Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Emergent Monday: Universalism - Sharing Heaven with Hitler

Universalism is the teaching that God will ultimately bring all people, in all times, and all places to a state of reconciliation with Him. In other words, everyone who ever lived will be saved. Consequently, Universalism cannot allow the possibility of an eternal hell as a realistic biblical teaching. - Matt Slick
Universalist teaching states that eventually God will bring all people to repentance. This repentance can happen here on earth or after a sinner has died and lived again in the millennium. Christian Universalism claims that it does not deny the lordship and divinity of Christ. Instead, the Christian Universalist asserts that the love and mercy of Jesus will eventually transform and redeem all people, even if this process takes longer than our earthly lifespans. Christian Universalism is the conviction that the love of Christ will eventually overcome all rebellion, hatred and selfishness.

Universalists like Rob Bell believe that hell is here on earth, that God is so loving that he'll never condemn an evil person to hell, no matter how evil that person is. I've heard this kind of ministry before, but almost always from people who have never actually read the bible. They say "If God is love, why would he let good people go to hell?" Well, God is love, which is why it breaks his heart to see us living in sin, which is why HE paid the ultimate price for OUR sins, and didn't require us to pay for our sins, and in return all he asks is that we confess our sins and and proclaim that Jesus Christ is our savior. But God is so much more than love:

On the Seventh Day of Christmas...

... my true love gave to me

Seven Swans A-swimming

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and compassion

7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

On the Sixth Day of Christmas...

... my true love gave to me

Six Geese A-laying

The six days of creation that confesses God as Creator and Sustainer of the world (Genesis 1).

Saturday, December 29, 2012

On the Fifth Day of Christmas...

... my true love gave to me

Five Gold Rings
The first Five Books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch:  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, which gives the history of humanity's sinful failure and God's response of grace in the creation of a people to be a light to the world.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Depression is so Depressing

While the holidays are the time of peace and joy, it doesn't always work out that way. Emotions are always close to the surface at this time of year, and the stresses that come from our expectations, especially if the expectations are unmet, can overwhelm us. We can make ourselves so busy this time of the year: parties, family gatherings, shopping, church and school programs can evolve into alcoholic outbursts, family fights, shopping rage, and shear mental exhaustion. 

There's a lot of memories attached to this season, and much of our time is spent recalling days gone by, but that can bring up some bad memories also. Statistically over 25% of our losses occur around the holidays, and remembering the loss of a loved one during the holidays can generate a profound sense of loss and sadness. If that's not enough, a tradition of the popular media is to remind us of all the entertainers and news makers who passed away during the past year. 

As Christians we are better equipped to deal with depression than the non-christian community but we're far from immune from it.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas...

... my true love gave to me

Four Calling Birds
The four calling birds are the four Gospels:  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which proclaim the Good News of God's reconciliation of the world to Himself in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

App Review: You Version Bible

If you received an electronic device for Christmas you are probably doing what all new device owners are doing other than using the device: you're looking for cool applications to run on it. I've found many interesting and useful applications from viewing star maps to ordering pizza (which as far as I'm concerned is the height of technical excellence) but the app I use the very most is the  absolutely free You Version Bible application.

The You Version Bible app is by all accounts the most popular bible application out there. It's available for iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod), Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Windows 8, HP/Palm, Java, Symbian, and Kindle Fire. If, for some reason, you find yourself on a mobile device that is not compatible with the different apps, they also have a Mobile Web version so you can open it up in your browser. It's also accessable without a mobile device by going to www.youversion.com in any web browser on any computer, there the web page has all the functionality of the mobile applications. 

On the Third Day of Christmas...

... my true love gave to me

Three French Hens

The three french hens represent the Three Theological Virtues:  

Faith, Hope, and Love

But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Is Preaching By Example Enough?

You're cruising down a beautiful country road when you see a sign that reads "Bridge Out", so you begin to slow. Suddenly a snazzy red Tesla roars past you headed for the missing bridge at high speed. The driver of the Tesla obviously missed the sign or completely ignored it. Now chances are pretty good that the Tesla will run out of juice before it reaches the bridge, but still.... so to save the driver of that sports car you spring into action! You adjust your seat belt, check your mirrors, make sure your passengers are safely buckled in and you ease up on the gas. 

When you reach the bridge you see far below in the ravine the smoking wreckage of a once beautiful Tesla sports car, you look away quickly before you see what happened to the driver. What happened? You showed the driver of the Tesla how to drive safely, you showed him the proper way to slow down, you were a perfect example of caution - you did everything you could to stop him, right? You betcha, praise the lord there's no law stating that you actually had to do something, like blow your horn, flash your lights, wave at him to slow down...

Or is there?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It's About The Cross.

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, 
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?

It's not about ribbons. It's not about tags 
It's not about packages, boxes or bags. 
And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. 
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. 
What if Christmas, he thought, feeling his loss, 
What if Christmas, perhaps, is about The Cross?.”

Merry Christmas beloved. Let's keep each other in our prayers.

Monday, December 24, 2012


There's a special gift waiting for you from someone that loves you. You don't have to wait for tomorrow morning, go ahead and open it... shake the box if you'd like - it won't break, but it won't wait.  

This is a limited time offer, you don't know where or when it will expire, it may not even last until Christmas morning. But the gift is here for you now. No shipping, no handling, no catches, no internet scams, just the best gift you'll ever receive.

Go ahead... open it...
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James 1:17)
Once upon a time and a very long time ago we were cursed by our common ancestors to live in sin, surviving by clawing at the earth for our sustenance. For a long, long time our only hope of escaping this existence was to follow a long, hard, complex series of rules and commandments known collectively as The Law. For us humans there's one little problem with the law...
For my iniquities are gone over my head; as a heavy burden they weigh too much for me. (Psalm 38:4)
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. (James 2:10)
To gain salvation through the law we must follow it 100% perfectly, which the creator of the law Himself said was impossible to do. Following the law perfectly can only be accomplished by the perfect being, something we are not, nor are we close to becoming here on earth 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christian Ban on Christmas? Not in My House!

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:7-14)

The angles sang with joy at the birth of Jesus Christ, the heavens rang with their joy. Yet I'm supposed to sit in my house with shades drawn and the TV turned off lest "It's A Wonderful Life" pollute my soul just because some cults and even actual evangelicals say that celebrating Christmas is evil? Even the angels celebrated the birth of Christ, are these cults (and even actual evangelicals) telling me I'm not worthy enough to share in the angels joy?

I'm talking primarily about cults like the United Church of God and the Jehovah's Witnesses, but there's other cults like some fundamental Mormons and some actual Christian congregations who have problems with Christmas. Many of their problems are legitimate, others problems not so much: 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Angels We Have Heard On High

Angels are spiritual beings created by God to serve Him, though created higher than man. They are found throughout the bible and are used by God for many purposes; messengers, servants, and warriors. The word Angel comes from the Greek word "angelos" which means "messenger". Angels are mentioned in the Bible 196 times,  103 in times in the Old Testament, 93 times in the new Testament. The doctrine of angels holds an important place in the Word of God, it is often viewed as a difficult subject because, while there is abundant mention of angels in the Bible, the information is always incidental with another subject. 

Angels are generally referred to in military terms: a host of angels means an army of angels. Hosts correlates with the Hebrew word "tsaba" which means army. Other terms are "Heavenly Host" (from Sabaoth which means large army) and encampment. Angels don't have bodies of flesh but they have the ability to appear in human form. They praise God, carry messages for God, they watch over God's people, and sometimes they're the instruments of God's Punishment:
49 "So it will be at the end of the age, the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous. 50 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 13:49-50)
Other than fallen angels there are several kinds of angels. There's two main types, Isaiah 6:2-3 describes the Seraphim
2 "Seraphim stood above him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory." (Isaiah 6:2-3)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lord, By This Time He Stinketh

In the Gospel of John, chapter 11, we're told that a short time before Jesus' death on the cross He and his disciples were teaching, preaching, and healing down by the Jordan river when word came to Him that his friend, Lazarus was sick. In fact the message was "He whom You love is sick" Jesus response was:
But when Jesus heard this, He said, "This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it." (John 11:4)
And He chose to stay in the Jeraco area for two full days. If you remember, Jesus was friends with and loved Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha  (if you didn't remember, we're reminded of that fact in John 11:5) but Jesus decided to stay by the river for two full days. To the casual observer it sounds a bit odd that He would do this, considering the love He had for Lazarus and his sisters. Finally Jesus said to His followers "let's us go to Judea again"

His disciples said 'the last time You were there they tried to stone You to death and now You want to go back?' but Jesus said 
"Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep." (John 11:11)
To which the disciples replied with 'well, if he's just sleeping then he'll be better.' You know, drink liquids and get plenty of rest. You can almost picture Jesus rolling His eyes and muttering a bit. But he told them:
14 So Jesus then said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, 15 and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him." (John 11:14-15)
To which Thomas (Doubting Thomas) who was plainly recalling the attempted murder of Jesus the last time He was in Jerusalem replied 'we might as well go and die with Him' (really! he really said that)

When they got to Bethany it was revealed that Lazarus had been dead and in the tomb for four days. Now think about it - it takes a full day for the messenger to walk from Bethany to Jereco to tell Jesus that Lazarus was sick, Jesus stayed two more days, then a full days walk back, that's four days in itself. This means that Lazarus was dead and in the tomb before Jesus got word that his dear friend was sick. There was really nothing Jesus could do when he was notified, Lazarus wasn't going to get any deader, so He decided to finish His ministry at Jereco before returning to Judea.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

O.T. Tuesday: For Unto Us A Child Is Born

To me one of the most mind boggling things about Jesus' ministry on earth is that His arrival was prophesied over and over with breathtaking accuracy. All of Israel knew to the day when He would triumphantly enter Jerusalem due to  the accuracy of the prophecies. To me the joy of Christmas  is the promise fulfilled, the beginning of God's ministry on earth, and the start of Satan's long final slide into the lake of fire.

He was there at the beginning of all things, but physically He was only with us for a few years, and the echoes of those three years of ministry are still reverberating through society. But today let's look back to the beginning. This is Old Testament Tuesday so let's look at the Old Testament prophesies God gave us concerning His arrival. I wondered if God smiled when ever He gave us another prophesy to ponder like a parent watching  a child working to piece together a puzzle. 

God's first first prophesy about Jesus wasn't a promise to us, it was a warning to Satan. After Satan conned Eve into eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, God had a few well chosen Words for that old serpent:
14 The Lord God said to the serpent,"Because you have done this,Cursed are you more than all cattle,And more than every beast of the field;On your belly you will go,And dust you will eatAll the days of your life;15 And I will put enmityBetween you and the woman,And between your seed and her seed;He shall bruise you on the head,And you shall bruise him on the heel." (Gen 3:14-15)
Here God is telling Satan that because he tricked Eve he's been cursed. There is going to be a child born of a woman who is going to stomp Satan in the head and all Satan can do is nip the promised one's heel. Fulfilled in Galatians 4:4

God uses all tools at his disposal to do his bidding, in this next prophesy God uses a non-Israelite to do deliver his message. Balaam was a Mesopotamian sorcerer whom God used to prophesize a coming King of Israel from the linage of Jacob
"I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near;
A star shall come forth from Jacob,
A scepter shall rise from Israel...
(Numbers 24:17)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Emergent Monday - Arranging The Deckchairs

A very odd thing about the Emergent Church is their view of the "Kingdom Of God". Jesus Himself told us where the Kingdom of God is, yet leaders in the Emergent Church are bound up in their desire to move it from it's current location (where it's pure and  safe and holy and clean) to a more convenient (for them) location, like right here on sinful ol' Earth. If they had been paying attention they'd know that the Kingdom of God is already here, but you can't see it because it's in our hearts.
20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:20-21)
According to John McArthur, Jesus "was inaugurating an era in which the kingdom would be manifest in the rule of God in men's hearts through faith in the Savior (Rom. 14: 17). That kingdom was neither confined to a particular geographical location nor visible to human eyes. It would come quietly, invisibly, and without the normal pomp and splendor associated with the arrival of a king. Jesus did not suggest that the OT promises of an earthly kingdom were hereby nullified. Rather, that earthly, visible manifestation of the kingdom is yet to come. Somehow in their theology the emergent leaders have turned their backs on the message of Jesus Christ and are running the risk of sucking thousands and thousands of souls down into hell along with them.

These people, whom tens of thousands of eager followers believe to be responsible leaders and backed by the Gospel of Jesus, are teaching that if they can make the earth a nicer place to live then God will move his kingdom to here on earth. The practitioners of emergent heresy like Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, and Bruce McLaren profess that true salvation comes by ignoring the message of Jesus Christ and concentrating instead on the works of man. They refer to something they call "God's Dream" which they profess that God imagines an ideal future for the world that we can bring about by our works and this becomes "The Kingdom Of God".

I suspect that they did not consult God on this plan.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Sound of A Baby's Tears

The sound of a child's crying is a gift from God. You may not think so at 3:00 AM in the morning but a parent bonds with that sound, in a room full of crying children a loving parent can identify their baby. This is one of the things that God uses to bond us to our babies. We can soon identify what the problem is from the sound of their tears, the squall of hunger, the howls of pain, the heartbreaking sobs of a tiny broken heart, even the yelps of boredom. Decades later when your babies are grown and considering having their own babies, and you hear a baby crying that sounds like your child sounded so long ago, it all comes back. Your head jerks toward the sound and your heart starts racing, concern wrinkles your brow before you realize that the baby of yours that used to make such a sound is at the counter paying for lunch.

I've been in situations in my life that I would rather not have been in; I've watched a live 500 lb bomb drop nearly 6 feet to the concrete just a few steps away and watching it fall I knew that if it had exploded I'd never even hear it, I was in South Korea when Kim Il Sung died, I heard the threats of war from Radio Pyongyang and wondered if I'd live to see the sun rise. I've been broken down on the side of the road in sub zero temperatures on a closed highway with only a light jacket. But none of that effected me as much as the picture above.

On 12/14/12 a madman murdered 20 kindergarten children in Newtown CT. The scene above shows elementary school children being led to safety. I was working remotely on a problem on a cable system in Florida when this picture was published on the internet. Look at the young girl in the middle, the one with her hair in bangs and in a blue shirt, the one crying as if her heart is being ripped out by a selfish nightmare of a human being. She looks so much like my daughter looked at that age. Her expression is the same as the heartbreaking expression I've seen in the past, the echos of my babies tears came roaring back across the gulf of time.

Immediately my heart froze, my brain ceased processing the information coming across my computer screen, the voices in my headset became meaningless babble. I was only astute enough to hit mute on my phone before breaking down in tears. I knew my baby was fine, I knew my baby was thousands of miles from the scene of that nightmare, I knew that this brokenhearted little girl was safe and in the loving arms of her family by the time I saw this picture, but every time I looked at that little girl I was inconsolable, the echo of my baby's tears filled my head and my heart. I was completely incapacitated  until I was able to talk my baby girl on the phone later that evening. Until then, every time I saw this picture I wept.

I pray that soon after that picture was taken that sorrowful little girl soon found the warmth and security of her daddy's arms around her, and my heart aches so horribly for those 40 mothers and fathers that can never hold their little darling ever again. My soul aches for those poor people. I pray that each and every one was able to say "I love you" to their baby over orange juice and Captain Crunch that morning, and I pray that each parent has tuned to Jesus for comfort in their agony. To have your baby snatched away so horribly is unthinkable, and on such a scale this is a national wound that needs to be bound.

However I can see on the internet the predictable rage brought on by such shock and of course the eternal question "How could God have let this happen?" Don't you think that God knows how we feel? He had to watch His own son, my adopted brother, tortured, whipped, humiliated, nailed to a cross and left to die all for the sin of doing what He was told, all the while His followers stood and watched in mute silence. Do you honestly think that a God who loves us so much that he allowed His own son to be murdered in such a brutal fashion to pay for our sins wants us to feel the same horror He felt as Jesus died in agony?

The proper question is "How could WE let this happen?" Are these children not all of our children? WE as an educated society chose to educate these children in a public building. WE as a news addicted society know that there are sick individuals walking the earth looking to do such a thing. WE as a secular society turned our back on the God that gave us the brains and the desire to protect our children. Was the shooter mentally disabled? Why wasn't be being cared for by medical professionals? Was he just a bad person? Why didn't society discipline him? Was he demon possessed? Why didn't his church seek out a deliverance ministry? Wasn't he a member of a church? Don't think for a moment I'd be surprised if I find out he's not.

In all the white noise and babble coming from the mouth of man during the aftermath of this horror I find that only God's word is meaningful and calms my heavy heart...
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Prov 3:5-6)
We first need to find strength in the Lord and do what He commands to be done, to provide His comfort to those who grieve:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2Cor1:3-4)
As for the little ones? In God's mercy they didn't suffer and I know that Jesus, my brother, has gathered those poor babies to him, along with all the other little ones we've sacrificed on the altar of Political Correctness before they even could draw breath
4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matt 18:4-6)
I look at the picture once more and I can feel the tears start welling up in memory of the sound of my baby's tears, but I know she was safe, thousands of miles away. Then I remember that she was teaching her own kindergarten class, she would have been... and I can feel the tears come again.

Friday, December 14, 2012

I'm Skeptical About Skeptics

While researching a blog entry I stumbled across the Skeptics Annotated Bible. I really wasn't paying attention to the site title or side bars and was just flash reading the content and honestly I thought it was a joke site. Verses taken out of context, verses misunderstood, statements of "fact" made on partial verses. I think my favorite was the attempted argument that salvation is not based on faith but by works by using Old Testament verses as references.

They confuse Jehovah's Witnesses with mainstream Christianity, they claim that an item in the bible is wrong simply because they disagree with it or don't like it, they use the King James version to show highschoolers, that can't even spell Shakespeare let alone read it, how silly the bible is. I just read a screed where they thought it was funny that someone would try to eat a holy offering. I'm pretty sure that if the author actually read Leviticus rather than cherry pick partial verses for humorous effect he may have noticed that offerings made by the Jews were edible, and intended to be eaten. 

So in reviewing just a small portion of the web site I've identified the main issues that Skeptics have with the bible:

1. It's really thick, a person can't be expected to read all those words, can they? - I am guessing this is why these skeptics took so many references out of context. If they had read the entire verse they're lampooning, plus the verse before and the verse after much of their confusion would be resolved.

2. Reading is hard! Some of those words are really really big! - most readers are not taught to look up something they don't understand any more. I know that Websters Dictionary, or a good bible concordance doesn't contain nearly half the yuks that a good bible has, but if one of those was available many entries on the skeptics website would be gone.

3. They're applying their "sensibilities" to events that happened thousands of years ago - I can't actually blame the author of the website as this is a sin committed by many, many modern school teachers. Children are taught that today's society is the epitome of wonderful and history must be viewed through this skewed lens. The young soul that was authoring the web site has been programmed to ignore the era that the bible was written in and trained to inject their own personal opinions into a historical record completely improperly.

The Bible isn't a book of imaginary creatures and mythological feats of daring-do. And it is not a book of holy virtuous people showing us all by their good example how best to please God. Quite conversely the bible is a gritty down-and-dirty book of how to really tic God off without trying all that hard. Exodus could be renamed "People Just Don't Listen". Kings and Chronicles could be renamed "Ancients Acting Badly".  And one must keep in mind that the Bible is grounded in history and geography, if you ignore either then much of the bible in meaningless. Many times the bible mentions going up to Jerusalem, to modern people that generally means traveling north to Jerusalem, because when we look at a map north is up and south is down. Not in the Bible, Jerusalem is on top of a mountain so going to Jerusalem from any compass point is going "up", and inversely leaving Jerusalem is always going down. 

But those are symptoms of the real problem. I really think the main problem with bible skeptics is that God is not going to reveal the bible to them because spiritually they are dead. The bible must not only be read on a historical and geographic and literary level, it absolutely must be read on a spiritual level which an unbeliever cannot do because of their spiritual state of decay and death:
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. (1Cor2:14)
A natural man is someone who has rejected the Spirit of God and believes they can survive just fine in this world without God's saving grace. To him the words of God are utter foolishness and he mocks those that do believe in God and God's word from a self destructive false sense of superiority. They've turned their back on God, and in return he holds back the meaning of his words until they are ready to accept them.
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,(Eph 1:17-18)
This is the doctrine of illumination in action. God's Holy Spirit gives us wisdom and revelation concerning Jesus Christ and opens our eyes so we can understand God's purposes in our lives. 
10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. (1Cor2:10-13)
The Spirit of God always points to the word of God for our instruction. As Jesus told His disciples the Spirit repeats what the Father and the Son have already said, this repetition helps us remember and fully hear what God has told us. Sometimes we need to hear something several times to understand a concept, here is God's love in action. He knows we are a flawed imperfect creature, and in His wisdom and love He's given us a helper to guide us and teach us and all we have to do is ask for His helper.

A skeptic does not have this divine help, all they have is their own, poor, attempts at understanding and in that they fall so far short. These poor sad folk are not to be humiliated but to be pitied, for they're dead, they've just not stopped breathing yet. They can save their own lives, and it's our job to help them, but as we come roaring to the end of times we don't have much time left to complete the Great Commission.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Do I Have A Prayer?

The problem with being brought up in a liturgical religion is that most, if not all, of our prayers were scripted. You know, canned recitations of Hail Mary's, Our Father's, Glory Be's, Acts of Contrition, not to mention the entire Stations Of The Cross. So when I joined the First Congregational Church of the Bereans and Pastor asked me to say a prayer I mentally "genned" up the rosary beads and uncorked a Hail Mary. 

Actually I did that to crack up Pastor because he knows of my Roman Catholic back ground. But it's a very odd thing to do for someone to come from a religion where prayer is more of a memorized mantra than an actual conversation and to pray publicly without the safety net of a prepared, time tested, pope approved, monologue. Instead of hiding behind a script I now found myself in the unfamiliar position of conversing with God. And when we do something like that we open up our hearts to Him, and for someone who was brought up using a young Jewish girl from the Galilean backwater of Nazareth as a proxy rather than addressing God directly, this is unfamiliar territory.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Adventures in Church Shopping

One size DOES NOT fit all
Notice: The church names have been changed to protect the innocent (with footnotes!)

When I moved to my current hometown my darling and I decided to get serious and find a church we could feel comfortable in and learn the word of God. My DW* was familiar with one of the local churches and she said she enjoyed the music there and she talked me into giving it a try. I'm going to call this one the Wikiwef Hills Church of Almighty Noise**

Wikiwef Hills is a big church nestled near a new planned community north of Denver, it wasn't the biggest church I've ever been in (not after touring some of the great cathedrals in Europe) but it is a pretty big building and draws a huge crowd. We entered the dark main sanctuary and I was amazed by the stage - I haven't seen that much sound equipment set up since I saw ZZ Top at Texas Tech  (3rd row center!). When the band began to play it was my first exposure to live "Contemporary Christian" music, and I was both delighted and disappointed. The tunes were catchy and we could actually sing along with one or two of them.

As for the disappointment side, these were performance pieces, their primary design is to glorify the band rather than God, and since all of these songs were all being played on contemporary Christian top 10 radio stations the band did all that they could to emulate the popular recording rather than dump the self glorifying riffs and play a key or two lower so the average person could sing along. However my biggest complaint with the music (bigger than the self glorification) is the content - it's bland nothing nonsense. IF (and only IF) Jesus or God is even mentioned in the lyrics, you could easily replace "God" with some girls name and still have a top 10 song, the lyrics are that secular. Otherwise it was 'trance music' where one short phrase is repeated over and over and over and over and over until you can feel it drilling into your head.

Soon one of the pastors took the stage and began to preach. His sermon was rapid fire, bullet driven, boilerplate love-thy-neighbor stuff liberally peppered with lots and lots of bible references. Being hungry for the word of God I whipped out my smart phone, fired up the You Version bible application and started looking up all the references and found that he was mostly using partial verses, and just the small bit of the verse that supported his proposition. When taken in context most of the verses that he was using had nothing to do with his point. It's like he Google searched the bible for key words, grabbed what ever popped up, and edited to meet his message's requirements. I did not like this church. I felt that if the congregation ever gets serious about scripture they should gather in the parking lot with pitchforks and torches and demand the pastor come outside for "a word". Seriously! This is our immortal souls he's playing with.

DW asked me to try it again, but try the Garage, a second massive sanctuary set up for the younger crowd. In the end it turned out that the Garage was the same as the main sanctuary with poorer acoustics. We haven't been back to Wikiwef Hills since, and once we've researched their theology we are positive we'll never be back.

Our next try was Wannabe Fellowship*** which is just up the road from Wikiwef Hills. Like Wikiwef Hills the sanctuary is dark, and when they turn up the lights it only accentuates the darkness. Wannabe had a smaller band which I liked a bit better, they weren't as blaring as the band at Wikiwef Hills, but they played the exact same tunes and like Wikiwef Hills, the music was geared to glorify the lead singer. I mostly enjoyed Wannabe Fellowship, in the year we went there we got to know some of the members, but not too many. Once the band played an "old-school" hymn done to a modern beat, it was well received and I loved it, and the band never did anything like that again. DW didn't like the pastor's sermons, and after a while I had to agree - they sounded like high level theology class lectures rather than sermons. And he asked permission to get a little stern during the sermon. Really? Seriously? He didn't do it a lot, mostly he was very tame.

When we elected to join the pastor mentioned in the class that he didn't believe baptism was necessary. I could almost hear DW completely shut down the moment he mentioned that. I glanced over and she was in complete suspended animation. He lost her. During the class he made introductions to the church staff - the introductions were pretty much the same, almost every church official was introduced as "My wife" or "my daughter" or "my brother-in-law" or "my son"... when the introductions were done DW pointed out to me that there were no deacons, no elders, no church board. Just committee chairs and ministers of this, that, and the other. My decision to acquiesce to DW's desire to keep church shopping came when I thought back over the year we attended service at Wannabe Fellowship only once do I remember receiving communion, but every week without fail we were reminded of how much money we should contribute to cover the building fund costs.

A kindly old gentleman with a pleasant smile knocked on our door one day and invited us to attend service at the church he was starting up, so we found ourselves at Storefront Baptist Church****. Oh, that man could PREACH! Never having gone to a Baptist church before I never heard such love and passion in one sermon. And when he wanted us to know that God's Wrath was ready to be unleashed, there was no doubt in our minds that God's Wrath was ready to be unleashed. However his associate pastor who was in charge of the music was completely tone deaf. Senior Pastor played the electric piano beautifully while Associate Pastor sang the wonderful old Baptist hymns completely off key all the while 'directing' us with one hand moving mechanically up, down, left, right, up, down, left, right, up, down, left, right. I wonder what he would do if he had a hymn written in three quarter time. Halfway thru the music worship an elderly lady bustled in, obviously late, and sat down at the upright piano and played along in yet another key, I believe one of her own invention. I was hoping the airport would call and complain about the noise, it was that bad. But they were enthusiastic and did it all with love for the glory of God, and I got a taste of what I now know I need.

Next we had two choices, one was the Calvary Chapel which I think is cool because they teach the bible verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book and I like the founder Chuck Smith, but we tried another church first. We convinced a friend to come with us and we went to the church and sat off to the side. Before the service started the pastor came around and welcomed us and grinned and informed us that we were sitting in the troublemaker's section. We didn't realize it at the time but his wife, daughter, and the church pianist were sitting behind us. Service started and the music was standard old school hymns sang from a standard old school hymnal, I know DW prefers contemporary, but these old hymns... so timeless and beautiful, so many times I have to stifle tears as the meaning of those old lyrics written by saints from days gone by wash over me.

Then the preacher got up and began to speak, his sermon was on angels, both good and bad, and how they interacted with us. I have never heard anything like that before. As he spoke Pastor came out from behind his lectern and he continued his sermon and I noticed he was in his stocking feet, he had kicked his shoes off for comfort. I had never seen that before. The bulletin which unlike the other churches we visited was packed full of news of the happenings of the congregation, contained an outline of his sermon. I had never seen that before. When Pastor mentioned a bible verse I heard a fluttering of pages being turned and I looked around and saw nearly the entire congregation with bibles open, taking notes, highlighting verses. I had never seen that before.

Bereans! We found a church packed full of Bereans! I watched in awe as dozens of people flipped pages, took notes, highlighted passages, and learned the Word of God. I still remember watching an old gentleman (whom I eventually and quickly came to love) grasp a pencil in an arthritis twisted hand and deftly mark notes in his beloved King James. Since that time I've read over his shoulder and every page I've seen in that dear old tome has annotations and underlines. That book is a product of love.

At some point during the sermon Pastor flatly stated something to the effect of "I'm not here to attract people into this church, that's the church boards job. I'm here to teach you and lead you." I have never even heard Monsignor Vesuvius***** the perish pariah of my youth stand up and say something so full of stern conviction. Personally I knew right there and then I had found a home, a church full of Bereans! and a pastor who knows what a pastor's job truly is!

I'm not sure when DW and our friend thought we found a home too, I think it was not very long after I felt that  this place was for me. It most likely came to them as they scanned the bulletin and made plans to attend the classes listed therein. (And these are not 'fluffy nothing' classes, the women's bible study started out in The Book of Revelation) In such a short time so many wonderful things happened, so many laughs, some tears too, even some scary things have happened, but it is all for the better. Thanks to the First Congregational Church of the Bereans****** the center of our lives has shifted centered on God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the wonderful gift they gave us: our new church home.

All of this flashed through my mind Sunday morning as I stood at the lectern and looked down at my notes. Everything, all of it, in a flash. I lifted my head and looked at their faces as they looked at me, waiting. There was Bob, and the Other Bob, Sandy, Rick, oh and Rick brought Deb! It's been a while since I've seen her. Where's Harold and Susy? don't look to the left, Eddy and Wes are going to make faces to make me laugh, don't look to the right, I'll lock on to DW and lose track of what I'm doing. Fighting back real tears of joy I took a deep breath, pulled the microphone closer and began to address the First Congregational Church of the Bereans, my family, for the very first time...

*Dear Wife
**Wikiwef = Wish I Knew It Was Emergent First
***Wannabe just like Wikiwef Hills
****In a real live storefront! It was so cool.
*****Not his real name, but a pretty apt description
******It's not meant to be funny, it's meant to be descriptive

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

O.T. Tuesday - What's a Melchizedek?

This is one of those things that pop up when I'm reading the bible that seems almost meaningless at first, then when I get to the New Testament I find that it wasn't so meaningless at all, but I have to really start digging to find out what it was that I just read. Melchizedek is one of those items. I even turned to a Jewish friend to insure that I got the pronunciation correct. 

Malchezedek is isn't a thing, it's a person, a relative of Abram (eventually Abraham) who ruled Salem which eventually became Jerusalem. We first meet Malchezedek in Genesis after Abram avenged the capture of his nephew Lot at the hands of Chedorlaomer, the king of Elam, who with a bunch of other kings sacked Sodom and took Lot prisoner. We pick up the story of the War Of The Kings after Abram and three hundred eighteen of his men rescued Lot:
17 Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.
19 He blessed him and said,
"Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand."
He gave him a tenth of all. (Genesis 14:17-20)

So in a nutshell, Abram took three hundred eighteen men and rescued his nephew. Then Melchizedek, the King of Salem and priest of God Most High, brought out bread and wine and blessed Abram, and Abram gave him a tithe. In more enlightening terms Melchizedek serves as high priest to his kinsman Abram. He comes to Abram after a huge battle where Abram incurred blood guilt. Melchizedek performed a purification ritual of some form to help the warriors deal with their guilt, most likely this ritual involved the bread and wine. In thanks Abraham offers Melchizedek the tithe. (source)

Melchizedek makes his next appearance in Psalms:
4 The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind,
“You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”(Psalm 110:4)
Psalm 110 is talking about the messiah, and when the author of Psalm 110, King David, speaks of the order of Melchizedek he's not talking about a fraternal organization like the Knights of Pythias or the Order of the Moose, which was buzzing around in my brain. In modern English David would be saying something like "...just the same as Melchizedek."

Now here's where I start getting tangled up in the bible. Most pre-Exodus stuff is fairly easy: Cain and Able, Noah built an ark, the Tower of Babel never got finished, Jacob saw a ladder (I probably would too if I used a rock for a pillow, but I don't think I'll see the angels he saw), Joseph had an awesome coat, and Melchizedek was a priest. But how is that possible? In the Jewish tradition priests come from the tribe of Levi, but Melchizedek was a priest LONG before Jacob and Leah made Levi. So how can you have a priest before you have any Levites? (if any reader has a suggestion PLEASE comment... I'm confused)

So what Psalm 110:4 is saying about the Messiah is that the messiah is so awesome that he'll be a priest forever - until the end of time and beyond. More importantly the messiah is not going to be from the tribe of Levi, because if he was he'd be a normal priest (kohen), he'll be a priest just like Melchizedek not having connection to the tribe of Levi. 

Jesus, as we know, is of the tribe of Judah. In Hebrews he's called a high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek, and the implications of that go beyond prophesy, but that's a topic for another blog entry. Lets take joy in the fact that the bible defined the Melchizedek priesthood, and flatly stated that the messiah would be a high priest just like Melchizedek, and he is! Another prophesy dead on!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Emergent Monday - Do These Sheep Smell Like Dogs To You Too?

In the emerging culture, darkness represents spirituality. We see this in Buddhist temples, as well as Catholic and Orthodox churches. Darkness communicates that something serious is happening. - Dan Kimball The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations
4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness (1 Thes 5:4-5)
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12)
Is it just me or once upon a time could we actually walk into a Christian church and hear the word of God preached without apology? Having grown up in a liturgical church a lot of God's word was lost in pomp and ceremony, but I knew that his word was in there somewhere hidden among the candles and processions. As I matured I found that most of what I was raised on was exclusive to my Roman Catholicism, and imagine my surprise when I joined the USAF and found out a missal (missle) was more than just a book with Latin on the left page and English on the right. Back then it seemed like there was two kinds of Christian faith; Roman Catholic and everything else, but regardless of church, God's word reigned over all. As my horizons expanded I found this was an overly simplified view but I did expect that in each church, with a few exceptions, that Biblical scripture would be the predominant word du jour and that the End Times was a very far away. 

However several years ago things changed. Churches started getting bigger and bigger, Robert Schuller is one of the first Mega-Church ministers and built a crystal cathedral to glorify... something. Suddenly it's all about church growth. No longer is the little white neighborhood clapboard church the point to gather for worship and glorification of God, but the huge mega facility where thousands of tithe bearing worshipers can gather in multi-media splendor to be lulled into a stupor by contemplative prayer and have their eardrums assaulted by 10,000 watts of guitar driven rock anthems based on the heresy of The Message  paraphrase of the Bible.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying all large congregations are wrong and that all modern worship music is bad, I'm positive there's a lot of good out there. Some of these churches are actively teaching the Word of God and intentionally assaulting peoples high frequency hearing capabilities in order to attract young church goers. I'm sure some souls are being saved, some new relationships are being made with Jesus. What I am saying is that not all of those sheep you're seeing are eating grass, some have a zipper hidden in their fleece and a taste for red meat. 

I'm not talking just about Big churches, I'm talking about emergent churches. According to Matt Slick at CARM an Emergent church is a church that has many of the following traits:
  1. An awareness of and attempt to reach those in the changing postmodern culture.
  2. An attempt to use technology, i.e., video, slide shows, internet.
  3. A broader approach to worship using candles, icons, images, sounds, smells, etc.
  4. An inclusive approach to various, sometimes contradictory belief systems.1
  5. An emphasis on experience and feelings over absolutes.
  6. Concentration on relationship-building over proclamation of the gospel.
  7. Shunning stale traditionalism in worship, church seating, music, etc.
  8. A de-emphasis on absolutes and doctrinal creeds
  9. A re-evaluation of the place of the Christian church in society.
  10. A re-examination of the Bible and its teachings.
  11. A re-evaluation of traditionally-held doctrines.
  12. A re-evaluation of the place of Christianity in the world.
When he says "Re-evaluation" that's a polite way of saying "Change" and when he says "de-emphasis" what he means is "Ignore what's inconvenient" The emergent church puts more value on works than on faith, more emphasis on acts rather than salvation. And when it comes to Salvation they have their own version of salvation:
Salvation is the entire universe being brought back into harmony with its maker. This has huge implications for how people present the message of Jesus. Yes, Jesus can come into our hearts. But we can join a movement that is as wide and as big as the universe itself. Rocks and trees and birds and swamps and ecosystems. God’s desire is to restore all of it.
-Rob Bell,  Velvet Elvis
Whoo Hoo! Not only is everyone saved, everything is saved too! And I was so worried about by bottle cap collection! As completely whacked as this sounds Rob Bell was actually the pastor of an emergent Mega-Church when he wrote that: the Mars Hill church. If you look at their theology they speak of Jesus and the biblical narrative, but they don't say they believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, they say that God inspired authors of scripture by his Spirit to speak to all generations of believers. Hey - Mark Twain inspired generations of believers, and nonbelievers also, Betcha it didn't do much for their eternal salvation however. They say that God created all things good, which very quietly states that God did not create all things. They say that God "was and always will be in a communal relationship with himself" but they never, ever say "Trinity"

They call Adam & Eve's fall from grace a "people's rebellion" but never once to they mention Satan's role in said rebellion (or Satan at all for that matter). They continually use the words narrative and story, both words have a connotation of something that not necessarily is true which gives their theology 'plausible deniability'. Their theology speaks about restoration of a broken world, and reconciliation with God but they never mention heaven, never mention Christ's sacrifice nor its meaning, and they never mention a need to repent, because:

Their theology never mentions salvation.

What does God actually say about salvation?
14 “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:14-16)
Unlike Mars Hill Church, God has a lot to say about eternal salvation. But to the emergent church, at least the Mars Hill church, heaven is earth, which probably explains why top-name emergent pastors don't want you to read the bible.Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte NC calls parishioners who want to study the bible "potbellied Christians who want to shove more food of the bible down their throats."

Perry Noble, Pastor New Spring Church Anderson SC calls parishioners who want to learn more of the bible "jackasses", and says "You want to learn more about the bible let's see how you serve man, let's check your tithing records." Is Pastor Perry stating that only members of his church who are caught up on their tithes are allowed to study the bible, that the Word of God is dependent on the Cash In Perry's Pocket? He goes on to state that he believes most Christians are educated in the bible ‘way beyond their level of obedience anyway.

Mark Beeson, pastor of Granger Community Church in Granger IN makes fun of parishioners by sitting in a high chair on stage screaming and squalling "Feed me!" mocking members of his flock who are starving for God's word. My response would be a (loud) request to be taught at least 1 Timothy 1:8-10

And "America's Pastor" Rick Warren is also on the 'ignore the bible' bandwagon. He's stated that he  (and C. Peter Wagner) discourages the study of Bible prophesy because it's actually a diversion by the devil. Of course you realize that emergent Pastor Warren knows full well 1/3 of the Bible is prophesy. What does Jesus say about studying the bible?
 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ ” (Matthew 4:4)

Heavenly Father
Please find it in your divine mercy to change the minds of those that are polluting the hearts of your faithful with their heresy, please move those aside that dare stand between your word and the starving worshipers that long for your direct guidance. In places like North Korea and the middle east people are being killed for possessing mere scraps of copies of scriptures while here in the land of the free charlatans are telling us that study of your word is gluttony. Please bring these once good leaders back to your flock, touch their heart so they will repent and restore your word to the center of their world. In Jesus name we beseech you.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Interesting Facts About Jesus

We're busy day today preparing for the feast celebrating our Lord and Savior's birth, no time to get something original out so keeping our eye on the Lord in this joyful season here's 10 Interesting Facts About Jesus:

The Name Jesus
Jesus is the English transliteration of the Greek name Iesus. Joshua is the English transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshuah. Both Jesus and Joshua mean Yahweh saves or Jehovah is salvation. The name Jesus appears in the Bible more than 900 times. [Transliteration means that the word is not translated from one language to another, but tries to represent the same letters/characters from one language to another. Pronunciation may or may not be preserved.]

The Word Christ
Christ is not actually a name, but a title. When the Bible talks about the Messiah in the Old Testament, it is referring to the same title as the New Testament calls Christ. Both Messiah and Christ mean anointed one. Jesus was anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38) and was the promised redeemer. The first promise of a redeemer in the Bible was in Genesis 3:15. The word Christ appears in the Bible more than 500 times.

Jesus’ Titles For Himself
Jesus said He was the bread of life and the living bread (6:35, 48, 51). He was the light of the world (John 8:12). Jesus was the good shepherd (John 10:11, 14). Jesus outright claimed to be the Son of God (John 10:36). He also liked to call himself the Son of man (Matthew 20:28). He said He was the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).

Foods Jesus Ate
Jesus ate bread (Matthew 26:26), which has been a common food throughout history. He ate clean meats such as lamb (Luke 22:15) and fish (Matthew 14:19). He may have eaten eggs because of His statement that eggs is a good gift (Luke 11:12, 13). The Old Testament says that Jesus would eat butter and honey (Isaiah 7:15). Luke 24:42 and 43 says that Jesus ate broiled fish and honeycomb after His resurrection.

Jesus Was a Carpenter
Jesus was known to be a carpenter (Mark 6:3). This indicates that He not only grew up in the house of a carpenter (Matthew 13:55), but He worked in the trade at least long enough that people knew Him to be a carpenter too. There is a question of exactly what the word translated as carpenter really means. The Greek word is tekton, which is a generic word for anyone who makes things. This was applied to craftsmen of various objects. Early writings, tradition and culture indicate that Jesus probably worked with wood in some form. Therefore carpenter is a fine translation of this word.

Jesus’ Birthday
Jesus’ birthday is generally celebrated on December 25 each year. However, the Bible does not tell us exactly when His birthday was. Various scholars have put the Birth of Christ sometime in winter or early spring. We celebrate His birth at Christmas, but there is no record in the Bible of the early Christians celebrating the birth of Jesus, it's thought that Christians of the 2nd century began the tradition of celebrating Christ's birth during the debauchery of the Roman Saturnalia festival.

Jesus and John the Baptist
John the Baptist was Jesus’ second cousin. Mary (the mother of Jesus) and Elisabeth (the mother of John) were cousins (Luke 1:36). John was about 6 months older than Jesus (Luke 1:36). In John chapter 1 when John the Baptist declares Jesus as the Lamb of God (v. 36) this is probably not the first time they met. They were likely together often as children and young men growing up.

Jesus’ Family
Jesus had several half-brothers and sisters ( Matthew 12:46-47; 13:55-56). At least some of his brothers were named James, Joses, Simon and Judas. His sisters are not named in the Bible. History says that James became the head of the church in Jerusalem.

Jesus Was Passionate
Some portrayals of Jesus in films and popular culture have Him walking around like a disconnected being who is hanging around to solve problems. However, the Bible shows some very passionate scenes from the life of Christ. He overthrew the tables of the money changers in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13). He was moved to tears at the news of Lazarus’ death (John 11:35). The Bible says many times that Jesus was moved with compassion (Matthew 9:36-38;  Mark 1:41 and others).

Jesus and Simon
There was a man conscripted to help Jesus carry the cross up to Golgotha. This man’s name was Simon (Matthew 27:32). This man was from Cyrene which was also called Niger in Acts 13:1. This is not in the country known as Niger today. Rather he was from the country of Libya. Simon had two sons who were apparently known to the early church. Mark 15:21 says that Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus as if the readers of the Gospel would know those two men.