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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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“Why God, Why?”

The tragic murders at Sandy Hook Elementary have spawned a lot of questions. Reading through tweets and Facebook posts, you see a variety of responses. I’ve answered some questions privately, and tried to make some comments on friends posts, but I wanted to give what I think is a biblical perspective, answering as best I can, the “why” question.

The real answer to these things will either make sense to you or not, but it likely depends on your faith, and the philosophy you hold to regarding the nature of man. Most likely, your beliefs about the nature of man will, in turn, be dependent upon your beliefs about the nature of God.

The bible makes both the nature of man, and the nature of God clear. Man, in his fallen state is utterly sinful.
The prophet Jeremiah wrote: “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? –Jer 17:9 Of course, the bible is filled with verses that say this same thing, over and over.
Yet, most people, even people of christian background, believe that most people are basically good.
The scripture knows nothing of that reasoning, quite the contrary, we are all sinners.

Correspondingly, the bible declares God good. Well, not just good, but the very essence of love, truth, and goodness. Thousands of years ago, God spoke to Moses and declared Himself the following way:  “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” –Ex 34:6-7

It’s the sin of man that we see rear it’s head in naked full force with events like Sandy Hook, or the Clackamas, Oregon shooting. It’s a sickness of heart that caused a young man to arm himself and open fire on movie goers in Colorado. It’s the same sickness that we see in the images of terror attacks like 911, or the holocaust.
We can either ignore this fact and treat symptoms, or we can put our man pants on and address it like men.
Whatever you philosophy, bear with me.

It was not guns, video games, bullying, or any other symptom that caused any of these tragedies.
Men use their hands, knives, guns, poison, and even airplanes to accomplish evil.
…it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. –Gen 4:8
Cain likely accomplished his murder with a club or stone, and he needed no motive other than jealousy.
It’s been that way since the beginning of time. What Cain needed, and what all men need, is a remedy for sin, something to actually address the wickedness of our hearts.

I remember the day that I realized that I was a sinner, not just a “bad boy” but I was the devil that I feared.
With a motive of stealing some drugs, a buddy and I were in the process of breaking into an apartment of a known drug dealer. We pried open a bedroom window, and he lifted me up to crawl in… I’ll never forget the instant I locked eyes on the toddler who’s bed I was suspended above. It broke my heart, realizing that I was the bad guy that as a little kid I often imagined was at my bedroom window.

Later, I came to realize that there is a vast gulf fixed between sinful man and righteous God. He is willing to forgive the sin of man, but He has given us a prescribed way that that sin needs to be dealt with. The problem is, if you reject the idea of your own sinfulness, or the biblical nature of man, you will never submit yourself to the purpose of God. And, you will never arrive at the answer to the question, “why?”

In His sovereignty God allows sinful man to choose his own path, and his own future, including his final destination. When men choose to reject God to the degree and finality that some do, the consequences are tragic. Sin, left unchecked, always brings about death.

Friend, I hope that you understand these things. I hope that you have put your faith in Christ and asked Him to forgive you for your sins. This is the plan of God, to redeem man, by the sacrifice of His Son Jesus.
Through this act of turning to God in faith, you can have your nature changed from within. The scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit comes to reside within the believer. This is truly the only hope of mankind, –a spiritual transformation from within. The Apostle Paul put it this way: “if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  –Romans 8:13-14

Unfortunately, as we live in a world that is spiritually at war with God, we will continue to see tragic events like what has happened recently in our country, until the Prince Of Peace comes to rule on earth.
Until then, it’s our job as believers, to help transform the world, bringing the good news of God’s love and forgiveness in Christ to every human on the planet. But, it has to start with you.

I welcome your comments and questions.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2012 in Culture, Evangelism, Real Life

 

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What “Amish Mafia” Teaches Us

John, Alvin, Levi, & Jolin -the Amish Mafia

John, Alvin, Levi, & Jolin -the Amish Mafia

I know, it’s a crazy title isn’t it, “Amish Mafia,” really? It’s the one that the Discovery Channel folks gave to their new shocking reality series about the inner workings of a gang of thugs who protect the interests of a group of Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It was promoted well enough, that I had to watch!

I’ve watched two episodes of the show, and I have to admit, the title that Discovery gave it, fits well.
Every episode chronicles this gang, led by “Lebanon Levi” as they investigate accusations of wrongdoing, dole out vigilante justice, and profit handsomely for the protections they provide to their Pennsylvania-Dutch community.

Like a lot of the Discovery Channel and History Channel “reality shows” this one is based upon real people and the real things that they do. One of the compelling aspects of these shows, is that the viewer (or rubbernecker), learns about people and cultures of which they might otherwise be unaware. Just as shows like “Deadliest Catch” have given us a deeper appreciation for king crab, and an understanding of why it’s costlier than gold, Amish Mafia shows us a world heretofore unimagined.

When I think Amish, perhaps like you, I think of a quiet, reserved, people living out a faith in a cloistered yet idyllic environment belonging to a bygone era. I think of hardworking people, who typify the Pauline exhortation to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands –1 Thess 4:11 (NASB)

Man, was I ever wrong.

What Amish Mafia shows us, is the ugly underbelly of a religious community trapped in a cultural heritage that has an appearance of propriety but practices that are no different than what they refer to as the “English” world.
In the two episodes that I watched, I saw gun-toting, redneck cussing, and greedy gang members behaving similarly to inner city street gangs. I saw the non-gang members engaged in acts of collusion, secrecy, adultery, gossip, slander, and more, -even secret parties where licentiousness was condoned with profit, and inner lusts were given temporary sanction.

What can we learn from watching? Something very significant I think. What the Amish, and specifically this shock Discovery offering shows us, is the utter impotence of religion. (gasp)
The Amish have all the trappings of religion, but it’s merely a form having no substance.
They have restrictions on dress, conduct, ethics, and all kinds of moral trappings -all based on isolated and un-contextulaized scriptures. They go to church faithfully, and have a high regard for church authority, and supposedly, for God Himself.

The lifestyle illustrated vividly by the Amish, or any religious cult, show us the inability of religion to transform the human soul, let alone temper sin. Rather, religion only casts a shroud on it.
And the following verses are proven:

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit –Romans 8:2-4 (NASB)

The only thing that can truly transform the human soul is the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God does not work in the efforts of human religion. The transformative, empowering, work of the Spirit of God, is imparted to those who, by faith in the person and work of Jesus, yield themselves to His magnificent grace in love.

Did you watch the show? If so, what was your takeaway?

 

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2012 in Culture, Real Life

 

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Oops. (why is it so hard to admit)

Have you ever wondered why it is so hard to admit mistakes when you make them?
Everyone does it, but very few are readily willing to admit it.
Why?

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2012 in Just For Fun

 

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The Devil’s Method: “Truth & Lie Mixed.”

Wednesday night in our 2 Samuel study, we were in chapter 16 and looking at David’s detractor Shimei.
Shimei cursed David, and threw rocks and dirt at him. I asked this question as it relates to Shimei and the devil, “what does the devil whisper in your ear when he wants to discourage you?”

If you think about it, he has a few lines probably, that when whispered in your ear by an unwitting fool, can really cause you to lose confidence.

David was in the midst of being really pressed by God. He was in decline, getting old, and weary from the fallout of his own failures as a man, as a king, and as a father.
What the enemy accused him of was true.
He called him a man of bloodshed. He called him a worthless fellow.
David had killed Uriah, he was a murderer.
David was an adulterer, bad father, bad husband, and more, -yes, “worthless fellow” applied.

However, after saying things that were true, Shimei goes on to make conclusions that were not, this is an often practiced method of the devil. In verse 8, Shimei blames David for the death of Saul and the subsequent downfall of house. This was the Lord’s doing, not David’s. David had been righteous regarding Saul, trusting God with his enemy and his future. Shimei further accuses David of somehow usurping the throne… “in whose place you have reigned” making accusation that his kingship was illegitimate. This was a great lie. David was God’s appointed and anointed king.

What Shimei, and guys like him, inspired of the devil, don’t understand, is that it is not our actions or achievement that qualify us for God’s blessing, it’s a work of grace. True, David did not deserve the blessings that were his, but they were his nonetheless… by grace. God blessed David the believer.
If you are a believer, hold on to the promises of God in the face of your accuser, you have “an advocate, Jesus Christ the Righteous!” –1 John 2:1

Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.-Galatians 3:6

Don’t listen to the enemy, believe God.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2011 in Forum Interaktiv, Teaching

 

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Marriage In Genesis – No.6 : Responsibility

…and the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “where are you?” Genesis 3:9

At this point both Adam and Eve had lost fellowship with God because of sin.
The serpent did what he is exceedingly good at, tempting them with a promise of personal benefit, he tricked them into believing his doctrine over God. He trolled, they bit, got hooked, and fell.
Remember, they did this together.

When God wanted to address the situation with His now wayward children, carefully look at how He goes about it. He doesn’t say, “Adam and Eve, where are you?” He addresses Adam…. alone.
God has designed a “chain of command” in marriage, and He holds the men responsible.

It is not as though Eve will somehow not be accountable for her own sin, we will see God address that in the next few verses, but the responsibility for the “family” if you will, rests upon the man.
Paul wrote: “I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:3

Oh that men would rise to this God-given responsibility and take their role seriously… however things go in the home and in your marriage, God will inquire of you. Cover your wife, cover your children,… be a man.

 

If you have not been following this post-series, here are links to No.1No.2No.3No.4, & No.5

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2011 in marriage, Teaching

 

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