4.19.2021

Pastor on Vacation

What’s a pastor on vacation to do?

 

Usually we go somewhere else to worship.  What’s the point of going to the office Monday morning, just to pal around with your office buddies, but do no work? 

 

But it’s complicated.  All Christians should go to church, even pastors who are on vacation.  And my children have good friends there.  Will other churches require masks?  Will they sing at all?

 

A couple weeks ago, we wound up going to the church I pastor, the Sunday I was on vacation from pastoring. 

I think this was the first time I have EVER done it!  Why would I do this?

 

At first, I did it because of some of the factors above.  But on reflection, the main reason is this:

It reminds me, and shows our church members, that the pastor is a normal Christian in need of the same means of grace as they are.

 

As I sat there taking in a great sermon (thanks Christopher!), I was reminded again that the chef needs to eat, too.  All the private devotions in the world don’t make up for receiving a message from the pulpit from a trained minister of God’s Word.

 

Pastors, make sure to feed yourselves with sermons, not just for theological information, or to learn how to preach better yourself, but to feed your own soul.  Act like a normal Christian on vacation, for the sake of your own humility.  We take in a LOT of sermons, podcasts, articles and books in a given week.  Don’t professionally critique a sermon, for once!

 

To sit under the preaching of God’s Word in person on a Sunday morning is a unique blessing.  One that I more deeply appreciate every time I get to do it (about 4 times a year!).

 

And I want those I pastor to know that I need to be fed, too.  I’m not some super-Christian.  Although I represent Christ to the church when I lead worship, I need to have been fed earlier that week, to lead them well.

Discipline Your Social Media Use // CRT // Educating Yourself

This is quite good, surveying the negative effects of social media, though I'm not so stringent.

Read this to motivate you to discipline your social media use.
Social media is a good distribution method, but not a good forum for in-depth interaction.



A helpful review of Critical Race Theory, coming soon to a public school near you.


“I am educating myself.”

These days, this phrase is code for being sympathetic to woke and leftist causes. (Or to tell you that your view is too neanderthal to waste time on.)

Yet, the literal meaning of the phrase is a good one. Be open to learning new things, to having your assumptions challenged.

But who you decide to learn from is really the key. Are you going to learn from Black Lives Matter? From Ibram Kendi’s intolerant and revolutionary “anti-racism”? Or from Scripture and the western canon of great books? They lead you in fundamentally different directions.

“Educating yourself” can be a signal to friends that you really are up to speed with their politically correct agenda, so you can stay on the good side of those who “matter.” For many, it is now a password for entry into dialogue. Others with just as much humility are derided and excluded, for not using the passcode.

It fits the pattern: Orwellian revolutionaries take a phrase full of edifying truth, and twist its meaning to an anti-truth agenda. (Anti-racism is extremely racist; Black Lives Matter really means something else; etc.)

On the other hand, in substance, this phrase, "educate yourself," is a lifelong pursuit of truth, not conforming yourself to the spirit of the world, but letting God transform and renew your heart and mind. (Romans 12:1-2).

4.06.2021

Piety in Prosperity - Deuteronomy 5-6 - Bible Notes

 Chapter 5

The Ten Commandments.  The introduction shows that this is a covenant, and Moses was the mediator.  The conclusion, where Israel asks Moses to speak instead of God Himself overwhelming them, shows they needed a mediator.

Jesus is the mediator of a new and better covenant we have with God - better than Sinai.  He does more than speak for God to us.  He dies to God for us.

Life application: the introduction hits home the theme of covenant succession.  Even if we were raised in a faith that wasn't our own, WE are in covenant with God, because our parents experienced and knew the Lord.


Chapter 6

As Israel enters the promised land, Moses gives them the Shema (Yahweh is our only God), and the greatest commandment - to love God.  Don't forget to fear Him when you prosper in there.  Teach your children about the things from which God delivered you.

Jesus quotes verse 5 when asked what is the greatest commandment.

We have some experience with forgetting God because of the distractions and cares that prosperity brings.

4.02.2021

A Defense of Theonomy (Sort of)

The Gospel Coalition published a critique of theonomy a couple days ago, that just cries out for a response.

So you know where I'm coming from, I don't believe the goal of a Christian society should be to adopt the Torah's civil law wholesale and to the letter.  The resurrection has transformed the "telos" (goal) of the law to Christ.  Some OT laws that called for death now would call for excommunication, or a lighter civil punishment, or none.

But I also don't like the author's pluralist assumptions, that the state should be neutral to any and all religious claims.  Of course, no state should make religious minorities live as second-class citizens, but for the state to assume Christian truth pleases God and will helpfully impose morality on many who disagree (no murder, pedophilia, abortion, etc.).


With that intro, here's a walkthrough of the article.

1. The author is a Southern Baptist, with understandable reactions against established religion.  In Reformation history, it was Calvinists, Lutherans, and other state religions that drowned them for disagreeing with paedo-baptism, for example.  So the deck is stacked against theonomy from the start, by who is writing.

2. Intro - Walker is right that newer teachers are taking up the mantle of Reconstruction, from a generation or two ago.  There is a direct line from Rushdoony (RJR) to Fight Laugh Feast and Jeff Durbin.  No need to hide this, though the latter seldom cite their sources.  I don't think they are being sneaky, just not looking to dredge up old debates.

3. Yes, there is a distinction between Reconstruction (culture building) and Theonomy (reading the Bible a certain way).  But they are inseparable, inherently.  If you read Scripture with any sort of theonomic impulse, you are motivated to conform your culture to the standards of the whole Word of God.  Is this wrong?  Is it the same as Handmaiden's Tale theocracy?  (Hint: no.)

4. Interesting claim, that theonomy is more a "mood and mode of engagement" today than an intellectual movement.  This rings true to me.  Today's proponents are standing on Bahnsen's and RJR's shoulders, assuming their work as valid, and doing something different from them.  They are arguing against contrary assumptions in the Reformed world today: "Radical Two Kingdom theology," natural law advocates, the stay-out-of-politics crowd, and the overall pessimism regarding culture wars.

5. Walker distinguishes between General Equity Theonomy (apply all God's law generally in some way), and RJR theonomy (apply the letter of the whole law to society).  Since I'm a general equity advocate, the rest of the article seemed a straw-man fallacy to me.  Walker critiqued the RJR brand (a form of theocracy), and seldom the general equity brand.

6. One of the disagreements is over natural law and revealed law.  The theonomist would ask, if the fall has twisted our thoughts and common sense (noetic effects of the fall), how can we rely on natural law?  The critic would ask, "hasn't the OT civil law passed away in application, with the coming of Christ?  Hasn't God revealed more to us than just a law code specific for Israel at one time?  Bringing Adam and Eve together in the garden affirms everything about the design of marriage that the civil codes do," the argument goes.  Here, I side with the theonomist: Exodus-Deuteronomy law expands on the design of marriage in very specific ways that go beyond common sense, or what we can figure out from creation.  Why would we ignore that, or assume such creational marriage principles passed away with the coming of Christ?


7. Walker: "The error of Theonomy is that its hermeneutic stretches beyond the Bible's understanding of its own authority."  

This is a fancy way of saying, "the Bible doesn't mean what you think it means.  It doesn't mean for the OT scaffolding to remain after the NT building is finished."  This begs the question.  What part of the law is scaffolding that comes down once the building is finished (Christ has come), and what should remain as a goal to pursue today in our personal and cultural life?


8. Walker's assertion that theonomy "instrumentalizes religion" is fascinating.  I take his point to be that the real goal in theonomy is transforming society, and saving the soul is just a means to that end.  In his mind, the goal should be the soul spared damnation.  The end of the Bible shows both, without priority given.  Souls are spared the lake of fire, and the New Jerusalem is a "reconstructed" society without sorrow and sighing.  

Walker is on to something that many in my circles seem more passionate about changing society and winning culture wars, than saving souls.  Some of us pursue a theology of glory too much, rejecting the theology of the cross.  That is a fault, but they are also right to not reduce the gospel to a conversion experience.  How now shall I live?


9. Walker gives away his baptist assumptions when he says "the NT affirms nine of [the Ten Commandments]."  To him, if the NT doesn't reaffirm it, it is passed away.  To me, if the NT doesn't undo the OT specifically, it remains in effect.  

The issue here is the NT political context, not at all friendly to the emerging Christian religion (think Nero!).  Did Paul, when writing Romans 13 and Philemon, mean for us to stay in that posture of compliance with and distance from the state, or to advance to a point where we disciple the state, magistrate, and nations to follow Christ in their official policies?  Was Knox wrong to preach to Queen Mary?  Shouldn't the church say to its culture and government: "Stop keeping slaves!"  "Stop killing babies!"  Was John the Baptist wrong to apply the Levitical code to Herod in his marriage, winding him in jail, then executed?  Paul worked the personal angle with Philemon.  Are we limited to that?  Is it wrong to take a prophetic tack with the state as John did?


10.  The OT law is not just a contextualized timestamped snapshot of the natural law, which we can figure out from the rest of Scripture and common sense.  (This seems to be Walker's view.)  The OT law is God's Word.  It is not retired wholesale with Christ's coming, nor is it something to follow to the letter without change, as Hebrews shows.


11. Walker is right that theonomy "presupposes a Christian society that does not exist."  But he begs the question to assume it never could.  We ought to work toward this, even if it is several steps down the road.  It is unhelpful to try to do step 4 of the instructions before step 1, that part of his critique is valid.  But to assume we will never get beyond step 1 is equally unhelpful.  Some cultures in history have been at step 3 or 4, out of 5.  To assume none have gotten beyond step 2, and none ever can, is prejudicial pessimism.


12. "Theonomy cannot build a just society"

No the law can't do that, and that is not the theonomist argument.  The gospel can!  The gospel points people to obey God's Word and if this happens widescale in a society, reconstructing Christian culture is not a Quixotic quest.  Later, Walker commits the fallacy of bifurcation to assert that a widely converted society would pursue freedom for all, not "enact a theonomic agenda."  For the most part, these two options actually overlap.  

When they don't?  What do you do with the blasphemer - stone him?  I would say, no.  As with the woman caught in adultery, in the New Covenant, sentences are lightened, though the sin is still recognized and dealt with.  Here is Walker's straw-man again, assuming the theonomist would do exactly as was done to the blasphemer in Exodus, when that is not the theonomic position, as I understand it.


13. Can we build a just society on common grace?  That is a question dividing these two camps.  The baptist asserts that a government can stumble along with decent enough justice, given God's law written on the heart and common sense.  The theonomist asserts that common grace can only take us so far.  Such a society will be riddled with inconsistencies and corruption in the state, since they suppress the truth that God reveals to them by His common grace.  Only submission to Christ and God's revealed truth can bring a just society.  I think the latter is right.


14. "We are not discipling nations for the sake of political hegemony."

Goodness, no one said we were!  It is for the sake of Christ.  Walker's view, on the other hand, seems to be to NOT disciple the nations.  Shall we do what Jesus SAID to do, even when we are tempted to do so for the wrong reasons (political hegemony)?  Or shall we NOT do what Jesus said to do, so we aren't tempted to do it for the wrong reasons?


15.  Is theonomy inherently statist?

Walker ends with this assertion.  Theonomy is opposed to a state granting freedom of religious expression.  This critique suffers from the secular (devilish, really) assumption that freedom is the right to do whatever you want to do.  But biblical freedom is the freedom to obey and serve God, not bound by our sinful desires.  Should that truth never touch the government's policy?  That's the libertarian's mistake.

4.01.2021

Inheriting Land, Obeying God - Deuteronomy 2-4 - Bible Notes

Chapter 2

The text: God directs Israel to leave Moab alone, and to attack the Amorites.

Jesus' work brings us into a specific inheritance.

Life application: In wisdom, we should know what enemies of Christ to fight, and who to leave alone.


Chapter 3

The text: Israel conquers Sihon.  Moses gives Reuben and Gad the land of Gilead, east of the Jordan.  Moses may not enter the promised land because of his disobedience.

Jesus gives His people a unique inheritance and gifts.

Life application: Disobedience may lessen our reward, our enjoyment, of the inheritance God gives us in glory.


Chapter 4

The text: Moses calls Israel to obey God, because of all He has done for them.

Jesus recaps this in the Great Commission: "teaching them to obey all I have commanded you..."

Life application: We serve and obey God because He made us, yes.  But the Scriptural emphasis is because of what He has done for us.  "I am Yahweh, who brought you out of Egypt.  [Therefore] You shall have no other gods before Me."

3.31.2021

Transgender in Tabletalk // Loving Daughters // Speak Like Jesus

1. Great, short article in Tabletalk, bringing together all the demons:

Critical theory

Transgenderism

Enlightenment autonomy from God


2. Abigail Shrier on combatting the trans-gender craze:

"I'll tell you the best thing a dad can do for his daughter, in my view.  Make her feel beautiful and loved just as she is.  That she can be a little heavy, or a little imperfect looking in her most awkward period that she will ever go through physically.  And that she is still lovable and wonderful just as she is and that doesn't make her any less of a woman.  And all the fake images that she is seeing online are not more attractive.  And they think that a father, whatever she says, and however much she denies it, a father's opinion of her is... that's the man who matters most.  And on some level, I think that's a big deal.  I really do."  It's at the 1:00:00 mark.


3. Communicating the truth like Jesus
Neat insight here, connecting our speech with Christ's threefold office as prophet, priest, and king. Our speech should be true like a prophet, pure and compassionate like a priest, and wise and timely like a king.

3.30.2021

Deuteronomy 1 - Bible Notes

 Deuteronomy means "second law."

It is Moses reiterating to Israel, on the verge of entering the promised land, the history of their wilderness wanderings, and exhorting them to be faithful to Yahweh.


Chapter 1

a. God commands them to leave Sinai.

b. Judges are set up under Moses.  (See Exodus 18)

c. They go spy out the land, refuse to enter, and are turned away.  (See Numbers 13)


Jesus

a. God calls us to the glory of Christ, and this means in part, turning away from looking to the law (Sinai) to save you.

b. Jesus sets up shepherds and judges under Him in His church.

c. Jesus promises us great things, but we are often unwilling to sacrifice, deny ourselves, and do the needed faith/work to obtain those promises.

3.26.2021

Seasons of Life in the Lord

"Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  Whoever loves His life loses it…” – John 12:24-25.


Spring is here!  A time of planting and seeing shoots come up out of the ground.  This time of year, my wife excitedly shows me every day from our back patio how much everything is growing.  But for all that to happen, there had to be a time of planting and waiting first.

 

When Jesus said these words above, He had just entered Jerusalem to the triumphant joy of the crowds, with His crucifixion and burial a few short days away.  Everyone wanted to meet Him, to laud Him, to see Him restore the kingdom to Israel. 

 

Christ’s words bring us up short.  He has to die before He can bear fruit.  We are always rushing to the harvest, when we can pick and eat the fruit.  We want “Serenity Now!” (a Seinfeld reference…), the kingdom fulfilled immediately.  Bill Buckley liked to say we can’t immanentize the eschaton - heh heh.  But like in the Garden of Eden, when God says, “Not yet,” we try to grab it anyway.

 

No, first comes the darkness of Winter, when a divine seed is planted and delivered from a dark womb.  Jesus’ ministry is foundational, underground stuff, showing us the truth of God’s Word and a faithful life of Israel before God, in His very life.

 

Then comes Spring, when new life comes out of the ground, as Jesus emerges from the grave.  In Spring, life and growth first become visible to us.  Though it had been going on for a while.  Similarly, we did not realize the power and nature of Jesus’ life fully until after the resurrection.

 

Then comes Summer, a time for watering and weeding.  Tending to the new life God has given us.  It can be hot, sweaty business.  Pests and weeds invade.  It’s a constant battle to keep them growing.  But with Jesus as the root and stem, we grow on His vine.  Sometimes we wilt.  Sometimes we thrive.  But we are headed for fruitful transformation.

 

Finally comes the Harvest when we are plucked and placed in God’s house to be fully enjoyed by Him.  Not in a way that devours, but transforms and rejoices us in newer, unimaginable ways.  And we fully enjoy Him, too.

 

 

I am talking here about Jesus.  Born, growing up, ministering, dying, rising, and glorified.

 

I am talking here about your life.  We are hardly aware of our earliest moments of life and growth, physically or spiritually.  We grow and learn, suffering the thorns and cares of this world, watered by the Word and Spirit. 

 

I am talking here about others around you.

·         As a parent, you bury yourself every day for your children.  It’s hard to see the growth sometimes, but it is there.  We get frustrated with the weeds that keep coming back.  Often the growth is only on the inside, and you can’t see the flower until the end.

·         At work, you don’t feel like your work is appreciated.  Are your labors bearing fruit?  Give it time – reward often comes down the road, not right away.

·         Before God, you wonder some time if the gardener is paying any attention to you.  You feel so dry and wilted.

 

And sometimes God messes with the natural process.

·         A baby miscarries and goes straight from winter in the womb to harvest in God’s house.

·         A believer backslides and has more growing to do.

·         A professing believer had shown everyone a picture of a growing plant all his life, but one day throws it in the trash and is revealed as a weed.

 

But His plan and timing are perfect through it all. 

He is the Gardener. 

Jesus is the main stem. 

You are the shoot, growing and bearing fruit. 

 

Rejoice in the life God gives!

3.25.2021

Church Response to Wokeness // Lewis on Communion // "At the First Puff of Wind"

Kevin DeYoung lays out the church's responses to woke-ness.

This article assumes or argues several important things at once:

1. People in the middle aren't just squishy and uncertain, but thoughtful.

2. People in the middle have different perspectives.

3. There IS a middle, in a news world that often only shows us the extremes.

4. People with strong opinions are not automatically extremists and crazy.

5. When she becomes a minority in the culture (which we just did, like 30 minutes ago), the church is uniquely tempted to divide in how we respond.

The point isn't to pigeonhole others, as much as to understand our own impulses, so we can be as self-critical as needed.



C.S. Lewis, on Communion: "The command, after all, was Take, eat: not Take, understand."  (The Joyful Christian, pg 82.)

Presbyterians especially are prone to read the command to discern the body as, "Understand fully all that's going on, here, and what the elements actually are."


Mortification of Spin has an excellent take on Max Lucado's rather unhelpful response to being criticized for his biblical position on marriage.

3.24.2021

Jesus on Taxes - Matthew 17:24

 Hi R_____, 


I enjoyed our conversation the other day.  I wound up reading Matthew 17:24ff for my devotions later – the account of Jesus getting the temple tax miraculously from the fish for Himself and Peter.  So I studied it a bit and found Exodus 30:11ff.  It looks like from there that the temple tax was a legit charge for each Israelite adult.  Small, to be sure, and a "flat tax."  But I’m not sure you can make a case from Matthew 17 and Exodus 30 that countries shouldn’t tax their own citizens.

 

I might argue that the temple tax was a church thing, not a civil government thing.  But Romans 13:6-7 also seems to assume that Romans should pay Roman taxes.

 

I could try to say the “two-drachma” tax (the literal Greek) was a Roman tax, not the temple tax, but that looks like a very minority view.  Every Bible translation treats it as the temple tax, either in the actual translation, in a footnote, or in referencing Exodus 30:11ff.

 

What I conclude is that Jesus is not arguing here for a jaded view of earthly taxes, but setting Himself above the temple authorities, and even above Exodus 30, in a way.  He is the true ruler of the temple, the son of the house (see Hebrews 3:6), so shouldn’t be subject to its tax, just as Caesar didn’t tax his own children.

 

The interesting thing is that Jesus includes Peter (and all of Jesus’ followers by extension) as exempt from the temple tax!  Not just Jesus Himself, as the Son of God, but all those united with Him have His privilege.  I don’t think this means Christians should assert that we aren’t subject to earthly taxes or church tithes.  See Romans 13, above.  That would be an “over-realized eschatology,” as they say.  But it may give us a glimpse of what the kingdom of God in its consummation will look like.



As an aside, some speculate that the rest of the disciples besides Peter were under the age of 20 at the time. Peter was the oldest, and the leader/spokesman. Why wouldn’t Jesus pay their tax, since they are all following Him at this point? They weren’t 20 yet, and subject to the tax, the theory goes.

3.23.2021

Fighting Evil in This World

 

 

I reread this in the last two days. 

It is about fantasy in the real world.

 

1. Evil lurks in this world.

            Both the uber-evil, and the run-of-the-mill occurrences of life that don’t seem so evil.

            Nimiane and Endor is the uber-evil.

            But just as damaging: hostility to friends – when Henrietta and Henry fall out, and later repent to each other in the kitchen, this shows the need for unity in the fight against evil.

 

2. We are exasperatingly clueless to this evil

Henrietta and Frank are great examples of this.  Both run headlong (or let others do so) into evil far more powerful than they can endure.

 

3. God has set up this world so that it helps us fight the evil in it.

This is the unique and redemptive message of the book.

            Zeke’s bat is one example.  He’s been studying baseball all his life, and it helps him take out the witch.  Just like David had been throwing rocks as a shepherd all his life, and it helps him take out Goliath – 1 Samuel 17.

            Another example is Richard.  The ounce of compassion Henry shows for Richard turns out to be Henry’s salvation/

3.19.2021

He Is Risen! - Mark 16 - Bible notes

The Text: 

The women go to anoint Jesus' body with spices first thing after the Sabbath.  They expect a sealed tomb, but find it rolled aside.  They expect a body to anoint, but find the tomb empty.  They expect guards, but find angels.  The angels announce His resurrection.  At first they tell no one out of fear.  When they tell the disciples, they don't believe the women.  Jesus appears, rebukes their unbelief, sends them to proclaim the gospel everywhere, predicts their miracles, and ascends to heaven.


Jesus in the text: 

Jesus is the risen Son of God, who has defeated death, taken the punishment for our sin, and ascended to sit in glory with His Father as before His Incarnation.


Our response to the text: 

Expect God to do things you don't expect.  

He will call for you to listen to people you might think you don't need to (the women).

We are slow to believe what Jesus tells us.

3.18.2021

Jesus Condemned, Crucified and Buried - Mark 15 - Bible Notes

 1. What does the text say?

2. What does the text say about Jesus?

3. What does the text say about me?


1. The Jews were required to let Pilate hold a trial, if they wanted to execute someone.  Pilate sees nothing wrong with Jesus.  He probably saw through the leaders, that Jesus was somehow a threat to their position.  Pilate tries to get Him off by offering the crowd Barrabbas, a murderer in the insurrection, but it doesn't work.  Once condemned, the soldiers mock and beat Him and deride Him as "King of the Jews."  They crucify Him at 9am, and many see and mock Him.  At noon the sun goes out for 3 hours.  Jesus quotes Psalm 22, which actually happened to Him then.  He dies with the women watching.  A Sanhedrin member buries Him.

2. Jesus suffers and dies innocently, forsaken by God, while the crowds misunderstand and mock Him.

3. Whoever you identify with, in this story, you are guilty in contrast with Jesus.  The crowds wanted a revolutionary to save them, instead of their true Savior.  The leaders wanted Caesar as king, instead of Jesus.  Pilate wanted short-term, political peace, instead of the King of Peace.  Barrabbas was freed in place of Jesus, who died in his place.  The soldiers wanted a scapegoat to take out their anger on.  Passersby were glad someone else got in trouble with Rome, and not them.  The leaders felt justified in their disobedience, rejecting Him: He can't be the Christ if He's crucified.

This doesn't mean we are always guilty no matter what we do.  After His death, the women and Joseph are shown, being faithful to Jesus as best they can.

3.17.2021

Saint Patrick


Everything you know about Patrick is wrong.

He didn’t drive the snakes out of Ireland.  Romans wrote 100 years before Patrick was born about the lack of snakes in Ireland. 

There’s no proof he used the leaves of a shamrock to illustrate the Trinity.

He probably didn’t even write St Patrick’s Breastplate.

He wasn’t even Irish!

 

Patrick was a British Roman citizen, but as a teenager, Irish raiders captured and enslaved him in Ireland for six years!  His faith grew a lot there.  He managed to escape and get back home, but soon he had a dream where God called him back to Ireland as a missionary.

 

Patrick’s writing at this time drips with the Scriptural call to missions.  “The nations will come to you from the ends of the earth.  I have put you as a light among the nations.  Go into all the world, disciple the nations.”  Patrick was one of the first to suceed in taking this to mean, go beyond the Roman Empire and teach the barbarians to follow Christ.  And he was really good at it.  Patrick converted thousands, planted churches, ordained priests, and set up monasteries.

 

Suffering bears fruit.  After 6 years of slavery, and because of that hardship, Patrick went from a rebellious teenager to a devout follower of Jesus.  He learned the Celtic language of his captors.  He knew how they lived.  God had honed him into the perfect missionary.  And Patrick bore fruit for decades.  Almost single handedly, he brought Christianity to Ireland.  Suffering bears fruit.

 

Loving your enemies bears fruit.  Most of us if we were in Patrick’s shoes as a slave, if we escaped and got home, would never think to set foot in Ireland again.  But he genuinely came to love this people.  He wanted to bless them and do them good, by giving them the gospel.  As he experienced the blessing of the Gospel, he saw how badly they needed it, and did something about it.  Patrick died on Mar 17, in the late 400s.  Thank God this week for St Patrick.

3.15.2021

The Ides of March and a Counterfeit Trinity



Shakespeare's Julius Caesar shows us the doom that came on Caesar for over-reaching for power.  But the stronger message is the doom that comes on those who stab him ("Et tu, Brute?") out of envy, who take justice in their own hands.


I like to watch the Marlon Brando version around the Ides of March every year.  It is a prophetic warning to everyone to curb the ambition, envy, and vengeance within, lest chaos and carnage follow.


A week or so ago I read a Tabletalk article about John 17, where Jesus speaks of being sent by the Father and sending the Spirit.  Since I had Julius Caesar on the brain already, I connected it to a scene in the play.  Tell me if I'm on to something...


The Triumvirate that replaced Caesar after his death are deciding who to execute.  Marc Antony sends the old general to deliver the order.  Once he leaves, he tells Octavius they should cut the old general out of power.  He's just a messenger, willing to be sent by others.  Not fit for great leadership!


Shakespeare may be purposefully (or accidentally hitting upon) a huge theological truth and an application of practical humility.


The triumvirate is a counterfeit, anti-Trinity.

The Three are willing to send without despising the sent.  To be sent without resenting the sender.  The triumvirate cannot send without lording it over the sent.  

The Trinity remains an abundant fountain of love and respect for One Another, throughout their sending work to save us.  The triumvirate, founded on grasping for power, can only descend to destruction, through the intrusion of jealousy and self-seeking, as they give orders to kill their enemies.


Beware the Ides of March, the foul winds that blow through your heart.  Self-promotion.  Vaunting ambition.  Despising others.  Putting them down.


Do you resent it when your:

  • mom sends you to take out the trash?
  • wife sends you to the store?
  • boss gives you a task you don't like?
  • church member's distress calls for your help?
  • neighbor borrows something and keeps it a while?

Look to the Trinity for a better way to love God and neighbor.  

Willing humility.  Eager service for others.  These things DEFINE great leadership.