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The Kindness of Joseph of Arimathea

“And a man named Joseph, who was a member of the Sanhedrin (but did not consent to the death of Jesus) who was from Arimathea and was waiting for the kingdom of God; this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. He took it down from the cross and wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock where no one had ever lain.”
Luke 23

We tend to think of the Jewish Elite of Jesus day as all villains, but Joseph was an exception. The key phrase is “he was waiting for the kingdom of God.” Everyone else sought the kingdom of man, not of God, as they claimed. Joseph waited for the city not made by human hands. He took down the body of Jesus, carefully wrapped it, and placed it into his own tomb where no one had laid. Despite the fact Jesus would soon rise and have no use for either, I doubt our Lord would forget this measure of kindness from Joseph, the one who waited for Him.

Today as I reflect on the death of my mama, I want to thank the folks at Sanderson Funeral Homes for taking such good care of my mama’s body. For taking good care of it and laying it in a tomb no one has lain in. For although I know she has no further need of it, I will not forget the care and kindness they have taken with the one so dear to me. I also hope that they all, like our friend Joseph, are waiting for the One who is the Resurrection and the Life and long for His appearing.

I believe in Resurrection.

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Posted by on January 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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The Cup of Wrath

cup of wrath“Jesus drank a cup of wrath without mercy, that we might drink a cup of mercy without wrath.”
– J. Oswald Sanders

 

Imagine that all of your deeds have been laid bare. Every evil thought, every harsh word, every wicked deed, every selfish desire, and any other thing you have ever done that is wrong. They also list every time someone cried out in need and you ignored it, every good deed that you could have done for someone but refused to do.

As the list is read, a cup nearby fills with the wrath deserved for such crimes. A lifetime of unpunished wrongdoing fills it to the brim and it foams with pain and loss and despair. Pain you deserve for all the evil you have done and all the good you refused to do for others.

Now imagine that God takes the cup and drinks it. All of it.

There is no more evil. There is no more pain. There is no more loss or suffering.

Because he drank it all. It is all gone. He has taken the punishment reserved for you into Himself.

And He has paid it in full.

You do not have to imagine it. He already did it.

For all who believe. It. Is. Finished.

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.”
– Saul of Tarsus to the Church at Rome, circa 57 A.D.

 

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2015 in Soteriology, Uncategorized

 

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Do Not Stop Speaking


jesus.heal_Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Mark 7:31-37

God does not do everything in a public forum. We offer a public invitation to repent and submit to Jesus Christ in churches every Sunday, but in reality people are not required to walk down the aisle to be saved. Some people have very public salvation experiences, and some are very private ones. Some are saved while the preacher is speaking, while others are saved once home and meditating on the things said. There is no one experience that is better than another.

This man was healed privately. Many of Jesus’ miracles, such as His feeding of the 5,000 men, were very public. Others, like this one, were very private. What connects them all is what happened afterwards.

Acts 4:1-22

Peter and John were threatened with prison, violence and death. Their response? “We cannot stop speaking about what we’ve seen and heard.”

They couldn’t stop. They were compelled. They were driven to speak about Jesus.

When Jesus touches someone, they cannot stop speaking about it. Even if Jesus tells them not to speak, they cannot help themselves.

What about you? How often do you speak about His love? How often do you proclaim His good news to others?

No one is stopping us. There are not yet soldiers in the streets to arrest us, beat us, or kill us. And yet we are stopped by sneers and ridicule, or simply indifference.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10

We hold back because we want to please men. Even in the Church, a dangerous practice of pleasing men in a thin veneer called “seeker churches.” These people try to be “seeker” sensitive, not being overbearing towards those who come to their church seeking God.

Except, no Lost soul is seeking Him, for it is written:

“No one understands; no one seeks for God.”
Romans 3:11

Men do not seek God. God seeks out men to save them. The world has so blinded itself with sin that it is oblivious to the coming Judgement. We are the watchmen called to sound the trumpet and warn the people.

Ezekiel 33:1-9

We are required to sound the trumpet and warn the Lost. God will hold us accountable for every soul we had a chance to tell but did not. Every soul we tell that does not repent and heed our warning we are guiltless of. We cannot convince people of the truth, for it is also written:

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
1st Corinthians 2:14

In his natural, sinful state, humans cannot understand, cannot see the beauty of the Gospel. In fact, it’s complete nonsense. Only God can change that heart of stone to a heart of flesh, but He often uses us to do it.

Titus 2:1-10

“Adorn” here means to make alluring or attractive. So in a sense we are to make the Gospel more appealing to the Lost, but not by downplaying sin and Judgement, or by working around penal substitution, but by living according to the teachings of Christ in every way, showing the world that God’s way not only works, but is the best way to live.

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
1st Peter 3:13-17

No one is saying go grab a sandwich board and stand on the street screaming at people to “turn or burn.” What the Bible says is to live a godly life and revere Christ as holy. Then, when people inquire as to why you live and love thus, you share the Gospel. We do not do this harshly or in judgement, but as dying men to dying men.

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.
Colossians 4:5

Don’t stay silent. Be wise among unbelievers and look for opportunities. If you see one open up, you go for it!

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2015 in Christology

 

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Demons, Men, or Whatever

20070810p2_01A few nights ago I fell asleep on the couch in my office. When I awoke, I could not move. A sense of dread came over me. I felt invisible hands tighten around my throat and I could not breathe. A voice in my head whispered, “I hate you. I have always hated you. I’ve tried to kill you so many times. Tonight’s the night. Tonight you die.

“Now a few friends of mine would immediately leap to “It was a demon! You were under attack!” But of course I know better. First of all, I’m pretty much a strict cessationist and I don’t mind who knows that. Second of all, I’ve dealt with sleep paralysis most of my life and I can easily recognize it when it happens now.

Despite that, when the invisible hands tightened around my throat and the malign voice whispered deadly threats, I prayed silently but seriously that God my Father intervene and save me.

And He did. No sooner had I finished the prayer than did the hands release me, the voice was silenced, and I drifted back to sleep again. God heard my cry and rescued me from my peril, of that I have no doubt. It’s what He does. Rescue people.

Now my certain friends become puzzled. “If you do not believe in ongoing demonic possession or oppression or sign gifts, and were sure it was just sleep paralysis, why then did you pray?”

To answer this, I quote one of my all time favorite hymns, Master the Tempest is Raging:

Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will.

The stage of the hymn is set when the disciples are out at sea in a storm while Jesus is sleeping. They awaken Him, begging that He calm the storm and save them. Many scholars have debated whether the storm was just a storm or whether it was really sent by “the prince of the air,” that is the Devil.

To the hymn writer, though, the source of the storm is irrelevant. What matters is that no matter what it’s source, it cannot destroy the Creator and it must obey His will.

So was I attacked by a demon a few nights ago? I seriously doubt it. Was I in danger? Possibly, we really don’t know a lot about sleep paralysis. Much of it is in a person’s head, but there are physiological responses to the stimuli and it is possible that an episode of sleep paralysis could trigger a secondary health episode of far greater consequence.

But rest assured, demons, men, or whatever it was, my God can handle it.

And that’s why I prayed.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2015 in Theology

 

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A Tent In The Desert

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The Promised Land is the Lord Himself.

A tent in the desert with my God

Is better than riches or gold.

A tent in the desert with my God

Is better than pleasures untold.

And if to gain a greener land

A place of comfort to lay

I must leave my Lord behind

In the desert with God I’ll stay.

– Inspired by Exodus 33

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2015 in Theology

 

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Mom

Teri portrait uc 1977Teresa Yvonne Shocklee Cohoon

That’s my mom. She’s done a lot in her life so far. A straight-A student always, graduating with honors wherever she went. What she attempted, she excelled at. She is brilliant in mathematics, chemistry, and medicine. She abandoned her career to serve as a full-time mother and housewife for her only child and husband. Later, she returned to school and became a nurse. A really, really good nurse.

She’s had a rough life though. Her early years were not at all kind to her. She saw her family torn apart by divorce and endured all the horrors that the fallout created. Through it all she tried her best to watch over her younger siblings and shield them from the worst of offenses that were all around her. When she married my father they moved to his hometown, a community mistrusting of any outsiders that never accepted her. She was friendless for many years but hardly let it show to me.

Of course, the best thing about her is that she is a daughter of King Jesus, a Repenter like me.

Though she sent me to public school, she insisted on teaching me subjects while away from school at home. It was under her tutelage that I gained my love for learning, literature, history and science. She taught me how to perform basic multiplication far in advance of when I was taught it in public school. She helped me to tackle long division when I struggled with it. She read to me constantly and supplied me with a constant stream of books.

She taught me a lot about mercy and compassion, because those qualities really define her. She also taught me through her work as a nurse that nurses have one of the hardest, most important and most under appreciated jobs on earth. Nurses are awesome, and if you are a nurse, then may God bless you.

Mom also taught me healthy skepticism. Thanks to her I have an intellectual shield against foolish notions, bandwagons and popular tripe. She taught me to question everything and to doubt not for doubt’s sake (that is dangerous) but in order to find the truth. She also taught me that when you use skepticism to pursue truth, you should be open to whatever truth you find, even if that truth is dangerous, uncomfortable, or not what you expected. This has been possibly her greatest lesson to me. You’d think it was a hindrance to my faith in Christ, but it’s the contrary. Christ is the Truth, so when I sought the truth of the matter I found Him. And even though the Truth of Christ is almost unbelievable, is uncomfortable, and very dangerous, I accepted that Truth. Since then, my healthy skepticism has also kept me from falling into any tradition of men but to keep to the truth of the Word. Thanks mom.

My mom was very loving and kind to me. She never rejected or despised me and I never doubted her love for a moment (though my affections for her came and went like the devil I am). Her discipline was very light but also very consistent. I knew what to expect from her at all times and though punishments were never severe they were consistent and often were enough to keep me in line (eventually). She was ready to die for me at any moment, a shield against the darkness, someone who stood in the gap for my sake. She gave up hopes and dreams of her own so that I would have a mother. I will never forget that.

I love you mom. Happy mother’s day.

(Note: This was originally published May 14, 2014. My sweet mama passed away January 8th 2016. I thank God that she had a chance to read this before she passed into eternity.)

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2014 in Sanctification

 

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The Fall of Jericho

Fall_ofJericho_4194Joshua 6:1-21

Steps of obedience are like the tumblers of a lock. Each one must connect to open the door. The city of Jericho would never have fallen if they had failed to march around the city one of the six days or if they had shouted at the wrong time, or if they had failed to shout when the time came. They had to follow God’s instructions exactly in order to receive His help in the battle.

Likewise, when God instructs us, we should follow the plan exactly. If we falter or deviate from the instructions, we should not be surprised if the walls do not come tumbling down. So often our failures and frustrations come from half-hearted, partial obedience to God, which falls short of His glory and therefore fails to bring about the wonderful results He intended for us.

Beloved, do not give up. March on. Keep silent until the right moment, God’s moment. Then shout for all you’re worth. Then you will see the glory of God revealed, then you will see your enemies melt in fear, then the walls around your life will crumble, and you will be free. Stay the course, do not give up.

Never, ever, give up.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Sanctification

 

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