Jack Chick – Apr 13, 1924 – Oct 23, 2016

I heard that Jack Chick died the other day. You may not know the name, but you’re probably familiar with his work. At some point you’ve probably been given or come across a Chick Tract; a little black and white comic about why you’re going to Hell unless you confess that Jesus is your savior. I suppose at it’s most basic level, he wasn’t wrong, just ignorant.

Unlike most people who disagree with his message, I don’t see him as a hateful old fossil but instead someone who is really out of touch with reality; sometimes hilariously so. The message of the gospel he would try to deliver was almost always in the most offensive way possible and I don’t mean offensive in the way that the gospel is offensive. I mean offensive in the way that the issues are discussed without actually understanding the issues or the people in the issues themselves. To the reader, this comes across as hate-filled, racist, or just downright laughable. More often than not, it came across as all three.

Conspiracy theories abound in tracts on Roman Catholicism. Satan gives AIDs to Christian rock bands as a punishment for going gay. Dungeons and Dragons teaches you to kill your family. Blacksploitation. No, I’m not making that last one up. Somewhere along the line Jack Chick thought black people might have difficulty relating to his predominately white comics so he made black versions of many of his tracts complete with jive talk. And yes, I’m reasonably sure these tracts came out well after the ’70s.

The strange thing is, there’s a certain level of honesty to them I can’t explain. Not in how they portray the people and issues, but in Jack’s worldview. This is why I don’t see him as a complete douche (I could be totally wrong here, I don’t know the guy) but instead as someone who genuinely thinks he’s helping people. And that’s kinda tragic because in his misguided attempt at helping people, he’s probably done much more harm than good. I imagine that for every person these brought to Jesus, twenty more were driven away.

Sadly, these tracts can still be found everywhere. Well meaning people find clever ways to hand these out. Invariably, my daughter will get at least one trick or treating this year. Those of us who are older will remember finding them in phone booths. I once found one in a case of beer I had purchased at the grocery store. Most recently, I got one in the mail with my health care check from a Baptist church. I speculate that since my health sharing ministry will allow just about any Christian to join, they may have been worried that they might be sending money to a Roman Catholic, because for what other reason would a Christian send a Chick Tract to another Christian.

I believe Jack is in heaven. Not because his theology was right, but because I believe, as misguided as it was, that his faith in Christ was genuine. I believe that his faith was strong and even though misapplied, it still comes down to faith in the one who came down and died for our sins and that his word is true. Could I be wrong? Sure. I didn’t know Jack Chick personally. I can only speculate based on what I’ve read. But I don’t think he was intentionally malicious. Just paranoid and out of touch with reality.


What do you want?

I recently listened to the first episode of Fighting for the Faith I have in a long time. I didn’t stop because I grew tired of the program or anything. I just didn’t have time. Sorry, Chris Rosebrough, but when you have a wife and two small children, it’s difficult to fit in a daily two to three hour show. Anyhow, the episode was called Rosebrough’s Ramblings on Coram Deo. At the twenty-five minute mark, he starts discussing Romans 6. In this, he mentions how he was in class with Dr. Rod Rosenbladt and how when the gospel was preached, he was still in his old Nazarene mindset. So he went to Dr. Rosenbladt and said, “You’re saying if I’m saved by grace, I can do whatever I want.”

I’d like to take a moment to point you towards the banner at the top of the page. You’ll notice a quote from Augustine.

Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.

I’ve had that banner up there for quite sometime, since I started the site, really. I just always loved the quote and it made sense, but I never really quite thought about what exactly it meant until I listened to this episode of Fighting for the Faith.

Dr. Rosenbladt replied, “Well of course. Now that you’ve been set free from sin, death, and the devil, what do you want to do?”

And suddenly, it was all so clear to me. I realize that there is a difference between doing what you want and doint what you feel like. Ever notice how actually doing what you want leaves you sense of pride or accomplishment while just doing what you feel like can at times leave you feeling pretty low? I want to help those in need. I feel like drinking all the booze. One of those will probably leave me feeling pretty good about myself. The other may leave me a little disappointed the next day. Romans 7:15 helps to explain.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

When we are in the grace of Christ, all we want to do is what is good. Now, we may feel like doing some pretty awful things from time to time. We may even do some pretty awful things from time to time. But we don’t want to do them. Instead, we want to do what is good. This is where the third use of the law comes into play. It helps to shape the Christian to do what is right.

So as a Christian under the grace of God, by all means, go forth and do whatever you want.

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Putting It All Together

My original title for this was going to be something along the lines of, “Why not Peter with Jesus.” The basic premise was this. Peter cuts off the ear of Malchus. Jesus heals Malchus. Soldiers do not arrest Peter and execute him with Jesus. I started thinking about this incident yesterday and how to me Peter not being arrested made no sense and if you only read John, it doesn’t make any sense at all.

3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.”[a] Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus[b] said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant[c] and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews[d] arrested Jesus and bound him. 13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door.

John 18:3 – 16

Can you imagine that conversation?

Malchus: “Holy crap! That crazy Jew just cut off my ear!”

Soldier: “Stop being such a baby Malchus. It’s just a flesh wound. You’ll be fine.”

Malchus: “Are….are you sure?”

Soldier: “Yes, Malchus.”

Malchus: “Oh, okay. If, if you say so.”

Doesn’t seem terribly plausible does it. But without any other information, what are we to assume? The Romans wouldn’t put up with this. Peter would be right there with Jesus on Cross. There wouldn’t be any ifs, ands, or buts about it. Thankfully, Luke gives us a few more details on the matter.

47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant[h] of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.

Luke 22:47 – 54

Okay, Jesus heals the dude. Pretty incredible and it seems plausible that they would be so awestruck by what they witness that they may have forgotten about Peter. Then again, these were Roman soldiers, so it doesn’t seem that plausible.

Soldier One: “That guy cut off Malchus’ ear!”

Soldier Two: “Yeah, but this Jesus guy made it all better.”

Soldier One: “I don’t care! He attacked a Roman soldier and cut off is ear. That’s not gonna fly.”

This conversation seems much more likely, but again, the guards don’t go after Peter. As awestruck as they may have been, there’s still simply no way that they wouldn’t have arrested Peter on the spot. They’d have been all like, “Well, that was cool. Still, we can’t have you running around mucking things up now, can we. You’re clearly a threat to Rome. Off with us you come.” Perhaps one of the other Gospels could shed some more light on the subject matter.

47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.”[f] Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant[g] of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Matthew 26:47 – 56

Oh, thank you, Matthew. Luke and John suddenly make more sense now. The disciples suddenly running away ties everything together quite well. Peter cuts off an ear, Jesus heals it, and in all of it the disciples scatter. The Roman soldiers are all like, “Wut!?” but in the end, they got what they came for. Malchus is fine and Peter is presumably gone. What are they to gain by sending resources after him? How are they to convince Pontius of using their resources to find him?

Soldier: “They cut Malchus’ ear off.”
Pontius eyes Malchus suspiciously.
Malchus: “I got better.”

When you put Luke, John, and Matthew together, Peter not being crucified with Jesus doesn’t seem so far fetched anymore. Like Chris Rosebrough says on Fighting for the Faith, the three rules for good discernment are context, context, context.

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“It is finished”

This post speaks for itself quite well.

Eilers Pizza

2016-03-23 11.22.22 Christ’s cross, by my daughter, Erin

Among the things that I found myself saying after several years as a pastor regards the character of God, that He is love, and merciful, and generous, and just, and faithful, and when talking about the person and work of our Savior, Jesus, I continually found myself asking, “Who wouldn’t love a God like that?”

To love God, we have to properly understand God. And, in the Lord Jesus’ Good Friday declaration from the cross, “It is finished (John 19:30),” we have the foundation laid for a proper understanding of God.

The problem with us is that we constantly take those words out of the mouth of the Lord Jesus as if He never spoke them, as if He did not complete the work of saving us, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our…

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Daily Edification

A while ago I picked up the Treasury of Daily Prayer. At the time, I had difficulty understanding exactly how I was supposed to use it and eventually, put it aside, practically forgetting about it. In recent months and ever perhaps year or so, I’ve been slowly but surely attempting to simplify my life. It’s been a process, especially after having constantly added more and more into it over the years. However, I’ve been grudgingly re-evaluating my priorities and attempting to get rid of things I do not need or use. A delightful side effect of this is that things that once held great appeal to me hold it less so. When my time is free, I am now less likely to go after the forms of entertainment that I used to (although I still have my programs that I watch and games I like to play).

So when those free moments come, I find myself reaching for those items I have neglected. Namely the Book of Concord and the Treasury of Daily Prayer. Though I don’t get to them every day, I find myself far more engaged in the scriptures and understanding of my theology. Since I have been in the process of simplifying my life, I find I am much better able to focus and understand them, not being distracted my nonsense that may or may not even be there. To put it simply, I am finding it much more edifying that I have in the past. By this I mean I am seeing things that I would’ve simply read but not registered. I am coming to better understanding. As this becomes more habitual, I suspect that I shall better be able to focus on the scriptures directly, though I make no guarantees about Numbers.😉

I must say, this idea of simplifying my life came from minimalism. Though I am not advocating minimalism (believe me, I am no minimalist), it has a lot of great points. Once I started cutting the crap, I found I could better focus on the things that matter. Things like reading the scriptures and doctrines became a delight instead of a chore. Somehow roughly half an hour seemed to open up for me in the morning even though I still get up at the same time and follow the same routine. I suspect I was on my phone more than I would like to believe. Now when I see that I have time, I will take a bit of time before work to sit down with the Treasury of Daily Prayer or the Book of Concord if I have more.

I generally try to stay away from things that aren’t directly related to theology on here, but in this case I think I’ll make an exception. Cut some of the unnecessary crap from your life. Throw things away. T-Shirts, movies, etc. As stuff goes away, I suspect you’ll find things a bit more peaceful and it will become easier to get some daily edification. We all need it, and most of us don’t get nearly what we should.

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The Things We Get Away With

The other day as I was reading the Smalcald Articles, I came across a verse that struck me as pure truth. It was from the Third Part, Article II, The Law. Specifically it states:

Here we hold that the Law was given by God, first, to restrain sin by threats and the dread of punishment and by the promise and offer of grace and benefit. All this failed because of the evil that sin has worked in humanity. For by the Law some people were made worse sinners, those who are hostile to the Law because it forbids what they like to do and commands what they do not like to do. Wherever they can escape punishment, they do more against the Law than they did before. Those are the unrestrained and wicked, who do evil wherever they have the opportunity.

Does the bolded portion not hold true for most? One does something they know is sinful. Uncaught, they are more at ease to do it again when the opportunity arises, sometimes going deeper into sin than previous event. I’m sure we’ve all done it in some form or another. Perhaps in minor seemingly insignificant sins or maybe even in sins that pose a danger to others. Nonetheless, it’s a frightening, yet provoking thought. What do we get away with? Do we even always realize that we’re attempting to get away with something we shouldn’t? Matthew 7:3-5 seems appropraite here.

3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

To see past the logs, so to speak, is difficult when one keeps tripping on them.

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Reflections of Faith: Death

The downside to having a very imaginative and creative brain is that it at random seems to make you think deeply about things you don’t want to think about. Last night when I got into bed, for no apparent reason I was suddenly faced with my own mortality. This has happened to me at various points in the past, each of them equally unpleasant. The finality of death, regardless of faith, is always unsettling. In the Christian faith, death is unnatural, a result of our sin. There is a beyond, but that beyond is your final destination. In the atheist mind, death is it. There is nothing more. Either way, death is the great finality and something I have difficulty coming to grips with.

The other night, as I lie there in bed disturbing myself as I am wont to do, the common theme processed in my brain, unable to fully comprehend either of them. On the one hand, there’s that struggle we sometimes face as Christians, that part of the brain that says, “What if we’re wrong?” What if death is final and that’s it? As living organisms, we spend so much time being that it’s so difficult to comprehend not being. Even when we sleep, we on occasion have moments of lucidity. Have you ever been conscious while asleep and dreaming? I have, and it’s an incredible thing. Even if you’ve never been lucid while asleep, most of us have had dreams that we can remember when we awake in the morning. While dreams are usually totally separate from our actual lives (IE, what we are doing during our waking moments is not historically relevant to what we dream), the fact that we retain memory of them attests to the idea that we are still being. So the thought of not having stream of conscious is incredibly hard to grasp fully and at the same time, terribly depressing.

On the other side of the coin, there’s the final stop after death. As someone of faith, one would think that none of this would be an issue, yet the very fact that I ponder the previous paragraph makes me question my faith somewhat. Apparently residing somewhere deep inside of me is some level of uncertainty. Some may point to the very fact that I have these concerns as proof that I do have sufficient faith. They’re quite possibly right, though I still have difficulty accepting that knowing the evil that lives in my heart and the lies my brain likes to tell me. So what of the afterlife? A place of eternity, despite being in direct contrast to what I previously stated, is also incredibly difficult for us to comprehend. We see things end all around us on a daily basis. Movies, books, cities, people, stars, etc. Just as it’s hard to imagine my consciousness coming to an end, it’s also tough to imagine it never ceasing. Logically, everything has to end.

And at the same time, no it doesn’t. So a war wages in my head, an opposition among two forces that my brain cannot comprehend. Two radically different ends, once of which I will most certainly face and yet neither of which can I comprehend. It’s depressing and stressful at times. I often feel that when I struggle with this, I’m struggling with my faith. It’s to be expected though. I’m not sure how I’ll go, though it will most likely be from cancer. Apparently it runs on my birth father’s side. I’d like to think when my time comes, however, that I’m stronger in the faith than I’ve ever been. I’d like to go with a smile and saying, “See you on the other side. Don’t forget to bring beer when you come.”

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Did God create transgender? (2)

First off, let me apologize for the poorness of the this reblog. I accidentally clicked on the wrong blog when I went to reblog this originally and now it won’t allow me to do so on the proper page. Good job, WordPress. Anyhow, to the point at hand, the blog post shared discusses how we are to act in our fallen state vs how we do act in our fallen state. Considering this particular post on Eiler’s Pizza and the recent post on Comprehending Hell from Churchmouse Campanologist, I think Genesis 5:3 sufficiently answers both. To put it simply, when we find that we can’t get up to God’s level, we try to bring him down to ours. By that, I do not mean to our human level but to our own individual personal level. It becomes all about me and everyone else including God himself be damned.

There’s probably a sermon in that somewhere.

Here’s the post.

Part two: Now how shall we live?

In part one, from the Holy Bible I answered the title question with a clear, “No, God did not create transgender people.”

If God were responsible for creating me as transgender—for creating a person to have Down Syndrome, or autism, or twins to be conjoined, or any variation with which a person might enter the world, I will no longer believe in Him; He is not the God of love and mercy as He describes Himself. Rather, He would be nothing more than a mad scientist, one who enjoys zapping us with every difficult and terrible thing in order to watch us run around like chickens with our heads cut off.

He did not create us this way so that we are born with or acquire many and various things which do not meet the definition of “good.” In part one, I showed from the Holy Bible that all variations in humans arose from Adam’s disobedience, causing us to be fallen and fractured and mortal. That question answered, this one follows: “Now how shall we live?” which breaks down into a twofold, “How shall I act?” and, “How shall I treat others?”

As God in Christ is the Lord of all creation, considering no one…

Click to continue reading…

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Our inability to comprehend hell — and God

Churchmouse Campanologist recently posted about our ability to comprehend Hell better than I ever could. I encourage you to read his great post on this difficult subject.

Churchmouse Campanologist

My past few posts have discussed hell:

John MacArthur on hell

Hell on low — or no — heat (20th century history)

Christian views on hell: moving back to Origen

J C Ryle on hell (19th century, first Anglican Bishop of Liverpool)

The second one in the series has several quotes from 20th and 21st century pastors and theologians who have downplayed hell and questioned eternal punishment in the life to come.

One of my readers, Brad Grierson, who kindly reblogged the aforementioned post on Origen, commented:

I think Hell often gets downplayed because it is so difficult to imagine. The mind cannot rightly comprehend an eternity of suffering so it comes up with ideas that are more familiar to it such as a temporal prison sentence or that it simply doesn’t exist at all. In a way, this is how heresy springs up: we cannot fully…

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Did God create transgender?

I’ve re-blogged various posts from Eiler’s Pizza before and this occasion is no different. I’m sure you’ve read some of his posts before if you’ve come to my blog on multiple occasions. If not, then you may be surprised to know that this former LCMS pastor suffers from a condition called gender-dysphoria. Now, even though he has taken steps towards gender reassignment, his  conscience is still bound by scripture. In this post of his, he does not take the side of many on in the LBGT movement in regards to whether God made him that way. In fact, he states just the opposite. God did not make him that way though he was born that way. In a way, you could say his post is a more thought out and more detailed version of my own post titled, Yes, You Were Born That Way. I encourage you to give it a read.

Eilers Pizza

Part one: God’s Word and trans origins

To answer the title question, I will provide a straightforward reading of the Holy Bible. I am a traditional Christian who reads Scripture as it has been read since antiquity. Everything I present is not an interpretation but what the Holy Bible states, and the conclusions I reach are both theologically sound and scientifically responsible. Those who read Scripture with a different lens might see differently, and those who use other texts likely will arrive at different answers. I will gladly discuss any disagreement.

I use descriptors—normal and abnormal—which bother many people. I use these only to differentiate between the very good initial creation of God and the fallen creation after Adam’s disobedience. Never will I use “normal” to advance anyone or “abnormal” to put down anyone. It will be vital to retain this so that my conclusions might be given a fair…

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