The main focus of this BLOG, is to uphold those simple, and clearly defined truths, that are so often missing from Christian life and conversation.
(There may also be the odd film or book review along the way as well as stories from my life)
If you wish to use material from these posts, you may do so, but please respect the work of the writer. Proper attribution, and accurate quoting that is faithful to the context is appreciated.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Parallels and Precedents.

I love the Bible, and for so many reasons. It is a book (well more accurately, collection of books) that can never be read just once. I love the overlapping stories and arcs of story. I love to go beyond the mere act of reading, I love to delve. It is not hard to unearth the treasures of the Bible. They give themselves willingly. But you must learn how to look for them and recognise them. Occasionally you will find what is commonly known as "fools gold". But careful exegesis will quickly show it for what it is. The apostle Peter, talking about  the writings of Paul warned us about this.

2Peter 3:16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

So before I put anything down in writing, especially on such a public platform as this. I need to be sure that what I have presented is correct. I never put up my latest "flash in the pan" pet theory. What I put here is well considered, I have given it time to sit. I have said in a couple of my posts that what I thought was correct, wasn't. For instance, while writing The "other" Uncomfortable Jesus. I came across this very thing. So I had to change from what I "thought" the Bible said. As I have had to for this post.

SO, having said all that I am going to issue a challenge. I want to see if you can prove me wrong. In this post I am going to talk about some parallels in the Bible. Parallels that are found in The Old and New Testaments. Because I have a theory, which is more of a conviction. That nothing happened in the New Testament, that did not have a precedent in the Old. Jesus did not perform a single miracle, that had not happened previously. So please, if you want to test me on this, put something into the comments section. But now, on to the subject of this post.

As I said I love reading the Bible. I love the layers of story within the Meta-Story. I love the parallels, because they give us a continuity of story between Old and New. They give us a repeating picture of how God acts.

So here are the stories of two men. One from the Old, One from the New.

Both men, were on a mission with official endorsement.
Both heard a supernatural voice.
Both were on a collision course with divine intervention and revelation.

I am talking about Balaam the pagan prophet. Numbers 22:21-35.
And Saul, a zealous young Pharisee. Acts 9:1-9.

Both men had made it their intention to bring trouble upon God's people.

Balaam, (motivated by financial earthly reward) was hired to proclaim curses over Israel, God's emerging nation.

Saul, (perhaps motivated by an eternal reward for his religious zeal) was on a mission to persecute the believers, God's emerging church.

Image result for paintings of conversion of saul on the road to damascus
image unattributed
Both men had their message changed.

Balaam proclaimed God's blessing over His people.

Saul, changed his name to Paul, and went about planting churches.

These two stories show us, how God acts on behalf of His people. Often in unexpected, unseen ways.

Here's another parallel, but one which gives us a contrast. It reveals the work of the enemy in producing counterfeits.

Once again we have two men, one from the Old, one from the New.

Both are sons of David.
Both had popularity with the common people.
Both died hanging from a tree, run through with spears. The result of treachery.

I am talking about Absalom. 2Samuel 15-18:18.
And Jesus.

There are many similarities in their stories, but the differences are glaring.

Absalom, was an usurper to the throne. He garnered favour with the people, promoting his own kingdom. He was deceitful, treacherous, murderous and a narcissistic liar. He worked against his fathers will, causing him grief and shame, while he made a name for himself. In the end, his death (as a result of Joab's betrayal) was probably well deserved.

Jesus, was the heir to the throne of heaven. He grew in favour with God and man. Yet He made himself of no reputation. He was subject to His Fathers will, promoting His Fathers Kingdom, bringing him glory and honour. His death (as a result of Judas' betrayal) was undeserved, but necessary for the benefit of all.

Do these two stories serve a purpose? Well for a start, they may help us when it comes to recognising a false Christ.

So I encourage you, read your Bible, don't rest on what you "think" it says. Dig out those seams of gold. Learn from it.

Other that that I just wanted to share some thoughts about things that interest me, and please, don't forget my challenge. Ask your questions below.

Thursday, 7 January 2016


Welcome to part four of this series. So far, we have looked at three different paths we follow as part of our Christian walk. We have been through the Wilderness. Made our way along the Valley, and come to the top of the Mountain.
(You can follow these links to the previous posts if you're just catching up)

In all of these posts we have looked at; what we can learn, how God acts and how God  reveals himself.

In this post we will look at the fourth and final path of this series. This final path is different from the others. It is different, because God leads us along those other paths in order that we may learn from Him. We do not choose those paths.

This final path we will look at, is the only one we may freely choose to follow.

It is the path of the cross.

Matthew 16:24.  Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."

Luke 9:23. Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple, must deny themselves and take up their cross daily, and follow me."

Luke 14:27. "And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me, cannot be my disciple.

I've seen and heard a lot of different ways of interpreting these verses. Most of them are fairly conservative. Many of the commentaries I have looked through, talk about; facing obstacles, enduring hardships, bearing our burdens and dealing with adversity. Or, they encourage us to embrace a willingness lay down our lives in  a purely mortal sense, some level of self sacrifice, or even martyrdom. However, and I say this with all humility, I think they all miss the mark. They come up just a little bit short of the truth.

If we look at these verses in context, we really only have to ask ourselves one logical question.

"If we are to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Then where was Jesus taking his cross?"

 Answer. "He was going to Calvary to die."

I like war movies. Not because of some sadistic enjoyment of the violence. I like the stories, the struggles, acts of bravery and heroism. My particular favourite is the HBO series "Band of Brothers" If you're not familiar with the series, it covers the events of WW2 following the Normandy invasion. It particularly follows one group of soldiers from Easy Company in the 101st Airborne Division.

In one of the episodes, a soldier is struggling to deal with the intense realities of armed conflict. An officer asks him a simple question.

"What's the secret to being a good soldier?"

Answer. "Knowing that you're already dead."

I believe the message of Jesus is just that simple. That as He died on His cross. So too must we reckon our lives lost for the sake of the gospel.

Philippians 3:7-8. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.

As we walk the path of the cross, we lose all, all that is temporal, of fleeting importance. In order that we may gain all, all that is eternal, that carries the values of His Kingdom.

When we walk the path of the cross, we walk in Kingdom purposes. We walk in covenant with our creator God. This idea of losing all, of dying to all can seem daunting I know. But here's the thing. God doesn't take it all at once. He guides us with a gentle hand. It is something we learn to walk in daily.

If we want to truly experience the power of the cross in our lives. We must walk the path of the cross.
It was the path Jesus had to walk in order to gain total victory over sin. It was the only way, to the power of the resurrection.

So if you want to truly live as a Christian, what's the secret?

It's reckoning yourself already dead.

Once you have chosen the path of the cross. You will still walk through the wilderness, along the valley and over the mountain. But you will do so in the power of the cross. But you have to choose it, you have to take it up.

You can also choose not  to walk down these paths. You can get off any time you want.

But I don't recommend it.

All scriptures NIV 2011

Images used in this post.
"Light Path"
Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
"Jesus Door"
Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net