The lessons of Uma Thurman, tent pegs, and millstones!

Uma Thurman is famous for her bloody revenge against her wicked husband in the “Kill Bill” stories. Though she was brutally beaten by her husband, character played by David Carradine, in the end, she puts a martial arts move on him that stops his heart. So he died. Not necessarily to endorse Tarantino, but only to point out that justice sought by women is a huge part of world history, which is why the two movies strikes a familiar chord: Scripture is filled with warnings about taking advantage of women. God will see to it that if you live a wicked life, you will get your come-up’ns! Cases in point:

In the book of Judges there was an army commander named Sisera, who served wicked Jabin, King of Canaan. Sisera was cruel and murderous for twenty years over the Israelites (Judges 4:1-3). The story ends:

“So on that day God subdued Jabin the king of Canaan before the people of Israel” – (4:23)

The way God did this was that Sisera’s army was defeated by Barak, commander of Israel’s army. But Sisera got away on foot and fled, running and running until he came to a tent where a housewife named Jael lived. She invited him to hide in her tent. Sisera was exhausted from running all day so he asked for water. She gave him milk. Sisera went to sleep, and:

“Jael the wife of Heber took a tent-peg, and took a hammer in her hand. Then she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness. So he died” – (Judges 4:21). Ouch!

Later in the times of Judges, there was a wicked man named Abimelech who slaughtered all his brothers except one (because Jotham hid himself) just so he could have full control over the army and wage war against nearby cities. The people of Shechem wickedly supported this blood-bath. Later, Jotham gets the courage to tell the people of Shechem that there is coming a day when God will turn all this evil on your heads. As the story progresses, Abimelech was attempting to burn down the gates of another city that he wanted to pillage, but:

“And a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. Then he called quickly to the young man his armor-bearer and said to him, ‘Draw your sword and kill me, lest they say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’ And his young man thrust him through, and he died . . . Thus God returned the evil of Abimelech, which he committed against his father in killing his seventy brothers. And God also made all the evil of the men of Shechem return on their heads, and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal (Gideon)” (Judges 9:53-57). Double Ouchy!

Take Aways:

1. All wickedness is under God’s control. If you think that your rebellion is more powerful than God, or that you can outwit God, you just might find your head either nailed to the ground or crushed to the ground. God is sovereign over everything – including your wickedness.

2. You will reap what you sow, eventually. Everyone does. No exceptions.

3. If you’re a man who lives wickedly, God might humiliate you in the end by using a woman to ruin you. Just say’n.

4. God uses some women to crack eggs and some women to crack heads. So watch it!

5. The role-play of Uma Thurman, Jael, and “a certain woman” are all part of God’s sly ways of getting justice. Which means,

6. All good stories of justice is evidence that we really do believe that some things are right and some things are wrong, and, that we instinctively want justice for all the wrongs ever committed. Period. Which further means,

7. Do you want God’s justice upon you, or do you want mercy? God crushed Satan’s head on the cross (Gen. 3:15) by bruising his own Son – Jesus. So either you submit your life to Christ, and you will receive mercy, or,

8. God will crush your head along with Satan’s. And he just might use a woman to do it! Again, just say’n.

Just a Closer Walk with Thee, with Jazz

Here’s Tye Male, my long-time friend from college days – this brings back great memories. We met in 1987 and became very close friends. We’d go to the sound-proof music practice rooms and jazz up every hymn in the book. I’d play my southern-gospel style on the piano and Tye would be all over the place hanging out in some jazz-cafe in the upper scales.

We were fork-lift operators at Red Food Warehouse, took bible classes together, road our racing bicycles together, baby-sit for each other (his son and my son got their first set of stitches together at the bottom of the slide), and basically encouraged each other along the road of faith in Christ. By God’s grace we’re both still playing music, preaching the gospel as pastors to our flocks, and married to the brides of our youth.

Enjoy!

“Mother’s Day” is any day that I volunteer to babysit my two grandsons!

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I volunteered today to babysit (all-by-myself) my two grandsons, one about 20 months old and the other a little over 6 months. In almost 5 hours I was whipped like an orphaned pup left out in the rain, plucked by ravens:

* I changed diapers – yes, those kind, (hold . . . hold . . . hold – ok,  now breath)

* I fed and got that stuff puked right back on me . . . a little warmer now . . .

* I played, pretended, chased, got chased, wrestled, and acted like every barn-yard animal there is . . . made noises and faces that I would never do in public . . . I forgot how many times a little child can be fascinated doing the same old thing over and over and over and over and over – ad nauseam . . . and have so much fun.

* I laughed and giggled and acted like a goof in one minute like Robin Williams, and on a dime showed empathy and love and tenderness like Mother Theresa, then, in a nano-second showed seriousness, sternness – “don’t do that” with my Robert De Niro face – all within 15 minutes. Golden Globe Award please.

* They were “supposed” to both go down to nap at 1:00 pm. With the skill of a master choreographer . . . Ok. Peace. I think I’ll just squeeze in a nice 30 min. nap . . . BUT NOOOOOO. 5 minutes later:  “wwwhhaaawwwwww . . .” Oh gggrrrrrrrrrr. The 6 month is teething . . . won’t sleep. Whew – the older one didn’t wake up. Ok – FOR TWO HOURS I TRIED TO PACIFY THIS 6 MONTH OLD WITH EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK . . . BUT NNNNOOOOOOOOOOO. Finally, at 3 in the afternoon: he’s asleep. I think I’ll squeeze in a little nap now. “RRAGENFAGERN > > > B$#@()^%JILENa8w9e847570w&.” I hear sounds and sounds and more sounds coming from the older one. Nearly two hours went by while I was giving my all to the little one, and now the older one is up ready to take on the world like a Mutant Ninja Turtle on steroids. I think I’m going to die . . . I only got a 5 minute nap . . . just long enough to make me throw up my own lunch . . . I feel sick.

Ok. more food, more diapers, more play, more of me, more of me, more of me . . . WHAT is that sweet sound of heaven I hear????????

YES . . . is that the garage door opening – MOTHER is home. YES – I’m saved, saved, saved, elated and so euphoric – oh how happy I am! Oh my goodness I can’t believe how happy I am!!!!!!!!!!

This will take a full day to recover.

Therefore, here are my take-aways:

1. Little children are exhausting but they’re worth every bit of what it takes to parent a child.

2. Little children are not the center of the universe – Jesus is. That’s why I let the little one finally cry himself to sleep for the longest 10 minutes. I’ve done all that I can do . . . deal with it. Jesus is Lord, you’re not.

3. Mothers of little children are some of the hardest workers in the world. Hands down. No argument.

4. What great work Jesus must be doing every day to “mother” me through all my child-rearing – Sounds weird?

“. . . that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious abundance . . . and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you . . .” (Isaiah 66:11-13).

“Happy Mother’s Day” is any day that you take care of someone else’s children. Be sure to tell a mom that you appreciate all that she does.

To my daughter, my son-in-laws wife, and the mother of my two grandsons: I’m so proud of you! Happy mother’s day honey.

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p.s. I wished I had seen this great truth when I was in my 20’s raising my kids and watching my wife, a mother of three – pour out her life into our children, and praised her more than I did. I wish.

TOOTHPASTE (sex appeal), MOTORCYCLE PARTS (sexy parts), AIR CONDITIONER (your wife is hot, better get your a/c fixed)

It’s all around us. No matter where you turn, where you go, what you do – sex is in your face because it sells. Even the title to this post will bring in more hits because of the subject. Is that why I used the word – to get more hits, to get your attention? What if God used sex to get your attention – would you be interested in what he wanted to say?

“That depends,” says the broken heart. The heart does not even want to hear about sex if sex is not object of sex. But sex is not ultimate – it’s penultimate. That is, sex serves to communicate, to sell you on something that is more satisfying than sex. Still interested?

I hope you are. In the image of God, “male and female he made them,” you were made a sexual being to know something of the one who made you. But our advertising industry is not stupid: they know how to market a product that will sell on the basis of temporary pleasure and beauty rather than eternal pleasure and beauty – which is what you need most! This is why they get it all wrong when it comes to sex. What mankind needs most is to know the one that created such pleasure. God created sex to point to a pleasurable relationship that he offers sinners, yes, sinners who would give anything to simply be cherished, held, comforted, forgiven, made alive, loved and taken care of forever. This is why God used sex to entice his people to see what he was offering them.

In, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, John Piper and Justin Taylor taught me this truth:

God used marital love-making to describe his relationship to his people:

“On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of compassion for you, but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred, on the day that you were born. And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, “Live!” I said to you in your blood, “Live!” I made you flourish like a plant of the field. And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment. Your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare. When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine. Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. . .” (Ezekiel 16:4-10a) [note: clearly God likes his wife in leather!]

God also used sexual language to paint a picture of our love for lesser things than him:

“Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God. But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his. You took some of your garments and made for yourself colorful shrines, and on them played the whore. The like has never been, nor ever shall be. . . .  Adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband! Men give gifts to all prostitutes, but you gave your gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from every side with your whorings (Ezek. 16:13-16, 32, 33).

God uses sexual language to describe his response to our love affair with anything less than him:

“Therefore, O prostitute, hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God, Because your lust was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your whorings with your lovers, and with all your abominable idols, and because of the blood of your children that you gave to them, therefore, behold, I will gather all your lovers with whom you took pleasure, all those you loved and all those you hated. I will gather them against you from every side and will uncover your nakedness to them, that they may see all your nakedness” (Ezek. 16:35-37).

But Christ will pay the price for your sexual infidelity with his own blood.

“For thus says the Lord God: I will deal with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant, yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant. I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God. . . this is the cup of the new covenant in my blood which is shed for you” (Ezek. 16:59-63; Luke 22:20).

As Piper closes on this great truth:

“God created us in his image, male and female, with personhood and sexual passions so that when he comes to us in this world there would be these powerful words and images and feelings to describe the promises and the pleasures of our covenant relationship with him through Christ. God made us powerfully sexual so that he would be known deeply. We were given the power to know each other sexually so that we might have some hint of what it will be like to know Christ supremely. Therefore, all misuses of our sexuality distort the true knowledge of God. God means for human sexual life to be a pointer and foretaste of our relationship with him.”

This is why God created sex: in giving us this kind of intimacy in marriage, he would use this gift to lure us to himself. This is why the advertising industry doesn’t have a clue as to what great misuse they are doing with God’s gift. They are selling sex as ultimate. But God created sex to show us something greater.

How do you know Jesus loves you?

“For the Bible tells me so” is for many, their child-like (not childish) response. And this is ok – for children. But let’s grow in our understanding. This question is not the same thing as asking, “Do you love Jesus?” Some people would answer no, they do not love Jesus, and yet believe that Jesus loves them. Why so? Because they say, “he died for me.”

Sticker-Shock: If you don’t love Jesus then you have no assurance that he loves you! That may hit you like a 7.0 on the Richter scale and rattle you a bit, but it’s true. I’ll show you from Jesus himself.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you” – John 15:12-14

Let’s state something that, for many, comes as a surprise: The Bible does not record Jesus saying to anyone, “I love you.” For Jesus, love is something far deeper and goes beyond mere sentimental expression, and cannot be taken for granted. So let’s break down Jesus’ words to his disciples as he gave them on the night that he would die for them.

1. Jesus predicates the command that his disciples “love one another” (that is, all other lovers of Jesus Christ) based upon his love for them – “as I have loved you.”

The disciples will come to know soon the meaning of this. But for now, they have no idea that a cross for Jesus is just a few hours away. Still, they can accept this because sacrificing one’s own life for another is, in anyone’s mind, an act of love. Jesus speaks in the past tense, “as I have loved you,” because Scripture often declares things in the present that are yet in the future – It’s a done deal! Though Jesus has not died for them he can catapult his statement into the future over their heads as if he has already died for them. His impending death for his disciples is so sure that he can speak of it in the past tense.

2. Jesus invokes “friends” as the recipients of his love. But you are not a friend of Jesus if you do not keep his commandments. And if you do not keep his commandments, then you have no assurance that he loves you by dying for you. Clearly then, Jesus does not love everyone – he does not, in a real sense of the scope of scripture, love everyone equally. You cannot be a lover of the world without making yourself an enemy of God (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15). You cannot suppose to love what money can do for you and yet think that Jesus still knows you with a covenantal love (Matt. 6:24, 7:21-23). You cannot minimize your level of commitment to him and still expect Jesus’ level of commitment to you to remain all lovey-dovey (John 2:24, 6:66, 67).

In John’s letter, he says that you know Jesus loves you IF you confess that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 4:15, 16). In fact, if you do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the only way of salvation with faith and repentance of sins, the wrath of God remains upon you (John 3:36). You cannot reject Christ and still say, “Jesus loves me.”

3. Jesus only loves those who will keep his commandments – Jesus will only “lay down his life” for those who prove their friendship to Jesus, for those who are his sheep (John 10:14-16). Notice then that Jesus is not saying, “I’ll be your friend if you keep my commandments.” It is not Jesus who needs to prove his love, his loyalty, his friendship, to his disciples. But rather it is they who need to prove their friendship to him. This is how they will know that Jesus loves them – “if” they keep his commandments. In other words, if you and I do not keep his commandments, proving our friendship to Jesus, then we have no assurance that Jesus loves us. Do you want assurance that Jesus loves you? Then love Jesus and all other lovers of Jesus as well (1 John 4:17-21).

The Word does teach that God loves sinners, in general (John 3:16), but with the same verse God will see to it that those who do not love his Son, whom he graciously sent, “will perish.” With a greater understanding, we sing, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me to love Jesus – and that I will do.” I love him because he first loved me (1 John 4:19). But my knowledge that he loves me is based upon whether or not I “obey his commandments,” “keep his commandments” and “overcome the world” – which means to turn away from the sin that the world loves (1 John 5:1-5). Only those who have been born of God, first, are then capable of loving Jesus. And only those who have been “born of God” can have assurance that Jesus loves them (1 John 5:1-5, 13).

Q. How do you know that Jesus loves you?

A. Do you love Jesus?

A Valentine Day!

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Looking out our room at the Embassy Suites in Peoria, IL. The Illinois River just got a fresh coat of snow. It’s a day of love – where is my true love??????

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“Oh my true love, Will you be my Valentine?”

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I’m beginning to feel at home!

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I feel so loved ’bout right now – look at all that ammo and guns.

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Ok. Here she is: my truest love. This was the best Valentines Day ever (see pics above:)