Affirmation and Freedom

In this article by Rob Cottrell, he describes how it was the choice between maintaining his relationship with his Lesbian daughter, and following his existing faith beliefs to the letter that brought him into huge freedom in his faith. Truly, for each of us, God uses different means to bring us into that freedom.

This might sound like a bit of a no-brainer to most parents, but sadly, there are those who would rather follow ‘men’s’ interpretation of a book (Mt 15:9) than do something that is perceived by those ‘men’ as being ‘sinful‘. And of course pandering to the demands of those people always leads to more slavery to rules and regulations; they are never satisfied.

So, here’s Rob’s article, just click the graphic below to go to it. Enjoy!


Yeah, I know that my series on ‘Coming Out’ was supposed to have concluded with the previous piece in the series, ‘Conforming to the Pattern of This World‘. But I wanted to make this present article part of the series because of its relevance.

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If Hell Doesn’t Exist Then Why the Cross?

I’ve been asked by friends, ‘If you don’t believe in Hell, then why did Jesus have to die?’ And while that’s a good point, there is of course far more to Jesus’s death than His simply ‘purchasing our salvation’. There is so much more to the Cross (by that, I mean Jesus’s death on the Cross) than sin, than wrath, than most of the other attributes and meanings we ascribe to it. The deepest meaning, though, is of course the Love of God for us. St. Paul captures it well in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

But the question of Hell, now, that’s another thing entirely. I personally do not believe that God torments unrepentant people forever in a fiery furnace. I’ve written lots before on this subject. But even if Hell does indeed exist, as Evangelical doctrine would have us believe, to see the purpose of Christ’s death as only being that of ‘saving’ us from that Hell, now that, to me, narrows down the immense breadth and scope of Christ’s death to just the one item – saving us from Hell – to the exclusion of everything else.

And then there’s the somewhat scary idea that some Christians come up with: if there’s no threat of Hell, can’t we just do as we like? If sin is forgiven, isn’t that just a licence to go and sin as much as we like? Well, to be honest, the Cross would not affect that; if we wanted to sin because sin is forgiven, then the threat of Hell is clearly not working. No, to me, this indicates a serious misunderstanding of Jesus’s finished work on the Cross, the effect of the knowledge of God’s Grace in our lives, and the whole idea that if not for this idea of God holding the threat of Hell over us, we would simply sin, sin, sin. But that doesn’t make any sense to me.

Anyway, I read an excellent article on this subject recently by a friend of mine, Mark Darling of Queensland, Australia. Mark is a very smart man whose background is in psychology and applied neuroscience. He puts these arguments forward so much better than I could; why would I want to ‘reinvent the wheel’ when Mark has already written such an excellent piece? I will pass you over to Mark’s article now. Click the link below to go to the article:

If Hell Doesn’t Exist Then Why the Cross?

This essay is a breath of fresh air – definitely go and read it!

Grace and Peace to you.

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Exodus

I’ve always said that there’s no instrument quite like the piano. And it’s by far my favourite instrument to play.

And perhaps the most colossally brilliant pianist on the Christian scene at the moment is the amazing Terry MacAlmon. I love his style, I love his heart for worship, and I love his anointing and skill.

In this excellent demonstration of Terry’s ability, he plays the epic theme from the 1960 movie ‘Exodus’, original score by Ernest Gold. Note how he is offering what some would call a ‘secular’ score as an act of worship; some people wouldn’t be able to cope with that, but I personally have played secular pieces in worship; indeed I consider John Denver’s ‘Annie’s Song‘ to be one of the finest worship songs ever written. Segueing then into his own song, ‘You Deserve the Glory‘, which I have shared on my blog before.

Let your spirit be lifted by this magnificent music – ‘secular’ or not – and enter into the worship that Terry takes you into so easily. I’ve put the lyrics to ‘You Deserve the Glory‘ below the video so you  can join in if you want to.

Enjoy!

You deserve the glory
And the honour
Lord, we lift our hands in worship
As we lift your Holy name

You deserve the glory
And the honour
Lord, we lift our hands in worship
As we lift your Holy name

For You are great
You do miracles so great
There is no one else like You
There is no one else like You

For You are great
You do miracles so great
There is no one else like You
There is no one else like You

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More of Darren’s Wisdom

On my blog, I’ve shared a fair bit of the wisdom of my friend Darren. He’s a man of great integrity and it is my heartfelt honour to share more of his thoughts. Enjoy, and be blessed 🙂


If, during your declaration of ‘truth’, you end up deeply hurting another soul, perhaps you need to re-examine that ‘truth’ in light of the true gospel!…

“Love casts out all fear”
“Love never fails”
“It was for love that He gave Himself up”
“If I have not love, I am but a clashing cymbal”
“Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves”
“Love is patient, love is kind”
“The truth shall set you free”
“Do to others as you would have them do to you”
“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back”
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil”
“Love does no harm to a neighbor”
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love”
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins”
“let us love one another, for love comes from God”
“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs”
“Whoever does not love does not know God”

Love is no different to salt – it flavours. It draws out and enhances. It also kills bacteria (evil). It melts the heart like snow and ice on a footpath. If what we do or say makes someone even harder in their heart, we must examine if it is really love or not. There’s a difference between preaching love and preaching opinion. Our testimony is about love – how He loves us. So it becomes the Living word, preaching a living example of His love for us. A living testimony preached through action – “I love you because He loves me and has changed me”. This is preaching Jesus. Make me as salt Lord – to add flavour to other people’s lives.

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More Quotes…

“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” – Anne Lamott

“Listen up fellow Christians. If your path to your understanding of Heaven requires you to provide a little Hell on earth for other humans, you are probably doing it wrong.” – Anon

“The only person more self-righteousness than a fundamentalist Christian is a liberal Christian who believes they have ascended above the petty self-righteousness of the fundamentalist to the glorious self-righteousness of actually being right!” – Jeff Martin

Where is the retribution in the Parable of the Prodigal Son? – Lee O’Hare

Just because everyone believes in a particular doctrine, does not mean that that doctrine is correct. Acceptance of the majority opinion does not make a doctrine true; it is simply more likely that nobody has questioned it! – Me

“Religion has made spirituality so terribly serious. Its a rather eye opening experience that when you launch out into the infinite realm of being with nothing but an open heart, a fierce commitment to truth and a steady hold on a loving awareness for whatever arises, what is actually discovered is a playful mystery seeking nothing from you, but giving to you a love that includes you in its own perfections.

“We’ve called our life “accomplishing a mission”, ” finding a purpose”, “fulfilling a vision”, “discharging a calling”, etc. Its all so gravely serious, sombre, rigorous….

“What if the purpose of your life IS your life? All of it. And what if all this internal and external landscape is nothing more than one infinite playground for your soul to discover its own participation in the delight of its own auspicious grandeur.” – Ron Wright

The only wrath in the Parable of the Prodigal Son is that of the eldest son. – Brian Zahnd

“The Bible is not inerrant, Jesus is. But don’t worry, that should only affect you if you’re a biblican (follower of the Bible), not a Christian (follower of Christ).” – Nathan Jennings

“Your questions aren’t dangerous. The people telling you not to ask them are”. – Jeff Turner

“The more you understand Grace, the more you become empowered to “be” who you already are. You’ll find yourself living more righteous by accident than you ever have on purpose.” – David Jones

‘There is no payment in forgiveness – Lee O’Hare

Religion takes away our greatest power of decision; religion tells you what to do, instead of allowing you to choose……Religion creates a slave, Love sets the captive free! – Jeff Walsh

Restoration to relationship is what the Father considers Justice. And so justice is satisfied – Brian Zahnd

I’d rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned. – Jeff Turner

 

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Night Flying

A couple of evenings ago, I had an awe-inspiring flight that was a major first in my flying career.

I went for my first ever flight at night. With an instructor, of course.

At the moment, my licence only allows me to fly in daylight. In order to fly at night, I would need to add a Night Rating to my licence, which simply involves a short theoretical and practical flying training course and then five solo takeoffs and full-stop landings at night.

I have been thinking about going for my night rating for a good while now, shall I/shan’t I, will I like it, what if it’s really hard, what if I get all disorientated? The inspiration for the night flying came from one of those moments where I was standing in my garden at home and looking up at the brightly moonlit clouds above, and thinking, “I would love to fly up there in that sky!” And so was born the idea of training for my first additional rating in all my 20+ years of flying.

So I decided to go for a short hop with an Instructor and see how I liked it. As it was an instructional flight, I planned on flying the aeroplane for the entire flight, right from moving off from the apron to the final shutdown, as far as it was possible given that I had never flown at night before.

So, first, we had a little bit of a briefing, where Ollie (my Instructor) gave me some important points about the differences involved in flying at night as compared to daylight flying, and I asked a few questions. Then it’s engine startup and off we go.

The first thing I noticed was that it is really hard to read my checklist in the pitch black. I had brought my torch and used it, but I made a mental note that next time I would put a red filter on my torch so as to avoid loss of night vision.

So, engine start as normal, call the Tower, and then taxy the aeroplane to the holding point just short of the runway for the power and pre-takeoff ‘vital actions’ checks. The taxiways are lit with blue lights at the edges and green lights down the centreline, and there are two bright yellow flashing lights to mark the holding point. This wasn’t all that difficult although I did notice a tendency to overcontrol on the steering because of the lack of visual references. But essentially it was no harder than driving a car at night. Lining up on the runway, though, was a bit different because there were no cues at all apart from the white lines on the ground. All the lights on aerodrome surfaces are carefully aligned to cause minimum inconvenience by dazzle and maximum benefit for the different stages of flight. To be honest I don’t remember if I could see the main runway edge lights (the flarepath), but we were quickly cleared for takeoff so it’s off we go.

The takeoff itself was easy, not all that different from a daylight takeoff, but I think I would have found it hard in a crosswind, again because of the lack of visual cues. These visual cues are something that I have taken for granted in daylight flying, because everything is visible all around me and I don’t even think about it. At night, though, the default setting is that everything is black, everywhere, unless it’s a city or a road. But the wind was calm; a nice fine and quiet night weather-wise, just perfect for a night air experience flight.

In fact, the feeling is quite surreal as the aeroplane lifts off and I begin the climbout, just like I would in daylight, but relying on the instruments to maintain the correct airspeed and attitude. Everything is black, except for the bright lights of Exeter and its surrounding towns, and the bright car lights on the nearby M5 motorway, one stream of red tail lights, the other of white headlights. It’s rush hour so the roads are busy and easily visible even where there are no street lights, and the feeling is like climbing up into a huge black velvet coal sack but with all these islands and rivers of coloured lights (mainly orange, red and white) lighting up patches on the ground. Fortunately I know the geography of the local area really well so I am not fazed at all by thinking, like, ‘Where am I?’. That’s one major thing I don’t need to worry about.

The City of Exeter at night, seen from above Dawlish Warren at 2,500ft

I notice also that large water features, like the two major estuaries of the Exe and the Teign, actually reflect light from the sky that I didn’t even know was there; the Moon has not yet risen so the sky is lit mainly by starlight and a little bit of city glow, though not all that much as Devon is really very rural. In fact, I have read many times that water features are one of the best aids to night navigation, and now I can see why. Yeadon, my old home town near Leeds, has a lake near it that they had to drain during the War, because it is only a mile from a factory where they used to build Lancaster bombers. The lake would have been a major landmark that would have enabled German night bombers to attack the factory with some fair degree of accuracy. And the sea, of course, is a major feature around my current area, although it appears much darker than the rivers for some reason…but again it’s easily found because the coastal towns define the coastline really well. And there are all these little white lights dotted around that show where boats are located. You can see one just below the middle of this photo of Exmouth, taken from over Dawlish Warren at 2,500ft (photo is clickable for full-size image):

But the most striking feature, again, is the blackness. Everything is black apart from the towns and roads, and the rivers. In fact the feeling is like that of everything being almost abstract; it’s like I’m not really flying but instead I’m using a flight simulator or something. Because the aeroplane, once trimmed up, basically flies herself, all I need to do is to look out at the view and occasionally check the instruments for height, heading and speed. I know I’m above the MSA (minimum safe altitude) so I’m not going to run into anything. Other aircraft are easy to spot as they have flashing lights on them. In a lot of ways, despite the lack of a visual horizon reference, this is much easier than flying in the daylight. Quite a paradox.

And I can see. Although most of the ground is dark, I notice that there is actually enough light to see by due to the starlight, now that my eyes are becoming accustomed to the dark.

Straight away I notice that I am flying the aeroplane much more precisely and carefully, being careful not to risk disorientation by abrupt attitude changes, and paying much more attention to the instruments and what the aeroplane is doing. When flying, it’s really important to keep ahead of the aircraft at all times; to be proactive rather than reactive, so I am concentrating hard and thinking well ahead because at night it is so much more vital to be ahead of your game. Any tendency of the aeroplane to drift off course or change its attitude has to be seen and acted on early so that it does not ‘develop’. This is probably the most precise flying I have done in a long while.

Coming back to the airport, Ollie points out landmarks that will be useful for me when trying to find the aerodrome by myself. How does one lose a huge field with a 2,064-metre runway? Quite easily, actually 🙂 But the airport does indeed appear as advertised, and I position for a left-hand downwind join for Runway 26. Doing everything slowly, carefully and precisely, I fly a very nice downwind in all this blackness; several landmarks are available to help me in this regard but I also need to make sure that I am well clear of high ground to the east of the airport and below the place where I am going to do the base turn. Downwind checks complete, and turning base, then, at about 1,100ft, the runway approach lights gradually become more visible as a dim string of yellow dots as I prepare the aeroplane for landing. Turning for final approach, the runway is lit up gloriously – I have done dusk flarepath landings before, so the sight is familiar – but in between the flarepath lights, the runway surface itself is totally black.

Photo (not mine, credit goes to ‘Golfcharlie’ as signed on the picture) of the approach lights at Exeter as seen from a Beechcraft Duchess twin-engined training aeroplane. The main runway lights are actually white, not red as they appear in this photo.

I’ve been briefed by Ollie on when to ‘flare’ (the point where you arrest the descent); apparently it’s when the runway lights appear to be coming up around my ears. So I flare and prepare to hold off, but the aeroplane touches down straight away for a real greaser of a landing; almost perfect – except that it was pure fluke. I didn’t expect the aircraft to land so soon; normally she needs to be held off the runway until she stalls gently on from about 8-12 inches above the runway. Again, the lack of visual cues is something I’m going to have to learn to deal with.

I was surprised in that I actually flew the entire flight myself, with the exception of a minute or two where Ollie took over so I could take the two photos featured in this blog post, and the whole flight was easy, if a little surreal. But the precision flying I will have to perform will do nothing but good for my flying technique.

And so my training starts on Monday, weather permitting. For the first time in 20 years, I will be undergoing a flying training programme. I did have a lesson or two a couple of years ago, where I learned things like radio navigation and such, but this will be the first really new formal flying training program that I have done since completing my PPL in 1997. Once again, I will have to summon all my courage, discipline and determination to make this work. The courage to face new and potentially dangerous situations, the discipline of concentration and excluding all extraneous thoughts from my fizzing Aspie mind; and the determination to overcome all the obstacles to learning that I will likely encounter, and come through with my shiny new Night Rating. It will be really freeing to be able to not worry about whether or not I am down before sunset. And I love the flarepath landings; it’s all very pretty.

Outside the local supermarket yesterday evening, I looked up into the black sky and thought, “Crumbs, I flew in that last night!” Well, hopefully I’m going to be doing a lot more of it over the winter months.

Wish me luck!

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How I Want to Live My Life

Here is another excellent and thoughtful blog from Mike Douglas, who writes one of my favurite blogs, ‘Getting Back to my Future‘.

In this article, Mike writes of three principles that he wants to have in his life from now on: Wonder, Perpetual Discovery and Passion.

As a scientist and also as a man of faith, I can really identify with that. I have never lost my sense of wonder as a scientist. As a practical, professional laboratory chemist, I still think it’s awesome when I add this to that and it turns from blue to red. And I think it’s even more awesome if it explodes, catches fire or evolves clouds of dense smoke while it does it (in the extractor hood, of course!) 😀 I have an insatiable appetite for invention, discovery and the application of knowledge. I worked in medical research for twelve years before I began working in the pharmaceutical industry, so I have made my fair share of discoveries. I am a problem-solver who loves to take on seemingly intractable problems and work out simple, practical solutions for them. I am an ideas man and a fixer. And I approach life, work, play, worship and my faith in Jesus with a burning passion, intent on living life to the full no matter what I am doing at the time. And Mike’s blog post reflects those attitudes brilliantly; no wonder I identified with it so much. Without more ado, I will pass you over to Mike. Here we go:


I’m sixty-two. I’ve had it with ‘keeping up to the Jones’, material success and striving. I’ve had it with trying to be liked and accepted by people, so I can feel better. I’ve had it with worry, stress and ‘what might have been’. I’m tired of existing, settling for ‘what you see is all there is’. In short, I’m tired of small living. 

This is how I want to live the rest of my life. I want to live with wonder, discovery and passion. 

Wonder 

won·der

  1. a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable. “The wonders of nature”

  2. desire or be curious to know something. Synonyms: ponder, think about, meditate on, reflect on, muse on, puzzle over, speculate about, conjecture; be curious about

  3. feel admiration and amazement; marvel. “People stood by and wondered at such bravery”

Isn’t there something inside you that wishes you could go back to the time of imagination and wonder?A place where all the worry, all the responsibilities and all the adult like appropriateness went out the door for a little while? It’s a place that doesn’t make rational sense, but each of us longs for it. 

Deep down, we all know there’s something magical and wondrous about life with Jesus – a God who loves us and His Son who died for us – but if we’re honest, many of us get over that early in life, or we push it away from our day-to-day mindsets. 

Sure, we have moments that remind us why we believe. But how often are we moved to a sense of wonder and curiosity about who God is and what He has done? Somewhere along the way, a sense of wonder became a relic of our pasts, tucked away in childhood memories. 

But recovering this wonder is a necessity in looking towards our hope for the future. 

Before you move on from reading this, pause for a moment and wonder, consider with awe, who God is, why He sent Jesus, that Jesus was willing to come and why. Be awed by the truth of mercy and grace and forgiveness and second chances and empowerment and healing and acceptance and being reconciled and eternity with Jesus and a new heaven and earth and… 

Perpetual Discovery 

per·pet·u·al

  1. never ending or changing. Synonyms: eternal, long-lasting, abiding, enduring, constant, permanent, uninterrupted, continuous, persistent, unbroken

  2. occurring repeatedly; so frequent as to seem endless and uninterrupted.

It’s when we discover who we are in God that we discover our purpose and find meaning. When we lose sight of our identities, we lose understanding of our purpose and meaning. And it’s this latter loss that happens to most of us. 

Embracing our identity in God is never done. Neither is finding out more of what He is like and how He sees us. 

Without a doubt or hesitation, the thing I want for you more than anything else is for you to discover your identity in Christ. And I want to continue to discover mine. It’s not hard. It’s all throughout the Bible. Scads of books have been written on the topic. While it’s not hard, the discovery will and should last a lifetime. It will transform you! 

Passion 

pas·sion

  1.  strong and barely controllable emotion.

  2. intense love. “Their all-consuming passion for each other”

  3. an intense desire or enthusiasm for something. Synonyms: enthusiasm, eagerness, zeal, fire, fascination, obsession, appetite

Passion is that thing that leads us into being part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s a unique word that is usually thought of as an emotion, but it describes something relational, something seen in us and in other people. But, passion cannot be rescued until we’re deeply connected to other passionate people. 

I want to fuel passion for our Lord for out of that comes meaning, acceptance and purpose. 

I no longer care if you or someone else looks on my passion for Jesus as flaky, immature or ‘a little over the top’. Deal with it! What I do care about is living in that passion perpetually and for you to find that same passion. I am praying to that end. 

Whatever our struggles, they all go back to three issues: a wonder for God that is lost, an identity that isn’t discovered, and a passion that has faded. While these three concepts were created by God, they can be filled by all types of substitutes, and they often are. don’t settle for the ‘knock offs’. 

Wonder, discovery and passion can no longer be distant childhood memories for me.


Here is the link to the original article

 

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Asperger’s Syndrome is a Gift

I am an Aspie.

I have a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which simply means that my mind is ‘wired’ differently from the minds of non-ASD people – people for whom Aspies have a non-derogatory term of ‘neurotypicals’ or ‘NT’. Rather than rehash the whole thing, I will simply refer you to my previous piece on the subject, and it’s here.

My own personal take on it – I was only diagnosed in 2013 – is that I see it as a gift, not as a hindrance. The reduced capabilities in some areas of life are, to my mind, more than compensated for by the tremendous benefits it brings. I have never thought of my ‘condition’ as a ‘disorder’, an illness, or a defect of any kind; to me, this is my ‘normal’. I have even rejected offers from people wanting to pray for me to be ‘healed’ from it (from hopefully well-meaning people who simply lacked knowledge*). No, the term ‘disorder’ is not a helpful one. In fact, in many ways, my mind is more ‘ordered’ than that of a NT.

And I used to jokingly say that I thought that Asperger’s is the next stage in human evolution, and of course I received severe teasing for that from Fiona and my family whenever I did something silly. ‘Oh. look what the next stage in human evolution has done this time!’

But then I found a YouTube video about Asperger’s featuring a gentleman whom I consider to be the leading world authority on Asperger’s Syndrome. And he too sees it as a gift, and at the end of the video his last line is “…is Asperger’s the next stage in human evolution?” Clearly, he’s been thinking ‘outside the box’ too! (Or, as Aspies would say, ‘What box?!’)

I also noticed several things in the video that really clicked with me. But I won’t spoil the fun…this video is about 26 minutes long, but if you either have Asperger’s Syndrome yourself, or you know someone who has it and you want to understand them a little better, then this will be 26 minutes well spent.

Here’s the video. Enjoy!


*Although one was a raving (literally) Fundie who was having a go at me!

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Old Testament/New Testament

One of the big conundrums in the study of the Bible is that the god of the Old Testament (OT) is often portrayed as a vengeful, capricious and vicious deity – although also often loving and compassionate –  whereas the Father God of the New Testament (NT) is seen as far more gentle and ‘nice’. In the past, I’ve called this the ‘nice God/angry god’ problem and I have written on it before.

The way I see it at the moment is that the OT reflects humanity’s, or at least, Israel’s, concept of God as it evolved from the primitive human-sacrifice gods ‘worshipped’ in Ur of Chaldea that Abram walked away from (in Genesis 12). Back then, all good and bad things were ascribed to supernatural causes, so, things like famines, volcanic eruptions and storms were seen as the result of the ‘anger of the gods’ who of course had to be placated. And the history of religion – sacrifices, Laws, prohibitions, rituals, high places of worship and all the rest – is the history we see in the OT.

In the NT, however, Jesus came to show us what God is really like. He came to correct our misconceptions of the ‘angry god’ of prehistoric civilisations, and demonstrate the love, power, beauty. compassion and above all love of the real God, whose image humanity had been so mistaken about all down the ages.

So, yes, the Bible does contradict itself, in its description of God’s character and nature, because fallible humans, just like you and I, wrote down their insights – and some of them got it wrong, again just like you and I!

In the following excellent piece, Jacob M. Wright expands on these ideas and explains how to reconcile the apparent difference between the Nice God and the Angry god.

“The most defining difference between the Old and New Testament is that Jesus refines our understanding of the character of God. God is not the one who comes to steal, kill, or destroy, that’s the enemy; God comes to bring life (John 10:10). God does not accuse and condemn, that’s the enemy; God comes to heal and save (John 3:17). God does not demand the stoning of sinners, that’s the enemy; God enables them to live free of sin (John 8:11). God does not command the wholesale slaughter of enemies including their wives, children, and pets; he commands to love and forgive them, for in so doing we are like our Father. And if we don’t, Jesus says, we are no better than the pagans (Luke 6:27-36). God dies for his enemies and doesn’t count their sin against them and by doing so, reconciles them (2 Cor. 5:19).

“God is not a God of retributive justice, but a God of restorative justice (Matt. 12:15-21). God freely forgives (Luke 5:20, 7:48; Matt. 9:5) and desires mercy instead of demanding sacrifice (Matt. 9:13, 12:7), and he offers himself as a sacrifice to prove it. God does not demand blood to make peace with him, he gives his own blood to make peace with us. God is not the destroyer, nor does he hold the power of death over us, that is the enemy; God comes to destroy death, and to destroy the destroyer who holds the power of death (Heb. 2:14).

“God does not send evil spirits to torment and deceive people (1 Samuel 16:14, 1 Kings 22:22), rather God casts evil spirits out (Matt., Mark, Luke, and John). God does not render the lepers and the sick as unclean and command for them to be abandoned to die outside the camp (Num. 5:2), but embraces the lepers unto healing (Matt., Mark, Luke, John). God does not want us to live in fear, but reveals a perfect love that casts out fear (1 John 4:18). God is not wrathfully destructive towards us, but is in hot pursuit of us to bring us out of our own self-destructive waywardness and back into his fold (Luke 15:1-7). God is not an angry abusive father prowling the city streets looking for his rebellious son to beat him senseless in his white-hot wrath, but a kind Father watching the road longing for one sign of his sons return so that he can run to him and embrace him and bring him back to the safety of his home (Luke 15:11-32).

“God’s intent is to free the oppressed, bring good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, heal the sick, and set the captive free (Luke 4:18). God is Abba, the Father of Lights, from whom all good things come, and there is no shadow of turning from this (James 1:17). God is light, and does not have a dark side (1 John 1:5). God comes to heal us of our sin disease (Matt. 9:12, Mark 2:17), and raise us up to the dignity of sons and daughters (1 John 3:1). God cries out our forgiveness while we murder him (Luke 23:34). God is Christlike, and in him there is no un-Chrislikeness at all. This and this alone can change our hearts of stone back into beating, throbbing hearts of love that manifest the image of the divine.

“The writer of Hebrews said that all before Christ was a mere shadow of the reality (Hebrews 10:1). It’s kind of hard to decipher the true form of something by looking at its shadow. You can get some stuff wrong. John makes the audacious claim that “No one has ever seen God”, even though Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Isaiah, and Ezekial had all claimed to have seen God. But regardless of the dreams, visions, revelations, epiphanies, theophanies of these men in scripture that claimed to have seen God, John says that no one has ever seen God until they’ve seen Jesus. Jesus says, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” Jesus appeared and was the image of the invisible God, the exact representation of God’s being, the radiance of the Father’s glory, the Word made flesh, the fullness of God in bodily form.

“So, if what is written by those who only saw a vague shadow contradicts the actual flesh and bones incarnation of God, then go with the latter. This is demonstrated in certain strands of the shadowy Old Testament. Whereas it was common for people in the Old Testament to slay enemies and say that God commanded them to do it, Jesus tells us that we are no better than the pagans if we do that, and reveals that if we love our enemies, then we are like our Father.

“When the Pharisees wanted to carry out what was written in their law of Moses to stone an adulteress, Jesus called them of their father the devil who was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). When his disciples wanted to follow in Elijah’s footsteps and call down fire on Christ-rejectors, Jesus rebuked them and said, “You know not what spirit you are of.” (Luke 9:55) When Peter rebukes Jesus concerning going to the cross because Peter believes the Messiah will establish his kingdom through violent subjugation, Jesus says, “Get behind me satan!” (Matt. 16:23)

“Jesus expressly names all which steals, kills, or destroys as not of his Abba, but only that which comes to give life. It is never okay to quote the Old Testament to endorse something that Jesus clearly forbids.”

So then, it seems to me that if the OT and the NT say two different things, then the NT takes precedence because it was written after Jesus came, and was therefore better informed because of God’s nature having been revealed through Jesus. To me, the take-home message is this: if something doesn’t look/act/talk like Jesus, it’s not God. It is simply incorrect to interpret the OT as if the NT never happened. The NT trumps the OT every time; in fact, Jesus trumps Scripture every time. Bear that in mind and live in the Spirit, and you won’t go far wrong.

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