Monday, April 23, 2012

Use of the Names of God in Genesis 3:1-3

Recently, I was asked if Eve’s use of the Hebrew 'elohiym, for God had any significance in her conversation with the serpent? That conversation is recorded in Genesis 3:1-3

Genesis 3:1 KJV - Now the serpent [5175] was [1961] more subtil [6175] than any beast [2416] of the field [7704] which the LORD [3068] God [430] had made [6213] . And he said [559] unto the woman [802], Yea [637], hath God [430] said [559] , Ye shall not eat [398] of every tree [6086] of the garden [1588]?
Genesis 3:2 KJV - And the woman [802] said [559] unto the serpent [5175], We may eat [398] of the fruit [6529] of the trees [6086] of the garden [1588]:
Genesis 3:3 KJV - But of the fruit [6529] of the tree [6086] which [is] in the midst [8432] of the garden [1588], God [430] hath said [559] , Ye shall not eat [398] of it, neither shall ye touch [5060] it, lest [6435] ye die [4191] .  [1]

 At the time of the conversation there are only two options introduced in scripture, 'elohiym and Yĕhovah 'elohiym.  'elohiym is used exclusively from Genesis 1:1 until Genesis 2:4 in reference to God. It is only after the first Sabbath that the use of Yĕhovah 'elohiym is recorded by Moses. The transition scripturally introduces the proper name of God, Yĕhovah which is attached to 'elohiym.  The proper name of God translates to “The Existing One”. This can be seen better with the use of Young’s Literal Translation which was written as a companion to the King James Version for better academic or literal use. This also reveals the King James use of “LORD” in expressing Jehovah in English usage.

Genesis 3:1 YLT - And the serpent hath been subtile above every beast of the field which Jehovah God hath made, and he saith unto the woman, `Is it true that God hath said, Ye do not eat of every tree of the garden?'
Genesis 3:2 YLT - And the woman saith unto the serpent, `Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we do eat,
Genesis 3:3 YLT - and of the fruit of the tree which [is] in the midst of the garden God hath said, Ye do not eat of it, nor touch it, lest ye die.'[2]

The Hebrew tradition of not pronouncing the proper name of God, due to the fact of its great holiness may factor into the use of 'elohiym in the Serpent conversation. This being the first recorded conversation in which God is spoken, means there is no reference preceding this conversation to place it in context of being proper or improper.  

Eve is speaking the next two times the name of God is spoken in scripture.

Genesis 4:1 KJV - And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
Genesis 4:25 KJV - And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, [said she], hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.[3]

Every reference to God in Chapter Four other than Eve’s statement in verse 25 uses Yĕhovah without attaching 'elohiym. The post sin relationship of Adam and Eve to God may be indicated in this usage. Moses returns to the primary use of ‘elohiym in Chapter Five. The first birth is a declaration of joy and blessing from God. The second birth is barely recorded and the third is more a statement of fact than announcement. So we see Yĕhovah in praise and 'elohiym in a statement of fact. But this cannot change the understanding of the pre-sin mindset of Eve.

The next scripturally recorded quote in which God is spoken is in Genesis 9:25-27. This gives us little assistance in that Noah uses both terms in the same statement.  Although, you could argue that Noah first uses the literal phrase, “Blessed of Jehovah my God” [4] in this post flood period to declare his relationship to God, to his children. Noah then returns to the same practice as the first recorded conversation using 'elohiym.

Genesis 9:25 KJV - And he said [559] , Cursed [779] [be] Canaan [3667]; a servant [5650] of servants [5650] shall he be unto his brethren [251].
Genesis 9:26 KJV - And he said [559] , Blessed [1288] [be] the LORD [3068] God [430] of Shem [8035]; and Canaan [3667] shall be [1961] his servant [5650].
Genesis 9:27 KJV - God [430] shall enlarge [6601] Japheth [3315], and he shall dwell [7931] in the tents [168] of Shem [8035]; and Canaan [3667] shall be his servant [5650].[5]

Eve would not have had any reference to sin or a rejection of God verbally or by experience during the Serpent Conversation. This is not a question of intelligence, but rather a reference to her place in the timeline of creation.  Therefore, there would be no reason for her to declare allegiance because she only knew the true God. (Yĕhovah 'elohiym) The conversation precedes sin; no one had ever failed to walk with God as in the latter days of Noah.  

I would conclude that it would be difficult to present any argument of motive in Eve’s selection of 'elohiym in the Serpent Conversation. It would be much easier to argue that Yĕhovah is assumed because there is no alternative in the timeline of creation. Applying later scriptural truths would violate exegetical practice either from Eve in Chapter Four or Noah in Chapter Nine.

[1] Blue Letter Bible King James Version with Strong’s numbering of key words.
[2] Blue Letter Bible Young’s Literal Translation (Strong’s number not available in this version)
[4] Blue Letter Bible Young’s Literal Translation
[5] Blue Letter Bible King James Version with Strong’s numbering of key words.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Building a Pyramid of Understanding - Preview

This new book is in the final stages of editing for release at on Kindle keep watching its coming soon!


We have all struggled to understand our relationship to God. This relationship is the most important relationship anyone will ever have and yet the least understood by most people. I can only take in so much information at any given time, which causes me to break down information into useable sizes and formats. In this case Building a Pyramid of Understanding helps to give shape to thoughts and spiritual truths. In an effort to breakdown my understandings of God four triangles are revealed. These are summarized in the first four chapters revealing the aspects of God, Man, Temptation, and Christian Service.
The triangles then could be placed together as an interactive pyramid revealing three levels of relationships with God. The relationships are named Creation, Salvation and Growth, which show the growing relationship intended between God and mankind. When we view the sections individually we can grasp the beginning of their meaning. When applied to each other they reveal greater depth than either reveals in a singular fashion. Rather than simply adding one to the other you can find yourself embraced in Spiritual Trigonometry.  Spiritual Trigonometry could be described as searching for the biblical angles that enlighten our understanding of God and applying such enlightenment into our lives.
The pyramid is only being used as a complex shape to signify the complex relationship between God and Man. When you see the four aspects as triangles laid together they form a pyramid. Then if you see that pyramid horizontally cut into three sections, you will find three squares revealed signifying the three relationships to God. The basis of this writing is to serve as a tool in understanding the relationship of God to man according to the scriptures. This is in no way intended to promote some mystical relationship to pyramids. It is intended to provoke thought and introspection for the individual toward God.
For years I heard it said, “We need to know the vertical relationship with God and the horizontal relationship with man, which symbolizes the Cross of Calvary.”  Where such thought originated is unknown to me. It also limits us to a two-dimensional relationship with a multi-dimensional God and His complex creations. In reality it is the type of thought that says, “I’m saved so everything is okay!” The fact is that your salvation is more than fire insurance. The call of God on your life goes deeper than simply meeting temporal needs. God is calling each of us to look at life through the many angles He created, in order to find the path He wants us to walk through life, the path we’re called to uniquely walk throughout life’s journey. We are not called to march in step with an earthly army of unthinking believers; we are called to uniquely walk in Him. My prayer is that this writing helps someone on the journey God has called them to walk.

Monday, November 21, 2011

You Alone

True righteousness of God alone; in You, Lord has mine been owned,

            With mercy in my distress, blessings You have sown.

Those who love worthlessness, You they have never known,

            My anger at them cannot be thrown.

Thy peace is all I need, Thy truth my heart’s only throne.

Yes, Lord You alone; Yes, Lord You alone.

Written in response to Psalms 4

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Seven Sentimental Touches

Sentimental can be defined as "expressing deep feelings." ( Encarta Dictionary: English, North America) The method of including sentimental touches into the wedding ceremony serves as the key to unlocking memories of deep feelings expressed on the wedding day.  Every wedding should express the uniqueness of the bride and groom.  Exploring what is truly a sentimental touch for each couple opens the wedding experience to lasting memories.

Unfortunately, too often couples simply accept tired old tradition rather than explore the possibilities of truly expressing their love and personalities.  It can be as simple as adjusting a time honored tradition to creating something that is truly an expression of their love. Seven Sentimental Touches are simple additions to make your wedding truly yours.  With all the planning that goes on for the reception and the staging of the wedding it makes sense to invest thought into the ceremony and the words being shared. For the ease of understanding we are going to use the name of Kelly for the bride and Ken for the groom to demonstrate each touch.  It is possible that the person officiating at your wedding is waiting for a chance to edit the boring.

Sentimental Touch #1 - Beyond the Standard Trinity Candle
This is written to enhance the role of the parents in the wedding service. It may be for those couples who are very close to their parents or those who seek affirmation of their parents blessings. This uses what has become the standard Trinity Candle set up with a intimate family twist.

Father or Mother of the Groom - "Kelly we kindle this flame with all the love we have shared with Ken bringing him to this day. Sharing our blessings upon all the prayers and good wishes you will receive on this your wedding day."  (One speaking while the other lights the grooms candle)   
Father or Mother of the Bride - "Ken we kindle this flame with all the love we have shared with Kelly bringing her to this day. Sharing our blessings upon all the prayers and good wishes you will receive on this your wedding day."  (One speaking while the other lights the brides candle)   

Bride and Groom - "Together in love, with blessings, prayers and good wishes we kindle the flame of our future with help from above" (Holding their candles as they speak and then lighting the center candle together. It is a choice whether to extinguish the individual candles or to leave them lit honoring the past.) 

More Traditional:
The Psalmist writes “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”  Such truth is magnified within marriage as unity is sanctified and necessary for each moment of each day. Symbolizing a desire for such unity Ken and Kelly will light the center unity candle. Demonstrating the unity they seek before God and this gathering in marriage. They will then allow the candles symbolizing their lives to continue to burn honoring those who have helped to bring them to this point of commitment and union.   (The choice to stand looking at each other through a song at this point may be more difficult than the couple realizes.)  

Sentimental Touch #2 - Blending More than Husband and Wife

It is simply a fact of modern weddings that often families are being brought together and adding the children into the ceremony can act as an effective bonding experience. The giving of the ring is a great place to show this to the world.
Minister - "Ken, What token of love do you give?"

Child or Children - "This ring which shows the love encircling our new family."
Minister - " Ken, Repeat after me... "Kelly, with this ring... I thee wed... and with all the love... of our new family... I thee endow... In the name of the Father... and the Son... and the Holy Spirit... Amen

Minister - "Kelly, What token of love do you give?"

Child or Children - "This ring which shows the love encircling our new family."

Minister - " Kelly, Repeat after me... "Ken, with this ring... I thee wed... and with all the love... of our new family... I thee endow... In the name of the Father... and the Son... and the Holy Spirit... Amen

Sentimental Touch #3 - Remembrance Candle

Often there is a dear loved one who has passed away before a couple marries. It may be a parent or grandparent whose absence impacts the heart of the bride or groom in a powerful way. One way to include them is a simple Remembrance Candle. Simply having an extra candle in the room has very little meaning to those gathered without clarification.
Minister - "Today we gather in the sight of God and this congregation in the light of this remembrance candle in memory of Kelly's Grandfather whose memory brings the glow of love and blessings."

Sentimental Touch #4 - Flowers for Mothers
Simplicity has its own unique charm which we discovered in our daughter's wedding. Having six attendants each plus a Maid of Honor and a Best Man we had a lot to work with. The bride and groom chose two vases that began the service empty on stands in the front of the service. The wedding party entered one at a time alternating male and female. Each one placed a single flower one color for the brides vase another for the grooms. The last two to enter were the bride's brother and the groom's sister who carried the opposite color placing it in the center of the vase, representing their sibling, creating a special arrangement for each mother.  

Minister - Kelly and Ken wish to acknowledge the great love of their parents as they give the arrangements made by the love gathered this day to their mothers.  (The groom gives his to the bride's mother and the bride gives hers to the groom's mother) (Kisses, Hugs, and Tears follow)
Sentimental Touch #5 - Blended Lives, Blended Sand

It is becoming a new custom to have the Bride and Groom pour sand into a vase that will be sealed with wax to symbolize the blending of their lives. Using two vivid colors of sand they create sand art that will be a keep sake. Not everyone will get the symbolism, the minister can help those gather grasp the moment.
Minister - Kelly and Ken now take two containers of sand representing their individual lives. Pouring the sand into a new container representing the new life they begin together. Kelly and Ken have found themselves incomplete without the other, inseparable as these grains of sand. So may they be blessed each day sharing each with the other.  (Practice this sand art in advance it's harder than it sounds.)

Alternate Wording:
Knowing the everlasting union of their vows, Ken and Kelly are creating a wedding keepsake pouring the vessels of colored sand representing self into a new vessel of marriage.  The sand mixes creating a new presence with the desire that their marriage will be as inseparable as the grains of sand blended as a new creation. Today you are witnesses as Ken and Kelly become one before God and as they walk in life together.

 Sentimental Touch #6 - The Words Spoken
The words that are said are truest when they come from your heart. Not everyone is a writer and your grammar may need assistance but the words of the heart are lasting. The words of the heart are the ultimate expression of being sentimental. Even if you use a form to get started as long as the completion is from you and you alone.  

Kelly, the first time we met I ...   The first time we kissed I ...  Kelly in that moment you said you'd marry me I knew ... and I will spend my life...
Ken, I knew the first time you ... My heart was full the moment you said ... and I will spend my life...

Sentimental Touch #7 - The First Kiss of Married Life

Your friends will want a show, it's not their wedding. This is the first moment of the rest of your life and it deserves to be precious. Set the stage of love and respect with a gentle loving kiss that will make old women cry and old men ashamed they failed to start the day the very same way.  Remember the tenderness of that moment and keep it in your heart each day, she will never need to cry and he will never be ashamed.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Germ Spy in the Buffet Line

Okay, This is not my regular stuff. is having a short story contest and this is one of my entries. Warning some who have read this no longer want to go to buffets for lunch or at all. 600 words or less can change your view on life.

My grandparents are dragging me to the Steak House Buffet again; kids twelve and under eat free. I don’t turn thirteen until May. I know they’re cheap.  I wonder if they ever see what I see. Maybe I’m the Germ Spy in the buffet line. Certain people have to be watched before you get your food.  Those to watch include little kids, just big enough to reach the food, working men coming in a group, and old people with bad eyesight. Really gross stuff happens around here all the time, just watch!

There’s subject number one: he can just reach the food and his finger is in his mouth. Wait for it. Wait for it. The finger is coming out of the mouth. He’s touching the cookie with that wet germ ridden finger that came out from under that runny nose. Mom says no, pulls his hand back and leaves that finger licked cookie for someone else to eat.  That’s why you always get the cookies in the back. Finger lickers can’t reach that far.

Here they come joking and pushing each other real men with dirty jobs and no soap and water. See that guy by the mashed potatoes he just reached across to get some gravy. One of his buddies hit his arm dust went everywhere. No Granma they haven’t started putting pepper in the mashed potatoes. I think I’ll wait for a new batch of fries to come out.

See that elderly couple, they must eat lunch here every day. Last time we were here she left him to get salad dressing. He can’t read the writing on the serving spoons because of his eyesight. So he dipped the tip of his finger in the dressing and tasted it until he found the French dressing he liked. I had to eat the fat free, finger free dressing from a bottle starting that day. He always does something gross just wait for it. He’s picking up a piece of fish, smelling it, touching it. “Mother, is this chicken.”  “No, dear that’s fried fish” “Don’t like fish!” Back in the pan it goes. You know I really don’t like fish today.

She’s new just tall enough to get in trouble and her mom’s fixing her plate. Oh, Man did you see that! I think I’m going to be sick. She just reached up and took a green bean out of that vinegar three bean salad. Her face cringed and she took the green bean out of her mouth and put it back in the bowl. Her mother is looking around; maybe she’s looking for someone to tell what happened. No, she’s in the clear no one saw what her daughter just did, so off they go. At no extra charge today, a little saliva on your salad, four year old vintage slobber with a touch of vinegar.

“What are you doing, it’s time to fix your plate.” “Yes Granma.”  “You want some mashed potatoes and gravy?”  “No Granma.”  “Your father was never a picky eater; you must have got that from your mother’s side of the family.”  “I’ve told her and told her she gives in to you to much.” “Yes, Granma, have you tried the three bean salad, the fish looks good, would you like me to get you a cookie.” “You’re such a good child despite your mother’s poor parenting skills”

After all I’m almost a teenager. Be a Germ Spy at your next buffet, you’ll see bon appetite!

The Dark Side of Church Discipline

It is impossible to truly study church discipline and miss the shaded or dark side of its use in the church.  Issues of control held by clergy or church leadership, whatever the title, can become a power or hyper-hierarchical issue. Such a transition negates the biblical basis of servitude in a Christ application of servant hood. Whenever control supersedes restoration and spiritual development, church discipline enters this shaded area which weakens the faith and distorts the teachings of Christ. 

Church discipline can be greatly abused when removed from biblical standards. In an article by Alexandra Alter entitled "Banned From Church", such abuse is highlighted with little consideration to the positive or redemptive aspect of church discipline.  Within the article, a 71 year old lady is removed from a church by a State Trooper after a frantic 911 call from a minister. Her crime was simply showing up at church after the minister had withdrawn her membership. Buried at the end of the article is one of the best explanations of the problem.

Among churches that practice discipline, there is little consensus on how sinners should be dealt with, says Gregory Wills, a theologian at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Some pastors remove members on their own, while other churches require agreement among deacons or a majority vote from the congregation (Alter, 2008). 

The message of Gregory Willis reveals problems existing because of the lack of biblical standards for the practice of church discipline among these churches.

It would seem inconceivable that the very practice of church discipline could be and often is a violation of biblical discipline. The question is not, what does the church think? But, what is the proper biblical application? The standard of church discipline is not tradition but rather biblical application. To demonstrate this we are using Matthew 18:15-17. It would be difficult to find any denominational writings on Church Discipline that would fail to utilize this text. The problem with the text arises only when the exegesis is limited allowing manipulation in the application of the text.  In "Church Discipline: Missing the Mark” R. Albert Mohler, Jr. reveals what he sees as the impact of watered down theological practice.

The decline of church discipline is perhaps the most visible failure of the contemporary church. No longer concerned with maintaining purity of confession or lifestyle, the contemporary church sees itself as a voluntary association of autonomous members, with minimal moral accountability to God, much less to each other.

The absence of church discipline is no longer remarkable—it is generally not even noticed. Regulative and restorative church discipline is, to many church members, no longer a meaningful category, or even a memory. The present generation of both ministers and church members is virtually without experience of biblical church discipline (Mohler, 1998).

The key factor is not control; it is holiness before a holy God in the practice of the community of Faith. The classification of Church Discipline is centralized by many denominations and fundamentalist churches in the Matthew 18:15-17 text. Utilizing comparisons directly linking Old Testament texts to the New Testament teaching the Old Testament base challenges the application of the text. It becomes apparent that the teaching of Christ is assertively linked to the Old Testament. This leaves the reader deficient to conclude other than a major influence of Hebraic thought is crucial in the comprehension of the text.  The format includes an application statement, an inter-testament link, and application summary for each verse to reveal the connection between the testaments and proper application.

Application:   15“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother (NKJV, 1998)." This is an outworking of Leviticus 19:17, your heart must be clear in relation to the community of faith.  If someone has sinned against you,  you must go to them and seek to make things right. If it works you are blessed, if not, you are charged to continue. This is not for doctrinal issues or sin observed; it is for those sins directly toward another believer. There are other scriptural methods for dealing with additional issues. In qualifying a situation as not being applicable to this scriptural format, is not to condone sin, but rather to seek biblical practice to refrain from multiplying sin.

Inter-testament Link: If we understand Matthew 18:15..., from a scriptural basis it is a limited application of Church Discipline. This text has been given to allow for healing within the body of Christ when a believer sins against another believer.  The focus of this discipline is always restoration of the relationship individuals have within the body of Christ. The offended is called to take action to keep their own heart in the right relationship toward God and their fellow man. 

Leviticus 19:17 - 18, "You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.  18You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord (NKJV, 1998)." Beale and Carson would indicate verse 17 is a basis for the teaching of Christ to instruct his followers to guard their hearts before God (Beale & Carson, 2007, p. p.56).

Application Summary: The application of this verse is expanded by some to include sin in general removing the words, "against you." The general reasoning is that two manuscripts do not contain these words. (Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus) (Azurdia, 1994, p. p.78). Defending, "against you" is very apparent in, Matthew 18:21, "Then Peter came to Him and said, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times… (NKJV, 1998)?" The first question ever asked about Jesus' statement is, how many times do I have to forgive my brother when he sins against me? Did Peter understand the statement as being any sin or sins against him? Did Jesus rebuke Peter and say, "It's not just against you it's any sin?" No, Matthew 18:22, "Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven (NKJV, 1998)." Jesus simply applies a continuous application of forgiveness then follows it with a parable to reinforce this scriptural truth.  When Keener wrote about the background for this, he stated that it was a standard Jewish custom of the time, reinforced by the Dead Sea Scrolls and the writings of the rabbis (Keener, 1993, pp. , Mt. 18:15).  So, when Peter so easily grasped the concept it was a reflection of the general acceptance of this teaching within the community of faith. The overwhelming evidence indicates that the biblical application of Matthew 18:15 includes "against you" and is limited in its application by their insertion. 

Application:  16"But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established (NKJV, 1998).’'  Jesus is quoting from Deuteronomy 19:15-21, in which, the witnesses must have observed the event. No charges can be brought without witnesses. If there is not the required number of witnesses to the allegations, then this process must end.  "(The rabbis took this principle so far that one eyewitness was not sufficient even if the eyewitness caught the murderer with the bloody knife in hand) (Keener, 1993, pp. , Mt. 18:16)."

Inter-testament Link: The verse breaks down into three sections by the use of commas, 16a: moves the unresolved conflict to a new level, 16b: brings in one or two more, 16c: is an Old Testament quote from Deuteronomy 19:15-21. The Deuteronomy quote deals with establishing procedure to hear evidence in a criminal charge (Beale & Carson, 2007, p. p.57).

Application Summary: The major problem in the application of this verse is created by expanding the definition of the term witness. When you look at the consequence of this text fully worked out to a non-repentant conclusion, it would be difficult to accept that the witnesses would not meet the Old Testament requirement. In fact we could strengthen that conclusion by injecting the Jewish source shared by Beale and Carson.

Perhaps the closest parallel to Jesus' procedure in Matthew appears in 1QSV,25-VI,1, where again emphasis is placed on resolving disputes privately; only then may they be brought to the congregation, with at least two witnesses...  (Beale & Carson, 2007, p. p.57).

The exegetical facts support only the interpretation of the witnesses having been witnesses to the original conflict resulting in sin. 

Application: "17And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector (NKJV, 1998)." Every step of this process is taken seeking the offender to repent and restore the relationship damaged by their actions. It is not possible to understand the severity of this final action in the context of being put out of church today. The person simply can go down the street and join another fellowship.  That was not the implication of Jesus declaration.  "After the most severe level of discipline the offending member would be treated as a pagan instead of a Jew. Pagans and tax gatherers alike - tax gathers were seen as agents of a pagan government - were excluded from the religious life of the Jewish community. (Keener, 1993, pp. , Mt. 18:17)."

Inter-testament Link: The understanding of this text is equivalent to the cutting off of people from the congregation of Israel as seen in Genesis 17:14, Exodus 12:15, 19: 30:33, 38 (Beale & Carson, 2007, p. p. 56).

Application Summary: If we lose the original intensity of this action we miss the entire application of Jesus Teaching. "An outcast. This means that you treat the person as a nonbeliever, because he is not walking as a believer. Love him as Jesus loved the publicans and sinners. Reach out to him in witness, but not to relate to him as a member of the Body of Christ. Like all evangelistic outreach, the goal is to bring a soul to Christ and back into the functioning Body (Bubna, 2000)." 

How anyone could truly seek to teach from a biblical exegesis of the text, understanding the historical implications, make such a statement?  Does Jesus love the publicans and sinners? Of course He loves them and died for them. This has nothing to do with the understanding of this verse unless you eliminate the Hebraic mindset of the original audience and speaker.  Bubna has brought this Hebraic thought, spoke out of the deep experience of the Jewish people, out of context and eliminated its meaning and effect, taking the truth of a heart wrenching separation and turning it into a contemporary juggling of the membership role. Simply remove them from the membership role and place them on the prospect list. When we miss the depth of the Word, we can also miss the truth of the Word.

It would be easy to say I was writing from a denominational or personal bias.  But the truth is, when I began this research, I was coming from a church tradition misusing two of the three areas covered. The practice of using this scripture for sin in general has been common in churches I've served and in which I was reared. It was also a general practice to allow any two people to go and hear the discussion even if not being true biblical witnesses.  What it really comes down to is, do I follow the churches traditions or the original meaning of the Word of God? Is my salvation in the church or in the shed blood of Christ? Who is Lord of my life?
Works Cited
Alter, A. (2008, January 18). Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 22, 2009, from
Azurdia, A. (1994, Fall). Biblical Studies . Retrieved 31 2009, 12, from
Beale, G., & Carson, D. (2007). Comentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.
Bubna, D. L. (2000, October). Retrieved January 13, 2010, from{F0B71E13-F9BA-428E-B64A-913449B56F24}&notoc=1
Keener, C. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament. In C. Keener, The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove,IL: Inter Varsity Press.
Mohler, R. A. (1998). Church Discipline: Missing the Mark. Retrieved December 22, 2009, from
NKJV. (1998). Quick Verse: New King James Version. Nashville.
Wilbur, B. (2010). Church Discipline based on Matthew 18:15-17. Non - Published.

When the Doorbell Rings

It was late, later than you would expect visitors. The children were finally asleep; we cringed as the doorbell rang and looked toward their rooms as the chimes seemed to go on forever. I rushed down the stairs of our split-foyer home as my wife stood at the top hoping the doorbell wouldn’t ring again. The children were still asleep as I pulled back the curtain to see who had rung the bell.

I knew the face, he'd been at church just a few Sunday's before. I opened the door and stepped out hoping to keep the children asleep. Then he turned, I smelt the alcohol on his breathe and met face to face with a double barreled shotgun. He was talking about the war, and those watching from the woods. He was going through flashbacks of the Vietnam War. If I'd start to move the shotgun would correct me as it came closer. I couldn't understand his ramblings. What does he want from me?

My wife was frozen at the top of the stairs. My mind was racing. Why doesn't she go call for help?  I don't want my children to wake up to the sound of this gun. I'm ready for heaven but I want to see them grow up, Lord, I want more time. What am I thinking, I'm a preacher, what should I do, Pray Already!

I remember in the back of my mind, as he rambled on, I prayed. "Lord, I don't know what to do. Let your Spirit speak through me."  Then it happened, words came out of my mouth. "Is that gun loaded?" He looked right through me as my mind started racing again. Was that God or did I just say something really stupid? He looked down at the gun, hit the release, broke the shotgun open, and handed me the two shells. Then he said, "Yea, it was loaded. Before I could take a breath lights flashed everywhere as the sheriff's deputies responded to our neighbors calls about the drunken man with a gun. They were on us in seconds and took him away. My wife came down the stairs as we hugged I asked her why she didn't call for help? She said, "I was afraid if I moved it would be the last time I ever saw you alive."  The children slept through the night not knowing what happened. Although, I wanted to run upstairs snatch them out of bed and hug them till dawn. The last we heard the man was getting help he greatly needed.
When the doorbell rings something is about to happen. The lesson I learned is that God's timing is perfect. Just seconds later and at the flashing of the lights he could have been startled and this story never told. Thank you, Lord; the gun (past tense) was loaded. Sometimes it's a lesson on fully trusting God. Sometimes it's a chance to share a testimony. Sometimes it's just good friends, family and fellowship.  Every time God opens the door he's giving a new opportunity to grow in our faith.  Remember it might just be time to stop and pray.  Who knows what you might say?

Copyright © 2011 Dr. Burt Wilbur

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