rev. 2:1-7 -> “you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling…”

Revelation 2

To the church in Ephesus

1“To the angel[a] of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

****

SUMMARY

All of Jesus’ messages to all the seven churches will generally follow this format of seven parts (McArthur):

–       the correspondent

–       the church

–       the city

–       the commendation

–       the concern

–       the command and

–       the counsel

For the seven churches I would like to answer at least the following questions:

–       what does this passage tell us about Jesus?

–       what is going right with the church?

–       what is going wrong with the church?

–       what are the consequences?

ANY CHARACTER HERE

WHAT DOES THIS PASSAGE TELL US ABOUT JESUS?

v. 1 – he holds the seven stars in his right hand

he has special and total authority over the angel/messengers of his church (possibly the messengers have a greater responsibility)

*this is a reminder that God does hold teachers/messengers more responsible…since if they are false they mislead not only themselves but others.   sobering thought i must remember as a teacher, even as i write this blog (James 3:1).  yet if something truly is of God, a messenger who does not speak will also be just as responsible (Ezekiel 33:7-9).

v. 1 – he walks among the seven golden lampstands

he walks amongst the churches, he is present and moves amongst the churches, as we see later he checks on them, he interacts with the churches.

*this is so plain, but so easy to forget in everyday life.  do i, we, go about our business without even acknowledging interacting with Christ?  It’s like having a meeting with the boss but we ignore the boss.   Or like having a party for someone but eveyone ignores that person at the party.  God help us be your people.

ANY CHARACTER HERE

WHAT IS GOING RIGHT WITH THIS CHURCH?

-They persevere – work hard,

-They have deeds

– They don’t put up with wicked behavior and false people

they hold on to the right doctrines and behaviors.

ANY CHARACTER HERE

WHAT IS GOING WRONG WITH THIS CHURCH?  WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

They had lost the love they had at first – not only for God but the love they had for people, as the context talks about how they related to others.  It was okay that they hated the practices of the Nicolatians but did they forsake loving the Nicolatians themselves as well as others in general?  It is not just the feelings of love, but its an absence of certain actions too because he tells them to “do the things they did at first.”  What are the things that one who loves does, differently than one who does not love?  He challenges them to remember how they used to be (the height from which they have fallen).  He challenges them to do as lovers would.

When I think of the love one has at first for a person (or activity/thing) they love:

–       they are consumed with thoughts about the other

–       they can’t stop talking about the other

–       they want to spend time with the other, and can’t wait to see the other

–       they want to do whatever they can to please the other

–       they can’t seem to get enough of the other

–       it brings great joy and pleasure to spend time with the other

now maybe it makes more sense when the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:27) and to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

*so do we have this kind of love for God, for others?

Hmm if I replace the word “other” in the list above with “myself” its kind of sad but true.  I’m so consumed with myself, do I care for others that way?  I know we can’t be consumed with everyone or else we’d go crazy but at the very least we could have this kind of loving heart for others by praying that God would help us know him better and enlarge our hearts to love this way.  Doesn’t God love us this way?

ANY CHARACTER HERE

WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THINGS DON’T CHANGE?

God will remove the lampstand from its place.  What does this mean?  The church won’t shine where it could.  This church of these people will no longer be a people where God is made known.  God would no longer walk amongst them.  it would cease to be a church (Keenan, MacArthur); at best it would become a social club at worst it would cease to exist.  its pretty mind blowing to think that even if a church had the right doctrine and all the right behavior, without love it would cease to be.  What is a church without love?  It isn’t.

let’s take this further.  the church is not a building…it is the body of Christ.  it is people.  it is Christians.  so what is a Christian without love?  They aren’t.

*this is terrifying.  i shudder to think i, we, may be going around thinking we are Christians when we aren’t.  now I know that we are not saved by our good works, but that because we’re so messed up, Christ saved us.  But he saved us to do good works (Eph 2:8-10).  without the fruit (evidence) of love in our lives, what does that say about our root (our source)?   God may I, we, be rooted in you so that we may bear fruit.

ANY CHARACTER HERE

WHAT WILL HAPPEN FOR THOSE WHO DO CHANGE?

v. 7 – he will give the right to eat from the tree of life, in the paradise of God.  interesting to see that if we bear fruit spiritually, we can eat God’s fruit.  It comes full circle, in the beginning humankind had access to the tree of life and were able to live forever in paradise (Genesis 3:22-24), then we were barred access to this when we had sinned, but if we hold onto him (the root…that is through Christ) we can be back where he intended us to be.

*if we love God and love others, then we will be able to experience an even richer love in the future that we couldn’t know now…a love that is ever vibrant and to which there is no end.  I’d love to experience that.  Truly we could have a love we had at first, in the truest sense.

rev. 1:9-20 -> from the gatekeeper of life and death

One like a Son of Man

9I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

12I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,”[b]dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

17When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

19“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels[c] of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

****

a guide to reading this post: if you want the gist, just read the bold.  If you want explanations and applications (indicated by the s*symbol) of the bold, read everything else around it.

SUMMARY

John recounts how Christ spoke to him to deliver this message to the 7 churches of asia


WHAT DO WE SHARE AS CHRISTIANS?

V. 9 – The following are ours in Christ: Suffering, Kingdom, Patient endurance

We are in Christ as well.  We are a part of His kingdom.  The bible, especially I think of in the book of 1 Pet. talks about how suffering would be a part of our walk.  We are to be patient people.

*do we think this way?  The kingdom part is nice.  I need help though to see suffering and patient endurance as something I am privileged to share in my relationship with Christ.  Granted, not suffering for doing something wrong for that is not how Christ suffered, but suffering for what is right.  Why suffer for what is right?  Because sometimes to stand up for and live for what is right, invites suffering…it is not an easy path.  However, we can be refined through it, it may cause us to place our hope in him not in ourselves or other things, and it can be a blessing for others.   Because Christ suffered for us, we get to experience the blessing of God rather than His wrath.  Maybe when we suffer on behalf of others, they get to experience the blessing and mercy of God.  Maybe we learn more of the heart of God through suffering.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE IN THE SPIRIT?

V. 10 – We know as a xian John has the Holy Spirit in him.  However this seems to be something different.  If it meant simply he had the spirit, there was no reason to make a distinction that he had the sprit this day.  It doesn’t say the Spirit was in him, which should be always, but rather that he was in the Spirit…like in step with the Spirit.  He was in some sort of state.  A special communion.  “In the Spirit” seems to be some sort of state, a state of communion with the Lord such that he could receive a vision.

*Have I ever been in the Spirit?  Can I be in the Spirit or is that something just from some people at a particular point in time?  At the very least, I know from Galatians (gal 5:25) as well as Romans (Romans 8:12-14) that I can choose to live a life in step with the spirit or led by the Spirit.  So am I led by the Spirit these days?

WHO IS THE SPEAKER OF THIS VISION?

V. 10-20 – Jesus (“God is my salvation”) Christ (“the messiah” aka the anointed one).  Evidence:

1) v.13 – someone “like a son of man” is a reference to Daniel 7:13 that speaks of an exact person who comes before God’s throne and also is worshiped.  (this is a great verse to show that we see the glimpses of the trinity in the old testament too.  someone who is God but seems to be a certain expression of God)

2) v. 18 – someone who was dead but is now alive forever.  someone who has authority over death and the abode of the dead (aka hell).

WHAT AUTHORITY DOES HE HAVE (as stated in this passage)?

1) v. 16 “In his right hand he held seven stars…” we know from v.20 that the stars are angels.  The right hand, the stronger hand, means strength and authority.  Who are these angels that God exerts special strength and authority over?  There are a couple interpretations of this:

A) these are actual angels connected to churches (to do God’s bidding, to guard, to send messages) because stars are often    symbols for angels (Fruchtenbaum) as well as a likely interpretation from the context of the book.

OR

B) these are key messengers of the churches, since the word angel means “messengers.”  MacArthur also points out that it seems strange that God would use a John, a man, to write to an angel when God usually speaks directly to angels.

*in either case what does this mean for us? Ultimately that God has control over the safety and anointing of his church.  We can depend on His power for us, or not.


2) v. 18 he has authority, specifically decisive power, over death and the place of the dead

Hades is the Greek word for the underworld or the abode of those no longer living (Sheol being the Hebrew equivalent), and according to Fructenbaum a temporary state not an eternal state – the eternal state for those unsaved being the lake of fire.  It is somewhat another word for hell, which is an English word for which there is no Hebrew or Greek.  The concept of hell seems to speak specifically to the abode of the dead who are not saved (aka abbadon or the pit).

What do key holders mean?  Without a key holder we are unable to enter into life, exit death and hell.

*Do we believe this, that only Christ has decisive power over who passes from death to life, who moves from the underworld to heaven?  Do we then treasure and share Christ as the only hope for life after death?  Do we seek Him on behalf of others, or do we leave them without the person who holds the keys to their life?

WHAT IS THE CONTENT OF THIS REVELATION?

v. 19 – this is how many scholars actually break up this book of revelation

1) “what you have seen”  – Rev. 1:9-20

2) “what is now” – Rev. 2:1-3:22

3) “what will take place letter” – Rev. 4:1-22:21

revelation 1:1-8 > why should i care about this?

Revelation 1

Prologue

1The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Greetings and doxology

4John,
To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits[a] before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
7
Look, he is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.

8“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

****

a guide to reading this post: if you want the gist, just read the bold.  If you want explanations and applications of the bold, read everything else around it.

SUMMARY:

John tells of whom he received this testimony from, who it is addressed to, and why we should care.


WHY STUDY REVELATION (according to the testimony of this book)?

v. 3 John, through God, claims that those who hear and take to heart what is written in it will be blessed (happy, waterfall of goodness).  why is it such a blessing?  it says because “the time” is near.  what time?  the time of his return (see v. 7).   how do i figure that?  Because this book in particular makes at least one other explicit claim about itself being a blessing (rev. 22:7) and the other explicit blessing stated in the book (rev. 16:15) as well both relate this blessing to one’s readiness for Christ’s return.  So then why is Christ’s return so important and why should I care for that?   Because when he returns, that is it.  for some it will mean mourning (v.7), for they must answer and pay for all that they have done – forever.  for some though it will be joy-the joy of one longing for their lover and savior, since Christ alone can pay the price for our sins.  then they can be with the one they have longed for – forever.

So as to the big question why should we care about the book of revelation?

1) you will be blessed by doing so

2) you will be more ready for eternity, and not caught unaware when Christ returns

*i want to experience this blessing that this book promises.  i want to be ready for Him.  not to be ashamed or with any regrets.  my prayer is that i not only hear and even study this book but that i take to heart what is written in it.

WHY IS THIS JUST ADDRESSED TO SEVEN CHURCHES?

We know that there were more than seven churches in existence (at the very least the church in Jerusalem, as well as the other churches paul wrote to such as Corinth, Rome, etc).   We know that what is referred to as Asia is modern day Turkey, and the seven cities mentioned are all in that area.  We know that John was in Patmos, an island off the coast of this Asia.  So why just these churches in Asia?  Doesn’t God want to speak to other churches as well?  Well, we know that as Christians there are things we can learn from what he speaks to other believers. Much like all the other letters in the new testament which were addressed to certain churches, but had issues that we could still relate to today. So truth is not exclusive.  It just seems that God had a specific message for these churches at this time.  Some things apply to us, some things won’t.   The scholars that I have read (Keener, Fructenbaum) acknowledge that there were other churches in the area but that these seven churches were in strategic cities in Asia (which in fact became the home of the first Christian civiliation, under the reign of Constantine) from which his message could spread.  Its interesting to note that numbers are very important in the bible (and the jewish culture in general), seven means the number of completion.

*wow, I think that’s so neat to be reminded that God knows each church.  neat, but also scary.  He recognizes that churches have responsibility to represent Him, to be an influence in their cities.  if God would speak to my/your/our church what would he have to say?  I hope we are a church, a people, that represents him well.

WHO ARE THE SEVEN SPIRITS?

V. 4-5 say that “Grace and peace” come from three persons all who seem to be given a special honor.  true grace and peace only comes from God (it is a gift of God => Eph 2:8-9), and we know this testimony of John originated from God (v.1).  We know that there is only one God (see 10 commandments).   So is God one or three?  Here we see the doctrine of the trinity: One God in three persons (an analogy that has been helpful for me to understand the trinity, albeit limited, is that of water.  water is water; it is one.  yet, water has three forms: solid, liquid, and gas.  they are not three separate things or entities…it is still water made of the same elements, yet they can exist in different forms).  The three persons of the one Godhead are seen in v 4-5 as follows:

1)    v. 4 “him who is, and who was, and who is to come”  – when moses asks God’s name, God replies “I am that I am.” He is the only one who simply exists (self-existent) whereas all other things derive their existence from something else and has a beginning.  this is referring to God the Father

2)    v. 5 “Jesus Christ” – ok this is pretty plain…this is Jesus.  Jesus is not just another person below God, because Jesus is “ruler of the kings of the earth” (v.5) and to him is given “glory and power forever and ever” (v. 6).  Jesus is then God the Son

3) v. 4 “the seven spirits before his throne” – now from the context two persons of the trinity are mentioned as the source of “grace and peace”.   as a side note some have translated the above words as “the sevenfold spirit.” this 3rd person from whom “grace and peace” come must be the 3rd person of the trinity, God the Holy Spirit.

*when is the last time i have meditated on the wonder of the trinity?  do i honor God in all these aspects of Him?

WHY IS JESUS SO IMPORTANT FOR US OR WHAT HAS HE DONE FOR US?

–       He loves us (v.5).  this is interestingly enough the only present tense verb, the rest have already happened for us who put our trust in Him.

*do we believe that he loves us NOW, even at this present moment?

–       He freed us from our sins (v.5).  we are free from our sins.

*do we believe that?  do i?  this is so hard for me to accept and live out of.  i keep on living like a slave to sin when im already freed from it.  why do i like my slavery to sin so much?  he came so that i could experience this freedom.  am i experiencing this freedom?

–       He freed us by his blood (v. 5), meaning he secured our freedom, at the cost of his own life.  the freedom we have is not a right, but a privilege…an expensive privilege.

*may we not treat his sacrifice cheaply, by not living in this freedom and taking it for granted.

–       He made us to be a kingdom (v.6).  he is our king and under him we are united for Him.  we are to be ruled by Him.  we must answer to Him.  we have all the privileges that the king affords to his citizens.

*do we live ruled by the king or are we trying to be kings and queens?

–       He made us to be priests (v.6).  what are priests but those who are given the authority to be mediatory agents, representatives, between other humans and God.  we can mediate God to others and we can mediate others to God.  not mediators in the sense of people who actually save, for only Christ is our ultimate mediator.  its as if Christ is our priest (saving mediator between God and humans) so that we can be priests (pointing mediators between God and humans).

*what kind of priests (pointer mediators) are we?  do we draw others to God or do we push people away from God?  do we lift up others to God or do we simply lift up ourselves?

intro to revelation study project

so i’ve been meaning to study the book of revelation for quite some time now.  this is for several reasons:

1) there have been some crazy disaster type things happening on this planet recently (in frequency more so than I remember too)

1) people avoid interpretation of this book like the plague (pun intended)

2) many people, yes Christians too, are very hazy on the end times and prophesy (me included…i just couldnt find good scholarship on it easily)

3) about 2 summer ago on summer mission i sensed God pointing me toward studying it…i’ve been putting it off

4) my sunday school class wanted to study it (another sign God?)

5) Jesus, says that there is a particular blessing to reading/studying/paying attention to the contents of this book

Revelation 1:3
3Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

  Revelation 22:7
[ Jesus Is Coming ] “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”

  Revelation 16:15
”Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”

A couple caveats:

now i make no promises in this project, i might not even post on here consistently or continually.  im just gonna take a stab at it and i would appreciate your thoughts on the matters at hand.

this will not be an exhaustive study, for example verse by verse, detail by detail, i’m sure there are decent commentaries for that.  i’ll probably pose and try to answer questions that i have about the passage.

where possible i will try to cite sources that i’ve used and will try to be clear about my methods of interpretation, influenced greatly by the book – the footsteps of the messiah – by arnold fruchtenbaum, which i may pull from heavily (this book has a lot of great resources and he brings a unique knowledge of jewish culture, tradtions, and OT prophesy scholarship to bear on the subject.)

here we go.

same sex marriage and the words we use

originally posted:  Wednesday, December 03, 2008.  
revised: Thursday, December 28, 2016.

 

first off, i want to apologize as a christian, for the horrible ways i (and we as christians) have interacted with (or ignored) the lgbtq community in such shamefully unloving and ignorant ways.  i am grieved how we have elevated particular areas of societal brokeness and minimized other areas of our own brokeness as it happens to suit us.  i am working on this and invite folks to call me out on my stuff in love.

i’d just like to speak, if you would grant me that grace, to the following terms that have been thrown around so loosely in recent days:

1) LOVE
unfortunately, the english language has made a mess of this word. yes, the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourself.  the greek word for “love” used here is agape, or unconditional, love.  yes, this challenge is considerable for it means loving ALL people even those who sin against us.  yes, a man can and should love other men.  but this does not mean that men ought to enter into sexual union with other men. the greek word for that form of love is eros or sexual love. i ought to love (agape) my mother but this does not mean that it is in the same way right and proper for me to love (eros) my mother. eros love can not and should not be applied to any and all people. we cannot throw this term “love” around loosely for it means something and we must mean what we say.

2) EQUAL RIGHTS / JUDGING
true, we ought to treat people equally, or fairly, as all have been made in the image of God. but this taken without context and qualification is ludicrous and is not indeed how we live.  we do not treat our parents as we do our friends as we do our co-workers as we do our children as we do our elders. i do not speak to my parents as i do to a co-worker. i do not allow a child to drive a car as i do an adult. also treating people “equally” does not mean we treat all actions and decisions equally.  The California Constitution (the basis for the judges overturning prop 22, a decision that i feel is a misreading of the constitution) states:

“SEC. 31. (a) The State shall not discriminate against, or grant
preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”

yes, all citizens of a human government should have equal civil rights in the sense of access to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.   all people should be treated with dignity and decency.  a person has the civil right to enter into a consensual civil union with any person of their choosing. however, if there is separation of church and state then civil rights do not translate to moral rights in the same way.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” he did not say we must do away with all judgment in how we treat one another; he was speaking to the evil of judging someone by their outward person.  it is important to note that the categories listed in that section of the constitution above are physical and usually visible qualities of a person, not qualities of a person’s interpersonal relationships.  Jesus himself talks about the dangers of judging someone in the oft quoted Matthew 7:1.  The spirit of that passage, however, is to warn of the brokeness of judging others at the expense of seeing ones own issues (and it is certainly not in the damning sense of eternal condemnation). we must not throw out the baby (judgment) with the bath water (judging in the hypocritical sense). the inward person must be discerned. marriage speaks much of one’s character and values.  marriage is about a person’s interpersonal relationships.  marriage of the same-sex is not an equal right spiritually as it is civilly.  let me attempt to explain why in the next term.

3) MARRIAGE
to God, who alone gets to set the standard of marriage, eros love is only in the context of a faithful marriage between one man and one women.  judging from the dismal divorce rates even amongst believers in the u.s. alone, this is a serious challenge for heterosexuals too (even just by sheer numbers).  God meant something quite particular when he decreed marriage.

then man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘for she was taken out of man.”  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. – Gen 2:23-24

Jesus even goes back to THIS passage to ground the discussion of marriage.  in eros there is a sexual union of two different parts. especially since one was taken from the other the two come together in a unique way; a way that is not the same as joining two of the same pieces. now we all know that marriage is not limited to eros but eros is something specific to marriage.

please understand, marriage of man and woman is not the end nor goal, for not all are married or have physical sexual union. no, marriage is only a pointer, or a shadow, to something greater…union with God. this is why God uses the analogy of the faithful lover as well as Christ as groom. marriage and eros are ways we can understand God’s special faithful love for us.  this is why sex and marriage is SUCH a big deal.  this is why to alter God’s design is so offensive and subtractive not additive.

this does not mean that those who are not married or have not had sex can not understand God’s love. for Jesus himself was not married and Paul, the great missionary of the faith, was not married and it’s hard to say our understanding of love is greater than them.  earthly marriage is just one means of understanding God’s love…if, however, we can directly experience God’s love in this manner and devote our hearts solely to Him, this indeed would be the greatest love. Those who can experience this without the trappings/burnings for human eros love are blessed.

Lastly (thank you for bearing with me if you stayed this long) but not necessarily most important to clarify (true, this is a little non sequiter…its just one of the things that have come up in my conversations with people on this topic):

4) COMPARING SINS
people sometimes use the argument that “well all sin is the same, so why the big deal with this one?”  now although i totally agree that NONE of us are really in a place to cast any stones and that by committing ANY sin we are lawbreakers all the same, this notion of all sin being the same is suspect.   we understand, even in our corrupt humanity with our court system, that there are degrees of a crime.  we do well to consider that this notion came from somewhere.  when Jesus himself was being falsely accused of crimes through the state, pilate tries to use a power a play to get Jesus to comply to which “Jesus answered,  

‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.'” (John 19:11)

from this scripture I can at least infer that those with power over people have weightier responsibility and consequence (uncle ben was inspired).  now, i am not and cannot dogmatically lay out levels of sin (maybe romans 1 gives us a clue?  but even in this case, idolatry of self would be the worst).   but to say all sin is the same is simply not true.

we should be wary of justification or tolerance of ANY of our sin, especially sin (like lust…man, thats hard for me to hear) that the Lord warns may put us in the dangers of the fires of hell – so dangerous that it it warrants the analogy of plucking off a part of the body to save the whole.  so, in the end, we are ALL in need of God’s grace and as we grow in our understanding of just how wretched we are in not giving the Most Worthy his due, so it sheds light on how great is His love to bring us to Himself in spite of this.

as their are varying degrees of sin, the good news is that there are also varying degrees of love.  jesus’ beloved disciple, john, quotes Jesus’ in their last supper before His betrayal as saying this:

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Considering our transgression and disregard of an infinite God, how great then is the love that God demonstrates to us in laying down His life for us?

memorial stones or “how i know God is real…from my life” PART I

originally posted (on facebook) Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 11:04pm

there’s this one message I still remember from high school that was on setting up altars of God. what the people did back in the day was when God moved in a powerful way among them they set up a memorial of stones. they did this to help them REMEMBER Him. so when somebody came along that didn’t know what happened they would point at the stones and ask “what does this mean?” then they would tell of what He had done.

So I’m gonna be setting up some
Memorial Stones of God’s Works Witnessed in My Life

1. In Japan, my grandmother became the first Christian in my family, after a neighbor invited her to bible study. This was amidst persecution from others, namely from my grandfather who tore up her bible at some point.

2. My mother accepted Christ, in college in Japan through a Christmas presentation of the Navigators…a ministry that would have a great impact on my brother and I. I didn’t learn about how my mother had accepted till almost the end of my college experience.

3. My father accepted Christ after attending a church in LA for some time…his roommate got him to go b/c he told my dad there would be girls, music, and Japanese food! Go dad!

4. before I was born my parents gave me a name…the meaning of which, unbeknown to them, matched up with what they wanted me to be. i guess my mother asked my father what kind of child he wanted me to be and he said something like “one who is loved by God and by men.” David means “beloved.”

5. about the time I was in 5th grade I got a kidney illness that hospitalized me for days (my entire body was swollen) and put me on medication for years afterward (which by the way was supposed to stunt my growth but now im the tallest in my family). there’s a lot that God triggered through this event but the biggest lessons i learned through it was that humans are weak and that He is a personal God. My first clear memories of praying begin around here.

6. the day I went into the hospital was the first day my soon-to-be youth pastor came to visit our church. Jason Zahairiades (half greek-half Korean. once again I didn’t know how much Koreans would impact my life till college) talked with God like He was a real person. He taught me through example that Christianity is not about rituals and rules but about a living relationship with a powerful God.

7. Although, growing up in the church, I must have said words a bunch of times, I believe I sincerely accepted Christ in 7th grade at Mt. Hermon youth camp.

8. One time, I can’t remember exactly when, I fell off a small cliff. I cried out to God as I was falling. next thing I know I was on the dirt ground with nothing but a scratch on my hand.

9. My freshman year of high school I went to this revival event and as I was praying to experience his Spirit’s movement in me somebody began to pray for me. I can’t really explain it, but soon after my body began to shake uncontrollably. His work at that time was more significant than that, like experiencing God’s peace, but I guess it was the first time I experienced God physically moving in me.

10. In the winter of my freshman year in high school I went to Winter Vision (a youth camp for our conference) in Santa Cruz. on the final morning of the camp the speaker gave a message on the power of God’s movement in the early church and the potential for power in this generation. He focused on ACTS 4:31 where the place the believers were praying was shaken. After the message we received news that So. California had been rocked by an earthquake that same morning. it was what we now refer to as the Northridge earthquake. the earthquake struck at 4:31 a.m.

11. One morning in high school i witnessed a demon manifest in my friend. it was scary. We prayed hard. Then my youth pastor came and prayed and the demon left.

12. I contemplated suicide my junior year. Nothing dramatic had happened. I just found myself in a place where I felt so much pressure that I felt like I was caving in and all I could do was ball. while my face was buried in my pillow my stereo was playing the song “Come Let Us Return” by Kevin Prosch. I heard these lines: “For He has torn us but he will heal us, for He has wounded us but He will bandage us, and He will come.” He did. He saved me, my soul as well as that night.

13. During that anxious time of waiting my senior year for college letters, I found I did not hear at all from UCLA. A while after everyone got their acceptance/rejection letter my acceptance arrived on the day of my 18th birthday. It seemed a confirmation that I would go to the only school that I knew people at…who all happened to be Christians.

14. Sometime in high school I was at another revival meeting. One of the leaders was praying for me and they said that they sensed a call of Joshua over my life (you know the guy that had to lead the Israelites into the promised land when Moses passed away) and something about an iron scepter. now I don’t really know what that all means (will mean) but my 5th and final year at UCLA I was reading through the book of Joshua. what God spoke to me during that time of my life, not only was it the freest time I felt in my life, but it was a time that ultimately led to my decision to go to summer missions to Japan and into the graduate program of education for teaching.

So what has God done in your life?
Won’t you set up some memorial stones too? Let’s remember what He has done and who He is. Let it be a witness to us as well as for all to see.

We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. – Psalm 78:4

if somebody made up Jesus please introduce me to him…

originally posted Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at 11:18pm

“no one has ever yet discovered the words ‘jesus ought to have said.’ read the accounts. you try to come up with better lines. do you realize what kind of person you’d have to be to even make this up? if somebody made this up we would have to be sitting here having the same kind of discussion over who is this incredible person who made it up? what kind of person would this be? no one has ever yet discovered the words ‘jesus ought to have said’ or ‘the deity ought to have done.’ nothing he does falls short, in fact, he is always surprising you and taking your breath away because he is better than you can imagine. why? they are the surprises of perfection. he combined virtues never seen together: tenderness without weakness, strength without harshness, humility without the slightest lack of confidence, holiness and unbending convictions without the slightest lack of approachability, power without insensitivity, passion without prejudice, the harshest judgment on the self-satisfied yet the most winsome kindness to the broken and the marginal, never inconsistent, never a false step, never a jarring note.” – tim keller