The Gospel of Lamentations

How deserted lies the city, once so full of people!
How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations!
She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.
Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are upon her cheeks.
Among all her lovers there is none to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.

So begins the book called Lamentations.

Powerfully descriptive language describes the city and the people that God loved, but who rejected Him for other lovers and now has reaped the consequences.

Please read it through before you go on to get a feel for the misery of it all.

But you have to wonder… How can Gospel (Good News) and Lamentations (grieving) fit in the same title? Where is there any good news in all this anguish and despair? Continue reading “The Gospel of Lamentations”

What Next for the Church? Our Response to Same Sex Marriage

June 25, 2014 – a federal judge declared Indiana’s marriage laws unconstitutional, opening the door to the issuance of same sex marriage licenses in Indiana.  Then a stay was issued on the ruling until it could be appealed,

September 4, 2014 – a three judge panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled that laws in Indiana and Wisconsin violate the U.S. Constitution. Again a stay was issued on implementation pending appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

October 6, 2014 – the United States Supreme Court, shocking both sides in the battle, declined to hear appeals from Indiana and four other states, thus letting stand the 7th Circuit’s decision, resulting in the legalization of same sex marriage in Indiana and several other states. Marriage application forms have been amended to accommodate same sex applicants and these so called marriages have resumed.

As I wrote in response to the June 25 ruling, Mourning and Rejoicing, I was not surprised by this ultimate outcome, as the trajectory has been established for several years. I am deeply saddened about it because God’s creation order is being violated and the whole nation will suffer. You don’t need a Bible to have overwhelming evidence that this is unnatural. The damage is incalculable for the nation, for children, ultimately for those who flaunt God’s law as the Scripture declares such persons will not inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:10)  Continue reading “What Next for the Church? Our Response to Same Sex Marriage”

The Gospel of Jeremiah

Gospel means good news. Chapter after chapter in the book of Jeremiah is bad news.

The lonely prophet, sometimes called the weeping prophet, began preaching during the reign of Josiah, one of the best kings ever. It was a time of revival, renewal of worship, and ending the evil practices of his father and grandfather.  But the revival didn’t last. Josiah died and it was all down hill from there.  Well, not quite… Continue reading “The Gospel of Jeremiah”

Be still, and know that I am God

I slept in Thursday morning so my daily appointment on the back screened in porch was delayed until about 8:o’clock. The sun was well on its way in its daily journey across Indiana, the skies that day perfectly blue, not even a puff of cloud. By that time in the morning, the chatter of birds was mostly silenced.  I missed their usual accompaniment as I read Ezekiel 34 and Psalm 46, 47.

And then the concert began. Continue reading “Be still, and know that I am God”

Running with Endurance

CroppedTwo days ago, Delia and Matti, my twin granddaughters, had their tenth birthday.  In those ten years, they have experienced the agony and major inconvenience of about ten long bone fractures – femur, tibia and fibula; plus several small fractures in their feet, all due to a fragile bone condition called Osteo Genesis Imperfecta, Their lives have been filled with xrays and casts, a wheel chair, a walker, therapy…  But it had been more than two years since a fracture, so we’ve been relieved, but always concerned. We don’t want them to just play it safe and miss out on life, yet the the worry is always there.

So Delia joined an after school running club, Cross Country for younger kids, fourth and fifth graders, called Pup Running. The course is roughly 1 1/4 miles over a rolling hills grass course at Northview Church. Who says churches and public schools can’t be good partners for the good of the kids?

Then last Friday, Delia fell and broke the radius in her left arm. Continue reading “Running with Endurance”

The Gospel of Isaiah

If finding the Gospel in Proverbs or Ecclesiastes was a challenge, Isaiah is the opposite. It is seemingly everywhere.

One approach would be to just consult the the libretto of Handel’s oratorio, The Messiah.  In order, you will find texts from Isaiah chapters 40, 7, 40, 60, 9, 35, 40, 53, and 52. Handel’s librettist, Charles Jennens, may have taken a few liberties with the text two hundred seventy three years ago, but overall, provides convincing proof of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the prophecy of Isaiah. Continue reading “The Gospel of Isaiah”

The Gospel in the Old Testament, part 2

Last year, 2013, I started a blog series, The Gospel in the Old Testament, intent on discovering and sharing the good news that the Good News (Gospel) is found, not as a new idea for the New Testament, but is in fact evident throughout the the Old Testament.  And this is not just a few random verses fulfilled in the birth and death of Jesus.  It is the story line of the Bible.

God’s Story starts with creation and is soon followed by sin and separation between God and his image bearers (Genesis 1-3).  But starting in Genesis 3, God’s story of rescue for his image bearers is the theme all the way through the Bible until it finds resolution in the new heavens and new earth, Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1. I don’t mean that God and God’s Story starts and ends, fully enclosed in the Bible. No at all!  God is the alpha and the omega with no beginning and no end. Beginning and ending refer to God’s rescue story as revealed in the Bible, which does come to glorious resolution. In this sense, the Bible is not circular, but linear – History is going somewhere and it will arrive at the destination.

But do we see God’s Story when we read the Bible? Or do we only see the shorter stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Daniel, Jesus, Peter and Paul? Continue reading “The Gospel in the Old Testament, part 2”

Mourning… and Rejoicing

Dancing in the streets!  Mourning in our hearts!

Historic Day for Indiana – I heard the news yesterday, but reading the headline and the details in the Indianapolis Star this morning made for a sad start to this day.

Predictably, a federal judge in another act of judicial tyranny, declared Indiana’s marriage laws unconstitutional. Laws based on thousands of years of precedent, 238 years of United States precedent, accepted definitions across all national and cultural lines throughout world history, were overthrown by a single federal judge. Oh, he’s not entirely alone as judges like him in other states have done the same, against the will of the people, against the wisdom of history, redefining marriage into virtual meaninglessness. Continue reading “Mourning… and Rejoicing”

Did Jesus Go to Hell?

I recently discovered a new song celebrating the resurrection. It looked like a great fit for the last message of a post-Easter sermon series, Because He Lives.  Beautifully sung by Kari Jobe, the song is called Forever (We Sing Hallelujah).

My exposure to Forever was on the Worship Together website, an interview preceding a “live” performance. I quickly glanced over the lyrics, then clicked play for the interview.

Kari said this, “My favorite part of the whole thing is … we talk about the death on the cross and we talk about the resurrection,but that time in between was when Jesus was in hell [bold italics are my emphasis] rendering hell and ransacking hell and defeating the enemy taking those keys to death and hell and the grave to be victorious over that when he rose from the dead.”

She believes Jesus went to hell? Is that in the song?
I studied the lyrics more carefully, and there it was, the foundation of the second verse.

One final breath He gave 
As heaven looked away
The Son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken

What’s wrong with that?  I’m willing to give give the benefit of the doubt to many a lyricist.  Poetic license allows you to get away with overstatement or understatement.  We could nitpick the old hymns and find plenty of quirky lines, if not crossing the line to heresy.  Why pick on this song when others get a pass?

Here is the problem. Forever embraces an error that is at the heart of the most important events of our faith, the death and resurrection of Jesus. In summary, it teaches that the battle was not won on the cross, but the real battle took place in hell during the time between the death and resurrection of Jesus.  That is what seriously distorts the truth and why this song must not be used.

Where was Jesus on Saturday? Was he in hell? Continue reading “Did Jesus Go to Hell?”

The Gospel of the Song of Solomon

It’s been titled Canticles, Song of Songs, and Song of Solomon.  The first words of this work are The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.

How could the Gospel of Jesus Christ be seen in a poetic saga that is a highly sensual, sometimes starkly sexual and with “no obvious religious content”* and doesn’t even mention God? What could this remotely have to say about the Gospel?

Ancient Jewish Interpretation set the stage for early Christian analysis.  It is not a human love story at all, but allegory, an extended metaphor, of the relationship of Yahweh (LORD) to Israel; or understood by Christians to be a description of the love between Christ and his church.  Roman Catholic teaching has strangely identified the bride with the Virgin Mary,

But how does any of this make sense of this Song? Continue reading “The Gospel of the Song of Solomon”