Don’t Take It Personally . . . But Please Take It Seriously

This is just a short bit of advice for what I write here in this blog and those who read it.

Don’t take it personally.

Please take it seriously.

The comments and observations that I put here I try to make applicable to a number of situations. I don’t aim them at any one person. So if you see something here that you think is aimed at you, it probably wasn’t intended as a personally aimed zinger. Some of the situations which I may mention may actually have taken place in a number of times and places, more than once – otherwise I don’t consider them worth mentioning.

But I do ask that you take what I write seriously, especially as it applies to the scriptures. No one ever has to think, say or do anything because I write so; but if anything that I write here is in accord with the Word of God, I implore you to take it seriously, even if you don’t take the messenger seriously. And if you find anything challenges you, or may even convict you, please simply pray about it, and ask God to counsel, encourage, comfort and direct you in that matter from his Word.

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An Old But Still Good Article On the Emotional Life of Jesus

Here’s a link to the excellent article, The Emotional Life of Our Lord, by Benjamin B. Warfield. It’s well worth reading simply for the deep thought and consideration of the gospels and the incarnation of the Son of God.

Expediency or Obedience?

There’s a remarkable passage in Stephen Charnock’s The Existence and Attributes of God which speaks to a lot that is expressed in our preaching and teaching today:

“If it be agreeable to God’s will and convenient for some design of our own, and we do anything only with a respect to that design, we make not God’s holiness discovered in the law our rule, but our own conveniency: it is not a conformity to God, but a conformity of our actions to self. As in abstinence from intemperate courses, not because the holiness of God in his law prescribed it, but because the health of our bodies, or some noble contentments of life, require it; then it is not God’s holiness that is our rule, but our own security, conveniency or something else which we make a God to ourselves.”

It troubles me that in so much preaching and teaching that something may be declared as the command of God from his Word, and cited chapter and verse, but it seems that so many are unmoved until the preacher or teacher brings out some quote from some other supposed authority such as a medical doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist, and cites some statistics that people who live contrary to the declared will of God end up unhealthy or unhappy in their marriages or jobs or friendships or even unpopular. Just note when the heads turn and people pay attention: is it when the Word of God is cited or the advice and statistics of the physician or psychologist? (And how much displeasure, bitterness and resentment with others happens in marriages, families, friendships and church fellowships not because someone is disobedient to the clear teaching of the Word of God, but not living up to some expectations fostered by some outside authority upon grounds which come down to the personal expediency of the aggrieved party?)

For the person who has come to faith in Jesus Christ, who is the authority, the Holy Spirit speaking through the Word of God, or the medical doctor or psychologist? And what is the goal, our own being happy and well adjusted in this world, or to be reflections of the holiness of God by the power of the Holy Spirit?

“As obedient children, do not conform yourselves to the desires that you had previously in your ignorance, but as the One who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your behavior, just as it is written, ‘Holy you are to be, because I am holy.’” (I Peter 1:15-16).

The Vampire’s Interview with Dale

First, let me start out by declaring that I’m not a fan of the current vampire craze in novels, movies and television. I read through Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula when I was in ninth grade, and I believe that I’ve seen several more or less impressive renditions of that in movies over the past thirty years (Love at First Bite was actually my favorite). But I’m not a fan of the genre at all, and there have been some Christian authors lately addressing the trend with grace and discernment.

Second, let me say that I’m also not someone who sets a lot of store by what happens in dreams. I believe that God’s will is for the believer normally to be guided by his Word (II Timothy 3:16-17), and not by dreams. And I recognize that it’s easy for the undiscerning to be drawn into New Agey ideas and come into contact with counterfeits of the divine and thus will end up being guided by  demonic counterfeits rather than God (II Corinthians 11:3-4, Galatians 1:6-9). And though I will give account of two dreams that I’ve had, I don’t ascribe to them any value other than as interesting dramas served up in my unconscious that illustrate how scripture might have influenced my reaction if I were to encounter a vampire or other conflict with spiritual evil. And since I’ve been reading and studying the Bible for more than 37 years, it would be more of a wonder if scripture did not influence the content of my dreams than otherwise.

The first dream featured a vampire by the name of Milosevic, strangely named after the dead Communist dictator of Yugoslavia. In the dream I believed, with a wholly understandable naturalistic bias, that the US State Department was trying to deport him as an undesirable criminal illegal alien. The vampire Milosevic, though, had some designs upon my own life, and it is safe to say that he was out for blood.

So this is what I said in the dream to the vampire: “I understand that you vampires are vulnerable to two things, and one of them is the cross, correct?”

The vampire nodded his head, so I continued.

“So I want you to know that I have been crucified with Christ, and yet I live, but not I, but Christ lives in me. So for you I am the cross.” (See Galatians 2:20).

“Even more, you have no power and authority over me, and even if you should somehow manage to kill me, I would not become like you or under your power, but I would go to be with Christ, and my body would await being raised with him when he returns. And, though I will not test or assert it now, I believe that I have authority over you, in the name of Jesus.” (See Luke 10:19 – this applies to demons, but in literature, vampires would seem to be a kind of demonic inhabitation of a dead body, somewhat like the UnMan in C.S. Lewis’s Perelandra. I wonder if the UnMan was a more scriptural view of what a zombie or vampire would really be like – a demonically animated corpse.)

“I don’t know why God would allow a wicked monstrosity like you to walk the earth, but I take comfort in the fact that one day you, whatever you truly are, will face him one day in judgment for all the evil things that you have done.” (See Philippians 2:9-11, Revelation 20:11-15.)

It’s easy for someone to get caught up in this kind of literature and develop a kind of fearful fascination and dread of the supernatural. I believe that there may be a definite Satanic influence to try to get an undue glory to and fear of the power of spiritual and supernatural evil, with the presentation of these kinds of spooky and repulsive creatures – which would include vampires, zombies and ghosts — from the human imagination. Yet in the Word of God there is definite conflict with evil (Ephesians 6:10-20), but ultimate and real victory over evil through the power and authority of Jesus Christ. And this is part of the security that comes from being grounded in the Word of God – that a believer can rest assured in victory in Christ where there is real conflict with the powers of evil.

The second dream that I had happened shortly after the release of the last Harry Potter movie. In the dream I was standing beside Harry Potter, who was trying to fight against evil powers with his wand, and wasn’t having much success with it. I started to use the name of Jesus against the evil powers, and  that was successful. This is a reminder that the believer has already been given weapons for the war against evil in scripture, and that they are more powerful than anything that the human imagination or human ingenuity can dream up. “For although we walk in the flesh we do not make war after the flesh – for the weapons of our war are not fleshly but rather powerful to bring about the pulling down of strongholds – as we pull down reasoned arguments and every high and proud thing that raises itself up against the knowledge of God, and as we take into custody every thought into obedience to Christ . . .” (II Corinthians 10:3-5).

“And the seventy returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us by your name.” And [Jesus] said to them, ‘I was seeing Satan fallen from heaven like lightning. See, I have given you authority to step on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and noting will ever cause any harm to you. Except do not rejoice in this, that the demons are subject to you, but rather rejoice that your names have been written down in heaven.’” (Luke 10:17-20).

Soldiers of Christ Arise (Charles Wesley)

Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies through His eternal Son
Strong in the Lord of hosts, and in His mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts is more than conqueror.

Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued,
But take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;
That, having all things done, and all your conflicts passed,
Ye may o’ercome through Christ alone and stand entire at last.

Stand then against your foes, in close and firm array;
Legions of wily fiends oppose throughout the evil day;
But meet the sons of night, and mock their vain design,
Armed in the arms of heavenly light, of righteousness divine.

Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul,
Take every virtue, every grace, and fortify the whole;
Indissolubly joined, to battle all proceed;
But arm yourselves with all the mind that was in Christ, your Head.

 

But, above all, lay hold on faith’s victorious shield;
Armed with that adamant and gold, be sure to win the field:
If faith surround your heart, Satan shall be subdued,
Repelled his every fiery dart, and quenched with Jesu’s blood.

Jesus hath died for you! What can His love withstand?
Believe, hold fast your shield, and who shall pluck you from His hand?
Believe that Jesus reigns; all power to Him is giv’n:
Believe, till freed from sin’s remains; believe yourselves to Heav’n.

 

To keep your armor bright, attend with constant care,
Still walking in your Captain’s sight, and watching unto prayer.
Ready for all alarms, steadfastly set your face,
And always exercise your arms, and use your every grace.

Pray without ceasing, pray, your Captain gives the word;
His summons cheerfully obey and call upon the Lord;
To God your every want in instant prayer display,
Pray always; pray and never faint; pray, without ceasing, pray!

 

In fellowship alone, to God with faith draw near;
Approach His courts, besiege His throne with all the powers of prayer:
Go to His temple, go, nor from His altar move;
Let every house His worship know, and every heart His love.

To God your spirits dart, your souls in words declare,
Or groan, to Him Who reads the heart, the unutterable prayer:
His mercy now implore, and now show forth His praise,
In shouts, or silent awe, adore His miracles of grace.

 

Pour out your souls to God, and bow them with your knees,
And spread your hearts and hands abroad, and pray for Zion’s peace;
Your guides and brethren bear for ever on your mind;
Extend the arms of mighty prayer, in grasping all mankind.

From strength to strength go on, wrestle and fight and pray,
Tread all the powers of darkness down and win the well fought day.
Still let the Spirit cry in all His soldiers, ‘Come!’
‘Til Christ the Lord descends from high and takes the conquerors home!