Friday, September 23, 2011

Tear into the Word Like a Lion Eating His Prey!

onomatopoeia - a word that imitates the sound it makes, like "buzz", "boom", "meow", "oink", "roar".

A Hebrew onomatopoeia is "hagah". After a lion has taken down its prey, and is settling in to start supper, he might encourage himself to dig in with a hearty "hagaaaahhh", or to discourage a multitude of shepherds from even thinking about interfering with his lamb supper with a threatening "HAGAAAHHH!!!".

Now read Isaiah 31:4 -
WEB Isaiah 31:4 For thus says Yahweh to me,
“As the lion and the young lion growling [hagah-ing] over his prey,
if a multitude of shepherds is called together against him,
will not be dismayed at their voice,
nor abase himself for their noise,
so Yahweh of Armies will come down to fight on Mount Zion and on its heights."
Okay, now you have the word picture. "Hagah" is representative of heartily tearing into a meal and viciously defending it from attackers.

Now read Psalm 1:1-2 -
WEB Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who doesn’t walk in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stand on the path of sinners,
nor sit in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in Yahweh’s law.
On his law he meditates day and night.
That word "meditate"? Yep. It's "hagah". On his law he digs forcefully in.

And also Joshua 1:8 -
WEB Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.
Once again, the word "meditate" is "hagah".

As a lion growling over his prey as the shepherds circle around, so we should dig into the law of YHWH.

This article is originally published at

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fictional Heroes: Who I Am

It was a dark and stormy night. A shot rang out. Suddenly, a ship appeared on the horizon.
That's how his novel starts. I'm still waiting to see how Snoopy ties it all together in the second chapter. I've been waiting quite a while. Probably around 35 years or so. But I always knew that Snoopy was all about vivid imaginations, and that he one day would tie these disparate events together.

About the same time I was reading Peanut's booklets, I was also reading Archie comics. I remember the principal of Archie's high school teaching Archie that old cliché: "Winners never quit, and quitters never win."

Then there was the book series that had as its hero the guy with the ring that left a tattoo on his enemies' faces when he'd punch them; I can't remember his name, but I do remember that he could walk in a dark cave/tunnel, flipping on his light only for a second, memorizing what he saw, and then walk confidently in the dark for a good distance.

This guy was probably the lead-in for my later influence by Louis L'amour characters; be observant, travel by different routes to avoid patterns, do the Right Thing even when it costs, move silently when needed, don't waste bullets by missing your target; not that I'm good at any of these things.

Captain Kirk taught boldness, and risk-taking, and adventure.

Spock taught logic, and emotional control.

Bret Maverick and Jim Rockford taught the use of brains over brawn.

Col. Robert Hogan demonstrated coolness when trouble arises, and the ability to turn a bad situation, even being stuck in a WWII German POW camp, to your favor.

James West and Batman showed the importance of having the right tools, and of being prepared. Sometimes that tool is a well-trained horse or a derringer hidden in your boot heel; sometimes it's a Utility Belt or a car customized with safety nets and oil sprays.

Robert Petrie showed that a man should be a good and loving husband and father.

The Rifleman taught determination and bravery.

David Banner/the Hulk taught that we're different people in different situations, but that our basic character still shows through.

The Robinson family and the rest of the crew of the Jupiter 2 taught the necessity of keeping hopeful.

Dr. Richard Kimble amplified on that by teaching the principle of never giving in to hopelessness.

I'm sure there were lots of others.

I'm struck that so much of who I am came from television and books.

Then, there's Homer Simpson. D'oh!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Are we commanded to always say "in Jesus' name" in all our prayers?

Although we're commanded to pray in Jesus' name, are we commanded to always say "in Jesus' name" in all our prayers?

  1. It is possible to do something in Jesus' name without uttering the phrase "in Jesus' name". We're told to do all things in Jesus' name (Col 3:17), not just pray. Yet when we sing, we don't start off each song (or end each one) with the phrase "in Jesus' name". When we assemble, we don't announce that "we're meeting today in Jesus' name". This is because the unstated assumption is that when we meet as Christians (or change an old lady's flat tire, or walk past the brothel instead of into it, or give back the extra change the cashier incorrectly gave to us, etc), we're doing so in Jesus' name. There is no reason to announce this fact each time we do something (although there's nothing wrong with announcing it). Adding the phrase to each prayer is a man-made tradition that has become a doctrine for some of us.

  2. Here are examples of New Testament prayers which do not include the phrase "in Jesus' name":

    • The Lord's Prayer : Matt 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4

    • Jesus' Prayer for Unity : John 17

    • Jesus' prayer on cross, asking forgiveness for his murderers : Lk 23:34

    • Jesus' prayer on cross, asking "why" : Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34

    • Jesus' prayer on cross, committing his spirit to God : Luke 23:46

    • The prayer of the justified sinner : Luke 18:13-14

    • Prayer for Judas' replacement : Acts 1:24

    • Prayer of thanksgiving for God's help against the authorities : Acts 4:24ff

    • Prayer for unity among the Romans : Rom 15:5-6

    • Prayer for joy & peace in the Romans : Rom 15:13

    • Paul's closing prayer for the Corinthians: 2 Cor 13:13

    • Paul's prayer for the Ephesians : Eph 3:14-21

    • Paul's prayer for the Thessalonians : 1 Thess 3:11-13

    • Another of Paul's prayers for the Thessalonians : 1 Thess 5:23-24

    • Another of Paul's prayers for the Thessalonians : 2 Thess 2:16-17

    • Another of Paul's prayers for the Thessalonians : 2 Thess 3:16

    • Peter's prayer for the people of the Dispersion : 1 Pet 5:10-11

    • John's prayer : Rev 1:5b-6

    • John's prayer to Jesus for him to come : Rev 22:20

    • John's prayer for the grace of Jesus to be with all the saints : Rev 22:21

  3. It is quite appropriate, however, to announce that what you're doing (or what God is doing) is being done through Jesus:

    • Romans 7: 24-25: "24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord."

    • Rom 16:25-27: "25 Now to Him who has power to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the sacred secret kept silent for long ages, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic Scriptures, according to the command of the eternal God, to advance the obedience of faith among all nations— 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ—to Him be the glory forever! Amen."

    • 1 Cor 15:57: "57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!"

    • Heb 13:20-32: "20 Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—with the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."

    • Jude 1:24-25: "24 Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now, and forever. Amen."

  4. CONCLUSION: It is entirely appropriate to announce that we are praying in Jesus' name, but it is not commanded to do so, and we have many New Testament prayers in which it is not done. Therefore, we are not to bind the practice, lest we be found to be teaching as doctrine a commandment of men rather than of God.

Levels of Reward/Punishment in the Afterlife?

Are There Various Levels of Punishment/Reward in the Afterlife?



The Parable of the 10 Minas – Luke 19:11ff. The workers are rewarded according to their performance.

The Parable of the Vineyard Workers – Matt 20:1-15 . Equal reward not dependent on performance.

Judgment to be more tolerable for Sodom, or for Tyre & Sidon, than for other cities (Luke 10:12ff).

Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved – Acts 2:21

We will be repaid for what we've done in the body (Luke 14:14; Rom 2:6; 2 Cor 5:10).

In truth, I understand that God doesn't show favoritism.... - Acts 10:34 (In the context of God saving both Jew and Gentile.)

If your work survives the fire, you will be rewarded; if it does not survive the fire, you will still be saved, but as though escaping fire (1 Cor 3:12-15).

Equality is the goal, regardless of what one does or does not have (2 Cor 8:12-15). (In the context of Christians sharing worldly goods with one another.


There is a “prophet's reward”, and there is a “righteous person's reward” (Matt 10:41).

No one who believes on Him will be put to shame; there is no distinction between Jew & Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him; for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom 10:11-13).

We each are rewarded according to what we have done (Matt 16:27; 1 Cor 3:8; Rev 22:12)

Some will be least in the kingdom of heaven; some will be greatest (Matt 5:19; 18:4).

We'll be measured by the measure we ourselves use (Mark 4:24).

Many will recline at the table in the kingdom of God, but some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last (Luke 13:29-30).

The One who evaluates me is the Lord, and praise will come to each one from God (1 Cor 4:4-5).

We will judge angels & things pertaining to this life (1 Cor 6:3).

The wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong he has done, and there is no favoritism (Col 3:25).

Teachers will receive a stricter judgment (Jam 3:1).

Be Still and Know

Psalm 46:10, KJV
Be still, and know that I am God....
I always thought it meant to sit quietly and meditate and realize that God is in control.

But reading it in a different version, the Holman Christian Standard Version, I find a different slant:
Stop [your fighting]—and know that I am God....
And looking at it in the Young's Literal Translation:
Desist, and know that I [am] God....
When we put the verse in context, it looks like maybe Holman's has it right:

8 Come, see the works of the LORD,
who brings devastation on the earth.

9 He makes wars cease throughout the earth.
He shatters bows and cuts spears to pieces;
He burns up the chariots.

10 "Stop [your fighting]—and know that I am God,
exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth."

11 The LORD of Hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.