Why Do Preachers Think They can Make Stuff Up?

For a while I thought Franklin Graham was a more stalwart Christian than his father. He seemed to be unafraid of pointing out the gross errors of Islam instead of his father’s attempts to say Muslims worshipped God, just by a different name. ???

Sorry, Billy, there’s more than a few writers of actual Scripture who disagree with you.

But then, Franklin gets up at President Trump’s inauguration and says that “rain is a sign of God’s blessing,” and then points out that it started raining when President Trump walked up to the podium.

I know, this is old news. But, when I heard this, I didn’t have the audio. Now, I do. And I have a guy who points out EXACTLY what I though at the time. Enjoy:

No, Franklin, God is not showing His blessing on our nation with some sprinkles as President Trump walks up. With that sort of asinine Biblical exegesis, we could claim that God is blessing a rapist who gets rained on while assaulting a woman, or a child who gets sprinkled while lying to his parents …

Well, of course, that wouldn’t be the case!!

But that’s exactly the problem we have when so-called preachers take it upon themselves to speak for God when God hasn’t spoken to them.

In short, they’re false prophets. If Franklin has any fear of God, he’ll repent of this blatant misappropriation of God’s mind and will humble himself.

Is God On Trial?

Have you ever doubted God? Who hasn’t? It’s in our nature to question what all this means and evaluate how our lives will seem to be a random set of events that amount to nothing. We agree with Solomon’s wisdom in the book of Ecclesiastes that “all is vanity” and “striving after the wind.”

But do we realize what we’re doing when we entertain those doubts? Essentially, we’re listening to the flesh, which veers quickly to the words of Satan, “Did God really say?”

Worse, we begin listening to worldly wisdom that tells us we are the architects of our future, or we make our own luck.

Some Christians will say, “God doesn’t drive parked cars!”

Is this true? Does God need us to get moving before He can use us?

Others say we need to follow the rules of Karma, and that if we are one with the positive forces in the cosmos, then things will turn around to our favor.

Maybe you’re wondering, is God even real, or is it just “the Universe” like so many like to say.

There’s a movie out, The Case For Christ, following Lee Stroble’s research that convinces him of the ‘proof’ that Jesus was a real man, and thus, Christianity is true. The title suggests a trial of sorts, and it is a compelling story. It captivates us because we like trials and arguments. A large number of TV shows involve lawyers and trials. We enjoy parsing through the evidence to see what really happened.

This is also the topic of Isaiah chapter 40 and 41. God puts himself on trial against the idols. Actually, the idols, and the world corridors of power are on trial against God, just as Pilate was standing before the judgment bar of Christ, not the other way around.

In chapter 41, in particular, God challenges the people and their idols to tell the future, explain the events of the past … do good, do evil, show power.

Of course, the idols and the rulers cannot do any of this. Through Isaiah, God has already declared what will happen, despite people’s attempts to secure themselves against the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Egyptians. None of these great nations can do anything to God. They actually serve His purpose.

We often think that our lives are filled with meaningless suffering or unjust turns of events. Yet, God is sovereign in every aspect of what happens. When we doubt this, we’re actually being tempted to trust in our idols. Granted, we don’t have little statues made of wood and metal or shrunken heads of our ancestors, or bones plastered into the walls of our house (I’m assuming most of us don’t!) But, our idols are just as much “less than emptiness.”

We trust in the politics of today. Many trust that Donald Trump will protect Christian morality through Supreme Court nominations. Many trust in a job with the right company to provide for their needs.

It’s not immediately wrong to read the paper and make evaluations on a Presidential nomination, or seek to be gainfully employed. But, it is wrong if we start assigning God’s hand to things that we think are fitting into some plan or design of our own making. In other words, some people have determined that one way is God’s Will, and then begin constructing a path of likely scenarios that will accomplish it.

That’s worldly wisdom. That’s actually sooth-saying. We want to know the future, and we attempt to read the tea leaves or look into the crystal ball to declare the outcome. Some use the Bible to do this. They assign numbers to the letters and try to unlock secrets about the future (this is called Numerology).

God tells us not to do this. It’s witchcraft. It’s attempting to do what only God can do.

Only God directs events. Only God can tell the future. Only God can explain events that happened and what they mean.

Sometimes, God reveals the good reason for some tragedy to us in our personal lives. We come to realize the good that God was working. But other times, God simply asks us, as He did to Job, “Where were you when I created the universe?” God repeatedly says through His writers in Scripture, “Who counseled me with wisdom and taught me justice?”

The answer is obvious. No one  did.

God may leave us waiting for an answer, showing us enough light for one step at a time. And we should respond in thanksgiving for that light, and that step.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Why We Shouldn’t Fear

Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”?

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. 

Isaiah 40:21-31

But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish.

You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all.

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.

Isaiah 41:8-13

A Useless Message?

Isaiah wouldn’t be considered a successful minister. Despite his prophecies, kings did what they wanted, repented only when it seemed they had to, then returned to their selfish, prideful ways.

Isaiah is remarkable because his prophecies pointed down the vast corridors of time to Jesus Christ, our Lord. He reminds us of God’s sovereignty over all matters of life. He reminds us that we don’t even have a frame of reference to interpret God’s ways.

That could be frightening. Imagining God looking down on humanity, regarding the lofty princes and powerful nations as “less than nothing,” and the people as grasshoppers, dust on the scales. We make no impact at all to God.

We don’t like that idea. We like to think that we have a purpose and make our mark on history. We want to be somebody. We want to make a name for ourselves. We believe we can reach the stars or build a tower to heaven. We prefer to think that we can know the deep things of knowledge both of good and evil, and that in that pursuit, we’ll become like God.

It’s all absurd. It would be like the comedy sketch Jim Gaffigan did about the toddlers who try to run away. “Where do you think you’re going?”

Only, with God, it’s even more absurd.

Who Is Like God?

There is nothing to which we can compare God. He is intimately involved in his creation, including all the stars in the galaxy, which he calls by name, not missing a single one.

Think about that when you think you’ve been forgotten by God. He doesn’t regard people the way we do. Pomp and status in our society means nothing to Him. When Jesus stood before Pilate, it was actually Pilate who stood before Jesus, his soul on trial.

With all our striving, we grow tired. Even when we are young, we do not possess the strength to go on forever. There comes a time when we are exhausted, hemmed in on every side.

True Hope of Deliverance

But if we look to the Lord, He renews our strength. He gives power to the faint. Though we be as lame, weak people, we’ll be more than conquerors by His might.

The promise that continues in chapter 41 is to God’s people, not to people in general. It is only the repentant who have put their faith in the absolute justice and holiness of God’s nature, have renounced all claim of control on their life that can then rest in the declarations that follow.

Our enemies will be as nothing at all. We’ll look for them and not find them.

The Lord holds us in His right hand. We need not fear. He is our Lord.

Was Jesus Crucified on Good Friday?

Unless you live under a rock, you’re probably aware that yesterday was “Good Friday.” If you’re that far along, you might have an inkling that it has to do with the “Holy Week” or the days leading up to Easter, when we celebrate egg-laying rabbits. Oh, wait, I mean the resurrection of Jesus and egg-laying rabbits, chocolate and egg salad for all the hard-boiled eggs we’ve made.

All sarcasm aside, I’ve always had a problem with Good Friday being recognized as the day of Jesus sacrifice. Basically, it doesn’t give time for the sign of Jonah, which Jesus referenced in Matthew 12:39-40 in which he says:

“But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

How would we get 3 days and 3 nights from Friday to Sunday morning? Is there some quantum physics going on? Let’s count them out. Friday, by evening, Jesus was taken from the cross, prepared and put in a tomb. That’s the first night. Saturday would be the first day. Saturday night would be the second night, then he rose again on Sunday morning before the dawn.

I’m not a math expert, but I’ve counted 2 nights and 1 day. We’re missing a night and 2 days.

Well, the Jewish people observed days differently than we do, which must have been what the Roman Church was thinking when they ordained Friday as “Good Friday.”

So, let’s give that a whirl. Friday evening would have been the beginning of the Sabbath (Saturday). So, if they were trying to avoid working on the Sabbath (in John 19:31 it says that it was a ‘high day,’ or a high Sabbath, which appears to be a distinction from a normal Sabbath), they needed to get Jesus in the tomb before darkness. This was done quickly and the tomb was  near the crucifixion site.

Friday evening to morning would be 1 day (using the Jewish evening to morning). So, 1 evening to morning = 1 day (and a night?). Assuming Saturday was the Sabbath in question (disregarding John’s note that it was a high day) then that evening would mark the end of the 2nd day. Thus, Saturday night to Sunday morning would make the 2nd night and 2nd day.

The problem there is the same: In Matthew Jesus said that He’d be in the “heart of the earth” for 3 days and 3 nights.

So far, no matter what we do, we cannot get 3 days and 3 nights out of Friday to Sunday morning. We’re left with one of those burning questions of “how does this work???”

Simple–and this may come as a surprise–the “church” has it all wrong. When in doubt, go from Scripture.

Messianic Jews, those who observe Jewish traditions and the Law of Moses, note that there was a day of rest after the first day of the Passover week. This view is also held by Seventh-Day Adventists, so I’m not saying it’s Biblical. I’m just pointing out that some take the “high day” reference in John to mean it was a separate Sabbath than the weekly Sabbath that was before the first day of the week.

I suspect the fact that the Sabbath was following Jesus crucifixion is why traditional churches have perpetuated the idea that Friday was when Jesus was crucified.

But, as is abundantly clear, that conflicts with Scripture by not allowing the true sign of Jonah.

So, I’m not advocating that people need to follow the Messianic Jewish interpretations of things, or become Seventh-Day Adventists. But, we might consider if they’ve noted something true.

As a side note, just because I disagree with someone on several points does not mean they might not make a good point here or there. In fact, even a false teacher can say something that is true. Ciaphas prophesied about Jesus sacrifice for the people that they should not all die … and he wasn’t doing it out of good motives or from a pure heart (John 11:49-50).

Let’s take a look at Jonah, since that’s a clear reference.

So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.

And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying, “I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. 

Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God. When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!”

And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

Notice, the passage doesn’t say the number of days? We get those days from Jesus’ mouth. All we see is that he was sleeping, get’s woken up, tells the sailors to throw him into the sea (for their salvation), God appoints a fish to swallow him, he prays, then God has the fish spit him up on dry ground.

3 days, 3 nights.

If we assume it was evening when he was swallowed, we have one night, then a day, a second night, then a day, a third night …. then spit out on the third day?

The only way Jesus was in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights is if He were crucified on either Wednesday or Thursday, depending on how we interpret the 3 days.

I believe the Seventh Day Adventists and the Messianic Jews say Wednesday. They reason that He was betrayed on Tuesday night, was hastened to trial on Wednesday, the day of the feast (which was why the priests couldn’t enter Pilate’s court), then crucified that day. He was then buried at sundown before the “high Sabbath” on Thursday. Wednesday to Thursday would be the 1st day (I guess, following the evening to morning, one day model). Thursday evening to Friday morning would be the 2nd day, Friday evening to Saturday morning would be the 3rd day. Saturday evening would be the end of the 3 days and 3 nights since it would technically be the first day of the week at sundown.

So, Jesus could rise to life at some point between sundown before sunrise on Sunday.

If we allow for Jesus being resurrected ON the 3rd day (which is contrary to what Jesus said when he said “in the heart of the earth for…”) then we could have the crucifixion on Thursday.

Why does this matter? Am I just trying to mess up people’s Easter plans? No. I’m just a stickler for details. When Jesus said he would be in the heart of the earth for 3 days and 3 nights, I think He meant it. The Word of God is not something we can massage and change how we might prefer. Also, since it seems that Good Friday was an invention of the Roman church, I think Christians should consider whether they really should celebrate something that was advocated by the wicked State Church system.

The truth is, Easter is actually the pagan celebration of the Spring Equinox. It moves, if you haven’t noticed. Christmas is a celebration of the Winter Solstice. Halloween (All Hallowed Eve) is a celebration of the Autumnal Equinox. We tend to have celebrations on or arround the Summer Solstice, too. It’s just a human thing. We have 4 main celebrations and they match the seasons with different general meanings attached to them.

I’m not knocking these celebrations anymore than I’ll knock having a birthday party. It’s fine to have a celebration. But, we should keep in mind that the week isn’t any more holy than any other. We, as God’s people should set ourselves apart as holy for His work. And that’s an ongoing thing, not something that we do one week or day here or there.

Do You Hunger and Thirst For Righteousness?

I’m reading through Isaiah, a favorite book for many Christian leaders, pop stars, conspiracy theorists and would-be prophets. I’ve heard how Isaiah predicts the Trump Presidency, how it has “harbingers” for America as the new Israel, etc. I’ve heard people quote passages in Isaiah 41 about how we’ll look for our enemies, but will not find them and how we should not fear.

Words of comfort, for sure. Isaiah has a lot going on throughout its 66 chapters. But one part strikes me as being overlooked by those who reach a wide audience:

“For the fool speaks folly, and his heart is busy with iniquity, to practice ungodliness, to utter error concerning the LORD, to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied, and to deprive the thirsty of drink.” Isa. 32:6. 

This applies in the context of the leaders of Israel (God’s people) fearing the political climate and looking for help in Egypt. Isaiah has warned God’s people’s leaders to put their trust in the unseen God rather than the flesh and blood of the untrustworthy political alliances.

And yet, the leaders brush aside this advice in favor of going down to Egypt and forming an alliance with Assyria, etc. In other words, looking at politics for their comfort and peace.

The truth is, there is no peace without righteousness. There is no righteousness without justice. And justice does not reside where sin runs rampant.

The Christian leaders in America have largely backed President Trump. While that’s certainly fine in the context of “he’s better than Hillary,” that’s not what has happened. That statement is, afer all, debatable. I like to say, time will tell.

What I find astounding is that Christians have gone so far as to claim that Trump is a redeemed Christian, and have advanced the idea that he will create a reprieve for God’s people from persecution and danger. This idea stems from the idea that Christians are protected by the U.S. Supreme Court. It finds its source in the idea that we can legislate Biblical morality, creating a land of abundant prosperity.

And there’s the word: Prosperity. Christians in America need to remember that God is not concerned with our houses, cars, careers or comfort in this world. Jesus promised that we were not greater than our master. If the world hated him, it will hate us.

So-called Christian leaders who teach otherwise may appear to be noble and honorable, but they’re actually fools and scoundrels who leave God’s people hungry and parched.

What is the danger of the “Church System?”

The “church” creates the idea that if you don’t attend their services, you’re outside of the fellowship. That’s what they did to the Anabaptists. They accused them of forsaking the assembly. They accused them of heresy and blasphemy. All the while, they murdered them and exchanged actual criminals for a chance to catch and kill an Anabaptist.

These are the words of Christ in Matthew 23:1-15:

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 

They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 

They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.

But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

This is the word of our Lord. To those who see, this is what happens in churches. Maybe not everywhere. There are home churches and other congregations that heed the word of the Lord. But it’s the exception.

God wants His people to be separate from the world. That’s you. That’s me. If we have ears to hear.

Is “Home Church” A Real Alternative?

“I go to Bedside Baptist,” or “Church of the Holy Comforter,” if you’re of the Reformed or Catholic bent. Those jokes get some chuckles, especially if you add in that you enjoyed Pastor Pillow and Deacon Sheets. But, I think that’s what people think is really going on when someone says they “do church” at home. When you say it’s actually a real thing, then come the Homeschooling-type questions from concerned family and friends.

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