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Recently, I had occasion to have several conversations about Christianity with the great British public.

For the record, I did not instigate any of these.

Also for the record, some of the atheists below do not know I am a Christian.

Main themes from Britons various include:

1/ The liberating feeling of declaring oneself an atheist on the 2012 census form.

2/ Why did my favourite relative die? God is nasty.

3/ The Church is to blame for all the world’s ills.

4/ We had violent teachers in Catholic / Church of England schools.

5/ God can’t ease my depression. To say that He can is being glib.

6/ Prayer won’t help a thing.

7/ God is horrible. He deserted His only Son on the Cross.

Please note that these statements did not come entirely from atheists or agnostics. British ‘Christians’ uttered some of the above.

To respond to these fully would require writing a book. Some of these people gave me minimal time to answer. No surprise there.

I’ll respond briefly here. That means that these are not full responses (see previous paragraph), just observations.

1/ Atheism on the census form: Do what makes you happy. What response do you expect? ‘Oh, yes, so did we!’ It’s strange the way atheists raise the subject of unbelief within 15 minutes of meeting you for the first time. Why? It is surprising to hear the middle-aged and elderly talk in such a manner.

2/ Nasty God let Grandma die: This came from an agnostic who then followed up with a barrage of complex questions I had 30 seconds to answer before being interrupted with another. We’re all going to die, I said. Why would a God in whom you do not believe spare your beloved grandmother? Came the answer: ‘If God had let my grandmother live, I would believe in Him’. Hmm. An interesting rationale, yet, many unbelievers say the same thing. I asked this person to read the Bible as well as to pray for faith and the wisdom to understand why we die (I briefly explained eternal life). The response? ‘Oooh, you’re seriously giving me goose bumps’.

3/ The Church is to blame for the world’s ills: This came from a lapsed Catholic. He did not want an answer. He wanted to rant. However, the truth is that tens of millions of people died in the 20th century under totalitarian Communist regimes. Leftist Hitler — National Socialism representing the ‘right wing’ of leftism — and his horrifying systematic deaths of 11 to 17 million pale when compared with the tens of millions which Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and others in Eurasia committed. Let’s look just at Mao here (thanks to Midwest Conservative Journal). Emphases in the original:

Frank Dikötter, a Hong Kong-based historian … who has been studying Chinese rural history from 1958 to 1962, when the nation was facing a famine, compared the systematic torture, brutality, starvation and killing of Chinese peasants to the Second World War in its magnitude.  At least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death in China over these four years; the worldwide death toll of the Second World War was 55 million …

If Dikötter’s numbers are correct, Mao Zedong, one of the favorite “political philosophers” of former Obama Administration communications director Anita Dunn, murdered approximately three times as many people as Hitler did in his entire, savage career and he did it in a third of the time.

4/ Violent teachers in church-affiliated schools: I hear this a lot — but not from over 50s who would have experienced or seen corporal punishment in school, whether church- or state-affiliated.  I hear it from 40-somethings at a time when corporal punishment was on the decline, near abolition in the UK. I can respond only with my own experience of Catholic schools across the pond: they abolished corporal punishment long before state schools did, and I’m talking about the mid-1960s. That takes the wind out of some people’s sails.

5/ God, depression and glibness: These complaints come exclusively from ‘Christians’ — not atheists — which I find interesting. The first time I heard this was via one of my grandmothers who had daily conversations with one of her nieces who was ‘depressed’. Both women have since died, but I do wonder whether the niece really was depressed. She was on medication — lithium then Valium — and later went on to have a partial lobotomy. Nothing helped. No one could understand how this formerly vivacious woman who grew up in a happy, supportive home then married well, raising three outstanding children, all of a sudden became depressed.

My grandmother really had to hold her tongue on many occasions, because her favourite sister was the depressed woman’s mother. And here she was listening to how terrible this sister had been: ‘She never let me do anything, neither did my father. It was just terrible’. My grandmother countered (I’m summarising here), ‘You never said anything at the time. Your life turned out really well. Just remember to take care of your family and to honour your mother’s memory; also be aware that you’re hurting my feelings by talking that way about my favourite sister.’ I don’t think the niece could cope with hormonal changes during menopause.  She felt blue all of a sudden — natural at that stage — and didn’t know how to deal with it. And, the irony of it is that my grandmother had already been a widow for decades at that point, but she had faith and pluck to get through every day with verve until her death.

There is always someone with much greater problems than yours. What surprises me is how often those with huge, permanent burdens don’t talk about them and get on with life. I don’t know how my grandmother managed it; she lost her husband when she was in her 40s and lived until she was 93. There are also many other examples, among them the disabled — one of the reasons I wrote about the Paralympics last year.

As for the niece and some others who are on meds — some need to be, but these of whom I speak might have been given pills by an overly-enthusiastic doctorI ask why is it glib if I suggest that you pray for mental relief? Why are you locked into such a bleak darkness, as if the Devil somehow got hold of part of your psyche? Why is festering in your darkness more attractive than praying for help and faith to walk back into the light?  I lay part of the blame at the feet of modernist clergy and today’s warped theology. On a practical level, why not try cognitive behavioural therapy?

6/ Prayer won’t help a thing. This is another statement I hear mostly from ‘Christians’. It seems these people equate God with a politician or another authority figure they reject. To them, there is no loving God, and that’s a very sad place for a Christian to find himself. God is not Man; His ways are not ours. Prayer can be a powerful force and bring untold benefits. One blogger, Pastor Ashcraft of Mustard Seed Budget, whose site I regularly read often posts on prayer. The bottom line is — keep praying. You might get an instant result or you might have to wait for an answer. He rightly asks — and I echo that question — why is it we expect instant results from God? Why do we find it so difficult to submit to divine authority?  That is just what the prince of darkness wants us to do, to our detriment. Again, I would also suggest reading the Bible, studying the situations and personalities therein. Here is Pastor Ashcraft’s take on Jonah.

7/ Cruel God deserted Jesus: Another complaint which also comes from ‘Christians’. Jesus knew why He came to Earth. He knew He would die the most humiliating death in history. Don’t these ‘Christians’ realise that without His ultimate sacrifice, we would all be condemned to eternal death? This is why true believers point to the Cross. Preach Christ and Christ crucified.

To these ‘believers’ — or ‘trusters’ — I say: note the times in the Gospels where Jesus escaped His opponents — whether they were His fellow Nazarenes or the Sanhedrin — because He knew His hour had not yet come. The Gospel of John contains some of these references. I covered them in my series on John (Essential Bible Verses).

To followers of Christ reading this, please join me in praying for others among us who have weak or waning faith.

In closing, the ‘preach Christ and Christ crucified’ reference above comes from 1 Corinthians 1. In that chapter, St Paul exhorts his converts to believe the truth he has preached and not dilute it with their old pagan beliefs or rhetorical sophistry.

What follows is the second half of the chapter, which might help those who question God’s sovereignty and the Crucifixion (emphases mine):

17For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

 18For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written,

   “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
   and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

 26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and  redemption, 31so that, as it is written, Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Bible kevinroosecomToday’s post continues with a study of passages from St Luke’s Gospel which have been omitted from the three-year Lectionary used in public worship.

This entry is part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to an understanding of Scripture.

Today’s verses are from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Luke 4:40-41

40Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. 41 And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

—————————————————————————–

Last week’s entry described Jesus’s healing of St Peter’s mother-in-law after Sabbath worship just before lunch.

Verse 40 tells us that once sunset occurred, those with sick friends or relatives arrived so that our Lord could heal them, too. Sunset is mentioned there because it signified the end of the Sabbath. Observant Jews then as now do not carry or operate anything on that day. Once the Sabbath is over, life resumes as normal for another week. Therefore, these Jews carrying the sick people to Jesus were observing Jewish law by doing so after the Sabbath had ended at sunset.

Note that Jesus healed all who were brought to Him (verse 40).

Some of these people had demons which came out when He laid hands on or spoke to them (verse 41). Once again, Jesus rebuked the shrieking demons; He wanted nothing to do with them. He also did not want to converse with them lest people get the idea that He was conspiring with them, although the Pharisees would later throw this accusation at Him (Matthew 9:34).

Matthew Henry points out the universal and egalitarian character of Jesus’s healing, which is important to remember in our class-conscious era (emphases mine):

He cured all that were sick, poor as well as rich, and though they were sick of divers diseases; so that there was no room to suspect that he had only a specific for some one disease. He had a remedy for every malady. The sign he used in healing was laying his hands on the sick; not lifting up his hands for them, for he healed as having authority. He healed by his own power. And thus he would put honour upon that sign which was afterwards used in conferring the Holy Ghost.

In his sermon John MacArthur lists six characteristics of Jesus’s healings. These are sometimes referred to as ‘creative miracles’ because they fundamentally altered a person’s being. These characteristics are as follows (the sermon elaborates further on each):

First, Jesus healed with a word or a touch…on some occasions He did both …

Secondly, He healed instantly…

Thirdly, Jesus healed totally …

Fourthly, Jesus healed everybody…

Fifthly, He healed organic disease …

And sixthly, Jesus raised the dead …

Okay, pedants will point out that MacArthur should be using ‘second’ instead of ‘secondly’ and so on. Let’s not let that get in the way of what he is telling us about Jesus’s creative miracles.

Until I began studying the Bible a few years ago, I believed that Jesus only partially healed. Surely there must have been some recovery time. I was wrong. I do not know why I believed that, but it was probably the result of too much ecclesiastical modernism over the years.

If you also believe that our Lord only partially healed people and that they had to rest and recover, please note what MacArthur says as you read the Gospel accounts of creative miracles. There is no reason to doubt our Saviour’s complete and infinite power over disease, demons and infirmity.

There are three other characteristics that correspond with these miracles. Jesus:

1/ Never required a confession of faith from the supplicant; most were unbelievers and stayed that way.

2/ Never had a screening process or an advance team of Apostles to choose whom to heal.

3/ Healed spontaneously in public so that everyone could see; He was not hidden away in a tent or up a mountain with the afflicted.

This should tell us something about faith healing as practiced today. Later on, I’ll include MacArthur’s explanation of why such healing cannot occur today.

Yet, how many churches offer services with the ‘laying on of hands’ today? Quite a few. This started in the 1980s in Catholic and mainline Protestant churches, having previously been the province of independent Protestant Charismatic and Pentecostal congregations and fraudulent healing ministries (e.g. the late Kathryn Kuhlman). I was disappointed when the theologically conservative Episcopal church of which I was a member began offering them in the latter half of that decade. Now, many years later, I see that my Anglican parish here in England has regular ‘laying on of hands healing’ services.

Note that many attending or officiating at these widespread ‘healing’ services say that if an ill person really has faith, he will be healed. As no one walks away healed, everyone can put it down to inadequate belief. Try again next week or next month. The cycle goes on. The most that can happen is that you have more peace of mind when a minister lays his hand on you to bless you.

Is this right? Are we to expect we can still heal with the laying on of hands? Is it biblical? MacArthur says it is not. There were very few healings in the Old Testament. For 750 years there were none at all until Jesus’s healing ministry. This extraordinary gift continued with the Apostles for a certain amount of time, but we read of few in the latter part of the Book of Acts. Furthermore, St Paul records none in his letters.

MacArthur describes miracles in both the Old and New Testaments:

as you get into the three-year ministry of Jesus there are nearly 90 New Testament texts in the four gospels about His healings. He did this everywhere through His ministry. It was literally a healing explosion that essentially banished disease from Palestine. Now let me tell you something, and listen very carefully … you need to get this. Never in human history was there anything close to that, never. And these people today who say, “Well, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever and we ought to expect Him to heal today just as the way He healed then,” they don’t get it.

In the Old Testament:

There are no healings recorded in the first 1600 years of biblical history up to the Flood, no healings recorded. And there were billions of people alive when the Flood hit. The first healing is recorded in the time of Abraham, that’s about 2200 B.C. So for the first 2200-year history of the world there are no healings recorded. Now listen, from Abraham to Isaiah would be from 2200 B.C. to 750 B.C., okay so 1450 years, or 1500. During that period from Abraham to Isaiah, 1500 years let’s say, there are recorded twenty healings, 1500 years 20 healings…five of them from Job, actually five of them…yes, from the time of Job and Abraham which would be the patriarchal time, five in Moses’ day, two in Samuel’s day, eight from David to Isaiah for a total of twenty. Twenty healings in 1500 years.

Now listen to this. From…Isaiah, to Christ, 750 years, guess how many healings are recorded in the Bible? Zero…there aren’t any…none. This is not something God did willy-nilly all the time. During all that time from Isaiah to Christ there was sickness, there was disease and there was death and everybody died. But there were no healings.

Now to Jesus’s time, as recorded in the New Testament:

That is why…when Jesus began to heal in Matthew 9:33, the people said, “Nothing like this was ever done in Israel.” They knew there had never been anything like this, never…never. Even the people of God, the people of Israel had absolutely no expectation of this. They had no experience of this. They had never seen anything like it. Mark 2:12, “We have never seen anything like this.” Never. In Luke 10:23, “Turning to His disciples…Jesus had been healing…He said to them, ‘Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see. I say to you, many prophets and kings wish to see the things you see and didn’t see them.'” Nobody had ever seen this, never been done. In the gospel of John in the ninth chapter when the blind man was healed, this was absolutely incredible and remarkable. “Since the beginning of time…John 9:32…it had never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind.” How about that? Since the beginning of time nobody ever heard of a blind person healed, nobody. This idea somehow that you have all through the Bible healings, and healings, and healings, and healings just flooding the world and somehow that should be the way it is today. Just not true…just not true.

Certainly, Jesus healed out of love and mercy for the sick. However, there was a more universal purpose for these miracles which carries through to this day, which is why they were recorded in the Gospels. MacArthur cites John 20:31:

These have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and believing you might have life in His name.

MacArthur says the purpose was for God to reveal that Jesus is His only begotten Son:

how is God going to prove that Jesus is the Messiah? By granting Him the privilege to do what His power commanded that He could do, and that is to create. And to manifest that creative power in healings. And so when Jesus came into the world there was an explosion of healing that banished illness from Palestine.

This would continue during the early apostolic ministries to expand the Church:

Jesus gave to the seventy that He sent out and to the twelve Apostles the power to do that kind of healing as well because they were preaching Him. They were preaching His gospel and establishing the Scripture. And at the explosive time in human history when the Messiah came and the scriptures were penned that are the New Testament, healing came to attest to the divinity of Jesus and the divine character of the gospel and the Scripture.

Then:

as you go past that time, what happens? Paul is ill and he doesn’t get well. Trophimus is ill later in the New Testament. Timothy is ill. And Epaphroditus is ill. And you come in to 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus, the epistles for the church, no mention of healing ministry…no promise of healing.

So it would be a mistake to think that everything will progress as it did in the time immediately following the first Pentecost.

Note that this lack of healing afterward never bothered the early Doctors of the Church or, centuries later, the first Reformers. Why are we so obsessed with it, especially when our lifespans are getting longer than ever before in recorded history?

However, by the time of the Reformation, the Catholic Church was already circulating relics said to have healing powers. Even today, certain holy sites dedicated to Mary are said to have healing powers. Lourdes has healing water. Even Protestants visit Lourdes in the hope they or their relatives will be healed of infirmity.

In 20th century fringe Protestantism, the idea of continuing healing gifts gained currency. Great public ministries arose with ministers — men and women — dressed in white robes claiming a great healing power. However, people put forward at these healing revivals were — and are — either plants, part of the minister’s team or dupes who sadly ended up no better after the laying on of hands. Sometimes, they became worse.

God might choose to heal certain people, but only He decides. He does not rely on flashy intermediaries or humble ministers at the church down the street. The best thing to do is to pray for yourself if you are ill or for those loved ones who are. MacArthur says:

You can know that if we pray and God chooses to hear and answer that prayer, He may choose that a person should get well. It’s unlikely that He’s going to use some miraculous means to do it. He may providentially allow that person to recover under medical care. He may aid that in wonderful ways. But I don’t know anybody who has ever seen under any effort of prayer a quadriplegic get up out of a wheelchair and walk away. That’s not what God does today. I have never seen such a miracle, I don’t know anybody who has. So we know that this is not the norm, but that’s okay.

Earlier in that sermon he observed of today’s faith ‘healers’:

… when you track back, you can’t find any legitimate healings. You can sure find some tragic people left without hope. Why aren’t they in the streets of India? Why aren’t they in the streets of Bangladesh? Why aren’t they in the leper colonies and the AIDS hospices in Africa where masses of people are racked with these diseases?

That’s not happening. Why? Because those who claim the gift of healing don’t have it. The gift of healing, listen very carefully, was a temporary sign gift for Christ and those who were around Him to authenticate Him as the Messiah and to authenticate the Apostles who were writing the Scripture. Once He was authenticated as Messiah and the Apostles were authenticated as the true preachers of the gospel and the Scripture was penned, the gift of healing ceased. And you find this if you study the New Testament. In the gospels, everybody gets healed. You go into the book of Acts and into the epistles and you begin to see people who are sick and they stay sick. And yet through history because people so desperately want to be healed, you can make a lot of money claiming to do it whether you’re selling some phony cancer cure, or some phony spiritual cure.

I hope that this goes some way towards explaining Jesus’s creative miracles and why we cannot expect similar healings today en masse.

It’s a shame that many of the Gospel verses cited here, thanks to MacArthur, do not appear in the three-year Lectionary. If they did, Catholic and mainline Protestant clergy would then have the opportunity to teach their congregations more about the absence of healing miracles. We would also have the added benefit of seeing fewer ‘laying on of hands healing’ services and be able to put a stop to making ill people feel worse by telling them if only they had enough faith they would be healed.

The most we can do is to pray for the infirm — often and with all our hearts.

Next time: Luke 4:42-44

David_Suchet WikipediaRegular readers know that I often emphasise the importance of reading the Bible, particularly the New Testament.

To paraphrase the 17th century Bible scholar Matthew Henry, the New Testament is the key which unlocks the Old Testament. Everything in the Old Testament points to Jesus Christ.

In the past, I have recommended that those wanting to know more about Christ begin by reading the Gospels of Sts John and Mark.

Other Protestants are quite keen on encouraging potential converts to read the letters of St Paul.

On this note, I read the following quote from David ‘Poirot’ Suchet (pron. ‘soo-shay’) in a recent edition of the Radio Times (15-21 June 2013, p. 157):

… my conversion to Christianity began after reading St Paul’s letters in 1986.

Suchet recently won the magazine’s Readers’ Award for religious broadcasting for presenting David Suchet: In the Footsteps of St Paul which aired on BBC1. This award was part of the Sandford St Martin Trust Awards for religious broadcasting held on Monday, June 3, 2013, at Lambeth Palace in London.

I have not seen the programme. So many British series on Christianity are revisionist. However, if this is rerun, I shall try to view it.

Suchet and his other brothers Peter and John, the latter a television presenter and former newsreader, are the sons of a Jewish gynecologist and a nominally Anglican actress. The boys were raised with no religion.

Today:

On 22 November 2012, the British Bible Society announced the appointment of David Suchet and Dr. Paula Gooder as new vice-presidents. They joined the existing vice-presidents: John Sentamu (Archbishop of York), Vincent Nichols (Archbishop of Westminster), Barry Morgan (Archbishop of Wales), David Ford (Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge), Joel Edwards (International Director of Micah Challenge) and Lord Alton of Liverpool.[24]

David Suchet became a practising Anglican in 1986 and was confirmed in the faith in 2006.

He came to Christianity by reading Romans 8 whilst staying in a hotel.

This is further proof that hotels should continue to accept Gideon Bibles; some no longer do.

Although I always read the Bible when staying in a hotel, it is always a pleasure to discover that I am not alone.

One can indeed come to faith and find solace by reading the oft-ignored volume in the bedside stand drawer.

I was surprised to discover at the weekend that Paula Deen, the Southern belle of the Food Network, had been dumped for private use of the ‘n-word’ 30 years ago which worried a white employee of hers.

Hmm.

The woman’s worry was so great that she filed a lawsuit in the state of Georgia against Ms Deen. She has made a federal case of it because, in that state, any equal opportunities (EEOC) lawsuit becomes federal.

Essentially, we’re dealing with a double standard (courtesy of realjock.com):

Paula Deen Quentin Tarantino 1001321_10152410204655656_2056532233_n

I have no dog in this fight, but this is unbelievable, particularly when it involves Caucasian versus Caucasian.

One of the new absurdities of the past few years is the self-separation of Mediterranean Europeans from Northern Europeans. A tiny minority of Mediterranean Europeans — I worked with one several years ago who did this — are now identifying with blacks.

Why this is I do not know. Mediterranean haplotypes are European.

The New York Times reported:

The lawsuit against her was filed in March 2012 by Lisa T. Jackson, the general manager of Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, a restaurant that Ms. Deen owned with her brother, Earl (Bubba) Hiers. Ms. Jackson, who is white, said that her father was Sicilian, with dark skin, and that she had suffered prejudice as a result.

You can read the deposition here.

No one is an angel, especially at the Food Network. It was disappointing to find out that Englishman Robert (Restaurant Impossible) Irvine felt the need to overegg his CV in a manner any Briton would have seen through in a New York minute. The Food Network took him off the air temporarily, but now he’s back.

Everyone’s talking about the Paula Deen story (see below). Many think she’ll be better off without the Food Network and that they were just looking for an excuse to terminate her contract, due to expire at the end of June 2013. She has her restaurants, books and so on. People will no doubt make a point of eating at her dining establishments and buying her products. The Food Network could have created a Chick-fil-A moment for her.

Paula Deen did apologise publicly; you can search YouTube for at least one of the videos. She is a product of her culture, balancing love of the South with a traditional adherence to the Democrats (e.g. support for Obama in 2008 and cooking for Michelle Obama) via some references which would be confusing for anyone who isn’t from the South. You have to be born there in order to understand it.

Deen’s use of the n-word decades ago referred to the man who demanded money at gunpoint from her one day; she was working as a bank teller (cashier, for my British readers) at the time. That was how she described the man to her husband.

It is unclear why Food Network did not instead cite her diabetes type 2, which emerged in 2012. Throughout, Deen has been cooking food which is largely unsuitable for diabetics. That is a much greater ‘offence’, if, indeed, there is any at all.

In closing, this is what thirtysomething Kevin DuJan of HillBuzz has to say. He is an ex-Democrat living in Chicago and sees a more sinister development here (emphases in the original):

Every time something like this happens, I just hope that finally, at last, Democrats have done this to the wrong person.  One of these days, when the Race Industry attempts to brand someone “Ray Ciss” that person is going to refuse to play along and will turn the tables on the Justice Brothers and the complicit State Media.  When that day comes there will be fireworks. The entire system the Left’s put in place to control pop culture and public discourse in this country depends on white people living in terror of being called “Ray Ciss”…and rushing to apologize for whatever they did that allowed the Race Industry to fire up the Death Star and aim it at them.

FOR ONCE I would like to see a victim of this hucksterism and extortion stand up for herself or himself…and say I DIDN’T DO A DAMN THING WRONG AND THESE PEOPLE ARE JUST MANUFACTURING A SCANDAL TO DISTRACT FROM SOMETHING ELSE GOING ON IN THE NEWS.

Paula Deen was clearly told she’d lose her Food Network show, her book deals, and all her other revenue streams if she did not play along here  … I kind of get a Martha Stewart vibe in all this and almost also think taking down Paula Deen was just an exercise in icon-toppling…which the State Media enjoys doing to women.

Martha Stewart being hauled off to prison was great fun for them. Remember?

Recall also how gleefully the State Media enjoyed preventing Hillary Clinton from being the Democrats’ nominee in 2008 and the first female President.  They loved that too.

I don’t think I need to remind you what the State Media did to Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Jan Brewer, and Ann Romney.

Now, they’re going after Paula Deen.

If you are a woman of any substance or celebrity who has either built up something huge from scratch or is commanding respect on a large stage the State Media seems like it could ultimately come for you, too …

I see some in comments below are starting to make the connection that this attack on Paula Deen is happening on the Friday before the Trayvon Martin trial starts up.  I think we have our answer why this was done today.  It’s to start getting black people revved up and angry and for the State Media to start villainizing whites in advance of what’s going to happen next week.

You see that, right?  You see how there are no coincidences with the State Media and how everything like this is timed perfectly to achieve their desired effects?  There is absolutely no way in this or any other world that the witch hunt against “the butter lady” isn’t connected to the bigger picture racial tensions that the institutional Left wants stoked up next week.

This attack on Deen was just the priming of the pump.

That’s what’s been happening in France in recent months. More on that in another post.

Read more opinions on the Paula Deen story here:

Theology Online

RealJock

The Politics Forums

Mixed Martial Arts Forum

Above the Law

Grub Street

SpaceBattles

Airliners.net

Gun & Game

Acoustic Guitar Forum

As yesterday’s post said, a small yet significant number of notional Christians have been moving into more extreme movements and churches in recent years.

Since I started this blog over four years ago, I’ve read more about groups old and new attracting more adherents to live a ‘holier’ life in Christ.

Of course, there is the centuries-old pietism, a questionable reaction to established churches in Germany, Scandinavia and Britain. A number of smaller sects, cults and independent borrowed heavily from it, as did some strands of Methodism. The Holiness churches are one example of this blending.

More recent movements are the curious Islamic-inspired family-centred movements which appoint the father as God’s representative of the household, dictating what wife and children may or must do and when. This includes the veiling of women in church and the lack of higher education available to female members of a household. The running of the house assumes an Islamic template in the use of corporal punishment by husbands on wives.

There is also an odd syncretism of Catholicism and Protestantism in the Federal Vision (FV) movement which over the past several years has become a fringe attraction for a small number of Calvinists in Flyover Country. Clergy dress like Catholic priests. A clear and reactionary ‘complementarianism’ of male and female roles is encouraged. Theonomy is a big theme; if only we could help Christ establish His kingdom — He needs our help (no!). Splinter FV groups advocate strict racial separation; the misguided get so mixed up in this that they do not hesitate to relocate in order to follow one of these pastors, who ends up establishing his own church because a Reformed denomination has rightly put him out to pasture.

And, in the midst of all this is the late 20th century Messianic Christianity: the Hebrew Roots Movement, Jews for Jesus, Sacred Name Movement and suchlike. Their followers are what the Epistles of Paul and Book of Acts referred to as Judaizers. I’ll get to that in a moment.

First, however, continuing from yesterday’s post, the Reformed minister Reed DePace wrote more on the subject for Green Baggins. DePace has strong views on the subject of the Hebrew Roots Movement, as he has a family friend — a former orthodox Protestant — who has begun following them. He has also counselled other families who became involved in this movement.

In ‘Gentle-Hardness with the Hebrew Roots Movement’, DePace writes (emphases in bold mine):

Let me say up front that the more I hear from proponents of the HRM the more I am persuaded it is a modern form of the Pharisaical-Judaizing heresy condemned in Scripture. More broadly I think these criticisms also apply to a large part of the Messianic Christianity movement (MCM). This follows because the HRM is both a child of the MCM and is the deep doctrinal well which waters the growth of the MCM. I recognize that there exist Messianic Jews who shun with horror the errors of the HRM and more broadly those in the MCM. My criticisms do not apply to them.

In my own pastoral calling I’ve have had to help families affected by the HRM/MCM. It was this need that first prompted my study of this subject a couple of years back. In part I sympathize with those attracted to the HRM/MCM. I acknowledge and affirm their desire for a better relationship with God.

One of the greatest sadnesses in my community is the problem of gospel-presumptive Christians. These are not nominal Christians, folks who are nothing more than culturally Christian. No, these are folks for whom Christianity is a regular part of their everyday life. They have a rudimentary grasp of the basics of the gospel. Yet they have little practical understanding of how to live by the gospel (Rom 1:16-17, Gal 2:20, Col 2:6-7, etc.). As a result they are left to trying to live the Christian life through the use of their own resources (i.e., living by sight, not by faith; 2Co 5:7). So when such folks run across a new (old) teaching that promises a whole new experience of God’s power; that offers out the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise of the abundant life (John 10:10), it is understandable how the HRM can be attractive to them.

The problem is that what is attracting them is not a better understanding of the gospel at all but something straight from the pit of Hell.

I was surprised to read in his third post, ‘Of Tzitzits, Tallits and Traditions’, that some of these HRM adherents — men — are wearing Jewish prayer garments.

In anglicized Hebrew the prayer shawl is called a tallit, the tassels are called tzitzits. Sit down with any Messianic Christian who uses a tallit with tzitzits and ask them to explain the practice. Very quickly they will be offering you arguments based on men’s traditions – NOT the Scriptures ...

It is hard to understand how this practice of the Mosaic Law is nothing more than a tradition of man. Therefore, to insist that in any manner its practice is even advisable for Christians, is to teach as holy what Jesus condemned as wicked.

DePace adds in the comments:

Spend some time looking at websites these folks frequent and you’ll see that they are teaching a new version of the old Pharisaical heresy, to wit that Torah keeping is still required of Christians. They can dress it up, massage it, tweak it any way they wish. At the bottom of all their arguments is this simple teaching: Torah keeping is necessary for the Christian in his relationship with God.

A commenter, JGIG, observes:

Also important to note here is that Torah folk are not focused on passing on the Life of Christ to the Lost; they are primarily focused on teaching Christians to become Torah observant. You will not hear them tell of spreading the Gospel to the nations, but of spreading Torah to the nations. The spreading of the Gospel, the message of the forgiveness of sins and the free gift of eternal life that the Apostles constantly risked and nearly all of them eventually lost their lives for, is not the Law keepers’ priority.

This makes them every bit the Judaizers that Paul preached so strongly against in the letter to the Galatians.

That said, I do not condemn them (the Law will eventually do that); most HRMers get into Law ‘keeping’ because they love and want to please God. Unfortunately, they come under a false belief system because they don’t have a firm grasp of

Who Jesus is
What He came to do
What that actually accomplished, and
Who we as believers are in Him.

When one has a firm grasp on those things, false teachings tend to fall away.

I guess I would just gently exhort you to not dismiss the HRM as just another ‘denomination’; they are not. They are preaching another gospel and also another jesus (they believe that Jesus/Yeshua is the Living Torah) – do not underestimate the damage they are doing in the Body [of the Church].

Going back to the ‘Gentle-Hardness’ post, DePace outlines the New Testament timeline of those in error between Torah and Gospel. This is well worth reading, especially for those who are directly impacted by family or friends in this movement as well as pastors who are counselling same:

AD 39-40: The Church in Jerusalem concluded that God has rescinded the Mosaic Law’s Jew-Gentile separation provisions (Acts 10-11).
 
AD 49-50 (the exact order of the following series is immaterial to the points being made):

  • Paul confronts Peter and Barnabas for their hypocrisy in separating themselves from Gentile believers in the Church in Galatia.
  • Later, Paul writes to the Galatians to warn them in the strongest terms against (supposed) Christians who were teaching them that Gentile believers needed to keep the Mosaic ceremonial/worship laws in order to be right with God.
  • The Church concluded that Gentile believers ARE NOT to be subjected to the ceremonial/worship provisions of the Mosaic Law (Acts 15).

AD 62-68 (again, the exact dates for writing each of these is immaterial to the points made):

  • Paul writes (First) Timothy, offering him instruction for his pastoral duties (Ephesian Church).
  • Paul writes to Titus, giving him counsel on his pastoral duties (Cretan Church).
  • Paul writes further instruction to (Second) Timothy in the discharge of his pastoral duties.
  • In all three letters one of the critical issues Paul addressed was the heresy of the Judaizers, those who would require Gentile Christians to practice the Mosaic ceremonial/worship laws.

Did you follow the progression of these things? From eliminating Jew-Gentile separation, to removal of Mosaic law provisions on Gentiles, to fighting against those who would place Christians back under slavery to the Mosaic Law.

DePace helpfully provides a list of New Testament verses which refute the Judaizers — and legalism. They were applicable at the time and continue to be so today. This is a useful collection of verses to use with legalists. Here are but a few:

Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in– who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery– to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. (Gal 2:4-5)

You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. (Gal 5:4)

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. (1Ti 1:3-4)

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. (1Ti 6:3-5)

Let us pray for those enslaved by legalism — religious or secular. Much of it is based on heresy.

My thanks to longtime reader Pooka who, commenting on my post about Hasidic Judaism (Jewish pietism), called my attention to an essay on the Reformed site Green Baggins about the Messianic movements which have been popular since the late 1970s.

The Revd Lane Keister is the principal author of Green Baggins, ably supported by the Revd Reed DePace.

Keister’s post — to which my reader referred — is called ‘The Hebrew Roots Movement’. I’ll leave it for you to read, including the comments, however, he notes a trend among certain former members of Reformed (Calvinist) churches:

There is a movement afoot (small, but rather persistent) to return to the Old Testament way of doing things (and they would argue that the New Testament changes pretty much nothing). This (usually) involves a return to Saturday Sabbath, celebration of the Old Testament feasts (and even non-OT feasts like Hanukkah!), and observance of the Old Testament dietary laws. There have been Messianic Jews around for quite a while, but what is happening now is that previously Reformed people are becoming persuaded by this viewpoint. What I want to do in this post is examine some of the architectonic issues at play, and then respond to some specific things in the blog post linked above.

Back in the 1980s, I knew a young couple who were part of a Jews for Jesus type church. The man was Jewish and his wife had attended a small Protestant fundamentalist church where she grew up. As adolescents and young adults, the two — who did not know each other at the time — drifted into substance abuse, the occult, numerology and mysticism. Each was living on the margins when they met.

The young woman had damaged her mind with the drugs she had previously taken. It was a struggle for her to put thoughts together and articulate them. It was equally a strain for those of us who watched and listened to her struggle with communication. Please don’t let this happen to you or your children — the damage is permanent. (Lest anyone think this is a one-off example, I also had a customer in the early 1980s (in a retail environment) who was practically incoherent. I’ve written about her before, but, one day, it took her about five minutes to eventually explain her drugs story which lasted a few years and included hallucinogens, tablets and dope. She took these so that her boyfriend wouldn’t leave her. He left, and she ended up brain-damaged — unemployable.)

However, I digress. My point was to establish a hypothesis that people who gravitate towards legalistic movements have suffered some trauma early in life, whether in childhood, adolescence or young adulthood. In order to ‘repent’, as it were, they turn to fundamentalism and error.

The young couple seemed to exemplify this. They rejected an orthodox (i.e. based on creeds, confessions and doctrine) Christianity for a legalistic hybrid — based on the Judaizers of the Apostles’ time — of Mosaic law and tenuous belief in Jesus Christ.

Keister points out (emphases in bold mine):

Jesus says that there are weightier matters of the law. He castigates the Pharisees for harping on the minor matters, while ignoring the heavier ones. This indicates a distinction within the OT laws. The fact that the Ten Commandments were written by God’s finger on tablets of stone, whereas the rest of the law was written by Moses on more perishable materials also indicates that the Ten Commandments are the most important section of the law, as reflecting the very character of God. The reason this issue is important is that the HRM (Hebrew roots movement) puts all laws in the same category of permanence. There is no such thing, in their minds, as a built-in expiration date of a law. For them, anyone who changes the law is automatically abrogating the law. For them, there is no possibility that there might be underlying principles (general equity) that carries over, but appears in different form in the NT. However, if the three-fold division of the law is an appropriately biblical way of thinking (and see this book for an excellent argument in this direction), then we are not in fact forbidden to wear 50% polyester 50% cotton shirts (two different kinds of threads), nor are we anymore forbidden to take the mother with the eggs. The principles underlying these laws continue today (be discerning about what is holy and what is not, what is conducive for spiritual growth and what is not: don’t mix the world and the church). But they do not apply in the same way today as they did in OT times.

Offshoots for these Judaizing movements such as Jews for Jesus include Completed Jews and the Sacred Name Movement. All refer to Jesus as Yeshua and God as YHWH and G-d. The Jews for Jesus do not consider the offshoots to be part of their movement, but to mainstream Christians the groups appear indistinguishable.

Reed DePace wrote a follow-up post to Lane Keister’s. It is called ‘Hebrew Roots, Unhelpful Fruits’. A family friend, he says, has drifted into Messianic Christianity. DePace explains this phenomenon among Christians:

I’ve concluded that MOST of the folks involved with what Lane has aptly titled the Hebrew Roots Movement are dissatisfied Protestants looking for THE explanation/interpretation that will bring to life the full realization of the promises for the Christian Life taught in the Scriptures. Rightly NOT satisfied with the experience of ordinary Evan-jellyfish Christianity that makes a great blasting trumpet sound but has no extraordinary follow through, these folks, motivated by a sincere desire to believe Christ, are looking for the answer somewhere other than the tradition they’ve come out of.

Thus they follow in a long line of similar seekers of the fulfillment of what Calvin called “Golden Jewish Dreams.” They are the descendants of the Anabaptists, the various movements into spiritualism, mysticism and pietism. They are the next heirs of the higher life movement, the Pentecostals, and late born cousins of Dispensationalism and prosperity gospel preachers. Like all such movements, they claim a “New” understanding of the gospel that is also recovery of the gospel as taught in the Early Church.

He goes on to call our attention to the error of Hebrew Roots Movement belief, derived from heresy:

… They are indeed a new expression of the old Judaizers. Like some of the early profession-making Pharisees (the party of James), these folks in the end teach a Jesus + Talmudic-Torah-observance, a Jesus + the necessity of some sort of a Jewish informed lifestyle.

They don’t realize that they are making (at least) two tragic mistakes. First, like most imbalanced Jesus + something else movements, they have an over-realized eschatology [salvation theology]. They are expecting the experience of things now that are reserved for the eternal state. Specifically they are expecting a fleshly experience of what is only a spiritual experience of the Christian life now. They mistakenly think that fleshly practices in some way secure the dramatically powerful experience of the Spirit’s work in day to day life. In this they are no better than the forms of Evan-jellyfish they left behind. Missing that the ordinary experience of the Christian life is one marked by fleshly suffering and weakness this side of eternity, they are pursuing just another expression of the “Kingdom NOW” lie so common in the Church today.

Second, these Hebrew Roots Movement folks unwisely are adopting practices and habits, accoutrements of a “Jewish” lifestyle that actually are derived from a heretical source. These folks do not seem to realize that with the destruction of the Temple the practice of a Jewish form of Christianity ceased to be an option. The core of OT worship was the sacrifices; all of Leviticus, the key book in terms of Jewish life and worship (i.e., life = worship, worship is life), is built around the sacrifices. They were essential to the maintenance of even the smallest component of the law of cleanliness, etc.. Without sacrifice one CANNOT rightly practice any of the OT worship system.

And when the Temple was destroyed – that was it. All that was left was the Pharisaical/Rabbinical traditions

DePace concludes:

The Hebrew Roots Movement, Messianic Christianity, while well intentioned, is yet another deflection from the simple, pure gospel of Jesus Christ. It is based on the heresy of rabbinic Judaism, NOT first century Jewish Christianity. It in the end, like all forms of Jesus + me Christianity, teaches a defective gospel.

He reminds us of what Christ said:

And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.” (Luke 11:46)

and

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mt 11:28-1)

There is nothing light about legalism. Furthermore, nowhere did Jesus or the Apostles preach it.

So-called Christians — legalists, pietists and Messianic types — make a mockery of the Crucifixion, the ultimate and sufficient holy sacrifice, by adhering to such error.

Please join me in praying for these people and their families so that we may all share eternal life together with the living, loving God and His Son, our only Mediator, Jesus Christ.

Tomorrow: Ministering to Christians in the Messianic movements

Nearly every time I read about or watch a programme about catering colleges in the UK someone mentions that the students often have ‘special education needs’ (SEN). This translates to emotional difficulties.

It seems that secondary school teachers and guidance counsellors often recommend a career in cheffery to afflicted students. Contestants on semi-professional cooking shows readily admit it.

Why do secondary schools do this?

Is cooking any less precise than bricklaying, bookkeeping or beekeeping?

Good cooking — even at the ‘caff’ level — involves precision. Pastry and puddings require even more.

Semi-professional reality contests often involve SEN students who attend catering college or start their careers straightaway in restaurants.

A couple of years ago on Masterchef: the Professionals, one of these twenty-somethings said, ‘I just throw everything into the pan and see how it comes out’. Cor blimey, guv. Remind me not to eat where you work.

Pastry chefs are few and far between because of the precision required. You’ll find that most ‘throw it in the pan’ cooks say they never make puddings because ‘there’s too much to remember’. True, there is, but that’s a large part of cooking in general. Pastry chefs turn precision and food chemistry into sweet art.

Other former SEN students on cookery shows cry and start justifying their mistakes or plead family circumstances.

I’m sorry, but none of that matters. If a Michelin-starred or other experienced chef says you made a mistake, you have. Be quiet and listen to what he or she has to say. They’re offering you advice — otherwise known as constructive criticism.

The most important thing teachers, counsellors and therapists can do for these kids is to help them to control their emotions and get a sense of self-discipline.

The professional kitchen is not a psychiatrist’s couch. It’s a pressurised, exacting atmosphere. It’s time secondary schools took this on board when advising SEN students.

I’m not saying that SEN students don’t have a role in the kitchen — they most certainly do. However, they do need better preparation from their teachers and counsellors in order to become successful students then great chefs.

I was going to add ‘on’, but, as we know, one should not end anything with a preposition.

In any event, I’m fully operational once again and have turned on comments for posts dating from June 9.

My thanks to readers who continued to tune in during this time — and a warm welcome to my latest subscribers!

 

bible-wornToday’s post continues an examination of the passages from St Luke’s Gospel which have been excluded from the three-year Lectionary used in public worship.

It becomes part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to understanding Scripture.

Today’s verses are from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

 

Luke 4:38-39

38 And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. 39And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.

—————————————————————————————————–

Last week’s entry concerned Jesus’s driving out the demon in the synagogue at Capernaum.

These two verses recount what happened immediately after that miracle.

John MacArthur describes the Sabbath in Jesus’s time as one where people attended morning worship which ended around noon. They then went home for a large lunch. It was normal for families to invite other guests over for this repast.

So after leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to Simon’s house (verse 38). This is the same Simon who would become Jesus’s apostle Peter. This occurs in Luke 5.

From this we understand that Jesus and at least some of the Apostles knew each other before He chose them for His ministry.

Simon was married and MacArthur says that he probably had children, too. His wife’s mother lived with them and had a high fever. You can imagine how worried Simon and his family must have been, especially as the practice of medicine was highly primitive in those days. So they asked Jesus if He could do anything for her.

Jesus drove the fever from the lady who immediately got up and began serving those in the house (verse 39).

I used to think that maybe the Gospel writers were omitting recovery time, but I now believe these miracles occurred as written, such was Jesus’s divine healing power.

MacArthur describes the likely scene in the household (emphases mine below):

And, you know, she went in essentially to help with serving dinner to a rather large group of people. I mean it was Peter and it was Peter’s wife, and it was whatever children were there and it was Andrew and it was James and it was John and it was Jesus and whoever else may have been there, adults and children making up a very busy household. She turns immediately from this high fever, this mega fever and is engaged in serving them the Sabbath meal. This is typical, mark it, of all the healings of Jesus. It is typical of all the healings of Jesus.

However, that was Jesus and Acts records the healings of His Apostles during that time. That does not mean that healing of this nature is going on today.

MacArthur went on to say in his sermon:

[Morris Cerullo] went to India … and had booked a stadium there to put on healing meetings. The city council over there wisely decided to find out if this was going to create some terrible problem in India because they have so many sick people to start with and so to make sure it didn’t exacerbate the difficulty that’s already there, they said if you’re going to do this we’re going to ask you to give us a demonstration of your healing power. So they came to his hotel, brought a whole string of sick people and said, “Heal these to show us you can do it.” And he couldn’t. They put him on a plane and shipped him out.

Two of the leaders of the Vineyard Movement, John Wimber and David Watson not only believed they could heal, but believed they could teach people to heal and both of them died of cancer. Since the Fall of man in the garden, disease has been a terrible reality. For millennia the search for cures to alleviate illness and suffering has consumed human kind. And medicine is the boon of the search to cure disease and to stall off death. Sickness and death have distressed and ultimately conquered every single person who has ever lived except Enoch and Elijah. Only two people escaped death, Enoch in Genesis 5 and Elijah in 2 Kings 2. Only Jesus conquered death and rose again in glory. Of course He was not a sinner so He did not have the fallenness that sin brings to bear on the rest of us. Aside from Jesus and from Enoch and Elijah who went to heaven in a special way, everybody has died…everybody, billions of people have died, they all die, will all die. Sickness, injury, some kind of infirmity, no one even the people who claim to have the gift of healing, no one is exempt.

May I confess something to you? As a pastor you spend a lot of time with people who are ill, a lot of time with people who are dying, people who are bereaved about death. If I could choose one spiritual gift beyond the ones God has given me, I would ask for the gift of healing were there such a gift. On innumerable occasions I have wished that I could heal …

Matthew Henry analyses this healing as follows, giving it historical resonance as well as reminding us of what it means for us today:

Observe, [1.] Christ is a guest that will pay well for his entertainment; those that bid him welcome into their hearts and houses shall be no losers by him; he comes with healing. [2.] Even families that Christ visits may be visited with sickness. Houses that are blessed with his distinguishing favours are liable to the common calamities of this life. Simon’s wife’s mother was ill of a fever. Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. [3.] Even good people may sometimes be exercised with the sharpest afflictions, more grievous than others: She was taken with a great fever, very acute, and high, and threatening; perhaps it seized her head, and made her delirious. The most gentle fevers may by degrees prove dangerous; but this was at first a great fever. [4.] No age can exempt from diseases. It is probable that Peter’s mother-in-law was in years, and yet in a fever. [5.] When our relations are sick, we ought to apply ourselves to Christ, by faith and prayer, on their account: They besought him for her; and there is a particular promise that the prayer of faith shall benefit the sick. [6.] Christ has a tender concern for his people when they are in sickness and distress: He stood over her, as one concerned for her, and compassionating her case. [7.] Christ had, and still has, a sovereign power over bodily diseases: He rebuked the fever, and with a word’s speaking commanded it away, and it left her. He saith to diseases, Go, and they go; Come, and they come; and can still rebuke fevers, even great fevers. [8.] This proves Christ’s cures to be miraculous, that they were done in an instant: Immediately she arose. [9.] Where Christ gives a new life, in recovery from sickness, he designs and expects that it should be a new life indeed, spent more than ever in his service, to his glory. If distempers be rebuked, and we arise from a bed of sickness, we must set ourselves to minister to Jesus Christ. [10.] Those that minister to Christ must be ready to minister to all that are his for his sake: She ministered to them, not only to him that had cured her, but to them that had besought him for her. We must study to be grateful to those that have prayed for us.

In closing, this is what MacArthur tells us about Simon Peter:

Peter, by the way, was born in Bethsaida which is just a little ways away, but he had moved to Capernaum where he was operating a fishing business right on the edge, the north edge of the Sea of Galilee. And today, by the way, there is excavation there that people believe could well be the original home of Peter. What happened was, somebody long, long ago in the very early years of the church built a church there and there have been consistent evidences that churches were built on top of churches and that originally the first church was built on the site of Peter’s original home just a little ways from the existing synagogue there, the ruins of the existing synagogue and just a little way from the shore of the Sea of Galilee. So this was Peter’s home, though he was born in Bethsaida he moved there to operate his business.

The record of Mark…Mark records the same account and Mark tells us Andrew was there, Peter’s brother, as well as James and John. And none of them have been called as disciples yet, but they knew each other and they all went to the synagogue in Capernaum. And so they were fascinated by Jesus. Obviously they were drawn to Him and so they were the guests in the main meal of the day after the synagogue service was over.

Now we also know that Peter was married. First Corinthians 9:5 refers to Peter’s wife. We know that he was married. His wife is not mentioned here, but his mother-in-law was here. So we can construct a little bit about the family. This was Peter’s house. Peter was married. Tradition tells us Peter had children, though the Scripture doesn’t refer to them. Tradition says he had children. And he had his mother-in-law living with him. That’s a pretty common thing to do. So he…was in a very normal kind of family structure.

Next time: Luke 4:40-41

We’ve cut back on inviting others over for four-course lunches and dinners.

We used to push the boat out, but no longer.

We’ve simply had too many fussy eaters over during the past few years. There was one couple with a laundry list of ‘what we don’t eat’. Then there was the vegetarian, a guest among several carnivores. Then there was the guest who said our portions were too large. And another who said we served too many courses.

Fine. More for us to enjoy.

The most galling was the laundry list of ‘what we don’t eat’ which amounts to ‘We’ve never had these foods prepared properly or have never tried them’. They included eggs, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, prawns, scallops, lobster, liver, cream — and many more.

I cannot tell you how difficult revamping that menu was.

We were planning to serve a starter of pan-fried foie gras d’oie (goose) with sauteed slices of plum. That had to go.

Then there was the main course of warm prawns and scallops with a light cream and chive sauce. That had to go.

Then there was the salad — a delight of spinach leaves, sliced mushrooms, bacon lardons and chopped boiled egg in a light vinaigrette. That, too, had to be ditched.

Whatever we planned for pudding — crème brulée, probably — was also out of the question.

Whatever we had (I can’t remember) was fine and we had a lovely evening — they were wonderful guests — but we shall not be inviting them again.

There is something to be said for introducing children to a wide variety of food as soon as possible. Begin with baby food in their infancy then move on to equally varied foods which require a child’s cutlery set so they also know how to use a knife and fork properly.

One mother we know has a son who doesn’t like mushrooms. If she serves them to him, he pushes them to one side. Yet, if she holds a pizza party where each of her children and their young guests assemble their own toppings on the crust, her son invariably piles on the mushrooms and eats them quite happily.

Moral of the story: the sooner you get your kids prepping and eventually cooking their own food, the less fussy they will be. If they add certain ingredients, they’ll love them because they had a hand in making the meal.

Similarly, adopt the example of the father in Spain (see last paragraph) who was able to easily get his children to eat fried calamari (squid).

Food can be an everyday adventure of pleasure and delight.

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