Where the Sun Don’t Shine

August 3, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 7 Comments
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Last year, I shared these helpful, but vastly underappreciated, thoughts with the married couples Sunday School class that I teach:

Because absolutely no one has asked me to share my thoughts on the big solar eclipse, I find myself unable to resist the urge to publicize my opinions and innermost convictions about it. Here goes:

1. The solar eclipse (Lord willing) is happening this Monday, August 21, 2017, which is also one of my daughters’ (maybe the 4th or 5th one, I forget) birthday. I don’t know where the moon got the big idea to block out the sun on the most important day of the year, but whatever.

2. From everything I’ve heard and read there is a possibility of going blind or at least losing part of your eyesight by looking at the sun. As somebody who has struggled with some fairly serious vision problems, that pretty much seals the deal for me. Seeing a black shadow pass by in the sky, a little dot with a corona, weird perspectives in the clouds – those might be cool, I guess, but I’m not risking my eyesight, so if you want to borrow my huge black old-people shades they make me wear when I ask for the senior citizen discount at the hospital cafeteria after my eye exams, you’re welcome to them. I won’t need them, because I’ll be looking at the ground just to be on the safe side. I found a five dollar bill lying in a gutter during the last eclipse!

3. My first grade teacher (in our one-room mud-and-straw schoolhouse on the prairie) had a scale model of the solar system. We could play with it and make the little model earth pass between the little model sun and moon, and the moon pass between the sun and the earth, and all sorts of configurations that happen when spheres move around each other in circles. Whether a solar eclipse happens once in a lifetime or once every thousand years or whatever, it seemed apparent that it would happen eventually, so I was kind of over it at that point. It’s like when your car’s odometer rolls over to 111,111 miles. Sort of neat, but not really a reason to take off work or skip school.

4. So, if I’m such an eclipse-scrooge, why bring it up at all, you ask. Because I don’t want Christians (especially Christian parents) to get too carried away with the latest cultural fads. Colossians 2:8 says, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” The word translated as “rudiments” contains the idea of the regular movements of the celestial bodies (the stars, planets, sun, and moon). People in Bible times tended to place spiritual significance in astrology, and many people still do it today. I don’t want our children to think that this is some “miracle” or “sign from God,” and, more to the point, we don’t want them to think that normal (though God-controlled) natural occurrences are more interesting than the glory of God Himself which is the real purpose of these things. Just as some children’s Bible lessons teach that thirsty deer remind us of how we ought to thirst for the presence of God, and how soaring eagles remind us that waiting upon the Lord allows us to soar above our trials and temptations, and that bold lions remind us of the power and strength of the Lion of Judah, so too, we need to make sure that they know that the heavens (and the celestial bodies that revolve around each other in them) declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). I hope my children think I’m much more excited about God, His Word, and His people than I am about inanimate spheres and their orbits.

5. Here’s a suggestion for “redeeming” your eclipse-viewing experience – something that I’ve told my kids and something that you can explain even if a typical South Louisiana thunderstorm covers the sky on Monday afternoon, spoiling your plans to go blind. You can even demonstrate this with a globe, a flashlight, a bouncy ball, and a mirror, safely within the confines of your air-conditioned living room. Tell them this: The earth revolves around the sun, and the earth rotates, but it doesn’t just rotate – it “repents” – over and over again – it turns to darkness, and then back to light. And the sun is like God – it shines its glory. We want to be like the moon. The moon reflects the glory of the sun onto the part of the earth (the world) that’s turned away from the sun. We need to be “moonlight” Christians. We don’t care about shining our own light. We just want to reflect God’s light on a dark world.

Presumed Guilty

March 7, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Posted in Selected Psalms | 2 Comments
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God has revealed Himself to us in creation and in His Word (the Bible). These are what we might call “external” revelations of God. God has also revealed Himself within us (internal revelation).

It’s good to see God around us. It’s better to have a revelation of God in our hands (the Bible). It’s better still to get the knowledge of God’s revelation into our heads. But the best is to get the revelation of God down into our hearts – where it transforms us.

There is a revelation of God in every heart (the moral law), but the more revelation we get from the Bible, God’s moral laws, and Biblical teaching, the more of our sins we see. Before this happens to us, they are sins of ignorance.

Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

Psalm 19:12-13 (emphasis added)

Presumptuous sins are sins we are fully aware of and intend to commit knowing we are doing them.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Psalm 19:14

We need a Redeemer to save us from presumptuous sins. Jesus Christ is that Redeemer.

God’s Revelation of Himself

February 27, 2012 at 10:27 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 10 Comments
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Psalm 19 is considered to be a “wisdom” Psalm. Wisdom Psalms generally do two things:

1. They promote God’s Word, and pronounce blessings on those who study it and practice it.
2. They deal with theodicy.

Theodicy is normally phrased like this: If God is all powerful (omnipotent) and all good (omnibenevolent), then how can there be evil in the world? However, we know from the Bible that this is not the correct question. The real question of theodicy is this: Since God is all powerful and God is all good, why does He bless any of us wicked folks with any good at all?

Psalm 19 focuses on God’s revelation of Himself in this world. Did man discover God? Or did God reveal Himself to man? Here are some examples of how God has revealed Himself to man:

1. The Cross of Jesus Christ. (This revelation appears further down the list in most systems of theology, but it is my personal preference for No. 1.)
2. His acts of creation.
3. His “natural” laws (consistency and beauty in the material world, which we can identify in the studies of areas like physics, chemistry, and mathematics).
4. Miracles (acts whereby God bends His Own “natural” laws in order to demonstrate His Ownership and power over His creation).
5. The Bible
6. Internal moral law
a. People inherently know there is a right and a wrong.
b. People find themselves unable to consistently do what is right in their own power.

The first six Verses in Psalm 19 deal with God’s revelation of Himself in what we see outside of ourselves.

[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.] The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

Psalm 19:1-2

The ungodly see the majesty of nature and worship the creaTION. Godly people see the majesty of nature and worship the CreaTOR.

Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

Psalm 19:4

The word translated as “line” contains the idea of a “sound” or “influence.” It is reiterated in the New Testament:

But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

Romans 10:18 (emphasis added)

David was excited just to see the sun coming up each day. To him that was a bigger deal than how his favorite contestant would perform on Israelite Idol that night. How excited are you about the wonder and majesty of God’s creation?

Verses 7-11 in Psalm 19 deal with God’s revelation of Himself in Words (the Bible). God didn’t create the physical universe and then develop words later on; He created everything that has been created by His Word.

Note some of the names and functions of God’s Word:

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

Psalm 19:7 (emphasis added)

God made the “law” to be our teacher. The “testimony” is God’s explanation of Himself.

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Psalm 19:8 (emphasis added)

God’s “commandments” are His orders, and they are beyond question. They are “pure,” and they help us see where to go when the path looks dark to us.

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

Psalm 19:9 (emphasis added)

Worldly fears are polluted and unclean; the “fear of the Lord” is a “clean” fear.

“Judgments” describe how God deals with men: rewards, punishment, chastisement, rebuke, etc.

For a Christian the Word of God is more important than food.

Parallelism in Psalms

February 8, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Selected Psalms | 4 Comments
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There are 150 Psalms in the Book of Psalms. Each and every one of them was authored by the the Holy Spirit, Who used various human instruments to write them. He used David to write 73 of them. He used the sons of Korah to write 11 of them. He used Asaph to write 12 of them. He used Solomon to write 2 of them. He used Ethan and Moses to write 1 each. That leaves 50 Psalms where we do not know which human instrument the Holy Spirit used, but we know that all of them are inspired by God.

The Psalms may be divided into five sections based on the Pentateuch (the first 5 Books of the Bible – or the so-called “Books of Moses”). The Psalms are songs written for stringed instruments. Since they are songs, their style of writing is considered to be poetry.

Hebrew poetry is big on parallelism (saying the same thing twice, but in a slightly different way or with a different emphasis). There are different types of parallelism. One type is called “synthetic parallelism.” Here is an example of synthetic parallelism:

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

Psalm 19:7-9

In synthetic parallelism the second line explains and expands the first line.

One of the clearest examples of Hebrew parallelism in the Bible outside of the Psalms is one of (if not the) first poems in human history:

And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.

Genesis 4:23 (emphasis added)

The evil bigamist Lamech bragged to his wives about killing a man, and it almost sounds like he killed two men instead of one unless you understand the parallelism in his song/poem. The “and” does not denote a separate killing. It is his way of expanding and emphasizing the fact that he killed a man – and not only that – but he killed a young man for a mere offense.

Sweet Theology

November 30, 2009 at 9:21 am | Posted in Selected Psalms, Uncategorized | 12 Comments
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“Theology” might be defined as the study of the true nature of God. It is a word which is derived from the ancient Greek word for “God:” Theo; and from the ancient Greek word logos, meaning a “discourse” or “systematic discussion of.” Theology, as practiced by the wisdom of man, can be very dry – boring even.

Therefore, theology must never be divorced from our greatest source of information about God: the Bible. This source is neither boring nor dry. In fact, it is living, powerful, fear-inspiring, and love-producing. The Bible contains the very Words of the living God, including His laws, principles, and His righteous dealings with sinful man over the centuries (His judgments, Psalm 19:9).

How people treat the Bible is a good indicator of how they feel about its Author. Are you willing to forsake opportunities to gain personal wealth in order to spend time studying God’s Word? Do you desire to be instructed in revealed righteousness more than you desire your favorite foods? Money and food may provide sustenance (temporary life), but the judgments of the Lord point toward Christ Jesus, the Provider of eternal life.

More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Psalm 19:10


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