It’s Time to Go Back Into the Water

When I was growing up, parents used a ploy to get a short reprieve from watching their kids in the lake or pool after lunch; the one-hour rule. Somehow going in the water prior to the expiration of a full 60 minutes would cause severe cramping and even death. More than an hour might be required if you had baked beans. This was silly but effective. Did anyone consult the “science” on this? Nope. Comply or die.

Looked at honestly the “pandemic” has us waiting on the seashore, afraid to put our toes back in the water. I’ve witnessed a hysteria I’ve not seen before in my 60 plus years of life. The world is gripped in fear of a virus that’s either nothing more than a head cold or a certain death sentence. It’s nothing to be trifled with, but instead of relying on “science,” perhaps it’d be better to study the statistics. The stats are in one’s favor. Really.

What’s baffling to me is to hear my fully masked and vaccinated neighbor finally emerge out of his one-year seclusion to attend an out-of-doors birthday party for our resident 90-year old, report that he and wife would love to return via their beloved RV to the Pacific Northwest, if they can get a “booster shot.”

We’ve all heard the horror stories of vents and hospitals in triage, but I’ve got a brother-in-law who was weeks in a coma on a vent who let a common cold get out of hand.

I’m not here to solve society’s dilemma with this disease, or am I denying anything, or being insensitive, but to point out the debilitating effects of the virus, real and imagined, on the church and the family. We’ve got both octogenarians and millennials sequestered at home who desperately want to be “safe and sound,” actually holding themselves hostage for endless days of their fleeting lives.

At that same party, I talked to a widow making her first maskless outing from her confinement. She’d been under orders from family members not to return to her beloved church, and now, vaccinated, she escaped unbeknownst to them, and was enjoying the fresh air and fellowship. There was a noticeable, perhaps unbridled joy in her face. But get this irony, she has survived for more than two years with advanced-stage cancer, endured chemo, and felt “ wonderful.”

It’s clearly time people to put ourselves back into the hands of a sovereign God—if this were possible—and commence living again. More importantly, commence living—not getting through this—together! Here’s my point, or the writer of Hebrews’ point:

24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

I ask lovingly, as if to plead with you—going from preachin’ to meddlin’—and this is predicated on churches being open (another story), how can we stimulate one another to love and good deeds on Zoom? I guess you can, but where is the “go forth” part? The Word says to not “forsake assembling together.” You might say, “but there’s a pandemic going on,” but do the stats really support the total absolute shunning of people? I’ve seen those who used to turn out the lights in church, not darken its doors for over a year! That’s surely “safe,” but according to the familiar saying, is this “sound,” or as the word means in a biblical sense, “healthy?” But I’m vulnerable!! Aren’t we all? Where’s the placing of one’s fate in the Sovereign’s hands? Where’s the trust? What are you reading or hearing these days, the world’s take, or God’s? Can you really afford to give up another year of cohabiting with your brothers and sisters in the Lord? Or worse, your family? Has your self-imposed isolation now become a habit? For you “young people,” do the stats support your fear of returning to the Body, or is it just cool to hang out in the backyard with a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning? Is your desire to protect the aged in your family more a function of your own fear that you’ll get sick (ouch) than the exercise of mature responsibility? Lastly, can a case be made, recognizing the speed of change in our once free society—just look around—that the “day is drawing near?”

13But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13

Do we not fight against an enemy capable of authoring and perpetuating a diabolical scheme that divides and separates both the church and the family? If so, are we not to seek solace and encouragement in each other “all the more!”

Some last thoughts. Our main text was written to those not shunning the assembly because of a pandemic, but because of persecution. What’s worse? Then there’s the word “stimulate.” This word means to provoke. It’s hard to get in another’s face when you’re not staring them in the eye. I guess with all the masks, that’s the best we might be able to do! Finally, the word assembly does not refer to gathering in a synagogue, or in a formal setting, but just generally, so as to accommodate somewhat for prevailing circumstances. Certainly, a home would do.

How ‘bout asking a few brothers and sisters (maybe your actual brothers and sisters) over to join you in that backyard for coffee and to break some bread? Baby steps. Believe me, its been 60 minutes!

1Let love of the brethren continue. Hebrews 13:1

[Author’s Note: My church, which can be described as a megachurch, opened back up in early August 2020 under reasonable COVID protocols. Our 20+ family resumed gathering in mass in May 2020, including the great grandparents. We’ve had couples over for dinner, had a church group Christmas party in our home, and participated in a neighborhood progressive dinner. I’ve worked only one day from home. Indeed, we live in Florida. And yes, I know people who were hospitalized and some who died.]

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Good Grief

23 Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity. 24 There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God. Ecclesiastes 2:23–24 (NAS)

There was a saying used in the past when exasperated, “Good grief!” Charlie Brown made it famous. Truth be known, the exhausting toil of one’s life, if dwelt upon, can be daunting, debilitating and demoralizing, especially if the fruits of one’s toil are not commensurate with the efforts exerted.

It’s easy to get caught up in life’s rat race. Too many would freely admit that their job is painful and grevious. For many the stress does not ease with the sound of the quitting bell, but is lugged home, causing restless rather than restful sleep.

But it is possible to live above this relentless cycle of life, and it comes by way of attitude and perspective. Solomon tells us that our toil is part and parcel of the futility of life, but it, along with eating and drinking (and a wife), is nonetheless a reward in here under the sun. Go figure.

From God’s hand comes the capacity to experience reward and joy in what we do, when we see our jobs—whatever they may be or how hard—as His good gift. In fact, he says there’s nothing better than to consider your toil worthwhile.

It is, actually, “good grief” you yearn for.

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I Remember What My Dad Said

There is no remembrance of earlier things; and also of the later things which will occur, there will be for them no remembrance among those who will come later still. Ecclesiastes 1:11

Solomon has a point here. When you think about it, who and what do you remember in your life? It’s surprising what sticks and what doesn’t in your twilight years. I took an accounting of my life the other day. It didn’t take long. What’s telling is hardly anything would appear to be notable enough for anyone to recall, if I barely can. So much effort in life is expended for so little lasting impact in the final analysis.

Based on what stuck in my memory during my inventory, I’ve decided that there is a common denominator to who and what we are most likely to recall; a dad’s actions, and most of all, his words.

I still vividly remember the summer of 1974 that I spent in the blazing Florida sun as a carpenter’s helper. This was a summer job before my junior year in college. I was with a framing crew building house after house. In the end, I practically carried and cut to size every 2×4 used in the house. On top of that, I carried, hoisted and nailed ever sheet of plywood that would become the home’s roof, and we built two-story houses! The first day I almost passed out. I was always sore. I was always sunburned. My hands were calloused. My left thumbnail was black for months. Every day after taking the two showers necessary to cut through the grime of sawdust and sweat, I’d complain to my dad (who arranged for the job) and express the desire to quit. Every day he said no. His few words? “This is good for you.” Was it? There’s value and accomplishment in working hard, yes, but the takeaway here is that I’ll always remember those arduous days in the sweltering heat, and a dad who would not give in. It made me a better man. After all, when he was my age he was somewhere in France fighting a world war.

I will also always remember the Rudy story in my life, which had elements of my earlier experience. My son was five foot nothing, 100 nothing, possessing not a modicum of athletic talent (relatively speaking) when he first went out for his high school football team (at an athletically storied Catholic boys school). He was cut in his first and second years on the last day, devastating for him and me. In his third year he resigned to be a trainer, that is for practical purposes, a “water boy.” At least he could hang around the team. In his last year he asked the coach if he could try out again. The coach skeptically replied that he didn’t know how many seniors he’d want to carry on the team who would not play, but he let him participate in spring football. He dressed for the spring game in a JV uniform but did not see the field.

Come fall, the football coach had resigned and another took his place. Evaluating his returning stable of running backs, he just assumed my son was fifth string, not on the bubble. From there he commenced his first high school football season. On his first touch of the football in preseason he ran a good 30 yards for a score. It was called back. He eagerly left too soon. Before the half he was being run exclusively and was on the verge of scoring, but time was allowed to elapse by our team. From there he paced the sidelines the whole season with no playing time.

He got in his runs though, everyday on the “meat squad.” It was brutal. When he broke off a good run, the defense sought revenge after being excoriated by the coach. He amazingly survived with no injuries. In a game deep into the season, on Senior Night, with mom in the stands with a corsage, the parents told me the coach said he’d be getting my son into the end zone that night. Yeah sure, I thought.

Well, he entered the game in the first half and scampered for 17 yards, and ran a few more times after that. In the second half he was again inserted on a drive heading for the end zone. He gained positive yards until, just a few yards from pay dirt, there was a pile of players. The opposing team excitedly indicated fumble. My heart sank. But from under the pile emerged the team’s star lineman with the ball.

With about 4 yards to go they handed off to my son one last time. Things went into slow motion. He started right and cut towards the goal line. But unlike his best chance to score in peewee football, he launched himself through an opening created by that same lineman and rolled into the promised land. His coaches and fellow teammates went wild. After the game, with the Rudy theme playing in the background (at least in my head) there was a ride on the team’s shoulders, the game ball, and tears.

Unbeknownst to everyone was my son’s ardent desire to quit in the earliest days of camp, with far too many excruciating pile ons. On a telephone call on the way home, he said to me he was hanging up the helmet. My response? Much like my dad would certainly say, “You’ve come too far. Quitting will mark you for a lifetime.” He didn’t. Now, at a comparatively young age, he’s a top executive in the region’s power company, with three boys of his own to influence.

Is there no lasting memory as Solomon asserts? Well, like it or not, a father is likely to be the most memorable person in one’s life, for good or bad. What he does and what he says does stick, and is most likely to get passed on to the next generation.

What does this say to the absence of this key influencer in families today?

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The Truth Hurts



15 What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted. Ecclesiastes 1:15 (NAS)

Particularly sobering is the truth that what is crooked cannot be straightened, and what is lacking cannot be counted. Most people don’t know this–what you don’t know, etc,–and find out in the end how futile their attempts have been and will continue to be. Solomon probably sensed futilty, but strived after the wind anyway.

Let’s say you’re wise beyond your years and you know you can’t straighten that which is crooked. What then do you do with your shortcomings? What if life is one continuous “work around?”

Ah, therein lies the pain!

18 Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain. Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NAS)

‎There is an adage, “what I don’t know won’t hurt me.” Well Solomon knew just about everything. Be careful for what you ask for, especially if it’s wisdom! He’d seen it all and done it all, and life was left lacking. In fact, it was downright painful to know all there was under the sun. He was liKe Dr. Ben McKenna in Alfred Hitchcock’s, “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”

The truth hurts.

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Living Above It

2 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,
“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NAS)

It’s a dangerous thing to embark on a study of Solomon’s best seller Ecclesiastes. You need to go in expecting your mind to be altered, and your hopes to be dashed. If you’re used to chasing windmills, expect to chase a few more. It’s the ultimate self-help book if you let it be. He hits you upfront between the eyes. All is meaningless. All is futility. All is vanity. The caveat. Under the sun. If you’re searching for God you’ll not find him down here. He’s got the penthouse.

The Preacher writes about the horizontal, our natural habitat. On the other hand, God lives above it all. We seek desperately to live above it, but we desperately fall short. We seek an advantage and none is gained. Life comes and goes. We want it to stay. We want the gentle breeze to be at our backs, but we keep turning into it. We want an endless refill, but we’re drained dry. But in the end, we’ll get the point—hopefully—that seeking God in life’s things will always disappoint. Always.

When we finally throw in the towel and give up, we’ll have learned the secret. Eat, drink, be merry, love the wife of your youth, love the endless toil, and fear God. This is the Holy Grail? Yes, especially the last thing. It’s the only way to live above it all.

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For Such a Time as This–Psalm 11

1 In the Lord I take refuge; How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain; For, behold, the wicked bend the bow,
They make ready their arrow upon the string
To shoot in darkness at the upright in heart.
If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:1-3 (NAS)

We now walk on eggs in the American church. A divisive and polarizing election, an insidious social justice movement, and an undercurrent of fear due to an inscrutable and unpredictable virus, have dramatically and perhaps permanently changed our lives. If church leaders are shrewd and calculating, they may very well navigate through these seemingly uncharted waters (in America) for a time, by sticking to the knitting, i.e., “love your neighbor” topics, even though the country’s laws and policies are becoming more diametrically opposed to the Word of God with each stroke of a pen, and social morays and media have muffled dissent. How long will it take to recognize “the elephant in the room.”

Sooner or later, as churches in California know well firsthand, the strong arm of government will reach inside our four walls. What is disturbing is that parishioners live each day with these pressures weighing them down in some fashion. The oppression is felt, the fear is tangible. While as Christians we are dutybound to obey the laws of the land (Romans 13:1), in order that we might live a “quiet and peaceful life,” (1 Timothy 2:2) most have realized that the hounds of hell have been released and will soon descend upon us. Those with their heads in the sand can make believe all’s well, or say it’s always been this way, but they do so ignoring specific warnings from scripture that in the last days of the last days difficult times will come (2 Timothy 3:1), or perhaps better, things will go from bad to worse. We don’t want to be the proverbial frogs in the kettle!

All this to say to church leaders, call a spade a spade. Acknowledge the times. Prepare us for battle. Help us to know who and what we’ve conquered, not so much in the context of typical day-to-day problems, but over the looming evil that stands ready to release its arrows at us in the night (v. 2).

We are very much like the weary disciples sleeping while Jesus prayed, when soon we will be “sifted like wheat.”

I say, “Help us Lord to pray like there is no tomorrow!” And, to stay awake!

***

4The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked,
And the one who loves violence His soul hates.
Upon the wicked He will rain snares;
Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.
For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness;
The upright will behold His face. Psalm 11:4-7

Now that the table has been set, Psalm 11 was written by David in a time when he was hunted down by King Saul. Without God’s miraculous help in eluding this demented monarch, he would be dead. You’ve got to believe that those around him who knew he was the rightful anointed king, felt the fate of the nation to be in dire straits. They saw the foundation crumbling (v. 3). Seeing this imminent horrifying threat at their doorstep, David’s top advisors pulled him aside to say he should flee into the mountains (v. 1-3). In David’s response (v. 4-7) we have the desired reaction of God’s people today in light of the dark clouds we see on the horizon.

God is not surprised to see what’s going on, as He sees everything from his lofty vantage point. His position on the throne is one of prescience and preeminence and predominance. There is none wiser, higher or more powerful. David knew this and appropriated all His requisite benefits and protections. “To get to him, you’ll have to come through me,” the Almighty shouts. The ultimate Big Brother.

But we should not be unaware that these difficult times are meant to toughen and teach us. How resilient are we in our faith? Can we stand the heat? This “fiery ordeal” (1 Peter 4:12) may be allowed by God to test our trust in Him. He sees all the issues and outcomes clearly. Do we see the source of our protection, the object of our faith with the same clarity? Do we stand confident that whatever comes our way will be governed by His just and gracious hand? Are we confident that God causes everything for good (Romans 8:28)?

With this point made, the attention is turned to the foreboding fate of those who challenge and defy the Lord God. It will not go well for them. One only thinks of Herod who was struck dead and eaten by worms (Acts 12:23), and the many evil despots to be run through with the sword. And this is merely temporal judgement. For all of eternity evil rulers and their acolytes will suffer unrelenting fiery torment.

We on the other hand will forever see His face (v. 7). So let us not abandon our posts. Let us not head for the hills. We need to stand firm against all the schemes of the devil (Eph. 6:11), for it is he whom we fight. In these trying and perhaps unprecedented times, may we of all people stand resolute and brave against all manner of evil.

”For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 1 Chronicles 16:9.

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Putting in the Work

15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,
16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness,
18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
2 Peter 3:15–18 (emphases mine) (All scripture from NAS)

A big danger in the church today, as it has always has been, hence the warning from Peter, are unstable, untaught men (and women in some cases) who lead and teach us. If you read the bios of those who have recently strayed, one cause may be they lacked the rigidity of steel forged in red-hot fire with repeated blows on God’s anvil.

First, the general principle is this. Paul instructs the church not to elevate a new believer to the post of elder.

6 and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 1 Timothy 3:6

This has nothing to do with the genuineness of the person’s salvation or sincerity or potential. It’s just that a person bound for leadership or for a role teaching God’s word needs intense preparation and testing to produce the stability and reliability required to withstand the slings and arrows of the enemy.

17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. Galatians 1:17

The Apostle Paul spent private time in Arabia to be taught by the Holy Spirit and retool from his pharisaic past. Moses was off the grid for 40 years. Joseph spent some time in prison. The disciples had three years hearing the Words of God and seeing his amazing works. Even Jesus waited 30 years to commence his ministry. Because of the “subject matter” to be covered in order to be “stable” and “taught,” the process takes some concentrated time and tutoring.

For example, no physician can practice medicine without years in the classroom, internship and residency. If a budding surgeon, additional “fellowship” years are tacked on to hone the skills required to heal someone with a scalpel. So too, a preacher or teacher needs seasoning and observation to be deemed trustworthy (stable, well taught, principled).

What I see today oft times in the church are preachers who have not completed an in-person seminary experience. The apprenticing on the local level appears to largely include getting tossed in at the deep end with some on-line courses thrown in. What’s missing are the rigors of intense Bible study with a focus on the original languages.

Those given the responsibility of proclaiming truth need to have spent ample time immersed in the Word and its words, and at the feet of men who can dispense sound doctrine and inculcate the disciplines necessary to avoid future errors. The word for “error” here (v. 17) means to wander. Here’s what a reliable Bible dictionary has to say about the Greek word:

plane (πλάνη, 4106), lit., “a wandering,” whereby those who are led astray roam hither and thither, is always used in the NT, of mental straying, wrong opinion, error in morals or religion. Vines

We hear today of far too many men (one’s enough) who have wandered away from the faith. All too often they’ve lacked a firm foundation, been elevated too fast, are fueled by ambition and adulation, and are not prepared for hand-to-hand combat with Satan. When the going gets tough they “get going.”

Not everyone bound for the ministry can set aside the time or has the funds necessary to sequester for hours upon hours of instruction in hallowed halls somewhere, but is it not vitally necessary to force some kind of Arabian experience in before the launch?

A garage-band bassist (like me) desiring to hone his (or her) skills at Juilliard will lose his electric bass for four years. He’ll be handed an acoustic bass and be expected to practice it for four years for 10 hours a day. He won’t be performing, but learning basic music theory and how to read music. At the end, he’ll finally give a recital and be ready to commence his career. Why the pragmatism? Because from graduation day forward he’ll not look back, but be immersed doing the work of the “ministry.” Why should it be any different for a man of the cloth?

I had no such opportunity to spend the prep time in the practice hall, but learned on the job, using poorly developed technique, putting enormous pressure on my poor ears, not able to read a lick of music, lacking any knowledge of chord structure or the many scales. Looking back, I’d give my eye teeth for just a few years of good solid practice time and sound instruction. Yet, I’ve been playing at a high level for nearly 50 years, but wandering all over the fretboard!

What saves us all are our principles. If you’re unprincipled, there’s not much hope for anyone anywhere. But the principled know their limitations. They pray more. They study more. They work harder. They’re more careful (they measure twice before they cut). They’re more humble. They know that, “But by the grace of God go I.”

(We all need to strive for that stable place where we have a working knowledge of scripture and follow sound practices to determine the meaning of the Word before exclaiming it, or putting into practice. We should live as principled sober people wanting not to take a wrong turn, or to take others with us.)

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Pep Talk

28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.
29 He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Isaiah 40:28–29 (NASB)

Down here we constantly need to remind ourselves of the constancy of God. He is everlasting. Nothing on this earth can be trusted every millisecond of every day but Him.

We also need to be forever reminded of the power and thoroughness of God. No detail of the earth’s creation was overlooked. He is the God of perfection.

He also possesses boundless energy. He is never spent. He rests only to contemplate the goodness of what he has wrought, not with hands on his knees, gasping for air.

His understanding is unfathomable. He is the God of mystery and of all knowledge. We can’t figure Him out, nor predict his response. But He always keeps His Word.

Our God is not stingy, but shares his strength and power with us. I am strong because He is strong, because He has chosen to make His abode within me! Fathom that!

One who possesses this God of constancy, of power, of energy, of all knowledge, of mystery in his or her soul, is surpassingly formidable, indefatigable and unstoppable.

Rest assured, as with God, he or she will be inscrutable in the eyes of the world.

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Time on His Side

8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8–9

You’ll not find a reference to billions and billions of years in the Bible. Not even millions and millions. You’ll find eternity though. God’s been on the clock for a relatively short time compared to forever. So this explanation is not to free up evolutionists everywhere, but to make a point that God has time on his side.

Further, he respects it only when he has committed to it. First, he got his creative work done in six days. That’s debated by some, but the word in Genesis 1 (yom) is the term for a physical day. I say, why not six days and a rest day, he’s God! When he placed the Southern Kingdom into captivity for 70 years, the sentence was served. When he talks about a future millennium, we can bank on it happening. Same goes for the preceding seven years of wrath. What about the three days before his resurrection?

There’s also a date certain when that final person is saved, and when Jesus comes back to earth a truiumphant king. Perhaps he keeps pushing that date out to allow just one more soul to enter his kingdom, before hope springs eternal! (3:9)

We get ansy when time seems to be standing still or when it’s waning. God doesn’t. He is the author of time. One last thing, whatever time we have on this earth, it is in His hands.

“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand.” Psalm 31:14-15

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The Word is Out

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. 2 Peter 3:1-2

I wonder why Peter waited until Chapter 3 to disclose why he was writing. This doesn’t conform with the formula of telling your readers what you’re going to tell them in the introduction, telling them what you want to tell them in the body of the work, and concluding with a summary of what you just told them. Answer an essay question in this fashion and you’ll always earn points with your professor, even if you have only one point you can remember, especially if he or she’s grading a pile of blue booklets. But it does fit with his objective to provide us with one last reminder.

With Peter’s final words to us (literally) he reminds us to remember all his previous words, and all the words of the prophets, and the words of the Lord recalled by his apostles, even Paul’s that were pretty heavy, so that we might be stirred up to action, assuming that we are sincere in our pursuits of God, ready to react and respond in obedience.

We’re told why in verse 3 and following; the mockers are coming with their mocking. He was expecting his readers to react obediently as Joseph did to the news of Mary’s untimely pregnancy, to marry her straightaway. The word in the Greek for “stirring up” (diegeiro), or to stimulate, was in fact used in Matthew 1:24 to describe Joseph’s immediate response to the angel’s stunning news.

It’s interesting to note that by the time Peter wrote his swan song, some 19 books of the New Testament had been written, including his first letter. From his comment on Paul’s writings, the word must have gotten out. This is not to mention the entirety of the Old Testament.

All the above is to say this. There’s no excuse to not know the word. There’s no excuse to be caught flat-footed. We have been warned. Know this for certain, that mockers mock with lies and twisted statements. They lie through their teeth. To retain our peace of mind, and to confront them face to face, we need to know and use the truth. When Jesus was mocked, what he did offer up was the truth, and it stung. It may evoke a philosophical response like Pilate’s “What is truth,” but it’ll get them thinking. What we say might be “pearls before swine,” but we’ll have done our jobs. In any case, the truth, our truth, will set us free.

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