How Do You Measure Jesus?

The white man thinks Him too brown.

The black man thinks Him too blond.

The tall man thinks Him too short.

The short man things Him to tall.

The legalist thinks Him too gracious.

The despot thinks Him too kind.

The miser thinks Him too generous.

The libertine thinks Him too strict.

How do you measure Jesus?

“John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by all her children.” (Luke 7.33-35)

People seem never satisfied with Jesus. He’s too harsh or too kind, too noble or too low, too powerful or too weak. On and on they complain, and by their complaints they reject Him.

Perhaps we should quit measuring Him and notice that He is measuring us!

Upset with God?

Joshua 7 accounts the trouble Israel fell into because of Achan’s sin and what they ended up doing about it.

Do you remember Achan’s sin? He stole some silver, a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and a bar of gold from the city of Jericho. God had absolutely and clearly forbidden them to take anything from the city because it was all devoted to HIM, as all firstfruits should be. Achan directly disobeyed the word of God and stole those things, hiding them under his tent.

Thirty-six Israelites died in a small battle they should have easily won against Ai, all because of Achan’s sin.

Joshua was mad because God had let them lose such a small battle–what would the people of the land think when they found out about it? They would be emboldened to fight against Israel, and God’s name would not be glorified.

But God told Joshua someone had sinned, and until Joshua removed the sin from the camp, God would not be with them; they would continue to lose.

So Joshua and the Israelites discovered Achan, heard his confession, dug up the contraband, and then stoned him AND his wife AND his kids AND his animals. Then they burned them with fire and heaped a huge pile of stones over their bodies.

Yes, that’s exactly what God wanted them to do.

Here is where we hear indictments against God. Shocked individuals cry, “How could God allow such a thing?!” Perhaps they could imagine how God could hold Achan accountable for his own sin, but how could God hold it against the whole family? There is no indication that the family knew what Achan had done, and surely we wouldn’t hold little children responsible.

Before we continue thinking about God, what else might we learn from this account?

1. Sin is serious. We are apt to label our own sins as “mistakes” or “issues,” downplaying and trivializing them. How often do we honestly look at what we have done and use God’s language? I have sinned and “transgressed [God’s] covenant that [He] commanded” me (Joshua 7.11). Call it a lie. Call it stealing. Call it fornication. Call it adultery. Call it unfaithfulness. Call it pride and arrogance. Call it what it is, and recognize how serious it is.

2. Sin never hurts only me. One of Satan’s great lies is this: “It’s okay because it doesn’t really hurt anyone else.” This is total nonsense. The teenage junky uses this logic, while her parents pray and mourn and worry at home. The watcher of pornography uses this logic, while the ladies in his life suffer because of his warped way of viewing women. The drunkard uses this logic, right up until he is charged for vehicular homicide. Achan probably thought, “It won’t hurt anyone…” Thirty-six men and his whole family died as a direct result.

But back to God’s actions. Instead of sitting in judgment over God and questioning His decisions and actions, the healthy way of reading Scripture is to attempt to understand God and how we should relate to Him.

1. God knows all the details. He knew Achan’s heart. He knew what his kids would turn out to be, had they grown up. He knew the wife’s heart.

2. God has all authority, and He makes rules for us to follow. We don’t get to question His authority; neither can we disobey without consequences. Every day men and women flaunt His authority because they don’t like God’s rules, but just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not fully true!

3. God doesn’t act like you or me. Sometimes God acts much more severely than I would. But most of the time He acts much less severely! When we truly understand sin and how it attacks and spurns our Creator, we realize that He has a right to kill each and every one of us because we have all disobeyed His rules. Why does He put up with us? Why does He let us live? Once we come to grips with that, then we see His harsh judgments upon some sinners is totally justified.

Why are folks continually upset with God? Either they don’t understand His complete authority over them or they don’t agree with His assessment of their sins. People reject God because they don’t like Him.

What about you?

Does the Bible Really Say That?

Does the Bible REALLY…

  1. outlaw the eating of blood? (Leviticus 17.10-12)
  2. condemn homosexuality? (Leviticus 18.22)
  3. teach that it’s a sin to have a shirt with two different kinds of thread in it? (Leviticus 19.19)
  4. condemn the boiling of a young goat in its mother’s milk? (Exodus 23.19)
  5. give the death penalty to people who work on Saturdays? (Exodus 31.14)
  6. give the death penalty to one who blasphemes the name of the Lord? (Numbers 24.16)
  7. condemn tattoos? (Leviticus 19.28)

If you look up those verses, you will find they do, indeed, teach all those things listed above. Many folks like to find these laws which seem weird, alien, and random to basically sweep away all the Bible teaches. “See?” they say, “the Bible is backwards and outdated. Why would we listen to that book any more?”

A base principle of Bible study is this: If God the Creator has spoken, then what He has to say trumps any feeling or thinking that I may have. In other words, it’s pretty silly of me to claim that a law is outdated just because I don’t agree with it or it doesn’t fit with my understanding of morality. Much of Bible study challenges my sense of right and wrong.

But another principle when studying any book is this: understand the context. Did God actually say those things? Yes. But to whom did He say them and when? Did God intend those laws for all mankind and for all time?

You will notice all the laws mentioned above are embedded in what is called the Law of Moses, the laws which Moses delivered to Israel at Mount Sinai. God covenanted with the Israelites, and the covenant comprised these laws plus hundreds of others. So the law given to Israel was for Israel and not for any other nation. The New Testament teaches that Jesus Christ fulfilled that law and abolished it, so God’s people today need no longer submit to all of those rules and regulations (Galatians 3.19-26; Hebrews 10.1-18).

However, some of God’s rules and regulations under the old covenant may actually apply to all mankind for all time. Here is where a full context of the Bible comes in handy. Especially in the context of moral law, we should pay close attention.

For instance, take list item number one (above): The Bible outlaws the eating of blood. We find this them running throughout Scripture:

  • God outlawed the eating of blood before the Law of Moses (Genesis 9.4)
  • God outlawed the eating of blood during the Law of Moses (Leviticus 17.10)
  • God outlawed the eating of blood after the Law of Moses (Acts 15.28-29)

So we find a consistent theme throughout the Bible on this moral principle: do not eat an animal with its blood. This moral principle transcends any specific law code, nation, or time period.

Likewise, take list item number two (above): The Bible condemns homosexuality. Notice how this theme runs through Scripture:

  • God judged Sodom in part for their homosexuality before the Law of Moses (Genesis 19.4-8)
  • God outlawed homosexuality as an abomination during the Law of Moses (Leviticus 20.13)
  • God condemned homosexuality as unnatural and indecent after the Law of Moses (Romans 1.26-27)

This consistent theme remains for homosexuality: it’s wickedness and sin before the Lord–always has been and always will be.

God set some laws in place for a specific period of time, intended them for a specific nation, and did not mean to apply them to everyone or for all time. But other laws, in the moral sphere, apply to all men no matter when or where they happen to live.

The bottom line is that God has all authority to tell His creation what is right and wrong. We often don’t like certain things God says…but obedience is not simply submitting to things we like! God’s character–who He is–determines morality. Those who reject what God says on the matter reject God Himself and show they do not know Him.

No King in Israel

TransgenderOur kids now entering college and university must endure a barrage of relentless propaganda designed to demotivate and demoralize anyone with a Christian worldview. After a generation or two of this pressure building, the country has stewed and cooked until it’s about to explode. The riots on college campuses in the face of authority, women marching in the streets uttering all manner of disgusting filth, constant whining and complaining from both right and left extremists–all result from an adherence to a post-modern, post-reason, post-logic worldview.

That’s right–our generation has sacrificed logic and reason. No longer is it right to say something is right or wrong. No longer is it good to say something is good or evil.

And there is a key to all this.

It All Comes Down to Authority

GenderWho has final say in my life? For this generation, the final say is “me;” I decide what is right or wrong for myself; I decide good and evil. I decide what my gender and sexuality is going to be. I refuse for anyone (even God) to tell me who I am supposed to be.

The following from the Huffington Post (3/15/2017) is an example of this kind of thinking, and an ever-growing subset of humanity is buying into this worldview:

My name is Kyle Graden. I use they/them/theirs pronouns and in general prefer neutral language (my brothers call me “sibling”). I don’t like labels, but “gender non-conforming” sounds the best if I am forced to choose. I am attracted to other people regardless of their DNA or gender identity (but to be perfectly honest, I am drawn to masculine expressions). That is my identity. It is mine to own, not for you to police. Please respect my identity and the language I claim for myself, because I will do the same for you.

Another Huffington article reminds us “Caitlyn” Jenner is still around and continues to confuse us by referring to him with the pronouns “she” and “her,” which Jenner has demanded everyone do.

Why am I not willing to be okay with calling a boy a girl if he wants me to? Why am I not okay with calling a woman a man if she demands it? It’s because of my understanding of authority. No one has the right (what?!) to change their gender. I may hug them and mourn with them because of their life troubles, just as I would any sinner caught up in sin, but I cannot call their evil “good.”

In the beginning “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1.27). Adam was created a man; Eve a woman. They didn’t have a choice because God didn’t ask which gender they felt like being. Neither do you or I have a choice about the sex or “gender” which God created us to be.

Why can I not think of myself as a dog or a moose? Why can I not consider myself a mighty god and demand that you bow before me? Our generation has opened the door to this right, hasn’t it? Why can I not consider myself physically, emotionally, and intellectually superior to everyone around me and just do whatever I well-please?

No King on ThroneActually, that’s exactly what folks are doing! They are doing whatever they please, and their authority for doing it is…themselves. It’s like during the days of the Israelite judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21.25). No king in Israel. No authority on the throne…except self.

The LAW OF THE LAND means nothing to people these days–because they don’t recognize authority. Refusing to obey the President is okay just because we don’t like his decisions. This filters down to the family as children refuse to obey parents because “they are too overbearing,” “they are unreasonable,” or “I don’t like their decision.” When authority breaks down, society commits suicide.

The Solution

Stop “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1.18).

The truth: you are not God, and you should not direct your own steps apart from God. When you do, you make a royal mess of your life and you flaunt His authority.

The truth: God created you and demands that you humble yourself before Him, listen to Him, obey Him.

The truth: God create you either male or female. Thank God for your strengths and your weaknesses, and just accept who and what God created you to be. You will know peace by accepting your Father’s gifts and learning contentment. “But by the grace of God I am what I am…” (1 Corinthians 15.10).

Let it not be said “there is no King” in your life. Christ is on the throne!

Fearing God Isn’t Common Sense

Marker FaceWhy should my three-year-old not use the permanent markers to illustrate his room, his bed, and himself? Isn’t it common sense?!

Why should my nine-year-old not ram her bicycle into the back of the toddler’s tricycle in order to push him along? Isn’t it common sense?

Why should my older boys take baths more than twice a month? Isn’t it common sense?

Why shouldn’t that teenage driver blow through the stop sign in front of my house? You’d think it would be common sense.

How could anybody with a brain vote for [you fill in the blank]? It should be common sense, right?

Perhaps what I think is common isn’t so common after all. When the country is divided in half over which candidate is best, where does common sense leave us? I have a sense and you have a sense about what is right, and if our senses don’t agree, can we really follow the rule of common sense?

Just Believe in Your DreamsThe spirit of the age is “follow your heart,” “do what feels right,” and “go with your gut.” As Luke Skywalker flew his X-Wing over the Death Star towards his tiny target, he heard the ghost of Obi Wan urge, “Trust your feelings, Luke.”

New Age religions are not really new. They are based on ancient philosophies. Buddha taught that divinity is within, and you find true enlightenment through your own experiences. Truth is found within yourself.

The Bible teaches the opposite. Truth is external and must be taught, coming from the Supreme and Sovereign God, Creator, Sustainer, Savior. God created us, and we are not Him. He speaks to us through His word, through His Son Jesus.

Wisdom is not something that just comes through experience, but true wisdom comes from fearing God. Notice the following from Proverbs:

1.29      Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the LORD,
1.30      They would have none of my counsel
And despised my every rebuke.

8.13      The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
And the perverse mouth I hate.

9.10      The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

15.33    The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom,
And before honor is humility.

Read the BibleWhat is fearing the Lord? It’s listening to and obeying Him! It’s setting aside your common sense and relying on God’s sense, which may sometimes not make sense to you. It’s relying on something outside yourself–God’s word–to determine your destiny, your path, your goals.

Man’s “common sense” can become his way of following his own authority and rejecting God’s. I must teach my children not to rely on their common sense but to constantly ask, “What would God have me do? How does God discern this situation?”

The Jews in Thessalonica were called NOBLE because “they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17.11). They didn’t blindly accept Paul’s preaching; they verified it through studying God’s word, which was their ultimate and final guide. It didn’t matter that Paul’s preaching made sense to them or not; they double checked. If they determined the teaching to be from God, they followed it.

Man’s philosophies often make sense to us, and sometimes we accept them because they sound reasonable. But that doesn’t mean they are right. God declares what is right and wrong, and we don’t really have a say in the matter! He’s the one who rules; we don’t.

Fearing God isn’t common sense these days. But it’s still the way to true wisdom.