FALLING IN LOVE WITH THE WARRIOR GOD

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Lately some of my theological friends have been writing books about how to read the Old Testament in a way that reconciles Jesus, the peaceful Nazarene, with what they are calling ‘The Violent Warrior God of the Old Testament.’

They begin with this verse, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father,” and then they go on to say, “To understand what Scripture says about God, you must read it through the lens of Jesus.”

With all due respect, this is where they go wrong, because any time God says or does something they can’t imagine Jesus of Nazareth doing, they go into their theological song and dance.

“Jesus would never do that, so that must have been Satan.” Or, “The Bible was written by men, and they must have gotten that part wrong.” Or, “The translators misinterpreted that verse, you have to read it in the original Greek and Hebrew.” Or, “God didn’t actually do that, He only allowed it.” Or, “That’s just a poem, a metaphor, or a parable, and it must be read subjectively, you can’t take that literally.”

One of my secondary assumptions is, ‘The Bible writers were inspired by God, so God has the responsibility to provide us with a certain degree of clarity. If it takes a degree in theology, or if you must read all of their books to begin to comprehend the Bible, that’s simply not fair to us common folks; personally I expect much more from The God of the Universe.’

No matter how many pages a theological book may have, what its pages are filled with depends mostly on the original premise their argument is based upon.

 

I begin with a slightly different basic premise. Yes, I do believe in the Trinity, but that’s a different subject; – – –  my premise is, “God is One,” and, “God is Love.”

“No one has ever seen the Father,” so anything you read about God speaking, (except for the few times Father spoke audibly from the sky), or doing, or appearing in any form, anywhere in the Bible, it is referring to The Christ, the Son of God; sometimes called, Michael the Archangel, the pre-incarnate Christ, the Captain of the LORD’s Host, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Prince of Peace, etc.

I do begin with the same verse, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father,” and yes, most certainly without any shadow of doubt whatsoever, Jesus on the Cross is the perfect window into the Heart of God.

However, I read this verse to mean, when you read anything about God anywhere in the Bible, Jesus is saying, ‘Assume it’s Me, Jesus; and whatever you see Me do and say, take it as if you have heard and seen the actions of My Father.’

I assume, “God is Love,” means, everything God has ever said or done, has always been the most loving thing He could possibly have done for everyone concerned, for all of eternity.

God has sworn that on Judgment day, when the Books have been opened, and all of history has been reviewed, when there is no longer any room for deception, “Every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is LORD.”

This is God promising we will all understand, and agree, that His plan was perfect, that He got it exactly right at every stage of the game. So anytime His actions do not seem to agree with the Heart of Jesus, we must keep studying, until we see His Love.

To really get to know a person, you need to observe them in many different situations and circumstances. If the person happens to be a Judge, you will see a different facet of his character while he’s playing with his children, than you will when he is in court, pronouncing a death sentence.

Even if you think you know God’s Heart, to more fully understand His Character, you will need to consider all of His actions in the Old, and the New Testament.

“There is nothing new under the Sun.” So everything I have to say has probably been said before, but I haven’t heard it, or read it, so here’s my take on reconciling the peace loving Jesus of Nazareth, with ‘The violent Warrior God of the Old Testament.’

I believe the key to the solution is refining the definition of the word ‘violence.’

Violence proceeds out of the sinful hearts of angry, selfish, greedy, impatient, unimaginative, power hungry beings.

The use of force may be either destructive, or restorative, depending on the qualifications and intentions of the person applying the force.

The actions of a qualified person with proper authority, done from the motive of love, may be called ‘tough love,’ but should not be called violence.

The vengeance of a God of Love, The Ultimate Authority, can not equal violence, and therefore we have a God throughout the Bible, who is non-violent.

Simple, yes; – – – but certainly not easily understood, so please bear with me while I explain.

Here are some examples:

Medical procedures:

Dentistry, heart surgery, amputations, radiation, chemotherapy, etc.

Punishment/Discipline:

Parental discipline; for running into the street, or fighting with siblings. Peace Officers; arresting and incarcerating a person who is an apparent danger to themselves or others.  A Judge and jury; imposing a life sentence.

God’s vengeance:

Banning Adam and Eve from the Tree of Life, and thereby pronouncing a death sentence on the entire human race.

Most of us Bible students understand this to be a loving act that was necessary to prevent sin from becoming eternal.

IMO, all of God’s actions, throughout Scripture, may be seen to be just as loving and non-violent as this.

He is the JUDGE, we are not. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

I contend that anything done by God or commanded by God in the Old Testament, was done from a motive of Love, with full authority, as the Righteous Judge of the Universe.

Call it vengeance if you like, but no matter how severe His loving actions may appear to you, – – – you are simply not qualified to judge them as evil or violent.

Remember this; the human race gained our ‘talent’ to judge good and evil, by eating from the WRONG TREE.

Another key word we need to learn to see from Jesus’ point of view, is the word ‘death.’

Us humans are generally pretty freaked out about anything that has to do with death or dying, but Jesus sees death as a sleep. “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I’m going there to wake him up.”

An Anesthesiologist has the authority to place a patient into a deep sleep and then wake them back up again, nonviolently.

Therefore I have no problem with God putting people into a ‘dirt-nap-timeout,’ so He can deal with them later.

However, for me to be Ok with God placing people in this kind of timeout, I find it necessary to believe His mercy endures forever, and that He is a God of second chances.

For details, about second chances, see my blog, MY ESCATOLOGY.

MY ESCHATOLOGY

Another important factor is; God has designed our body and minds to refuse extreme amounts of pain, by going into shock.

I’ve been in aircraft and auto accidents, and on one occasion had my throat slit, and was shot in the head twice; so from my personal experiences, I can say, “dying quickly must not hurt very much,” because in all of these occasions, I felt very little pain until after I woke up in the hospital.

So I’m saying, God has already sentenced us all to die the first death, and if and when it becomes the most loving thing for Him to do, He has a perfect right to take as many people as He wants as early as necessary, and then continue His conversation with them later.

And yes, God does seem to like a dramatic story, so sometimes He cracks open the earth, and swallows people, sometimes He rains down fire and brimstone, or sends plagues, and causes floods, but for the people involved, it may be as painless as dying in your sleep, or experiencing an unsuspected catastrophe; – – – going into shock, and then fading to black.

At one point The Angel of the Lord killed one hundred and eighty five thousand Assyrians in their sleep, but then, the next moment, as far as the Assyrians would have known, they found themselves in heaven, surrounded by God’s Holy Angels.

Egypt’s firstborn died in their sleep also; and Ananias and Sapphira simply passed out.

I could go on and on, but I’ve decided to leave you with this.

I’m simply saying, I believe we need to trust our Loving God to do whatever He thinks is best, and Divine violence is an oxymoron.

JESUS, JESUS, JESUS, YES, YES, YES!

However, just lately I find myself falling in love with the Warrior God of the Old Testament, – – – be still my heart.

My plan is to simply play my part, and trust the Author for the happy ending.

 

Feel free to share this link, or copy any part of it, and if you have questions please leave them as a comment.

God’s Blessings on you and yours, Vance

 

April 13, 2017

JESUS IS THE SHOT CALLER

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Earth has become a prison planet, all of the bad guys in the universe live here, and Jesus is ‘The Shot Caller.’
He is the ‘Word’ who said, “Let there be light,” and “Let Us create man.”
Jesus drove us out of the garden, and called Cherubims with flaming swords East of Eden to guard the the tree of life.
He sent Moses to Pharaoh, to say, “LET MY PEOPLE GO!”
He called the shot at Sodom and Gomorrah.
And He sent the flood.
Jesus doesn’t hold anyone responsible for the ugliness in this world, He’s ‘the buck stops here’ God, who takes full responsibility for everything that happens on His watch, because He knows none of this would have happened unless He said, “Let there be light.”
So ultimately He is responsible, and He took that responsibility on the cross; but this is not His mess, it’s ours.
And yet, when it’s all said and done we will see that Jesus is Love.
Everything He has ever said or done has always been the most loving thing for everyone concerned, for all of eternity.
So if anything He’s done seems un-loving to you, don’t just throw up your hands, don’t cut verses out of your Bible, don’t blame it on the writers, or the translators, don’t try to blame it all on Satan, and don’t try to understand it all at once; assume it’s because of your fallen judgmental mind that God appears to do evil, then hold it all in tension by faith, and never stop praying and studying.
April 5, 2017

The Problem of Devine Violence

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If we take Jesus at His word, when He said, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father,” and add this verse that says, “He (the Messiah) had done no violence,” (Isaiah 53:9) then it becomes clear to me that Devine Violence is an oxymoron.

Over the centuries theologians have attempted to deal with the “violent” stories of the God of the Old Testament in three different ways.

1. Discounting the violent texts.

2. Attempting to distance God from the violence.

3. By reinterpreting the violent verses.

But what if the root of the problem could be found in our definition of the word ‘violence.’

Some things that appear to be violent are medical procedures being done in love.

Tooth pulling, heart transplant, even amputations.

In an emergency in the mission field it may be necessary to pull an infected tooth without pain killer.

Sometimes punishment can be done in love.

Parents have the authority to punish a small child for running into the street, or for fighting with their brother or sister.

Police have been given authority to restrain and incarcerate a person who is a danger to themselves or others.

A judge and jury have the authority to sentence a person to a number of years in prison.

And God The Judge of the Universe certainly had the authority to banish Adam and Eve from The Tree of Life, thereby pronouncing a death sentence on the human race.

I contend that none of these actions are violent, because they were done under proper authority, from a motive of love.

April 5, 2017

THE BLAME GAME

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(Connecting Job with the Cross)
Just after the fall, The man (Adam) said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” And the woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”
God did give Adam the woman, and He did plant both trees, and allowed the serpent into the garden; but notice that God did not defend Himself, because God does not play the blame game.
Job said, “God gives, and God takes away.” (Job 1:21)
And God said, “Job got it right.”
The LORD said to Eliphaz, “ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.” (Job 42:7)
I had previously thought God only gives, but now I had new information, and who am I to argue with God.
However, now I had a new problem.
Job didn’t know about Satan, so he assumed everything came from God. And yes, God did tell Job about the Leviathan later on, but that didn’t change Job’s mind, and God did not correct him.
So here is my new insight; connecting this new concept of everything essentially coming from God, with Jesus on the Cross.
I now see Jesus hanging there doing what He has always been doing; never blaming anyone else, but taking full responsibility for everything that happens in His universe.
God’s attitude is, and always has been, ‘if it happened in My universe, forget about the middlemen, – – – just assume it came from Me.’
Yes, there is an adversary, angels, armies, and many people involved, but if it happened on His watch, as far as He’s concerned, it’s all on Him.
If He would have never said, “Let there be light,” none of this would have ever happened.
On the Cross The Trinity took full responsibility for it all.
So as far as God is concerned He would like you to assume that everything that happens in your life comes directly from Him.
Not to punish or reward, but always from a motive of love, for our freedom, and the perfection of our character.
April 5, 2017

The Book of Job Decoded

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The Book of Job; decoded:

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, sumerized:

God is a Santa Claus god; a rewarder and punisher of good and bad deeds.

– – – –

Job’s message summarized:

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Job 13:15

1:20,21&22, Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

2:10. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

– – – –

In Job 42:7, (God says Job got it right)

“And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.”

– – – –

Elihu summarized:

(Job had it right, you three got it wrong)

Job 32:12, (NIV) I gave you my full attention. But not one of you has proved Job wrong; none of you has answered his arguments.

– – –

Job nailed it.

“Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.”

“God gives, and God takes away.”

In a material/temporal world, how else can it be?

 

March 25, 2017

MAXIMUM EFFICIENCY WITHOUT TRYING

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When I was a new believer God gave me a philosophical concept I call, “Maximum efficiency without trying.” It has served me well over the years. It even works on the spiritual level.

Maximum efficiency is easy to sell, who wouldn’t like to be able to operate at maximum efficiency? It’s found by bracketing. First you go too far one way, then you reverse directions and go too far the other way, then you make finer and finer corrections until you get it just right. The process is the same when you’re tuning a guitar, an engine, or a radio. When it’s just right it’s much more than just not too flat or too sharp, there’s a sweet spot; to a trained ear something special happens, it’s “in tune.”

It’s difficult to find maximum efficiency by trying to sneak up on it. You usually need to get a little radical to find what it takes to make your new sports car spin out, or how slow you can fly an airplane without stalling. Maximum efficiency is seldom found at full throttle, a motorcycle tends to go into a high speed wobble, and a runner won’t finish the marathon if he doesn’t pace himself. Golf pros say your best swing is at about eighty percent, and when you’re making the top crust for an apple pie you don’t try to get it just right, you make it a little large than you trim off the excess dough.

If you practice a lot (like every day, most of the day, since you were six years old, like Tiger Woods), and stay in tune on the physical plane you’ll be able to operate at maximum efficiency, but how in the world can we do this without trying?

First of all we need to separate the idea of trying from the concept of effort. Actually they are two different things. Trying is an internal attitude, effort may be either mental or physical, but effort is psychologically neutral. Only the person who is exerting the effort knows whether or not they are trying.

Two men digging a ditch may be exerting the same amount of effort, but one may be getting paid to do something he hates, and the other may be digging the foundation for his dream house, something he has been wanting to do for years. For one it’s a big ‘try,’ for the other it would be a much bigger ‘try’ to stop.

Have you ever tried to make someone love you? You probably drove them away in the process.

Imagine with me that you’re coaching a little league team that’s in the playoffs, they’re trying too hard to win, and beginning to blow it, so you give them a little pep talk that goes something like this; “Baseball is not a war it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun. I want you to forget all about beating the Tigers.  As long as you’re focused on beating the Tigers your mind is not on the ball, so just go out there and ‘play ball,’ you can play hard if you want, but just play ball.”

When you get it right you’re ‘in the flow,’ it’s like poetry in motion, and you are operating at maximum efficiency without trying. So how do you put this into practical use? It’s simple, just sit down right where you are and do nothing.

Nothing? Yes nothing, it’s not as easy as it sounds. At first you might find it relaxing, but after a while you’ll get bored and your butt will start to ache.  Eventually you’ll have to go to the bathroom, then you find it’s a much bigger ‘try’ to sit there, than it is to get up and go to the bathroom.  After hanging out in the bath room for a while you’ll probably remember something else you need to do.  So then just go out and do it.

The next time you find yourself experiencing pain on any level, stop. Stop whatever you’re doing and ask yourself, “what am I ‘trying’ to do,” then stop doing it.

In other words take a break and re-group. For instance you might be working on a stubborn nut that’s hard to get to, and rusted in place. In your frustration you’ve probably stripped the head and are beating it with a hammer and chisel, your knuckles are bleeding and you’re losing your temper. If I walked up and asked you what you were doing, you would say, “I’m trying to get this blankidy blank nut off.” Then I might say, “ I have some penetrating oil in my car, lets squirt some on that nut and then go out and get something to eat.”

Spiritually many people try to get God to love them, by trying to stop sinning, and trying to be ‘good enough.’

My plan is to get into heaven ‘without trying.’

May 26, 2016

Entering Jesus’ Rest

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Adam and Eve were born into His rest, but soon lost it.

God’s plan of redemption is to restore this restful relationship.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” ~ Jesus

Apparently it’s a gift; but Hebrews 4:11 says we are to “strive to enter into that rest.”

And it says, “They could not enter in because of unbelief.” Hebrews 3:19

Trust has been lost, Jesus has to find a way to overcome our unbelief.

The Cross and resurrection was designed to regain our trust, and this can take a while, but after regaining our trust Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus showed us a restful life by wearing His Father’s yoke.

What does being yoked mean?

John 5:19, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”

John 12:49, “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.”

So we enter His rest by yoking with Jesus, which means we will only be doing what He has us to do, and saying only what He has us to say.

 

Selah

 

P.s. Jesus worked on the Sabbath, but it wasn’t His own works, it was His Father working through Him.

 

 

March 20, 2016

TOOTH AND CLAW

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Climb high on a mountain near the snow line and you find beautiful wild flowers, but walking back down as things become drier, you will notice more and more weeds.

Continue your decent into the desert, and the vegetation becomes even more noxious, plants are poisonous, and covered with thorns.

The same with the critters, only the horned, the hard shelled, and the poisonous can survive the lack of moisture, and the scarcity of food.

Google ‘images of unlikely friendships,’ and you will see that in a safe environment with an abundance of food animals get along.

It takes harsh conditions, and near starvation for animals to begin to kill and eat one another.

In fact all animals were still vegetarians on Noah’s ark.

God didn’t tell Noah to bring along extra bunnies to feed the tigers.

February 2, 2016

WEAPONS?

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“In disarming Peter, Christ disarmed all Christians.” – Tertullian

I don’t think so.

First of all Jesus didn’t disarm Peter; Jesus said, “Put your sword back in its place,” to me that means, ‘this is not the time or the place for that, God has a bigger plan.’

Secondly, the word ‘weapon,’ is a concept, not an object. Almost any object can be used as a weapon.

Thirdly, objects don’t kill on their own, the danger resides in the heart of the person holding the object.

Jesus went on to say, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

I believe this can be taken spiritually, or literally.

Spiritually, I see a parallel between these two verses; “Eat of this tree and you will surely die.” And “Draw the sword, and die by the sword.” By eating the fruit, or buying a weapon out of paranoia to protect yourself, you are leaning on your own understanding, going your own way, and thereby spiritually stepping outside of God’s umbrella of protection.

Literally, it means just what it says, pulling out a sword, or a gun, and waving it around, can get you killed.

Peace officers and soldiers are in a category of their own. A person may find a cause worth dying for, and decide to become a Peace Officer, or a Soldier, knowingly placing their life on the line for the safety of others.

In my opinion, whether or not a Christian can become a Peace Officer, or a Soldier, is not up for debate, that is an individual decision, and we are forbidden to judge.

In the Old Testament, God did specifically send believers into battle with weapons. Two examples are; David and Goliath, and Gideon.

In the New Testament, Jesus introduced us to some better weapons; The Sword of Truth, and The Cross.

Some Christians say, “To pick up a sword, you have to put down your cross,” but I have some Christian friends and relatives who proudly carry both.

Submit your life to Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will lead and guide you into all truth; and if ever in doubt, do the most loving thing for everyone concerned.

January 5, 2016

SAVING SATAN

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God is Love, that’s Who He is.

Jesus Saves, that’s what He does.

Does Jesus love Satan? Is Satan His enemy?  Did Jesus teach us to love our enemies?

The only way a person can resist unconditional love, is through un-belief, if anyone actually believes in unconditional love, I believe it would be irresistible.

 

One of the many reasons for the Cross, was to place a spotlight on our ugly habit of scapegoating. Jesus volunteered to be the Scapegoat of all scapegoats, to hopefully put an end to scapegoatings once and for all.

It seems us humans are not happy unless we have at least one person we can point to who is a worse sinner than we are. If we can’t find someone in our neighborhood, or our church, then there’s always Ted Bundy, or Adolph Hitler, and of course, The Satan.

Besides Jesus, Paul seemed to be the only person who wasn’t looking for a scapegoat; because he called himself the Chief of Sinners.

 

So can it be possible? Is Jesus really on a mission to save Satan?

 

Well how has He related to him so far?

 

There was war in heaven, but it was bloodless, one third left, two thirds remained, there was no body count. Rebellion and a controversy, yes, but Satan wasn’t punished, he was simply allowed to go his own way.

Next Satan visited Adam and Eve, and conned them out of the keys to this planet; but after that he was still allowed into heaven to boast about his newly claimed territory.

 

Let’s take a few moments, and imagine you are the Prosecuting Attorney of the Universe; and Satan is sitting in chains in your court room; what are the charges, and what evidence will you present against him?

*Job’s animals were stolen, and a fire killed the camels and servants.

The Sabeans and the Caldeans started the fire, and killed the rest with their swords.

*Job’s children were killed when their house collapsed.

A big wind did that.

*Many witnesses are willing to testify that Satan deceived them into doing evil deeds.

Really?  Do you actually believe, “The Devil made me do it,” will stand up in court?

*Satan picked on Jesus in the wilderness.

A friendly conversation, actually more like a Bible study.

*HE CRUCIFIED JESUS CHRIST!

Jesus brought that on Himself, by riding into Jerusalem like a king, and ripping up the temple; and Herod, Pilate, and Caiaphas, were in charge of all that.

Satan stands up, laughing and scoffing, “I could come up with much better evidence against The Almighty God in Heaven, than that! What about Sodom and Gomorrah, and the flood, and, – – – “

OUT OF ORDER!, God is not on trial here today.

 

Feel free to come up with additional charges of your own, dear reader.

 

Meanwhile back to Jesus relating to Satan.

After The Second Coming, Jesus leaves Satan here on Earth in the middle of all of the rubble and dead bodies, for a thousand years, giving him time to contemplate the consequences of his actions. But a thousand years isn’t much of a time out for an angel, and Satan is very hard headed, so after the thousand years he decides to deceive the Nations into preparing an attack on the Holy City.

 

At this point God would be justified to rain down fire in defense of the innocent, but instead He pushes the pause button, and begins to review the Books of Heaven.

This is my idea, but I call this presentation a sermon by Jesus Christ, titled, “The TRUTH, The Whole TRUTH, and nothing but THE TRUTH,” complete with power point slides and/or holographic angel visions.

 

After every detail of history has been reviewed, and every question is answered, there can no longer be any deception.

Then I imagine Jesus making an alter call, because God has sworn that every knee will bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is LORD.

EVERY knee and EVERY tongue has to include Satan, and for anyone to voluntarily fall to their knees and worship Jesus, takes a broken heart and an enlightened mind.

Plus the Bible does say, “Everyone who calls on the Name of the LORD shall be saved.” And, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”

 

God is the Master Story Teller, and every good story has a surprise ending, and then everyone lives happily ever after.

We can hope, but we can not say, what Satan, or anyone else will do on Judgment Day, but of this much I am quite sure, God is a Universalist at heart, and Jesus’ love and His patience are infinitely persistent, so I know Jesus will save Satan and you, and me, and everyone else, if He possibly can.

MARANATHA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 2, 2016