What If God Were A Linebacker?

Hey there sports fans, time for a reprint of an article I wrote a while back thinking about God as a linebacker. Definitely wouldn’t get picked last!

Can you imagine if God was a linebacker on an opposing football team you were playing? If you were a quarterback, would you want to try and pump fake? You certainly couldn’t fake a hand off, and you couldn’t fool Him with misdirection or a man in motion. You could never check off on the line and audible a change in the play. No matter what you changed it to, He would know. Maybe you could hand off to the running back, but where would he go? How would you pass to the dump-off receiver if the other receivers were covered? Even if the receivers had moves that made a ballerina cry, wherever they went God would be standing there in front of them waiting for the ball. You wouldn’t want to try a long snap for a punt or a field goal because He would probably be fast enough to intercept that, too.

Blocking would be a problem, to say the least. Even if He stood still long enough or slowed Himself down so you could get a hand on Him, you wouldn’t stand a chance of stopping Him. He’d be in the backfield holding the quarterback up by the legs quicker than you could say, “make a wish.” Facing Him across the line of scrimmage would be no picnic. He wouldn’t even have to insult your mother or cast aspersions on your ancestry to intimidate you. If He just smiled at you you’d have to change your shorts (again). He’d always know the snap count, and could beat you off the ball like you had roots. He’d plug any hole you opened for the running back, if He felt like letting the running back get that far. If He were to hit you, you might even live to tell about it after all the bells stopped ringing.

What would His stats be? Ten feet tall, weighing 600 pounds and running the 40 in “we didn’t even get the stopwatch started?” Would He be able to bench press His own weight? With each hand? Each finger? Without even breaking a sweat? Would He even sweat? Would His cleats leave marks you could plant trees in? But He wouldn’t need cleats, because wherever the ball went He’d already be there. He’d give a whole new meaning to the saying “He got skills.”

Or maybe He’d just be an undersized rabbi, not much to look at. Maybe He wouldn’t even “hit” very hard, especially if you were having a bad day. He’d just somehow manage to “move through the crowd” and be wherever the ball was, frustrating you to no end. You might wonder how He moved so fast in those robes He wore, but you wouldn’t even think about making fun of Him for wearing a dress. You’d probably want to knock that silly little cap off His head, but He wouldn’t hold still long enough to let you. He’d just smile and pat you on the back and say, “Keep on trying, my son!”

How would His contract be structured? Would He even need the money? Shoot, the team owner probably wouldn’t need all those other high priced defensive players, so you could give Him at least all the money for the other ten guys that used to be on defense. He would never get an injury (like anybody could hit Him hard enough!), so He wouldn’t need backups, and you could give Him all that money too. The other teams might even chip in money if they didn’t have to play against Him!

If He played “iron man” (iron God?) football (both offense and defense) all that money could go to His salary too. You wouldn’t need trainers, medical supplies, equipment to cool Him off, or equipment to warm Him up. He could probably play without pads or a helmet. You wouldn’t need coaches, front office personnel, or draft picks to be named later. You wouldn’t even need the draft because He lives forever!

Really though, who would play against Him? Would you have to draft Satan and all his demons? I bet they wouldn’t even enter the draft. They know better; they played against Him in college and got hammered. He made a show of them openly, and since then they haven’t been able to show their faces in public. And that was when they had the game rigged, the officials bought and paid for, and God was playing with injuries. No way would they attempt a contest where He didn’t have a sizeable handicap. But even if He looked handicapped they would still be suspicious, because of the beating they took before when they thought they had Him nailed.

Maybe He would only have to play one game a season. Would we just hand Him the Super Bowl trophy (and all the money) at the beginning of the season? Or would the other teams play each other, with the “winner” having to play the team with God on it? Wouldn’t that make the games more interesting! Imagine how desperate your team would be to lose! Ow, ow, ow, my hamstring suddenly acted up! To heck with the money, just don’t make me play against God in the Super Bowl! Or any Bowl for that matter!

How would the gamblers handicap the games? Who would bet? Even Satan wouldn’t be that stupid. The whole gambling industry for football would be wiped out. Not a dollar to be made anywhere, nobody going to the poor house for making sucker bets. Louie the leg breaker would be out of a job because nobody would need to be “encouraged” to pay gambling debts. Sports related crime would evaporate. No games to fix, no referees to buy, no players to corrupt. The television contract would be worthless, nobody would bid on it. The advertising dollars would have to be spent somewhere else.

Baseball would be shut down too, because God would have enough energy and skills to play both sports. Heck, He could probably play four or five sports every year and still not get tired. All that money would be His for the taking, that is, until people quit going to the games. Who would pay hundreds of dollars to see a game with their families when they already know who would win? We wouldn’t need to build stadiums or maintain them, and billions of dollars could be saved on freeway modifications to handle all the traffic. There would be more open space and we could plant more trees (in His cleat marks if He had cleats).

And the endorsements! Would you see His picture on a box of Wheaties? Would Mormon-owned Coke and secular Pepsi play “Can you top this?” until a new monetary record was reached? Or would He be shunned because He was pro-life, anti-gay, and didn’t celebrate Christmas? Do you think He could be induced to allow beer and automobile makers the rights to use His image for Budweiser or Ford? I can’t imagine Him leaping in the air for joy at the thought of owning a Toyota. Who would argue against Him if He said it was less filling? What would happen if He merely said He preferred not to drink beer? Would the beer industry immediately go out of business because no one would buy it? He certainly wouldn’t need money, so what else would they use to get Him to sign?

Maybe kids would idolize Him by plastering His posters all over their bedrooms. Would they want to play the same position? Would they even play sports knowing they could never beat Him or beat Him out of His position? Maybe they would start to walk like Him, dress like Him, and talk like Him. They would probably want to know what He ate and what His favorite TV shows were so they could be “just like” Him. Perhaps the whole kid’s sports structure would disappear. Soccer Moms would be a thing of the past. Parents wouldn’t have to pay all that money, scream, or kill each other over a child’s game. Test scores would go up, and athletes would have to actually work for their grades and plan on a productive career in something useful, like say, teaching.

Maybe, if He were here in physical form, playing linebacker, a lot of things would change. Maybe, the world would be a better place, with money spent on more important things. Maybe, we would see the folly of our ways. Maybe, just maybe………nya-a-a-ah.

Shalom
Bruce Scott Bertram

A Whole Bible Look At: Romans 5 through 8

Did you know there are seven different laws listed in Romans? Did you know the English word law is used 78 times from chapter 2 to chapter 8? Did you also know that love is mentioned 15 times, not counting “beloved?” The most important are the 13 in 5:5, 8; 8:28, 35, 37, 39; 12:9, 10; 13:8, 9, 10; 14:15; and 15:30. Did you know Paul’s main subject is living the Law with love and the Spirit rather than in a self-seeking attempt to earn our own salvation righteousness?

That information with much else is covered in our Romans video series. Got the second video up now. It took a while to start posting these mostly because I was learning how to do multi-camera editing. Plus I have to do about 40 slides, place them in the video, edit the sound, add titles and make sure everything is ready to go.


This series is mostly to help the whole Bible believer explain Paul’s writings in context with the rest of Scripture (including the Law). Many (many, many) people calling themselves believers use this book along with Galatians and selected other sections of Paul’s writings to remove the Law from a believer’s life. Not only does this not do justice to Paul’s writings, but removing the Law is like removing the most nutritious parts of food, then wondering why we still seem to be starving to death.

And the church IS starving. We started starving when we began sitting in judgment on His living oracles, approving behavior that is specifically listed for us as harmful. Paul specifically says that the law is good, righteous, holy and spiritual. He “delights in the Law of God” but “I see in my members another law waging war.” This law is the law of sin, not the Law of God. The law of sin is the one where we try to earn salvation righteousness from God by following some rules (without the heart or the Spirit). View the video to see how this is explained by Paul.

Shalom
Bruce

New video: A Whole Heart: The New Covenant

Just up today – our newest video based on chapter five of our book Whole Bible Christianity exploring the New Covenant in depth. If you think the New Covenant is the New Testament, you might want to think again. The New Covenant was announced 600 years before the Incarnation.

I cover what it is, what it was, and what it shall be. The new part is not the Word, but the heart. We get new hearts of flesh on which are written His Law. All of it. Not parts and pieces – all of it belongs to all believers. Just like God.

Enjoy and subscribe.
Shalom
Bruce

Am I a Violent Person?

A few years ago I was a participant in a forum of which I’m no longer part. A lady asked everybody for help in determining how to respond to a professor teaching a church Sunday School who was giving her a hard time about her beliefs. My response encouraged her to be bold and challenge him on the Bible, and I used some western gun-fighting illustrations. I love Louis L’amour westerns. I also love being bold and strong in the Lord. So I encouraged her to stand up and not let the professor mow her over.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (Ephesians 6:10, ESV)

One guy got on my case, telling me that I was an “anti-Semite” and that I was “speaking in crass language” and using “an incredible amount of violent terms.” This is the same thing as calling me violent. He was always getting on my case. He didn’t like the fact that I was against many traditions that I thought led away from the Word both Christian and Jewish. He had spent years learning orthodox Judaism (though he was a Gentile) and bristled every time I pointed out where that kind of stuff wasn’t in the Word or would detract from the Word.

The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. (Proverbs 28:1, ESV)

I’m not sure what constitutes an “incredibly violent” person. Scripture says we will know people by their fruits, so I would think there would have to be fruit in my life that was “incredibly violent.” Like maybe felony convictions for violent crimes. Or testimony from others (like police officers or judges) as to my “violent” nature and actions. This guy had none of that. All he had was some gun fighting analogies I used. I told him I would accept his name calling if he would accept a label of “pompous self-important Jewish wannabe windbag who uses knowledge like a hammer to make himself feel important at the expense of others.” For some reason he didn’t want the even exchange!

He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.” (Luke 22:36–38, ESV)

Jesus told us we would need swords. I’m sure He didn’t mean for beating up on people, but that things were going to get rough and believers would have to be bold and strong.

The guy falsely accusing me had nothing on me. He twisted the Word, when he bothered to use it at all, for his own wicked ends. There was no investigation as the Word requires and sadly the forum leadership went right along with him and punished me. But Jesus warned me about wolves in sheep’s clothing. The truly violent are those such as the hypocrites who arrested Jesus using trumped up empty charges and murdered Him for threatening their power. That’s what I was doing, threatening the name-caller’s power. He demanded adherence to traditions of which he approved. He wanted to be in charge, but I was a biblical thorn in his side. I was bold, I spoke the Word of power with the hand of the Lord strong upon me. Violent men are those who divert attention from themselves by decrying the actions of the teachers of the kingdom of God, calling them names. Jesus knew the nature of their agenda.

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. (Matthew 11:12, ESV)

Jesus means that violent men were taking hold of Godly men and throwing them in jail or killing them. John, Jesus, most of the prophets and apostles such as Paul and Peter and more suffered violence from violent people with pious traditions. Darkness is always fearful of the light, and takes steps to quench it. They were killed by people who thought they were doing God a favor. But we will not be cowed; we will be bold in the Lord and continue to teach His Word. I’m not a violent man, but I am a man capable of action. I will defend my people and land against those who would try to take it by the hidden violence of the cowardly. I will not be fearful of wannabe Jews (or wannabe Christians) steeped in plausible arguments captivating people with philosophy and empty deceit according to human tradition. I have the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6), and I’m not afraid to use it. That’s not violence. That’s just the power of the Spirit. The minions of darkness are right to be afraid and to fear the violence of the fiery wrath that is coming. All they have for defense is name calling.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10, ESV)

Shalom

Distractions Part Five, A Split God

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 NASB95)

 

We have to talk about God being One because a main tool used to distract from, eliminate or severely prune the Law is to cast it as a different message from another God. It’s as if Jesus and the Father were two separate gods kind of at loggerheads with each other. If a person wants to dodge the Law he can pretend it came from someone who either changed His mind or didn’t mean what He said in the first place. We also have to talk about this because there is a big group of people who advocate for the Law in a believer’s life yet deny the deity of Jesus.

 

You may already accept that God and Jesus are one, but you may not realize exactly what it means. The church tends to skip over that part. For instance, if God and Jesus are one, then Jesus gave the Law at Sinai. So when He tells us in Matthew 28 to teach the disciples “all I commanded,” it includes the Law that He “filled up full” or fulfilled.

 

guernica

 

A cubist painting looks like it has been cut up and put back together out of order. You know, the nose is where the ear is supposed to be, and the eyes are not lined up. Every part is out of place (Like Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica,” pictured above). The picture of God painted by the modern church now looks sort of cubist. God is variously described as a fierce, distant and unfriendly god, or a buddy from out of town who winks at sin. He’s either a god of cloud and flame and lightening, or a pacifist hippie flower child who spouts one-liners about peace and love.

 

We use artistic license like cubism to interpret the patterns in the Word and make a picture that doesn’t even resemble the original. One pattern is for Jews and another is for the church. This part is for me and that part is for you. There are “old” and “new” god models. The old god is supposed to be a severe, demanding god of bloody sacrifices and death. The new god is a sweet guy who looks the other way when we sin. The old god beat us up with rules we couldn’t obey and restricts what we eat. The new god came to change all the stuff the old god gave us, and died so we could eat a ham sandwich. We have created, as Dr. Michael Brown says, a “worldly, cultural Christianity” with a “Jesus who radically empowers us” rather that a “Jesus who radically changes us.” I agree with him that “that’s why we have ‘Christian’ lingerie models and ‘Christian’ rappers who frequent strip clubs.”

 

The picture of God is critical to faith. When we paint Him as capricious, powerful and judgmental, giving us laws we could never obey, we can’t trust Him or do what He says. On the other hand when we paint Him with the color of sentiment (without justice or holiness) our false picture might let us do what we want even if it kills us. But it isn’t love.

 

From the book Whole Bible Christianity a draft of which is available to read at www.wholebible.com/Whole_Bible_Christianity.htm

Maturity and the Gifts

One thing I have observed from the Word is that every biblical record of a person exercising the power of the Spirit was a mature believer, who had been in the Word and discipleship for a long time. It seems plain to me from these testimonies that the power of the Spirit comes on the heels of an intimate relationship with the Father fostered by a deep study of, and obedience to, the Word of God. One possible exception is Balaam’s donkey, but she wasn’t a person and I think this just demonstrates that the Father can use any vessel He chooses. And don’t get me started on the puns I can make from this. Ass me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies. Another possible exception might be Cornelius in Acts 10, but it is clear from the context that he has been at it a long time. It doesn’t appear to me from the Word that ‘rookies’ had a great deal to do with relaying the power of God.

What Will You Say?

But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the churches and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. (Luke 21:12–19, ESV)

One word in the above verses has been changed. Can you guess which one it is? And does it make a difference in how you think? Why or why not?

Pentecost 2013

Pentecost is a time for celebrating the gospel given at Mt. Sinai and the Spirit given after the resurrection of the Christ. The good news at Sinai was that God was going to be with us. He gave His Law as part of the preparation. The Spirit accompanies His Law because the Law is truth. God is indeed with us in Truth. Let us celebrate the reversal of the banishment from His presence with His Spirit in a heart of flesh walking in His statutes, keeping His rules, and obeying them.

Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true. (Psalm 119:142, ESV)

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:16–17, ESV)

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11:19–20, ESV)

Pentecost at Sinai

Of flames, clouds, shining faces, and God’s voice.

Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. (Exodus 24:15–17, ESV)

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. (Exodus 34:29, ESV)

And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, wrapped in darkness, cloud, and gloom. Then the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice. And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone. (Deuteronomy 4:11–13, ESV)

(On Horeb, the mountain of God.)
And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? (1 Kings 19:11–13, AV)

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 17:1–5, ESV)

Presence of the Holy Spirit

From ‘Whole Bible Christianity’ chapter 3 section on The Presence of the Holy Spirit

Some argue that the Spirit didn’t ‘fill’ or ‘dwell in’ believers until the first Pentecost (Hebrew Shavuot) after the resurrection of the Messiah. But even a quick look at the Word proves this to be false. The list of people in the OT directly said to be filled with and/or led by the Spirit is long and distinguished. It is clear in the plain meaning of the text that there is very little difference, if any at all, between leading and filling.

Bezalel (Exodus 31:3 and 35:31)
Moses and the 70 Elders (Numbers 11:17, 25, 26, 29)
Balaam (Numbers 24:2)
Joshua (Numbers 27:18 and Deuteronomy 34:9)
Othniel son of Joshua (Judges 3:10)
Gideon (Judges 6:34)
Jephthah (pronounced Yayftah – Judges 11:29)
Samson (Judges 13:25, 14:6&19, 15:14)
King Saul (1 Samuel 10:6, 10, 11:6)
King David (1 Samuel 16:13)
Messengers of Saul (I Samuel 19:20)
Amasai, chief of the 30 (1 Chronicles 12:18)
Azariah son of Obed (2 Chronicles 15:1)
Jahaziel (2 Chronicles 20:14)
The Branch (Isaiah 11:2); My Servant (Isaiah 42:1); the Anointed (Isaiah 61:1)
The people of Israel (Isaiah 63:11)
Ezekiel (Ezekiel. 2:2, 3:12, 14, 24, 11:5)
Micah (Micah 3:8)
Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people of the land (Haggai 2:5)
The former prophets (Zechariah 7:12)

There are also a number of Scriptures that explicitly state that Old Testament saints had the Spirit (such as Isaiah 63:10-14; 1 Peter 1:11). The presence of the Spirit is not marked only by speaking in other languages or with miraculous actions, or even by prophetic signs and utterances. His primary mark is on a heart that responds to God in trusting and loving obedience. God’s Spirit is all around and works to varying degrees depending on the willingness of people to work with Him.

He may sometimes work in spectacular ways, but that is not the only way He works. For instance, He can be present without salvation, as He is in creation. He makes seeds grow and keeps air on our planet with gravity. The planets revolve and orbit the sun by His hand. The only place He has trouble getting His way is in the human heart.