I recently sat down with Jamie Jackson at The Master’s Seminary to give a perspective on voting in a Trump vs. Clinton election. To borrow an expression, I’m not a fan of voting for a team’s uniform; I prefer to have a player with integrity behind the number. Here are my thoughts:
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While there are several verses that are strong arguments for the pre-tribulational rapture, Revelation 3:10 is one of the most persuasive. In it, every single phrase (and word!) points to God’s plan to remove his church from the earth before the seven-year tribulation.
I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth (Revelation 3:10).
Today I want to give a summary of the foster care case happening out in California involving a family from Grace Church and the ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act). I—along with many other pastors—have encouraged people to sign a petition about this case, so I think it requires some more explanation, and then I will close with seven recommended posts to read on the ICWA and Lexi.
The gist of the story: Lexi, a six-year-old girl in Los Angeles who had been in foster care since she was seventeen-months old, was placed with a family from Grace Church (where John MacArthur pastors) for the last four years. The family, the Pages, began the process of adopting Lexi after her biological parents both ceased reunification efforts.
In a typial foster-adopt situation, here is what happens: the court would appoint the child an attorney/advocate, who would meet with her, meet with the foster-adopt parents, and meet with any other extended family who want to pursue adoption. The child’s advocate then makes a recommendation to the court based on what would be in the child’s best interest and the court gives its verdict.
But because Lexi is Native American (she is 1/64 Choctaw), the LA County Department of Family and Children’s Services did not follow this approach. Because of the ICWA—a federal law which mandates that in the adoption proceedings of a Native American child that the Indian Tribe get the final say in their placement—the LA County DFCS moved to block the adoption in court, and remove Lexi to extended family in Utah.
Three different times trial courts cited the ICWA and sided with DFCS in wanting Lexi moved to Utah, but the first two times the court was reversed on appeal. The third decision is being appealed now, but while the appeal was pending, DFCS transferred Lexi to Utah.
Now if this were just about one girl, one family, and one church, I probably wouldn’t be blogging on it. But there are several elements of this case that intersect a biblical world view, so I want to address them here. Continue Reading…
When one of my daughters loses a tooth, I reward her with chocolate. A dentist might find this ironic—“Do you want her to lose the rest of them?”—but I feel that the reward is an essential element of this rite-of-passage.
A wiggly tooth is frightening to a child. The idea of the tooth falling out…well, that can be downright terrifying. And my normal go-to parental response of: “suck it up girl, this happens to everyone!” doesn’t quite assuage the fears.
But chocolate does. In fact, my girls so love chocolate that they actually look forward to loosing their teeth. The existence of the reward took something that induced fear, and it transformed the trepidation into expectation.
Yet the existence of a reward does not make the inevitable conditional. It is not as if a child could say, “Since I don’t like chocolate, I guess I’ll just keep all of my teeth.” No, the teeth are coming out regardless of weather or not the girl actually wants the reward.
With this analogy in mind, consider why Jesus ends each of Revelation’s seven letters with the promise of a reward. In this section of scripture (Revelation 2-3) Jesus writes to a few bad churches, a few excellent churches, and a few decent churches. He tells some of them that wrath is coming, some of them that rescue is coming, but to all of them he describes a Christians’ future rewards.
In fact, if you look at the end of all seven letters, Jesus describes fifteen different rewards: Continue Reading…
That is perhaps the most frequent objection that I’ve run into when talking about these doctrines with other Christians. But for many African-Americans that is not the most common question. The most common objection might be more along the lines of: “How can God be sovereign over a nation that practiced slavery, especially when many of the slave owners and traders claimed the name of Christ?”
In other words, if you think you have a hard time answering an objection about God’s sovereignty over the death of someone’s great-grandmother, try answering that objection when it touches someone’s entire culture.
This is why there is a need for a book written particularly about the doctrines of God’s sovereignty and how African-Americans should understand them. I’m grateful to Anthony Carter for writing Black and Reformed, because it is that book. Continue Reading…
Things Fall Apart is a gripping novel about how Nigeria changed when Christianity was introduced in the early 1900’s. It is a book of chaos, and it depicts desperate people trying to appease unknown tribal gods—gods who occasionally require fathers to kill their own children. By the end of the novel, nothing is left standing. African traditions have been obliterated, tribal customs abolished, and the entire culture is changed forever.
The book of 2 Samuel has always reminded me of Things Fall Apart. It begins with David in charge, and as the plot moves forward we see David increasing his grip on the kingdom. He gets Jerusalem to be the capital, and gets the ark moved in from the wilderness—albeit with much difficulty. He fulfills his covenant with Jonathan, he goes to war, and he conquers Israel’s enemies.
But in the middle of his book, things begin to fall apart. David sins sexually, covers it up with murder, and then is cornered by Yahweh’s prophet. Once cornered, he repents and receives God’s forgiveness, but his sin still planted the seeds of destruction. Continue Reading…
It started with a hijab during Advent, and ends with a foundational lesson in the Trinity.
Larycia Hawkins, a professor of Politics and International Relations at Wheaton, decided to wear a hijab to her classes. She explained on Facebook that she did this as part of her “advent worship” in order to demonstrate that she:
“Stand[s] solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”
In addition to her strange identification of Christians as “people of the book” (which is an Islamic category), her expression of solidarity with Muslims was poorly timed, to say the least.
For many Middle Eastern Christians, the hijab represents the brutal oppression of women by Muslims. Moreover, in much of Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and Libya, this was the first Christmas season in 2000 years without Christians to celebrate it. Islamic terrorists (who require women to wear a hijab by law) have essentially eliminated churches through much of the Middle East. So from the comfort and safety of Illinois, an American Professor publically showed “solidarity” with those who are slaughtering Christians by wearing a symbol of Islamic female suppression. Continue Reading…
There are many passages that teach the sinfulness of abortion, but often overlooked is the encounter between Yahweh and Moses described in Exodus 3-4. This passage is particularly applicable to those considering abortion because of some perceived defect or genetic disability diagnosed in the baby.
The scene is this: Moses had been in Midian for decades, and had obviously settled down. He had a wife, a family, and a job. But Yahweh “remembered” Israel, called Moses out of retirement, and told him to go and lead the Israelites to freedom.
Moses declined, and gave a series of excuses to God. First, he said he wasn’t sufficient (God’s answer: of course you aren’t, but the Lord is). Then he said he didn’t even know who God is (God’s answer: Yahweh). His third objection was that nobody would believe Yahweh spoke to Moses (God’s answer involved leprosy, snakes, and turning water into blood).
But then Moses got personal. He told God that he couldn’t go lead Israel, because his tongue didn’t work. God made him with a defective mouth. Literally, he says “my tongue is too heavy, my speech is unintelligible” (there is debate in commentaries about if Moses always had this impediment, or if he developed it by burning his tongue with a coal, as many Jewish historians allege). The point is Moses couldn’t talk well, and—in the interest of full disclosure—God should know about that if he is going to ask him to lead.
And here is where Yahweh’s response to Moses’ objection gives a window into why God hates abortion: Continue Reading…
Bad ideas don’t die, they just hide out on the internet and regroup.
— MennoKnight (@Menn0knight) January 13, 2016
I recently came across a video ambitiously titled, “Proving that nobody can get into heaven.” It was produced by Marshall Brain, the same guy who founded the How Stuff Works website, and the author of How “God” Works, which is essentially an argument for atheism.
The video is ten years old, but it’s still making the rounds online. To spare you the 8-plus minutes of it, I’ll summarize Brain’s argument here. He claims he can prove that heaven is “a fairy tale” by looking at the eight times Jesus was asked what it would take to go there. According to Brain, here are the eight answers: Continue Reading…
Many of the most well-known (and most enduring) songs are Christmas songs—scan through any hymnal, and you will be surprised about the percentage of songs that are devoted to Advent.
Not all Christmas songs are good, of course. In fact, some of them are particularly cheesy. But many more tend toward excellence than silliness, and the reason for this is simple: they start with the birth of the Savior.
But if they focus only on the birth, or the silent night, or the oxen and what-have-you, then they will be mired in shallowness. The reason many Christmas songs do become exceptional is because they don’t stay in the manger. Instead, they use the birth of Christ as a launching point to survey his life. The best of these songs even make it all the way to his cross and Second Advent.
This is true of all hymns, and not just Christmas ones. If any song is narrowly focused, or focused on the softness/stillness/nearness/gentleness of God, it will likely be a lame song. But if a song progresses through—from God in human flesh, to what that God did, to why he died, to his resurrection, and ultimately to eternity—then it is at least set up to be an exceptional song. Here are three Christmas songs that do just that: Continue Reading…