Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Did the Psalms Expire at the Cross?

On Facebook, one poster claimed, "Psalms have already been crucified on the cross with Jesus.

Jesus twice refers to the Psalms as "law"; once in John 10:34, when his enemies were about to stone him, as "your law", when reminding them of their legal strictions was definitely apropos to his well-being; and once in John 15:25, as "their law" when referring to those who hated him, which again highlighted their hypocrisy. In both cases, Jesus "twists the knife" in that his enemies claim to live by God's law, but in reality violate it; they are violating their own "law", and he uses "their own law" against them.

What Jesus is not doing is declaring that the psalms are part of the Law of Moses. Every Jew in his culture knew there was a definite separation to the scriptures, so that the Law of Moses was different from the Prophets was different from the Psalms:

WEB Luke 24:44 He said to them, “This is what I told you, while I was still with you, that all things which are written in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me must be fulfilled.”

In fact, the Hebrew name for what we call "the Old Testament" came from this three-fold division: the "TaNahK" is a pronunciation of the three initials of the Hebrew names for these three sections: Torah (the Law), Nevi'im (the Prophets), and Ketuvim (the Writings (aka the Psalms & like)).

The Tanahk itself testifies that the Law was given at Mt. Sinai and written in a book, finished, to not be added to, and stored with the ark of the covenant. Both the psalms and the prophets were written/compiled hundreds of years later. If the psalms were indeed "the Law", then they must have been written in that book hundreds of years before most of them had been composed. Now *that's* a miracle!

No, the psalms are not "the Law". The establishment of marriage for life, not being "the Law", was not crucified on the cross. The promise to never again drown the earth, not being "the Law", was not crucified on the cross. The promise to Abraham, not being "the Law", was not crucified on the cross. The command to use musical instruments in the temple, not being "the Law", was not crucified on the cross. And the psalms, not being "the Law", were not crucified on the cross.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Why the "Norm" for Early Christian Assemblies was Non-Instrumental

In the first-century AD Jewish culture, instrumental music was used in the Temple, but it was not used in the synagogue.

It seems the synagogue developed in the days when the nation of Israel/Judah was taken into captivity in far-off Babylon. There in Babylon, the Judahites (--> Jews) no longer had access to their temple (which was destroyed, and far, far away), wherein joyful worship took place. In this vacuum, the more somber activities of Sabbath study developed, which became the synagogue.

(It should be noted that the synagogue has no scriptural authority for being; apparently it is entirely a human-invented institution, and yet Jesus gave his apparent approval by making it his custom to attend the synagogue every Sabbath - Luke 4:16.)

While in the Babylonian Captivity, the "official" theme developed that the captive Jews were too sad to praise God in joyful ways. This is the thrust of the book of Lamentations, opening with the line, "How the city sits solitary, that was full of people!" The whole book laments that "Judah is gone into captivity...she finds no rest."

When the Babylonian captors asked their Jewish captives to sing about their homeland, the captives put away their instruments and replied, "We're too sad to sing of home" (Ps 137). (Notice the very meaning of "sing" implied the use of instruments; this is the way God uses the term, regardless of how Strong's or anyone else may define it.)

When the Jews were allowed to return home and rebuild their temple, there was great joy. The new temple was inaugurated with great joy:
WEB Ezra 6:15 This house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king. 16 The children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy.
But these Jews also brought the more somber synagogue home with them, and by the time of Jesus, it was a well-developed system with established rules and regulations. Jesus participated in both Temple and synagogue assemblies. (He started as a child, even neglecting to return home with his parents on one occasion so that he could hang out with the temple experts, calling the temple his "father's house". He used this same phrase as an adult when he chased out the marketers.)

When the church was established in Acts 2, his apostles knew that Jesus considered the temple his father's house. They knew that Jesus had been participating in temple worship all his life. They knew Jesus participated in synagogue worship all his life. They knew he had prophesied that they themselves would be kicked out of those synagogues for being his followers.

This early church met daily in the temple, wherein the joyful musical assemblies took place. Not one word was spoken against the temple assemblies. They also met in private homes. They met in synagogues (James 2 refers to "your synagogue", although most English translations hide this fact). They met beside rivers. They met in lecture halls. Later they met in underground cemeteries. Later still they built their own buildings for their meetings.

But in these earliest days, when the church existed only in the city of Jerusalem, the main meeting place was the temple.

When the church began to spread out and away from the city and its temple, the natural meeting place was the synagogue. It is here, in the synagogue, where the non-Jew learned "how to do church". And here, in the synagogue, instruments were not used. Not because of any command from God, but because of a human tradition.

Over the next few decades, the Gentile segment of the church outgrew the Jewish segment. This Gentile segment, for the most part, had never experienced instrumental praise in the name of Jesus; all they had ever been exposed to, as a norm, was non-instrumental praise. A couple of generations later, and the kids who had grown up non-instrumental developed the idea that the way they had personally always done things must be *the* way to do things.

When the Jewish population of Christians was snuffed out almost completely by the destruction in 70AD of the Jewish Temple and city of Jerusalem, these Gentile Christians seem to have gotten it in their heads that all things Jewish were condemned by God.

These two factors - "We've always been non-instrumental", and "God hates all things Jewish, including their instruments" - led the late first-century and early-second century churches to solidify on the Gentile/synagogue way of doing things. The Sabbath was Jewish; Sunday was the new Lord's Day. Instruments and joyful dancing and incense were Jewish; solemn head-bowing and sitting quietly is how Jesus wants us to assemble. Everyone contributing their spirit-gifting in the assembly was the mystical Jewish way of doing things; we Gentiles believe in logic and science and that requires the learned philosophers to teach the non-learned, in a lecture format.

Through the intervening centuries, and the Roman Catholic Church, we have inherited this Gentile mindset. And when we go looking in the scriptures, we bring our mindset with us, and gloss over the things that don't fit in with the "way we've always done them", and when we fail to find explicit teachings to support the way we've always done things, we turn to later, post-Bible writings, and sure enough, find support for what we believe.

Although this was long, it should help to explain why it was "the norm", by tradition, not command, for church music to be non-instrumental by the second century or so. This was not because of any command from God, but because of the natural progression of the church moving from the instrumental Jewish temple to the non-instrumental Jewish synagogue to the non-Jewish, non-instrumental assembly.

No command against instruments. No demand for instruments. Total freedom. But tradition, and the practical loss in history of the earlier tradition and the practical highlighting of the later one

Friday, January 05, 2018

A Very Simple "launchd" Example for MacOS

Arg. I've been struggling for days! to get a simple launchd example to work. None of the examples I found in the googlesphere got me there. Here's my working example.

Although I generally avoid being root for more than a single sudo command, I'm gonna sudo into root for this. Open Terminal (Cmd-Spacebar to open the Search window, then search for and Enter on "terminal".)
$ sudo -i
Then move into the /Users/Shared directory, and create a "Scripts" directory, and then move into that directory:
# cd /Users/Shared
# mkdir Scripts
# cd Scripts
Create a very simple Bash script here using nano:
# nano mysimplescript.sh
(You could also use any other plain-text editor, such as TextEdit (yuk!) or TextWrangler (yum!, but it's a third-party download). Whatever text editor you use, put the following into your "mysimplescript.sh":
Exit out of your text editor, saving the file. (If you use TextEdit, make sure it's a plain text file, etc.)

Make sure the file is readable and executable by root:
# chmod +x mysimplescript.sh
# chown root:wheel mysimplescript.sh
And test it to make sure it works. Currently, there should be no file named "ITWORKS" in the /Users/Shared/Scripts directory. After you run it, there should be such a file.
# ./mysimplescript.sh
If the script worked properly, you'll now have an empty file named "ITWORKS" in the /Users/Shared/Scripts directory. (You'll want to remove this file manually (# rm ITWORKS) afterwards for additional testing.)

Okay, so we have a working script. Now we want to use launchd to run this script once at boot-time.

Create a new file named "local.itworks.plist" (# nano local.itworks.plist), and put the following text into it:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">


Now this file needs to be placed in the appropriate directory for launchd items. If it was an Apple-provided .plist file, it'd go in /System/Library/LaunchDaemons (for root-run items) or /System/Library/LaunchAgents (for user-run items). (Daemons and Agents are the same thing; just named differently for who runs them, root or users.) But we're not Apple. If we wanted the item to be a launchd item for just "me", it'd go into my home folder's Library directory, ~/Library/LaunchAgents. But we want this to run as root, on startup, so we'll put it in /Library/LaunchDaemons.
# mv local.itworks.plist /Library/LaunchDaemons
And we need to make sure it has the correct permissions:
# chown root:wheel /Library/LaunchDaemons/local.itworks.plist
# chmod 755 /Library/LaunchDaemons/local.itworks.plist
(You could be more restrictive with the perms, such as chmod 700, but this should be okay for our purposes.)

Now we're ready to test it. Make sure that you have removed "ITWORKS" from the /Users/Shared/Scripts directory, or we won't know if the launchd item works or not, and then tell launchd to load this new service you have created:
# launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/local.itworks.plist
If you see no errors, that's good. If you now see an "ITWORKS" file in the /Users/Shared/Scripts directory, that's great! Your new launchd service works!

You can get a list of running launchd items with:
# launchctl list
or you can narrow that list down with:
# launchctl list | grep local.itworks
If you need to edit the .plist file, you'll need to first stop/unload the service:
# launchctl unload /Library/LaunchDaemons/local.itworks.plist
Hopefully this will get you started with a successful launchd experiment, that will cause your mysimplescript.sh script to run at each boot of the Mac.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Dying Assemblies

Our assemblies are dying because they're not fulfilling their God-given purpose.

Our church leaders "learned" in the 1950s that the purpose for assemblies is to "worship correctly", which puts the focus on singing right and preaching the right message and doing the Lord's Supper right and controlling who can say what when and all these "regulations", which have the appearance of wise worship.

There's nothing wrong with these things, but that's not what our leaders should focus on. Our leaders were given to us for a different purpose:
WEB Eph 4:[11 ]He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers; [12 ]for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ...
If you're a church leader, and you're not helping your sheep mature to the point of serving and building, you're not doing your job.

Your purpose is not to conduct a "God-pleasing worship service". Your purpose is to conduct a personal-growth seminar.

Paul writes this same message elsewhere:
WEB 1 Cor 14:[26 ]What is it then, brothers? When you come together, each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has another language, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to build each other up.

It's about training each member of the flock to develop and use his own God-given gifts, whatever those gifts are, to be used in the service of God's kingdom.

Can you imagine the difference we'd make in the world if we were producing armies of men and women trained to use their skill-sets in the work of the kingdom? Medical researchers giving sight to the blind. Lawyers defending the rights of the oppressed. Film-makers drawing in block-buster crowds to be influenced to no longer steal but to work productive lives. Business managers who keep the books honestly. Employers who "do right" by their employees. Engineers who develop life-enhancing products cheap enough for third-world countries. Farmers who feed the starving. Spiritual advisors who pray in Jesus' name with their clients. Public speakers who inspire listeners to make the right choices in life. Power-point developers who make God's message vibrant and alive. Software programmers who hide God-honoring easter eggs in their work. Singers who put the Norman Fishing-Tackle Choir to shame. People who make a difference in the world, because their God-given talents were developed by godly leaders who have learned to recognize and nurture those talents in each individual.

From Jesus' first public sermon:
KJV Luke 4:[18 ] The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised....
The assemblies are not about worship (although that does take place in the assembly). The assembly is about identifying and nurturing each one of us to do good works:
WEB Heb 10:[24 ]Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good works, [25 ]not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching.
That may mean breaking away from our traditions of two songs, a prayer, a song, the Lord's Supper, a song, a sermon, an Invitation, contribution, and a closing hymn and prayer. It may mean breaking into small groups, learning how to place our hands on one another and praying as a group. It may mean setting aside time to ask each member, "What's happening in your life?", so we can get to know each other and each other's needs. It may mean spending less on the outdated bus program and sending a young Christian to medical school instead, who then cures cancer or provides doctoring to the congregation's been-there-a-year full-time members at an 80% discount for ten years after graduation. It may mean game-show style learning opportunities instead of 30-minute one-way sermons that are completely wasted on the post-MTV generation. It may mean adapting the assembly in whatever way is needed to develop 21st century Christians into 21st century kingdom powerhouses.

It starts with the leaders. Are you developing your flock according to their bent, or are you simply scratching your own itch to talk into a microphone?
ISV Prov 22:6 Train a child in the way appropriate for him, and when he becomes older, he will not turn from it.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Even Whores Matter

- Tamar, the presumed prostitute, was declared more righteous than the ancestor of Jesus' tribe - Gen 38.

- Rahab the prostitute was a heroine of the faith - Heb 11:31.

- One of the judges of Israel, Jepthah, was the son of a prostitute - Judges 11:1.

- Hosea married a prostitute - Hos 1:2.

- The woman who wiped Jesus' feet with her hair was a "sinner" - Luke 7:37.

Not sure what meaning I'd take from this, but I find it interesting.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Jesus Was Probably Not Born On Christmas. So?

The most important birth in the history of the world, and we argue that it is sin to assign a day to remember it, just because we're not told to do so.
WEB 2 Cor 10:4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the throwing down of strongholds, 5 throwing down imaginations and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ;
It is OUR JOB to destroy things exalted against God, like paganism, and CAPTURE everything, like pagan practices, for Christ's glory.

If Christmas trees belonged to the Druids, we need to CAPTURE them for Christ.

If Halloween belonged to demons, we need to CAPTURE the day for Christ.

If Springtime Fertility Festivals belonged to Ashtarte ("Easter"), we need to CAPTURE the day for Christ.[1]

We are to bring every thought, every day, every moment, into captivity to the ownership of Christ.

Caesar is not Lord, despite the claims of the first-century pagans. Jesus is Lord.

God did not "authorize" the set-apart ("holy") days of Purim, or the set-apart days of Hannakuh ("Festival of Lights"), or the set-apart days of Christmas. God's people "captured" these days to honor the Lord. And at least in the first two cases, God approved, the first by including in the Bible an entire book to explain the holiday's origins, and in the second case by having Jesus right in the middle of the festivities.

WEB Matt 23:24 You blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel!
Focusing on the tithing of pennies, and completely missing the far more important tasks of justice and mercy and fidelity. How can you be faithful to Jesus if you're going around yelling, "Don't freely honor him whenever the opportunity arises! Stick to the legalistic rules that we assume apply because we know Jesus only cares about exact obedience and not about the heart!"
WEBm Matt 15:7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying,
‘These people draw near to me with their mouth,
and honor me with their lips;
but their heart is far from me.
And in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrine rules [like "No Christmas!"] made by men.’”


1. These holidays don't actually have pagan origins, but most people believe they do, and trying to explain otherwise in the blog post would just get in the way of my message.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Being Good Out of Self-Seeking?

What motivates a person to be a Christian?

Isn't it ultimately for the sake of the person himself? Perhaps to avoid hell, or to gain paradise, or because he's driven to serve a principle, such as the principle of Righteousness, or the principle of Truth?

Whatever the motivation, does it not boil down to a selfish, "#1 gets what he wants in the end" reason?

And that has bothered me. I should seek to be righteous for selfless reasons, not for selfish reasons. And yet, no matter how I turn it and look at it, the reasons boil down to "My Choice", which means I'm getting my way, which means ultimately, selfishness.

No matter how selfless my choices in this life, ultimately they're driven by a selfish hope of a valuable pay-off in the future.

And I don't want to be selfish.

But then I read a passage I've heard/read many times before, and realized, Jesus sacrificed himself for his own selfish reason. Here it is:
WEB Heb 10:looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
 Jesus endured the cross because he saw a valuable pay-off in the future - "Joy".

If Jesus can be selfish in his motivation to do the right thing, I reckon I can be, too.