March 29, 2014

Atheism: Intellectual Cowardice and Lazy Thinking

If life is to be meaningful ethically there needs to be justice and what amounts to a perfect judge after death. Without this judge inevitably, those that suffered unjustly in this life receive no justice and that is unethical. Without that judge, the moral sense of right and wrong and the internal ethic of man makes no sense. Why some would do ethical things even though it doesn't benefit them makes absolutely no sense. ~ Andy Pierson paraphrasing Immanuel Kant.

Therefore the assertion by Foydor Dostoyevsky would hold true: "If there is no God (judge), all things are permissible."

This would mean that ethics are only subjective preferences based only on human emotion, volition and sentiment. This would leave only (2) two viable explanations for human existence...

Theism or a belief in God
Non-theism or Atheism

People ask me why I get so impatient with middle-of-the-road agnostics and humanists that say that there probably is no God but humans are somehow more important or instilled with a dignity that animals don't have even though we are supposedly from nothing and returning to nothing after a momentary meaningless existence. They are not consistent in their argument and they don't even realize this most times. It is intellectual cowardice pure and simple. At least hardcore atheists are consistent in their militant consistency although their logic leaves much to be desired. The rest are just people that have not thought through their position correctly in a logical manner.

As for atheists themselves...

The principal and perhaps sole intellectual driving force behind the rise of the militant westernized atheistic jihad has been the false idea that concrete, testable data is the exclusive portal to reliable beliefs. This is false and irrational. Nonsense remains nonsense; even when it is uttered by world-renowned scientists and so-called "highly educated" people. Nonsense uttered by the likes of Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking and their ilk...or the murderous Sam Harris known for his religiously zealous comment:

“Some beliefs are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them.” Sam Harris-The End of Faith
If we look into the recent past we would've seen more rational, reasonable and logical statements from respected scientists like Max Plank... 

Plank, the patriarch of Quantum Theory wrote the following words: 

“Anybody who has seriously been engaged in scientific work of any kind realizes that over the entrance to the gates of the temple of science are written the words: Ye must have faith. It is a quality which the scientist cannot dispense with… Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. That is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of nature and therefore a part of the very mystery that we are trying to solve.” ~Max Plank
So, how is atheism inconsistent?

Throughout history it was believed that the highest form of knowledge, and indeed the highest form of science, is one that admits the yielding of the senses to human reasoning and creativity in a truly symbiotic harmony. In other words, we need all of our faculties for cognition in order to exercise our full intellectual capacities, not just one or the other by itself. By isolating and emphasizing one half of the equation as in being purely empirical and ignoring another such as spiritual or metaphysical - a person literally becomes rationally and mentally deficient. They literally become crazy or irrational. (Jinn 605-608)

So atheism at its core can be broken down into a concise syllogism showing its illogical flaw(s).

Thesis 1: Human understanding is at once rational, intuitive and empirical. 

Thesis  2: Science (the scientific method) is purely empirical. 
Thesis  3: Therefore, science alone is insufficient for human understanding, especially metaphysical. 
Thesis 4: Belief that science is sufficient for all human understanding is a fallacious epistemology. 
Thesis 5: Scientific atheism maintains that science is sufficient for human understanding. 

Conclusion: Therefore scientific atheism is based on a flawed epistemology that is not logical.

Science itself has admitted that it cannot even answer all questions posed to it. Nor is it even adequate or accurate enough at times as a tool for answering questions of the natural realm let alone the supernatural. Yet those in the scientific realm will have you believe they are an expert on metaphysical epistemology and physical/naturalism epistemology. This is why they tell you with certainty that God does not exist EVEN WHEN THEY HAVE NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THEIR CLAIM! In other words, they are all bluster and no substance. The emperor has no clothes. All it really takes to silence the fallacious arguments is someone with a firm grasp of reason, speaking (rhetoric) and rationality to expose their pantomime for what it is. Illogical and religiously zealous unbelief. 

Religious zealotry...the very thing they abhor.

Even Charles Darwin himself (many atheist's beloved hero) ultimately denied atheism, and furthermore considered it absurd to doubt that a man might be an ardent theist and an evolutionist.

Jinn, Bo (2014-01-13). Illogical Atheism: A Comprehensive Response to the Contemporary Freethinker from a Lapsed Agnostic. Sattwa Publishing. Kindle Edition. 

March 27, 2014

Strange Cuisine I: Golden Water

In today’s world we often look at foods from other countries and cultures oddly. We look at them as if they should not be eaten. Sometimes we even turn our noses up to some of the dishes we in the west deem unpalatable. It is not uncommon to see consumption of canine meat in the Far East, Southeast Asia, West Africa, The Philippines and even parts of Europe. The Texans are known for eating Rattlesnake and the good folks in Cambodia have been known to eat Deep Fried Tarantula and spiders. What could seem more unusual than some of these dishes? Perhaps some of the strangest are found in the pages of Scripture.

We read in the pages of Exodus a rather bland “meal” fed to the children of Israel. It is immediately after God’s people have submitted to their sins and given in to the worship of idols. In this case, the golden calf.

Exodus 32:19-20 ~ When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.”

It seems clear from this passage that the majority of the golden calf was wood or some other flammable substance overlaid with gold. The gold was contributed by many that were present. It is as if they merge and mold their sin into one giant affront to God. In this way they affirm and solidify their guilt in gold. The remnants of the statue were ground up and strewn in the water for the people to drink. In so doing Moses totally eradicated from sight the horrendous idol they had constructed for themselves. It also forced them to ingest or consume their own sin(s). Moses would then immediately return to Mt Sinai for another forty days and nights fasting and praying for his stiff-necked wicked people. In a symbolic way God also shows that He grinds His enemies to dust and totally annihilates them. When God is done with the wicked, there will be nothing left of them in this world.

God informed Moses that He would punish His people. Although God had passed judgment it appears he delays the execution of the due penalty. Regardless, as we see elsewhere in Scripture, sin leads to death whether the penalty be implemented immediately or later. The penalty would be that God would refuse to go before His people leading them into the Promised Land. What God didn’t not do is forsake His covenant promise. He just changed the way in which He would implement it and that change would be in response to His people’s rebellion. When this message is delivered to God’s people by Moses they mourn. In having given over to sin and then mourn, it appears they have learned to be repentant the hard way. Do we not do this ourselves at times? Do we always have to learn the hard way? We must never forget that sin costs us in the end. We always pay a price for it. The price isn’t just a slap on the wrist. It is death. It should deter is from our sin. Yet most times…it doesn’t.

Additionally, in grinding the idol to dust and forcing the people to essentially “eat dirt” of an idol it seems it is God’s way of repudiating the people’s assertion that it is this false God that led them out of bondage in Exodus 32:4’s, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” There is also a hint of Hosea and the unfaithful wife of Numbers 5 in the drinking of “bitter water” here. The book of Numbers clearly spells out that one of the punishments for an unfaithful wife (Israel’s relation to God) in Numbers 5:18-22 is to drink bitter water.

The other sad fact of this story is the smashing of the tablets. Many will see this as an impulsive irrational lashing out due to anger but this too would been a sin in reaction to a sin. This is not why Moses smashes the tablets. These are commands direct from the finger of God. By smashing the Law in this manner it appears as if Moses is symbolically undoing the Law for the people. In other words: If these people are this unprepared for obedience to the Law (which they were), they did not even deserve to have it to be able to obey it. They were indeed a condemned people. Although they could mimic the gold of the Ark of the Covenant and try to replace God with a flimsy idol, they completely understood that they could not duplicate the Law that had come down off the mountain and had been smashed at Moses feet. The shattering of the tablets parallels the shattering of the relationship between God and His rebellious people. Although they appear to have rejected the Law, they cannot escape its intent or the power instilled in it by God. In the end none will be able to outrun the power of the Law…except Christ. It is through Jesus’ ability to fulfill it that we have any ability to eventually escape the penalty of our own sins.

The last thing I should note about this scene is the guilty. They are all guilty including Aaron, Moses brother. Not some or most of them…all. They are guilty to varying degrees but all are held accountable. It seems as if the excessively guilty or the instigators are put to death nearly immediately by the Levites. The fact that the “less” guilty allowed the events to transpire without a hellacious fight bodes poorly for them also. By doing little they become accomplices. As the old saying goes, sometimes the only thing needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. So we have an immediate 3000 terminated. The remainder are punished at varying times and in assorted ways. Moses essentially attempts to atone for them by returning directly back to the mountain. To atone or attempt to cover them from the wrath of a jealous God who has been severely wronged by His own people.

This ubiquitous guilt will be revisited by a New Testament Apostle of Christ named…Paul. Paul will allude to this all-encompassing guilt in Romans 3 when he tells us believers now that all are unrighteous and all are guilty before God (Romans 3:9-20). All fall short of the glory of God…except His Son and this is the reason we must accept what His Son has done for us in dying on the cross for our sins. His atoning work is what stays the hand of God’s wrath that would doom us to eternal condemnation in Hell. This is why it is only through Jesus that we are saved. It is why He is the only way. He was the only one that could perfectly obey and fulfill God’s Law. It is only He that would be able to meet its demands and die on our death in our stead. It is because Jesus was able to fulfill the Law that lay smashed at the feet of Moses. The people (including us) had/have fallen so horribly short that it warranted smashing the tablets as they/we do not even deserve an attempt to meet its demand. Jesus on the other hand abrogates the Law with His obedience both active and passive (on the cross). 

March 25, 2014

Forgive Like A King, Love Like God

Going be brutally honest about myself. Just saying the following flirts with the utmost in hypocrisy as a Christian so please be forgiving of my sinful nature in lieu of the honesty given...

John 13:35 ~ “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

I am learning that absolute love is actually full forgiveness.  I cannot love fully and completely if I am at the very same time condemning another. I cannot love if I am continuing to keep a list of wrongs against someone. All the proof I need of this fact is in the Bible in the Gospel…in Christ’s ministry…at the Cross. The reason I cannot or do not love the way that I have been called to love by the Bible is because I do not forgive like Jesus did. So I hold vestiges of people’s failures in my memory. God doesn’t do this once He has forgiven, nor should I. I cannot love if I am hating and the only way to stop hating is to forgive. Again I stumble, again I fail over and over in this effort…and yet Jesus forgives my failings to not love Him or my neighbors the way I am called. He forgives my inability to forgive… if I acknowledge this fact remorsefully and turn to Him and seek forgiveness.

Unforgiveness binds us to our sin and hate. Forgiveness allows us to love and frees us. Forgiveness is unlocking a door to set someone free and finding out that the prisoner was actually me.

It therefore makes complete sense to me that God would state that the two greatest commandments revolve around love. First loving Him with all that is within me and then loving my neighbor the same way. When we truly love we truly forgive. The invisible God then becomes visible in our actions and glory is given to Him because we have been obedient to His command and because we manifest the truest nature of God in His holiness: Love. When we forgive and love properly we are not only preaching the Gospel, we are obeying it and living it simultaneously.

Unforgiveness was like drinking a poison and expecting someone else to die from it. To forgive frees you from a self-made prison.

Having said this I look back and observe my life and realize I have not loved the way I was called to love. When I have not been willing to forgive, to not itemize wrongs…I was not loving people. I realize then that I am not loving God the way that I should either. Thank goodness that God loves me first because He chooses to.

Don Henley was right in his song "The Heart of the Matter"...
"I've been tryin' to get down to the heart of the matter. But my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter...but I think it's about forgiveness..." 

Even if others do not love me or will not forgive me the same I must always remember that God has.

March 21, 2014

Suffering Pays Eternity's Bills III: The Forge of Our Transformation

To conclude this trilogy on suffering I ask a simple question. What are, or what is the practical applications of suffering in the Christian life? Suffering that is literally a need or requirement of the Christian life? What will this suffering look like and how should it affect us? Let’s take a long painful look, shall we?

The enormous body of historical Christian literature points towards such things as persistence, patience, Christian character, holding to a vision, and other behaviors that are suggestive of mental and physical fortitude. One of the telltale factors involving those that suffered well in history is that it was a learned behavior over time. Few if any endure suffering with any grace or knew how to endure hardship initially. Hardship is learned. Without this backing in life most become disoriented, troubled or are consumed by the trials they face. Many crumple and give-in under the merciless pressure of suffering.

We cannot stop failures, disappointments, rejection, mistakes, persecution, and other painful events from happening in our lives...this is part and parcel of life. How we deal with and dress the wounds from these traumas and deal with the consistent pressures and pains of suffering determine the end that we will live with. Most that survived their sufferings and persevered until the end took a day-by-day approach and handled each individual day as it came. Always keeping the eternal in mind. This is especially true of Christ in His march to the Cross. He knew He would suffer but in the end it was God’s will and it was to lay down his life for sinners.

Suffering Christians need to look past a “bandage” approach. We cannot put a bandage on the suffering or injury given in this life pretending to hide it. We must confront the suffering and face it head on. Sometimes the shortest most painless way through a fire is to walk straight through it. Anything else is denial of reality and this is un-biblical. We must emphasize healing if only on the eternal level and dwell and think of the Gospel and what Jesus’ story tells us about life and suffering. There is joy after suffering, the sun will rise in the morning after the darkness of night.

When suffering is actively approached studied and placed at the core of our lives and ministry, the ministry we’ve been called to takes on a different meaning and becomes more dynamic, more dimensional...more alive. A person that understands the suffering and can better deal with it in a biblical manner will then lend a different focus to people when they have lost a loved one. It helps give a larger picture to why a friend will suffer through cancer. They will endure and hold up better under debilitating and crippling disease. In building others up with this knowledge we create greater resiliency to Satan's many methods against us.

One of the primary methods which Satan uses in suffering is to wear us down and get us to forsake God and His promises. Suffering has a tendency to make us look for God and His grace when in reality we are living in God’s grace while enduring the suffering. Pain makes us "loose our heads" so to speak and the Devil aids us in looking past the obvious in our distraction caused by the suffering towards nothing of value. God is indeed in the suffering most potently in the form of grace that allows us to persevere. The thing that allows us to “hold on” is faith and if we persevere…our faith will be strengthened. If we fail…we apostatize and fall away from the only one that can ease our pain. It is why we are so strongly encouraged to keep the faith and run the race in a way in which to win the crown or runners wreath.

A mind able to process suffering is a prerequisite for spiritual battle. We know for certain while putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10) that there is indeed a high probably or chance of pain, suffering or injury. Why else are we preparing to put on covering to protect ourselves? We are literally told to prepare? Why? Paul knows that there are casualties in battle and wars. People get hurt. People suffer mentally, physically and in the realm of the spirits, we suffer spiritually.

The truth is we need to stop seeing suffering so much as a negative as it is an instigator of forward spiritual movement towards God. The story of Job is not so much a story about suffering and trial as it is a story about Jobs spiritual growth and victory through trusting God in both His promises and His very character. This is the same underlying premise of the Gospel. It is not a story about Jesus’s death on the cross as a failure but that His suffering was ultimately a gain in glory and victory over death for sinners. The paradoxes of Scripture should never cease to amaze us. In God’s economy, the first will be last and the last will be first. Less is more. Pain is gain. Suffering leads to Heaven…both in Jesus’ life and ours.

Regardless, our fallen sinful minds don’t do well with these paradoxes and suffering still does not strike us as good news no more than the disciples initially saw Jesus’ scourging and crucifixion as the Good News (εὐαγγέλιον/euangelion) as we do today. What caused the shift?

Simple. The Blessing that came after the Crucifixion: The Resurrection itself and the understanding and acceptance of what it signified. There was indeed eternal life after death. It is in the pain and suffering of death that one escapes the sin that entraps us and holds us to that death. We slip the mortal coil so to speak since the curse is against us in this world, not the next. It is the Blessed Hope.

In other words, suffering is a blessing hard won (not that we earn the blessing, Christ won it for us in His suffering). Suffering shapes us more towards the holy. No one likes it (not even Jesus) but it is not until we are willing to run towards it that we forsake ourselves. No one in their right mind charges headlong into pain and suffering. Everything in us tells us to run the other way. It is God working through us that causes us to run towards the suffering. In this way He uses suffering to change us into the instrument He wants us to be. The crucible of suffering redefines what we are, not who we are. I will be made more holy but it will be what God wanted me to be, not what I wanted me to be. We could’ve never made that choice to run into the suffering fire unless we were demented by sin. It is God calling us…walking us towards the forge of our reshaping....we run recklessly in sin into the fire that causes our transformation. Suffering is a spiritual tool brought to bear upon us like heat to metal and chisel to stone. Suffering is God beating our sin out of us like a blacksmith's hammer working out the imperfections in a sword while simultaneously tempering or hardening the blade. Shaping us in a reluctant manner yet hardening us to the sinful things of this world.

Romans 8:30-32 ~ “And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 

By losing it all here now, we gain all eternally in Jesus. Whoever finds their life here will lose it, and whoever loses their life here for Jesus’ sake will find it in the Kingdom which exists here and there spiritually. Therefore suffering in this life for a Christian…is the signpost for the next or at least should be viewed as a blinker or turn signal that we turned onto the right path. For wide is the road that leads to destruction but narrow is the path that leads to life and few will find it. I believe part of the reason few will find it is because many will vehemently avoid the path lined with suffering…and this will be to their detriment. Suffering here is temporary but suffering there (in Hell) is eternal. Suffering here is in love, suffering there is in wrath and punishment. The motives and purposes behind the two are completely different from God's point of view.

So what are the clearest evidences that we are persevering through suffering in a Biblical manner?

The first thing we need to see is that we have confidence in God’s grace. That it is sufficient and allows us to continue. Paul was clear…

2 Corinthians 12:7-10~ Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh,a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Regardless of what we might feel or think, the Bible tells us that God really is for us. If we fail in our efforts and works…it does not matter. We believe in a God who sent His Son in our stead to justify us. It is clear from the Bible that repentance and turning to Him prevents us from being condemned.

We can have confidence in Christ’s work because it is all finished at the Cross. Because of this we have unparalleled strength and resource to persevere to the most trying and detrimental sufferings if we stay focused on Christ and His Gospel. If we closely examine Paul's ministry we will clearly see a chosen man (Apostle) of Christ beleaguered by many opportunities to give up. Shipwreck, repeated beatings, unjust arrests, rejection by his own people, harassment, ridicule and the threat of death. Let’s face it, most of us would have gone into full-time tent making and just abandoned the ministry altogether at the sight of any one of these hardships. Not Paul. He persevered until the end. So should we. Paul understood suffering was integral to his ministry for Jesus Christ…so should we. Through faith, through grace Paul completed the task set before him by the Lord even upon penalty of death…so should we.

Sometimes I believe God specifically gave us a heart of flesh and feeling just so we could hurt. Those that haven't been hurt rarely change. If we are intrinsically sinful and never change...then we will stay sinful. This is the very organ, the heart/mind referred to so often in the Bible which is the very thing we need to use to discern our spiritual condition and learn to change. In this way God shapes what we are while allowing us to stay exact what He has made us. He allows us to stay who we are while making us holy. 

So...the next time you lose your hope, ask yourself: What is the purpose in this suffering? Please recall what I have written here and it may help clarify the reason(s) for your suffering and grief. Most importantly, it will point you to another Suffering Servant who died for you…so that you could have the honor of suffering for Him in His namesake. The name above all names:

Jesus Christ who, by His obedience and suffering, was Resurrected thereby conquereing all suffering and death through the Gospel.

March 17, 2014

Suffering Pays Eternity’s Bills II: The Nexus to God

The praxis / practice of suffering as an act of love is the nexus to God. Although there are undoubtedly many aspects of the Christian life that are absolute joy and happiness, our daily ministry in a world hostile to us is a constant reminder that we don’t belong here. The world is enemy territory. Whenever and wherever the Gospel is preached, the Gospel and the one who proclaims it will be under threat. Sometimes, in America (even in our churches) it risks ridicule. In foreign nations it risks suffering, social stigmata and even death.

Due to the very real threat of harm, many will opt to not continue to suffer for the Gospel. They will not persevere. The visions to John in the Apocalypse to the seven churches are replete with the exhortation to persevere. Regardless, many will apostatize and fall away. The apostasy is not accidental, it is choice. It is an unwillingness to do what? Persevere through the suffering and pain for Jesus’ namesake. The Bible is clear…

2 Timothy 2:8-13 ~ “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

Unless a Christians is ready to renounce the easy path to pursue Jesus, they very well may not have the conviction to actually be true Christians. We must be willing to denounce and cut relationships if they will jeopardize the relationship with the Lord. We must be willing to lose property, dignity, or even our lives. Not just for ourselves but for others also. Specifically, others in the faith. We cannot serve two masters.

To truly be in the faith we must not only accept suffering and discomfort in this life, we must be able to embrace the suffering. Why? Because we are to be like Christ and Christ suffered. Sorry folks. No wiggle room here. We must embrace the word of God especially when it tells us that pain and discomfort in this life are necessary and there are many places in the Scripture were this principle is clearly spelled out.

The preaching of the word of God incites hearts. Sometimes in a positive manner, sometimes negatively. We need to deal with both outcomes. When we preach or explain the Gospel which is our responsibly as Christians (Matthew 28:19-20), the principles and demands of Scripture place demands or restraints on fallen sinful people. These people (even believers) are naturally wicked and rebellious. We should expect that it will have an antagonistic effect on people…even believers, even family members, even ourselves. This is why even we as individuals must measure ourselves against the standard of Scripture…or even we will go astray and walk wide of God.

Because of the difference between the way man was originally created (pre-Genesis 3) and the way we are now (post-Genesis 3), humanity puts the diss in dysfunctional. Broken is the name of the game. Evil and evildoers will slander, malign and even attack. Even our own sinful worldy mind will attack or ignore our conscience. The Satanic of this world will take special pleasure in derailing God’s plans but any detours will only be temporary because God is sovereign. The fact of this temporary derailing or detour must be firmly understood. Why? Because if God controls all as sovereign and He will eventually right the wrong as just judge…suffering for a believer will only be temporary in this life. It will end at some point based on the sovereign control and providential plans of a loving God. This inevitably should be tremendous reassurance for those now in pain or in the pits of despair. If God did not spare his Son the Cross but exalted Him in glory in the Resurrection…we can only stand to benefit from the suffering in the eternal scale of things.

Additionally, the εὐαγγέλιον or the proclamation of the Gospel that is intended to express the awesome and amazing grace of God will be scorned and blasphemed by those that are pitted against it or don’t understand it. Most will not “get it” or grasp the Gospel…including many in the church that claim Christianity as their own but show no signs of it. When only a handful of congregants in a church family truly get it there will be backlash from those in the church that don’t and there will be division. Division is not of God so one side of the debate will always be wrong. Unity in the Spirit prevents division. Sadly, this division is often glossed over to the detriment of the entire Body because in our modern society no one wants to be viewed as confrontational or divisive. No one wants to be viewed as intolerant. Sometimes the suffering required in the Christian life….is that conflict to purge the satanic element from the Body. It is often like the painful excising of a malignant demonic cancer infecting a body.

Jesus is in our suffering. How? Simple actually. We need to read Isaiah and the suffering servant of Isaiah 50.

Isaiah 50:5-8 ~ “The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord God helps me; who will declare me guilty?

The words about Christ here written down by Isaiah under the inspiration of God are remarkable. How is it that Jesus while being appallingly sinned against can he say that He won’t be disgraced or shamed? The answer is simple to state but extraordinarily difficult to understand in our cloistered comfortable American lives. Jesus is focusing on something that keeps him grounded in his identity and purpose. He looks beyond the immediate to the long-range. He looks from temporal circumstance to the eternal zenith. The ends justifies the means…or more specifically, the magnitude of the eternal reward justifies (or explains) the suffering. Jesus’ confidence is in the will and purposes of the Father. He knows (as should we) that God will vindicate Him in the end because God is perfectly just and is a perfect Judge.

Jesus’ suffering and ours will not be in vain. In our suffering, we will accomplish God’s will and fulfill His plans for us. If there was no justice in the end or if the suffering was meaningless, it would be intolerable. If sin has the last laugh and sin wins the victory…our suffering becomes unbearable. We should be thankful that Jesus overcame the sin on the Cross…otherwise there is no justice and evil wins out. Evil does not win and that is what the Bible tells us. That is why Jesus (nor we) will be disgraced no matter how badly we suffer or are abused in this life. For Jesus to bear His suffering and humiliation in silence proved his confidence in God wasn't for nothing. As we all know God vindicated Christ and accomplished His good purpose: The salvation of His chosen people.

Our lives or recovery after suffering is much more beautiful than the original life before the suffering. There is a much greater appreciation for something we have toiled for rather than something easily acquired or handed to us. The repaired or restored person is much more beautiful than the old not because of the new creation's appearance is better but rather because the suffering has instilled a much greater appreciation for it…even if the repaired is less than the original. What do I mean? Let us look at the rebuilding of the Temple in the time of the return from Babylonian exile.

Israel’s relationship with God was so bad that Israel (Northern Kingdom) was destroyed and Judah was conquered and sent into exile. Jerusalem was conquered, summarily destroyed and the Temple was leveled. After seventy years of Babylonian exile God allowed a return from captivity and provided the means to rebuild his temple. Despite the best human efforts, the new temple paled in comparison with the first. The people had lost hope and wondered if there was any way to get back to former glory before their suffering. It is at this nexus that we see the purpose of the suffering and the reason that the second temple will be just as glorious as the first. We see the shadow that the first and second temple both are and what they portend or signify.

Haggai 2:3-9 ~ Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’

God tells His people (and us): “Work, for I am with you…” The passage reaches its zenith with,I will fill this house with glory…” and later, “the latter [or second] glory of this house shall be greater than the former…” The second temple will be greater because God’s glory will be in it after the suffering of the people in exile. It is God that gives the significance to the temple and the believer themselves. It is not we that give ourselves significance, it is He. Both Temples inevitably shadowed and pointed to Jesus who would usher in the new covenant through His suffering. A new covenant where God would dwell in man...the new temple for the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). All individual believers would then be more glorious temples then the first two physical stone temples in Jerusalem combined.

A believer’s suffering will never be in vain. Why? Because God is the glory in the Temple. God is the glory in the suffering. In suffering the people in exile (and us now) learned repentance and turned to God…therefore bringing glory to God and themselves. It required that they learned repentance through their suffering. They learned their repentance which led to obedience through the things they suffered…just as Jesus had (Hebrews 5:8). Just as we must also.

[Concluded in Next Post]

[Synopsis for Part III: How all this applies to the Christian today.]

March 13, 2014

Suffering Pays Eternity’s Bills I: There Is Victory In Suffering

I am pretty sure an entire segment within the modern American church has missed the boat on the idea of Christian suffering and its need (literally, its requirement) in true Christianity. It is a biblical concept that transcends denomination. It is in fact, a very real Scriptural concept. In addition...God’s people will be maligned by the world system. Yes, the world really will be out to get you at times. The Bible says it and shows it and so do the tomes of history since time immemorial.

The idea of the need for Christian suffering has been nearly abandoned in Christian circles nowadays. Therefore it is not surprising that it is unknown to many theologians and laity alike. The question therefore stands out: What is it and how does it apply to us as Christians?

Suffering as as normal circumstance in a believer's life is a legitimate principle found in Scripture. It is not raised to the level of doctrine or quantified as orthodoxy but its truth remains self-evident from the text of Scripture. What it means to us is this…it is at the very heart of ministry. Since every Christian is called to ministry, it needs to be in the life of every Christian. There are examples of it throughout Scripture. It is in Moses' often difficult circumstances of dealing with a stiff-necked people for over 40 years in a wilderness. We see it in Jeremiah's struggles as he confronted malicious, backbiting prophets. We see it in Stephen’s stoning. We especially see it in John’s narration of swallowing of the scroll of the Word of God and in the suffering and persecution of the churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 1-3 in the Apocalypse. Lastly we see it in Paul’s suffering and in Jesus’ following exhortation in the Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew 16:21-24 ~ "From that time on Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to You!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men. If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me."

In this passage above we see that Jesus is quite aware of the fact that preaching of the Gospel and spreading of the Kingdom of God entails resistance and suffering. Therefore suffering and demeaning will be intrinsic to the Christian walk. Furthermore, it most likely isn’t a Christian walk if suffering is not involved. In other words: The poor in spirit will inherit the Kingdom (Matthew 5:3), mourners will be comforted (Matthew 5:4) and the meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). Without misery and suffering…there is little productive or useful ministry. A Christian message without the understanding that pain is involved produces little or no sanctification. A message that doesn’t require humility and repentance…does not save.

We know for a fact that Jesus understood that He had to suffer we He responded to Peter after their turn towards Jerusalem in the moribund trek to Jesus’ Crucifixion.

Matthew 16:21-23 ~ From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Here is Peter essentially telling Jesus, “You won’t suffer.” Jesus' rebuke in the modern vernacular is, “Shut up, you have no idea what you’re talking about!” Jesus knew for a fact that a ministry without suffering is essentially satanic and says so, “Get behind me Satan!” Jesus understood and lived out the principle of suffering well… right down to His Crucifixion and death on the Cross.

So why don’t we see it nowadays in our churches? Why is it invisible to all but a few?

Well, there are multiple reasons and many reside right within your church and mine. The other reasons actually reside within our seminaries, Bible Colleges and even within our flawed worldview and operating philosophies of our ministries. If they are absent from the foundational building blocks of our churches…they will be conspicuously absent from the entire body both leaders and laity alike. Some of the reasons for suffering and trial being absent in our churches are as follows.

(1) People are not taught the concept properly to begin with. The principle of suffering in the Christian walk to perpetuate one’s ministry is often buried inside other philosophical ideas. In truth, a theology of suffering as a Christian doesn't pay the church/school bills and drives people away in fear. So it is rarely preached and understood even less. Many pastors avoid preaching pain and suffering. Literally, many leader pastors “have a business to run” and paychecks to cut for ministry employees. The message of suffering dramatically affects Christian outreach. Many church leaders fear that a slogan for the church that says, “Come join us, you’ll suffer” will send people running for the doors with their hair on fire. People have been conditioned in American society to expect immediate returns and a quick return to normality or health. Any type of prolonged suffering and strife is viewed as a profound negative and avoided like a disease. What is sad is suffering is usually the tool God uses to make you more holy, like Him.

 (2) It is buried under a Prosperity Gospel-like glaze or Theology of Glory. God has paid the entire price for our salvation (which is true) so we should expect only good things as Christians (not true)…and this couldn’t be any farther from the truth. It is exactly because the price has been paid for us by Jesus Christ on the Cross that we are so vehemently attacked and hated by the world system. This type of Prosperity Gospel or Health and Wealth preaching attributes any sign of suffering or pain as a failure of faith, not a success (as the Bible clearly points out many times over in its narrative). Therefore suffering, poverty and weakness are frowned upon in many American Christian circles. Because suffering is viewed purely as a negative instead of a positive step in sanctifying a believer and making them more holy, it is avoided or denied outright. Why suffer in this life? God has promised us everything we can ask for, right? Ask and it will be given. *Cough* Yeah, okay.

3) Many pastors and minsters are all about themselves and in it for personal gain. They are in ministry about recognition, accomplishment and honor or the position. Dare I say they are almost Pharisaical in their zeal for self-promotion (Mark Driscoll ring any bells?) Because they do not live out the life, they are hardly in a position to exemplify it, therefore in no position to teach and preach it without being insanely hypocritical. Their pride prevents this principle from being lived out or disseminated to the laity by example. In this type of vain pursuit by some pastors one can hardly embody meekness and humility. Instead shameless self-promotion comes to the front.

(4) I believe our theological education systems in the seminaries and Bible colleges purposely remove it because of its lack of appeal. Who really wants a 3 credit course on suffering and death as a path to success? The bottom line is this: Schools run on money. Even seminaries and Bible colleges need to sell a good that pays the electric bill. Suffering doesn’t pay the world’s pays eternity’s bills. Therefore, it is low on the list of priorities in educational curriculum development. Ironically, it is at the top in spiritual development in God’s curriculum. There are few seminaries outside of Westminster and isolated Bible Colleges (including my own) that I am aware of that really teach this concept. Instead of teaching what will be truly practical, many schools teach what is merely academic and often times only theory…and we all know how well theory works on in the real world, don’t we?

6) It is also brutally clear from personal experience with both elders and laity that many leaders in church are clueless what true Christ-centered discipleship looks like outside of a "how-to feel-good" manual published by Thomas Nelson, Bethany House or Zondervan. Few have lived the suffering for themselves and if they did…they learned nothing from it. Westernized and Americanized discipleship is like a leisure chair and requires no effort other than telling people how you feel and why the truth of Scripture hurts your feelings. Meanwhile our Middle Eastern and Far Eastern brethren are being jailed or burned alive for their convictions. We just don’t get it over here in America…we’re too pampered and have gone soft. We’ve had it easy for too long. Persecution builds a stronger conviction and lets people know what beliefs are worth dying for.

We must fully understand that the Apostles of Christ and Jesus’ disciples left everything behind to follow Jesus. They left their families and jobs and everything of value to follow Christ. Most all that lead the church and attend a church have the basic necessities of life. All have shelter, food and clothing. Most have computers, phones, Internet access, and compensation of some sort for employment rendered. There are sacrifices for ministry but for the most part they pale in comparison to ages past.

(7) The “God-as-cosmic-vending-machine” has won the day in the evangelical mind. We want to believe that because we have become Christian, we somehow deserve better. Because we’re American Christians we really deserve to be treated like kings. Because of this, if we are not happy or not prosperous, it appears as if God is not happy with us. Many are literally expecting God to come down to their level and conform to their ideas of him and if this doesn’t happen, He isn’t listening or somehow doesn’t care. This just isn’t true. We’re missing God in the small things….in the suffering itself and what it teaches.

Because of our warped perception of God and suffering in our lives we literally have it backwards. The Church often dwells solely on the “positive” aspects of God’s character instead of giving a balanced view and what we ultimately end up with is a happy, loving, jovial, gregarious Jesus/God. We then only get half the picture by leaving out his anger, wrath and justice. We overly focus on Fruits of the Spirit that people are devoid of. Because of this we fail to mention what is often taking the fruits place in a believer’s life. It is fruits of the flesh and entrenched sins. We therefore systematically cordon-off and compartmentalize what we want to see and have ignored the rest to the detriment of the believer and the Church at-large.

When suffering comes to this type of Christian with this mindset, the results are devastating. The believer feels as if they have not had enough faith, didn’t pray enough or weren’t pious enough. Somehow they failed God. Many end up leaving the Church completely and being devoured by the world system.

(8) As a whole the majority of the American Evangelical church has promoted a very shallow understanding of the relationship between the suffering and the Gospel. When we as believers do no link suffering to the Gospel we cannot possibly see the benefit of comfort that comes from the security within the Gospel and what Christ did for us suffering on the Cross. This misunderstanding goes all the way back to the time when Jesus walked the earth after the Resurrection. The disciples initially believed Jesus had failed because He had suffered and died. It was in Jesus’ suffering and death that he won…just the opposite. Suffering was integral to the Gospel of Salvation itself.  Unless something or someone dies, it cannot or they cannot be born again. This fact...that suffering was intrinsic to the Gospel so blinded the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, it took Jesus explaining it to them on the walk for them to recognize Him for who He was and what He had done.

Luke24:24-27 ~ “Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Part of the Gospel message...our Gospel message is the suffering. God gives us the ability to be preachers of His word and teachers of His knowledge in theology. He even allows us this ability in our suffering and it is often in our suffering that we learn the most with which to teach and lift others. As Hebrews said of Jesus..."...He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him..."

A large majority of our ability to preach this specific fact comes through our acceptance and endurance of said suffering including the persecution for having preached it. The validity and "street cred" that suffering gives us as humans adds to the validity of what we preach. All of this comes from God. The Gospel, our suffering or allowance to suffer...and the sanctification that comes through the suffering.

[Continued In Next Post]

[Synopsis for Part II: The actual praxis / practice of suffering and its purpose(s)]

March 11, 2014

Empathy: God Knows How And Where You Hurt

One of the most powerful things I have learned over the last five years is that empathy is central in the believing Christian's life. True empathy lies at the heart of love, mercy, forgiveness and especially grace. I have learned that I need it to be able to not only understand other people's pain, but to actually feel their pain along with them. Why is this ability so important? If I cannot feel your pain and walk a mile in your shoes I cannot truly pray for you the way I need to pray for you in a heartfelt manner. Why is this important? The Bible tells me I am to love God with all my heart, soul and mind and love neighbors/people (even my enemies) as myself. I can best love my enemies by praying for them. 

To properly pray for them I must enter their world and put on their shoes. I need to know where they have come from and where they are intending to go to. Why? Because by doing this, in a strange way through proxy…I become them. When I become them I love them as myself. Why is this important? I fulfill part of the greatest commandment and by becoming them…they stop being my enemy and become something greater than a friend. They become someone I love. When you truly feel for someone and love them there is no way for you to hate them any longer. They become “loved ones”, they become family. We then become of one mind and there is unity. In one mind there is peace. In peace…we will find the streets of gold and the Kingdom together. 

This is at the heart of what Jesus did on the Cross. The Cross is the greatest example of empathy ever displayed. Jesus suffered everything known to man at the hands of men and still loved us first.

Hebrews 2:18 ~ "For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 5:7-10 ~ "During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

March 9, 2014

XOXOXO Part IV: Admiration Not Adoration

Jonathan and David
N.C. Wyeth
David and Jonathan were doing all kinds of hugging and kissing in 1 Samuel. Is it what our society would think it is, or is it something else?

I’ve posted on this before and I will continue to post on this relationship between David and Jonathan because it is still being routinely hijacked from its proper context to reinforce an escalating cultural change that is neither biblical nor accurate. It is being used to push homosexual behavior as not only acceptable but also biblical. This is being done by not only those biblically uneducated but even by deluded theologians trying to stay in step with the surrounding society thinking they can win people…when in reality a diluted Gospel wins no one.

So…were David and Jonathan gay? Is there an Ancient Near East homosexual love story that unfolds in 1 Samuel? In a word: No. This explanation will be rather lengthy but simple to understand. It is example of poor hermeneutics that are further exacerbated by a failure to be able to read/interpret the original Hebrew and theological principles.

“Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. Saul took him that day and did not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt…” 1 Samuel 18:1-4

Many will be quick to cite these actions and the close relationship between David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 18:1-4 (1 Samuel 20:16-17) as being a homosexual relationship (Helminiak 123-125, White et al-Kindle location 104). This is because of the statement in 1 Samuel 18:1 that says the “soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself”, verse 3’s statement that “Jonathan loved him as himself” and verse 4’s, “Jonathan stripped himself…” The wordage that Jonathan stripped himself is often attributed to the fact he was undressing for a sexual act. Jonathan didn’t strip naked here. What happens in this verse is symbolic.

In reality, for Jonathan the heir apparent to the throne to strip of his robe, sword, etc. (royal regalia) and give it to David was an acknowledgement by a King’s son (Saul) that David was indeed the divine elect of God (Youngblood 707). In other words…in the time of David, which was approx. 1000 B.C., for a person of position and power to relinquish their weapon, armor and royal robe was to essentially divest themselves of power (symbolically) and hand it to the person they hand these items to. It was the same as handing someone your royal scepter. In this case it is David. Jonathan knew David was truly God’s chosen, not his father - nor him. By doing these things he was acknowledging David as true king-God's king (Gagnon 150-Homosexual Practice, Merrill 449, Youngblood 707).

It is the passing of a mantle or rightful transfer of political power. Because we are dealing with David who is God’s chosen there is a covenantal aspect (Youngblood 707). Jonathan's obedience to God and acknowledgement of David as true king is then convoluted when made into a homosexual relationship. This is especially true when the dominate pattern of the Bible clearly condemns immoral sexual behavior outside of marriage. To assume one of God’s chosen or a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22) is homosexual is to defame God’s character / name and it betrays a complete lack of understanding of Scriptural principles and archtypes.

The homosexual inference is further compounded with 2 Samuel 1:26’s lament from David over Jonathan’s death when David says, “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women. It is assumed that the word love here is sexual and above that of women. A gender comparison does not assume a love that is sexual in nature, as this is a fallacy of composition (Jenni et al 48-49). This is a reference again to David and Jonathan’s deep covenant relationship mentioned in 1 Samuel 18:3, 20:8. It is a love of covenant/political loyalty and friendship (Youngblood 816).

David and Jonathan really loved one another, this much is clear. The question is: Does the relationship as described in Scripture warrant seeing them as homosexuals? The Bible makes it abundantly clear that the love between David and Jonathan was deep (real deep). The word love in Hebrew in this and other passages like 1 Samuel is “וַיֶּאֱהָבֵ֥הוּ/aheb” which means to have affection for, sexual or otherwise (Jenni 47). In the political/covenant context of David (God’s true king) and Jonathan (Saul’s heir apparent), this would not make sense (Youngblood 707, 725). What is sad is that this assertion is incongruous to the preponderant pattern of Scripture (Analogy of Scripture) and is totally counter-intuitive in terms of the biblical condemnation of sexual immorality.

The context of the passage is critical to its interpretation. This is not being done with this passage if people believe this relationship speaks of homosexuality. One needs only look at Genesis 22:2 to see the exact same word (love) being used between two other males in the Old Testament…and they are clearly not homosexual (Jenni 48). It is God speaking to Abraham about his son Isaac whom he loved in the same manner David loved Jonathan. It is a familial love with an overlay of covenant relation. We also see it in Leviticus 19:18 when we read that God said, "…you shall love/ahab/ בְּאַהֲבָת֥וֹ your neighbor as yourself” (Jenni 50). If this is homosexual love, this means God is telling the Israelites to love everyone in a homosexual manner. This is a logic fallacy.

Pro-homosexual understandings of these passages totally violate the premise of God’s natural order and God’s premise for sexual relationships or any normal heterosexual relationships for that matter because we are called to love all our neighbors. We even see the same word in the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4 where believers are called to, “love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Jenni 53). God is not calling us to love Him in a homosexual manner. This was it an intense pure covenant love, not homosexual lust.

In 1 Samuel 20:41 we also see, “After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most.”

When viewed from a presupposition that assumes homosexuality, it is easy to see how these passages can be misinterpreted. The homosexual view of this is that it is a “homosexual kiss.” Again we revisit context, this time in a cultural manner. Men in the time of David greeting other men Ancient Near Eastern culture is much the same as it is now. This should be especially evident as all the other actions involved in this passage are in a formal greeting (the acts of bowing). It was and is a common cultural greeting for men in that day to greet one another by bowing/bending and with a kiss. Furthermore, it did not occur until two and a half chapters after Jonathan gave David his clothes (1 Samuel 18 thru 1 Samuel 20).

The truth is there is no suggestion in the Bible that David and Jonathan were homosexual. This is misinterpretation of the Hebrew or Septuagint Greek based on speculative revisionism. In the larger context of Scripture and David’s life in general, the issue for David does not appear to be an issue of homosexuality; it appears to be an overabundance of heterosexuality. David, like his son Solomon was a heterosexual polygamist based on the evidences of Scripture (DeYoung 290).  David indeed had a problem with sexual immorality but it had to do with quantities, not types.

It seems that this love between Jonathan and David is a covenant love that finds God in the center as witness to it and ironically as the binding agent too (Youngblood 707). It therefore is not surprising that the powers of this world would focus so intently on undermining the Bible at this point. To undermine it here is to destroy the pattern of Scripture and diminish the aspect of covenant love so evident in God’s character. As stated before…to defame what God approves of is to attack God directly and this…is a lost cause.

In the end what we see is an example of admiration, not a homosexual adoration. It is an example of covenant and fellowship love, not homosexual love. This is philos and/or pathos, not eros.


DeYoung, James B. Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2000. Print.

Gagnon, Robert. "Sexuality." Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. Ed. Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Daniel J. Treier, N. T. Wright, and Craig G. Bartholomew. London: SPCK , 2005. Print.

Helminiak, Daniel A. What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality. Millennium ed. Tajique, NM: Alamo Square Press, 2000. Print.

Jenni, Ernst, and Claus Westermann. Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997. Print.

Merrill, Eugene H. "1 Samuel." The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Ed. John Walvoord, Roy Zuck. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1985. 431-455. Print.

White, James; Niell, Jeff. Same Sex Controversy, The: Defending and Clarifying the Bible's Message About Homosexuality. Baker Publishing Group, 2002. Kindle Edition.

Youngblood, Ronald F. "1 & 2 Samuel." The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy-2 Samuel. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1992. 553-1104. Print.
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