Posted by: The Simple Guy | August 20, 2018

His Suffering

Gary Chapman says marriage has the same potential to misery as it does to bliss. This quote got me thinking.

It’s logical that there would be two opposite potential outcomes or experiences possible.    But as I think of this, I was reminded that marriage is a type of Christ and His church.

“Ephesians 5:29-33 (CSB) 29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 since we are members of his body. 31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. 32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.”

In light of this, I wonder if part of Christ’s suffering was to suffer the indignity of being rejected by his bride, or his people when he went to the cross.

He watched his people offer a sacrifice to the evil one, and the sacrifice was HIM.

I would never want to take away from the grief and shame of being rejected by His Father.  But I think another facet of that grief he suffered was the betrayal of being passed over by His bride, for another who only wanted their destruction.

“Oh love, that will not let me go . . .


Posted by: The Simple Guy | June 27, 2015


Lately there have been lots of rainbow flags and Confederate flags in the news and on Facebook, etc.  

This is my flag.  

The white field symbolizes innocence and surrender.  I have no innocence of my own but have been declared so through surrender to Christ. 

The blue symbolizes royalty since Jesus is my King.  He is the only One to whom I will pledge allegiance.  

The red symbolizes His blood poured out for my sin, and the sin of the entire world.  

I don’t hate anyone.  I have enough sin  and do not need to point at anyone else.  My only desire in regards to the sin of others is that they would access the forgiveness Jesus has offered to each and every one of us before their time runs out.  God takes sin seriously, as seen by the horrific price He paid in order to resolve the matter.  

If the rules God has laid out are open to our whims of the day, than Jesus died for nothing and was a colossal fool.  And I more so because I follow Him.   If this is the case than so be it.  Here I kneel humbly before Him, broken.  I can do no other.  Nor would I want to.

   Psalm 3:1-3

1 A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son. O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me;
 2 many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. Selah
3 But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.

The Simple Guy

Posted by: The Simple Guy | June 14, 2015

Acceptable deceptions

There have been some recent current events that blur the lines we have grown accustomed to observing.  I remember cheering beside my Dad when Bruce Jenner won his gold medals.   His recent revelations don’t cause me to celebrate.  They are shocking to me.   I’ll leave it there.  My prayers are with him.  I see loneliness and hopelessness. 

This past week in our region of the country it was revealed that a leader in the NAACP is a lady who has led those around her to believe that she is a person of color.   However, her high school picture shows a green eyed freckle faced girl with long straight blonde hair.   She says it’s complicated. Must be.  I’m doing my best to withhold the judgemental attitude and instead simply agree that I don’t understand.  I find it shocking.  

The lines are all moving and some of us are reacting strongly to the confusion this creates.   I hope to keep my reactions private, and let my responses be as Godly as He enables me.  I would like to refrain from publicly discussing people I have not met based on sound bites from the media. So I will stop by repeating that these two public developments shock my sensibilities. 

But it begs the question: If I am not happy where I am, what is to stop me from simply claiming to be someone or something else.   

But isn’t that what we all do?  We all wear masks.  We all put out fronts to hide who we really are.  I think the first time was here:

Genesis 3:7 – 10 (ESV) 

7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

 8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
 9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

We have become accustomed to hiding ourselves in certain ways.  The tough guy, the clown, the workaholic, the preacher, . . . 

What is your preferred cover?   Many of us camouflage ourselves by looking like our neighbors.  Others put out an obviously shocking front that keeps everyone around us off balance.  But the effect is the same.  No one sees the real me. 

But God comes to us and asks “where are you?”   Not because He doesn’t know, but we must come clean from our own self made deception in order to be clean.  

The Truth sets us free.  

1 John 1:5-10 (ESV)

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

He has promised that if we walk into the light and agree with Him (confess) about our sin, He is both reliable and right to forgive us and to remove the sin.  But if we stubbornly cling to our self-deception, there is no freedom.  

This is the most sobering thought I have come to realize in this regard. Before God, my mask is as obsurd and shocking as the ones in the news.  If I cling to it, it is also as hopeless.  
Your thoughts?

Posted by: The Simple Guy | April 3, 2015

This never gets old

Posted by: The Simple Guy | April 3, 2015

Behold the face of Islam

Don’t take my word for it. He lived it.

Son of Hamas

Wherever I go in the world, people ask me about ISIS. And I advise them to ignore the endless debates about the peaceful versus violent nature of Islam and take a long, hard look at the Islamic State. ISIS is Islam, exposed in all its cruelty and ugliness, unchanged since Muhammad.

The atrocities committed by ISIS are merely an extension of the atrocities committed by Islam’s prophet.

The true Five Pillars of Islam are: Slaughter, Intolerance, Oppression, Hatred, and Global Dominion, because Muhammad was a slaughterer, intolerant, oppressive, hateful, and drove his armies to destroy everything and everyone that stood in the way of his establishment of a world caliphate.

Muhammad said to the people of Mecca, “I have brought slaughter to you,” then he beheaded every Jewish male, young and old.

Anwar Tarawneh holds a photo of her husband Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, before he was burned alive by ISIS. Anwar Tarawneh holds a photo of her husband Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, before he was burned alive by ISIS.


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Posted by: The Simple Guy | March 27, 2015

How to make a difference: (1)

In church we are going through 1-2 Thessalonians. My next teaching assignment is chapter 2:1-16. I believe this section is about how Paul could be confident he was making a difference. It addresses his tactic, his approach, and his attitude. 

Paul was in Thessalonica for about a month. (See Acts 17:1-10). So I find this statement remarkable in 1 Thess 2:

1 Thessalonians 2:1 (ESV) 1 For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain.

He bases his statement on their own knowledge. (you yourselves know)

When he speaks of his “coming” that word is a special word that means an arrival and introduction that marks a turning point.  Such as Columbus coming to America, or Alexander the Great coming to Persia, or Jesus coming to earth. 

So Paul states that they themselves know that his arrival in there town was for a purpose and that this purpose was accomplished.  

Let’s look for clues into how he could be assured of his effectiveness. 

1 Thessalonians 2:2 (ESV) 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.

Paul had already decided to be on the side of the Gospel regardless of circumstance. Persecution did not change his determination to speak God’s truth.

1 Thessalonians 2:3 (ESV) 3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive,

The word “appeal” is the same word for comfort in 2 Cor 1 and similar to the word Jesus used for the Comforter in the upper room.  It is to call alongside for the purpose of rescue.  This was not a shouted instruction or a finger to the chest but an invitation to come along.  The attitude was “let’s do this together”

Their appeal was not from error (or wandering and off point), was not impure (not polluted by sin), and not deceptive.  In other words, he stayed focused on what was important, had integrity so his life did not cancel out his message, and he was not a schemer for his own benefit.  

As I study through 1 Thess 2 there will be more observations.  But this is a good start in having an impact on the world around us. 

Before we can have an impact we need to choose which side we are on and then be “all in”. We need to major in majors while minoring on minors. We need to guard our trustworthiness so we don’t compromise the message. We need to be true. 

Your thoughts?

The Simple Guy

Posted by: The Simple Guy | March 21, 2015

Just Sorrow, or True Repentance?

Recently I was given the opportunity to study and teach the book of Joel. I must admit my experience in the minor prophets is slim.   However I truly enjoyed the study.  There are several things I learned but there is one I would like to focus on.

But first a little background. 

We don’t know when the book was written.  It was most likely written from the southern kingdom and had to have been written after the time of Jehoshephat since he is mentioned in chapter 3. 

The book comes in three waves of judgment.  First is a “current event” that is a locust plague and famine.  This is chapter 1.  Second is a northern invasion by an invincible military.  This is most of chapter 2.  Third is the Day of the Lord and takes up most of chapter 3.  

I think it is key to notice the phrase “blow a trumpet” and the word “consecrate”.  In chapters 1 and 2 these are used to speak of a call to repent.  In chapter 3 it is a call to war and rebellion in the Day of the Lord. 

I think the key verses are in the middle. 

Joel 2:12 (ESV) 12 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;

13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.

14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God?

The purpose of the calamities is to bring God’s people to repentance.  

Notice the reason for repentance in chapter 1

Joel 1:13 (ESV) 13 Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests; wail, O ministers of the altar. Go in, pass the night in sackcloth, O ministers of my God! Because grain offering and drink offering are withheld from the house of your God.

As near as I can tell, grain and drink offerings were primarily first fruits and free will offerings.  These are expressions of faith and gratitude.  

This focus on those offerings in both the repentance and the Lord relenting points me to a thought I wanted to pass on. 

Gratitude is a key part of repentance.  I think it is the missing ingredient in worldly sorrow. It is when I recognize that I owe Him and realize that He is merciful and full of compassion that gratitude becomes the core of my response.  This is what rends my heart and not my garment. 

According to Romans 1 this lack of gratitude is the reason for God’s wrath on mankind. 

Romans 1:21 (ESV) 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

This gratitude is there in all of the repentant psalms.  It is there in Jonah 2 when Jonah repents from the fish’s belly.  

So the point I want to remember from Joel is that gratitude is a key ingredient of repentance.  Until it is there I am still in rebellion and feeling sorry for myself.   

I think it may be the difference between the responses of Judas and Peter when they each betrayed Christ. Both wept.  One dispaired and took his own life.  One left the boat and swam to Jesus (John 21)

Which one am I?

Your thoughts?

The Simple Guy

Posted by: The Simple Guy | February 9, 2015

Parallels between Moses and Jonah

Recently I have been contemplating the hot dry wind in Jonah 4.

Jonah 4:8 (ESV) 8 When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

As I thoughtfully prayed about this, asking God for wisdom, I thought about a statement I heard recently on a series by Ray Vanderlaan. He said God uses the desert as a tool to test and teach His people.

To support this claim, he quotes the following:
Deuteronomy 8:2 (ESV) 2 And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.

Deuteronomy 8:3 (ESV) 3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

Deuteronomy 8:15 (ESV) 15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock,

Deuteronomy 8:16 (ESV) 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.

Deuteronomy 8:17 (ESV) 17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’

I especially noticed the pattern in verse 16. To humble you, to test you, to do you good in the end.

Now I don’t know if Nineveh was in a desert. I kind of doubt it. But the desert imagery is there for sure.

So that is the backdrop against which I saw these parallels.

1) Both Jonah and Moses were reluctant prophets who argued with God.

2) Both Jonah and Moses spoke of judgement to the most powerful pagan kingdom in their time, at the risk of their own lives.

3) God brought both Jonah and Moses through the water miraculously.

4) Both were tested in the wilderness, and did not pass the test. Jonah with the hot wind, Moses at the rock.

5) Then God speaks.

The (unspoken) answer to the question at the end of Jonah is the lesson of the book. God took Jonah to the wilderness, to the end of himself, to make a point. A point he wanted his people to ponder for 600 years until the Prophet who fulfills the type comes.

The Prophet who is NOT reluctant but says “never the less, not my will but Thine be done”

The Prophet who speaks judgment but also mercy, and is the Judge of the nations.

The Prophet revealed miraculously as he came up out of the water. Also who does not need to go through the water. He walks ON the water.

The Prophet who was tested in the wilderness and succeeded. He proved that He loved God with all of His heart, soul, and strength. (His answers to the tempter all came from the same Deuteronomy context by the way)

The Prophet who went up on the mountain, sat down and spoke to them the very words of God (Matt 5,6,7)

And when Jesus spoke of Jonah in Matt 12, he tied the Jonah story to the story of Hosea by saying:
Matthew 12:7 (ESV) 7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.

I think this quote is the answer to the question at the end of Jonah.

Your thoughts?

The Simple Guy

Posted by: The Simple Guy | January 21, 2015

The sign of Jonah

Matthew 12:36 (ESV) 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,

Matthew 12:37 (ESV) 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Matthew 12:38 (ESV) 38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”

Matthew 12:39 (ESV) 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

Matthew 12:40 (ESV) 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Matthew 12:41 (ESV) 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

We are getting ready to work through the book of Jonah in our fellowship.

I want to be a disciple of Christ. I want to read scripture as He sees it. So whenever I look at an Old Testament (or New Testament) passage, I try to start by determining what Jesus had to say on the topic.

In this case, Jesus preached a short sermon using Jonah. What was He saying? What lesson was He attempting to apply? What brought up the subject?

In the previous context Jesus has said this (earlier in the same chapter):

Matthew 12:7 (ESV) 7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.

This isn’t the first time Jesus quoted that text.

When Jesus called Matthew, the tax collector had a feast in his house in Jesus’ honor. He invited all of his unsavory friends. The religious elite asked Jesus’ disciples why Jesus ate with the undesirable sorts. Jesus had this to say:

Matthew 9:12 (ESV) 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

Matthew 9:13 (ESV) 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

So he gave them an assignment in chapter 9, and in chapter 12 he grades their work. (F)

What was He quoting? This comes from the book of Hosea. Remember him? The prophet who was called by God to chose for himself an unfaithful wife. To endure her unfaithfulness, and to buy her back. To bring her back to the honored place of being his own bride.

Hosea was a picture of God. His wife Gomer was a picture of God’s people, the prostitute.

Why does Jesus eat with those types of people? Essentially, Jesus says to read Hosea to find out.

By now you are probably thinking I messed up in my title on this blog post, talking about Hosea instead of Jonah, but bear with me.

So after giving them a failing grade on them assignment to read Hosea, and after a little more back and forth, Jesus says “you will be judged by your words because what you say indicates who you are”. Immediately they demand a sign. (they want to judge Him for themselves).

This puts them in the position of judging Him instead of the other way around. What do their words indicate about who they are? This is rebellion or pride. The original sin.

Jesus calls them evil and adulterous. Because when we love anything more than God we are “cheating” or “selling ourselves” to another.

They love their own “chosen people” status more than they love God. Just like Jonah. How is that?

God made Jonah in His own image. Jonah was also one of God’s chosen people. Not only that, but he was a prophet, the very spokesman of God. This means Jonah represented God at least three ways.

God is merciful. He sent Jonah to Nineveh with a warning because of His mercy.

Jonah, the threefold representative of God, refused. When pursued by God he chose death before repentance. Only when death proved not to be an option did Jonah repent. Then he still was angry at God for being merciful.

Jonah needed mercy more than Nineveh because of his misrepresentation of God. His pride was in the way. Just like the religious elite Jesus was talking to. They were made in His image, they were God’s chosen people, and they had the positions of authority in their religious system. Jesus said they were adulterous and evil. He is comparing them to Gomer and then says they are like Jonah.

This needs to be in the back of my head as I study Jonah. Do I allow my place of privilege to compete for my affection for Him?

Am I like that? Do I forgive? Am I ready to show God’s mercy?

The Simple Guy

Posted by: The Simple Guy | January 14, 2015

Worldview Reality Check

Heather asked the girls to compare these two statements and asked if they are compatible and / or equivalent.
“God is love”
“Love is God”

As a family we had a good discussion. Here are my thoughts:

No, they are not equivalent.
No they are not compatible.

John 4 says love is from God before it says “God is love”. He is the cause. But I believe the statement that He is love is deeper than that. Will get to that in a minute.

To flip the script is to say that God is common and in all that is good. This is the mindset that finds God in a tree or a happy thought. He is in the smile of a child or a breath of fresh air.
This is close to the truth, but not quite. What we see in those things is a reflection. He is seen through these things but not in them.

You see, there are seraphim who circle His throne without ever being able to look upon Him. They never want to do anything but proclaim that He is Holy. In His presence there is no getting used to this. He is unique and “other” from all else. He is infinitely superior to all else. Far from common.

But God is also triune. The Father loves the Son. The Son loves the Spirit. The Spirit loves the Father. And the circle goes in the opposite direction as well. Infinitely and perfectly. Within the Godhead is infinite holy love. And we have been invited in.

To say Love is God is to drop our eyes downward and settle for what is common when we have been invited upward into that which is infinitely holy and pure.

Your thoughts?

The Simple Guy

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