Controversy and Explanation

I don’t think I’ve done a post like this one before, and I welcome feedback.

I had an unpleasant experience on social media a while ago, and it was… well, unpleasant.

I want to tell of the events and explain myself more fully that I could at the time. As is my usual practice in such matters, I don’t intend to identify the social media or the people involved; I want to discuss the events.

One more thing before I begin; it has always been my habit to evaluate statements to assess how true they are. Usually, I only respond if I think that my post might be helpful — and most of the time, I don’t think it will, and so I don’t. Obviously, that was not the case this time.

The event

Someone I know from another church posted picture from somewhere that stated: A girl’s body is not responsible for a boy’s thoughts.

I understand the point of the quote: there is FAR TOO MANY TIMES that a wicked man will blame his disgusting/illegal/immoral behavior on how the a girl dresses or acts, and this is just wrong. Period. I understand this and agree with that idea behind the post. In fact, had the post said “A modest girl’s body…”, I would have had no issue with it.

However, it doesn’t change that fact that the statement is not always true: There ARE such things as temptresses and seductresses (Delilah in the Bible was one such women). Women like this specifically dress in such a way and use their body in such a way as to put thoughts in men’s minds, and such women ARE responsible for those actions. I didn’t think anyone would argue this point; it seems so obviously true.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember exactly what I wrote in response: I didn’t intend to write a dissertation, or even as much as the previous paragraph. I assume whoever posted it copied it from somewhere without thinking it through, so I think what I wrote back was something like “While I agree with you in general, this statement is not always true. Her dress and behavior may have some influence.”

The results

As you might expect, that erupted in a flood of hateful posts, with people accusing me of things I did not and have not said (you can imagine). Some told tales of their own experiences with wicked men. Most seemed to think I was taking that the wicked men use of blaming the woman. No one bothered to ask for clarification. I was even threatened by a man I consider to be a friend. Note: I kind of expect that behavior from the overly-sensitive world (the kind of woke feminism that hates men and blames everything on them), but I was disappointed in fellow Christians — people who claim to follow truth.

A friend told me that I just should not have said anything, and he may be right. After consideration, however, if we allow inadvertent false statements to pass without challenge, we are opening the door to give a pass to false statements made on purpose. In hindsight, my judgment was faulty: I assumed people would see the error with the blanket statement made, but that was wrong.

This has been good for me to write about… and I’ve learned a lesson: if such an occasion occurs in the future, I will have to write more fully and explain instead of being quite so terse.

With this written about, I’ll get back to the series about Despised Bible Characters (hopefully another one by the end of the week).

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Despised Bible Characters – Eli

I seldom hear anything good about Eli; his story is in the book of I Samuel, chapters 1-4.

I’ve heard that he had little self-control because he was overweight (“heavy”); that he lacked discernment because he didn’t realize that Hannah was praying (he thought she was drunk); and that he was a failure as a parent because his sons were wicked.

Did you know that all of the above are made up by man?

God Himself never condemned Eli for any of these things; in fact, God singularly honored Eli in that He chose him to raise Samuel.

In what may be a relief to parents everywhere, God did not blame Eli for the wickedness of his sons. Eli’s sons did not know the Lord, we are told, and they behaved wickedly, and this sin is at their feet – Eli was not held accountable for their sins. What he was held accountable for that, knowing that his sons were wicked, he took no action, other than a rebuke to which they took no notice. He should have seen to it that they were removed from office, and that is his sin. Despite their faults, he loved them, but because of this love, Eli is told by God that he honored his sons above God Himself. At another time, God tells him that he did not restrain his sons, though they made themselves “vile”.

To briefly touch on the other charges above, Eli did have discernment – he recognized when God was calling to Samuel and counseled Samuel accordingly. In addition, Eli as priest (some think he was the high priest) must have had to exercise self-control.

In reality, people are a mixture of bad and good, but we have a tendency to put people (especially Bible characters) into “bad” or “good” categories. For the “bad” people, we exaggerate their badness and dismiss their good; we do the same in reverse for the “good” people. This series is examining some Bible characters people normally consider to be “bad”.

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Series thought

I notice that I haven’t written anything here for a while; I have had a few ideas, but none that I really liked. However, I recently thought of doing a series about Despised Bible Characters. I have noticed that many people have a tendency to look at people as “good guys” or “bad guys”; the good guys seldom do anything wrong, or anything they did that was wrong is trivialized. And nothing the “bad guys” do is good. The reality is that all people have done things that are right and things that are wrong. So, in this series, I’ll bring up people that I usually hear bad things about. Some of these people I may have written about before.

I hope you enjoy it!

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Lessons from Romans (willing, running, mercy)

So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. (Rom 9:16)

In context, this verse is in a passage discussing people whom God chose to use or to bless in one way or another: specifically mentioned are Isaac, who was chosen over Ishmael, and Jacob, who was chosen over Esau. (As a side note, these verses are often mis-applied to salvation; some attempt to show that God chooses some to be saved and others to be lost).

We first have “him that willeth” – this is the man who says “I WANT THAT!”. It is not wrong to be used of God; in fact, it is quite honorable. However, God is not bound to honor our desires and wants, even if the are for good things. Such a person must guard against bitterness in this form: “God’s not being fair: I wanted it more than he did”… the “it” could be a position in the church, a promotion, financial blessings, some honor, etc — anything that one is/was bitter about not having.

Next we have “him that runneth” – this is the man who is actively doing things; good things. It is very clear from other Scriptures that there are rewards for those who good things. But again, God is not bound to use someone merely because he has done a lot. This person must guard against bitterness in the form of: “God’s not being fair; I’ve done so much for Him!”

And so we come to the truth of the matter: it is first, last, and always “of God that sheweth mercy”. It is His decision and choice to show mercy: if it were something owed to a man, it would not be mercy. No one is owed anything be God; if He chooses to show mercy, it is to His glory and honor that He has done so. Let us return to honoring God more than we honor men!

As a final note, it was pointed out to me that the two types of people here (“him that willeth” and “him that runneth”) could point to the people mentioned earlier in this chapter. Abraham, Isaac, and Rebekah all fit into the first category: they desired God to bless and use a particular son; Esau and especially Jacob fit into the second category: they both did “stuff” to try to obtain the blessing.

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that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good (Prov 19:2)

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee (Hos 4:6)

It is a shame that Christians are ignorant about their faith; this lack is due in part to people not wanting to take the time to study the Scriptures, but an equal part is the superficial preaching – assuming that the preaching even has anything to do with Christianity.

Many conservative-leaning churches teach the basic tenets of Christianity; that our authority is the Scriptures, which have been given by God. They reveal that man is lost and can only be reconciled to God because of the death on the cross of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. These things should be taught, but these are elementary Christian knowledge. It seems to be the idea these days that any teaching beyond this is only for church leaders. Sadly, the average member in the pew has very little knowledge. Thus, when the leader leaves that church, the people choose a poor replacement – awed by technique or personality, but with no real wisdom in the choice. This sad occurrence has happened repeatedly in once sound churches. One must have knowledge in order to have wisdom and understanding. Yes, the basics need to be taught; they are the foundation, but good preaching will build on the foundation.

Of course, as better writers that I have pointed out, studying is hard work; it’s much easier for a preacher to unload whatever happens to be “bugging” him at the moment.

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Nice guy

Often times, when a caution or warning is given about some, the response But he’s a nice guy is given.

That response irritates me because it usually never to the point. As an example, a man goes to a company VP to say that a certain director is micro-managing the people under him. For the VP to respond with, Yes, but he’s a nice guy is not helpful… the point under consideration is not whether or not the guy is nice, but whether or not he is micro-managing people (with the less-than-desirable results of such a practice).

I heard this irrelevant feedback in all kinds of areas; in the Christian realm, pointing out that some evangelist’s teachings don’t seem to follow Scripture often results in the (defensive?) feedback He’s a great guy — I’m perfectly willing to concede that he is a better Christian than I am: can we talk about the point under discussion now?

Here’s another case: a friend told me about his friend’s church (I know his friend, but not well). He mentioned that the church had lost the pastor (I had heard this). When I asked how they were doing, he said that they had a new pastor now. When I asked what the new pastor was like, I get the He’s a really nice guy response. While it is good that a pastor is a nice, there is next to no information there. He could, for example, be a dictator; many dictators are “nice guys” to everyone except those resisting his dictatorial ways. He could be a great Bible teacher, and/or one who diligently studies the Word, and/or have an outgoing personality. Even I don’t really know anything about him seems to me to be better than He’s a nice guy.

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Lessons from Romans (these things)

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31)

There are two questions here; the second is a popularly quoted verse… but consider the first question – what are ‘these things’?

Let us consider some ‘things’ that come before this verse

  • No condemnation now for us (v1)
  • We are free the law of sin and death (v2)
  • We have, indwelling us, the same Spirit that raised up Jesus, and he shall revive our mortal bodies (v11)
  • We have been adopted by the Father (v15)
  • We are thus His children (v16)
  • And, therefore, joint heirs with Christ (v17)
  • Unimaginable glory is awaiting us (v18)
  • The Holy Spirit makes intercession for us (v26)
  • God is managing/working the things which occur for good (v28)

Wow! What a list to praised Him for!

Some may be opposed to us, but with God being “for” us, they cannot be against us successfully!

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He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)

I like this verse, especially for what it does not say.

It does not say “He that believeth on Him will not be condemned as long as he holds on”.

If one has trusted in Jesus Christ (the “him” of the verse), one “is” (present state) not condemned. This is why people can stand on this verse and say that they know they are saved; this is not arrogance: it is merely standing upon what God’s word says.

The second part of this verse is also pretty solemn: it’s another “is” (present state). The one who does not believe already has a known outcome: he is “condemned already”. Not even a large pile of good works can change this state. (As an aside, I believe that the Bible infers that the degree of punishment suffered by a non-believer can be mitigated by the good works he does).

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Burned Them

I appreciate the people who follow my musings!

This thought came from the following verse: And there they left their images, and David and his men burned them. (2 Sam 5:21)

(Feel free to read vv 17-21 to get the context; essentially, David and his men, following God’s directions, beat the Philistines, and found the ‘images’ (gods) left behind by the Philistines and burned them.

As a side note, I’m glad that I don’t have a God made by my hands that can be left behind. The God of the Bible is great and mighty.

I was fascinated by this idea of David and his men burning the images… because these images were some of the gods of the Philistines, they probably used very good materials and spent time and effort making these images. David and his men could have kept the images and sold them back to the Philistines, or possibly taken out any precious metals or jewels to use for another purpose. It would have been pretty easy to rationalize keeping them.

It makes me think of another instance in Acts 19 in which the people who had turned to God brought their books of spells and other such things, and burned them. You

I wonder how this would work today – would we have the courage to burn such valuable (albeit wicked) things? Or would be put them up for sale on eBay because “hey, we could use the money to help God’s work”. I doubt if any of us have things as valuable as the books that the people burned – 50,000 pieces of silver is a huge sum of money.

Just a thought.

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Christmas Story Thoughts

Let me wish all those that read this a Merry Christmas! (albeit a trifle late)

The Christmas story is known to many people; however, although Christians are supposed to be people of the Book (the Bible), we are often influenced by other things around us. Here are some things I used to think about Christmas until I put aside Christmas stories and shows, and just looked at what the Bible says (in no particular order):

  • There was no angelic chorus singing at Jesus’ birth: I had always assumed that this happened; when I read some comment that angels don’t sing, I thought the writer was wrong, and looked at the Biblical narrative to prove him wrong. However, what the Bible actually says is that one angel appeared to the shepherds announcing the birth (incidentally, that is why “The First Noel” begins The first noel the angel [not angels] did say…) with the well-known: Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. After that, the angel was joined by a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying [not singing]. I also find it interesting that the Scripture says “a multitude of the heavenly host” instead of “a multitude of angels”. That implies to me that the multitude was something different than the lone angel.

  • The wise men did not visit the baby Jesus in the manger. This is certain from a comparison of the visit from the shepherds and the wise men. The shepherds found the babe lying in a manger. The wise men came into the house [not manger] and saw the young child [not babe] with Mary his mother. Moreover, Herod had quizzed the wise men about when the saw the star in the east, and when he had all of the children two years and younger killed, it was according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

  • Despite the song “We Three Kings”, don’t know that there were three of them, nor do we know that they are kings (and they probably weren’t). The Bible merely calls them “wise men”. There were three gifts given, but that doesn’t imply three of them. Many believe that these were descendants of the Babylonians, Persians, or Medes – they would have had access to Daniel’s prophecies about the Messiah, including the timing of His birth.

  • Despite the popular imagery, we don’t know that Mary was riding a donkey. There is no donkey listed in the story; however, that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t one. People reasoning for the donkey would note that Mary, being as close to giving birth as she was, would have needed something. Against that is the indications that Joseph and Mary were very poor (based upon her purification offering). We should not be dogmatic in places where the Scripture isn’t clear.

I hope you enjoyed these notes. Feel free to leave a comment if you think of any others.

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