Dluxe's World

Thursday, August 31

WWWednesday - the Late Edition

Between recovering from the road trip, attending training, and assorted other fatiguing things, I wasn't able to get to the WWWednesday post on time. The fam is going camping this weekend, so I won't be posting anything else until early next week. So, I wanted to get this post up to bridge the gap.

1) I've raved in the past about the music from the Sovereign Grace people in general... I've raved specifically about the Worship God Live album. Expect me to begin raving about the Valley of Vision project from the SGM-folks very shortly.

2) Julie @ Lone Prarie seems to be a regular feature of these WWWednesday posts. Her rediscovery of the 6th Sola of Reformation is perhaps the most deserving link yet. I wonder if this will make Piper an 8-point Calvinist instead of the oh-so-yesterday '7-point' variety...

3) Speaking of regularly-linked blogs, check out the continuing sports metaphor over on Challies blog. I bet he's not the first person to think of Fantasy Preaching, but he's clearly put the most time into it. In analyzing his method, I think the stats make Mark Driscoll the Marshall Faulk of the game. I must admit to spending a little time during a break in my class working on an optimal draft strategy.

4) People have continued to stumble across this blog thanks to some interesting search terms... One visitor, who didn't stay long, was trying to learn about murdering concubines. Similarly, reforming baby eaters just strikes me as something that I'd be afraid to enter into a search engine... After all, the NSA is listening. [Note, I have no idea how far down Google's list someone had to go to here from that search.] George Mallet's tuxedo was also hanging around here, it seems...

5) We just removed a small bat from the kitchen window...

And that seems like a good place to end. See you next week!


Monday, August 28

Away from home, yet home.

This will be a 'short' post for me...

As you should know from previous posts, three of us made a little jaunt down to Covenant Life Church in Maryland this weekend. Without getting long-winded, it was awesome. Even a 10-hour drive (lengthened to 13+ thanks to traffic) is enjoyable when you can have the kind of conversations I enjoyed with my good friends.

There is something wonderful about worshipping Christ with a different body of believers... We tend to be so isolated that we forget the kinship and unity we share rightly with other followers of the Lord. Though you may be far from home, you almost feel like you never really left. And you start to thirst for the day when we will all be gathered around the throne of God, worshipping in one voice and song.

At least I do.

There was so much in this trip that I could ramble about... I'm sure all that will come out in other posts. For now, I just want to thank my travelling companions and the lovely people at CovLife for having us.

Wednesday, August 23

Tuesday, WWWednesday, Happy Days!

This week's WWWednesday is 'Chachi approved'. Don't ask me why I'm on a Happy Days kick... It's a mystery to me as well. I'll try to shake it off!

Let me start off with a little note about some future posts... I'm going to take the Under Attack series of posts and depart from them slighty to put a verse or two 'Under Scrutiny'... There are verses in the Bible that we Christians like to use to proof-text various viewpoints. Among the most popular is the notion that God will never give people more hardship/struggle than they can bear (citing 1 Corinthians 10:13).

Is that really what that verse is telling us? Tune in later to find out. Also expect me to throw my very tattered and weak hat in the Cessation vs. Continuation debate (Thanks, Deef!) in the near future.

In the meantime, it is WWWednesday... And I've gotten more compliments on my 'random links' posts than I have on anything else. Far be it from me to disappoint me scores of readers. In my case, the score is something like 3-2.

1) I read this article while browsing the NY Times the other day. It was linked on the Op-Ed page, which I read constantly. Anyway, after I managed to reboot my brain I seriously considered posting something in response. Luckily for all of you, Al Mohler beat me to it.

2) Justin Taylor pointed out that the cover article in the new issue of Christianity Today is dealing with the resurgence of Calvinsim. Being somewhat Reformed in my leanings, I'm interested to read the article when it hits teh intarweb edition. I wonder when the Reformissialvinistist article will be coming?

3) Speaking of Christianity Today, they posted a sweet mini-review of Ravi Zacharias's new book Walking from East to West. I've been hooked on Ravi since Eva and I burned several shows to CD and listened to them on the drive back from Delaware. His recent, autobographical messages have been especially touching. Can't wait to read the book!

4) I've linked to a handful of videos on YouTube, which recently experienced an outage. Turns out it was my brother's employer who hosts them. This little account should remind us all to dig carefully...

5) Having discovered my Technorati ranking, I will begin to become a completely unbearable link-troll.

6) Though Technorati tells me I'm an F-list blogger, I can at least take comfort in the increasingly surreal hits that I get from search engines.
  • I should've thought about this before I posted the Under Attack stuff... For quite a while, I was the top blogger for information on both crime or punishment limb cutting and how to sodomize master. Trust me, you don't want to visit 2nd place.
  • On a lighter note, I've got the web candy dluxe goin' on up in here.
  • I can direct you to a good swimming hole, too. While you're there you might want to enjoy a Pepsi under God.
UPDATED!! Check out this post from surprisingly hilarious Tim Challies! This is a follow-up to the preaching trades 'announced' in a previous post.


Monday, August 21

Truer words...

“We did not have YoUDee at the University of Delaware when I was a student there more than 20 years ago and, quite frankly, something was missing. A celebration after a touchdown or a slam-dunk just isn't as much fun without a big celebration orchestrated by a big blue-and-gold chicken.George Mallet, at the Mascot Hall of Fame inductions

So true. So very true.

Speaking of which, I'm really ready for some football. The Hens are probably going to ruin most Saturdays for me this fall... But, much like any addict, I'll be whining for my fix every week.

Thursday, August 17

For my Reformissialvinistic homies...

This is teh funny...

In case you're not aware, James White is an uber-apologist who host a weekly radio program called The Dividing Line. I was first exposed to him when I read [and reviewed*] the book Debating Calvinism which White 'co-authored' with David Hunt.

Usually rip-offs of other internet memes never quite measure up to the original's fun-ality. This one, if you're in the right circle of people, comes awful close.

My personal faves, in order?
  • James White isn’t an undiscriminating baby-eating Calvinist. He only eats non-elect babies.
  • James White’s hairs were only four-point Calvinists. ‘Nuff said.
  • When James White stutters in his Greek class, a new entry shows up in the next edition of BDAG.
Tip o' da hat to Dan Phillips for da linkage!

*After linking to this old review, I was reminded that particular post caused a bit of a stir back in January. For those of you who know The J-Man (r)(C): He did say, somewhat jokingly, that my blog was too serious. My retort at the start of that post was intended just to be a jab in good fun! We can kid with our friends, right?

Tuesday, August 15

Road Trip!

A week from Friday, I'll be making a college-esque road trip to Gaithersburg, Maryland with a couple good friends. We'll be heading down to visit Covenant Life Church, the central church in the Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) network.

I'm excited beyond words about this... I first had exposure to Sovereign Grace back in the 90s when a couple friends attended (what was then) a "People of Destiny" church, picked up a CD, and sent it along to me. When Eva and I started attending VBC, we found that one of our pastors had come across PDI's exceptional songwriters and we've used their music heavily ever since.

This fall, those friends and I will embark on working through some books recommended by SGM. So it seemed that visiting CovLife would be a fitting kick-off. Originally, I hoped to slip down and attend the recently concluded WorshipGod06 conference... That didn't materialize quite the way I hoped, so this trip seemed to be the next best thing.

I mentioned that Tim Challies had been liveblogging the conference... He posted a reflection on the event today that was thought-provoking. I'm looking forward to having some first-hand experience to relay when we get back.

So, if any CovLife people are reading this: Looking forward to seeing you on the 27th, Lord willing!!

Monday, August 14

Under Attack - 2 Samuel 6:1-15

Believe it or not, no one worships Buddy Christ.

For those not in the know, Buddy Christ is the fictional creation of a Catholic Priest attempting to reinvigorate his parish in the movie Dogma. Instead of the "wholly depressing" imagery of the cross, the movie recasts Jesus as a smiling cheerleader who's sure you can do it. After all, who doesn't want a kinder, gentler God who's simply more comfortable for us?

There are two questions that come out of looking at something like Buddy Christ:
  • First of all, is he for real? Does this presentation line up with fact? Because we can all agree that, if God of the Bible exists, misrepresenting Him is probably a no-no.
  • Is a god like this worthy of worship, honor, and/or adoration? (Especially one like your college drinking pals!)
These questions and others are both often asked (in a negative way) in response to passages in the Bible like the story of Uzzah and the Ark. The story is recorded for us two times - once in 2 Samuel 6 and again in 1 Chronicles 13. We'll start by presenting the 2 Samuel passage, though we'll refer to and 'reconcile' both as this post rolls on...

The Original Passage (in a Modern Translation)
David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim. And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark.

And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry because the Lord had burst forth against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah, to this day. And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” So David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

And it was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing. And when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.

In Plain English
Having just defeated his enemies, King David goes to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant which had been 'ingnored' during the reign of King Saul. The men load the Ark onto an oxen cart and go driving back to Jerusalem. At one point, the oxen pulling the cart stumble and the Ark begins to fall. Uzzah, trying to be helpful, reaches out to steady the Ark with his hand. As soon as he touches it, God's anger burns against Uzzah and God strikes him dead. David and his men are angry at God and afraid, so they leave the Ark with another man. His house is blessed during the time the ark is there.

Three months later, David goes to retrieve the Ark and brings it into Jerusalem in the midst of a seemingly wild celebration.

Ok... Before we get to all the pointless killing, where was Uzzah killed? The Bible contradicts itself by saying that Uzzah was killed at both Nacon's threshing floor (2 Samuel) and at the threshing floor of Chidon (1 Chronicles). So much for perfect and inerrant.

The objector is right... The two passages do indicate the unfortunate event happened at places with different names. Is there a way to reconcile this? I think there is...

Allow me an anecdote: My elementary school was across the street from a convenience store called "Quillen's Market". I dare not think how many sodas and Slim Jims I must've purchased from there over the years. Anyways, the district I was in also used the same school building as the centralized junior high - bringing in kids from surrounding town elementaries for one junior high program. Just before I got to junior high, Quillen's Market was sold and became something else (Larson's, or something like that).

When I went up to the jr high, all the people who went to elemtary school in that building called the mini-mart "Quillen's". All the people who had come in from other schools called it "Larson's". We were both referring to the same little yellow building, and we knew it. But we used two different names depending on our background.

A 'threshing floor' is just a spot in a field where the wheat and the chaff were separated... It's possible that this threshing floor was shared by more than one family/town, so the author's perspective would influence the name (but not err as to the location). It is also possible that the place simply had two names. If you're from my town you'd call the swimming hole behind our old house the 'Langlois Farm hole', while people from the other town called it the 'County Road hole'.

Different names doesn't have to mean a different location, especially in an ancient, near-East culture...

Well, God sure has a tough time saying 'Thank You'... Uzzah tries to do Him a favor by keeping the Ark from tipping and God strikes him dead. What kind of God does that?

The kind who doesn't need anything... Especially help from people flaunting their indifference to Him.

Let me unpack that a little bit, since it's kinda a shocking statement... It's important to realize from the get-go that God had set out some pretty specific rules about the Ark of the Covenant... In addition to outlining its construction in detail, God also says:
You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. (Exodus 25:12-15)

At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord to stand before the Lord to minister to him and to bless in his name, to this day. Therefore Levi has no portion or inheritance with his brothers. The Lord is his inheritance, as the Lord your God said to him. (Deuteronomy 10:8-9)

And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, as the camp sets out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry these, but they must not touch the holy things, lest they die. (Numbers 4:15)

The Ark was to be covered by the High Priests, approached only by the Levites, carried only by the Kohathites, and not touched by anyone... Where does permission to put the ark on an ox cart come from? It is possible (but by conjecture only) that Abinadab and his sons, Uzzah and Ahio, were all Levites. If so, they're even more culpable here since they should've known the right proper things to do. Insisting on the right conduct was their responsibility and their clan's legacy!

Instead, we see the Ark of the Covenant - the most holy object in all of Israel - rocking back and forth on the top of an ox cart. Why? Perhaps everyone was so excited they just wanted to get back to Jerusalem faster than they could've on foot... The reason, good or bad, is really irrelevant. God had given a clear, specific command and the people present chose to ignore it (at their peril).

Did God actually need Uzzah to catch the Ark? Of course not. God could've held the Ark on the cart Himself. He could've prevented the oxen from stumbling, or even levitate the Ark all the way to Jerusalem once it had become unsteady...

God had told them that touching the Ark was prohibited and carried a death sentence... Uzzah got what he deserved, so to speak.

Why couldn't people touch the Ark anyway? What's the big deal?

The short answer is 'Sin'. We are a stained people who, at our core, are as hostile to God as Arabs are towards Israelis (and vice-versa). To simply enter the section of the tabernacle that held the Ark was itself an arduous process of ritural cleansing and sacrifices - all to make the person pure enough to stand in the presence of God and no be consumed.

John MacArthur, a far wiser man than I, sums it up as follows:
God did not want His Ark on a cart, even a new cart. This was flippant. This was human. This was disobedient... And so they're popping along on the cart and everybody's happy and they're playing instruments in verse 5 and harps and psalteries and timbrels and cornets. "And they came to Nachon's threshingfloor," which is just a geographical point in the little trip, and the thing must have hit a little mud hole or a chuck hole and the cart went into a jolt and the Ark started to move. "And Uzzah," he was a Kohathite, he was in charge of this, "he just put his hand out to steady the Ark, I mean, he didn't want it to be defiled by hitting the ground." But what he didn't know was that the ground wasn't defiled, the human race was, nothing wrong with the ground. Dirt never fell [into sin or rebellion], man did. So when he touched the Ark, dead on the spot. And you say, "Well, he's a poor fella, I mean, he doesn't go out and commit adultery, he doesn't have 800 wives, he just goes...and he's out of existence, just that fast." But it was a careless and arrogant sin which came about because he was not obedient to the Word of God. [from this sermon]

'Nuff said...

So, what does this say to us today?
The applications here should be obvious...

1) God's complete patience and grace: I can hear people's brains frying right now... "Wait just a minute! How can you possibly make your first point some platitude about God's grace after He just struck someone dead?"

Because it's true. This passage is a clear display of God's grace in action.

Here's the reality: If God was not gracious, he would've killed everyone in the story. "They went to retrieve the Ark, God killed them all, and that's all folks." Not a very good story. But it would be just! Everyone in the story was out of line. As we discussed above, the ark was uncovered (punishable by death for all who looked upon it), it was being approached by non-Levites (punishable by death), and carried improperly (punishable by death). That God tolerated all these sins leading up to Uzzah's folly is nothing but an example of grace.

Even beyond this story, our sin holds us in a dicey position. Truth is that every sin we committ is equally offensive to God. Any one of us could be justly struck down for our own sins were it not for God's grace. And even though we are that faulty, God has given us a way to receive reconciliation with Him and find forgiveness for all our sins. All that is found in through the death of Jesus Christ as a substitute for our rightful punishment.

That's good news!

2)God's complete holiness: While God's grace is real, we shouldn't dillute ourselves into thinking that somehow makes God a softie who can't put His foot down. God hates sin and He will see it punished... His very nature demands that sin be dealt with.

I was mentioning to coramdeo this weekend that I had a silly dream. In it, the fam and I were at some wedding thing. I noticed noticed the groom all dressed in a white/silvery tuxedo, then noticed by daughter playing around in a dust puddle as she loves to do. Then I got to watch the amusing sight of my 2 year-old daughter chasing the groom around as he fled from her dirty hands.

While God doesn't run from us and our sin, He can't tolerate it any more than that groom wanted to have dirty handprints on his lovely duds (not to mention in the wedding pics, immortalized for all time). When we come to God, we must remember that He is not like us. He is pure, holy, and jealous for His own glory. When we enter the picture with sin, God's wrath burns against it... If it didn't, He really wouldn't be God. If He could tolerate evil, He wouldn't be perfectly good. If He could allow wickedness to go unpunished, He wouldn't be just. He's either a perfect God who is holy and glorious, or He isn't. We can't have it both ways.

I started this post off by talking about 'Buddy Christ'... If I'm really honest with myself, I need to admit that I don't really want a god in my life who I could just hang out with and 'be myself'. That's not someone worthy of worship. They're just like me, and I know that I'm nothing to write home about.

Wouldn't one naturally expect that the God of the universe would leave us feeling a little uncomfortable with ourselves and our actions? My VBC readers (as if there's any other kind) will be familiar with this illustration since coramdeo used it in a sermon a couple days ago... In The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, the Beavers tell the children that Aslan, the true ruler of Narnia, is around. They also tell the children that Aslan is a lion - and not a safe one.

I don't really want a 'safe' God. I hope you don't either.

Lastly, this passage (as do most in the Bible) continues to point at our need for redemption. Our sin separates us from fellowship with God and will receive punishment. We can either take that on ourselves, or embrace our need and the only substitute that God has given for our atonement - Jesus Christ.

But that deserves a much longer post... So, we'll come back to that later.


Saturday, August 12

The Human Project

I've heard a lot of people around comment about how certain movies, like Brokeback Mountain or Crash, caused them to think deeply and differently about things...

I hope these same people will go to see Children of Men, slated for release near the end of September. Great book, sure to be thought provoking, and (if done well) will be exciting on the screen.Peep the trailer here, if you wish... Thanks to Justin Taylor's excellent blog for spilling the beans!

Friday, August 11

Under Attack - From Robots!! (An interlude)

The little series I've been doing on popular 'attack verses' for skeptics seems to be losing steam. The idea came from a series of exchanges via email and blog comments that I had with a couple young atheists. The emails from one of those people continued to come in until the post on Judges 19. Since then, he or she has disappeared into the clutter of the net.

Perhaps that's a sign the series is over, too. I'll post something in a couple days re: the account of Uzzah and the Ark. This was the last set of passages thrown at me and I suppose makes a fitting ending... However, if anyone out there has something else 'interesting' to look at let me know in the comments!

I'm not promising anything special as far as my posts go, but I think it's fun to dive into the Word like this.

In the meantime, be sure that you're protected from attack! What with all the terrorists and robots, perhaps it's time for some new insurance.

Ok... I've always loved this video! Found it on the net a couple days ago, so I've been looking for a chance to work it in.

Monday, August 7

Improving on WWWednesday

Last week, the weather up here was torturous. Looking at weather map, there was only a 5 degree temperature differential between here (Vermont) and Georgia. That's just not cool - um, literally.

This week is much more pleasant. The sky is clear and blue with a temperature hovering around a refreshing 74 degrees. What a great day for a WWWednesday post!

1) Found a link to this video over on Challies blog. It made me giggle. Some of the comments were a little over the top, so I'll embed it here.

2) Speaking of mega-blogger Tim Challies: Tim will be liveblogging the WorshipGod06 Conference at Covenant Life Church this starting tonight! As someone who has been richly blessed by Tim's efforts in the past, I can tell you that it's almost as good as being there. Thanks to Tim for honoring God and serving us!

3) Purgatorio always has some amusing stuff, but I think that this thread could develop into a real whopper. In fact, the Billy Graham pic is just too good not to throw in for good measure.

4) Speaking of Billy Graham, did anyone read his interview in Newsweek? There are many who are, as Brendt noted in a comment, seemingly eager to throw Dr. Graham under the bus now that he is becoming 'wishy washy'. While I don't want to join those ranks, I do think Graham's comments (particularly some of the exchanges between the elder Graham and his son, Franklin) have been interesting. Thoughts, anyone?

5) A couple interesting hits came in this week... Along with many not-so-interesting ones.
  • I logged my first hit for someone looking for a "dead body". Thankfully, I hid it well.
  • Someone in Indonesia was interested in the "gretest speech of the world". I am embarrassed to admit that I am something of an authority on the matter - thanks to my own poor typing and grammar.
6) Lastly, take time today to say thanks to a US soldier stationed overseas. I'd wager they don't hear our appreciation expressed nearly often enough. Xerox's LetsSayThanks.com makes it free and easy, but consider stopping the next person you see in uniform and tell them thanks in person!


Sunday, August 6

Under Attack - Judges 19:22-30

As touchy as the last two sections of Deuteronomy 22 were, it's difficult to think of a passage that is more disturbing and graphic than the story we find in the last half of Judges 19. It's safe to say that this one get a solid R-rating from me, so please read accordingly.

Before diving in, the issue of judging and establishing standards for morality came up in the comments of the last post I made (on abortion). Ironically, there are some connections to this passage that I'll make later on... If you've missed the background, you should catch up!

The Original Passage (in a Modern Translation)
As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, worthless fellows, surrounded the house, beating on the door. And they said to the old man, the master of the house, “Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him.” And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my brothers, do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing. Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine. Let me bring them out now. Violate them and do with them what seems good to you, but against this man do not do this outrageous thing.”

But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and made her go out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man's house where her master was, until it was light

And her master rose up in the morning, and when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, “Get up, let us be going.” But there was no answer. Then he put her on the donkey, and the man rose up and went away to his home. And when he entered his house, he took a knife, and taking hold of his concubine he divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. And all who saw it said, “Such a thing has never happened or been seen from the day that the people of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt until this day; consider it, take counsel, and speak.”

In Plain English
As twisted as this is, it's also fairly plain... Several people (a Levite, his concubine, their host, and the host's family) are having a party. A group of rather unpleasant men shows up and demands that the master of the house turn over the Levite guest so they can sodomize him. Pleasant, eh? The master of the house refuses and instead offers his daughter and the other man's concubine to the raging crowd. The crowd takes the concubine and abuses her all night long.

In the morning, the master of the house steps out of the house and finds his concubine there - dead. As if it isn't bad enough, he decides to chop her into bits and send her remains throughout the territory of Israel.

What kind of people would offer their daughter or girlfriend (concubine) to a gang of men like that?

The answer is, sadly, very simple... Wicked, evil, twisted people. There's no two ways about it: The men who threw those women into the lion's den, as it were, are absolutely wicked.

So, how can you claim that God is good with a story like this in view? Heck, how can you even claim God even exists for that matter?

Let's start with an illustration... Jack Kelley, a reporter for USA Today, wrote an article that stuck with me a couple years ago. In the wake of the invasion of Iraq, he researched the ongoing torture of Iraqi's that had taken place under the regime of Saddam Hussein. Listen to some of the terrors that he recounts:
An Iraqi soldier, who according to the facility's records witnessed the beatings, said interrogators regularly used pliers to remove men's teeth, electric prods to shock men's genitals and drills to cut holes in their ankles.

In one instance, the soldier recalled, he witnessed a Kuwaiti soldier, who had been captured during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, being forced to sit on a broken Pepsi bottle. The man was removed from the bottle only after it filled up with his blood, the soldier said. He said the man later died.

"I have seen interrogators break the heads of men with baseball bats, pour salt into wounds and rape wives in front of their husbands," said former Iraqi soldier Ali Iyad Kareen, 41.

Now the punchline - Would we ever dare to state that Mr. Kelley approved of the actions he was reporting?

Of course not... That would be absolutely absurd. In the same way, we ought to recognize that the Bible reports some incidents that make us proud and others that leave us shocked and apalled. Here we are hearing a report of conduct, none of which is being condoned or glorified. God is not pleased with behavior like this! You simply can't find a passage that says He is. The whole book of Judges is full of behavior God hated. But more on that later...

The story ... ends with: "consider of it, take advice, and speak your mind." Those who do consider it will immediately reject the idea that the Bible is inspired by God. Hopefully, they then will speak their mind. (quoting the note in the SAB)

The SAB, again, is using the King James version of the Bible. The last half of verse 30 in the ESV reads, "Consider it, take counsel, and speak".

In an attempt to make the text fit their point, the skeptic ignores the nature of the passage, the context of the "Consider it" quote, and the events that immediately follow which continue to inform the context. Let's tackle each in order to try to make things sensible:

  • The Nature of the passage: God's inspiration of the Bible is something I believe is rock-solid. I believe the Bible is accurate and clear in its details and the message that God intended to convey. Part of that message is that people are evil to the core... To that end, the Bible recounts innumerable incidents of people behaving badly.

    Just like in the example above, the recording of a particular event by a reporter makes no statement about that person agreeing with, or assenting to, the events that they record. This passage is in the Bible to make one simple point: People are sinful and are capable of unspeakable evil. Again, more on this later...

  • The Context of the quote: Upon finding his concubine dead, the Levite loads her up and takes her body home. He then proceeds to cut her up and ship her parts out among the twelve tribes of Israel... Strange! Why would he do that?

    The answer is found in verse 30: And all who saw it said, “Such a thing has never happened or been seen from the day that the people of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt until this day; consider it, take counsel, and speak.

    This is a case of seeking justice! The concubine is dead... The Levite sets out to notify the other tribes of the wickedness that he saw and stir them to action. The cutting up of the concubine's body is to verify his story and increase the 'effect' that story would have on the hearers. It sure worked! Everyone who heard the tale was united in once voice. To paraphrase their response: This is unbelievable! We need to get together and figure out how to respond!

  • The Events that follow: The people's response, which is outlined in the beginning of chapter 20, is to muster together an army to go seek "to put [the offenders] to death and purge evil from Israel" (v12). Doesn't that last part sound familiar?

    So, the very passage that the skeptic scoffs at for 'condoning' such heinous actions is only recounting the facts of the case and then moves to the need for justice.

  • What we see here is not God merrily retelling the story of what His people were doing. It is a descriptive incident of how wicked people can be with a whole nation united and plunged into war as a result. To quote Matthew Henry:
    To each of the tribes, [the Levite] sent by special messengers a remonstrance of the wrong that was done him, in all its aggravating circumstances, and with it a piece of his wife's dead body both to confirm the truth of the story and to affect them the more with it. It did indeed look very barbarous thus to mangle a dead body ... but the Levite designed hereby, not only to represent their barbarous usage of his wife, whom they had better have cut in pieces thus than have used as they did, but also to express his own passionate concern and thereby to excite the like in them. And it had the desired effect. All that saw the pieces of the dead body, and were told how the matter was, expressed the same sentiments upon it. That the men of Gibeah had been guilty of a very heinous piece of wickedness, the like to which had never been known before in Israel... [A] general assembly of all Israel should be called, to debate what was fit to be done for the punishment of this wickedness, that a stop might be put to this threatening inundation of debauchery, and the wrath of God might not be poured upon the whole nation for it.

    So, what does this say to us today?

    What do we take away from such a disturbing passage? How can there actually be anything here we need to apply to our lives? Well, here are some things I think are important:

    1) The Depravity of Man: There was an old radio/comic character called "The Shadow". His broadcasts always began (or ended?) with a haunting voice asking "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?". Passages like this in the Bible are there to remind us of the evil that lurks inside of all of us.

    I'm sure some of you are thinking that's a little extreme of me. I certainly hope that none of us have ever thought about participating in a gang-rape. This story illustrates a kind of evil that makes our stomachs turn. However, I would submit that if we pull the covers back on our hearts just a little we could find some of the same tendencies in us.

    Have you ever slammed your breaks in annoyance at the person tailgating you? Couldn't that behavior, born in your own selfish anger, endanger that person's life or someone else on the road? Have you ever been so angry about something that, had you been given the opportunity, "you don't know what you would've done"? Have you ever taken a soda out of the fridge at work that you know isn't yours?

    While there are clearly degrees of 'badness' from one person to the other, we are all stained with a dark side. For many of us, our moral impulses and various controls in our lives (family, friends, position) keep us in check. The band of 'worthless men' in Judges 19 should turn our stomach with their behavior and then cause our next thought to remind us how easily we could slide down the same slope.

    2) What happens when a culture leaves God behind: I've intentionally delayed giving you the key verse in Judges 19 until now. I hope with all the above in mind it'll have a deeper impact than it would've just offhandedly lumped in the beginning. The first verse of the chapter reads, "In those days, when there was no king in Israel..."

    I can hear you now... What? That's it? What's the big deal with not having a king?

    The author of Judges uses that phrase several times:
    "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes." Judges 17:6

    "In those days there was no king in Israel. And in those days the tribe of the people of Dan was seeking for itself an inheritance to dwell in, for until then no inheritance among the tribes of Israel had fallen to them." Judges 18:1

    "In those days, when there was no king in Israel, a certain Levite was sojourning..." Judges 19:1

    "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes." Judges 21:25

    Israel had no king. Without someone to rule over them everyone just shrugged and "did what was right in his own eyes"... A lot of the Bible deals with the natural outworking of having no king. Without an authority, be it legal or moral, we ultimately descend into following our own selfish interests. While at first we might operate under some vague sense of cultural obligation, it cannot be long until we become slaves to darker desires and lose the inhibitions to act on them without regard for others.

    I wonder if you catch the subtext of Israel's lacking a King? If you'll remember, God chose and delivered the people of Israel from underneath the thumb of Pharoah. God declared Himself to be Israel's only Sovereign and Ruler. Israel prospered under God's rule: God annointed Joshua to lead the people into the Promised Land, driving out enemies and establishing Israel in safety.

    But something happened... God's rule was replaced by human desires. God's authority was acknowledged and honored only in symbollic ways. And so, people were freed to go their merry way and do whatever felt good to them. Eventually the people began to grumble that they wanted an earthly king so they could be just like the other (godless) nations (1 Samuel 8).

    While we think of moral relativism and postmodernity as something of our own, modern invention, we see in the Bible that the issue is as old at time. Someone said - perhaps it was C.S. Lewis - that we were created to be worshippers. The only question is what object gets our worship? Something will be on the throne of our life to receive our worship and devotion. For each person it'll be different, but ultimately we'll see individuals pursuing their own desires with nothing less than 'religious' fervor.

    Muggeridge, who I love to quote, said it this way: "If God is dead, somebody is going to have to take His place. It will be megalomania or erotomania, the drive for power or the drive for pleasure, the clenched fist or the phallus, Hitler or Hugh Heffner."

    Who is on the throne in your life? And if it is some god of your own design, how can you assert that the actions of one person "doing right in his own eyes" is really wrong? To have a moral law, one must have a moral law giver! If you say 'Society gives the moral law', then you must admit that there is a "Might Makes Right" assumption under your reasoning.

    If, on the other hand, you say 'Each person defines their own moral law', then you must admit that everything is relative... One person's definition of right is no more or less correct than yours. The desire of a killer to murder is really no different than my desire to hug babies.

    So, who is on the throne...? And if you aren't placing God there, are you really comfortable with the king in your world?

    Thank goodness I have one more point:

    3) God's unspeakable grace: I must admit that there are times I feel self-righteous. In those moments, I wish that I worshipped a wrathful God who would have taken a mob of men like those we see in Judges 19 and just kill them with lightning on the spot. The problem is that I'd be effectively asking the same God to strike me dead at any moment of the day where I become guilty of sin. God would be perfectly just if he struck down every person who trangressed His rules.

    The wonderful news of the Bible is that God hates wicked behavior equally - from my lusts in the flesh to the bloodlust of the worst dictator. Rather than just strike us down, God has chosen to act towards us in grace. God allows us to live, even when we go on sinning, out of nothing but unmerited, unearned grace.

    Hear the Good News: What we have earned is wrath - what we get is something far better! God could not let evil go unpunished, but chose to punish Christ - His only Son - as a substitute for us. Here's how it really is:
    The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 Pet 3:9-10)

    For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:22b-26)

    There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)

    When we come to a passage like Judges 19, we should be reminded of our true nature... We are sinners who will one day stand before a God who is Holy and Just. Either we will face our punishment, or we must see and embrace God's unbelievable grace now! His grace made a way for us to escape damnation by punishing Christ in our place.

    Judges 19 should remind us that we will bow, or we will burn. Life and death are set before us, and we know our natural destination. Are we going to change course, or not?


    Thursday, August 3

    Hear us roar?!?

    Challies blog had this article in the A La Carte section today.

    We dare you to know...It makes me sad... Actually, angry is a more accurate description. Being a guy, I've never had any cause to pick up Ms. magazine. Now I do have the desire to use current and past issues as kindling.

    According to their website (which I will not link to again), Ms. is "an award winning magazine recognized nationally and internationally as the media expert on issues relating to women’s status, women's rights, and women's points of view."

    Just to be clear - It strikes me as tremendously crass to herald the fact that you've had an abortion as some sort of badge of honor (no matter what you think about the 'fetus vs. baby' issue). What a naked attempt to rationalize the guilt and stigma that post-abortive women feel. "Don't feel conflicted - you're giving into the perceptions and prejudices of a masculine dominated culture... If we all tell ourselves it's great, it will be great! Right?"

    I wonder how many of these same people have confronted the facts on the other side of the aisle honestly? Perhaps they should make some of these sites required viewing before you can put your signature on the petition...


    Wednesday, August 2

    Boiling on a WWWednesday

    In case you live in an air conditioned bubble , it's really hot outside. Sitting in an office on the sunny side of an uncooled, brick building is less than fun on days like this.

    Anyway, here are some things to get your through your Wednesday.
    1. Tim Challies wondered what it would be like if the world of pastoring had all-stars and trading deadlines a la MLB. This was what he came up with... Later, the smart guys @ F&P posted the image to the right. Funny stuff!
    2. Since I always rant depressingly about cards, here's a happy note for a change. Bridgebase rocks my socks off.
    3. Have you met Chad Vader? If not, you'll be highly amused by these two videos [one and two]. Beware, it's a little PG-13... But I about choked to death laughing at the guy who is so eager to be 'the apprentice'. Never drink and surf, friends.
    4. Julie had this on her blog. I find it amusing, and that makes me question my own sanity.
    5. It wouldn't be a WWWednesday post without some amusing ways that people have arrived at this page (and usually left immediately thereafter).
      • As soon as they release an "ESV Bible iPod Nano", I'll buy a case of 'em. In the meantime, I guess I've tipped Apple's hand.
      • Wanna know "why propositional truth matters"? You've come to the right place.
      • I wonder if it matters because it makes "people cry"?
      • Someone hit this post for info on "ivy league schools or academic merit scholarship". I bet they were really disappointed.
      • And, lo and behold, someone was actually looking for "Brian Dellinger" and ended up at this humble blog. Hello, long lost uncle or cousin or both.


    Tuesday, August 1

    Under Attack - Deuteronomy 22:22-30

    Well, so I lied a little... I really did plan to get this post up last night, but just didn't. I have an excuse, but it's not a good one.

    So, here we go with the continuation... Let's tackle together Deuteronomy 22:22-30 together. One starting note: I'll be using the New American Standard Bible (NASB) today as the primary translation to defend this passage. The NASB is generally recognized to be the most literally accurate translation of the original Biblical texts. This means that while you get almost exactly the words of the author, you tend to sacrifice a little bit of readability.

    However, given the challenges in this passage the NASB is the right place to go. Before we begin, here's another reminder that the post is a little 'PG', so click elsewhere if'n you want...

    The Original Passage (in a Modern Translation)
    If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.

    If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and {another} man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor's wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.

    But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death, for just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case. When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her.

    If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl's father fifty {shekels} of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.

    A man shall not take his father's wife so that he will not uncover his father's skirt.
    In Plain English
    If you catch a couple engaging in adultery, they have done an evil thing and should be put to death. This is true even if the girl is not actually married yet, only engaged. If it is possible that the girl is a victim of rape, only the man will be killed.

    If a man sleeps with a unengaged virgin, he must marry her and cannot divorce her.

    Oh, and don't sleep with your stepmother.

    This is, in reality, a much more straightforward passage. That doesn't mean that you get a shorter post, however. Just think of the bargain you're getting!

    What's the big deal with a little action on the side? Why is adultery a capital offense?

    As we discussed previously, God instituted marriage so it is sacred... He created men and women to be together, one-to-one, for a lifetime. That relationship is intended to be reflective of the unity within the Godhead itself - existing as One in three persons. This gives marriage, and the intimacy found in sex, the highest meaning.

    When we violate that union, we are thumbing our nose at God's rule over our bodies and in some way belie His nature. Our infidelity and fornication muddies the representation marriage should give of God's holiness and unity.

    Let me give another example just to clarify: There are a couple studies (here is one) that show the extreme influence a dad has over whether or not his children continue in their faith. Why do you think there is such an imbalance in the figures? I'd assert that, at least in part, it is because God has identified Himself as our Heavenly Father and our earthly role reflects on him.

    So, when we dads lack faith or abuse the authority given to us it has a profound effect. Not only is there an immediate impact, but there is also one that plays out later by continuing to skew the child's perception of who "God, Our Father" must be.

    As fatherhood represents God's relationship towards/to us, so pure marriages represent God's loving provision for us and His own triune nature. (And we'll set aside, for now, the deeper meanings given to marriage in light of the New Testament and Christ!)

    FOUL! In one case we have an engaged woman 'in the city' engaging in adultery who gets stoned... What if she was being raped? So what if 'no one could hear her cries'!

    First point: It's important to note, again, that God treats the engagement as effectively equal to being married.

    I think it's fair to say the real issue here, as the skeptic points out, is proving consent to sex. If a woman is raped, she has committed no wrong. Verses 26-27 make this specific point: No one chooses to be murdered and the victim is guilty of no crime.

    The problem was, and still is today, is how to prove allegations of rape. With the absence of clear evidence, almost all rape cases devolve into a "He said, she said" kinda argument where persuasion is often more valuable than truth. God is giving His people a framework full of discernment for trying to assess 'what really is going on'.

    In one case, a woman and man are found having illicit relations in the city. The relationship is judged to be consensual (and thus adulterous) because there no cries for help heard. Now before you get your hair up in a bun over this, just think for a second... In order for the couple's relationship to have been discovered in the first place, someone must've seen or heard something. The law implies some level of 'eyewitness testimony'. Assuming that person has enough evidence to make such a serious allegation, we can assume that they also had opportunity to discern something about the circumstances of the crime. Remember that cities and houses back then were not like they are today: people knew each other, who belonged, who didn't, and probably could hear more than they wanted of their neighbors to thanks to the rather meager home materials.

    In the city, with people all around, it is at least reasonable to assume that a woman being raped would struggle, cry for help, or something and be helped. If it happened in the middle of nowhere (that is, a 'field'), she may not do so since no one's likely to come to her aid anyway. So, where sufficient doubt arises, the woman's life was to be spared while the man faced the full penalty of the law.

    Again, Calvin tackles this well in his commentary:
    But since one who has been ravished is not criminal, a woman is absolved if she be forced in a field, because it is probable that she yielded unwillingly, inasmuch as she was far from assistance. Although, however, the terms are accommodated to the comprehension of a rude people, it was the intention of God to distinguish force from consent. Thus if a girl had been forced in a retired part of a building, from whence her cries could not be heard, God would undoubtedly have her acquitted, provided she could prove her innocence by satisfactory testimony and conjecture. (Volume 3, emphasis mine)

    Well, keep reading... According to the Bible, a woman who is raped has to marry her attacker and she's stuck with him.

    The objector is referring to verses 28-29 which read as follows in the King James Version: "If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days."

    The objector is assuming that this passage cites another instance of rape. Usually they will defend this by pointing out that previous verses almost certainly discuss rape and that in this verse the man 'lays hold on' (or "seizes" in the NASB) the woman.

    While the previous two verses do discuss rape, they are also dealing with the overarching issue of adultery. Discussing rape becomes necessary in order to discern whether or not the woman is a victim or an adulteress. Much like our legal code, each of these verses is an individual statute of the law... Some are linked (like 23-27 are thanks to the 'But' in v25) but others stand alone. I think this verse is simply a loner given that we've gone from talking about married or betrothed women to an unmarried/unbetrothed damsel here.

    The second assumption - that "and seizes her" indicates that the woman is forced into the act - is difficult to prove or deny. Let's look at the parallel texts in the previous passages using the NASB:
  • v22 - "found lying" [No inference of force]
  • v23 - "and lie with her" [No inference of force]
  • v25 - "force her, and lie with her" [Obvious force, two clauses]
  • v28 - "seizes her, and lie with her" [Force? Two clauses]

    In all these verses, the same Hebrew word (shakab) is translated as 'lie'. It occurs 14 times in the book of Deuteronomy and refers either to 'laying down' for rest or for sexual relations ('laying with someone').

    There are two different words being used for"force her" and "seizes her":
  • "Forces" (v25) - The Hebrew word here is 'chazaq' which most often is dealing with strength or prevailing against/over another. Thus, a very literal translation of v25 might be "... he prevails against her and lies with her". In this case, the woman is clearly being taken against her will.
  • "Seizes" (v28) - A different word is used here - 'taphas', which is literally means to 'catch or lay hold of'.

  • It's difficult to tell whether or not 'taphas' should be understood in verse 28 to be indicating rape or not. God chose to clearly use the word "forces" (chazaq) in the previous verse and could've chosen to do so again. But He didn't, so what are we to make of it?

    I believe that the bottom line is that the fact of rape is functionally irrelevant in those verses (28-29). Allow me to give two reasons why I can make that bold statement:

    1) Let's assume that the maiden in verse 26 has been raped.
    If her attacker is put to death, what is the outcome for the young woman?

    As we noted before, a woman whose sexual purity is compromised would have a difficult time finding another husband. As an aside: Before we go indicting the Hebrew culture here, let's own up to the fact that female victims of rape face similar stigmas even in our modern culture. Many women who tell a boyfriend about a previous rape suddenly find the relationship 'cooling'. I'm not saying it's right, I'm just saying that we're not so different from the Israelites after all.

    Given that the woman in our Biblical example would've likely been 'husbandless', God makes a similar provision for her care. It doesn't say she must grow to love her attacker... It does force the attacker to care for and provide for the woman who he victimized for the rest of his life.

    2) If the passage does not refer to an incident of rape, we're still dealing with a loving provision. The woman's purity, and thus her cultural status, has been damaged and she must be protected. As a result, the marriage is still mandated for her good and other young men would learn one the merits of waiting.

    So, rape or no rape, the law here is setting a high premium on the care of the victimized woman. I'm not saying the particulars don't matter! I'm just trying to get you to see that the legal demands on the offender are being tempered with provision for the offended.

    What's all this stuff about uncovering "your father's skirt" stuff in verse 30?

    Simple... Don't have sex with your stepmother. Incest is dealt with elsewhere and here the man is making it with "his father's wife" (not "his mother"). The skirt business is to imply that the abomination of such a relationship stains the perpetrator and dishonors his father (with overtones of 'the two shall become one flesh').

    So, what does this say to us today?

    All the same stuff I mentioned in my last post holds true again... So, rather than restate that, let me make two new points.

    1) The danger of literal legalism: When we read a legal document, some of our American minds start looking for loopholes. If our lease is clear about having 'no pets', we try to figure out if the language will allow us to keep Snoogums the Chihuahua under the guise of 'alarm system' or 'biological experiment control'. We've become a society that really does need to define what 'is' actually is.

    The Israelites of the Bible were the same way. They became so mired in the details of the law that it really is absurd. For example, passages of the Talmud relating to these verses spend pages and pages defining, in absurd detail, the definition of a "field".

    As a result, we let the letter of the law trump the spirit of the law. In looking at these passages, we make a big deal out of fields and cities, when the underlying fact is that the issue is burden of proof. Likewise, by seeking obedience to the letter of the law we miss the whole point about personal holiness being more than just our actions... The Pharisees made this mistake and were sharply rebuked by Christ for it.

    Though I hope few of us have ever considered acts of adultery or rape, the point is that we are condemned by the law for even considering such sins. When we lust, we condemn ourselves and our sin carries a death penalty. For the skeptic, there's a huge downside if God is real.

    The good news is that we can be forgiven for our transgressions against the law by putting our faith in Christ. The Bible tells us that "for our sake he made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (1 Cor 5:21). Christ took the penalty for our shortcomings (actions, inaction, and thought)!

    2) The danger of tolerating sin: Look at these verse snippets from the whole section:
    - v21: "...you shall purge the evil from among you."
    - v22: "...thus you shall purge the evil from Israel."
    - v24: "Thus you shall purge the evil from among you."

    This is really the key takeaway from Deuteronomy 22. Israel was a nation that existed in covenant relationship with God and was expected to keep themselves pure and undefiled. In the same way, God 's relationship with us and the church today is one of continuing refinement (sanctification). While I'm absolutely not advocating stoning people for offenses, I am saying that we need to be 'ruthless' in addressing sin in our personal lives and in the church.

    Church discipline is out of fashion nowadays... We've replaced it with "a spirit of tolerance". And while I think we need to exhibit a certain amount of grace, I think Paul's exhortation to us in 1 Corinthians sets a different bar than we like:
    Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

    I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. ... God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you." (1 Cor 5:6-13)

    Paul is pointing out that the tolerance of a little sin (leaven) eventually permeates the whole church (lump of dough). As we let sin take root in our midst, we'll find it to be a lot like cancer - eventually killing the body that it infects.

    We are called to holiness... And while that goal is too lofty for us in our flesh alone, we must pursue it in Christ by God's grace. When we see sin, it should be confronted and dealt with, particularly within the context of the local church. Grace must temper all this (for we all have planks in our own eyes) but we mustn't compromise on righteousness.

    Onto Judges next!