Can I Get a Witness?

Joshua 2234 [widescreen]

This term is used in song titles and in the ever-popular urban slang dictionary as “A phrase used when the user is accomplishing some ridiculous feat, or is doing something like a boss.” 1 I’m not sure I’ve ever done something like a boss, but you know what that means without even knowing what it means.

What’s the importance of a witness?

It might depend on several things, but the relevance is not the same today as it was in antiquity. Today, you snap a picture, you post it on Twitter or Instagram and boom, you got it, no need for witnesses, the whole world knows about it just like that. Take for instance Alyssa Milano’s now infamous Tweet about abstinence. Oops.

Witnesses mattered because false accusations occurred then, just as they do now. To establish what was true from what was false the Bible requires two or three witnesses. This makes sense. It’s logical.

WITNESS (Heb. ˓ēḏ; Gk. mártys).† A person who gives testimony to establish the truth of a charge or a statement of fact. The legal requirement for confirming allegations was that there should be two witnesses (Deut. 19:15). In Old Testament society giving testimony as a witness was a formal confirmation basic to mutual trust in society. Legal documents were signed by witnesses. In the case of capital punishment by means of stoning, witnesses were required to throw the first stone. The importance of witnesses for confirmation is underscored by the Decalog’s proscription of perjury (Exod. 20:16). 2

A witness protects the accused as well as the accusor, and here we have the basis of civilized society. Our justice system uses a similar format, in that a jury system is made up of peers that can make judgments against the accused and protect the rights of citizens through a due process.

While I could layout all the biblical texts and give reasons why this is important, I have something else in mind, and it deals with cults. I will travel to San Francisco this week and whenever I’m there I encounter Jehovah’s Witnesses. Now, isn’t it interesting that “witnesses” is in their name?

9  All the nations gather together,
and the peoples assemble.
Who among them can declare this,
and show us the former things?
Let them bring their witnesses to prove them right,
and let them hear and say, It is true. (Is 43:9) 3

Maybe it’s obvious or not, but notice it says bring witnesses to prove them right. The prophet knew the law of God, he knew to show something you needed witnesses. Matthew Henry commenting on this passage said, “The patrons of idolatry are here called to appear, and say what they have to say in defence of their idols.” 4

We have no small amount of evidence of the importance of witnesses but look at the very next verse of Isaiah 43, verse 10, which by the way is where the Jehovah’s Witnesses get their name.

10  “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me. (Is 43:10)

For the Jehovah’s Witness to have credibility in their religious system they need witnesses. The Scripture affirms this and the very text they draw their name from agrees. However, what we see with consistency, in cults and cultic type churches is a lack of proper witnesses. Mormons, Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and even evangelical type churches that remain closed societies deny the importance of this central teaching of Christianity. Charles Taze Russell “reinvented” Christianity according to his biases, and rather than take the witness of Scripture itself, he found ways around the doctrines he didn’t like.

I look forward to my discussions this week with the JW’s, I’ve always found them pleasant and enjoyable to talk with, although it gives me great sorrow at their deception. I pray the Lord uses his word to open eyes and convict hearts that this very basic necessity of God is being violated in their very name.

 

Kevin

 

1. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Can%20I%20Get%20a%20Witness%3F

2. Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 1061.

3. All Scripture used unless otherwise noted: The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016)

4. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 1158.

Growing Old

20190501_184626.jpg

Is it a mystery that we all are growing old? Some have already arrived, some are mid-way and many have yet to experience the aches and pains of an aging body. I would categorize myself at the “mid-way” mark.

I don’t think I’m old, my mind still works pretty well, but the body, not as much. Growing old is the bane of existence for many of us, it leaves us befuddled in what to think. “We” hate it but must tolerate it because, really, what can you do about it?

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. Proverbs 16:31

What’s wrong with gray hair after all?

The Bible views life from a different persepctive. Growing old, rather than being something we hate or fear, is valued and we gain it through a righteous life. Matthew Henry points out “Old people especially should be found in the way of religion and godliness.”

That’s interesting because I’ve known some angry old people that knew nothing of godliness, so we know this won’t always be true.

For those of us that seek godliness, let us not despise the passing of our youth, but rather embrace what God has for us in our future. I expect it will be worth it.

I can assure you, I will never wear white New Balance sneakers, but I look forward to old age for many reasons. Not all, but many.

And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations.  And Job died, an old man, and full of days. Job 42:16-17

Kevin

 

What Happened to Stetson Man?

astetsonman

Several years ago we had a running joke in our company.  It all began with a cowboy looking guy air freshener (Not John Wayne but hey he’s a man’s man).  The freshener would show up in unusual places, and if you got stuck with “Stetson,” the joke was on you.

Years ago Stetson disappeared, and the fun was all over and done.  We had a good time with Stetson, and it still makes us laugh.

It seems manliness has gone out of style today with the whole “toxic” masculinity thing you know…

As a Christian I can tell you, it’s still okay to be a man.  To celebrate what God has done.  He did create us male and female after all.  No in between, no fluidity, no confusion.  It’s straight up fact.  XX or XY.

If you are a man, celebrate being a man.  Stand up and act like a man.  If you are a woman, celebrate being a woman and don’t be afraid to be feminine.

God’s design is pure and straightforward.

Men, be men by taking care of your family.  Protect your wife from harm, nurture and raise your children.  Teach your children about God from the Bible.  You are commanded to do so.  Cry when you must, fight when you need to.

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love.  1 Corinthians 16:13-14

 

Kevin

Sit back, relax…and ENJOY the flight

enjoy the flight 2

Maybe you’ve heard this phrase as many times as I have.  I’ve flown half a million miles in the last ten years, which is no fantastic feat by those that REALLY fly a lot, but it’s still significant enough.

This just dawned on me the other day flying back from a trip what a ridiculous statement this really is.  What is the alternative?  Sit up, freak out and hate the flight?  No disrespect to those that have issues and fear of flying, I don’t know what of any other choices?

It’s similar to living on this earth.  We are humans with frail and sensitive systems.  We don’t do well in the heat, and we don’t do well in the cold.  We get sick easily, and we can die quickly.  We really have very little control over us and others.

We have a perceived ability to control things when we don’t.  The earth we live on is spinning on its axis as it circles the sun and each day comes and goes like the one before it and somehow–at times–we believe we are significant and that we actually have control over circumstances.

I have belief in God that transcends even my own thoughts about myself and the circumstances of life.  While the world around me seems chaotic, He is in control.  When all seems to be spinning out of control I have the opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy the flight.  In the chaos, I can have peace.
Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases. (Ps 115:2-3)

Do you know him?

Kevin

 

Unplanned the Movie Review

20190409_204109.jpg

In no way am I reviewer of movies, but I’m offering my thoughts on this movie from a Christian perspective and the importance of maintaining or even developing our worldview as Christians.

I had heard a few things about the movie.  Some positive, some negative.  I have friends with strong opinions about the lack of gospel clarity and choose not to support the film.  I have no problem with that.  It is a conscience issue that should be respected.

I’ll say at the outset that I believe abortion should be outlawed and completely abolished but yet that may not happen in my lifetime and if it doesn’t would fewer abortions be better?  I say yes, and so sometimes incrementalism is a reality of life and where I find value in the movie if this can help sway the minds of a generation to the evils that are clearly shown in this film.

Abby Johnson worked for Planned Parenthood, and she defected from the organization, and this movie is the story of her time with Planned Parenthood, primarily focusing on her realization that the babies being murdered in the womb were actual human lives.  There is a powerful element as her convictions grew through markers along the way.  There are portrayals of abortions that will have you squirming in your seat.  In one scene Abby says to her husband “abortion is not pretty.”  It is a baby being evacuated from the mother’s womb.  It’s gritty and powerful and disturbing.

There is a lot of Christian cliche’s and what I call the “cheesy-ness” of the religious themed movies.  You know, how everything turns out good in the end and even though there are some problems along the way, all ends well.  For Abby Johnson, she came to see that the end of her time at Planned Parenthood also meant that she was complicit in the death of over 20,000 unborn children.  This is real, and it’s a powerful scene that could have led to a perfect opportunity for a gospel presentation.  While Abby is coming to the realization of her sins against God her husband says, “you need to apologize.”  He goes on to say that God forgives and God loves her.  While it is true God forgives, God’s love is not to love without conditions.  It’s more than telling God, “I’m sorry.”  While Abby appears to grieve does she grieve unto repentance and faith?

I also found myself troubled by the behavior of Abby’s husband, Doug.  He is unapologetically pro-life in the movie, but from a Christian perspective, he really does nothing other than disagree with Abby about her work at Planned Parenthood.  Here we see this weird toggling between opinions about Christian religion, as the Johnson’s are shown in one scene attending a church service.  True Christianity draws clear lines of distinction between tolerating willful sin and sinful behaviors.  While Doug clearly shows love for Abby, is he really loving her by not confronting her with the reality that she is against what God has clearly declared sin?

I found another, somewhat cheesy, a portrayal of those that stand on the front lines against abortion.  The movie shows two types of groups at first but focuses it’s energies on the 40 Days of Life group that is there to offer support, prayer, resources and actually try to engage those going into getting abortions in a kind and loving way.  The other group is portrayed as, let’s say, “wacko.”

Having worked on the front lines of abortion ministry, it’s a hard balance to strike.  Some women go in with hard hearts, as one woman is shown bringing her young daughter with her as her mother pleads for her not to go through with it.  Then others are crushed under their guilt and the decision they face.

Gentleness, love, and respect should always be the demeanor of Christians on the front line of abortion ministry, and my thinking has changed over the years as to the best approaches.  In the end, I side with pleading for the life of the child along with offering other choices, care, and compassion for those that are about to end the life of their children through the act of abortion.

My biggest disappointment with the movie was the blown opportunities.  I mentioned it above where Abby has come to see her sin, and her husband gives her an unbiblical response to how she should deal with her realization of sin.

Clearly, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  We’ve all sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)  A simple acknowledgement of this reality is not a gospel message nor does it indicate saving faith.

Going to God is not an act of apologizing for our wrong doings, Abby’s husband tells her that she should beg God for mercy.  Seeking mercy from God is a biblical response to the horror of our sin, but in Abby’s case, the message of the cross was never presented.  She was not told that yes, your sins are heinous in the eyes of a Holy God and the murder of 20,000 children is especially grievous to God, but we don’t just say, “hey, sorry about that God, pleeeeeeese, forgive me…”

God can, and does forgive all that come to Him with a desire to turn from their sins, and I believe that is availalbe for Abby Johnson or the most heinous of all Planned Parenthood employees, directors, doctors, and patients.  We all need Christ’s forgiveness.  We are all invited to freely drink from the water of life, but there is a biblical way to define coming to Christ that we are humbled under the reality of our sin, understanding we have no hope in and of ourselves and looking to the cross as the solution to pay the penalty and the guilt of our sins.

I have great hope that the horror of abortion and the lying and manipulative techniques of Planned Parenthood can be exposed through this movie through under cover videos and any other vehicle that can be used.  But unless someone comes to the gospel of Christ, their sin will never be paid for.  No matter how much good they’ve done on this earth, only the blood of Jesus can wash away your sin.  It is in that missed opportunity that I grieve over this film.  There are some good Christian elements in the movie but leaves off presenting a clear explanation of the gopsel of Jesus Christ.

By all means, see this movie if you are so inclined.  Cry over the loss of innocent lives, and be humbled at the reality of God that still saves sinners.  Use this as an opportunity to have discussions with friends or your children about the sinful behavior that leads to abortion.  In this respect, there is value in Unplanned.

 

Kevin