The First Tree?

TreeLast Saturday, heading to breakfast at Burger King followed by a haircut, Augie (my eight year-old) and I were chatting…and…I can’t remember exactly why…but the subject of trees came up. That led to a question of the first tree, and Augie said the first one created by God was the Tree of Life.

What do you think? Was he right?

Now, the Bible doesn’t really say what the first tree was. Instead, trees were created at the same time as other plants:

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so (Genesis 1:11, English Standard Version).

Assuming this part of Genesis is chronological (which it may not be), the Tree of Life came into the picture after man was created…which was after trees already existed:

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:8-9).

However, I have to admit that Augie’s childlike view that the first tree was the Tree of Life appeals to me…and I think it makes sense. This is what was said by Paul about the God who created that tree…well, all trees:

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3).

Our Lord wants all people to be saved. Even after our original parents (and we) sinned, He wants us to live eternally.  Personally, I think God always intended us to do so, and as such it would make sense that He’d have the Tree of Life ready from day one to help with that. It was only our rebellion in the Garden that prevented ready access to it.

Was the Tree of Life the first tree created? Probably not…but it wouldn’t surprise me given how much God has shown His heart for us from day one. Now, that’s a God I would like to live forever with!

Interpreting Away the Great Comission

Intricate cross blocked by hand with German flag colorsI read a truly disturbing article last night:

“Why German Protestants Will Stop Converting Muslims”

Basically, a draft document for the Protestant Church in Germany nixes the idea of evangelizing Muslims:

The Church does not only categorically rejects the conversion of reform-minded Muslims but outright dismisses all missionary work directed at Muslims.

There is so much wrong in the article you should read the whole thing yourself, but here is the explantion of why the Great Comission (Matthew 28:16-20) doesn’t apply the same way it did the last two millenia: Continue reading Interpreting Away the Great Comission

Okay, I Stipulate God Is an Alien

To my atheist readers and friends, the article below will come off a bit snarky, but I actually respect your skepticism and penned it the way I have to prompt dialogue, not insult your laudable aversion to blind faith.

Alien with haloIt seems to me that atheists (and others) can hold I am someone who has blind faith in fairy tales since I believe in God, but (at the same time) they can provide far-fetched explanations for the inexplicable and it’s okay. Can’t explain why this universe is so perfectly designed for life? Posit a zillion universes out there with ours just happening to be one with conducive conditions. Can’t explain where the Big Bang came from? Just, ironically, take all our physical laws out of the picture as Steven Hawking did:

At this time, the Big Bang, all the matter in the universe, would have been on top of itself. The density would have been infinite. It would have been what is called, a singularity. At a singularity, all the laws of physics would have broken down. This means that the state of the universe, after the Big Bang, will not depend on anything that may have happened before, because the deterministic laws that govern the universe will break down in the Big Bang.

You can pretty much propose anything and still look down on people who believe in the supernatural…

Because science.

Now a rough segue…but I promise it’ll all be connected before we are done. 🙂 Continue reading Okay, I Stipulate God Is an Alien

“Jesus loves me (but not you), this I know…” (Addendum)

Cross out of blocks spelling God LoveAlthough I basically touched on this point a long time ago in “Jesus loves me (but not you), this I know…” (Part 1), as I was reading in Matthew, I was reminded that those who say that God only loves the saved have a hard time with this part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:43-45, English Standard Version).

We are to love our enemies, and our Lord analogizes this to how He sends rain on the just and the unjust. The equivalency is clear…we are to love everyone just as God loves everyone.

That is a far cry from universalism (all are saved)…but even the lost are loved by the Creator.

P.S. Please also check out “Jesus loves me (but not you), this I know…” (Part 2).

How Do You Treat Your Friends?

Three friends standing togetherI have a lot of concern about Christians who, in my opinion, treat others in an un-Christlike manner when calling for accountability or discernment. If they get taken to task on social media, I am less than empathetic. If anything, I enjoy them being zapped.

Then…

I developed friendships with a few of them. When those few get attacked I now want to step up and defend them (and have). What does that say about me?

That I still have a lot of opportunity for growth. Lord, please have me care as much about my opponents as I do my friends.

Was Joseph (Jesus’ Stepfather) a Good Jew?

Joseph pulling a donkey with Mary on itReading in Matthew today, I ran into this again:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly (Matthew 1:18-19, English Standard Version).

As I understand it (and confirmed by the ESV Study Bible), if Mary was unfaithful during betrothal, it was considered adultery.

Which leads to this:

If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death (Leviticus 20:10).

When modern liberal churches water-down (or downright negate) the clear commandment and teaching of Scripture, we traditionalists condemn it (and rightly so).

How about Joseph? Was he watering-down the clear commandment of Scripture because of his love of Mary and/or wimpishness, and/or…?

If not, why not? Continue reading Was Joseph (Jesus’ Stepfather) a Good Jew?

Au Contraire Mr. Edwards

Hand pointing at youDepending on your picture of the Most High, this may sum up your perception of Him:

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31, English Standard Version).

Perhaps the most famous sermon based on this sentiment is Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” For instance:

We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so it is easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that any thing hangs by: thus easy is it for God, when he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell. What are we, that we should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke the earth trembles, and before whom the rocks are thrown down?

No question, if you reject our Lord, your final fate isn’t going to be positive (when He gives you the separation from Him you want). But, let’s look at a biblical incident where, numbering Israel, David made God quite angry:

And when David arose in the morning, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, “Go and say to David, ‘Thus says the LORD, Three things I offer you. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you.'” So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me.” (2 Samuel 24:11-13)

Considering the options for punishment, would you agree God was quite cranky?

Yet, in the next verse…

Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man” (2 Samuel 24:14).

David may not have been as smart as his son Solomon (see 1 Kings 4:29-34), but he was pretty wise and “a man after [God’s] heart” (see Acts 13:22). He knew, given the choice of being put in man’s hands or God’s hands…the best choice…hands down (pun intended)…is the later.

Let not our theology say otherwise…

P.S. I have purposely left a lot of reasonable counter-arguments unanswered. Just an article to spur thoughts and discussion…

Dividing God

Scissors cutting heartI have been blessed with the opportunity to lead the tween/teen class for church, and the material I’ve been provided is very good. However, in today’s lesson (based parts of Amos) it appeared to separate God’s judgment and discipline from God’s love.

I think this is a mistake. I love my 7 year-old more than life itself, and might, out of that love, be “long-suffering”…but if I never never called him to the carpet when he needed it…how loving would that be?

Not very.

Ditto when it comes to the larger world. For instance, in a classroom it would not be loving for a teacher to never correct a student…not loving to that student nor the rest of the class that suffers because of that child’s misbehavior. I’m sure you could start thinking up a bunch more examples (e.g. enabling a drug-addicted son or daughter).

So, I don’t think that our Lord’s justice and discipline are separate from His love. Instead, I believe it is a vital…loving…aspect of it.

And I would suggest Hebrews 12:5-7 confirms this (emphasis mine):

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

Praise God He loves us so much He will do whatever it takes to set us straight!

Happy New Year 2015: “The Lord bless you and keep you…”

Happy New Year with angelHappy New Year everyone! I haven’t decided on my list of resolutions, but this post will fit two of them:

  1. To spend more time truly with my family
  2. To post more regularly on Traditores

How it fulfills #2 is somewhat obvious :-), and it’ll meet #1 in that I am keeping it short and then I’m going to go exercise with my oldest son.

Before I go, I have two New Year’s wishes for you:

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26).

And…

May he grant you your heart’s desire
and fulfill all your plans (Psalm 20:4).

Of course, I only wish the second one if your heart’s desire is good for you. 🙂

May your 2015 be blessed in the Lord.

Wishing You a Crazy Christmas

NativityLast night I saw some posts on Facebook where people lamented they were having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit. I cannot claim to have that issue given, this year, I created a somewhat popular Christmas radio station and…of course!…have provided my yearly Christmas album must haves. 🙂

However, over the past day or so as I thought of what I would write for my yearly Christmas message, I was “coming up short.” What to write about? What could I say beyond what has already been said?  In reality there is little I could say that hasn’t already been said by those far more gifted with words, and I still like the simplicity of what I wrote in 2013. Luckily, this morning (once again) Charlie Daniels tweeted something I thought worth sharing, even on a day as special as this:

My Christmas wish
May your table be bountiful, your cup overflowing and your heart brimming with the peace that passes all understanding.

Continue reading Wishing You a Crazy Christmas

“I have the right to doubt, am I using it?”

20140328-095300.jpgI listen to old-time radio all night, specifically 20th Century Radio. This morning, after my wife’s alarm unintentionally went off (doh!) and my youngest daughter (not considering it is two hours earlier here, doh!) texted, “Happy Thanksgiving,” Night Beat’s “Target for a Day” episode was playing. The main character, reporter Randy Stone, had been falsely accused by a competing paper’s gossip columnist of committing a murder that a another man was, midnight that day, to be executed for. The death row inmate’s wife completely believed the article and was going to kill Stone the very moment her husband’s life was ended. There is more to the plot, but given the recent Ferguson, Missouri situation (and the Trayvon Martin one before it), Stone’s monologue at the end seemed especially apropos and sage:

But by the same token, would you past the test? How good are you at telling the lie from the truth? Does the truth vary according to your personal convenience? Black one day, white the next?

The next time you read anything, ask yourself, “I have the right to doubt, am I using it?” Because it is too dangerous living in a world of misinformed people. There is a reason why the lie is the tyrant’s favorite death weapon. It’s killed more people since the world began than all the armies and automobiles put together.

The Bible, a much more reliable source of wisdom than a radio drama (or leaders, politicians, and the media with agendas), states this much more succinctly:

Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment (John 7:24, English Standard Version).

Pray for the families and friends of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, but also pray that your judgment of those two young men…and those who ended their lives…is not “according to your personal convenience.” For…

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you (Matthew 7:2).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving greetingLast night (rather, this morning) before I went to sleep I posted this quote from the Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times on Facebook:

Dr. Alexander Whyte of Edinburgh was famous for his pulpit prayers. He always found something to thank God for, even in bad times. One stormy morning a member of his congregation thought to himself, “The preacher will have nothing to thank God on a wretched morning like this.” But Whyte began his prayer, “We thank Thee, O God, that it is not always like this.”

🙂

I hope this year is so great that instead you can say, “We thank Thee, O God, that it is like this.” If that is not true (for instance, a high school friend noted this morning how much she missed her recently departed mother)…

If that is not true…if Thanksgiving 2014 finds you in a horrible place where it is impossible to be thankful for anything, I suggest that you can at least say, “We thank Thee, O God, that You care”:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:6-7, English Standard Version).

I debated including verse 6 because it comes off as a bit harsh…but think how incredible verse 7 is!  The creator of everything you see around you wants to hear about all those things that make being thankful so difficult…but, moreover, He cares about you!

And, reader, because that God has changed my heart I care about you too.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

 

Two Babies, Two Reactions

Mary and GabrielThe “In One Year” Bible reading for today was Luke 1…I didn’t realize it was such a long chapter. 🙂

And in that lengthy chapter two miraculous conceptions were announced. The first was to John the Baptist’s dad-to-be Zechariah:

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John (Luke 1:13, English Standard Version).

The second was even more incredible, since the mother-to-be was a virgin:

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (Luke 1:30-31).

Now, with both I’ve kept the excerpts short, so you should open up your Bible to get a more complete flavor of the interactions with the angel Gabriel. It’s worth it. 🙂

Who knows how we would react to such an event. Thanks to inspiration, however, we do know how those two first century individuals did. First, the future dad: Continue reading Two Babies, Two Reactions

“No matter how bad someone may appear, they are truly no worse than us.”

Evil eyeNot often would I like to pretty much quote an entire article, but there was one this past week by Andrew W.K. which shows unnatural wisdom in today’s modern world. If you do click through this link, please note piece’s title includes profanity:

“Ask Andrew W.K.: My Dad Is a Right-Wing A******”

The title of this post is one of many great lines in his article:

No matter how bad someone may appear, they are truly no worse than us.

Even as Christians we can use that reminder. We all are afflicted with the same disease; the difference is that we know what the cure is and have put our lives into the hands of the Great Physician.

Yes, there are many who have bought the Devil’s lies more fully, and fairly could be categorized as evil. Some are probably even beyond hope, their choice fixed in darkness on both sides of eternity.

Only God knows who they are. Continue reading “No matter how bad someone may appear, they are truly no worse than us.”