Hell Gate Contact Zone

Geologic contact zone between two pegmatites in the Hellgate area on Lake Roosevelt; Precambrian meta-sedimentary rocks (white) [porphyritic granite of the Keller Butte Suite] and Pre-Tertiary metamorphic intrusive rocks (red).

Muzzle Flash

Muzzle and chamber flash from a S&W 500. Gun control means using both hands. Keep weapons out of the hands of people who mean to do us harm. Eliminate all handguns to protect the innocent. When will the arguments end? I don’t think they will. Gun control advocates are not honest with their true intentions and gun rights advocates feel they have given up too much ground in the argument. Where do I stand? What is my opinion? Does it really matter to those arguing whether I believe one way or the other?

Baptism of Jesus. End of sacrifice, beginning of grace.

John the Baptist, Baptizing Jesus

End of sacrifice, beginning of Grace

Beginning prayer. Psalm 19: 14. Heavenly Father. May the words of my mouth, and the mediations of all of our hearts be acceptable to you, my Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.

  1. What seems to be a simple, forthright, straightforward Gospel story of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, upon further study, gets complicated really quickly.
    1. The usual points to ponder; John’s miraculous birth to Elizabeth at such an old age and Zechariah’s seeing an angel in the temple and losing his voice until John’s birth, his relation to Jesus (cousin), his ministry of baptizing for the repentance of sins and rebuking the temple leadership and King Herod.
      1. His was a voice in the wilderness – Matt 3:3, Mark 1: 3, Luke 3: 4, John 1: 23 all tell of this pivotal moment in both John’s and Jesus’ life.
        1. Isaiah 40: 3 A voice of one calling in the wilderness “prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
        1. Malachi 3: 1 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.” (this chapter would make several great bible studies – righteous tithing, only place in the bible where it says to test God, or complaining that evil doers get away with it and prosper)
      1. John’s fashion statement – camel hair and leather belt. Similar to the OT prophets Jeremiah and Malachi and Elijah (found in 2 Kings 1:8) (that’s why people asked John who he was, the Prophet or Elijah, he looked and lived the part). He lived a pure life, similar to the OT prophets. The attire and diet pointed to a very demanding, simple life of no distractions, Pure ministry. No alcohol either.
      1. John knew that his ministry must diminish before Jesus’ ministry could grow. This also gave a hint about the new order of forgiveness of sins, instead of repentance through sacrifices and the end of the Levitical priesthood.
      1. The Trinity makes a clear appearance. God speaks, Jesus comes up out of the water, and the Holy Spirit descends like a dove.
  2. What is baptism?
    1. Dunk or sprinkle? Credobaptist (after conversion, typically an adult) vs. paedobaptist (infant baptism)?
      1. Greek word is Baptizo which means to dip or to immerse. To be baptized into the belief, profession, or observance of something, for repentance (Mt 3:11, etc.) To be baptized into a profession of faith or into someone, in sincerer obedience to Him. Means to be identified with what the name of that one stands for. “Into Christ” On behalf of or for those being baptized on behalf of the dead. On a belief of the resurrection of the dead. To baptize in or with the Holy Spirit and in or with fire, the baptism in the Holy Spirit being the spiritual counterpart of the water baptism. A bath, metaphorically meaning the Word of God which, when believed, brings spiritual cleansing. Just as Christ died and was buried, so the baptized person is submerged under water. And just as Christ rose again from beneath the earth, so the baptized person rises again from beneath the water. Under the water is the believer’s old, dead, heavy, suffocating life. Out of the water, cleansed by the blood of Christ, is the believer’s new, fresh, purposeful life.
      1. Why do we sprinkle? Tradition. Infant baptism arose from the teachings of some early second and third century church fathers that baptism washed away sin. This meant that if you died without being baptized, then you died with your sins unforgiven and thus went to Hell. With the high infant mortality rate in the early centuries, the concept of baptizing babies as soon as possible came into vogue. Since it is not necessarily good to push a baby’s head under water, the idea of sprinkling took hold. Some churches hold that baptism by immersion is the only “correct” way to do it. Those who have been sprinkled have not been truly baptized.
        1. So do I need to be re-baptized? That’s a complicated question with several possible answers. Acts 19: 1-7. While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all. What do you do about baptism if you think that you might have been “born again” after your first one? According to JD Greear, there are several answers to this question, depending on your particular situation. If your baptism occurred as an infant, I (JDG) think the answer is clear: you should be baptized again. Your infant baptism was more a symbol of your parents’ faith than yours (and thank God for their faith!). Every baptism we see in the New Testament, however, was a believer confessing his or her own faith. So be baptized “again,” if you feel the need, fulfilling the hope your parents had when they baptized you as an infant. Don’t fear that you are dishonoring them. What better way to honor the hopes they expressed in your baptism than to choose for yourself to follow Jesus? But what if you were baptized after an initial conversion experience but now suspect that your actual “re-birth/born again” occurred later? Should you get re-baptized? There’s no hard and fast answer, but here’s what I’d suggest: if you know clearly that you were not saved at the point when you were baptized (i.e., you were pressured into baptism by your parents or friends, had no real grasp on salvation, had some ulterior motive, etc.), then be baptized again. However, if your baptism depicted the beginning of a journey of faith, a journey marked by numerous “awakenings” and defining moments, in season and out of season, then let it stand, even if you wonder that perhaps your “rebirth” happened later. Baptism is post-conversion act because it symbolizes a public choice to follow Jesus. But getting the technical order wrong in your own experience is not a perversion of the symbol of baptism, it’s just a timing mistake—and a minor one, at that. Baptism is not like the number sequence on a combination lock that if you get out of order will not open. So don’t obsess about making sure it happened after your born again experience. If you were baptized after making a sincere, conscious confession of faith, accept that and move on, even if you sometimes suspect that your rebirth may have happened later. As Christians we continually have new experiences of grace that make us feel like everything we have experienced up to that point was useless, or as Paul said “garbage.” C. S. Lewis describes a day in 1951 (after writing The Four Loves and giving the talks that became Mere Christianity) where he passed from “mere intellectual acceptance of, to realization of, the doctrine that our sins are forgiven.” He did not think of this as his conversion, but he did say that in light of it “what I had previously called ‘belief’ looked absolutely unreal.” When that happens to you, when you have a life changing epiphany, I would encourage you not to see it as conversion, but as a progressive deepening of your relationship with Jesus Christ.
    1. Why are we baptized? Is it required for salvation?
      1. John 3: 5 says Jesus answered (Nicodemus), “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” He is talking about baptism with water and receiving the Holy Spirit so we may enter heaven. Not John’s baptism for the forgiveness of sins but baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is who we are taking an oath to, who we are standing with.
      1. Our baptism is an outward expression of our inward commitment to God. First step as a disciple of Christ.
      1. From the prophet Isaiah, chapter 1, verses 16-20, we hear “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from your souls; learn to do well, judge the fatherless, and plead for the widow: and come and let us reason together, saith the Lord. And though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white like wool; and though they be crimson, I will make them white as snow. But if ye refuse and rebel, the sword shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” And from Justin Martyr, First Apology (Defense of the Gospel) Ch. 61 (written circa 155AD) we hear “and for this rite we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together (in sinful behavior), and we were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; (baptism was given to us) in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over them who choose to be born again, and have repented of their sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe; and in the name of Jesus Christ, and in the name of the Holy Ghost, who through the prophets foretold all things about Jesus, (let) he who is illuminated (be) is washed.”
  3. So why was Jesus baptized? Or, why was Jesus baptized by John? An end, and a new beginning.
    1. End of sacrifices and the beginning of Grace.
      1. John was the last Levite, Aaronic Priest. Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were from the lineage of Aaron, and so was their son. Luke 1: 11-17.
        1. By this time, the High Priest was a political position, chosen by the government (Caesar), not necessarily a religious man, hence the corruption and greed in the temple.
      1. “And, when John begins his ministry, what does he do? Begins baptizing for the repentance of sins. And when Jesus wanted to be baptized, John, at first, refused. He refused on the basis of his unworthiness (“unworthy to untie his sandals”), that he was baptizing a baptism of repentance, and Jesus had nothing of which he needed to repent. Jesus, however, said “for righteousness, let it be done.” What righteousness is he talking about? When Aaron was ordained to be the Priest, the ordination service included the “washing” of Aaron, and his sons. The particular Hebrew word for wash that is used in the ordination of the Priest is not a word for rinse, or for sprinkling, or for pouring, but it’s a word that means to get all the way into the water. In Judaism, the Mikva served as the baptistery. A Jew would go into the Mikva and be completely submerged into the water. When the law says that the Priest was to be washed when he was ordained, it is likely referring to a Mikva experience; that is, a baptism by immersion. And when Jesus was ready to begin his ministry, he said, “Let it be, this is for righteousness sake.” I believe that John, the last of the High Priest, according to the order of Aaron, is baptizing Jesus, the High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek! In other words, John is transferring authority to the new order of the Priesthood; the old order of Aaron is passing away (the LAW), and now is transferred to Jesus (the GOSPEL), “who is our Priest according to the Priestly order of Melchizedek” a priest who lives forever. (Dr. Randy White)
      1. Jesus like Melchizedek or was He actually Melchizedek? Genesis 14, Psalm 110, Hebrews 7, and Nag Hammadi fragments from the 4th century AD.

I know that is a lot to absorb and think about but let’s talk about how this can relate to our own walk with God.

  • What is our personal mission work? Anyone?
    • How do we start? Believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, be baptized, and pray. And then go! What’s holding you back?
  • What is WCC’s mission work? Anyone?
    • How do we start? – we ask God for the four C’s
      • Clarity of mission. Is this really what you want me to do? My one dream of Noah’s Ark in Wilbur. Received no clarification.
      • Courage. Dear Lord, I need help, I am afraid of (insert list here)
      • Confidence that what we are doing is correct, according to God’s will and not our own.
      • Commitment to see the job through.

Clarity. Courage. Confidence. Commitment.

Let us pray. Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing us together to hear your word. Please help us to remember these words in the coming week, so we can talk about it with our family and friends, so we can begin to understand, obey, and serve. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Sermon from Dec. 30, 2018.

Thought I would post this, see if I get any comments or reactions. Enjoy. Learn. Love.

Jesus Left at the Temple (no child left behind?)

Let us pray. Psalm 19: 14. Heavenly Father. May the words of my mouth, and the mediations of all of our hearts be acceptable to you, my Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.

Guilty as charged. We left Ben at church after worship service once, when he was about preschool age. Fortunately, Mel and Colleen picked him up and took him to Grandma’s house. Oops. How could this happen? Easily. Two drivers, two vehicles. We just assumed the other one had him.

Mary, Joseph, friends and family were in Jerusalem for the Passover festival. It shows that they were bringing up their children in the Jewish faith. It is good to have kids coming to worship services and other church functions.

They traveled in a caravan where people were grouped by ages, adults traveling with adults, kids with other kids, women and children up front of the group, men in the back making sure no one gets separated from the group. So what happened?

It doesn’t specifically say, but I think when it came to dinner time, they wanted to check on him, make sure He was eating his vegetables, and was traveling well, no injuries or issues. I can imagine the shear panic when they realized that He wasn’t with the group and no one had seen Him.

A panicked trip back to the big city, but where to start looking?

After three days, they found Him studying in the temple with the elders and teachers. I think this is a wonderful example of the importance of teaching and listening to young students. “It is for the honor of Christ that children should attend to worship. Young persons should seek the knowledge of Divine truth, and ask such questions of their elders and teachers as may tend to increase their knowledge. For it becomes the children of God (that means all of us), in conformity to Christ, to attend their heavenly Father’s business.” (Matthews commentary).

“Don’t you know I would be about my Father’s business?” His answer may seem callous but it’s actually more inquisitive, a reminder to the parents that this child was very special. Jesus also acknowledges that Joseph was not his father (who told Him that?). Such a birth would not be accepted, neither would the child, so I’m not sure Mary or Joseph would have relayed this message to Him. Mary and Joseph did not understand what He meant by being “at His Father’s business.” It had been twelve years since His birth, Mary and Joseph were busy with family matters, other children, Emmanuel had faded into common day activities and was forgotten until much later.

His statement of being “about His Father’s business” speaks of His divinity even at an early age, He knew. He must be divine in order to be the perfect sacrifice for us. “The importance of Christ’s Divinity” by Thomas Nelson tells of several reasons for this importance of His divinity and being the foundation for our belief in Him.

  1. It authenticates the inspiration and authority of scripture. It fulfills prophecy from the Old Testament and supports the idea that scripture is “God inspired.” 2 Tim 3: 16-17. Jesus came as the sacrifice so temple sacrifices were no longer needed. Jesus became the new temple that replaced the old sanctuary and killing of animals by virtue of His crucifixion and resurrection. All of the scriptures that direct worship to Jesus would be truly blasphemous if Christ were not God in human flesh, we would be instead worshipping idols.
  2. It informs believers of the true nature of the Godhead. It points to the Trinity of God with God, Jesus, and later, the Holy Spirit. A mere mortal man could not ascend to heaven, being glorified and worshiped by the disciples. A mortal man could not be at the creation of the world, Gospel of John, chapter  1, come to earth to be our Savior, and come to John to describe the second coming in the Book of Revelation.
  3. Christ’s divinity is important because it is the basis for a believer’s eternal salvation. As a sinless sacrifice, we are saved through Christ alone and will receive our eternal life with God. Only Jesus could be born sinless (virgin birth by the Holy Spirit) and live a sinless life. Since Adam and Eve left the garden, no man has lived a sinless life, it is not possible since we are all born by sin, into sin. Psalm 51: 5, Ecclesiastes 7: 20, Romans 3: 23, Romans 5: 19, Ephesians 2: 3, etc. You get the idea.

Do we have a spark of that divinity within us? This phrase has been in the news recently within the political world of back and forth between Dem/Rep, insulting each other, making accusations of insensitivity, not respecting the “spark of divinity” of all people, including illegal immigrants.  

Do we have a spark of divinity within us? We are created in God’s image (Genesis 1: 27) and we have the Holy Spirit within us (1 Cor. 2: 12, Romans 8: 26-27, Galatians 5: 16). We are sanctified through Christ, made Holy through His sacrifice (Hebrews 10: 10). This sounds good.

But is this a Christian doctrine? Nope. This is a gnostic belief being twisted and manipulated into being a purported part of the Christian belief system. This is incredibly self-centered thinking that I am part God.

 Gnosticism (from Ancient Greek: γνωστικός gnostikos, “having knowledge”, from γνῶσις gnōsis, knowledge) is a modern name for a variety of ancient religious ideas and systems, originating in Jewish-Christian milieux in the first and second century AD. These systems believed that the material world is created by an emanation of the highest God, trapping the divine spark within the human body. This divine spark could be liberated by gnosis (esoteric knowledge of spiritual truth). Some of the core teachings include the following:

  1. All matter is evil, and the non-material, spirit-realm is good.
  2. There is an unknowable God, who gave rise to many lesser spirit beings called Aeons.
  3. The creator of the (material) universe is not the supreme god, but an inferior spirit.
  4. Gnosticism does not deal with “sin”, only ignorance.
  5. To achieve salvation, one needs to get in touch with secret knowledge.

Are we divine? No. Are we made sanctified? Only through Christ. We have no inner righteousness, we all sin, we all suffer from brokenness from God. He is the only one who is good, righteous, and holy. While an infant may look cute, it is still filled with sin. Any parent will tell you that you have to teach children not to be cruel or mean, even from an early age. We invest a lot of time, money, and effort to get our children to behave, especially in public. Spare the rod. (Proverbs 13, 22, 23, and 29 speak of proper discipline for a child)

What was Jesus’ life like as a child? Did He have the “terrible two’s” or did he eat his vegetables? How did Jesus behave as a child, birth to 12 years old? None of the Gospels tell of this early life, with the exception of today’s reading. There are Apocryphal writings – Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Infancy Gospel of James – that describe his upbringing. And it’s understandable why they were not included in the cannon books of the bible; these are very strange, disturbing writings (killing then resurrecting the neighbor kids). According to these writings, Jesus did not do well in school since He knew more than the teachers. It is difficult for us to imagine Jesus learning to bless people and not curse them or kill them. (This would make a great bible study.) How difficult was His childhood for His parents?

Verses 51-52 tell us that Mary and Joseph did not understand what He was saying to them, but Jesus went with them, was subject to them, and increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.

I wonder how often Mary and Joseph didn’t have a clue as to what Jesus was talking about. Rarely did He give explanations about His statements in His adult years. He just let them stand as given, as they were. This might be a little frustrating for parents, to not understand what their kids are talking about. But He was subject to them and did not sin. He behaved.

Jesus was still subject to his earthly parents. This is called submission. “The more mature and secure a person is, the easier submission is for them. Because Jesus knew what He was about, because He was secure in who He was, even though He knew infinitely more than His parents, He was able to submit to them, do as He was told. The underlying principle of submission is not how much one knows, but who one is becoming. Therefore, even if you know more than they do, if you are wise, you will submit to your parents, your employer, and your leaders because submission is not a matter of the right decision. It’s a matter of becoming the right person.” This is from Jon Courson’s commentary on the New Testament. Does this make sense? Becoming the right person is more important than arguing about the right decision. If we can not submit to our parents, our spouse, our boss, how can we submit to the will of God?

What’s my point?

  1. Don’t forget to take your kids / grandkids home. Do a head count.
  2. Just because it sounds good, feels good, it may not be good or biblical. We have no spark of divinity.
    1. We can do whatever we want, that’s true, but it may not turn out well. We are no longer under the law, but under Grace. Romans, 1 Cor., and Hebrews, etc. all talk about the believer being under God’s grace.
    1. Phillipians. 3: 7-9. (also a great Bible study) Paul says: “The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.”
  3. Study scripture.
    1. This week, while studying today’s reading, I learned about the Apocryphal writings of Jesus as a young child, what the spark of divinity is about, and Paul writing about everything he used to believe in, he now considers poop.
  • Understand scripture.
    • Through discussions, devotionals, and prayer, we ask for discernment from the Holy Spirit, so we can begin to understand what God needs us to do.
  • Obey.
    • Since we are born again as a new creation, we are living a new life, a changed life from when we lived in sin, according to the law. As I said on Christmas Eve, we don’t have to, but we want to.
  • Go and serve. Submit to God’s will.
    • We don’t all have to take up an orphanage as our calling, we don’t all have to stand up before the congregation, we don’t all have to lead in bible studies. We each have spiritual gifts. Ask God what he needs you to do.
  • And finally, stay with the group.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing us together to hear your word. Please help us to remember these words in the coming week, so we can talk about it with our family and friends, so we can begin to understand, obey, and serve. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Eagle guarding its nest.

This is one of the Bald Eagle nests below the dam, there are two that I know of. January is cold, wet, and sometimes, very snowy. This year, cold and wet but very little snow. While we may not like the snow or grumble about having to shovel and drive through the stuff, we really do need it for the rivers. Low snowpacks in the mountains mean low river flows in the summer when the fish need it most. That’s the same time the eagles need the fish the most, when they are raising their young.