The Faithfulness of Christ: Why You Don’t Have to be Brave or Strong to be a Witness (Martyr)

“If we died with Him, we will also live with Him. If we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.”

“But do not worry about what you are to say or how you will answer, for it will not be you who is speaking, but the Spirit of your Father who is speaking through you.”

“For no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit, and no one speaking by the Holy Spirit can say ‘Jesus is cursed.’”

The Christian’s very confidence is that Jesus Christ is the Faithful and the True. It is because Jesus Christ is faithful that we can confess Him and not disown Him, not because of any faithfulness in ourselves. Continue reading “The Faithfulness of Christ: Why You Don’t Have to be Brave or Strong to be a Witness (Martyr)”

What’s Amazing is What God Does: The Place Where Courage Is Impossible

“If we live, we live to the Lord and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or we die, we belong to the Lord, for to this end Christ both died and lives again, that He might be the Lord both of the dead and of the living.”

“You will be betrayed even by friends and family, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all men because of Me, and not a hair of your heads will perish.”

I’m writing this right now because I read a line about how someone was an amazing hero of the faith one too many times. People talk so much about how amazing some martyr was; how heroic some missionary was. They talk about being inspired by the courage of the “heroes of the faith,” and other such things. They talk about how, unlike how the world thinks, meekness isn’t cowardice, but strength under control, a form of courage. I remember once, years ago, when I said that I enjoyed reading about the lives of other Christians and God’s work through them to a lady who had been telling me about someone who was preaching the Gospels to thousands at once in one of the many countries where this is often rewarded with persecution, torture, and death. She said to me, “Yes, it’s amazing what these people are willing to do.” I almost stepped backwards. “No, actually,” I said. “What’s amazing is what God can do.” Continue reading “What’s Amazing is What God Does: The Place Where Courage Is Impossible”

(Part II) Who Are You That You Fear: I, Even I, Am He…

“I, even I, am He…”

Doesn’t that sound a lot like “I AM?” That’s followed by “who comforts you.” It sounds a lot like, “YHWH is my Shepherd.”

“I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men who are like grass, that you forget YHWH, your Maker?”

“YHWH is my Shepherd. I will not lack. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me besides quiet waters… Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.”

A lot of what I am going to say may apply to very different sins and struggles than that of fear; sin is sin; all sin flows from and to idolatry, from and to death; sin leads to sin. Pride – fear – hatred – at the bottom, they are all the same; they are all opposed to God, to salvation. They are all the opposite of faith; instead of being the gaze of the soul upon God – “One thing I have asked of YHWH, that I shall seek… to gaze upon the beauty of YHWH” – sins are the turning of the soul towards self, the setting of attentions and vision not upon God, but upon self and other selves. “Who are you that you… forget YHWH, your Maker?”

The remedy is beautifully depicted in this verse from Galatians: Continue reading “(Part II) Who Are You That You Fear: I, Even I, Am He…”

(Part I) Who Are You That You Fear: Introduction and the Idolatry of Fear

“You shall not fear what they fear, nor be in terror of what terrifies them. YHWH Himself shall be your terror and your fear; then He will become a refuge, but to the houses of Israel a stumbling stone and a rock of oppression.”

“Do not fear their reproaches, nor be in terror of their slander, for they will all wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up, but My salvation is forever and My righteousness for all peoples.”

“I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal man, the sons of man who are like grass, that you forget YHWH, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens?”

Fear is not right in the life of a Christian. People have said to me, “You’re only human; of course you’re going to be afraid. Those “fear not” verses are just meant to be a comfort and an encouragement; not a command.” I read in a book once, on that passage where Jesus said not to fear those who can kill the body, but after that can do no more, but to fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna, something to the effect of, “If somebody walks into your bedroom in the middle of the night with a knife and says ‘I’m going to kill you,’ are you going to be afraid? Of course you are. He’s going to kill your body. Continue reading “(Part I) Who Are You That You Fear: Introduction and the Idolatry of Fear”

How Should We, as Christians, Respond to ISIS?

How should we, as Christians, respond to ISIS?

For most things, clarification and disentangling of different meanings present in a word is helpful. I believe that by ISIS we generally mean two things at the same time which together form one thing; namely a group of people who do certain types of despicable things. Firstly, we mean the actions of ISIS. Secondly, we mean the individuals in ISIS. We do not have to feel the same way about both (besides the fact that we could not, even if we wanted)! In order to determine how we should respond to ISIS we are going to try untangle how and why we feel the way we do, why we do not have to, why ISIS is what they are, and how we (being who we are) should react to them (being who they are).

Our Fear of ISIS

I am not, here, interested in the probability of ISIS doing certain things or the power of ISIS to do these things. In some ways, I think, this is simple enough. We are afraid of ISIS and, since fear is a horrible emotion to feel, we try to dull it with hatred. Further, the actions of ISIS are, in fact, completely worthy of hatred. First, why are we afraid? What exactly are we afraid of? Continue reading “How Should We, as Christians, Respond to ISIS?”

I Will Look Upon Your Face in Righteousness: How Can I Envy Though My Enemies Have All Their Desire

I was reading Psalm 17:15 and verse 15 specifically stood out to me. “As for me, I will look upon Your face in righteousness, I will be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.” In the context on the previous verses, “Arise, O YHWH, confront him, bring him low; Deliver my soul from the wicked with Your sword and from men with Your hand, O YHWH, from men of this world whose portion is in this life and whose belly You fill with Your treasure; They are satisfied with children, they leave their abundance to their babes,” 15 is powerful. It is as if David is saying, “How can I envy, even though my enemies have all their desire? Yes, Lord, give my enemies all that this world can offer, if You will. It does not concern me. I have something far greater, far better, far more everlasting. I shall look upon Your face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake, You who are my only good. [Ps. 16:2]” Continue reading “I Will Look Upon Your Face in Righteousness: How Can I Envy Though My Enemies Have All Their Desire”

(Part II) The Promises of God: Prayer – Whatever You Ask

Over and over again, Jesus said things like, “Whenever two or more of you agree on anything that you ask in My Name it shall be given you,” or “Whatever you ask in My Name, I will do,” or “Until now you have not asked for anything in My Name. On that day you will ask, and I do not say that I will petition the Father on your behalf; no, the Father Himself loves you, because you have believed in My Name,” or, this, in 1st John, “Now, if we ask for anything according to His will we know that He hears us, and we know that if He hears us then we have what we asked of Him.” Continue reading “(Part II) The Promises of God: Prayer – Whatever You Ask”

Why The Believers Were Shocked by Peter’s Release: It Wasn’t What They Were Praying For!

I was just reading an interpretation, which I can’t let go, of that part in Acts where the believers are praying for Peter and then can’t believe his release in a Bible Study guide a friend received. The interpretation, which I have seen in more places than I can count, was that that the believers didn’t really expect God to answer their prayers; they’d seen James killed and they were desperately praying for Peter’s release but they didn’t really believe that God could or would answer their prayers.

I’m going to be honest. I can’t stand that interpretation. That’s why I’m writing this article right now. I don’t think the believers were praying for Peter’s release at all. They’d seen God deliver Peter from prison before; Continue reading “Why The Believers Were Shocked by Peter’s Release: It Wasn’t What They Were Praying For!”

(Part I) The Promises of God: Introduction and Psalm 23

First, I’m going to give you some background for why I believe it is necessary to address the staggering nature and meaning of God’s promises. Then, I am going to go through Psalm 23 in the light of other Scriptures. I would like everyone to keep in mind throughout that all the promises are made in Christ and ultimately are Christ, even as we are told “Jesus Christ His Son, who is the only true God and eternal life,” and that it is in Christ that all the promises are “Yes and Amen.”

There is an unfortunate problem in America. There are a lot of people who don’t want to warn would-be believers to count the cost of discipleship. They shrink from telling people what Jesus did: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. Anyone who loves father or mother or wife or brother or lands more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Continue reading “(Part I) The Promises of God: Introduction and Psalm 23”