Saturday, September 30, 2023

Mining the Minors: Joel (7)

A (very) few regular readers made gentle remarks concerning my commentary on earlier books in this study to the effect that — putting it politely — my pace compares unfavorably to the meanderings of an octogenarian snail. Suitably chastened, I have tried with the last few prophets to cover a little more territory per instalment. I intended to deal with Joel 3:1-16 today, as that makes for better division of the subject matter. Despite best efforts, after working through the questions raised by the first eight verses that is definitely not going to happen.

Alas, the best laid plans.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Over the Target

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Immanuel Can: A thought occurs to me this morning. If there is one thing I could do for the people of God, I would want it to be this: I would want them to start talking again as if being a Christian really matters.

What I mean is that I’d like to provoke people to start saying things like, “Well, that’s the natural perspective, but how does the Lord fit into this situation?” or “What does the Lord have to say about the choices I have to make?” or “How do I get my kid to be more spiritual?” or “What will happen if I do X, in view of heaven?” You know the kind of thing … talking and debating as if something’s at stake there.

Tom: Okay, I can see that ...

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Authentic Me

I’m not wading into the moral train wreck that is the Bruce Jenner situation. There are some things about which the less said the better. But I am interested in the language that has come out over and over again in regard to it. I note the recurrence of a theme that bears serious consideration for a Christian.

It’s the idea of authenticity. In the parlance of the world, it’s supposed to explain or excuse a very great deal. It is generally taken for granted that to be “authentic” is an absolute moral duty — in fact, it might be the only universal moral duty that the liberal left actually recognizes. And somehow Jenner has achieved this highest value by his recent act of selecting to go half woman.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Rabble Among Them

It’s all about who’s doing the driving ...

“Now the rabble that was among them [Israel] had a strong craving,” the book of Numbers tells us.

The King James translation of this verse is a lot more fun. It reads, “The mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting.” There’s something more than a little amusing about the “fell a lusting” archaism, though the story that follows about this mixed multitude is far from humorous.

Craving led the “mixed multitude” that traveled with Israel to complain, which led to the Israelites around them complaining, and before too long the camp of God’s people was full of weeping and wailing.

Over their diet, of all things. Their very temporary diet. They were on their way to a land of milk and honey, after all.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Wisdom Where We Find It

I have a tendency to take wisdom where I find it.

Obviously, scripture is by far the world’s greatest and purest wisdom source, the only fountain completely safe to drink from — provided, of course, you interpret the Bible correctly — and therefore the only one I drink from time and time again, to the best of my ability every day of my life. Nevertheless, there are numerous useful sources of ‘small-t truth’ out there to explore in the time that remains to us — provided we filter them through the word of God on the way into our brains rather than simply accepting sophistry or snappy formulations as the real deal.

To the pure, all things are pure, right?

Monday, September 25, 2023

Anonymous Asks (268)

“Is numerology an important area of study?”

I recently had an extended conversation over coffee with an old friend who is away from the Lord and experiencing all kinds of family troubles as a result. Being male, he has difficulty admitting he needs help, so during our chat he constantly deflected by talking about everything else in the world other than the current state of his relationship with Christ. Donald Trump. The LGBTQ lobby. The deterioration of the school system. You name it, he talked about it.

Needless to say, we did not get to the bottom of his problems at home. The conversation was extended, but it was not of infinite duration. Eventually he had to leave to pick up his daughter from school, and that was that.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Broken Window Sins

All sins create distance between man and God.

Still, even before the sun rises tomorrow, the proud man can stick a pin in his swollen ego; the narcissist can begin to learn empathy; the drunkard can put the bottle down before his liver finally packs it in; the liar can start telling the truth; and the thief can commit himself to making his victims whole. John the Baptist taught wholesale, on-the-spot lifestyle modification to all he baptized. When you just stop doing certain things and start doing the opposite, all kinds of wonderful stuff can happen.

Then there are the “broken window” sins.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Mining the Minors: Joel (6)

Some people can find the church just about anywhere. Mike Fuhrer finds the church in Jerusalem during the great tribulation, and he gets this from today’s passage in the second chapter of Joel.

Now, there is no doubt he’s right about the Jerusalem part. Joel unambiguously locates the majority of his prophecy right in Israel’s capital. Throughout his three chapters, the prophet makes mention of Israel three times, Judah six, Jerusalem six and Zion seven. Unless all these 22 references are allegorical, there is no doubt about the geographic location in view. When Joel speaks of walls and houses, it is the walls and houses of Jerusalem he has in mind.

But the church? Really?

Friday, September 22, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Filling the Vacuum

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Nature abhors a vacuum. This includes a spiritual vacuum.

Tom: The LA Times reports that when asked about their religious affiliation, millennials overwhelmingly answer “none”. That answer is not entirely accurate. As it turns out, a growing number of younger, nominally secular people are embracing practices like meditation, tarot, astrology, energy healing and the use of crystals.

Are you surprised, IC?

Immanuel Can: Not at all, actually. It fits perfectly with what we should expect.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Disaster of the Misled Middle

“Better to have an enemy who slaps you in the face than a friend who stabs you in the back,” goes the old saying.

It’s true. And the worst part is it that when your friend stabs you, he’s stabbing from behind your defenses already. An enemy’s danger you can see coming; a friend’s you cannot. An enemy you can fight with all you’ve got. But when it’s a friend that one must fight, there’s grief, self-doubt, hesitancy, restraint and a profound sense of loss at every step. You hang on longer to hope of a reconciliation, of healing and of forgiveness, even when those things don’t appear. That’s why friends can hurt friends in ways no enemy can.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Darkness and Light

Let’s face it, Christianity has never been a major attraction for the cool kids. These days, some churches have no kids attending at all. Young people from Christian homes who continue to accompany their parents to church throughout their teens and early twenties often find themselves with a very short list of prospective candidates for dating or marriage. It is increasingly common for these young people to head off to college and come back for Christmas or Thanksgiving with an unbelieving boyfriend or girlfriend. Absent a successful intervention from fellow believers, we all know where that path ends.

Why does this happen so often? Surely not because the scriptures are unclear.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Not Peace but a Sword

The popular notion that lemmings in the wild commit mass suicide by leaping off cliffs is a sixty-five-year-old lie that has attained the status of myth. So says the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The perpetrators were employees of the Disney Corporation in a 1950s documentary called White Wilderness. They staged the fake lemming migration with a combination of tight camera angles, judicious editing and a turntable, of all things. For the legendary cliff scene, they hurled lemmings into an Alberta river from off camera and captured them on film thrashing and drowning.

The reason? It made for good TV. Seriously.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Anonymous Asks (267)

“Can a Christian be a stay-at-home dad?”

All “Can I” questions from Christians provoke much the same reaction in me, which is something along the lines of “Why do you want to do something you already suspect is questionable?”

In this case, really questionable.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Flyover Country: James

Paul wrote the majority of New Testament letters. These almost exclusively take the form of one or more persuasive theological arguments buttressed by proofs of various sorts, usually sandwiched between greetings and salutations. Peter’s first epistle follows a similar pattern, as does Hebrews. Others, like Jude and 2 and 3 John, were written with a single evident concern or focus.

James, not so much. He is all over the map.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Mining the Minors: Joel (5)

Joel chapter 2’s appeal to return to the Lord has a timeless quality.

Unusually for prophetic scripture, Joel has left undescribed the specific sins of Judah for which God is calling her to account. We can only guess the “when” and the “what” he feels compelled to address. The prophet could be calling any generation of Israelites to return to behavior suited to a covenant relationship with their God — any generation, that is, that still understands the meaning of fasting and mourning, of grain and drink offerings, of the trumpet blown to call together the solemn assembly.

Israelite worship came with a lot of baggage.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: The Pendulum Swings

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Pride Month in Canada has come and gone, but there are still rainbows everywhere: in banks, fast food outlets and all sorts of corporate venues where you wouldn’t have seen them a decade ago. Our office building had a display in the lobby. If we were to judge the general acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle on the basis of such evidence, we would have to conclude public support for a practice the word of God condemns as an abomination has never been higher.

Not so, say the polls. Interestingly, it’s Millennials who most egregiously dissent from the “conventional wisdom” of their peers.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

A Nation of Useful Idiots

This isn’t going to be a nice post. It’s going to be rude, pointed and blunt. It’s definitely going to offend a lot of people … maybe as many as half of our readers. But that’s also one difference we at Coming Untrue have long prized in comparison to some other, more diplomatic sites: we’re not going to back down on principle in order to stroke an audience.

If political correctness and flattery are what you like, you’d maybe better move on now.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Wandering Spirits

In my perambulations far from home the other day, I came across yet another educational institution with a new and utterly unpronounceable indigenous name, replacing the original and admittedly blander “Eastern Commerce School”, which could mean anything at all, including an experiment in Chinese democracy. The sign in the photo to the right was on prominent display.

For those readers not up to speed, our Canadian government has taken upon the State the burden of generations of corporate guilt with respect to its ancient predecessor’s dealings with the native Canadian population. That’s a load that does not sit lightly on its bearers, or conveniently evaporate in the sun when we tire of bearing it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

What Does Your Proof Text Prove? (28)

Judd is writing a letter to the editor at one of his frequently visited websites. He finds it suboptimal that despite “signaling moderate distaste” for Donald Trump, its editor would actually consider voting for the man should he run for president in the 2024 election. Judd’s counterproposal is that the Republican Party seek out a candidate who epitomizes biblical values rather than a divisive individual sporting a well-acknowledged plethora of warts and wrinkles.

By way of correction, Judd offers a familiar proverb. To his mind, the teaching of scripture should be conclusive: “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Monday, September 11, 2023

Anonymous Asks (266)

“Does God still perform miracles?”

We often hear expressions like “the miracle of birth” or “a miracle of engineering”. Such things may be impressive to the senses or sentiments but they are not, properly speaking, miraculous. Calling something a miracle that occurs naturally every eight seconds or so in the U.S. alone stretches even figurative language to the point of absurdity.

The first step in answering the question “Does God still perform miracles?” is to ensure we are all talking about the same thing.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Flyover Country: Galatians

Justification before God is by grace alone through faith in Christ alone. Any requirement beyond the exercise of faith reduces the Christian gospel to the level of the world’s false religions, making salvation to whatever degree a work of man rather than a work of God.

In Galatians, Paul argues that to import even the smallest human work into salvation is to be severed from Christ and to desert God. Christ-plus-anything is a recipe for spiritual disaster and eternal loss.

That makes Galatians one of the most important letters ever written. It is literally a life-saver.

Saturday, September 09, 2023

Mining the Minors: Joel (4)

Prophetic scripture is full of difficult passages, and this second chapter of Joel is right up there with the most bewildering among them. Interpretations offered for the locust horde the prophet describes include: (1) literal locusts in the time of Joel; (2) the Babylonian army of 607 BC; (3) four different invading armies over a period of hundreds of years; (4) a bunch of proselytizing Jehovah’s Witnesses (no, I’m not kidding); and (5) the demonic affliction of apostate Christendom in some future day.

There are compelling textual reasons to reject all these interpretations (not just the patently silly ones) and look for a future fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, not in the spiritual realm, but right in the heart of Israel.

Friday, September 08, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Churches in the Crosshairs

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Tom: Last week, IC, Bernie and I discussed the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Toronto, Canada, which consisted of 8,000 Catholics, Buddhists, Baptists, Bahai, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans and indigenous spiritualists. They gathered to complain about Donald Trump and disseminate tactics for effectively infiltrating evangelical churches in order to convert us to the globalist / ecumenicalist cause.

Since they’ve been so kind as to warn us of their intentions in advance, I thought maybe we could consider how best to keep them out, or perhaps how to bring them in while thwarting their efforts.

Thursday, September 07, 2023

College / University Survival Guide [Part 3]

My father always said he would prefer I never had a motorcycle. He had ridden when he was young, and he said it was very dangerous. He certainly was not going to buy me one. But I was fascinated with them, and by the time I was nineteen I owned one — a dirt bike.

I crashed it on my first day out; no real damage, just a good mud bath. After that, I got the hang of it, and was off. I never really crashed again. Sure, I came close a few times, but that was half the fun. Being young is about taking on those risks and seeing how far you can push your limits. That’s how you grow up and find out what you’re capable of.

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

The Commentariat Speaks (28)

Over at Blog & Mablog, Justin has a question about a difficult passage at the end of James:

“What is the purpose of anointing with oil [James 5:14]? Does it make our prayers extra powerful? Is that for us in this day and age?

I am genuinely curious due to the fact that in our church there is a sister that has just been diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. We do pray and have been praying for her, her husband, and their children.

This past Sunday during our announcements after the service our pastor stated that he and another elder were going to fulfill the James 5 principle and personally go and anoint her head with oil for healing.”

Oddly enough, we just discussed this passage in our weekly Bible study.

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Qualified to Forgive

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, biblical forgiveness (as discussed in this recent post) is not a state of mind or a particular emotion; rather, forgiveness is a verbal transaction between two parties in which one requests relief from a felt obligation and the other grants it. Letting go of anger, resisting bitterness, and getting over old hurts are simply not the same thing as genuine forgiveness asked for and received.

But there is another aspect to genuine biblical forgiveness worth exploring: it requires that the correct parties show up to the table.

Monday, September 04, 2023

Anonymous Asks (265)

“Should Christians give out of their gross or net income?”

In my twenties when the Lord got hold of me, I was for a time the spiritual equivalent of a fire-breathing dragon. I was VERY gung-ho about the things of God. Sometimes that was a good thing. Other times I was way too dogmatic about truth I had yet to live out and about areas of experience in which I had yet to be tested.

If you had asked me today’s question every year of my twenties, I would’ve answered “gross income” every time. Today, not so much.

Sunday, September 03, 2023

More Calf Exercises

Is it my imagination, or do those
tags in your ears say, “Liar, liar”?

It was 722 BC, and God had taken Israel off the board.

As a political entity, the northern kingdom would no longer be active in accomplishing the purposes of Heaven. God continued his work, of course, in the lives of individual Israelites and their families dispersed throughout Assyria’s empire.

The writer of 2 Kings gives the nation this eulogy: “They went after false idols and became false.”

But this is how it goes: when you order your world on the basis of a lie, you further the lie and become a liar yourself. And liars are not much use as anything but cautionary tales.

Saturday, September 02, 2023

Mining the Minors: Joel (3)

For reasons I addressed last week, my approach to Joel’s prophecy is going to be something of a road less traveled. I’m convinced beyond reasonable doubt that all three chapters of the book are concerned with the same future invasion of Israel (which I believe will take place during the great tribulation period), and with its aftermath in the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.

After all, the prophet ends with “YHWH dwells in Zion”. He says it twice, just to make sure we don’t miss it.

Friday, September 01, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Those Pesky Evangelicals

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

The 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Toronto, Canada was ecumenicalism monetized, organized and with a working agenda for planet-wide spiritual dominion.

That’s not hyperbole. They’re not hiding much these days, and almost anyone who makes an effort is free to come in to their major gatherings and take a look. They want both a world government and a viable world religion to make it happen. Something close to 8,000 delegates got together to plug away at the project. These included Catholics, Buddhists, Baptists, the Bahai, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, indigenous spiritualists and even a video message from the Dalai Lama. You name it, they were there. Carl Teichrib was also there, reporting.

Tom: Assuming it’s accurate, what interests me about Teichrib’s summary is that the Interfaith Engagement panel he attended was particularly troubled by evangelical resistance to their project. They considered at length how to break down the walls that keep evangelicals from fully participating in their little Babel 2.0. Their recommendations were intriguing.