Doctrine of Israel

What do you believe about Israel? Given current world events I believe this is a very relevant point of theology. Yes, world events and theology should and do affect one another. In fact, they must interact in order for theology to be either true or relevant.

So here goes.

I believe God chose a man named Abraham to begin His kingdom restoration work on earth. I don’t say it was the start of His kingdom building, since God always had one intent and therefore it started with Adam. However at the time in history when Abraham was alive, the world needed a restoration work, we had fallen so far away from the God that created us, that we needed a God who would reach out to us.

He chose Abraham to start this work and several promises were made to Abraham which are still important today.

He promised Abraham to make a nation out of his descendants. This is the Jewish people. Many of the promises made to Abraham were to include the nation descended from him. It is true Abraham fathered another nation through Ishmael, and that specific promises were given to this son, but those promises were given separately and Ishmael did not inherit the promises passed down to the Hebrews.

One of the promises is that God would bless the entire world through the Jews. I believe this promise was fulfilled by the coming of Jesus Christ. In God’s plan the kingdom restoring work suddenly expanded beyond the Jews and a few converts to be available to all the earth.

I do not believe that Christianity on earth constitutes a new Israel. We have been grafted into the Israel that existed, and have not replaced it. Nor do I believe that every Jewish person is saved automatically. They must find their salvation, just as we do, in Jesus Christ.

Another promises is God would bless those that bless Israel and curse those who treat Israel with contempt. I believe this promise is still in effect and applies to the modern nation of Israel.

This is why I believe the topic is currently relevant. The United States has been backing away from every action which God previously blessed us for taking. We no longer honor Him, we are quickly losing our missionary power, we are no longer standing against tyranny, and now as a final straw we are no longer supporting Israel.

You can expect God to bring about some changes as a result.

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Northern Shoveler Wings

Northern Shoveler

This is a picture of a Northern Shoveler. This duck looks totally different in this picture than in other pictures of it because it has his wings open showing colors that are normally hidden away.

The iridescent portion of a ducks wing is called the speculum, and in this case it is followed by white and black markings.

If you did not see the bird in flight you would never see these details. Christians can be a lot like this duck. It’s only when we begin to do something that our true colors become visible.

When we care for strangers we show the love of Christ. When we work together we show the fellowship of the Spirit. When we live by the moral principles of Scripture we show the beauty of righteousness. When we share the message of Christ with the world we bring evangelism and missions into the public view.

Our activity shows off who we truly are, while inactivity can hide our identity. This is a problem in the American church, which carries an increasingly passive role for the person in the pew. Instead of worshipping we sit and watch choirs, praise teams and staff members worship. Instead of being directly involved in personal ministry we hire professionals to manage the work of ministry. The average person in the pew then is validated in stating their church experience begins and ends on Sunday, that their Christian ideas don’t affect their home or workplace, or that a church that asks for deeper commitments is too domineering.

But like the duck, the real nature of the church, and of the individual believer, is most visible when it is moving. For the duck that means when it is flying, and for the believer when they are serving. It is little wonder the church means so much less to society today than it did in previous generations. They cannot see it correctly because the opportunities to see it at work are severely limited.

In Matthew 7:15-20 Jesus talks about identifying people around you correctly by watching the fruit in their lives. If you want Christ to be visible in you, if you want His name glorified in your life, then do the work of Christ. In this way your fruit, that is your Christian identity, will be visible.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:15-20 KJV – translation chosen for the familiar wording by their fruits ye shall know them.)

Relationship with Israel

What I suspect will be the worst decision made by our current president recently came to light. In the past he has made it clear that he doesn’t support Israel in the ways that past presidents have. I wrote about this recently in a blogpost called Netanyahu and Congress.

The decision which I am referring to is not his treatment of Netanyahu on that visit, nor is it the condescending quotes thrown around by Democrats after the speech, but instead it was the recent information that Obama sent agents and money to try and influence the election in Israel.

Election tampering is not appropriately undertaken by the world’s poster child for democracy, but it is especially abhorrent when the action is taken against our allies. Or perhaps more accurately, this action clearly defines Israel as our enemy. We would not be the first nation to speak words of peace while acting in opposition to our own words, and any wise nation will understand the importance of behavior over rhetoric.

We were already moving in that direction by attempting to negotiate for Iran to have nuclear capability. I know the liberal bent on this is sugar coated, but our actions are promising them this capability eventually, if they will back off the goal for the time being. This deal is a hostile act against Israel, since anyone with common sense knows that is where they most would like to use nukes. Of course, common sense would also say we are second on their list.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I hope we can return to a positive relationship with Israel. If we do not a massive escalation of war in the region is predictable. The type of war that leaves no opportunity for neutrality.

Splickety Prime 4.1 – The Family Business

prime_coverI have not written on the blog for a while for a couple of reasons. First it is one of those times when I get busier and I have needed to prioritize other things instead. Second I caught some kind of a head cold or severe multi-day allergy attack or some other miserable thing.

But I am taking a break from coughing to give you exciting news.  A few weeks back Splickety magazine picked up a story I had written and it released today.  If you like flash fiction, you will love Splickety and its three wonderful titles. Here is a link for your convenience.

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/900198

My story is called The Family Business.  If you subscribe to Splickety and enjoy the story, I would enjoy hearing from you.  (If you hate the story, wait until I feel better to tell me that!)

Presidential Divisiveness

One of the current political questions is, who will run for president in 2016? We are in that awkward stage, where even though we basically know who will run, they are not yet officially committed.

Looking over the field, I notice something horrible. But let me explain some current history from my perspective for clarity sake first. Six years ago we elected a president who promised to bring the country together. We even reelected him two years ago, when he was promising that he would bring the country together as soon as his opponents decided to do everything his way.

For conservative minded people, like myself, this president has created an ever widening chasm between the two viewpoints, namely by refusing to compromise on anything, and then having his buddies in the media, blame the division on his opponents. This tactic has so alienated conservative America, that we now can’t hear the president’s name without bristling. Now we are aiming at another election. I suspect most voters believe an ability to work together should be the first qualification.

Now look at the candidates. Whether we like it or not there are some names in politics that introduce rancor merely by their mention. For the party of Lincoln, we will have our teeth set on edge by anyone named Clinton. For the Democrats a similar reaction is evoked by the name Bush.

So it seems to me that voters should consider, not just the normal priorities, but also whether they really want to elect someone their opponents are already unable to work with. I am quite sure some want to continue the gridlock. Some are so fixated on dominating policy and elections that they only believe they are winning when their opponents are demonized and demoralized. These individuals would be too blind to realize they could win the election, but lose the country.

The Devil

There are some things that Christians believe about the devil. The Bible teaches that the devil was an angel, that led a rebellion, and with him one third of the angels became fallen.

The question that naturally arises is, how do you stage a rebellion attempting to overthrow an all-powerful and all-knowing God? God will know what you are up to, and absolutely nothing you do can harm Him. So how is rebellion even possible? Why didn’t God stop it before it ever got started?

As how rebellion is possible, the devil convinced himself that he could successfully rebel, being blinded by his own arrogance and vanity. He lied to himself to believe he could succeed.

But answering why God allowed it, has to come down to one reason. The devil’s rebellion served God’s purposes. Now for some people this is a hard pill to swallow. For them, thinking God allowed sin, for any reason, is reprehensible. I prefer to look at it that God is powerful enough, that every sin, is used by God to bring about positive results.

I believe God’s purpose, His positive result, is to create humanity as truly and completely free moral agents. We have been given the power of choice. However, the power to choose is meaningless without choices to choose from. Similarly, if all of the choices are right choices, then we are not truly free.

The devil creates for humanity the alternative to choosing right. Without this choice we would not be truly free, and therefore not truly human. The purpose of our humanity is the ability to choose God, choosing to love and serve Him instead of self. This human free will is what makes us the crown of creation, and without it we would be nothing more than fancy automaton.

The next question that arises is, does that mean God is responsible for sin? The answer is no. God creates angels and humans with a true power of choice, and with this power comes the responsibility for one’s own choices. God knew the wrong choices that would be made, but that does not make Him responsible for our sins. We choose them and we are responsible for them.

To help illustrate this point, think about a couple bringing a new baby home to a two year old. They can reasonably assume the older child will at some point mistreat the younger. So does that mean they forcibly separate the two and never let them meet? Of course not, to do so would be an unspeakable cruelty. These two are born to be siblings and to love each other. So over their growing up years the parents know there will be errors, but seek to teach them to love and grow together into healthy, non-murderous, siblings.

Similarly God is not responsible for our sins. He is simply allowing the situation which gives us the possibility of becoming fully what God has created us to be. He made us to be the crowning jewel of His creation, the ones who choose to love Him.

Dabbling Ducks

Dabbling DucksHere is a pair of mallards, a male and a female, dabbling. The term dabbling refers both to the feeding method of tipping bottoms up to feed in muddy shallow bottoms, and to the ducks who participate in this style of feeding.

I suppose it must be some kind of a character flaw of mine, but I get a kick out of watching dabbling ducks. Reminds me of the old children’s stories about ostriches hiding by burying their heads in the sand. Reminds me of teenagers ‘mooning’ passersby.

I am pretty sure the birds never give any thought to how silly they look. Instead they are simply interested in reaching the grub God designed them to reach. Other animals are designated to reach up and these fellows are designated to reach down. If they were humans they would be busy making comparisons and trying to figure out if life was treating them fairly, but the ducks are simply responding to their hunger and doing what is required to feed themselves.

We should be a little bit more like that. Quit worrying about how you look, what others think of you, and do whatever it is God has designated for you to do. Think about Proverbs 26:15 (HCSB) The slacker buries his hand in the bowl; he is too weary to bring it to his mouth. Take whatever opportunities are in front of you and don’t wear yourself out comparing your situation with others.

Recognize that such comparisons are equivalent to accusing God of treating you unfairly. Instead trust that He knows what He is doing in guiding you forward. But also note that the energy lost on the comparisons could be better expended in utilizing the opportunities you have before you.