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The Rainbow

rainbowbridge4

I wanted to write something here about the rainbow. I logged into my WordPress account to write, only to be confronted yet again by a rainbow:

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 1.26.54 PM

Even WordPress is on board with the rainbow theme. I went to the Chase ATM the other day and was greeted by a rainbow and the reminder that “it’s PRIDE month. I saw on WA State Governor Jay Inslee’s Instagram that they had hoisted the rainbow flag up alongside the state and national flags. It was interesting that the picture was taken at an angle that elevated the PRIDE flag above the others.

Interesting camera angle.

Interesting camera angle.

State Ferrys are flying the rainbow flags; (I was careful on the spelling there) Seattle painted 11 crosswalks with rainbow colors; even christian authors are using rainbow themes in their discussions of homosexual issues.

It all makes me wonder if anyone remembers where that rainbow came from and what it means?
In the words of Inigo Montoya, “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

The rainbow is a symbol or sign from God, and it is a reminder of things past. It is a reminder of the deluge.
Before the flood the sin on the earth was terrible.

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.  –Genesis 6:5-8 (NASB)

God caused a worldwide flood that destroyed every man, woman, child, & animal, except those who were preserved by Him in the ark of Noah. For the first time in history there was rain, as the firmament above and depths below erupted with water.
God wiped away the wickedness of humanity and preserved Noah, a man of faith. When it was all over, God made a promise, that never again would He cause a worldwide flood to wipe out humanity. The bible tells us that God set a bow in the cloud as a reminder of this promise.

I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.” God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”  –Genesis 9:11-17 (NASB)

Like all symbols, the rainbow means something: God, although a Righteous Judge, is also full of mercy.
There is another symbol that God has given for us to consider, it’s the cross. The cross is where the justice of a Righteous God was satisfied for sin. It’s also a place where the grace and mercy of God was demonstrated for all of humanity. God, gave His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for sin. The rainbow and the cross should remind us of the same things. God is righteous, and He has and will judge sin. But He has also provided escape by faith using a the ark, the cross, -symbols of His lovingkindness and salvation.

It would be nice to leave it there, however there is more to the rainbow. Matthew Henry has this to say:
“As the old world was ruined, to be a monument of justice, so this world remains to this day a monument of mercy. But sin, that drowned the old world, will burn this.” -Matthew Henry
Even as the prediluvian world was reviling in their sin prior to judgment, so the antediluvian world will be culminating in the same apostasies. Jesus spoke of the day in which the world could expect His return:

For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.  –Matthew 24:37-39 (NASB)

Men and women are celebrating under a symbol that they do not understand. They are reviling in sin against God and nature. Although God has extended mercy and grace through Jesus,… like the ark, if people refuse to get on board (by faith in Jesus) -only judgement remains. Future judgement is a certain as it was in the past, and that judgement is not through water, but fire.

 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water,  through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.
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. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  –2 Peter 3:3-9 (NASB)

I pray for our nation, our leaders, our world,… that many would come to repentance and put faith in Jesus, the only hope of salvation.

 
 

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Signs O’ The Times

Last Sunday at C:A we talked about how Jesus rebuked the religious guys because they were not able to discern the signs of the times. I think the “signs of the times” is like reading headlines from news stories.
If you were  to collect all of the headlines of current news stories, how would that read?
Have you noticed the uptick in people eating people? Have you noticed how much we love to look at, and publish pictures of ourselves? Have you noticed how once unacceptable behavior and language is now entirely acceptable? Are you putting the picture together? Do you know how many billions of dollars have been to prove that God doesn’t exist, and that we are here completely by chance?
Are you able to discern the signs of our times?

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.
For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. -2 Peter 3:1-7

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Culture, My Opinion, Prophecy

 

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Context.

I was looking at a popular verse that I was given to teach on, at a local Christian High School chapel service today. Along with the verse, I was given a theme. The theme and the verse are compatible, and it was a fun task. But the proposition reminded me of a great lesson in bible teaching, something that is very important as we seek to understand truth, whether biblical or otherwise.

It’s about context.

People take verses out of the bible and quote them for all kinds of applications that have nothing to do with the actual meaning of the text. Preachers do it, reporters do it, and politicians do it all the time. They take a line, a quote, or a truth, and misquote it out of context and they use it for their own purposes… sometimes even evil purposes.

For example, I remember teaching through the book of Philippians when I saw a boxer with “I can do all things”-Philippians 4:13 tattooed on him. I remember thinking, “oh yeah, that’s what Paul was talking about -athletic achievement! Christ will strengthen you to knock out your opponent.” No, if you go back and read his letter, he was talking about finances, and his ability to be content whether he had little or much in the way of financial provision. Now it is true that Christ does strengthen us for many more things than just contentment, but if we are going to understand the words of others properly, context matters, and in that case Paul was teaching a much more important and valuable lesson about Christian living.

Or, take the shortest verse in the bible: “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)
Well, if we didn’t look at the context, we might assume he was a crybaby. Or, maybe He just ate a jalapeno! I’m joking. But seriously, if you look at the context, you will see why He was weeping. And no, I don’t think it was because Lazarus died.
If you look closely at the context you will get the clues, I’m not going to give it away… you look and see. Be a Berean!

I don’t know who said it first, I heard it from an old teaching cassette, and it has served me well as I have sought to understand the scriptures:

“A text without a context is a pretext.”

This is a timeless truth, and understanding it will lead to a better understanding of much of what we read and hear. The definition of pretext is an interesting one:
“a purpose or motive alleged or an appearance assumed in order to cloak the real intention or state of affairs”Merriam Webster
We see there, that a pretext actually hides or cloaks the truth.

So, when you see those verses, taken out of context, don’t always assume that they are being applied accurately or fairly. Often times, they are not.
Now as for the media and politicians… assume that all quotes are taken out of context. 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in My Opinion, Teaching

 

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Marriage In Genesis – No.5: “Naked & Unashamed”

And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. –Genesis 2:25.

When you consider the full context of this verse, you can see how wonderful things were for this first couple before sin entered the picture…
They lived in a tropical paradise/garden.
They had all that they needed.
They had fellowship with God.
They were naked.
They were mot ashamed.
After Adam and Eve sinned, we see that the first thing that happens, is that they become guilty and ashamed, and try to cover themselves with fig leaves. (Gen. 3:7) – Sin causes guilt and shame.

Because of sin, I learned at an early age to associate nakedness with shame. I was not taught either a healthy understanding of my own sexual feelings, nor a proper respect for women. I remember being told to “keep my pants zipped up” – but that’s about the extent of it. Like a lot of young boys, I was exposed to pornography at an early age, and this fueled an unhealthy view of sexuality that did not serve me well.

The bible calls sexual activity outside of marriage “porneia.” Take a look at this verse from 1 Thessalonians… “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality” – 1 Thess. 4:3. The word “sexual immorality” is the Greek word porneia, and Paul clearly states that this is not God’s will for the Christian. This is clear throughout the scriptures, God is against all sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage.

We need to be reminded that there is a proper place and role of sex within God’s plan for our lives -and that is within marriage. God has designed and blessed sexuality in marriage and there is no shame or guilt associated with it, that is one of the joys of marriage.
Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. – Hebrews 13:4

If you are not married, know that God is against any sexual activity apart from being committed in marriage.
If you are married, know that God blesses sexual activity within your committed marriage relationship, and He is still against any sexual activity outside of your “marriage bed.”

If you have not been following this post-series, here are links to No.1No.2No.3 & No.4.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in marriage, Teaching

 

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Marriage In Genesis – No.4: 1+1=1

And they shall become one flesh” –Genesis 2:24b
Jesus added to that with his commentary in Matthew 19:6a– “So, they are no longer two, but one flesh.

Herein lies the greatest difficulty mankind has ever faced. How does 1+1=1? I am a product of the public school system, and even I realize that the math doesn’t work! 🙂 The statistics bear this out. According to divorcerate.org approximately 50% percent of first marriages end in divorce, and those statistics get worse with subsequent divorces:  67% of second and 74% of third marriages ending in divorce.

Marriage is hard. Two different human beings, becoming one, in identity, purpose, future, etc. -how can this be accomplished?

First off, I’d like to say what the goal is not, and that is simply staying together. Have you ever been to a restaurant and seen the middle aged couple sitting there eating their meal in silence, never saying anything, not even looking at each other? That is not the goal, staying together, but remaining separate, is almost as ugly as divorce in my opinion.

The context for the first marriage begins with what is, for many, the missing ingredient –God.
There is no discussion with Adam and Eve about them needing to be convinced of the reality, purpose, and need for God in their lives, it’s a given. I discussed that a bit in post no.1.

So, how does having God involved, change things? I would have to say, that having Him involved, is just that, not just a mutual faith in God, but a faith that is practiced mutually. James lays that out a bit for us in his letter, when he says repeatedly that “faith without works is dead.” You see, faith is more than a mental agreement, it is a belief that motivates a particular behavior. In the case of Christian marriage, this is how it works: I believe in God, I believe in His word. He tells me to love my wife. I understand from the scriptures that love is an action, not a feeling. Love was demonstrated by God in sacrifice and commitment, therefore, my faith dictates that I must be sacrificially committed to my wife, in order to love her with a biblical love.

This is a decision, it’s a process, it’s a lifestyle. It’s not natural. If you want a natural process, it will most likely result in either not ever fully committing (loving), or giving up when it gets tough.

For me, both as a teacher of God’s word, as well as a married person with a two decade beginning on what I think is a healthy marriage, God is the key to making my math problem work. He does miracles when we are surrendered to Him. 1+1 does not equal one without Him, but with Him, it works. On a daily basis, as we are filled with His Spirit, and following His direction, we are able to accomplish His will in our lives. In my opinion, there is no greater explanation of what that looks like for us practically, than what the Apostle Paul laid out for us in Philippians chapter 2. I suggest that as required reading and application for every person, let alone every married couple.

If you have not been following this post-series, here are links to No.1, No.2, & No.3.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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