“Good Friday”

March 25th, 2016
BC Good Friday

Good Friday

On this “Good Friday” I am reflecting on what my evening might be like if I was a follower of Jesus on that Friday nearly 2000 years ago. If today had been the day he was crucified, it would have been nearly 6 hours ago that I watched him breathe his last breath. Scripture makes it clear that the disciples did not know that he had to die and were not expecting it, even though Jesus had told them several times, they resisted it and did not understand it. When it happened their whole perception of who Jesus claimed to be was shattered.

If I were in that moment I would be in denial, expecting any second See More »

The Imposter Syndrome – Who holds your identity?

January 6th, 2016

It’s really amazing how accurately this secular study describes one of the hottest firefights in the believer’s spiritual battleground! Satan is a liar and accuser of the brethren. What better tactic than to attack the believer’s identity? The lies against our true identity easily take root because we are not perfect. We are our own worst critic. Even when we aren’t overly critical, but just objectively so, we will always find shortcomings. How insidious that our flesh and the enemy work together to turn those behavioral shortcomings into false identity statements!

Someone pointed out that in 2 Cor 10:3-5 “strongholds” parallels “arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” Normally, we think of strongholds as behaviors, See More »

You Are Being Watched!

August 28th, 2015

Yesterday, Stacey served us dinner on the front lawn – an impromptu picnic of pizza and salad. Our 11 month old Judah enjoyed crawling around with us on his level. Shortly after we started some neighbors walked by and Stacey and I started visiting. The kids soon scattered to play, leaving Judah alone with the plates of left-over food.

With no one around to encourage, teach, or lead him, baby Judah picked up a fork and worked diligently on his salad. Now, keep in mind, he has never done this and we haven’t been working on it with him. He hasn’t even been on solid food for that long, and he’s doing just well enough with his hands. And yet, he wanted to work the fork! It certainly must have been harder for him – to get the food from plate to mouth with an implement as long as his entire arm (we have very large forks)!

Why would a baby do this? Clearly it would be more efficient to grab handfuls of lettuce and shove them in his mouth. Neither mom or dad were there to show him or encourage him. He did this ENTIRELY BECAUSE HE HAS SEEN US DO IT!

You may have heard the saying

“more is caught than taught”

This is a potent illustration of that reality. God has designed children with an inborn desire to imitate their parent’s, older siblings, and really anybody they are around.

Here’s a VIDEO that’s been going around that impacted me in the same way. In this case, kids are doing amazing things, most likely because their parents cared a lot about the particular activity and spent a lot of time modeling as well as coaching.

you_are_being_watchedKids will do what those around them do – whether simple things like eating with a fork, amazing things like stuntriding, even bad things like mimicing the tone of voice dad uses with mom.

Some takeaways:

  1. Make sure your kids are around people who will model the things you want them to catch.
  2. Spend time with them that outweighs (in quantity and quality) the potentially negative influences in their life.
  3. Live the way you want them to live.

There’s another saying that goes,

“Do as I say, not as I do.”

Unlike the first saying, this one rarely comes to pass. How much better if we can say as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1:

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

 

Did God command Israel to “dash the heads of babies on the rocks”?

October 18th, 2014

In a conversation recently, someone brought up Psalm 137:9.

Psalm 137:9 (NKJV)

9 Happy the one who takes and dashes

Your little ones against the rock!

This verse does indeed create a disturbing visual. See More »

Which version is better in Zechariah 4:10?

October 17th, 2014

Which Bible translation of Zechariah 4:10 is correct? Here are some examples:

Zechariah 4:10 (NKJV)

10          For who has despised the day of small things?

For these seven rejoice to see

The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
They are the eyes of the Lord,

Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”

Zechariah 4:10 (ESV)

10 For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.

“These seven are the eyes of the Lord, which range through the whole earth.”

Zechariah 4:10 (NLT)

10 Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

(The seven lamps* represent the eyes of the Lord that search all around the world.)

 

The main difference in the versions is that some (e.g., ESV, NRSV) translate the first clause as a conditional/circumstantial clause and others (NKJV, NIV 1984) translate it as a question. The NLT goes a bit further and translates it as a command. I think the best translation is the one that has it as a question. The question “Who has despised the day of small things?” is a rhetorical question, to which the answer is “No one”. No one, at least no one who plans on doing something great, has despised the day of small things.

 

In other words, here are the three options represented in various translations:

  1. “Whoever has despised…shall rejoice”
  2. “Who has despised…? (A: no one!)
  3. “Don’t despise…”

 

I honestly don’t know how the ESV could have missed this one so badly. While the Hebrew word מִי (mî) can be translated as an indefinite pronoun “whoever”, that does not fit the rest of the syntax at all.

  • First, it would require that the second clause “…shall rejoice” have the subject “whoever” repeated, which it is not.
  • Second it would require that the verb “shall rejoice” be singular, to match the singular subject (just as the verb “has despised” is singular), but “shall rejoice” is plural.
  • Third, there’s a little thing in Hebrew called a waw (or vav) consecutive and it is never used to introduce a circumstantial clause, nor is it ever used after a “whoever”. You can think of it as our English “and”.
  • Fourth, it awkwardly requires the word “seven” to be a part of the following sentence.

 

It is much better to translate that word מִי (mî) as “Who?” – an interrogative pronoun, rather than an indefinite pronoun “whoever”. Then the second clause becomes its own sentence “These seven rejoice to see…”. “These” is plural and the verb “rejoice” is plural. The next sentence (10b) tells us what seven things are being referred to: the seven eyes of the Lord (see also 3:9).

 

In this case, “Who despises the day of small things?” is a rhetorical question. No one who intends to accomplish great things despises the day of small things. The Lord is smiling on their work in rebuilding the temple because they intend to see it through. And the bigger picture is that the temple, even when completed, is just a small thing compared to what it symbolized  – what God planned to accomplish ultimately in the Messiah.

 

The NLT takes a logical leap from “Who has despised…? (no one)” to “No one has despised…” to “Do not despise…”. In any case, the point is keep your eyes on the end!

 

Interestingly, the NIV 2011 has “Who dares despise…?”. And,

The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT, abbreviated “LXX”) puts this first phrase as a question, just like I am suggesting.

 

So, in conclusion, I think the NKJV wins the translation battle this time*.

Zechariah 4:10 (NKJV)

10          For who has despised the day of small things?

For these seven rejoice to see

The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
They are the eyes of the Lord,

Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”

*Other times, the NIV wins and still other times the ESV wins. When doing serious study, you should compare multiple versions and when they differ, you should consult a few critical commentaries (commentaries which refer to the original languages) and/or ask someone who knows the original languages (Hebrew for the OT and Greek for the NT).

Barbaric or Human? Where was God?

November 25th, 2013

Judges 21:21-22 – when the men came and took wives as they danced and the way they explained it afterwards, I thought, “how primitive!”. Also the killing of men, women, and children (Jud 21:10-11, their own decision, not commanded by God this time)… a critic might say how could a good God allow such things, but is God’s job or even his purpose to create a utopian life, by human standards? And aren’t we, even in our “modern”, “enlightened” state still quite primitive and barbaric by His standards anyway?

There is a difference in perspective. We see barbarism and primitiveness as compared to our own advancement and civility and blame God. We must think we are more evolved than the God of those ancient peoples, that we could have done a better job being their god. By comparison, God sees us all as barbaric, selfish, primitive sinners. He works within the context of our existence, because he sees beyond the physical world.

More important than the physical conditions is our spiritual condition and the spiritual lessons learned while we are in this physical life. Sometimes things that are unthinkable to us physically seem to pass by God unnoticed. He notices, it’s just that compared to the spiritual plane, those physical events are “small potatoes”. Romans 8:18

Safety and Freedom

April 16th, 2013

The highest degree of safety can be achieved by accepting that perfect safety does not exist with true freedom.

True freedom is a higher priority than ultimate safety. Take away freedom in the name of safety and you will be less safe in the end.

Allow risk in the name of freedom and you will still be unsafe, but to a much less degree than if you give up freedom for safety.

Grand Finale

July 5th, 2012

While watching the fireworks last night, my Grace (6yrs old) kept asking,

“Is this the grand finale?”

Each time I responded,

“When it’s the grand finale you won’t have to ask, you’ll just know.”

That’s the way a grand finale should be, right? If not, it’s really not all that grand!

Well, this time the finale did not disappoint. There was a series of bursts that hinted, then several more that confirmed “this is it!”. In true finale fashion it did not end there, but kept building and building to content satisfaction, and then building some more. A slow crescendo, breaking down the walls of even the most stoic. I found myself laughing, yes laughing with delight as my ridiculous thought, “what if it gets even better?”, came true right before my eyes.

 

Nothing can simulate a live fireworks show.

There was a news crew there. As I glanced at the expensive camera aimed skyward, I thought, “hmm, must be a fairly wide angle lens…” But you know, not even the widest, highest quality lens can do any justice to the field and depth of vision of our human eyes. Then there’s the sound. Sure, you can replicate that volume with impressive speakers, but there is something about the position in the sky, the reverberation through the night, the volume over great distance, and the percussion of pyrotechnics that just can’t be outdone artificially. It’s something to behold in person, up close.

 

At one point, during a particularly large showering display of sparkly gold, I momentarily imagined being in the presence of God – in heaven – in front of His glory, no, enveloped by His glory. As the old hymn says,

O what a foretaste of glory divine!

Waterfalls are like that too. The Bible says that God’s voice is like “the roar of rushing waters”! This verse in Ezekiel 43:2 goes on to say “and the land was radiant with His glory.” Just like the faces in the crowd light up in the reflection of a grand finale, one day your face will be illuminated by the glory of God.

What a day that will be! Praise the Lord for small glimpses ahead of time!

Crying Out to God

June 20th, 2012

I was reading in Lamentations 3 this morning.

Here is a man who is suffering and crying out to God as his only hope.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” – Lamentations 3:22-24

How genuine are the cries of a desperate man! There have been times in my life where the Lord was so dear to me – times where “The LORD is my portion” really packed some punch.

What struck me this time, though, was how much more powerful would those words be in times of suffering if we actually said them with such sincerity in times of peace as well?

The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. – Lamentations 3:25

Childlike Faith

May 7th, 2012

A recent experience caused me to reflect on how we Christians are too slow and careful about trying something new. This was highlighted to me when Stacey and I gave our son an mp3 player for his birthday.

A few minutes after he had opened it, and before I could explain how to do things, he was already playing a game on the computer that “came from his mp3 player.” We saw that he had hooked up the device to the computer and navigated to the onboard games.

Now, we all know how smart kids are with technology. As the parent we are amazed, but still basically understands what the kid is doing. Then you have the grandparent…

The grandparent, before taking any action, wants to understand every detail about the process, what each term means, what’s going on behind the scenes, what could go wrong at each step, how to avoid all the problems that might arise, and then want to test and verify before doing the real thing. After learning all that, it would be enough for the day, and the actual doing would be put off. Then, the memory of all the complexity carries over to the next time he has an opportunity to try it.

He says,
See More »

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