Of Pigs and Men

Jesus meets a demon possessed man near a herd of pigs in the country of the Gadarenes or Gerasenes as recorded for us in Matthew 8, Mark 5, and Luke 8. He commands the demons, who call themselves Legion, to leave the man, and Legion’s last request is that Jesus allow them to go into the nearby pigs. Granting Legion’s request, they leave the man and enter the herd of about 2,000 which immediately rushes downhill and drowns itself in the Sea of Galilee.

Whenever I read these accounts, one of the first things that puzzles me is that the people ask Jesus to leave the area. Why, I wonder, would they send away such a powerful miracle worker, one who had returned one of their brothers to them? Why would they not rejoice that a local travel hazard was removed? What if the demons left that man and infected others?

Some teachers say that the expense of the pigs was a factor. Jesus had just cost someone (or maybe several someone’s) a lot of money. Others say that these people weren’t supposed to be growing pigs for market because pork was not to be eaten according to the Mosaic Law. I get that these were possibilities, and perhaps they can stay in the mix for explaining the incident. But they just are not that satisfactory to me. Wouldn’t the loss of the pigs be worth removing a hazard like a man who could break chains and attack people? I’d think so. Were the citizens Jews, who would care about the Law, or were they gentiles, who wouldn’t? The ESV study Bible says that they were Gentiles, but there must’ve been some Jews around too. And Jews aren’t exactly known for always sticking with all of the Law anyway.

I was able to make a great deal of progress understanding this situation as I read further in Mark and got to the rich young man of Mark 10, and the question on the authority of Jesus in Mark 11. Now how, you may ask, did I connect the people of Gennesaret unwilling to allow Jesus to stay in the area with a rich man unwilling to give up his riches and the unwillingness of the chief priests to answer Jesus about whether the baptism of John was from heaven or from man? I’m glad you asked that. (You might be guessing at the same conclusion as I because of the way I phrased the question.)

The chief priests could not answer a simple question, because they refused to acknowledge that the authority of Jesus was from God. If they did it would mean that their authority was from man, and they would have had to give up their cushy positions. The rich man knew that Jesus was a “good teacher,” but not so much that he was willing to suffer economic harm to follow Him. The Gennesaret people knew Jesus was at the very least a holy man of God, but were not willing to suffer further economic harm in order for Him to have stayed in the area.

In other words, none of these people wanted to go all the way. They saw the miracles done by Jesus, acknowledged His power and authority, recognized that He was from God, but didn’t take the next step of risking everything to follow Him.

In modern times we find the same sorts of attitudes. We hear people saying “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” all the time, in song and prayer and sermons. We see regular attendance at a church service, with many an “Amen” during the preaching. There are bumper stickers and hats and T-shirts proclaiming that the wearers “know Jesus.” Mega-churches abound, pastors have carved out positions with nice paychecks claiming to speak for God, and television stars rake in the bucks while hawking their latest books and trinkets.

Very few will see the Kingdom of God because the ticket into the Kingdom costs a lot more than simply raising a hand and “going forward.” Faith is putting your money where your mouth is, like the rich young man refused to do. It is the willingness to give up possibly everything you have to follow Him, like the people of Gennesaret could have done. It is submitting your will to His, and giving everything to welcome Him into your heart unlike the chief priests, Pharisees, and other religious leaders then and now.

Jesus obviously had authority from God because He did what God told Him to do and taught what God wanted Him to teach. Everything Jesus did or said was right from the written Word, and could easily be checked if one wanted to do so. But we don’t want. We fear to give up our position, our money, our reputations or our lives because the short term suffering is not worth the long term gain.

Like Frank Sinatra or Cain, we want to do it our way. We want to retain parts of the world system and try to merge them into the Kingdom. We say “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing,” not realizing that we are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. We want to patch the garment with unshrunk cloth because we don’t want the work of making it right. We try to fit new wine and old wineskins together when they are just not compatible.

We refuse to accept a message from the Christ because it will cause us too much trouble and might wreck the nice little corner of the world we have made for ourselves. It might cause us some discomfort. It might make us change. It might make us realize that even with the talisman of the name of Jesus we are still far short of what God requires of us.

Shalom

Bruce

Christian Statues

So I was catching up on the news this morning and ran across an article titled 50 Christian Statues Defaced and Decapitated in Germany (Heatstreet by way of The Drudge Report 12/15/16). My first reaction was “Huh? Christian statues?” My next reaction was, “This is supposed to be bad news?”

Vandalism is not good, but why do we have “Christian” statues? I mean, there are statues, and then there are “Christian” things, but not Christian statues. God specifically tells believers not to have statues. So you would think we wouldn’t have “Christian” statues in the first place, or the destruction of them would be good news.

I hate to say it because of all the wrong things about Islam, but this is one of the very few things that Muslims have right. They really detest images such as statues or idols. This they borrow from the Law of Moses, and you would think the real “Christian” thing would be to do the same. Most Muslims stick to their laws, however twisted, way better than “Christians” ever thought to do themselves with their Law. But Christianity has become so watered down that God’s Word is just a distant echo in many of the sound rooms of church.

If we were as loyal and zealous about our true God as Muslims are about their false one the world would be a much different and better place. Our young people would be trained up to know the Word of God instead of the words of American Idol. If we stuck to the Christian law (actually the Law of Christ, Moses or God) then we wouldn’t have any such thing as “Christian” statues, we wouldn’t be losing kids to the strictures of Islam, and we wouldn’t be losing families to adultery and divorce. Among the many things that are wrong about Islam, they’ve got a point about the mushy “Christians.”

Shalom
Bruce

Jury Duty

Last week I had to do the Jury Duty thing again. It is a privilege and a responsibility for citizens of our country, but it is also a pain in the rear. Usually I make a call and find out the trial has been cancelled (probably due to plea bargaining) and I’m off the hook for another couple of years. Last time I actually had to go down to the Justice Center and then get told the trial was cancelled. So I haven’t actually been a juror or even gone through the selection process. But this time I went a little further than before.

After watching a video on what it was all about, about thirty of us went to the courtroom and sat down. Then after a few instructions and questions the judge called 12 of us up to the jury box for more questions. I was the last of the 12 called trying to fill out a six-person jury.

The prosecutor gets 20 minutes to ask questions of the prospective jurors, then the defense attorney gets 20 minutes. Each side got three challenges for cause and three peremptory challenges. A challenge for cause means that there is something in the juror’s answers to the questions that might indicate a prejudice or bias in one direction or the other, and so they are dismissed. A peremptory challenge doesn’t have to have a reason for dismissing a prospective juror. I was dismissed on a peremptory challenge.

Of course I was hoping to get out of the jury. I had work to do and I think the justice system is pretty stupid. I call it the “no justice” system. In my opinion a fair jury would be randomly chosen, for instance.

But besides that, I am certain no one would want me on a jury. I think too much, am too intelligent, and too much of a leader for either side to want me (this is why churches and synagogues don’t want me around also!). Why do I think that? Because a “fair and impartial” jury is never wanted by any lawyer. All lawyers want a biased jury – biased in their favor.

It’s one of the biggest lies in the justice system that they are looking for a fair and balanced, unbiased jury. Who would be dumb enough to want that, if you were a lawyer? You would want the odds in your favor. The defense wants to get their client off. They are not looking for justice at all. The prosecutor is already convinced of the defendant’s guilt, and wants to put him or her away in jail or punished in some other way. The judge is biased too. Not for or against a particular defendant, and not for the law, but for his or her (in my case, a her) own view of the law and for the views of the law from her peers (other legal professionals). They want professional recognition, and to be able to climb the ladder to the Supreme Court. Or a lot of speaking engagements for high fees.

It was funny how I was dismissed, too. I got to be dismissed by BOTH the prosecutor and the defense. (They REALLY didn’t want me on that jury!)

Here’s how it happened. The prosecutor was asked by the judge if he had any challenges for cause for the first half of the pool (the first six people called). I was in the second group of six (the eighth possibility). Then the defense was asked if he had any challenges for cause in the first six people and he didn’t either. Next the prosecutor was asked if he had any peremptory challenges for the first six. He eliminated one person, which caused the rest of us to move up a seat (they kept us in order for some inane reason). The defense attorney didn’t realize the judge was still limiting the review to the first six people (I hadn’t moved up to the first six spots yet) and used his first peremptory to challenge me. The judge corrected him that we were just looking at the first six still. So then the prosecutor used his second and third peremptory challenges to get rid of one person ahead of me, then me. So I got to hear that both attorneys wanted me gone. The defense wanted me gone so bad he couldn’t wait his turn!

Our legal system has gotten so out of whack compared to real justice (and real law – God’s Law) that it’s a joke. No wonder they are removing God’s commandments from so many courtrooms. They don’t want to be reminded that they are just playing games, or trading lives for influence and prestige, or denying justice to the oppressed. They want those pesky reminders scrubbed away so they can pursue their own selfish interests.

The thing is, erasing the commandments doesn’t change the fact that God demands justice. He was the one who set it up that man must see to equal justice. If someone sheds blood, we (as a group) must make sure that his blood is shed also in punishment.

“And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Genesis 9:5–6, AV)

Our trial wasn’t going to be a murder trial. By the questioning it was easy to guess that a man had been accused of driving under the influence and that the influence was marijuana. The defense was going to be something along the lines of mere road rage connected with something about getting the wrong mail. Law officials (rightly so) are looking for some definition for driving under the influence of marijuana (in our state marijuana is legal) because there isn’t a handy test like a breathalyzer for it. So the prosecutor had a “bias” that way too. Not a bad bias, but certainly not the “fair and balanced” thing he stated he was looking for.

God’s laws are being rejected everywhere, especially by the church. We can see the results of this lunacy everywhere we look. I was especially aware of it in the rejection of my service as a juror. On the one hand I was happy to get out of the farce (although perversely I was also a little put out by the double rejection). But on the other I was sad, because justice is not to be found in our courtrooms anymore. It’s out of the church, it’s out of our courts, and it’s out of our land. And God will require it of us.

Shalom
Bruce

Crucifying Another Christian

Well, they’ve got another Christian up on the cross.

The Duggar family is the latest to donate a sacrificial lamb for the slaughter, and the morally bankrupt media are gleefully driving in the hypocritical nails. The corrupt and flaming leftist Lena Dunham writes a book detailing the sexual abuse of a younger sister and the Pontius Pilates of this age just yawn.

But a man who has proven himself to be an exemplary adult, who paid for his sins while still a minor, and whose record should’ve been sealed, has those same neo-Roman officials washing their hands.

You and I both know what is really going on. The people who don’t shrink back from following God are being torn down, just like that guy who walked here 2,000 years ago. This world cannot stand anything or anyone associated with God, especially those high profile people who make People magazine. The goody two-shoes are despised and always will be. Even reformed, repentant goody two-shoes are targets, not because what they have done is so wrong or so different from the normal behavior of the godless but because the depth of godless hate runs so deep. Those oh-so-tolerant Canaanites simply will not tolerate someone who reminds them they are on a path to hell.

If the Duggars are smart they’ll be preparing lawsuits as I write. Hopefully they won’t chicken out and hide behind a few frequently misinterpreted Scriptures about loving everyone and letting God be the judge. There is more at stake here than just hurt feelings or resignation from a job. The fight is not physical, it’s spiritual. Christians are being wrongly maligned left and right (mostly left) and there are solid biblical reasons for using our God given judgment to push the darkness back even if only a little. Our weapons might be spiritual, but there’s nothing wrong with smacking the lions on the nose with a sword every once in a while. Or the Pilates.

Shalom
Bruce

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 Series On Romans

One of the things that has turned us off of the Messianic movement is the inability of many to explain Paul’s writings in context with the Law. Few can do it, if at all. So much of the Bible in general has been so covered over with traditions of men and deliberate misinterpretation, that even if a believer manages to work his way through to the understanding of the Law as a valid lifestyle and discipleship method Paul’s writings still seem to contradict (although we know instinctively that they don’t).

Usually the Messianic person will simply revert to throwing out Paul’s writings. A big tool for doing this is to claim that there must’ve been a (lost) Hebrew New Testament that was translated into Greek and in so doing much of the meaning was corrupted by the time we translate to English. So the easy answer for this crowd is to declare the Greek null and void.

Somewhere along the way this nutcase crowd decides to throw out the virgin birth of Jesus along with the claims that Jesus is God. Next this crowd just moves to throw out the whole New Testament. What the heck. It’s all mistranslated anyway, right? Anything they can’t understand or explain must be the fault of the text! Much of the throwing starts with Paul’s writings because they cannot explain properly what he is talking about.

So we decided to do some videos with our own explanations. It’s not that hard, really. All you have to do is read the text. The plain meaning is right there in front of us. It’s not the text that’s the problem. It is either an agenda or a fault in our own understanding. The message is repeated enough throughout the Word (including Paul’s writings) that it is extremely easy to figure out the meaning. If we are going to throw anything out it should be the traditions of men that clutter up the text in the first place.

First in the series is Romans chapters 1 through 4, just put up on our Youtube channel. It’s about an hour. Three future videos will cover four chapters each and hopefully end up at about an hour each.

There is a list of time marks in the description so you can jump to particular parts if you want. There are also links to other videos from us explaining different words or concepts further. We hope this series (along with other videos such as our Book of Galatians effort) will help the seeker of truth figure out how to explain their faith easily and biblically to the many (many, many, many) skeptics he or she will encounter.

Shalom
Bruce

Atheism: The Seinfeld of Religions

New video just got uploaded to our youtube channel which is already raising the ire of atheists (shown by their clicking of the dislike button and the comments they make). I couldn’t be happier. Like I told one of them who made a disparaging comment that my dad used to say, “Throw a rock into a pack of dogs and the one that barks the loudest is the one that got hit the hardest.”

Boy are atheists going to bark now.

Shalom

The Testing of Jesus

At the stoning of the woman caught in adultery, did Jesus teach that the Law was gone, or did He criticize because the Law was not followed? Did Jesus eliminate the Law as popular church teaching suggests, or did He disapprove of the mishandling of God’s living oracles? I think in each question it is the latter. When Jesus was tested, He stayed with the Law while His opponents stuck with their own interpretations and traditions. His opponents were wrong in nearly every case.

Jesus never tells us that “we all sin” so none of us can judge. What He tells us is that to judge properly we need to stay within the whole of His Law. The people testing Jesus wanted permission to sin. They wanted certification for their self-appointed authority. But they didn’t want God’s Law. See the video for more details.

Shalom
Bruce

Granddaughter’s ASL Song

I can’t help it. I really like this for some reason. So I’m posting it everywhere I can. If you’ve already seen it, thanks for watching. If you haven’t you are really missing out. Even if I am a proud grandpa. Raine puts so much expression into her signing.

Off her left shoulder is her brother Isaiah, and the next spot further to Raine’s left (blond hair) is her sister Keira. So we got a bonus of all three in one song.

Of course, I absolutely do not approve of the person who wrote and sang the song – a guy by the name of Ray Boltz. After a long career as a “Christian” musician he recently declared he was gay. He is now divorced from a wife of several decades. Typically, this is modern Christianity. The church does not teach the Bible, only opinions about the Bible, and this is one of the results. I’m sure he was encouraged to sin this way by all the “affirmation” homosexuals are receiving in the church. This is the fruit of the anti-christ. The guy sings nicely, and composes some nice songs. The sentiment is nice. But all the singing about Jesus doesn’t mean a thing if it is only coming from the lips. If it is not in line with God’s Word, it doesn’t matter how much sentiment you put into it – sincere lawlessness is still lawlessness. And Jesus will still declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:23)

I don’t like mixing these two things – my granddaughter’s excellent work in ASL and a singer who has chosen a destructive lifestyle change. But something needs to be said, even if it is not pleasant. As far as “affirming” the homosexual lifestyle choice, people who do so are just as destructive as the lifestyle itself. See our video ‘Am I A Homophobe?’ for just a start on the facts, statistics, and quotes from homosexual authors concerning the awfulness of this high-handed sin.

Shalom,
Bruce

Opposite Day

I was thinking about what to call today. For pagans, it’s Easter Sunday. I know that’ll get me in trouble. I know I’m not supposed to actually connect people’s behavior directly with something that is not biblical. I usually don’t; I try to teach the truth and let people make up their own minds. But it’s tough in some cases to be neutral. Some people just make themselves an easy target.

So I was thinking we could call today “Ham Sunday.” But then we’d have to call Christmas, Ham (whatever day it falls on), but this might cause some confusion. Then I was thinking we could call it pagan Day but there isn’t enough discrimination there between days. All the other so-called Christian holidays are also pagan. We generally say “Merry Pagan Holiday” which is pretty good, but lacks a little oomph. Naw, I needed something more fitting. Something more descriptive. Something more flexible. Because after all that is the name of the Christian game they are playing. After considering several other names, I settled on Opposite Day.

Opposite Day is where we do whatever is opposite of what God wants. Does He want us to stay away from unclean meat? Well, let’s make it part of our tradition. Does He want us not to have images that might lead people to worship gods other than Him? No problem. We just use our freedom in Christ as well as the cosmic eraser of Christ to sanctify unholy things.

I know that the name Opposite Day is not particularly discriminating. All the standard Christian holidays, heck, every day, is Opposite Day when you have freedom in Christ to rub God’s face in our disobedience. But I capitalize the term so that we know that today is a SPECIAL opposite day where we deliberately pick opposites of God’s desires. Then we coat them in sentiment and tradition which we call “love” but are the opposite of God’s love, and comfort ourselves that our “intentions” are good though opposite of God’s. As long as we “think” it’s okay and as long as we don’t “intend” to do opposite, we can coat our perversions with the opposite of God’s intent and still call it good.

We do it all the time anyway. Immorality takes many different forms, but we can use the techniques we learn in Opposite Day to cover all the other opposites we do too. Sexual immorality becomes an alternate lifestyle. Marriage vows become marriage promises. Sentiment is substituted for love. We’ll just wash some feet to make up for all the theft, adultery, and other opposites we’ve accepted and confirmed.

Happy Opposite Day.

Shalom,
Bruce