s not Scriptural, so I’m not paying any attention to it).


Are there any of the damned burning right now?  Yes, I think so, based on the story of Lazarus and the rich man.  (I do believe this to have been a specific person, because Jesus never lied, and therefore, He would not have given a specific name to someone if they didn’t really exist).

Luke 16:19 “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. 20 And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, 21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. 22 Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”


Lots of verses about Hell.  Most of them spoken by Jesus.

Matthew 5:29 If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, [ac]than for your whole body to go into hell.  (Gehenna is used here)

Matthew 5: 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (Gehenna of fire)

Matthew10: 27 What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. 28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  (Gehenna is used here)

Matthew 13: 40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Matthew 13: 49 So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 23:32 Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? (Gehenna is used here)

Mark 9:43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, 44 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 45 If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, 46 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.47 If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. (Gehenna is used here)

Luke 12:“I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! (Gehenna is used here)

2 Peter 2:4  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; (Tartarus)

Revelation 14: Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

Yet more on fire… as used in the sense of hellfire.

Matthew 3:12  His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Matthew 25: 41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

John 15:6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

Hebrews 10:26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries

James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

2 Peter 3:7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

Jude 1:7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

Revelation 19:20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.

Revelation 21:8 But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Musings about Reality

Just thoughts drifting through after church tonight.

Pastor Mike has no use for fellow pastors who want to change the Word of God.  Apparently he got some emails about changing the Bible to reflect modern sensibilities.  He was MAD.

I’m completely down with this.  You know, I don’t expect worldlings to believe the Word of God or take it seriously, or as sacred.  But pastors?  On God’s payroll?  Speaking for Him, professionally?  Um. NO.

But that takes us to another place – he was talking about Defense Of Marriage Sunday (next week), and while I’m tots down with voting my conscience and God’s law, I think we’re well past the line of insanity on this.  Logically – if there is no Creator, then there’s no reason that the bald bipeds shouldn’t do whatever they can get away with and make up whatever rules they want.

I think we’ve lost the argument against gay marriage when we refer to it as gay marriage, period.  It’s just not marriage.  It doesn’t matter what the state says, it’s still not a marriage.  Humans can’t make it a marriage, it’s not possible.  I can point at a lime all afternoon and say, “lemon!” and it still isn’t a lemon.  Similar, but not.  The law is relevant to how American Christians have to live life and interact with our government, but it’s ultimately not relevant to God or reality.

I’ve read the arguments pro “marriage equality” and they come down to saying that since the functions are similar, the title should be the same.  It reminds me of when I was sleeping with my boyfriend (now DH for those of you keeping score at home) and crying out to God and making excuse and saying, “but we’re going to get married!  It’s just like being married – we share a bank account and…” and I knew perfectly well that what was coming out of my mouth was manure designed to make me feel better about doing something wrong.  (FWIW it wasn’t like being married, once I got married and learned the difference).

I don’t really under… wait. I do.  Because under all the hogwash about not believing in the God of the Bible (you know, the One with actual standards of behavior), everyone has this visceral understanding of Him, and therefore they desire to please Him or at least not tick Him off too much.  “I will make this thing I am doing that is bad NOT bad by getting everyone else to agree with me that it’s not-bad”.  Which is why they get SO mad at those of us who are stubborn about saying that fornication in all its festive forms is against the rules.

It was Dr. McGee who said that it wasn’t proof of God that kept folks away from Him, it was the fondness people have for their pet sins.  And that’s my personal gripe with “gay marriage”.  It makes it that much harder to give up your sin and walk away from it and walk towards God.  If you’re doing something under cover so no one knows, you kind of feel good when you leave it behind.  When you commit to the doing of something in front of the whole wide world… wow, that makes it really hard to make a change, even if you wanted to.  It grieves me to see that extra wall put up between sinners and repentance.

For all that it’s hard to walk the line (having walked both ways), it’s also such a relief.  Because I am right with God, I can have a life of transparency.  After all, if it’s kosher with God, it’s kosher.

And we wander back to our muttons – as we see the World today replacing the constant standard of behavior laid down by the Lord with group consensus.  Thus you have SJWs – front line troops working to break down the folks who don’t go with the latest versions of groupthink.  You wonder why they care what you and I think about their behavior … but they care because while we stand for God, we remind them that there IS a real standard.  Not post-modernist “there is no reality, there is no truth”.

And so – we can expect to be attacked for what we believe.  C’est la vie.  I leave you with one more thought, from this morning’s mentor meeting/teaching:

2 Corinthians 10: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

Okay, so now what?

Once upon a time, a long time ago… well, not so long ago… Christians wore white hats.  We were the good guys.  As a matter of fact, we thought we had goodness on lock to the point that we thought that *we* could fix the world so that it would be shiny and perfect for Jesus to come and rule.  I know, it’s crazy – right?  Looking at our world in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, you surely do not think of humans as being able to fix the messes that we’ve made… but so it was.

Christianity (at least nominal Christianity) has been the default for so long… we’re so used to it… because you know, a lot of folks weren’t true to the faith, and they acknowledged that they weren’t, but they agreed with us about what was good, and what was bad, and they praised those who were good, even if they thought they were a bit bug-nutty.

Times have changed.  Those of us who are prone to histrionics (gets out the mirror) or melodrama are ready to say that we’re headed straight for the time of Christian persecution circa first-century Rome, where failing to burn a bit of incense to Caesar once a year was a death sentence.

Yes, the bus is headed that direction, but we haven’t gotten very far on the road as yet.   Let’s not make ourselves out to be martyrs before we’re on the scaffold, shall we?

But it *is* time that we start thinking like martyrs.  No, not in self-aggrandizement, “look at what I’m suffering for Jesus”, but really looking around us – this world is NOT our home.  It never was.  So, what can we accomplish in the time and place that we’ve been put?  What ground can we gain for the Kingdom of Heaven?

Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

What is the goal?  What should we be doing?

Should we withdraw, pull back, let the world go to pot and out-breed them quietly on our farms?

Should we fight back, using politics, demagogues, marches and social media?

Should we give in, as some of our so-called siblings in Christ have done?  (This is here merely for the logic – I’m not suggesting it).

Should we get out in the communities, taking one for Christ and concentrating on winning souls?

God knows, I don’t.  My preference is #1… but I tend to think my preference is a result of my cowardly flesh, wanting to avoid conflict.  I *think* we should be doing #4.

Because the World no longer gives even lip service to what we call right and wrong, we can stop pretending.  There was never any way for a human to change their hearts and lives – not without Jesus.  I don’t think we *can* convince the World that our rules (Bible) are good  before we convince them that Jesus is everything.  Not now, not when they are having such a good time telling each other that there is no reason to feel bad for sin, that there is no sin.

And so how, how do we do this on the day to day?  Well, we have instructions in our Rule Book – and I think we should help each other and remind each other about what those say.  And I think we should be looking for temporal things to do as well, things that are specific to 2015.. . to this day, this hour.  And we should look to the Spirit, and follow His leading as we speak to those around us, letting His words replace ours, His grace replace our anger, His truth replace our wounded hearts.

And in *that way* we should think of ourselves as the martyrs thought of themselves – as warriors for Jesus, as the ones on the ground, to do whatever needs doing, until we’re called Home.

Hey, I could be wrong… the Lord COULD cause this world to be perfect before He comes back – but you know what?  Whatever He does with it, it belongs to Him, as do I.  All I am responsible for is my obedience.  I’m a trooper, not a general.  I’m not in charge of planning this war, I’m only responsible for my part in the fight.

The Joy of the Gospel: Go and Sin No More

I see a lot of pushback from the World, saying that Jesus hung out with whores and reprobates, and didn’t hang out with the Pharisees, so therefore He would like the outsiders more than He’d like us conservative Christians.

In some cases, I think they have a point.  I mean, I have a mirror… :/

But they’re missing the Big Idea.  Jesus 1) said “Go and sin no more” and 2) They did that.  So, um, there was this thing called “sin” and everyone had some agreement about some of what it included.

It used to be this horrible thing, to be a sinner – your life was a mess, you knew your life was a mess and you hated yourself.  Having someone come and wash you clean of your old life and make you into someone new, give you hope… that was a BIG DEAL.  (Parable of the Two Debtors – see below).

Repentance, forgiveness, giving yourself to Jesus – they’re the start of a whole new life.   That’s the joy – that you can start anew.  That justice can be served AND mercy can exist.  The Christians who have come to Christ as adults, who came from lives of sin… oh wow.  They are SO in love with Jesus, so filled with joy, so dedicated to Him.

Jesus never said, “You’re totally fine the way you are, don’t change a thing”.  If anyone was fine, He wouldn’t have had to die.  He said, “I can change you – will you let me into your heart?”  That’s the bit about repentance, you see?  If you were perfect and fine, there would have been nothing to repent from.  For some of us, the sins aren’t the kind that our neighbors point and stare at – but we sin, and we fail, and we get ugly.  For others of us, the sins are *exactly* the kinds of things that the neighbors talk about.  It doesn’t matter – either way, we become new in Christ.

Those of us who have been forgiven should remember both the magnitude of our debt, and shine forth the new life which is Christ inside our hearts.

Those who haven’t yet found Jesus should know that those things that hurt so badly when they look in their histories, in their hearts?  That those things – yes, even *that* – can be forgiven.  You can start over, start over with God inside your heart, enabling you to do the things you wanted to do and leave behind the things you hate so much.

You too can go and sin no more.  But you’ll never do that until you admit that you’ve got sin going on.  And we *all* have it.  All of us.

The gift is free, and the change is radical.

The Parable of the Two Debtors:  Luke 7:36-50

36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, 38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”

40 And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” 44 Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. 47 For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 49 Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” 50 And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”