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Archive for January, 2012

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 2 Timothy 3:1-5

The Central Elementary School (part of the Wall Township Public School system, Wall, NJ), had a Lip-Sync Show at the school over the course of two evenings on January 26 and 27, 2012.  I happened to notice the event because someone posted a YouTube video of the school teacher’s lip-sync rendering of Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way.’ Of course it was performed for all students (kindergarten through fifth grade) and their parents who were in attendance.

Here are a few selected verses from the song in case you’re not familiar:

It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M
Just put your paws up ’cause you were Born This Way, Baby…
Just love yourself and you’re set…Don’t be a drag – just be a queen
A different lover is not a sin…
No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgendered life…
I’m on the right track baby, I was born to survive

Considering the make-up of the audience, I have a problem with this. Who has given permission to our schools to begin advocating sinful life styles to our children?  Was there a vote?  If so, I didn’t receive my sample ballot in the mail. I’m kind of thinking that the schools should go back to teaching English, and mathematics, and history, and leave these moral issues for the parents to deal with.

You say you’re ok with the whole homosexual thing? Please read on — Born this Way barely scratches the surface of what’s wrong here.

The Kid’s Perform

When the ‘Born This Way’ video uploaded on YouTube, I observed down the right side of the webpage a variety of other videos from Central’s 2012 and 2011 lip sync shows. I was shocked to see and hear the perverse songs these young children were singing to. Did they select their own songs to perform to? I kept wondering aloud,

Didn’t anyone at this school think to check these song lyrics before they allowed the kids to perform them?

Here’s a sampling of some of the more offensive lyrics:

From the song, “Dj Got Us Falling In Love”

So we back in the club…
Gonna burn this mother f * * ker down…
So dance, dance, like it’s the last, last night of your life…

Really?  Can you imagine your fourth-grader lip-syncing and gyrating on stage to that? Were the parents squirming in their seats listening to this or were they clapping along oblivious to what their kids were singing.

From the song, “Twist My Hips”

In the club party rock look up on your girl
She on my jock non stop when we in the spot
Booty on the way like she on the block
What the track I gots to know…
I’m runnin through these hoes like drano…
One more shot for us, Another round, Please fill up my cup
Don’t mess around, We just wanna see, You shake it now
Now you wanna be,Your naked now

“I’m runnin through whores like Drano? One more shot for us?” What in God’s name are we teaching our five through ten-year olds?

From the song, “Ice Ice Baby”

I’m killin your brain like a poisonous mushroom…
Girls were hot wearing less than bikinis…
Shay with a guage and Vanilla with a nine (those are guns people)
Gunshots ranged out like a bell
I grabbed my nine — All I heard were shells…
Fallin on the concrete real fast
Jumped in my car, slammed on the gas…
Police on the scene, You know what I mean
They passed me up, confronted all the dope fiends
If there was a problem

That’s wonderful! Let’s glamorize gang life, drugs, and murder. Again folks, this is an elementary school performance by children. Where is the adult supervision?

From the song, “If I Had You”

There’s a thin line between the dark side and the light side,
From New York to LA getting high rock n’ rollin
Get a room trash it up ’til it’s ten in the morning
Girls in stripper heels, boys rolling in Maseratis…
What they need in this world is some love
It’s a fair line between a wild time and a flat line baby tonight
It’s a struggle gotta rumble tryin’ to find it 

In a time when teen suicide is at an all time high, do we really want our pre-teens proclaiming the line, “It’s a fair line between a wild time and a flat line, it’s a struggle…tryin’ to find it.”  I’m quite sure we do not.

From the song, “Let’s Get It Started”

To lose the inhibition, follow your intuition
Free your inner soul and break away from tradition…
Get stupid…
Lose control of body and soul, Get stoned (Come on!)
Let’s get cuckoo…Get messy…Loud and sick…
Your mind past normal on another head trip…
So, come dumb now do not correct it…
Let’s get ignorant
Let’s get hectic

‘Get stupid?’ I believe we have! These lyrics are insane.  Is anybody out there seeing this?

From the song, “Halo”

Remember those walls I built, Well, baby they’re tumbling down
And they didn’t even put up a fight, They didn’t even make up a sound…
I found a way to let you in But I never really had a doubt
Standing in the light of your halo I got my angel now…
It’s like I’ve been awakened Every rule I had you breakin’
It’s the risk that I’m takin’ I ain’t never gonna shut you out…
Everywhere I’m looking now I’m surrounded by your embrace
Baby I can see your halo You know you’re my saving grace…
Think I’m addicted to your light.

Is this the message we want our daughters to hear? Two more songs to go (there were many more YouTube posts from this event that I did not post):

From the song, “The Time”

I came up in here to rock! Light a fire, make it hot!
I don’t wanna take no pictures! I just wanna take some shots!
So come on, let’s go! Let’s lose control!

Let’s do it all night! Until we can do it no more!

Keep on rocking to the sound! Turn it up and watch it pound!
We gon’ rock it to the top, Until the roof come burnin’ down!
Get hot in here! The temperature!
Has got these Ladies! Getting Freakier!

I got freaky, freaky, baby! I was chilling with my Ladies!
I didn’t come to get boogie! I came here to get crazy!
I was born to get wild! That’s my style!
If you didn’t know that, well, baby, now you know now!

Okay, you know what the song is about, right?  If you don’t, ask your ten-year old what it means (she probably learned about it in school).

From the song, “All I Do Is Win”

All I Do is win, win, win, no matter what…
my hands go up and down like strippers booty’s go…
dirty money bitch you better get your mud right…
we come together holding hands and holla thug life…
it’s like thug life…
heat in the Kitchen, pot on the stove,

water getting boiled, dope getting sold…

hit the lick, hit it back,.hit the trick, jump the track

bitch I want my money back…
time and time again while I’m sipping on this gin

Prostitution. Drugs. Gangs. Nice.

I am appalled. Are you?

Mr. Greg Storts, the principal of the Central Elementary School and the Wall Township School Board should stop this atrocious behavior immediately or resign from their posts.

Folks, this kind of activity is going on across this great country of ours and most likely in the majority of our school districts.  It must stop now.  All we need do is look at the moral decay of our children in these last few decades to understand how this whole scenario will ultimately play out.  It’s not getting any better and we have to stop the trend.

Call your school and tell them enough is enough.

Although the public school system is not willing to hear it, I’ll say it anyway: “The solution is salvation found in Christ Jesus alone.” If Jesus is still rejected, then at the very least, some degree of moral decorum must be restored to our schools.

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But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children…For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God…we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children… 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 9, 11

Family

Andrei Rublev's Trinity, representing the Fath...

Teaching by example, the Apostle Paul shares how the Thessalonians could effectively witness to a non-believer by reminding them of how God used him to nurture their faith. Paul shares with us as well. As we read today’s Bible passage, three familiar roles leap from the text: motherhood, brotherhood, and fatherhood. What might not be as apparent is the allusion that connects them symbolically to the Holy Trinity.  Paul is expressing that as the Christian effectively displays motherly, brotherly, and fatherly characteristics, he or she is simultaneously exhibiting attributes of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Nursing Mother

Paul’s illustration of a nurturing mom with her child and the guidance, protection, and comfort that she brings, is a picture of the Holy Spirit who works in our hearts to reprove us and lead us to repentance and salvation. He lovingly reveals our condition and guides us to our only hope in Christ Jesus. He comforts us, He teaches us, and He brings us to a place of remembrance. The Holy Spirit is our seal, our very assurance of eternity and our persistent intercessor who prays for us. As we express this mother’s love, we emulate the Holy Spirit.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. John 14:26

The Working Brother

A working brother is one we can relate to and have respect for. He is consistent, faithful, and reliable. Jesus our Brother finished the work on the cross, but yet He always lives to make intercession for us — Jesus loves us so much, He just won’t stop! When in gratitude it is our labor of love to do the will of the One who was sent, we mirror the best qualities of this working brother, a picture of Jesus Christ.

I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work…He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. John 9:4 + 1 John 2:6

The Challenging Father

A loving father desires for his child the very best and the very best requires nurturing, guidance, and correction—all flavored with love, grace, and mercy. Training up a child (or a new disciple) in the way he should go is a full time vocation and it is the father’s duty to ensure the effort is put forth and to supply the materials to get the job done. The person who exemplifies this kind of daddliness, desiring to do the best he or she is equipped to do, is a reflection of our Father in Heaven.

Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, And teach out of Your law My son…do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights. Psalm 94:12 + Proverbs 3:11-12

The First Thessalonian passage demonstrates the balance required to be an effective tool in God’s hand. We cannot be overly focused on admonishment to the point we forget to comfort.  We should not be so caught up in teaching  that we ignore the message of the instruction. Nor can we wink at sin or intervene when the trials come lest we jeopardize the refining process, while remembering always that the work and the power belong to God and we are but His conveyance.

…For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13 

  1. What did these verses tell you about God?
  2. What did they reveal about you?
  3. How would God have you change?
  4. What is your prayer?

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And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

It’s True

God gave us freewill and therefore we can do whatever we like.

If we need counsel, if we need advice, if we need instruction for the kind of things that really matter in life — you know, the spiritual and the sustentative things, God says we are free to choose and to listen to whoever we desire or admire. However, and in light of today’s Bible verse, the question is are we making the best possible choice.

Wonderful

Your counselor could be reputable and by worldly standards he might even be brilliant, but is he wonderful? Can you truly and accurately declare that the information or guidance which you have received is extraordinary and marvelous and the one who provided it is extraordinary and marvelous as well? Is all of his counsel exceptional or just certain parts of it?  Is what he proffers in every situation perfect?

But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. James 1:25

Divine

Yes, my counselor is wonderful. He is extraordinary and marvelous too!

Okay, but is your counselor God? After all you want the best counsel that’s available, don’t you? Why settle for second best when the Supreme choice is both accessible and free? Have you considered that counselors (even God), often give instruction and advice that’s difficult or unpleasant to fulfill — can your counselor also give you the power to do what he is asking of you?

Only God can do that.

Everlasting

What’s the source of your counselor’s information?  Is it ageless? Does the advice have any eternal significance or is it merely a temporary fix? Have others taken this counsel? Is their focus on things temporal, material, and earthly or on things eternal, enduring, and perpetual? Are you looking for permanence from the actions you ultimately take?

Peace

At the end of the day, what have you actually gleaned? Has your counselor resource for your spiritual development provided you peace?  If he has and if your counselor is not God, then the peace you have acquired will not last for very long.  Peace that does not last will guide you away from the peace that does.

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

God’s counsel from the beginning of time as we know it has always been that we’re free to choose what we want, but to choose Him if we want the best.  Doesn’t it make sense?  He created us, doesn’t it stand to reason that He has the best counsel for us?  Would we buy a new Ford and consult the old Chevy owners manual?  Of course not.  Does the old book have some good stuff in it?

It certainly does, but is it the best stuff?

So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified . Acts 20:32

  1. What did the Bible verse(s) say about God?
  2. What did the verse(s) reveal about you?
  3. What changes could you make?
  4. What is your prayer?

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Woe to those who join house to house; They add field to field, Till there is no place Where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land…Woe to those who rise early in the morning, That they may follow intoxicating drink; Who continue until night, till wine inflames them…to those who draw iniquity with cords of vanity, And sin as if with a cart rope; That say, “Let Him make speed and hasten His work, That we may see it; And let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come, That we may know it.” Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight! Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink, Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away justice from the righteous man! Isaiah 5:8, 11, 18-23

Woe vs. Whoa

The word woe in the ancient Hebrew, means ‘alas’ or ‘lo,’ however in today’s Bible passage we can also appreciate the overt interpretation of ‘a passionate cry of grief or despair’ as spoken by God through His prophet Isaiah — we can say without a doubt our wicked behavior grieves our Lord.

Whoa, take ‘er easy there, Pilgrim.

That of course is not an excerpt from the book of Isaiah, but a quote from the character Tom Doniphon, as portrayed by John Wayne in the 1962 classic, ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.’ The quotation reminded me that although God grieves for His children, He also lovingly warns us to whoa; that is to stop those behaviors that will ultimately lead to our harm and destruction. For that reason this section of Isaiah, at its core, is a call to repentance, not just for historical Israel, but for us today.

The Six Woes

This might be an over simplification of the six woes, but essentially we get a glimpse of the aberrant social activities that were prevalent in those days. Take note that we haven’t changed much as a society in the three thousand years since this prophesy was given.

  1. Piggish Capitalism: consumptive hoarding at the expense and oppression of others.
  2. Hedonism: the excessive pursuit of selfish and perverse pleasure, rejecting all moral values.
  3. Spiritual Apathy: the false notion that God doesn’t care about sin or that He winks at our sin.
  4. Relativism: a concept that maintains there are no absolute truths; what’s wrong for you may be right for me.
  5. Intellectualism: the notion that man is wiser than God; evolution of species is our prime example.
  6. Substance Abuse: the addiction that always follows unrestrained perversity.

The Warnings

God is not mocked and (it’s a promise of God), we will reap that which we sow — those who practice these things and similar will suffer greatly – ancient Israel suffered and we will also suffer. We are already feeling the birth pangs of consequence. Corporately and individually, the unrepentive have these things to look forward to:

Desolate homes
Scant vineyards
Captivity
Famine
Drought
Humiliation
Theft
Spiritual isolation
Spiritual blindness
Moral bankruptcy
Disease
Fruitlessness

Therefore the anger of the Lord is aroused against His people; He has stretched out His hand against them And stricken them, And the hills trembled. Their carcasses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this His anger is not turned away, But His hand is stretched out still. Isaiah 5:25

Our Hope

But His hand is stretched out still. Isaiah 5:25

To those who would say that our God is a condemning God, we share this hope – the God who warns is the God who also saves. He came with outstretched arms to provide our escape and His hand He has never retracted. Ours is Jesus who willingly endured the cross for all humanity, for all who would confess, repent, and believe to receive His gracious gift of salvation and submit themselves to His loving and refining authority.

“…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 will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
  1. How does this relate to the United States?
  2. How does this relate to you individually?
  3. Do you see the way of escape?
  4. What is your prayer today?

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“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts…” Colossians 3:15                                                                                                                

“I just have a peace about it in my heart.”

That’s what he said of his big-screen TV purchase and she said of her body-augmenting procedure.

Really?

Followers of Jesus Christ should always question the source of their peace. Innately, Holy Spirit-filled Christians know that some activities (under normal circumstances) are wrong, but yet too frequently we sense a perception-swaying tranquility that seems genuine and we allow it the privilege of casting decisive votes in our lives.

Remember Jonah

He had a peace in his heart as well. So peaceful was Jonah that he was able to sleep in the bowels of a sinking ship in the midst of a violent storm! How could he have such calm when he knew he was fleeing the very presence of the Lord? Was it because Jonah thought that the ship waiting in port that would carry him in the opposite direction, was a sign from God he was doing the right thing? Did Jonah misidentify the open door he plainly saw?

Yes, apparently he did.

Since we know that Jonah’s interpretation was flawed, we easily see that the peace he had experienced was flawed as well. Consequently we can glean from the story that it is a ploy of satan to supply escape vehicles when it is our desire to defy God. We will always find a boat waiting for us when it is our intention to journey in the opposite direction of God’s will. Let us remember that these ship-sightings bring into our hearts a simulated peace that if we’re not cautious —  if we’re not prepared, if we don’t investigate, we will mistake for the real thing.

The prophet Jeremiah warned:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked;Who can know it? We cannot trust in our hearts alone.” Jeremiah 17:9

The Apostle Paul expounds upon that doctrine when he cites, “We cannot rely on our hearts alone.” The peace in our hearts is not of God unless it can be confirmed and authenticated in God’s Word, which is why Paul pairs the former verse with this one:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing …” Colossians 3:16a

Our hearts are vulnerable to deception therefore we need the guidance of the Bible for it proclaims His truth and accuracy in regard to the way in which He would have us go. Coupled with that we need the wise counsel of men and women who are steeped and grounded in the Word of God; i.e., mature believers who have consistently demonstrated that their Christian walk is in step with God’s word. We will know them by the fruit they produce and their love for others.

Fact:

God’s peace will never contradict God’s Word. God’s peace never endangers, but always protects. If Jonah had been in the Word he would not have boarded that ship. If we are in the Word, we won’t either.

The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5a-7

  1. Did these Bible verses minister to you?
  2. Have you ever been led astray by your heart?
  3. What did you do to correct the error?
  4. What are you doing to avoid it from recurring?

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The list of things that God hates (below) is borrowed from ‘Meredith’s Book of Bible Lists.’  I looked through it and I can’t find anywhere where God says that He hates, abhors, or considers the Christian religion to be an abomination.  What the list does reveal is that God hates false religions that lead men to their destruction, man-made components added to the Christian religion, and religious hypocrisy (e.g., Christians who preach one thing, but then continue to do sinful things).

Jesus doesn’t hate religion, nor did He come to abolish it. That notion can’t be found anywhere in God’s Word. To suggest otherwise is to add words to the Bible (a practice God despises). To say Jesus hates religion and He came to abolish it is a lie.  God hates lying.

Here’s what God hates according to the Bible.

 The List

1. Homosexual acts (Leviticus 18:22).

2. Bestiality (Leviticus 18:23)

3. Idols, and the materials used to make idols (Deuteronomy 7:25)

4. Blemished sacrifices (Deuteronomy 17:1)

5. Worshipping the sun, moon or stars (Deuteronomy 17:3-4)

6. Divination (Deuteronomy 18:10)

7. Astrology (Deuteronomy 18:10)

8. Enchanters (Deuteronomy 18:10)

9. Witches (Deuteronomy 18:10)

10. Charmers (Deuteronomy 18:11)

11. Wizards (Deuteronomy 18:11)

12. Necromancers (Deuteronomy 18:11)

13. Transvestitism (Deuteronomy 22:5)

14. The hire of a whore (Deuteronomy 23:18)

15. Remarriage to a former wife after she has been married to another man (Deuteronomy 24:4)

16. Dishonest scales (Deuteronomy 25:13-16)

17. Workers of iniquity (Psalm 5:5)

18. The wicked (Psalm 11:5)

19. Those who love violence (Psalm 11:5)

20. The froward [perverse] (Proverbs 3:32)

21. A proud look (Proverbs 6:16-17)

22. A lying tongue (Proverbs 6:17)

23. Hands that shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:17)

24. A heart that devises wicked imaginations (Proverbs 6:18)

25. Feet that are swift in running to mischief (Proverbs 6:18)

26. A false witness who speaks lies (Proverbs 6:19)

27. Anyone who sows discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:19)

28. Lying lips (Proverbs 12:22)

29. The sacrifices of the wicked (Proverbs 15:8)

30. The ways of the wicked (Proverbs 15:9)

31. The thoughts of the wicked (Proverbs 15:26)

32. The proud in heart (Proverbs 16:5)

33. Those who justify the wicked (Proverbs 17:15)

34. Those who condemn the just (Proverbs 17:15)

35. Vain sacrifices (Isaiah 1:13)

36. Feasts as Israel celebrated them (Isaiah 1:14)

37. Robbery for burnt offering (Isaiah 61:8)

38. Idolatry (Jeremiah 44:2-4)

39. Evil plans against neighbors (Zechariah 8:17)

40. False oaths (Zechariah 8:17)

41. Esau (Malachi 1:1-3Romans 9:13)

42. Divorce (Malachi 2:14-16)

43. The deeds of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:615)

44. Sacred pillars (Deuteronomy 16:22).

45. “I hate, I despise, your feast days” (Amos 5:21).

46. “Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates.” ( Isaiah 1:14)

What is the Christian Religion?

Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines religion this way:

Religion, in its most comprehensive sense, includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of his will to man, in man’s obligation to obey his commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man’s accountableness to God; and also true godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties…Religion…is godliness or real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men, in obedience to divine command, or from love to God and his law.

I have gone through that definition word by word and I cannot find anything that God said He hates or would desire to abolish. What I like about the definition is that it points out that the Christian religion is in obedience to God’s commands, implying the components of our faith are not man-made.  So if you’re in a church that says you must do works to be saved, or you must attend that denomination to get to Heaven, or you must recite these words to Mary ten times, your religion has man-made parts that need to be rejected.

God’s Mandates for Religion

As we already pointed out, people do not have to do works in order to earn their salvation.  The Bible tells us that it’s by faith we are saved.  ‘For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation.’ (2 Corinthians 7-10)  Jesus finished all the work at the cross. In love and gratitude, we willing submit ourselves to the only One who could have saved us.  It is our desire to obey, not because some cleric said we had to, but because we desire to; it blesses our Lord and Savior. Therefore, we utilize the components of the Christian religion that God has established — they serve to bring us closer to Jesus and to equip us for ministry.

What are some of those religious, God-given elements we practice?

Praying, reading our Bibles, meditating on His word, going to church, fellowship with other believers, communion, worship, baptism, and marriage, are a few that top my list.

Here are a few others:

Keeping God’s word (John 14:23 )

Feeding God’s sheep (John 21:15-17 )

Heal the sick (Matthew 10:8)

Teaching (Matthew 28:20)

Preaching repentance and remission of sins (Luke 24:46-47 )

Preaching the gospel (Mark 16:15)

Doing good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27-28)

Not being hypocrites (Luke 12:1)

Giving (Matthew 5:42)

Loving God (Mark 12:30)

Loving one another (John 13:35)

Not being deceived (Mark 13:5-6 )

Being ready in season and out (2 Timothy 4:2)

Making disciples (Matthew 28:19)

Letting our light shine (Matthew 5:16)

And there are plenty more.

…Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.           Ephesians 4:1-6

There is a bottom line here. While I might call the adherence to God’s mandates religion, you might call them your steps of faith.  Someone else might call them the elements of their relationship.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is that we’ve committed our lives to Jesus Christ and that we’re submitted to His authority…because we want to, not because we have to.

What’s not okay is for one Christian to suggest or imply that another Christian is not saved because they’re not using the same vocabulary as them.  It’s really quite arrogant for someone to think we should remove a perfectly good word, a word that they have misunderstood, misapplied, or perhaps were even mistaught, from our vocabulary. Frankly, that practice wreaks of the kind of man-made dogma that God hates. So if you want to say that Christianity isn’t a religion, but a relationship, that’s fine.  If I want to say I practice the components of my religion religiously, that’s fine too. But let neither one of us ever say the other is wrong based solely on semantics.

  1. What are your thoughts?
  2. How did God speak to you?
  3. What is your prayer?

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Awake, O north wind, And come, O south! Blow upon my garden, That its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come to his garden And eat its pleasant fruits…I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk. (To His Friends) Eat, O friends! Drink, yes, drink deeply, O beloved ones! Song of Solomon 4:16 + 5:1

I’m Selfish

When I’m alone, I want to be left alone. When I’m with my wife or kids, I don’t want any intruders. When I’m communing with Jesus, I don’t want to be disturbed. When somebody talks or coughs during church service, I’m irritated. When I’m having an awesome time of fellowship with a friend or two or three, I’m not fond of others butting in and changing the topic.

The list could go on and on.

You and I are within our rights when it is our desire to maintain these cherished bonds, especially when the activities are both wholesome and pleasing to the Lord, aren’t we? After all, Jesus would be pleased that we wouldn’t want these moments with Him interrupted, right?

Not necessarily according to this portion of the Song of Solomon.

Song of Solomon

You may know that there are several ways we can analysis the *Song of Solomon, but I feel it’s most beneficial to see the entire eight chapters of the book as an allegory, that is a symbolic narrative that depicts Jesus Christ as the Groom and His subsequent love and purpose for the church, His bride.

With that…

“Awake, O north wind, And come, O south! Blow upon my garden, That its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come to his garden And eat its pleasant fruits.” Song of Solomon 4:16

Here, the bride speaks first and we see in her an attitude of eager and loyal submission to her Husband. Her first sentence is an invitation for His scrutiny. She effectively says to her Lord to let the revealing and sanctifying winds of adversity blow — she is subject to His ownership, authority, and redemptive power.

She further recognizes that not only does she belong to the King, but the garden and the fruit therein belongs to Him as well. Her confidence comes in knowing she is robed in His righteousness, that He alone is good, and that He creates good things for His good pleasure. The fruit she bears under His covering was produced by Him and for Him and as she freely brings Him blessing she is essentially fulfilling her God-given objective. As a result, she is filled with joy realizing her true purpose in the world.

“…For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure…You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” Philippians 2:13 + Revelation 4:11

Later on in the New Testament, Jesus Himself builds on that doctrine when while walking with His disciples He hungrily comes across a fig tree and curses it for being barren. We need to know that Jesus was not being cruel, but rather He was taking the occasion to illustrate a critical point to the church: fruitlessness is worthlessness and it defies the purpose of a Christian’s mission.

This cursed tree is for our example, but remember, Jesus knows the beginning from the end and whether-or-not a tree (or an alleged disciple) will ever in their lifetime produce. I personally find comfort in the parable He shares in Luke’s Gospel, as it reminds me that Jesus is the God of second chances and restoration.

“A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’ ” Luke 13:6-9

Back to the Song

Her Beloved Lord now speaks…

“I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk. (To His Friends) Eat, O friends! Drink, yes, drink deeply, O beloved ones!  Song of Solomon 5:1

He comes to the garden, again making the distinction that it and all within belongs to Him. He communes, He partakes, He is blessed, and He brings home unexpected guests to His new bride.

I recall a time when my dad did that.

He was late for dinner, the food was getting cold, and mom couldn’t wait any longer; we were instructed to sit down at the table. In walked dad and it appeared that perhaps he had a little too much wine…without the milk. Right behind him walked his buddy Head-gear (whose real name was Edgar).

Honey, I brought home a dinner guest!

Let’s just say my Mom was not pleased, but in her defense her reaction was slightly influenced by my dad’s pre-dinner indulgences that day. Be that as it may…

God is saying here in the Bible text that He doesn’t always travel alone — His bride is representative of His corporate body, the Church. And not only that — sometimes He brings home some folks He loves that are not of the church in order that they too might be blessed, fed, and subsequently led into His family. Jesus is not just in love with us individually, He’s in love with the body entirely and those who might become His followers. Jesus is proclaiming that when we’re submitted to Him, we’re also submitted to His directives towards those He loves. What Jesus implies here in the Old Testament He  later affirms in the New.

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

Some Questions:

  1. Are you submitted to both Jesus and to His doctrine?
  2. Do you see yourself and your stuff as belonging to Him?
  3. If not, are you submitted to sanctification and being refined?

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*I selected the Kings James Version of the text because it omits the explanatory notations that were not a part of the original text. Labels such as: The Beloved, The Shulamite, and The Daughters of Jerusalem aren’t inspired words of God and occasionally they are inaccurately placed within the text.

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