Welcome to Biblethoughts.com

Welcome! This blog basically offers two things. First there are my thoughts on biblical and Christian topics. These are not doctrines or teachings, just my thoughts. Second there is a collection of graphics with scripture. The pdf versions can be downloaded and are suitable for framing. Look for them in "Framables".


Blow the Trumpet

Here's a thought. What if the seeming upsurge in violence against Israel and the Church has nothing to do with the last days or end times? What if God has actually "anointed" or empowered the world to attack His people?

Years ago there was a popular worship song called "Blow the Trumpet." The Prophet Joel proclaimed that we should blow the trumpet because God's army is on the move. But that army is not the Church or God's people. The army is, in fact, judgment coming against God's people. That's why the scripture says to sound the alarm on the holy mountain. The alarm is not being sounded in the enemy's camp, it is being sounded in Zion. The scripture is a call to repentance and transformation. The army that is rushing on the city and on the walls is an army of judgment against us, against God's people. Isaiah 10 talks about a time when God sent the Assyrians against Israel in judgment. Then, when God finished coming against Zion, He judged the Assyrians for their heart in the matter.

I think God spoke His word to everyone through a song because it is not a word that most people would preach. We all have a very hard time thinking that God may come against us. Many people took that song and danced to it rather than fall in prayer and repentance. We did in our church until I decided to read the scripture to see what the song was actually saying. But that word is coming to pass, and it is time to blow the trumpet and sound the alarm in the holy mountain.

The thing is, judgment does not come to bring death. If you continue to read Joel 2 you will find that all of this leads to a time where:

Joel 2:28-29
“And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

In the same way, what I think is happening now is that we are experiencing the birth pains of something new. In a manner of speaking, another reformation. I believe that God is about to bring a fresh wave of transformation to all of His people. Something incredible and amazing is coming!

The thing about reformations, they are always preceded by some form of heresy, or something very different from what has become orthodox. God's Word stands forever, but sometimes our beliefs include things we have been taught but aren't actually what God is saying. Martin Luther's teachings on justification by grace through faith, and all believers being part of a holy priesthood, were considered heresy at the time because they didn't match the orthodox religious teachings. Sometimes we interpret the Bible through something we have been taught rather than understand what it actually says. There is a chance that, as we blow the trumpet and move into a time of repentance and transformation, we may hear teachings that look like heresy; that don't match what we have been taught in the past.

The question then is, how will we respond when someone nails a message of heresy to the door of our hearts?

Doors b


Thoughts on Gender

This is not a topic I would normally address, but I feel God has put something on my heart to share, so let me start by saying what this post is not about. This is not about:

  • Equal pay. Everyone should be paid for their work, regardless of their gender.
  • Equal rights. Everyone should have equal rights.
  • Women being in authority in government or in the workplace. The best people to be in any position are people who are intelligent and know what they are doing, regardless of gender.
  • Domestic abuse. If you are in an abusive situation, get help, and get out of it.
  • Gender identity. That's a whole different topic.
  • Having a career (or who makes the most money). We are not called to have careers, we are called to seek first the kingdom of God. The only power we are called to have is power in the Holy Spirit. That doesn't mean we (men/women) won't have jobs or careers or power in this world but it's not what we seek first.

Rather, this post is anchored in the scriptural context of men and women, and spiritual relationships between men and women, particularly in marriage. As with all my posts, it is not about doctrine. It is my thoughts at this point in time when I think about gender.

The core, or foundation, revolves around Adam and Eve. To whatever degree we believe that Adam and Eve are real we believe Jesus is real. To whatever degree we believe that Adam and Eve are a myth we will treat Jesus as a myth.

1 Corinthians 15
21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

If Jesus is the last Adam does that mean there are no men after Jesus? And if Adam is the first man and Jesus is the second man does that mean there were no men born between them? It is important to understand Adam and Eve in the context of being our champions. They were the best of us. What they did, and who they were, affects us all.

Eve's qualities included listening to new ideas and meditating on them. Those are good qualities. But she allowed herself to be deceived. God told her and Adam not to eat the fruit of a particular tree. The serpent played on her understanding of the word "die" to get her to consider eating the fruit. She didn't check with Adam or God but instead followed her own thoughts. In doing so, she was the first sinner. She ate the fruit and then gave it to Adam. Now Adam has some choices, and this is where I'm going to start talking about the authority that men have. Adam could have said no to eating the fruit. He could have covered Eve's sin and cast out the serpent (they both had rule over all creatures). He could have created a safe place for Eve to learn how to consider and meditate on new ideas using God's wisdom. At the very least he could have asked God what to do. He did none of those things but instead followed Eve in her sin. And because of his sin, we all die.

They were the best of us. We do the same things. But, in Jesus, we can do things differently.

Ephesians 5
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

Numbers, chapter 30, contains "the regulations the Lord gave Moses concerning relationships between a man and his wife, and between a father and his young daughter still living at home." Essentially it says that the husband or father has the authority to confirm or nullify any vow, promise, or obligation the wife or daughter makes. This chapter is very comforting to me. Jesus is my authority. I can say something negative about myself and he can just say "I don't agree" and the negative statement doesn't stand. I can sin and he can say "that's forgiven" and that sin is not held against me (though there may be natural consequences). If I make a promise or vow to another person then I am obligated as a representative of Jesus to fulfill it. My words should have meaning on their own (my yes should be yes and my no should be no). Jesus can hold me to my words, and he commands me to be faithful in my words. But he can also release me from them. And as I submit to the Father and to Jesus we work together through the Holy Spirit so I can be holy and blameless, so I can be effective in my gifts, so I can be anointed to proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Galatians 3
27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

We all work out our salvation with the Father and with Jesus, independently of each other as well as together within the body of Christ. Wives have this relationship independently of their husbands. They do not go through them to get to Jesus. But husbands, as men, have a spiritual authority that enables them to create a safe place for wives to fulfill their ministry, to explore new ways to minister, to speak, to heal, to deliver. This is the reason for submission; not to cater to a husband's whims but to be free in a spiritually safe place. This is my goal as a father and as a husband. I want my wife and daughter to shine, to be amazing. I want them to be anointed to proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. If they mess up I want to dismiss it. As much as possible, I don't want them to feel the effects of sin or mistakes (which is how I believe Jesus feels towards us all). I want them to be free to explore, learn, and speak. And I have the authority to create this environment and to be a covering for them.

This is what we strive for; we are not all there. Historically, men have made submission more about their whims being catered to than about giving themselves up for their wives as Jesus gave himself up for the church. Jesus' life is the pattern for how we should be servants to our wives. We have the authority to serve and to empower. Instead, we often think that the hard work we do to pay the bills is our service and that wives should then cater to our whims. That's a prison, and who wants to live in a prison? If a husband is a warden then expect a jail-break. 

Gender is important on earth. There is no gender, as we know it, in heaven and no male or female in Christ Jesus. But God created us male and female and has placed a specific authority in men. We (men) can abandon this authority be refusing to serve and die to self, and wives can reject this authority by not submitting within it. But then we have problems; then we are back to what Adam and Eve did. And, as I said. in Jesus we can do things differently.


I Will Drink Your Wine, Part 3

If you haven't already, please read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series of posts. They set the stage for what follows.

There was a man who grew up believing in God and trying to be obedient to God's commands. He listened closely to the preachers, remembering and meditating on what was preached. He basically spent his whole life trying to be obedient. And God blessed him for it. As he grew from boyhood to manhood, God blessed the work of his hands. And as God blessed him, he continued to pay attention to God's words. This man had God's favor, and God's love.

One day this man went to Jesus and said, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17-22) I would say this man had an urgency regarding eternal life; it was one of the things that motivated him. Jesus starts his answer with something incredible. He says, "Why do you call me good? No one is good, except God alone." This answer is a core understanding in God's Kingdom, and in it Jesus is opening a door to the possibility of an extraordinary transformation.

Then Jesus tells the man, "You know the commandments: 'You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother'." Jesus offered the man old wine, the wine the man had grown up with. But the man wanted something more, he felt an urgency concerning eternal life and believed that Jesus could give him something different. So he said, "All these I have kept since I was a boy." In the account of this story in Mark it says that Jesus looked at him and loved him. I believe this love was an expression of how the Father felt about this man, which is why I said the man had God's favor and love.

It was in this love and favor that Jesus said, "One thing you lack. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Basically, Jesus was saying this. I have a wine to drink that my father has given me. It is not tasty and it cost everything. But I drink it because it is from my father in heaven. Would you be willing to drink this new wine with me? Will you be my drinking buddy?

In this one invitation Jesus offered a transformation from obedience to commandments to a relationship-based surrender. Suddenly this was personal. The invitation to "follow me" from Jesus is always very personal. But there was a problem. The man was wealthy and he liked his wealth. God had blessed him with this wealth. And no one had ever said this to him before. Not a single preacher had said he would have to give up everything. The wine he was used to said that if he was obedient to God's commands then he would be blessed. And he liked being blessed. He didn't want to give these blessings up. So he walked away. He was sorrowful, but he still walked away.

Sometimes we are faced with similar situations. God blesses us as we seek his face and follow his commands. Then, in his love and favor towards us, he may say "one thing you lack." He may offer us a new wine. He might call us to give up some or all of the very things he blessed us with in order to have a closer relationship with him. And it may happen more than once.

There was another man who also grew up paying attention to God's word as it was preached and who spent his life being obedient to God's commandments. His name was Saul. Jesus, in his love for Saul, went to him and called him to drink this new wine, to be his drinking buddy. He even showed Saul how much he would suffer. But Saul said yes, gave up everything, and followed Jesus. 

Saul had a great ministry as a prophet and teacher with the church in Antioch (Acts 11). It was at this church that the disciples were first called Christians. And in the middle of this ministry, the Holy Spirit spoke and called Saul and Barnabas to a new ministry; something I consider another example of hearing, again, "one thing you lack." It is after this that Saul starts to be called Paul. Saul has not only given up his life, he now gives up his identity. He gives up "Saul."

Philippians 3:4-15
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal,persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things.

Paul also had an urgency concerning eternal life, the resurrection from the dead. His statement, "and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead" was not made due to any lack of faith or knowledge. It was an acknowledgement of the importance in his life of a great mystery. It is a mystery I think we sometimes take for granted.

This is the heart and mind of someone who has been drinking the new wine, someone who is a drinking buddy with Jesus. It is the heart and mind of a mature Christian. Paul has shared himself as an example of what it looks like to be mature, to be like Jesus.

Ephesians 4:11-13
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

If we want to be mature, if we want to be like Jesus, we need to be willing to drink this new wine. This is being built up, becoming mature in our faith and knowledge of the Son of God. 

This doesn't mean we have to give up everything, though it does mean we are ready to. We listen and serve. And as we grow spiritually there may be times when Jesus says, "one thing you lack." When he does it is a personal invitation to draw close to him, and it may cost something that was a blessing in the past. 

Several years ago I wrote a song about this. The chorus is below. This is what I think when I take communion; it is my heart, and I hope it is yours as well.

I will drink your wine, I will eat your bread

Drinking from your cup, conforming to your death

All things that were gain, now I count as loss

That I might know you, and the glory of your cross

And share your resurrection life

I will drink your wine

I will drink your wine

I will drink your wine

I will drink your wine


I Will Drink Your Wine, Part 2

If you haven't already, please read Part 1 of this series of posts. It sets the stage for what follows.

I started Part 1 with the following scripture reference on old and new wine.

Luke 5:36-39
36 He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”

In the Old Testament, we get a picture of how God worked with the nation of Israel.  His consistency in working with them became, in a sense, a wine that they got used to drinking. They had, for example, expectations of deliverance when they were oppressed. Think of this as a part of the flavor of the wine. Consider this passage from 2 Chronicles, when Jehoshaphat sought the Lord because some nations had some against Israel.

2 Chronicles 20:5-9
5 Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard 6 and said:

“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. 7 Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8 They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, 9 ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’

This was the cry of all of Israel when the Romans occupied their nation. They sought God for deliverance, but they sought Him for deliverance in a certain way, the way any nation would expect to be freed from oppression. That was the wine they were used to drinking. That was their history.

But God was bringing something very different through Jesus. This difference is illustrated in what is commonly referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus, in teaching his disciples, said the following:

Matthew 5:10-12
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jesus is not telling his disciples that their oppressors will persecute them. He is telling them that their own people will persecute them, that they will be rejected by members of their family nation. This is a very different wine; this wine has flavors of being despised and rejected in it, and Jesus was telling his disciples that they would be drinking this wine.

Jesus mentioned a few times to his disciples that he had a cup to drink. What was in the cup was this new wine, and it's not a tasty wine; especially when compared to the old wine. We still, today, usually prefer the taste of the old wine to the taste of the new wine. And the wine we drink can have an effect on how we expect God to work in us and through us.

Matthew 6:9-10
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

For some, this prayer is about what is going on externally. They want the kingdom to come so people will stop doing bad things. They want people to obey God's will on earth. This can especially be true in areas where people and governments have been highly influenced by Judeo Christian principles or ethics in the past but have moved away from those ethics. 

But when we make this prayer internal, wanting the kingdom to come and His will to be done in our personal lives, the results can be very different. When Jesus was persecuted by the Romans and crucified, that was God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven. That was complete obedience. And the witness of this kingdom became something very new. When talking to Pilate, Jesus said:

John 18:36
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

The witness to Pilate that there is a kingdom and that it is not of this world was that no one came to rescue Jesus. No one came to his defense. This, again, is a very different wine from the Old Testament. 

Hebrews 13:11-13
11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

We don't want to go outside the camp, outside the city. We don't want to bear this disgrace. We prefer a wine that says God wants to change the camp, to change the city, to change the nation. A wine with the flavor of being despised and rejected is not a tasty wine.  Yet this disgrace, this willingness to be pilgrims and outsiders, is the witness to the world that there is a city whose builder and maker is God and that our hearts are set on that city. 

In the book of Revelation, it talks about a time when the disciples of Jesus overcome the enemy. Not by changing their city but by the word of their testimony, even when it results in death. 

Revelation 12:11
11They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

This is God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven. This is a manifestation and witness of the power of a kingdom that is not of this world but is here within us. This is the church drinking from the cup that Jesus drank from.

I've said this before in other posts but want to say it again. I'm not a fan of suffering. I will do whatever I can to avoid suffering, for myself and for my family. But the cry of my heart for myself and my family is that God's will be done in our lives as it is in heaven (that we are obedient) and that our lives be a witness to a kingdom that is not of this world. We choose to drink this new wine. Not because it results in suffering, though it may, but because of the purpose, which is awesome.

And that will be Part 3.


I Will Drink Your Wine, Part 1

Jesus told a parable using the concepts of wine and wineskins to illustrate different ways of thinking and the fact that it can be hard to adopt a new way of thinking; that we are usually more comfortable thinking in ways we are used to.

Luke 5:36-39
36 He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”

I think this can be applied on many different levels, but I also think there is a "Big Picture" application that is very important. That's what I want to explore in the next few posts.

To start, let's look at the history presented in the Old Testament (OT). I did some searches online for OT timelines and had little success finding one that I liked. Then I started searching for OT timelines for children. And that's when I found an absolutely awesome OT timeline at We Wilsons. This was created by Laura Wilson.

Wilson OT Timeline small

You can download a PDF copy of this timeline, in black & white and in color from the We Wilsons website. I suggest you go ahead and get a copy to review. I'm going to touch on points in the timeline. It's not necessary, just a nice visual.

In the book of Genesis, there is an account of God making a promise to a man named Abram, who was later known as Abraham.

Genesis 12:1-3
1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Abram, or Abraham, had a son; Issac. Issac had a son; Jacob, who is also Israel. Jacob's family grew into the tribes of the nation of Israel. Jacob and his family moved to Egypt, and after several hundred years became a nation of many people. They were enslaved by Egypt so God delivered them with incredible wonders and miracles. He led them to a "promised land," a land he had shown Abraham, a land where they could prosper. 

So we now have a nation that started as a family, a family-nation. They are living in a land they see as being promised to them by God. For a while, they are lead by Judges but at some point, they decide they want a King so they can be like other nations. God says the people are rejecting Him but tells the Prophet Samual to appoint a King anyway, telling the people what they will be giving up by having a King. And then he says that He will use the King to bring deliverance to His people, which I think is amazing.

As you look through the timeline you will see an incredible history of God working with people, performing miracles, bringing deliverance. The people of Israel had every reason to believe this word:

Deuteronomy 4:7-8
What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?

And then, as if to really cement this word/promise, God said this to King Solomon after he had built and dedicated the Temple in Jerusalem. 

2 Chronicles 12b-16
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. 13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.

Even when Israel was taken into captivity into Babylon, and Jerusalem fell to Babylon, God was still with his people. He did great miracles in the sight of all through Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah  And in time God brought Israel back home, and Jerusalem was rebuilt because God gave his people favor and covered them with great mercy.

All thought the timeline you can see God's hand on his people. They didn't make any of this up, all of God's words, his laws, decrees, and promises, and the way he worked with and delivered his people, all of this was a type of wine that he gave them to drink. And it was a very amazing and tasty wine.

And then the Romans came.

Like the Babylonians, the Romans completely conquered Israel. But they didn't drag them off or destroy them (at first). They let them live in their cities, put Roman leadership and law over them, taxed them, etc. But make no mistake, they were completely conquered. The timeline above ends with the Slaughter of the Innocents, where King Herod had all males 2 years and under killed in the vicinity of Bethlehem. Herod could do this, and Israel couldn't do anything about it, because they were conquered. 

I think I can safely say that the Jewish people would have been claiming every promise of God, and God had given them many promises. People would have been begging God for a restoration of the Jewish nation, of what they considered to be God's Kingdom. And yet in all of this the entire nation had no idea what God was about to do. He was going to keep all of his promises, but with a very different wine. One that has a terrible taste.

Let me give an example.

Deuteronomy 28:12-13
12 The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

This is a tasty promise, a tasty wine if you will. Being the head is a good thing. And later in the same passage of scripture, God tells them that if they disobey his commands then they will fall under a curse and be the tail. Being the tail is a bad thing. 

But the new wine speaks this way; I know I'm the head but I choose to be the tail. Or to put it in a scriptural reference:

Philippians 2 5-8
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

This is a new wine. It's a very different way of thinking. I'll explore it more in the next post on this topic.


Role of Women in the Church

My daughter's church was going through Timothy and they asked her to teach 1 Timothy 2 since it speaks to the role of women in the church. This is her teaching. It is about 30 minutes long.


We talked a bit about parts of this concerning childbirth in some emails. Below are some excerpts from my thoughts on that topic.

Having a child can be a hard thing. Let's suppose, for a moment, that verses 13-14 were not new, they people had heard this before. Timothy had probably heard all of this before. If this was something that people in Ephesus had heard as teachers were dealing with some of the heresy there then one result could be that some of the women feared childbirth and saw it as a punishment for Eve's sin. But Malachi 2:15 says that God is looking for godly offspring. So having children is actually a blessed experience and not a punishment.

Maybe Paul is simply telling them that there is safety in living a christian life, that God will stand by them and have his hand on them during childbirth, that all his thoughts toward them are good and full of hope, not punishment. Maybe it was just important to let them know that they were not being punished. Genesis 3:16 is a consequence but looks like punishment. But because of Jesus the Holy Spirit not only hovers over but lives within every daughter of God as she is giving birth to the godly offspring that God desires. That's not punishment. That's awesome.

I like this version. It reminds us that a woman and her husband are one flesh.

Weymouth New Testament
Yet a woman will be brought safely through childbirth if she and her husband continue to live in faith and love and growing holiness, with habitual self-restraint.

God's Kingdom is Not of this World

In John Chapter 18 Jesus said to Pilate, "36 . . . My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

What does it mean when he says "my kingdom is not of this world?" There is a lot going on in this verse. For me, one of the things it means is that the kingdom of God is beyond the laws and politics of this world. That doesn't mean that we are unaffected by the laws and politics around us, we are definitely affected by laws and politics. But God's kingdom is beyond laws and politics and that is the focus of this post. Sometimes we lose spiritually when we try to "protect" God's kingdom through laws and politics.

The Pharisees wanted Jesus dead. They were jealous of him, angry at him, and wanted to get rid of him. Plus, they feared that the Romans would destroy Israel if the people followed Jesus.

John 11:48-50
48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

Caiaphas did not realize that he was prophesying Jesus' death. In his mind he was making a political decision necessary to save Israel, to keep Jews free to worship and follow God's laws, and to remain in power. But the result was to turn away from Jesus, their Messiah, and have him crucified.

The same thing can happen in us when we try to use politics to "protect" God's church. We can become so concerned about maintaining the freedom to worship in a way we are used to, and staying in power, that we forget much of what Jesus taught. 

We often pray "your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." When Jesus was crucified and his blood was shed God's will was being done on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 5:10-12
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Hebrews 13:11-14
11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

If the laws and politics are such that Christians can worship and serve God freely then we are blessed. If the laws and politics are such that we are persecuted and fellowship with Jesus in his sufferings then we are blessed. In either case God's will is being done on earth as it is in heaven. In either case the Kingdom of God is being expressed in power. 

Revelation 12:11
They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

Do not think that if the laws or politics of a country turn against Christianity that the enemy is winning. If the kingdom was of this world then the servants of Jesus would fight to protect him and his kingdom. But we don't have to fight to protect him or his kingdom because in all things we are already triumphant. 

1 Corinthians 3:21-23
All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

Do not fear. There is no law that can stop a word of healing or a word of deliverance. God's kingdom is everlasting and we can pray with confidence and full assurance that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Being Highly Favored

What would it be like to be highly favored by God? Imagine God thinking to himself, "I really like those people. I'm going to pour out my favor on them." What would life be like for those people?

Mary was highly favored, so I'm going to use her life to draw some examples of what we can expect in our own lives when God favors us. Really favors us.

Luke 1:26-33
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

The number one thing that will happen in the life of someone who God highly favors is this; Jesus will be birthed in them. The Lord who sits on the throne of David, who reigns over Jacob's descendants forever, whose kingdom will never end, will live in the person God favors. This is the heritage of the saints of God, the Church; those who have this incredible life in them to share with the world.

Ephesians 4:11-13
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

This is God's desire for all of us. This is our path through life. That we reach the fullness of Christ.

Luke 4:16-21
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
    to set the oppressed free,
19  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

This scripture is also fulfilled today (everyday) in the lives of those God favors. Jesus of Nazareth, with his anointing, his message, his ministry, and his proclamation of the Lord's favor, will live in you if God favors you. And the amazing and glorious thing is that God has made this incredible favor available to all the world; to every sinner, to every "saint", to all of us. Jesus can live in us.

Thoughts on Voting

This is a big political year with what seems to be an amazing amount of chaos going on. The range of emotions, feelings, and actions being expressed is incredibly diverse and often passionate. So I thought I would add my two cents to the mix.

This is what I have been hearing in my spirit.

The love of money is the root of all evil
Let the dead vote for the dead
You come and follow me

This isn't to say that we shouldn't vote. What it points out is that the act of voting is not an expression of the Kingdom of God. The kingdom is peace, joy, and righteousness in the Holy Spirit. If we recognize our brothers and sisters and honor what God is doing in them regardless of how they vote then that is an expression of the Kingdom. If we recognize great faith in God even through it is in someone who is obedient to a group or government that is persecuting and killing God's people (e.g. Jesus and the Roman Centurion) then that is an expression of God's Kingdom. If we can't show our love for one another because of political passions then, maybe, that is an expression of spiritual death. 

If you are wondering what love looks like, read 1 Corinthians Chapter 13.

It is important to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus. Sometimes the passions of our flesh rise up even when we have seen God do amazing things in our lives. Luke Chapter 9 talks about Jesus sending out the disciples to minister, to drive out demons and cure diseases. God worked mightily through them. Then they saw Jesus feed 5,000 or more people. Peter, John, and James saw Jesus glorified and heard the voice of the Father. Then Jesus set himself to go to Jerusalem and sent messengers to a Samaritan village to prepare for him and the Samaritans rejected Jesus because he was headed to Jerusalem. So James and John asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans. And Jesus had to rebuke them. They were with Jesus, but they still didn't understand Jesus.

Matthew 23:12-13
12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

In the last days, because iniquity will abound the love of many will grow cold. We really don't want that to be said about us; that our love has grown cold because of the iniquity in others or ourselves. One of my favorite songs by the band PFR has this chorus:

Oh, where does that kind of love come from
They say that it runs in His blood
Oh, where can I find that kind of love
They say it runs in His blood
That Kind of Love by PFR

However you vote, if you vote or don't vote, whatever you do, let the blood and love of Jesus run through your life each day. God is calling people to follow him from every walk of life, every political persuasion, every nation. We will have to take up our cross each day and surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit in order to recognize all who have been baptized into the body of Christ, and in order to express the love of Jesus to each other and the world.

On a side note, my daughter says that the phrase "Let the dead vote for the dead" would make a great bumper sticker for christian anarchists, if they had money to pay for bumper stickers. Just a shout out to the brothers and sisters in the christian anarchism movement. 

Why the Gifts of the Spirit are Important

1 Corinthians 12:4-6
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Matthew 1:23
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

John 14:9
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Genesis 1:26
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

I’ve heard different teachings over the years about what it means to be made in God’s likeness. One old world view is a physical likeness. Another view is the body, soul, spirit teaching. I do know that one reason for the likeness is so “they may rule.” But what does it mean to be made in God’s likeness or image?

For me, at this point in time, I take it to mean something very simple. That is, when you looked at Adam and Eve you saw the Father. Not physically, but wherever they were the presence of God was there, the image of God was there. The authority of God was there, the love of God was there, the heart of God was there.

That sort of got lost during the fall. God’s Spirit often rested on men and worked through men, but something changed when Jesus came. He walked on the earth as Immanuel, God with us. When you saw Jesus you saw the Father; the authority, the love, the heart, the Father. After the resurrection Jesus ascended into Heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to live in us. This is very different than how God’s Spirit rested on men before Jesus came. When Jesus sent the Holy Spirit the image of God that was lost at the fall was restored to humanity.

Matthew 11:11
Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

There were some amazingly great people in Old Testament times and we have much to learn from them and from how God worked with them. But the least in the kingdom is greater. We are the body of Christ, we are Immanuel now. We are the image; the authority, the love, and the heart of God on the earth today. Not because we are great people, but because God chose to place his image and glory in humanity.

Luke 14 15-24 tells the story of a man that prepared a great banquet and when it was ready the guests who had been invited didn’t come. They had other things to do. So the man had his servants go and bring the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. And then they continued to look for people to come to the banquet, wherever they could find people who would come, people who did not have other or “better” things to do.

God is not expressing his image through the great people of the nations, through people who are consumed with the things of this world. Instead he is expressing his image through the least of the nations. People who seem to be nobody. People others often ignore. Yet in the midst of these people you will find the image of God.

John 4 tells the story of Jesus meeting a woman from Samaria. He started to talk with her (something Jews didn’t do), offered her living water, and at one point told her something that he could only know supernaturally; that she had five previous husbands and the man she was with now was not her husband. She saw God’s mercy and love in Jesus, but it was that supernatural word of knowledge that caused her to see him as a prophet and maybe even the Messiah. And all of it together caused her to bring the rest of the town to meet Jesus.

We need the fruit and the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit working in us so people will see God’s image. God wants to love on the people around us. He may want to show an act of kindness or an act of forgiveness. He may want to give them something to eat or some clothing. He may want to heal them or say something supernatural to them so they will realize that he is there. And he wants to do that through us; in our homes, at the grocery store, in a bar, wherever there are people who don’t have other things to do. Let God’s Spirit work this amazing work in your life. Let’s be “God with us.”