Jesus is the Shooter

June 24, 2015

There’s been a few different stories in the headlines lately that grab my attention and won’t let go. Most of them, everyone has heard of by now so I won’t go into too much detail on them.

The first one is of the Duggar family. We all know what happened here. The next one is the shooting at the church in the Carolinas. The third, perhaps a little less known, is a shooting of a family on a nature walk in Wisconsin.

I should first start by laying out my credentials. I’m not a legal expert. I’ve never been a victim of a sex crime. I’m not of a minority race. Members of my family have not been shot because of race, or because of a broken heart. I don’t pretend to know the first thing about any of this.

Calls of punishment against Joshua Duggar ring across the headlines. Calls for rioting for the injustice of a hate crime that occurred in a white supremacist culture flood social media. I can’t even imagine what people are saying about a man who shot up a family who was walking through the woods.

People are enraged. People talk about how they feel to something that didn’t directly effect them or impact their lives in anyway. And I get it. I understand empathy. I get wanting to feel exactly how somebody else feels. I use empathy every day at work. It’s the only way to be human in a cold sterile environment called the dreaded billing department.

One thing I’ve learned when empathizing with somebody is never empathize with somebody in a way they are not feeling. If you ever want to lose credibility with somebody, try your hardest to feel how they feel and express what they aren’t expressing.

Here’s what I mean. A customer calls in over a billing concern that’s been going on for month. They are yelling, they might almost cry at one point. They trash talk your company and tell you how much better these other companies are that do the same thing your company does. They say, “I’m frustrated,” and you respond, “I understand you’re angry.” They didn’t say they were angry. They said they were frustrated but if you want them to be angry, now they are now that you mention it.

The point is, if you are going to be real, true, authenticate and legitimate about your empathy, listen to what is being said.

Look, a father and daughter were gunned down cold blooded. The mother was shot multiple times but got her boys to safety. You know what his last words to his wife before he died? Do you know what his lasting words were?

He said to his wife, “Forgive the shooter.” Those were the last words he uttered.

If you want to know exactly how he felt during his dying breaths, forgive the shooter. That’s what he called for his surviving family to do.

Some of the family of the victims of the church shooting had a great opportunity to speak to the shooter. They could have exacted words of revenge. They could have pulled a Samuel L Jackson in “A time to kill,” and said they deserve to die, I hope they burn in hell. But they didn’t. They used that forum, a nationally televised forum to bestow forgiveness.

All i want to say about the Duggar girls is they forgave their brother.

So much is missing from our society. We want to preach equal justice for all.

But do we really mean it? Do we even know what that means?

Titus 3 says you were once Joshua Duggar. You once shot a family in cold blood. Such were you. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days (on facebook no less) in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

If you really want to know how an almighty God thinks of you, read Hosea. God compares his people (and he created all of them) his bride. But like his bride in Hosea, we have pimped ourselves out to the world. We have cheated on him with some one clearly less than he is and we make no bones about it.

If we want just for Joshua Duggar. If we want justice for the shooter in Carolina. If we want justice for the shooter in Wisconsin, then we ought to receive the same justice.

The penalty for adultery was divorce and even sometimes stoning.

A divorce from God on eternal levels is devastating on the eternal level. Eternal separation from God for our hate and malice and envy and passions and pleasures and utter disobedience. It’s called hell folks. And just as assuredly as the perpetrators above deserve it so do you. You aren’t any different in God’s eyes because you have cheated on God with the world and forfeited your right to heaven.

That stinks huh?

I know exactly how you feel.

Titus 3 goes on, though.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,  he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Look. Let’s face it. We messed up. We really really messed up. We cheated on God. But the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared. And we didn’t even have to do anything. Neither of the shooters repented in the above stories. Not to my knowledge. Not directly to the people who were victimized. It was not by their own work or that they merited or that they had achieved some kind of righteousness. We certainly haven’t either. But God in his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy spirit justified us through Jesus Christ. Forgiveness.

Hosea ends with God taking the wrath on himself that was meant for the cheater. He took the wrath through a person, Jesus. The Hebrew words translate to the exact wrath bestowed on Sodom and Gomorrah.

Jesus became the adulterer. Jesus became the shooter. Jesus became us and took the wrath of God meant for us. He divorced God on our behalf and went to hell so we can be forgiven.

You are forgiven.

And now you can empathize with the perpetrators and know exactly how they feel.



Addiction, Josh Hamilton, Grace

February 28, 2015

The recent news of Josh Hamilton’s relapse broke my heart. I have gone back into my archives and dug up an old paper I wrote in my senior year of college. I will include the original paper as it was and have updated commentary at the end.

Caleb Bartholomew

BIBL335 Minor Prophets

Professor William Barnes

Major Project

“Sensational God of the Minor Prophets”

When we discussed Jonah in class, we talked about how the writings about Jonah were of the genre of sensational literature. I propose that there is a lot of sensationalism in the whole Bible, especially in the Minor Prophets. For this project, I will, in brilliant words, examine most of the Minor Prophets, in Canonical order, starting with Hosea and ending with Malachi. I believe that YHWH is a God of sensationalism and larger than life stories with the pinnacle being God coming down as man.

However, I will start with Jonah since he is the inspiration for this project. Jonah will set the frame work for what sensational literature is. Stewart accurately categorizes Jonah as sensational literature. It is “designed to arouse imagination and emotion of the audience.” Jonah seems like a parable but parables have one scene, typically and are generally fictional. Stewart suggests that in no sense would Jonah be considered fictional. He also says that it is not allegorical as it is not an extensive image of one thing and it is not a Midrash that is a commentary on other scripture. However, it contains strong elements similar to parables and an allegory. [1]

There is no specific date for Jonah except that it had to take place before the fall of Assyria since the prophecy is directed towards Nineveh.[2] Of the easiest recognized sensational stories in the Old Testament, the three main events that make it sensational literature is the great storm which Yahweh is in control, and the whale which has the same controller, and also the plant.[3] One guess is that the plant was a castor bean plant.  It would be just like God to use a castor bean plant for someone who seemingly has gastrointestinal problems towards somebody that had done him wrong in the past.[4]

The first book in the Minor Prophet canon is Hosea. All blessings and cursing in Hosea are based on parallels in the Mosaic Law. The fundamental prophetic word of Hosea is of destruction and restoration. He was a northern prophet in the time of Jeroboam II, the last leader of the Jehu Dynasty in the mid 8th century. The book contains a series of lawsuits from God against Israel, including committing blatant adultery against God.[5]

The sensational God to Hosea was the God of Hosea 11:8e where God says, “My heart is changed within me.”[6] This is the theology of the cross where God takes the wrath meant for man, and suffers that wrath himself. It is the same term used for the destruction (הפך) of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19:25. The God, who was slow to anger and abounding in grace, who would have spared the original Twin Cities for only 10 righteous, destroyed these sinful cities as seen in Genesis 18:32.

Now, for Ephraim, who has committed adultery, and prostituted itself out to serving other gods, is being spared from judgment. However, it is not that God is merely relenting or forgiving them, He is taking the punishment upon himself as His compassion is being roused. This punishment is meant for his child whom He brought up from infancy. This wicked and rebellious nation is spared, but God’s heart is not spared.[7] This theology of the cross is God bringing the punishment of man upon Himself. The guilt that man has, God bore on the cross through Jesus Christ. This was for man’s guilt, by means of man’s guilt. The same pure and utter destruction that was rained onto Sodom and Gomorrah, God took in Ephraim’s place and Jesus took in all humanities place on the cross[8]  when His Father had forsaken him (Mark 15:34).

The theology of the cross is weakness, scandalous and foolishness to the world (1 Cor. 1:18-25). It is the hidden things. It is the invisible things. It is the suffering of Jesus Christ for the sake of humanity.[9] In Hosea 11:9, God says this is because He is God and not man; el not ish. Man would have continued to take his wrath out on the guilty, but God does not. Wrath is still needed, but God, the loving Father, or Mother sometimes argued, takes the wrath upon himself.

It is a comfort for those who are oppressed, whose anguish is a mirror image of the suffering of Christ. It is a model of discipleship and how Christians ought to live their lives as they are to live in obedience.[10] Ephraim and Christians ought to live this way as God, who is consistent and compassionate, took the punishment upon Himself to redeem His wayward bride back to Himself.[11] Hosea has a message of hope and even though impending punishment will happen, restoration will follow for Israel.  God’s anger must be satiated but his love cannot be quenched and so his judgment goes against himself.[12]

In Joel, we see God using sensational literature to get the attention of his people. Joel is a Southern prophet, probably post exilic but the date is most assuredly unknown. It is funny because it almost seems as though he is competing with Amos’s bad day (Amos 5:19) because he says in verse two “has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your forefathers?”

The invasion of the locusts is fantastic literature, especially since there seems to be a debate as to whether this is literal or not. Verse four seems to be a replication of the Exodus 10:5 and 15 depiction of a plague of locusts. It was a fantastic story for Exodus and it would certainly be fantastic for Joel. It is a story of the demolition of Judah and how it has become barren. What makes a compelling argument for the literalness of the locusts is that Near Eastern literature never symbolizes the locusts for human assailants. Even if it is not literal, it is a fantastic way of describing what has happened.[13]

Amos, the Rebel preacher to the Northern States, is among my favorite in fantastic literature. He is quite possibly a contemporary of Hosea, in the 8th Century.[14] The part, that makes Amos interesting, is in his call narrative in Amos 7:14-16. As a Rebel, he says to Amaziah that he is not a prophet for profit[15] who receives pay from the kings table “whereas the prophets of Baal were maintained at the king’s expense” as compared in 1King 18:19. He was happily a humble shepherd until he received his divine call and then he was happily and humbly a prophet. He kept his sheep until Yahweh came and told him to prophesy. He was not a prophet for hire, nor was he the son of a prophet. The idea of a son of a prophet is equivalent to a disciple of a prophet, which is learning the trade of a prophet from a prophet. [16] That would be like a person in America being a pastor of a church without any kind of pastoral training, with either a basic understanding of Scripture or Baptist but I digress. How sensational of a story to not have any kind of collegiate level Bible School training or even be a part of mentorship program such as Master’s Commission yet that is what happened to Amos when he was called to deliver a Word from God.

Obadiah is a book of judgment against Edom and because this oracle of judgment is a book in the Bible it receives more attention than any other pronouncement against Edom.[17] The nation of Edom was unified under one king and is understood to be the brother nation to Israel. David warred against Edom to secure the south eastern border and open up a trade route, appearing to rid itself of problems with Edom. It seemed during the height of the Israel monarchy, Edom was more inferior and subjected to Israel and Solomon took women from Edom to be his wives. Even in the divided kingdom, Israel is still the better brother than Edom initially.  The 7th and 6th centuries, Edom becomes the afflicter. This is because of its strategic location for the slave trade between the Mediterranean and Arabian nations that make them more powerful. The first son once again has power over the second and it did not look good for the second son.[18]

This book was written from the South around 588-586.[19] The thing that I find the most sensational about this story is that it is the age old story for Israel. The history begins with Israel and Esau in Geneses 25:23 when two nations were predicted, one would be stronger than the other. It seems initially that Esau might be stronger because he is born first, but there is Israel nipping at his heel the whole way out. Shortly into the narrative, we find out that Israel is the wittier and perhaps stronger fellow as he deceives his brother for the birthright, Genesis 27, and also for the choicest lands, Genesis 33. Jacob gets Canaan and Esau gets Edom.[20] Israel means “he struggles with God”.[21] That struggle starts with Adam. Adam is the prototype of the man of Israel and a metaphor for the nation of Israel.[22]

The literature is so sensational that it appears that the first born son is the protagonist and that the second born son is the antagonist. Abel is the protagonist and Cain is the antagonist. Israel becomes the protagonist to Edom the antagonist. . However, Israel, in the bigger picture, becomes the antagonist to God and God is the protagonist.[23] [24]  Israel as the type of Adam is antagonizing God and His creation and His perfect will. Adam is the antagonist to Christ, the protagonist of the entire Bible.[25]

Obadiah 15 is very similar to Ezekiel chapter 35. The destruction of Edom is part of the oracle of restoration to Israel. Edom is the prototype for the destruction of Israel’s enemies.[26] However, if Israel is a representation of the first Adam, they are then their own enemy. Adam, being the first created son of God, in the restoration and the prototype for Israel, will see the same fate as Edom because they had become their own worst enemy. It is the second son, the Only Unique One of God, the second Adam, who will be a stronger nation. To receive the fullness of the inheritance promised to Abraham, a person has to be adopted by the second son to receive that inheritance. The restoration is not satiated in the restoration of the physical haaretz but the restoration of Creation to its pre Genesis 3 condition. The Promised Land is not the physical haaretz of Canaan but the Spiritual renewal that restores us to the Father. The Promised Land is in the New Eden, the New Jerusalem.

Nahum is very sensational in its literature. A prophet of the 7th century, he prophesies the fall of Assyria. His message is pure nationalism and he is Jonah’s prayer answered and Obadiah’s counterpart as he similarly predicts the fall of an enemy of Yahweh. The woe oracle in chapter 3 starts out the sensationalism of Nahum. The fall is predicted in chapter 2 but in chapter 3 Nineveh is called the city of blood and the fall will be worse than predicted in chapter 2. It will be worse than any Quentin Tarantino movie.[27] The war will be so bad that there will be bodies without number, one body on the other and people will be tripping over them trying to escape. It says there will be piles of bodies in the NIV. This is all because of harlotry and prostitution and everything interrelated such as sorceries and witchcraft which Nahum lumps together. His name means comfort but the last thing he offers Assyria is comfort.[28]

Thebes was a powerful city in Egypt with many allies who worked together with Egypt. Even with allies, Thebes still fell. From class, we decided that Nineveh could not be better than Thebes because they had no friends on Facebook. Even still, Nineveh will be shamed. [29] The way that Assyria treated Egypt was crass because they had no respect for the most helpless, as they destroyed babies in the streets.[30] Nahum then taunts Nineveh, saying their military is a bunch of sissy women or as Schwartzenager would say: “girl-men”. The once crass Assyrian army would not wet their beds and be as defenseless and frightened as women,[31] and they would be unable to fight.[32] The difference between Nahum and Amos is that in Amos, they are locusts that destroy whereas in Nahum 3:17 the army is only like locusts which fly away.  The word used for locusts here are the larger species which can do much damage but are still merely grasshoppers and therefore are no good for defense.[33]

Habakkuk was a late 7th century prophet who dealt with the question of theodicy. Where others give oracles of certitude from Yahweh, Habakkuk questions Divine decision making.[34] Little is known about the Prophet Habakkuk his prophecies, but in the Greek account of Bel and the Dragon tells how Habakkuk was moved by a messenger, “to Babylon to feed Daniel in the lion’s den” with the food that Habakkuk made. The story is fictitious but that is what other literature says about this author. It is similar to fantastic literature in that it is a wild and crazy story but the Bel and the Dragon is fictitious.[35]

In class we discussed how 1:8-11 was a parody of the Divine Comfort. Habakkuk’s prayer in chapter 3 recalls the all of the fantastic literature throughout much of the Old Testament from the exodus in 7, Noah in 9, Joshua in 11 and Goliath in 14. It is the reminders from the past that help Habakkuk to be encouraged to know that Yahweh will do the same for him as He had done for those who came before him. The answer is there is no answer except “Rejoice in Yahweh” until vengeance and restoration is given.[36] Even with that, Yahweh warns to Habakkuk that the way to counter the injustice of Jehoiakim is worse than the injustice itself. If justice is what you ask for, justice is what you will receive. If you want justice for Jehoiakim’s whips then you will receive justice with Chaldean scorpians. [37]

Zephaniah was a prophet from the 7th century who came after a period of silence from Yahweh. The ironic part about this is that Yahweh reveals Himself again even though Zephaniah means Yahweh hides. The book opens up with pronouncements of judgment on the whole world. Yahweh threatens to sweep away the whole earth including the animals. After the years of silence and Yahweh’s people still need strong rebuking.[38] Zephaniah comes out strong with a message about the great day of Yahweh and even though it has been talked about before, he brings a stronger message that is vaster, and has more detail.[39]

Zephaniah proclaims the day of Yahweh is near fulfillment in a day that might men will scream like little girls. The day will be full of “trouble and distress” both physically and mentally. Sheer destruction of “wasteland and desolation” follows. “Darkness and thick darkness” will afflict Judah like it afflicted Egypt. Darkness is followed by blackness. The trumpet will sound and invasion will occur and nothing in Judah will be spared. It is a predication of the end of Judah as a nation that uses fantastic detail to describe.[40]

Haggai is interested in the fact that there is no Temple in which Yahweh can reside. The temple must be restored so that Yahweh’s blessing can be fulfilled.[41] The creation of the world is strongly related to temple building[42] so in order for creation to be restored to its original order, the restoration of the temple must be completed. The new temple will bring peace to this place but Israel never sees peace again even in the new physical structure. It could not happen. It is beyond the realm of what God had in place but the realm was the “One, Holy and catholic Church”. It is only through Christ, who is the temple that was destroyed and raised up in three days, that the latter temple could even be greater than the formal.[43] We are the body of Christ and we make the temple universal and we are greater than the former, being Israel,[44] because we live on this side of grace.

Zachariah means “Yahweh Remembers” and he was a 6th century prophet.[45] Zachariah is apocalyptic in nature and uses very similar imagery to Daniel, Ezekiel and the author of Revelation. He has 8 dreams and in those dreams there are a lot of similarities to Revelation such as phrases like “how long” in Zechariah 1:12 and Revelation 6:10. Also, the four horsemen in the first and eighth vision are repeated in Revelation 6:1 and a few other examples.[46] The visions seem to be like the movie “Bedtime Story”. Most of them happened at night as we discussed in class. In the movie, these fantastic stories are told and as they are told they come true shortly after that. Sometimes the stories come true in a way that he expects they will and sometimes it is the unexpected things that come true that make the real life event even more fantastic. Flying scrolls 30 feet long, lamp stands and olive trees that are anointed to serve the earth, four spirits in four chariots between mountains of bronze and a woman in a basket and many other things that Zechariah sees are completely fantastic stories that actually happen for Zechariah. They are representations of what actually happen in real life as bed time stories usually are. Gumballs that fall from heaven in a bed time story may just be a gumball carrying truck that has wrecked on an overpass but it is the real thing represented in a form of fantastic literature. [47]

The essence of Malachi is the covenant between Yahweh and His people and “keeping their faith alive”. The last chapter of Malachi is very fitting as it ushers out the Old Testament and prepares the way for the New Testament.[48] It is interesting to me that the writings of Malachi end with the dreadful Day of Yahweh and it does not give hope for  restoration. There is only a hope of Moses being remembered, which sums up the Pentateuch and also the idea that Elijah will come. The only hope is that another prophet will come and no true restoration is given. It would have been fantastic for the hearers at that time because there had always been promise before. There came a silence before the terrible day of Yahweh. Then, opportunity for restoration came, but not for Israel. It came for God and God’s whole creation on the cross. Restoration will not be realized in its fullest until the return of Christ and like Zachariah it comes in a way that is not expected.[49]

God is still in the business of writing fantastic literature. Josh Hamilton is a baseball player with the Texas Rangers who was supposed to be a top of the line star with the Tampa Bay Rays. He got cut after spring training one year and got heavily involved in drugs. His marriage was falling apart and his dreams were slowly slipping away. Over three years he was out of baseball because he could not get his drug use under control. That is when God started intervening. God led him to a program that helped drug dependent people and the sole focus was baseball. This attracted Hamilton and he got back on track, off of drugs, into baseball and into God. He started back with the Reds and then traded to the Rangers in the off season where he ended up playing the entire 2008 season as the hottest hitter in baseball. The story of restoration only kept getting better after that as he was nominated to play in the last All Star Game at Yankee Stadium and then selected to participate in the home run derby. His childhood coach fed him pitch after pitch as he stunned the baseball world, setting a single round record for most homeruns in a place where fantastic stories are made for the secular world. Through this, Josh Hamilton has been able to point his new found success to the Yahweh of the Minor Prophets. It is an amazing fantastic story that could have only been written and directed by Yahweh, himself.[50]

Updated Commentary 2015:

The story ended with abruptness for Jonah. The story written so far for Josh Hamilton has no ending either. We are left hanging. But like Jonah and Amos and any other above prophet mentioned, Josh Hamilton will share their fate. The fate they share is death.

I saw an ESPN report, and I wish I could find it again, but they said “Josh Hamilton fell from grace.” I don’t believe he fell from grace. Again, I was saddened by the news but as somebody who is personally charred by addiction, I know even if relapse never happens, the struggle always continues. It is always in the back of your mind. But for the grace of God go I, some may say. But for the grace of God, we go.

In this life, we cry the same cry as Habakkuk. How long oh Lord? In this life we will see violence. In this life we will see the world crumble around us. Whether it is drug addiction, whether it is sexual mischief, whether it is cancer, something is going to be our vice. Something is going to cause us to stumble. Something is going to cause death. We can pray for healing from addiction and cancer and heart disease and whatever ails us. hough we have the saving grace and eternal life through Jesus Christ, we will die. Even Jesus Christ died and through his resurrection he gives us this hope… we have this hope… we share this hope… in the ultimate healing through our own resurrection.

Josh Hamilton is still within that grace. Even if he never relapses again, he will struggle. He will get sick and he will die. But in the resurrection Josh Hamilton will be healed of his addiction and struggle no more for eternity.

We have a sensational God with larger who has written larger than life stories. But God is not done writing Josh Hamilton’s story and he’s not done writing your story either.

[1] Stewart, Douglas: Word Biblical Commentary 31: Hosea- Jonah. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1987. p. 435

[2] Ibid. p. 433

[3] Ibid p. 435

[4] Nadasdy, Dean Dr. Jonah. Woodbury, MN, Woodbury Lutheran Church, 2009.

[5] Stewart, Douglas: Word Biblical Commentary 31: Hosea- Jonah. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1987. P 7, 9, 74

[6] NIV

[7] Chan, Michael: The Pentateuch: Lectures. Minneapolis, MN: North Central University, 2009.

[8]Bruce, Alexander Balmain: The Training of the Twelve or, Passages Out of the Gospels, Exhibiting the Twelve Disciples of Jesus Under Discipline for the Apostleship. Oak Harbor, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995, c1877, S. 176

[9] LCMS: Theologies of Grace/Glory Q&A. St. Louis, MO: LCMS.ORG/pages/internal.asp?NavID=2646 2009

[10]Achtemeier, Paul J. ; Harper & Row, Publishers ; Society of Biblical Literature: Harper’s Bible Dictionary. 1st ed. San Francisco : Harper & Row, 1985, S. 195

[11] Stewart, Douglas: Word Biblical Commentary 31: Hosea- Jonah. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1987. p. 181

[12] Childs, Brevard: Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture. Fortress  Press  Philadelphia 1979. p. 380-382

[13] Stewart, Douglas: Word Biblical Commentary 31: Hosea- Jonah. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1987. p. 241-242

[14] Ibid. p. 283

[15] Ibid. 376

[16]Jamieson, Robert ; Fausset, A. R. ; Fausset, A. R. ; Brown, David ; Brown, David: A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. Oak Harbor, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, S. Am 7:14

[17] Stewart, Douglas: Word Biblical Commentary 31: Hosea- Jonah. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1987. p. 402

[18]  Bartlett, J.R.: Anchor Bible Dictionary: Volume 2. NY, NY  Doubleday Dell Publication group 1992.

  1. 288-291

[19] Stewart, Douglas: Word Biblical Commentary 31: Hosea- Jonah. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1987. 404

[20] Chan, Michael: The Pentateuch: Lectures. Minneapolis, MN: North Central University, 2009.

[21] Ibid

[22] Klein, William; Blomberg, Craig; Hubbard, Robert. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004,  p. 182

[23] Burroway, Janet. Writing Fiction; A Guide to Narrative Craft. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007, p. 263

[24] Kress, Nancy. Dynamic Characters: How to create personalities that keep readers captivated. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writers Digest Books, 1998, p. 123-128

[25]  Romans 5:14   “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned ain the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a 1btype of Him who was to come.”

1 Corinthians 15:43 So also it is written, “The first aman, Adam, became a living soul.” The blast Adam became a clife-giving spirit.” NASB

[26]Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 1:1295

[27] Smith, Ralph: Word Biblical Commentary 32: Micah- Malachi. Waco, TX: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984. p. 86

[28] Ibid. p. 63, 86 Nahum 3:7

[29]  Ibid. p. 88

[30]Smith, James E.: The Minor Prophets. Joplin, Mo. : College Press, 1992, S. Na 3:8-13

[31]Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 1:1503

[32]Jamieson, Robert ; Fausset, A. R. ; Fausset, A. R. ; Brown, David ; Brown, David: A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. Oak Harbor, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, S. Na 3:13

[33]Henry, Matthew: Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume. Peabody : Hendrickson, 1996, c1991, S. Na 3:8

[34] Smith, Ralph: Word Biblical Commentary 32: Micah- Malachi. Waco, TX: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984. P9. 94, 103

[35] Mc.Comisky, Thomas: The Minor Prophets: Volume II. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Baker Book House Company, 1993 p. 831

[36] Smith, Ralph: Word Biblical Commentary 32: Micah- Malachi. Waco, TX: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984. pp. 115, 117

[37] Mc.Comisky, Thomas: The Minor Prophets: Volume II. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Baker Book House Company, 1993 pp. 834-835

[38] Smith, Ralph: Word Biblical Commentary 32: Micah- Malachi. Waco, TX: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984.  pp. 120-121, 123

[39]Achtemeier, Paul J. ; Harper & Row, Publishers ; Society of Biblical Literature: Harper’s Bible Dictionary. 1st ed. San Francisco : Harper & Row, 1985, S. 1161

[40]Smith, James E.: The Minor Prophets. Joplin, Mo. : College Press, 1992, S. Zep 1:14-18

[41]  Smith, Ralph: Word Biblical Commentary 32: Micah- Malachi. Waco, TX: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984. p. 149

[42]  Chan, Michael: The Pentateuch: Lectures. Minneapolis, MN: North Central University, 2009.

[43]Smith, Ralph: Word Biblical Commentary 32: Micah- Malachi. Waco, TX: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984. p. 158

[44]Wood, D. R. W. ; Marshall, I. Howard: New Bible Dictionary. 3rd ed. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill. : InterVarsity Press, 1996, S. 144

[45] Smith, Ralph: Word Biblical Commentary 32: Micah- Malachi. Waco, TX: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984. p.167, 169.

[46] Baldwin, Joyce G. Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove/Bristol, Inter-varsity Press/ Tyndale 1972 pp. 70-72

[47] Lopez, Matt: Bedtime Stories. Los Angeles, Disney Motion Pictures 2008

[48] Baldwin, Joyce G. Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove/Bristol, Inter-varsity Press/ Tyndale 1972 pp 216-217, 214

[49] Hailey, Homer: A Commentary on The Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, Baker Book House, 1972 p. 403, 425

[50] Scott, Jeff. Josh Hamilton: Resurrecting the Dream. Secaucus, N.J. MLB Network 2009

Love your neighbor.

November 23, 2014

I’ve been putting this off for awhile.

There is one thing that irritates be beyond belief.

It’s the phrase, “love the sinner, hate the sin.”

There’s two reasons it irritates me. The first reason is pretty simple. This isn’t in the Bible. It’s quoted as scripture but it’s not. The thoughts behind it are not based in scripture either but we will tackle that a little later on.

Here’s the second reason. Even if this is good principal for life, we do a very good job hating the sin. We focus on it pretty well and we excel at it. Probably better than anything else the church does. We are terrible at loving the sinner.

This thought of love the sinner hate the sin is something we are incapable of doing. First of all we are sinners in a sinful world. It’s natural for us to hate. Love takes work and it is against our very sinful nature. We’re too lazy for things that take work. That’s in our sinful nature as well.

So we have found out this deadly phrase is not in Scripture. What then does the Scriptures say?

The best place to look for this is Luke 10:25.  A lawyer stood up and asked how he could inherit the Kingdom. Jesus asked him what does Scripture teach. Scriptures teach, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus says if the lawyer does this he will live. This is where the Good Samaritan parable comes in because the lawyer is like any lawyer and wants definitions for words lest there be void for vagueness.

Jesus says the Samaritan is the neighbor because he’s the one who helped the man. The Samaritan. What does that mean in terms of today? The Samaritan in those days were considered half breeds. You could be a Eunuch from Ethiopia or a Roman guard and while you might not be liked, you were tolerated and you could walk on the same side of the street as a Jew. Samaritan’s were the Jew’s idea of the lowest in society. Half breeds were looked down upon and not given any of the blessings promised to the Jews.

Luke 9, a Samaritan city rejected Jesus and James and John wanted to call down fire from Heaven. With their statement Jesus gave them the name Sons of Thunder. Jesus rebuked them for their behavior and their words of death.

Jesus was asked which is the great commandment in Matthew 22. He said the first commandment is to love the Lord your God and the Second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself. All the rest of scriptures is dependent on these two. This is likely a different version of the story as it was a lawyer who asked the question.

The answer in both instances is a summary of the 10 Commandments. The first 2 of the 10 is about loving the Lord your God. 3-10 are all about loving your neighbor as yourself. You do these things because you love your neighbor. You don’t still because you love your neighbor as yourself. You don’t lie because you love your neighbor as yourself. None of this whatsoever has to do with hating the sin. None of the commandments tell us to hate the sin. They tell us to love.

Let us ask the question today, who is our neighbor?

Let’s take the good Samaritan story and change it around a little bit. Let’s say there is a Christian who has been beat up pretty bad. A Lutheran walks by and says, “Oh that’s a shame. I can’t help him unless I do a work,” and he walks by. A Baptist walks by and says, “That’s a shame,” does the sinners prayer with him and keeps walking.

A Mexican walks by, doesn’t speak the same language, sees the person needs attention or will not survive and takes the person to the nearest hospital.

Or in a same scenario, a Muslim Imam walks by and sees the person will not survive and takes them to the nearest hospital.

Or in a third scenario, a lesbian, a transgender and a bisexual are walking by. They notice the same life threatening injuries and take the person to the hospital.

In all three cases the person survives after receiving proper medical treatment. So I’ll ask again, who is my neighbor? If you change the Samaritan to a Mexican, Muslim or a member of the GLBT or somebody who is a gay Mexican who practices Islam, you have your neighbor.

Love a Samaritan as yourself. Love a Mexican as yourself. Love a Muslim as yourself. Love a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender as yourself.

The end of the Sermon on the Mount, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.  He makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good and send the rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?

Our job is to love our neighbors. It is not the job of Christians to cure whatever it is we think ails our neighbors. If we cure anybody it must be ourselves as Philippians 2 states we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

Before we judge others, remember this from Titus 3, such were we before the loving kindness of God appeared. He saves the same way, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing and regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ.

The only thing between us and hell is the loving kindness of God. The difference between a sinner and a saint is not what they do, but the work of Jesus.

There will be more “Samaritans” in heaven than we realize, because it’s not the “Samaritan’s” work.

Don’t judge. You don’t know what they’ve been through. The hills they’ve climbed. The oceans they’ve swam. You don’t know the battles they’ve fought and the struggles they’ve overcome. But you can if you love your neighbor. If you get to know a neighbor.

I challenge you. Find one person who makes you uncomfortable. One person you may not normally talk to. Get to know them and show them the loving kindness of God living through you.

Don’t think about hating the sin in them. Let that not be something which even crosses your mind. Love the sinner which is yourself and love your neighbor as yourself.

The Burning Bush and Real Presence

August 31, 2013

Exodus 3:2 2 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.

The Catholic says: at the ringing of the bell, the bush became the Angel of the LORD

The Lutheran says: the Angel of the LORD was in the bush, but the Angel of the LORD isn’t the bush. The bush is still present and the Angel of the LORD of the Lord is still present, physically.

The Reformed says: the bush was present and the Angel of the LORD is present but the Angel of the LORD only has a spiritual presence.

The Evangelical says: the bush is a symbol for the real presence of the Angel of the LORD but it’s only a symbol.

The Pentecostal says: the burning bush is a representation of the Holy Ghost fire.

The Apostolic says: Acts 2:38

The Mormon says: the bush  is going to be of the 144,000 because it felt a burning in it’s bosom.

The purpose of the Holy Spirit

April 30, 2013

     I heard a sermon a couple weeks ago about the Holy Spirit. The pastor said, “The Holy Spirit is for you”. In other words, the purpose of the Holy Spirit is for your benefit.

     I struggled with that at first. In fact, I wanted to disagree but I needed to think about it more first before I disagreed. After much thought, there wasn’t enough evidence to disagree except that “you” are not the primary purpose of the Holy Spirit but the secondary purpose.

     The primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is to point to Christ. This is contrary to some charismatic ideas. Some charismatic people would say that the purpose of Christ is to give us the Holy Spirit. The purpose of Jesus is, in that case, to give us the infilling of the Holy Spirit as if it were the only reason Jesus died. The justification that Jesus provided on the cross does not matter much so long as you have the Holy Spirit. We are sanctified by the good works that we do from having the Holy Spirit and then at the end reaching total sanctification, as though that should be attained over and above or absent of justification.

     We know from the creeds that the primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is to point to Christ. In the Nicene Creed, [we believe] in the Holy Spirit. Granted, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father [and the Son]. The Holy Spirit is not the Cinderella or the silent partner because he is together worshipped and glorified with the Father and the Son. But at the same time, he is not the end goal. The Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit whose primary goal is to point to Christ. This is as the Son’s goal is to point to the Father, by reconciling us to the Father through the blood that He shed on the cross.

     In what ways does the Holy Spirit point to Jesus? First, he spoke by the Prophets. He points to Christ through the church, his participation in the sacraments[1] which also includes the forgiveness of sins, giving of life[2], resurrection and life everlasting in the world to come.[3]

     The secondary purpose of the Holy Spirit is not independent of the primary purpose. The primary purpose is also not independent of the secondary purpose.

     The secondary purpose is for the church. The church’s function in the primary purpose would not be a function at all if not for the secondary function.

     The secondary purpose of the Holy Spirit is wrapped up in active righteousness, or righteousness before the world.[4] It is the duty of the church to bring the beliefs of the third article to the lost and dying world. For it is the churches function to be tools of the Holy Spirit, point to Christ who reconciles us to the Father.

     The Lord and Giver of Life empowers the church in taking care of the sick, providing for the poor, fighting for the weak, caring for all of the needs of our neighbors[5]. If you need to know who the church’s neighbor is, read Luke 10 before continuing[6]. This is as much an in reaching function as much as it is out reaching. Both in reach and outreach function on behalf of the Holy Spirit to point to Christ. He has spoken by the prophet Micah. Yahweh has told us what is good and what Yahweh requires of the church. Do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. That is life giving. That is the sum of active righteousness.

     The Holy Spirit has spoken by the prophets. The prophets pointed forward to Christ and the cross for their contemporaries and up until the point of the act of the cross itself. The Holy Spirit still speaks by the prophets to us today and points back the Christ and his work on the cross. The Holy Spirit has spoken by the prophets as much real and for their present time of Israel as he speaks by the prophets now to our present time. It is the function of the church to bring words of the Holy Spirit by means of the prophets for us today. This is to minister and uplift current believers, pointing to the cross as an Ebenezer. This is to minister to the lost and dying world to point to the hope of the cross.

     There is one holy and apostolic church that not only use the words of the Holy Spirit by means of the prophets but also brings to life: baptism, the forgiveness of sins and the communion of the saints. The statement of one holy, catholic, and apostolic church is the melding point between the Old Testament and New Testament.

     This is what will open up what we believe in the Holy Spirit to be equal to or greater than what anyone else believes about the Holy Spirit. To go more at this point would be a spoiler alert for that which is to come.

     The Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life gives us physical life. He gives us spiritual life through baptism, the forgiveness of sins and communion of saints. But those things give us eternal life through resurrection and the life of the world to come. Therefore, the proclamation is that the Holy Spirit is for you!


We care for others by going to work, providing shelter and food for our families, caring for the needy, providing emotional support for our loved ones, and looking after the environment. We care for the spiritual welfare of our neighbor through prayer, catechesis, and bringing the gospel to bear upon their lives.—Charles Arand

[1] The communion of saints.

[2] Not only did he participate in life giving to us but Jesus was incarnate by the Holy Spirit in the Nicene Creed or conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Apostle’s Creed.

[3] Kolb, Robert. The Book of Concord. Fortress Press, Minneapolis. Pps. 19-24, 2000

[4] Coram Mundo.

[5] Arand, Charles: Called to Be Human: The Two Kinds of Righteousness Part 1. St. Louis, 2007

[6]  Luke 10: 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” ESV

Trinity and the Government. Not Coequeal

April 24, 2013

Whosoever will be American, before all things it is necessary that he hold the American way. Which way except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the American way is this, that we elect one Government in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Branches, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Branch of the Executive, another of the Legislative, and another of the Judicial. But the Government branch of the Executive, of the Legislative, and of the Judicial is all one… Such as the Executive is, such is the Legislative, and such is the Judicial. The Executive of the people, the Legislative of the people, and the Judicial of the people. The Executive comprehensible, the Legislative comprehensible, and the Judicial comprehensible. The Executive elected, the Legislative elected, and the Judicial of the elected. And yet they are not three governments, but one government. As there are not three of the people nor three comprehensibles, but one of the people and one comprehensible. So likewise the Executive is too big, the Legislative too big, and the Judicial too big. And yet they are not three too bigs, but one too big. So the Executive is Government, the Legislative is Government, and the Judicial is Government. And yet they are not three Governments, but one Government. So likewise the Executive is Federal, the Legislative Federal, and the Judicial Federal. And yet not three Federals, but one Federal. For like as we are compelled by the American verity to acknowledge every Branch by Himself to be Government and Federal, so are we forbidden by the American way to say, there be three Governments, or three Federals.

The Executive is made, of the people and elected. The Legislative is of the Executive alone; made of the people and elected. The Judicial is of the Executive and of the Legislative: made, of the people, not elected, but proceeding. So there is one Executive, not three Executives; one Legislative, not three Legislatives; one Judicial, not three Judicials. And in this Trinity none is before or after other; none is greater or less than another; But the whole three Branches are coeternal together, and coequal: so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be term limited. He, therefore, that will be American must thus think of the Trinity.

 No description of the Trinity is ever perfect but I like this. Yes I came up with this myself, leave me alone.

We Believe in the Holy Spirit too; Athanasian Creed excerpt

April 17, 2013

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

And the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three Eternals, but one Eternal. As there are not three Uncreated nor three Incomprehensibles, but one Uncreated and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords.

The Father is made of none: neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before or after other; none is greater or less than another; But the whole three Persons are coeternal together, and coequal: so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped. He, therefore, that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

There has been plenty of writings on the Trinity. My goal is to write only on the Holy Spirit. But because the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity it is necessary to at least include a statement on the Trinity. There is no simpler of an explanation than what is given in the Athanasian Creed.

We Believe in the Holy Spirit too; a creedal look at the Third Article

April 16, 2013

We believe in the Holy Spirit


except nobody knows it yet:

a creedal look at Pneumatology


 “Everyone believes in god,

But it seems like no one does in You

But I do

And I’m not ashamed…

 Beautiful Spirit!

Talk to me!

Holy Spirit!

Walk with me!”

 Nerve  —  Blindside


        I did my undergraduate studies at a Pentecostal university in the heart of Minneapolis, Minnesota. A century old and steeped in the tradition of studying the Holy Spirit, the school’s curriculum surrounded pneumatology in every subject area. The classes ranged from studies in the book of Acts and Systematic classes focusing on pneumatology.

     With all of the classes centered around and interwoven with studies on the Holy Spirit, many of my classmates varied in backgrounds from unchurched to Lutheran to those who grew up in the Pentecostal church. From many of my classmates from the varying backgrounds, I heard scores of comments about the idea that only the Pentecostal church is the only group of people that believes in the Holy Spirit.

     We were taught that the Holy Spirit was the Cinderella of theology. While the other two Persons of the Trinity are thrust to the forefront of discussion and entire systematic classes are taught on them, but little is ever said about the Holy Spirit.[1] But this was not the case at my Alma Mater.

     When I heard arguments that other Christians did not believe in the Holy Spirit, I thought to myself, “we do”. And then I thought a little further on it and I calculated that we possibly believe in the Holy Spirit more than they do. It’s a bigger part of our beliefs that go into more areas than just spiritual gifts.

     I pondered this for some time. I thought about how I could prove that we believed in the Holy Spirit and to what extent. I went into a lot of thought about this.

     As I pondered, I realized how much we believe in the Holy Spirit and really excited about putting down in words, my thoughts and studies about this. But the more I pondered, the more I realized that we believe in the Holy Spirit, we just don’t know it yet.

     One third, of our creeds, deal with the Holy Spirit. I have heard some people say the third article of the creed is a lump sum of everything else that the first two articles do not cover. Without thinking about it, they recite the deep richness of the first two articles and then say oh by the way we also believe in the Holy Spirit and all these other things.

     If the third article is the sum of everything else not covered and we say, we believe in the Holy Spirit but then that’s it. The Lutheran mantra is “what does this mean?”

     Some say this means the Holy Spirit is the silent partner and it is enough to say that we believe in him. But what if the lump sum is not a lump sum? What if it is the summation of all things that are attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit just as are the words of the first two articles.

     The Creeds are our statements of faith; our statements of faith about God and the Trinity, in detail. It has been said that the Creeds are dead.

     If the Creeds are dead, then we killed them. Yet their shadow looms.

     My attempt is to at least bring to life the third article of the creed; to put flesh and bone to the shadow; a voice to the silent partner; to put the glass slipper on the third article and have a ball.


[1] Karkkainen, Veli-Matti Pneumatology: Baker Academics; Grand Rapids pps. 18-19, 2002

What Will You Say

February 18, 2013


This is War

February 18, 2013

Man against father… daughter against mother… daughter in law against mother in law…

Jesus knew about this war… this sword.. from firsthand experience. This war put Jesus’ family against him. His family said he was out of his mind (Mark 3)! This war had put his disciples against him in John 6.

Imagine for a moment, this beautiful place of worship you have here. Imagine all the sweat and blood that you put into building it. Imagine the tears of joy when a man and a woman were joined together in holy matrimony. Imagine the tears of pain and isolation and loneliness when a loved one has passed. Imagine the joy shared over Christmas programs and Easter and baptisms. Imagine for a moment, that other members of this church said you couldn’t worship here anymore. After all those memories, these are fighting words. This is war.

This is the very thing that the Apostles and early Christians dealt with. There place of worship was under assault by family members and friends and many of the early Christians were excommunicated because. The early Christians were excommunicated because they received Jesus, and the prophets who pointed forward to Jesus and the disciples who pointed back to Jesus. All the blood sweat and tears, the early Christians had put into their place of worship, and they could not worship there anymore. In some cases they were forced out by the sword! This is war!

This war! This war has been going on since the beginning of time.

My wife’s college roommate, Diane, went to Afghanistan teaching English as a second language in Kabul. While Diane was there, teaching and living out her faith, Gayle Williams was gunned down near the Compound where Diane lived. This really shook Diane because Gayle Williams was in Afghanistan for the same reasons Diane was. It got out that Gayle was a Christian and when she came out of her compound, the people of Kabul came against her. The very people that Gayle was trying to give a better life, gunned her down in opposition to Christianity.

This is what Jesus meant, he did not come to bring peace but a sword. This means war!

This war hits a little closer to home when raged gunmen took over Columbine High School. When the gunmen came to Cassie Bernall, they asked if she loved Jesus. Cassie said yes and her life was taken for it. This is War!

This war is in our world, it is in our schools and it is in our work place. This war doesn’t always end the same way but the battle is just as fierce.

In college, I worked at UPS, loading boxes. I’d always talk to my coworkers, asking where they went to school, how long they planned working there; those kinds of questions. My coworkers would always ask me the same kinds of questions. They found out that I was studying to be a pastor. Many of them would make fun of me for being a Christian. Mad-dog was the chief to make fun of me for being a Christian. This is war!

But Mad-dog wasn’t the greatest foe I’ve faced. My biggest foe follows me around every day. My biggest foe lives inside my own head. Yes, I am my own biggest foe. My foe tries to trick me into saying that I’m not worthy to follow God’s plans for my life. My foe tries to tell me that it’s okay love other things more than Jesus. Some days, I find it to love other things more than Jesus.

In order to make it out of this war, we have to love Jesus more than our families. We have to love Jesus more than the people we are trying to help. We have to love Jesus more than life itself. We have to love him more than our own feelings. (Moo 263) This war is a demand for loyalty that strips the sanctity of family ties.

To top it all off, Jesus indirectly commands his disciples and us to take up our cross and follow. We must take up our cross to be found worthy of him. 
To accept this mission of accepting the sword; to engage in front lines of this war is to take up your cross and follow Christ.
This is the Gospel message in this text. This is the central verse in our reading today. How can it be that taking up the cross is the central theme of our text, Seminarian? 
The cross is the central theme of any text.
But Blogger, didn’t Jesus do all the work on the cross for me?
You are right. So what do we do with this?

Luther says It is the will of God for us to take up our cross. The cross is understood as a punishment of death.  How is this Gospel? This is war! The cross is our war flag!

(1 Sam 2:6) the Lord kills and brings to life. He brings down to hell and raises up.

When we are brought to the waters of baptism, + the sign of the cross is made upon your heart and upon your forehead. Before we were baptized, we bored the cross. When we were baptized, we were buried with Christ. When we are baptized we are killed, we are brought down to hell. We are buried with Christ into his death. In the waters of baptism we are brought to life. In the waters of baptism we are raised up to new life!

Carrying the cross makes us ready for battle! As the words of the great battle hymn proclaim “Onward Christian Soldier, marching as to war! And the Cross of Jesus, going on before! Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; 
               forward into battle see his banners go! 

This is war! And our baptism brings us together so we are not alone in this war. We have been given a band of brothers and sisters through baptism.

Jesus says, whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. When you receive his word and believe that you are raised to new life in baptism, you receive him. When you come to the altar, you receive substance and sustenance for this war. When you receive his word, attached to the food received at this altar, you receive Jesus. This is war!

 Brothers and sisters in arms, this is war and whoever loves Jesus more than anything else in the world, is worthy of Jesus. Brothers and sisters in arms you are worthy of Jesus. You are made worthy because of your baptism and you are reminded of your worthiness every time the sign of the cross is made. Brothers and sisters in arms you are worthy of Jesus because your sins have been forgiven through absolution. Brothers and sisters in arms, you are worthy of Jesus because you received his body and his blood for sustenance for this war!

Yeah: This is war! My dad pastured in Montana. On one occasion, while fighting on the front lines, he had the opportunity to baptize little Rebekah. Rebekah’s parents had already been baptized and they carried the cross and followed Christ and now had the opportunity to share this with their daughter. Rebekah’s grandfather was a hard boiled WWII POW Veteran. He didn’t have much use for the church or for his kids going to church. When Rebekah was brought to the waters of baptism, Rebekah’s grandfather was sure to be there. She had won his heart.

When Rebekah was brought to the front to be baptized, the entire Hahn family, including aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents were all in attendance. That day,  baby Rebekah joined the ranks, receiving the cross of Jesus on her little heart and her little forehead.

It was not in the foxholes where Atheists find God that Rebekah’s grandfather found God. It was at the frontlines of Rebekah’s baptism. He was overwhelmed by his sin and begged to be baptized that day, to join the ranks of so many believers.

This is war! This is a time to find out who loves you and who hates you because of Christ. Remember, in the heat of the battle, when it looks like all is lost, in the end, we will win. In the resurrection, we will receive our reward and be brought up to Jesus. We will receive our reward and have a life without pain or suffering. This war will end. This war will be over and you shall have forever life.