Matt and I [and Krista (my wife) and several other couples in our “life group” just finished serving on a Tres Dias Weekend. I started three-day Renewal retreat weekends when I was 15 years old attending Rock and Teens Encounter Christ weekends, and I am still regularly involved nearly 35 years later. For the better part of the last 10 years, I have functioned as the Head Spiritual Director (shepherd) to our community in Northern Illinois and Southeastern Wisconsin. I have made the statement several times and I will likely take it to eternity with me, that our investment in this ministry is likely the shining Jewels of the crowns of our lives. The life transformation we have seen through others for the kingdom of Christ is simply immeasurable.

These weekends go by several different names as I have suggested. Via de Cristo is a Spanish phrase meaning Way of Christ that is the Lutheran version of the weekend. The United Methodist Church also has their version of the weekend called Walk to Emmaus, and sometimes takes on other names such as Chrysalis, Journey to the table, the Upper Room, the Great Banquet or Discovery Weekends. There are several other weekends that are described as “Cursillo” weekends (the name of the original Catholic Origin of the movement); but we have been involved with the non-denominational version of it (mostly) called Tres Dias. All of these weekends are based around the same key concept which is described as a 72-hour encounter with Christ or a short course on Christianity. They are framed around a series of foundational talks and testimony on Christianity given over the course of the weekend by both pastors and lay people.

A Tres Dias weekend is described as taking a step in your relationship with the Lord by giving Him three days. “Regardless of where you are in your faith walk, growing closer to God requires some action on your part. Stopping to pray. Reading your Bible. Going to church. These are only some of the tools the Lord uses to answer the whispers of your heart. Tres Dias is another of those tools. It’s a commitment to take a short break from the business of life to spend three days seeking God and listening to His voice in your heart. Tres Dias is a gift you give yourself….your own personal appointment with your Lord and Savior. And for thousands who’ve gone before you, it’s made a life-altering difference in the quality and depth of their spiritual walk.”

Every weekend I have ever been on was simply and truly amazing. Lives were transformed. If you are considering whether attending the weekend is a good decision for you or someone you know, I would encourage you to not over think it. The answer in faithfulness to the Lord in your life is simply, YES.

____________________ ///____________________

This last weekend was a bit different for my wife and I, it took on a “new” perspective for us in many ways. First, I had the honor of shepherding Matt as he led his first weekend as the lead Spiritual Director. Second, many of our life group friends “worked” together on this weekend, and lastly, several others from our group attended the weekend as candidates for their first time. One of the couples has been one of our closest friends in ministry and we have been inviting them on a weekend for nearly 15 years. This might be the first year we didn’t actually invite them, but the Holy Spirit prodded their hearts to invite themselves! I guess the timing was finally “right.”

The theme for this weekend was Romans 12:2 and it was ironically weekend 44. The theme was to be transformed and made new in Christ. When the author of Romans (I would presumably say Paul indirectly) penned this verse, it was shrouded in a bit of mystery (some might even say vagueness) that I have come to love particularly in the rest of the Pauline Epistles. In other words, it can be interpreted several different ways and you might really need to study the context to get the best or most accurate interpretation. Or maybe not. Maybe the point was that it was supposed to simply be “that dynamic.”

But in my usual “EXPEDITION 44” manor, let’s connect some mysterious dots and go for a ride!

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 NASB

Conformed – Paul’s term, syschematizesthe, get’s right to it. It is a statement that very clearly says don’t be like the world. It takes on the Paul and Timothy mindset of Ambassadors or Aliens who do not belong in a foreign Kingdom and are mere representatives of another king of another nation. I often refer to this as a Christoformity mindset. Don’t get entangled in a world that isn’t yours. The Greek verb used here, syschematizo, is the word we get “schematic” form. It is a sort of blueprint or mold that is meant to be followed to arrive at the intentional dynamic of the designer. It is a bit of a contronym world play here. In other words, don’t let the world “con” form you, but be (re)formed by your creator (please don’t get this confused with the idea of reformed theology!) More simply don’t take on a pattern of the world but of Christ. To the audience intended, this meant don’t become Roman, (or any other systems of the world) stay in God’s kingdom not theirs.

Well, now that we have hit the major thrust of the passage let’s step back again. There is a connector word that I want to urge you to consider. In Greek it is the word kai and simply used thousands of times to mean “and” in English. But it is important because it is going to tie things together spiritually. It should make you step back and figure out what it is trying to connect before you can assume or step forward. In this case, it connects the precious line of “Present your body a living sacrifice.” This is priestly language. This is the call and commission of every believer to accept Jesus’ (not the world’s) definition of being a disciple and be transformed to bear the very image of Christ as a mediator to the world. To represent God to the people and the people to God. But it also takes on the Levitical mindset that your complete life should be wholly given (Nephesh language) to live “all in.” It is going to (in a few words) reteach another story that Peter Reminds us of in I Peter 2:9. I love how they are all connect in unity here. In Hebrew writing form this was a way of connecting words to remind someone of a message they would be familiar with (often Torah teaching) so that they didn’t need to preach another sermon but could build on the mindset of the teaching into their new one. 1 Peter was written after Romans, so he is building on what Paul gives us.

Kai means if you want to experience the transformation of Christ’s blueprint in your life you must live as an “all in” priestly sacrifice for Him. Sacrifice for the kingdom of Jesus came before renewal. Order is important. Sacrifice comes first. This is a God’s dynamic of the first sacrifice starting with the first “communion” in Leviticus 7. We give a sacrifice completely to the Lord, then we partake.

Going back to the term conform, you have been corrupted. You are sick, you have a virus, you have been contaminated. Get out. Run, take a bath, get purification. This is a result of being too much of the world and not enough in Jesus. We are on a journey of sanctification and the world doesn’t like us anymore (if we are progressing to Christ) and Jesus says we are caught in the middle as well. We are stuck in the middle and Jesus urges us to be sanctified. Cody Jinks was wrong, you don’t want to be in the middle if you’re in the kingdom of God. Thats the problem. (don’t be lukewarm.)

RENEW – The heart of the message comes next. Our weekend theme was the root of the verb “renew,” in Greek, which is kainós. Paul doesn’t use the word néos as I previously mentioned, and this is important. He uses the less known word kainós. Whenever a Biblical author uses a word different than what would have been the more common word of the day, you need to stop and ask why. It would be like me saying, I want everyone to take on a “reclaimed” mindset. Who says that? Wouldn’t you just say “new?”

When God creates the original spiritual beings by His very hand, they are referred to as a non gender term that meant “sons or daughter of God” by definition. They are the original “holy ones.” As the earth is given over to these beings that fall (in a Deuteronomy 32 worldview), humanity (God’s treasured possessions) become lost to them in a sense. The people follow the fallen ones rather than God and are handed over to their sinful desires. Watch our video on wrath for a better explanation. God’s plan through a royal nation of priesthood calling in Israel was to reclaim what was lost. Israel failed and through Jesus each person that accepts the calling and commissioning of the New Covenant is now uncharged to pick up where Israel dropped the ball. Go reclaim the world for and with Jesus! As you accept Jesus in allegiance and make a profession of obedience to Him you begin the process of sanctification to be made “better” than new in Christ.

Paul thinks in Hebrew and in Hebrew words connect. When he uses the term kainós we get a whole bunch of teachings along with the term. We think of the regeneration that comes in water and spirit baptism, we think of the Spirit that strengthens us and continues to do a work in and through us, we think of Moses and God saying “I AM WITH YOU.” We consider the term Nenikeka that Jesus used in John 16:33 which meant “to be victorious over.” That Jesus will simply do this as He is IN us. In Greek this reads like a silent understood subject, Jesus is WITH AND FOR YOU. The power is in the Lord, we are just the vessel.

To be made new or reclaimed means that we take on a “new nature”.

Paul is asking that our complete person, (remember he is thinking like a Hebrew and the mind is a Nephesh reference to the whole person), be transformed into a new paradigm. ALL JESUS ALL THE TIME. Swim in Jesus. Be completely consumed. Be surrounded. Jesus over everything.

Paul is calling for a complete transformation, centered in a major paradigm shift that should change everything about you and around you.

I love the connection on the weekend made to working out.

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling Philippians 2:12

Work Out – This is a reference to the Hebrew Kata which in Genesis meant toil. Work in the garden was to walk or commune with God. At the fall it turns to toil associated with childbirth and work in the fields. This becomes a word play in scripture. This is so beautiful.

In Matthew 18 we get this amazing word play picture. Matthew 18 talks about working out differences amongst believers. We often want to think of Sin as huge atrocities against people and they certainly can mean that. But in Matthew 18 we get the most common or generic form of sin. There are over a dozen Greek words for sin and this one is the one used the most and simply means to go off course, to wander or waver, to be mistaken. In other words, its sounds pretty soft. (Trust me, I am not watering down sin here, quite the opposite actually). If you see something differently than “work it out.” (And if you don’t you are actually in sin.) It starts out with “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 18:19  NASB We see the word symphonesosin, used which is where we get the word symphoneo for symphony.  Then at the end he comes back and uses the word for being in harmony together, which is also connected with order in Genesis. If your following, the idea to return to the design or order of God’s original intention in Eden in connecting working out.

Walking with God is the original work of the garden and implies joyful order. (Remember that was Adam and Eves original work, to help bring order and later reign and rule over creation.) But after the fall, work is transformed into or becomes, (takes on the mindset) of toil and pain in childbirth. But now Paul is connecting the return or regaining of the nations as priests. Jesus is bringing new life both here and now and, in the future, eschatologically. We will move away from the toil of the world and regain the joy of walking with Jesus as we partner with him in a new priestly calling.

The pain of childbirth returns to the joy of making children. Yes, there is a Biblical sexual reference here to plowing the field and it is so beautiful. Sex is often considered the most intimate relationship we have on earth. You might say it is a glimpse of heaven on earth. It is a prize of marriage and a picture of the relationship between Jesus and the church. This is a “picture” or “mosaic” of the deep intimate relationship that we can’t even imagine to its deepest fullest potential that God wants with us. (You have to think holier though! He uses a sexual inuendo to get our attention or meet us on earth, but want to deliver us to a higher thought form of intimacy that goes much further or deeper than its sexual worldly example.) When you plowed a field well in ancient thinking, you got a great feeling of completion. You were so exhausted that your muscles tremored, and you wanted to just rollover and smile in sheer ecstasy. Sound familiar? When we read the phrases “work out” your differences or “work out” your salvation, the idea is that it’s going to be a bit hard, it is going to feel like toil at first but when devoted wholly to the lord the result is complete joy. The connotation is in kingdom work. All that you do. The toil tied to the world might be exhausting as you wade through it to get to Jesus’ kingdom, but in completion, leads to joy in Jesus.

When we reign and rule, keep and cultivate, our vocation to represent Jesus as the light, takes on the picture of rigorous work and sometimes tribulation and toil; but the result is founded in a relationship that is so imitate that we tremor in sheer joy when the work is completed both now and to come. Heaven comes to earth. Doesn’t that sound amazing? Whether we are working out our indifferences with a believer, coming to terms with our theology, or running the race of life we are to be completely given to the relationship. And in doing so we fulfill the great calling and commission to be a disciple and make disciples.

There is also a reference to “fear” which brings us to the awe and reverence of the Lord. Don’t let your modern-day English translation of “fear” ruin your relationship here. Sometimes we forget the seriousness or intensity that Jesus asks for in discipleship.

This is the mindset that Paul takes on by connecting Hebrew words in Romans 12:2. It means transparency in Christ and among believers to be made new in and completely transformed in Christ. We get a sense of urgency.

Paul’s choice of the Greek term anakaínōsis connects the Hebrew term, ḥādāš in the Septuigint. ḥādāš is about renewal, not something brand new. It means to be reclaimed but takes on a strange idea that this rebuilt version is actually better than new. It isn’t a mind transplant such as a brain surgery, it is a mind mod. Your new mind is super charged, better than what the original or new version was!

Finally at the end, “perfect” in Paul continues the same thought pattern completing the sentence and means wholly given, complete, or all in. (Not Platonic perfection.) Here is a video on that idea.

In Christ the old is completely gone. Don’t look back. It doesn’t even resemble the old anymore because it radiates. Remember how Jesus wasn’t even recognized after He rose again? He took on the persona of the gardener. What a beautiful metaphor of healing and the return to be the great priestly cultivators of the new earth. Will you join Jesus to keep and cultivate? To be the priesthood that reclaims what is lost and bring the world back to walking with Jesus. Be immersed. Jesus in and around you. Be consumed in and by living water. That everything in and around you might speak Jesus.

Will you be completely transformed and bring transformation?

DeColores! (bang bang!)




We were created for something more. Many of us will never know what that is. I believe God is very dynamic. We see this throughout the pages of scripture. That God in His mercy continues to offer chances of reconciliation and is willing to accept even a tiny step towards Him as a means of hope and course of redemption. He is the waymaker.

What was the plan “A” for this world? That was Eden and it seemingly only lasted for a moment compared to the (likely) 8000 years that have followed sense then. Are we on the plan B or C or D? I am thinking more like plan XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX or even worse. Maybe even that many exes for just my life itself! God is a God of second chances and reclaiming the broken transforming it from what was ugly to what is beautiful. Ashes to Beauty. The goal of sanctification is to be completely of Him and not of this world. You might even say that we will be transformed to be the opposite of what this world has become.

Don’t you long to be free, redeemed and full of Joy?

But I bet you feel like you will never get there. Are you tired of negative messages and the lies of the world? God doesn’t want you to fall into the trap of believing the lies of the world. There will be tribulation (but even they become joy); but that comes by living a life fully given to Him, not by simply wallowing in your misery. God has redeemed you of your past, that work has been done already, don’t continue to let the lies of the world hold you back from your potential in the kingdom and a life of freedom. I bet you want this for your life, don’t we all? But how do we get there?

The scripture has the plan. God longs for us to be fully committed to this path for our life and promises in covenant to walk with us. We not only are asked to go on this amazing walk of life with Him, but also to bring others into the plan of redemption and “wholiness” for their lives through learning, and the sanctification of our minds given to Him. We have to be diligent in our commitment to the word and soon that diligence that at first seemed like toil will turn to a love for the scripture and Jesus. We have to believe that God’s voice spoken through His Word has the power to transform and bring Joy and healing.

When I was 9 I made a decision to give my life to Christ. My mother and father encouraged me to start my day by reading the Word for 5 minutes and making a priority to never miss a day. I started on February 12, 1984, the day I was baptized, I set my timer for 5 minutes and started the toilsome process of reading my Bible every day. What happened was spiritual magic. 5 minutes slowly went from being a chore to transforming into something I enjoyed. I began to look forward to that time and even set my alarm to get up early. My mother would come to wake me up and I would be reading away. Within that first year the bible had become my love language and turned into the thing I enjoyed the most in life. Over the next few year’s I would spend sometimes hours a day reading through my Bible and become infatuated with my new found love. I would stay up late and get up early to read the same book. At 10 years old I found myself addicted to the Word of God and had read the Bible cover to cover.

Almost 40 years later I am still deeply given to this passion. Today, I often wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning because I can’t wait to get to my “Jesus time” each and every day. Over the years I have learned to frame our lives around what is the most important aspect of my day, my time with the Lord. This sounds almost impossible in our world, but I have even designed the rest of my world around the ability to live freely for the exploration of God’s word each and every day. I have decided I am not going to be bound by the world’s schedule for my life. The Word of God truly will be first not only in my life but in the life of my family. There are many days I find myself blowing off the responsibilities of the world (like the jeep I “should” be building right now) because its now 10 am and I am still writing away as I am immersed in the spirit of the Lord in my life. (The Jeep can wait.) I don’t say this in a boastful manner but to hopefully guide the reader towards regaining a more child like faith for life in Jesus. Its not to late. This is God’s desire for your energy, and time. That you might redefine what it means to live for Him.

In many ways, we need to get back to these basics and stop trying to listen to anything the world says that is contrary to life in Christ. Perhaps the reason your struggling is because you’re trying to live up to the world’s standards rather than Gods. Maybe you need to try skipping work and “sleeping in” with your Bible a couple days a week!

Allright, this has been an easy read, but brace yourself, I am about to get a bit scholarly.

Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg’s book, The Particulars of Rapture: Reflections on Exodus is based on the idea of the exodus which has been a huge theme this year for Matt (co-host of the x44 youtube channel) and I. Just so we are all clear, this is not “rapture” in the dispensational (non)sense of a “leftbehind” definition of rapture that probably comes to your head. This is a much more Biblical definition of rapture based on the Exodus.

Avivah writes, “‘Ve’omru no’ash—they will say, ‘It is no use. We will keep following our own plans; each of us will act in the willfulness of his evil heart’ (Jer 18:12).  God here predicts that their response will be a kind of autism: they will simply continue walking in the wake of their own thoughts, sunk into the old structures, like Winnie-the-Pooh pursuing the fabulous Heffalump round and round the same tree.”[1]

How many times has that been you? Stuck in a rut that is defined by the world. Don’t you long to be vindicated and set free? That is the theme. Often times we think of the word “exodus” as being a long boring journey through a dessert. But the exodus was freedom to slaves. It was the giving of life itself. Some of us still have never experienced what life in Jesus should feel like. The dessert was a result of not walking with God. It became basic training. Some of us might need a desert before we can experience the oasis. God gave His people the word and the law to help them get through the deserts in life and bring them to living water, the Oasis that would eventually be fully given in Jesus.

Too many of us are lost in Winnie-the-Pooh and Heffalump world doing circles in our own deserts and we never really get through boot camp and learn to live and experience the plan Jesus has for us. I like the authors use of the word Autism. Autism can be a strength in the kingdom, but like anything it needs to be renewed by Jesus to get there. Sometimes we aren’t willing to make commitments to get us and others there and the result is wondering. Maybe we just don’t know how.

Avivah continues, “Nadezhda Mandelstam, for instance, writes of the ‘sickness—lethargy, plague, hypnotic trance or whatever one calls it—that affected all those who committed terrible deeds in the name of the “New Era,” . . . They . . . imagined that time had stopped—this, indeed, was the chief symptom of their sickness.  We had, you see, been led to believe that in our country nothing would ever change again.’”[2]

If you are going to get real with yourself, I think you need to stop and consider that the lies of the world that you continue to believe are making you spiritually sick. The problem is the sick often don’t see the sickness and sometimes aren’t capable of taking the steps they need to be healed. That is why we are surrounded by a body of believers. We all need a hand at times. In fact, most of the time. Some of us are so used to feeling the sickness of the world that we have no idea how good it will feel to be healthy again. Not only that but those around us have become sick as a result of our sickness.

“‘Living with a lie’ is a denial of responsibility, it is a token of a demoralized person.  ‘The system depends on this demoralization, deepens it, is in fact a projection of it into society.’ . . . Living within the truth, on the other hand, is a moral act, uncalculating, generously responsible.  The hidden ferment in the semidarkness is ‘difficult to chart or analyze.’  When it bursts through the moribund surface of life within the lie, it has a shock effect on those embedded within that system.”[3]

What if we as the church could lead each other to healing and redemption better. Can you imagine the kind of explosion for the kingdom we might have for the kingdom and our lives individually if we all received complete healing? How do we get there? It starts by getting help. Start with a reflection of yourself and pray to believe and take action. The second step is to get outside of yourself. The church, God based programs like Celebrate Recovery, Jesus retreats, small groups, all of these things will be successful if they are bathed in commitment and prayer inviting God to bring you to closer to Him one step at a time.

It may take post it notes everywhere, it may take checking in with a brother or sister multiple times a day, surround yourself with Jesus. Music, messages, scripture, reading, even movies that reflect Jesus. Put yourself where you find Jesus at every part of your day. This might at first sound like labor, but eventually it will be transformed into a passionate devotion that results in Joy.

Don’t put yourself in hard (worldly) places and positions. Don’t do it. Don’t listen to the lies that Satan (and the world controlled by him) wants you to believe. Don’t even give those words or ideas a foothold! Believe that God has given you more. Believe that you are a victorious overcomer.

Take the bad things in your life captive and put them away forever. They no longer have a place in your sacred world.

for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 NASB

If you can commit to a good study of the Greek you will find that eis here is best translated as “into.” In other works take every thought captive INTO obedience. Obedience is not allowing your sacred space to be desecrated. Don’t bring the pollution of the world into your new sacred life space. This pollution debases and defiles anything you have before the Lord. In the Old Testament, the law was clear about this, but today many of us struggle in our Exodus because we have forgotten this basic principle that God gave his people. He knew they needed their hand to be held, and even though we have Christ (which was the main ingredient they were missing & needed for the atonement of sin) we might still need someone to hold our hand and help us guide the defilement of the world into our own prison. Lock it away and longer give it a place in your life.

We need the covenant of believers to bring holiness to this world and God gracefully grants that to us one step of devotion at a time. It starts with you and a commitment to take the first step to overcome, and a body of brothers and sisters behind you. The Exodus is the army of the Lord to freedom in Christ.

[1]Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, The Particulars of Rapture: Reflections on Exodus(Schocken Books, New York: 2001), p. 48.



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From the gold and silver in Solomon’s temple to heaven’s streets of pure gold, there are more than 700 references to these two precious metals in the Bible. My favorite connection to gold is in 2 Corinthians 13 so let me start with that.

In Greek, 2 Corinthians 13 has a clever word play crafted into the heart of the message. The word used means testing to demonstrate that something is genuine. Paul also used this Greek word carrying that same idea when he told the Thessalonians to “examine everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The word is dokimazō. In cultural context, it was used to describe a marketplace where the authorities would examine coins to make sure they weren’t counterfeit. That is why today gold is often stamped according to its internal makeup. It means to prove the inner value of something.

In Jeremiah 11:20 testing is based on God’s examination. That is the “gold standard” per se. In that Old Testament context, the idea of testing takes on the distinction of examining the essential spiritual qualities of a person. In the NT our bodies are His temples, and we are the priests to the people outside of this temple, to bring God to the people and the people to God. As God examines us to be part of his temple work, we are now asked to examine everything that comes into this sacred space. We have regularly heard things like garbage in, garbage out, or you become the company you keep. These little proverbs are all ways of recognizing Biblical truths that have been a part of God’s culture for generations. If God dwells within you, you see the world with His eyes and according to His standards. We are in a constant fight within our inner beings towards sanctification. We all started out as belonging to the world but have been reclaimed by Jesus and are now in the great process of becoming less of the world and more of Him. God examines us and we in turn are asked to examine what comes into the temple. It is by God’s name that we have the power of examination. God is the standard, and His temple was purified by gold.



I don’t think it is a coincidence that there are 7 hebrew words for Gold. Zahab for shining, paz for purity, betser for dust, charuts for pieces, kethem for raw, sagar meaning solid, and dehab which seems to be more mysterious, this one is my favorite.

The first reference is in Genesis 2 when we learn that the river flowed from Eden seems to lead to gold. This could be a reference to the mines at the end of the river in Havilah or could be a mystery that we simply don’t have or understand since Eden closed. I think there are several things about Eden we never get, because of the fall seemingly taking place so quickly into the creation narrative.

“And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pishon: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; And the gold of that land is good.”

Genesis 2:10-12a

The Bible says God created the world and the elements within it. Gold is depicted as an asset of value.

“The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.”

Haggai 2:8

According to scripture lists at least six places, in ancient times, where gold was known to be found. They are Havilah (Genesis 2:11 – 12), Ophir (1Kings 9:28, 10:11, 1Chronicles 29:4, 2Chronicles 8:18, Job 22:24), Parvaim (2Chronicles 3:6), Sheba (1Kings 10:10, 2Chronicles 9:9, Psalm 72:15), Tarshish (2Chronicles 9:21, Isaiah 60:9) and Uphaz (Jeremiah 10:9).

Gold was the main commodity of the ancient and is weighed according to a talent. A talent is about 75 lbs. Today a talent of gold would be worth $2,000,000. Gives you new significance for the parable of talents and the servant that was given 5 talents, that is $10,000,000 today! How would you invest 10 million dollars?

Since the Bible starts with Eden and mentions gold, I bet you figured it out; we also see gold in the end. Revelations mentions gold 22 times especially when describing the recreated Heavens and Earth.

However, gold isn’t always viewed in a positive sense in the Bible either, it regularly was connected to idolatry. Interesting that God tells Joshua that gold should be set apart in consecration. Later in the New Testament those words are very similar to the words used for those claimed by God. There is a connection.

 In Exodus 25 verse 11, the construction of the Ark of the Covenant is described:

And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without thou shall overlay it and shall make upon it a crown of gold round about.

Further in verse 17, the mercy seat is also to be of Gold

And thou shall make a mercy seat of pure gold.​

Even in the last book of our Ancient Prophetic Text in Revelation Chapter 21 verse 18 we are told this of the gold in the New Jerusalem:

And the building of the wall of it was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. 

livingwordin3d helps us understand the Hebrew here in the letters of Zahab Zayin Hey Beyt.

Zayin is the picture of the garden tool or the weapon and means to cut off, to pierce, to prune, or to harvest. 

Hey is the picture of the man with uplifted arms and means to pay attention to what follows, to behold, or to look upon, and can mean the Holy Spirit as the Revelator.

Beyt is the picture of the tent and means house, family, dwelling place, or inside, and is the first letter in the Torah that identifies the Son of God. 

So the first mystery we find in the Hebrew pictographs tells us why gold is found on the ark and the mercy seat. We are to behold the Son of God who will be cut off and pierced for us. Zahab is a constant reminder to us of the value of what Messiah has done on our behalf. 


I think in general you are going to find that gold is similar to anything else in the scripture. It was likely created by the hand of God and given to humankind in Eden, but after the fall became equated to the greed of the world. I have been alluding to a lot so maybe I will connect some dots here at the end. Gold was a picture of one of God’s most precious creations. It is a typology of humankind. It was one of the most desirous and beautiful things that He made. (Thus the number 7.) Yet when the earth falls, like so many other things, something so beautiful will be jaded by the world and the fallen principalities. It becomes synonymous with greed. It was designed as a precious gift from God to bring man to God, but ends up taking Man away from God after the fall. Some scholars have even gone as far as to make a connection that in Eden and the recreated Heavens and new earth the streets of gold will once again lead to God himself. His plan to renew all that was lost includes gold. Their is a correlation between humanity as God’s most precious portion and the typology of gold and how it is used in His kingdom and temple; and the purification process.

For now, gold belongs to the greed of the world. In some ways we should run from it; yet in God’s time all that is his will be reclaimed. Eventually the rich of the earth will be poor in the kingdom, and the poor of the world that were drawn to Him will be great in His kingdom. The gold will like be given to them in an eschatological sense. Wealth in he kingdom is also a backwards picture of the greed of this world.

“We see then that wealth is a down payment; it is the first part of the fulfillment.  God has promised grace, and he begins to fulfill this promise by acting in this material way [by granting us wealth].”[1]

“In our world, we solve our problems all alone with our technology, our science, our money, our political parties; God does not answer because we do not call him.  The poor do not call on him, and those who call him are the rich.   . . . The  Bible calls anyone who has no real need of God’s help rich.   . . . The church cannot be an assembly of the rich; it is made for  poor outsiders.”[2] 

Finally, one last rant. The poor today are still significant. I wish today’s churches had a better first century view of wealth and focus on the “least of these.” Jesus spoke more about material money than anything else. It is a backwards kingdom. What God originally made to bring people to Him (Gold) is now a contronym of the world and is probably the greatest thing that moves people away from God. To the dedicated disciple, we should treat gold as dust. But eventually even the dust will be reconciled to Him and purified for a new kingdom.

[1] Jacques Ellul, Money & Power, p. 64.

[2] Ellul, pp. 153, 152, 150.

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I decided long ago that the core group of guys I hang out with have to be of the same kingdom mindset that I have. That Jesus is everything, and we live within a kingdom of Jesus and are not of this world. I consider this covenant relationship. Last night on short notice a couple of guys decided to join me at my church since Matt (of x44) was preaching. He preached an amazing sermon, you can read my notes and watch the video here. This morning my family was off to an activity day at a local Christian camp where my wife and I have a great history (Covenant Harbor Bible Camp is like family to us); But since I recently broke my toe I opted to join “some of the guys” at their church, Lakeland Community Church.

Lakeland is quite the church. They were founded by David Howie in the late 1990’s as a Willowcreek style plant. 30 years later they are firing on all cylinders introducing a lot of believers to Jesus and strengthening relationships with Him. They think big and have a greatly gifted team led by Josh Amstutz and his Wife Lisa.

Lakeland is finishing up a 12 week series based on a book that Josh recently wrote called The God Experiment (which as the time of this post was not available for a link on Amazon, but you can purchase it through Lakeland.) Everyone I have spoken to that has read it has loved the journey. The crazy thing, and I love it when God aligns the stars, is that the subject he spoke on was nearly the same subject as Matt did last night at a different church. I also heard that Journey Burlington also spoke on forgiveness!

The main thrust of the message was to identify potential landmines or things that may hold you back in God’s kingdom pursuit and cause you to be hurt & bitter. The entire message was REALLY good. I absolutely love Josh’s rhetoric. He reminds me of Andy Stanley, Matt Chandler, or maybe Ed Young Jr. You can watch the God Experiment series here.

But unlike my synopsis of Matt’s message, where I went into great depth; I just want to pick one thing out of today’s message at Lakeland, I have already been long winded. The place I want to spend some time is on what he referred to as Landmines. He started by giving some history which, being a history guy, I found neat, so I tried to find some of the things he shared.

Every hour, people die or lose limbs from stepping on a landmine. Most of these victims are civilians, living in countries at peace. There are more than 30 countries that still have buried mines. he largest stockpilers among these nations collectively hold about 45 million mines, with Russia (26.5 million), Pakistan (an estimated 6 million) and India (an estimated 4-5 million) making up the top three.

Josh described landmines as the feeling you get when someone hurts you. Josh also used the word ensnare to describe the way we are pulled into dramatic situations with people. I love how he described being wounded by someone. We may forgive them immediately, but we will still be dressing the wounds and every time the wound hurts, we will be reminded of the situation. Things will take time to heal even after forgiveness.

Let’s consider his word choice ensnare. In Hebrew it is Mowqesh and usually translated as snare, trap, or bait, it is also used to express the idea of causing to ruin or destroy something or someone. The Hebrew picture word we get is lightning. When you see lighting you might brace yourself for the coming strike. There is also a sense of trembling or fear that comes with this word. If you read my post about Matt’s sermon yesterday, you are going to recognize some similarities. There is a sense of reverence that comes with this kind of fear.

There was a point yesterday in Matt’s sermon where he stops before he gets to the topic of lust and warns everyone that the message is going south. This one is similar, but I think is a point worth making. You see, in Hebrew one of the closely related words is Pachad and is used in the same way for a reference to dangling testicles. It has been said that in ancient times an agreement between two men would be solidified by tapping each others testicles (like we would shake hands.) You can see how you would feel danger by letting someone do this but also yield to them trust. Unfortunately, it also came with the opposite meaning of a deal going south. Well, let’s just say you took one in that area. It became a sign of great distrust, as if you would never do business or trust them again, and likely neither would anyone else. If you are a male reading this you know exactly the feeling that getting kicked in this area brings and that is a similar feeling that you might get when someone close turns on you causing bitterness and hurt. It leaves you with what feels like a permanent sickness & aching that might never go away. Ladies, as you might not completely feel our pain here, I think you can understand the connection.

In the Bible we get a picture of fiery darts (arrows) being shot at us. (This is a great lesson for another day!) Josh today used the Analogy of wounds such as a knife or arrow might make. I think we usually consider fiery darts coming from Satan or the powers and principalities but often consider them delivered through the work of a person. The point either way is that when we get wounded especially by someone we trust, we should forgive them immediately as God would forgive us which is often easier said than done. But the wound still takes some time to heal. Sometimes we don’t do what is needed for proper healing either. We don’t dress it properly. Sometimes there isn’t the same type of forgiveness coming from the other party and that doesn’t seem fair and continues to hurt. Sometimes the wounder even returns to rewound, or push on the wound, or we might even feel like they are pulling and twisting at the wound. The proper response before the lord is to forgive them again and again and again. But trust is still broken. Just because you truly forgive doesn’t mean you will ever be able to trust them again, or that you should. It also means that your guard might be up. The lightning of the Hebrew word. The ultimate prayer is that the wounds would fully heal, but we may not see that until the earth and all in it is renewed by the Lord, but it should still be our prayer and goal. Eventually even these wounds will be made as new to believers, and sometimes it’s the believers that make multiple wounds, and the deepest ones; Jesus will bring all of this to healing. This work begins here and now and finishes when our journey of sanctification is complete eschatologically.

Forgive and accept healing from your wounds. Take care of your wounds. Get professional care for them if needed. Don’t let your wounds hold you back in God’s kingdom life. Give your wounds to God and in the backwards kingdom of Jesus pray that he will transform your worst wounds (what the Bible sometimes refers to as curses) into the biggest blessings of your life. That is the Hebrew prayer of Barak praise. That God may transform the worst things in your world into the best things for His world. Fear the Lord, not the ones that wound. Perhaps your wounds will be your strength.



This weekend Matt shared one of the best messages I have ever heard. The series is set to the sermon on the mount and Matt drew the tough straw to cover Matt 5:21-26. Matt Preaches on a lot more than I am going to mention in this article so it is worth the investment to watch. The following are my notes from his sermon with a bit of my added commentary.


Matt 5:21-26

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister, will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

The series is called Salt and Light so naturally Matt set the table by explaining that We bear God’s name by living out the heart of the Law. When New Testament authors speak, they often use the Torah in a mini sermon way. They simply mention something about the Torah and everyone knew the classical lesson. It was like saying, “Take this sermon that you would know and apply it to what I am saying.” Unfortunately today, we have lost this. We don’t think this way nor do we make these kind of quick “WORD” connections in the scripture. Even though the New Testament is written in Greek they are thinking in Hebrew and Hebrew makes connections to words in this way. Sometimes a simple word would trigger an entire set of Torah or law thought patterns.

Exodus 20:7

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

I have written on this verse before and preached a sermon on it last year. We have also had Carmen Imes on the x44 show before and interviewed her on her book, Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters. The word misuse is more literally rendered in Hebrew was to “carry in vain”. As matt exclaimed, “The purpose of this command is not about using God’s name as a swear (though that isn’t good). It’s about how Disciples and people of the Kingdom carry God’s reputation. When we dishonor God through our behavior it tarnishes God’s reputation.

There is a great study in this section where (V21) Jesus says, “you’ve heard it said, but I tell you” And He says this 6 times in Matt 5. Each time Jesus is upholding that what the Law said was true and good but he’s getting at the intent of the law and not the letter. When Jesus says, “but I tell you” He’s contrasting what the true heart of the kingdom is against those who think they are walking in the kingdom but are really just following the “rules” without a changed heart.

It’s pretty easy for most of us not to murder someone… check that box and say we’re good.

Most of us don’t struggle with Murder. Right? I hope? Well Jesus actually turns this on the Pharisees and says that their sins of legalism of the heart might as well be murder. Murder is an act of treason against God. If you murdered someone you are essentially exclaiming, “I’m god over this person’s life”; yet that is also what you are doing anytime you live in legalism regarding the scripture. What Jesus is doing here is getting to these root issues of murder which is anger. He wants to get up stream of murder and get to the heart issues.  He wants transformed hearts not just make a society of rule followers.

Anger pushes us in the same direction as murder in that we make ourselves judge over others.

Anger is natural. It is not necessarily evil. It becomes sinful based on what you do with it. This message had more one liners to take away than any message I have heard in a while. Here is one that stuck with me:

“Anger is a response that happens when our will is violated or when something we value is devalued”

The Holy Spirit functions in our life as a conscience. When we are on the brink of doing something contrary to the kingdom of God we get identifiers to help us. This goes both ways. When we continue not to see or listen to these identifiers or red flags, we become desensitized to them. Our conscience become seared and we easily ignore God in our life and minimize our ability to bear light. But when we are walking in the light, when we have accountability partners, when we are in the word regularly, when we are bathed in prayer, when our HEART IS RIGHT WITH GOD, then we regularly are guided by the spirit.

When we choose to ignore our spiritual “check engine (heart) light” we tend to improperly act on our anger. Anger is often rooted in pride.

There are two greek words for Anger:

  • Thymos- a temper or flare up (literally means to get hot)
  • Orgizo (Orge)- to brew over (to play it over and over in your mind)- This is the anger Jesus is talking about… though the other anger is also condemned in scripture.

Orgizo is an anger that creates bitterness and offense. We have all let this harbor and, in a sense, has held us back from our potential in the kingdom. When we let bitterness take root it not only effects out attitudes and actions towards our offenders, but we often take it out on those that we love.

This word for anger of “playing it over” is also a contranym (A contronym is a word that carries two opposite extreme meanings, in English consider refrain as singing something over and over again, and them using it as a way to ask someone to completely stop doing something) it can be used for “moved with compassion” (Mark 1:41- Jesus moved with compassion towards the hurting.)

QUICK WORD STUDY: orgízō – be angry, as expressing a “fixed anger” (settled opposition). 3710 /orgízō (“to show settled-opposition”) is positive when inspired by God – and always negative when arising from the flesh. “Sinful (unnecessary) anger” focuses on punishing the offender rather than the moral content of the offense

Many of us always think God is on our side of disputes. The better thinking is to consider that you need to come to Jesus’ side of the dispute. We need to be careful that we don’t assume that God is on our side when we get angry. If your righteous indignation leads you to bitterness or insult your supposed oppressors, God is certainly not on your side!

You can choose when you are angry to create roots of bitterness, or you can be moved with compassion as Jesus was… Sometimes that is letting it go and not letting it define your life.

In V22 Jesus shows how anger progresses into insults. Roca- is an Aramaic word that means empty headed or contempt.

In anger I want to hurt you, in contempt I don’t care if you are hurt or not. -Dallas Willard

Matt made a point that it’s easy to dehumanize those who don’t think, act, talk, vote, and believe the way that we do. Jesus is saying that it’s easy to move from insult (contempt) to judgement. Not simply observing their behavior but making a judgement call about their character. In anger and murder, we put ourselves in God’s place as judge over others. Have you ever found yourself doing this?

We see this more and more in America… this indifference, making judgement calls about “those people”, As Christians we do this regularly. I loved Matt’s point about our president, Joe Biden. Most of our watchers and readers do not agree with much of his policies or his morality but Matt goes on to say, what we’ve seen lately of the Church’s behavior toward him, the name calling, the personal attacks, the angry social media posts and memes are not Christ-like. “Whether you consider him legitimately elected or not, agree with his policies or not, he is still made in the image of God and worthy of dignity and respect. Peter says to show respect to everyone and to honor our leaders. Paul says to pray for leaders (not to insult them!)”

When the church says things like “let’s go Brandon” (a code word for a 4-letter insult to the President) it does 3 things:

1. It provides no Gospel witness at all

2. It actually damages our witness (because we look like the world)

3. It is the exact opposite of the speech that ought to characterize our lives as Name bearers of our God.

The heart of someone living in the kingdom is empty of contempt towards others made in God’s image. We become encouragers of light not darkness.

Paul communicates the same message we see in Matt 5 in Eph 4:

Ephesians 4:26-32

26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, (Orgizo and Parorgizo [heat under]- talking about letting bitterness take root)

27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths (Insults and contempt) , but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (We hear this verse used a lot in charismatic settings for the gifts of the spirit, but the context here is about anger and unwholesome talk)

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Anger, bitterness, and contempt quench the Spirit’s work within our hearts.

  • Paul and Jesus, both exhort us to cast off anger and bitterness and put on compassion and mercy. Because that is God’s attitude towards us… blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.

Break the vicious cycle of anger by doing all you can to make peace quickly.


There are a few life applications that I think we can consider when we consider Matt’s message and apply it to our lives.

When Matt mentioned, Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. Ephesians 4:26-27 NASB This is a classic Jewish ethic that Hebrews prayed daily to control for thousands of years, how to control the lashon ha’ra. We have forgotten this as a kingdom culture. We don’t daily emphasize the need to let the spirit identify and purify this part of our lives any more. When you read this in greek and translate it into Hebrew or arguably Aramaic (as Matt did once in his sermon) and was the language Paul was liking speaking and originally teaching it in; we may realize that Paul was simply quoting Psalm 4:4. Interesting how your margin notes do not make this connection, but that is for a different post! “Be angry and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.” In other words, if you can’t say something nice you better not say it at all.

Anger in Hebrew is ragaz and means to rage similar to the Greek Matt shared. But in Hebrew it also takes on the connotation of fear entreating words like tremble or quake. When we read this in the New Testament especially with our modern American cultural glasses on, we think of vengeance, revenge, and power, but as Matt points out the real problem is deeper. The real problem is my heart wants to control things, I feel like I need to assert my rights on others, I feel that I want to be in control. Yet in Jesus’ backwards kingdom we are told that light looks opposite of those things.

Yoda tells us so eloquently, “Anger Leads to the Dark Side Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” 

Hebrew uses ragaz to “express agitation growing out of some deeply rooted emotion. From the range of usages, it is clear that the term refers to the agitation itself, and the underlying emotion is to be recognized only from context.” Bowling, A. (1999). 2112 רָגַז. In R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed.) (831). Chicago: Moody Press.

When we keep our anger in examination daily bathed in the spirit it brings us to Yahweh not away from Him.

Paul tells us to rigzu veal-tehetau (“Tremble and do not miss the mark”). When we come before the Lord in a sanctuary of reflection we are asking for the Holy spirit to train our heart towards Him. Keeping my heart in check leads me to deeper devotion for Jesus. Thank you Matt!


We recently had a training for an upcoming men’s in women’s retreat weekend retreat and I shared a devotional on first Peter one. Several people asked me if I could write something that could be shareable for them. The problem is that when I write this, I have to get a little scholarly because it’s pretty in-depth.

I’ve always had an ADD problem and topical sermons don’t work too well for me jumping back-and-forth all over the place. I often get dismayed or stuck and have something seems a little forced or proof texted… but then I find when I try to do an exegetical study I can’t get past one verse! There’s so much here, and I’m gonna do my best to get to the second verse the ties in with the first.

To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 1 Peter 1:1 NASB

One of my life mantras is to try to get people to think more within the way that the scripture was written than trying to interpret it by the modern American lens that would seem “normal” to us. The problem is this way of thinking is so marked up. It’s been invaded over and over by worldly thinking, gnosticism, stoicism, reformational problems, and many other vices of the world.

When I was a kid I loved it that the Bible had the word aliens in it. Of course I was interpreting from a modern sense of aliens and UFOs. That’s the way we like to interpret this. But part of it is correct. I think the majority of people get pretty close to the right interpretation on this verse.

We are partly correct in our thinking that since we do belong to the Lord, (if we have placed our obedient faith in him), and not to this earth; that we shouldn’t be of this earthly kingdom. We know that we are marked to belong to the kingdom of Jesus and that the kingdoms of this earth and the kingdom of Jesus are rival nations. We are simply passing through.

However, it’s unfortunate that that’s where most of our thinking stops. We view ourselves as aliens of the earthly world but have you also considered that we also might be alien to God?! In other words, we are stuck somewhere between the worlds, stuck somewhere in the middle and are aliens to both worlds.

Grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive in!

The word for alien here is parepídēmois. It’s one of these crazy words that we only have one time in the Bible so we have to try to really figure out what it means. In theology is referred to as a hapax legomenon, we’ve got about 400 of these in the Bible.

Now notice the author (Who I would affirm is arguably peter) chooses to finish the verse with the word elect. There’s a reason why he finishes that way. The idea of the “alien” helps us understand that those are “with God” have been scattered or removed (Hebraic idea of the diaspora) but they’re true home is the place of their “elect” they just aren’t there yet… they’re in transition. I would also argue that first Peter is not written to a primarily Jewish audience as traditionally believed, but it’s actually written to a mixed audience of devout believers. (This is in large part what are first video covered) “All of Israel” meaning the New covenant church. As we all know Pieters further act of discipleship was to launch the new covenant Church this is what he’s working on in this letter or sermon. So he’s using words the traditional Hebrews are going to understand (and the rest of the church should also get) by applying them to all of the church. It’s a re-grafting or regathering of the body. (This is the simple good news, that salvation and deeper relationship with God is offered to both the traditional Jews as another chance and also to anyone else who places their obedient faith.)

As I alluded to at the beginning, there is so much here in one verse. This is a verse that tells us something about sanctification, the journey of transition from becoming of the world to becoming like Jesus; this has been my mantra this year – Christoformity. This is where most of American church gets this concept really wrong.

We like to emphasize salvation and momentary decisions at the altar to follow Jesus as if it’s all we’re trying to accomplish as Christians. We sell it is if it’s some magic anecdote of the mind. “If we could just get one more soul to come to the Lord” so the choirs of angels can sing. Please don’t get me wrong here, I’m the first to rejoice when somebody’s taking an allegiant step towards Jesus. I will be the first in the water! But this first step is simply just the first step. Most Americans want to draw a line in the sand as if someone who wasn’t with God cognitively makes a mind decision and now they are with God forever and ever. The scripture never seems to describe things as a line like this but rather a journey of sanctification that involves action of the heart, mind, and body.

This is also a good time to address something else that’s going to seem like a slight rant or ADD “squirrel” Jaunt, but it all ties in so bear with me! I’m also going to present an idea that possibly you’ve never considered before. Many think that the work of sanctification is done when we die and get to heaven. But if you follow much of the x44 video series you probably understand the idea that NT Wright has written so well about, that heaven is not the ultimate state it’s the intermediate state. The ultimate state is going to be a re-created heaven and earth. So there seems to be the idea that sanctification in the believer actually doesn’t end until we receive our newly re-created body in the final state of the recreated heavens and earth. That gives us a much longer picture of this process of sanctification than that of this earth.

Now this theory even gets more complicated if you have crossed the Rubicon. Some of you might want to consider me a heretic for the next line, others are in a place in their faith where they can ask tough questions like this. Some scripture actually implies that perhaps this world isn’t our only chance to proclaim Jesus as Lord. There’s an Orthodox idea that we find regularly and is apparent in the apostle’s creed that Jesus after the cross (3 days) went back to preach to those in waiting that they might have another chance to accept him. Most people write this off as an Old Testament thing, a place of waiting for the cross. But in my studies, nearly everything in the Old Testament is a picture of a shadow of the second coming of Christ as it was to the first. Hermeneuticly, it would make sense that if this worked in the Old Testament, somethings going to be very similar for the New Testament. The first coming of Christ is a shadow to the second coming of Christ. And now your mind is blown that sanctification might be bigger than this lifetime.

So why do I choose to go off on this tangent of sanctification on this verse? Because actually that’s what it’s talking about!  Parepídēmois is the idea of God continually drawing near to Him and trying to claim us as his as we continually fall short and pull away from God.  It’s kind of like an alien tractor beam!!!

This post is a little scholarly so I better keep it that way.  let’s examine this quote Rabbi

Joseph Soloveitchik,

“The role of the man of faith, whose religious experience is fraught with inner conflicts and incongruities, who oscillates between ecstasy in God’s companionship and despair when he feels abandoned by God, and who is torn asunder by the heightened contrast between self-appreciation and abnegation, has been a difficult one since the times of Abraham and Moses.”

The Lonely Man of Faith (Three Leaves Press, Doubleday, 1965), p. 2.

As I mentioned earlier, we get that we are aliens because we don’t belong to this world and we all affirm that, yet in doing so, we fall so short from being a true resident in God’s kingdom and are therefore aliens to his kingdom as well. The alien mindset goes both ways.

I really appreciate the book of first Peter because he writes with the Hebrew mindset such as Paul or Jesus did. Even though the New Testament is written in Greek you have to interpret this through a Hebraic lens. Think about Israel for a minute, they failed miserably. Although they were supposed to be a holy people dedicated to a completely different kind of kingdom they failed miserably and ended up belonging more to the rival nation world or kingdom than they did to God’s nation. Some say that eventually they were divorced or that they just were handed over. This is the paradigm of this verse. A traditional Jew would interpret this very differently than the way that you and I probably do today. They were almost fighting words, and in many ways showed the relationship of “wrestling” between God and Israel.

This is also why there’s a notion that Israel isn’t accepted anywhere. They aren’t accepted in the world they are spread out in (diaspora language) and they haven’t been accepted by God’s world unless they come to new covenant terms with God and Jesus.

First Peter tends to be a theological launch zone for replacement theology; but when you really jump into the study, what we find is that it’s not replacement theology it’s new covenant theology… it’s not talking about the church replacing Israel it’s simply just talking about new covenant terms of the kingdom of Jesus, the terms that are going to be the same for all that might come.

First Peter within the opening lines presents the conundrum. The message is that too many people have become complacent because they’ve taken the first step towards allegiant faith with Christ and left it there. “they haven’t followed the road to true discipleship.” Peter has a problem with that. The church was supposed to be full of true devout disciples that are all in to the kingdom of God; not believers stuck in elementary phases of their faith who have become more rooted in the world‘s ways than in Gods. Probably sounds a little bit like our “church” today. It might also look like Israel all over again a mass failing in the eyes of God.

The prayer of allegiant faith is just the first step of the journey. This is also going to tie into the idea of the elect. The more Calvinistic or reformed view would say that there’s not much that this person can do because they’ve been chosen since the beginning of time (I like to refer to this as a robot theology) but most people get this view wrong as well. Again, you have to consider where Peter is coming from, his Hebraic roots. You can see the word “elect” here. These are God’s chosen, I’m not arguing that, but chosen here implies a reciprocal relationship that goes both ways. The first Greek word is elektois – a word that differentiates believers from non-believers. It comes from the Greek word for “to select or choose”. It is used again in 1 Peter 2:9. Compare the usage of the word by looking at 1 Tim 5:21. This is an Old Testament concept (look at Deut. 14:2 and Isaiah 45:4).

These chosen ones reside nearby as strangers (that’s parepidemois). In 1:2 we also have another word connected (are you impressed I actually made it to another verse?!) The word foreknowledge comes from two different Greek words that meant “before and to know”. In Peters time the stoics are going to be trying to bring “light” or “enlightenment” to the world. Unfortunately this is the way that we consider this word today, it brings the idea of intelligent comprehension for the act of knowing. It brings with it the idea of a fortuneteller foretelling the future. when you combine the two Greek words, you get “prior acknowledgement” or “known beforehand”.

One of the things I like at the most about understanding the language that the Bible is written in is being able to understand when things like this are happening. One of the traits of a good Hebrew teacher or a writer is that you don’t only explain what you’re teaching but as you’re teaching it you’re also modeling it. A really great message as Jesus would have done not only explains the message but also lives out the message while teaching it. We don’t get this at all it’s lost in translation. That’s the heart of what it meant to be a living example in your teaching.

What Peter is doing is prolific. He’s basically taking the teaching of the day, (the gnostics view of fortunetelling) and continues to build on Jesus’ message as a backward way of thinking- a rival kingdom to that of the world. This is the use of opposites in scripture that I talk so much about, the Hebraic Contronym way of thinking and teaching.

What is sad though, is that too many people interpret this exactly the wrong way, they’ve taken what Peter is saying to be the exact opposite of what he meant because he was teaching contrary to the way of the world. His point is to think oppositely of the Greek style of fortune telling… he is contrasting the worlds message and asserting that is not what God’s kingdom is about. Both in his time and in our time, society is filled with the belief that knowledge is power and secret knowledge is even more powerful, the gnostic way. Eventually they believe that they actually could be like or equal to God in their understanding. that’s counter to the message of God and was the problem with babel in the fallen spiritual beings. This is the major problem that divides the entire scripture.

So how do I know that peter meant the opposite out of the simple two verse? Let me show you.

In Hebrew these words are all tied together. In this case the Hebrew idea of knowing something is “yada.” You’ve heard this expression before after somebody rants about something they might say “ya da ya da ya da”; you probably never realized that this was a Hebrew expression that meant and on and on and on as if you “know it all!”

In Hebrew this word has a lot of different meanings but it’s always linked to a relationship of intimacy (Sometimes sexual as that is the best earthly metaphor for a complete intimate relational connection.

The Hebrew word is different than the stoic version because it emphasizes a relationship rather than the intellect itself. The idea is that it stresses knowing the subject not knowing the information. This is where we get the scriptures that say the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It would be silly to consider a verse like that and think that God is going to allow us now to see into the future! That’s not at all what it meant!

When we interpret the word foreknowledge in this light it comes off as a relationship of acknowledgment not prediction. I’m going to challenge you to continue applying this to the way the same word is used throughout scripture in Acts 2:23, Rom. 11:2, Rom. 8:29, 1 Peter 1:20; (just to name a few but I would even are you in every situation.)

We want to think of the words elect chosen and foreknowledge as being some magic mysterious thing that God orchestrated from the very beginning of time such as a Calvinist would make it sound like, but as Peter teaches here that’s actually opposite to the way of thinking in Gods kingdom; that’s the way of thinking in the rival kingdom, the way that the world considers these things -such as the Stoics. The message was that we are aliens in that we are opposite to that kind of thinking.

We want to make this out to be God knowing about a subject matter before it happens like some kind of fortuneteller. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to believe that God teaches against that sort of thing. That’s described as evil in the Bible. We need to keep our theology within the character and nature of God that is clearly given in the scripture.

So am I saying that God doesn’t know all things? Am I proposing that God might know the options to our choices? (Molinism) -I’m just saying that we need to be careful that we’re not putting God in the box of our world. That’s opposite of what he’s telling us. Perhaps God has some kind of knowledge beyond our human understanding of the subject matter beforehand, I’m not completely ruling that out… but that’s not what the scripture says here or what Peter is talking about. To create some kind of doctrinal position based on that would be an atrocity to hermeneutics.

Peter is saying that God acts in accordance with the role of those that have made the decision to follow him and have completely given themselves to this journey of sanctification. It’s not about a momentary decision or that somebody has crossed that line and is now with the Lord in eternity. That picture is never painted quite that simply in the Bible. The picture that Peter is painting is a God walking along with you acting on your behalf meeting you wherever you might be in the middle even though you haven’t been faithful to come completely to his world.

If you’ve ever wondered why we have the Old Testament story of Israel this is why. It’s to show us despite how far we wander from God, God is still there without stretched arms. There is no better picture of that then of Israel.

His arms are reached out towards the world to grab you an intimate relationship and pull you up to his. This is a covenant that we see over and over and over. An amazing God of Grace love and mercy who is relentless despite of our shortcomings to offer deep and intimate relationship through a journey of sanctification. What a beautiful message Peter captures in a way that is so incredibly crafted by Hebraic teaching that unfortunately many of us have lost the real message.

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The main thrust or mission as Christians bearing the light of Jesus is to grow deeper in our intimacy with Jesus and bring others to the same place. If you didn’t notice, that’s not where the rest of the world is! If you have Jesus, You know we are all in ministry and if you didn’t notice, Ministry is tough. We are anointed to admonish and edify each other, as we are faithfully walking in the spirit, humbly leading hand-in-hand as the body of Christ. This one’s hard I’m speaking to the choir; we can all do better, especially myself!

Some have said that you should never be offended in this ministry and there is some truth to it, there’s definitely the idea of putting on your thick skin as we are fairly warned that we will experience toil and tribulation if our course is on track with the Lords work.

-but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead Philippians 3:13 NASB

I really like Paul’s use of wording, “reaching forward” I like to point out things often that I see in the native language of the scripture that some people might not pick up on. (I don’t think too many of my friends know Greek!) in Greek you can add emphasis to something by adding the prefix EPI before. In this case it is the combination of epi with epekteino. It means to really reach out or strive hard toward something.

I’m torn on football these days. Half of me doesn’t want to support any of it, but the other half of me remembers days of watching football games week in and week out with my dad reloading ammunition, playing games of chess, organizing baseball cards, and countless other things all while having an amazing time with him on a Sunday afternoon with the Packer game going on in the background. These are some of my greatest memories in life from the time I was a little child until the year he passed, it was a Sunday tradition. It was what brought us together. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately with the Packers having another chance at a Super Bowl and having to decide whether I’m going to sit down and watch these games or not!

When you consider this verse in the context of the chapter and even the whole book from Paul, You can get the idea of thinking of someone who is playing football. Now if you’re a Bears fan I hope this analogy doesn’t bring feelings of hurt and resentment! (but if it does let’s pray that God will turn those feelings to joy next season!)

Picture this in football … The valiant play to stretch over the goal line. I remember as a kid playing football in grade school this was the big thing; reaching for the goal line, leaping over people trying to tackle you to make a impressive bound for the touchdown! You just had to break the line with the ball before your knee hit the ground. It was what dreams are made of.

I want to encourage you to think similarly in your Christian life. To put this kind of thinking on the pedestal of your Christoformity. I love the charge of Philippians three. That we are called to rejoice in the Lord together and to not be put off by little things. It’s a thrust to see the bigger picture and put aside the ways of the world and think more spiritually.

In the beginning of this verse, Paul says that he deliberately makes a choice to leave those things of the past in the past. He decides to forget about them.

In our Western thinking we want to treat this “forgetting of the past” as if it’s old addictions or major ghosts in the closet from years ago, and it does mean that but it also means more.

Grammatically, the way it’s written in the Greek, is actually more immediate. What it’s talking about is putting aside immediate differences… to put aside something that you could take offense to that was just said or done.

It’s a commitment or refusal to be delayed or distracted by anything in the past, even just seconds after it was said or done. Paul’s concentration is all on the prize (Which is a kingdom transformation that I will get to shortly).

This verse gives us the correct understanding of our current circumstances. Paul is describing being stretched thin for something more significant. Notice whenever you’re stretched thin like you’re leaping through the air with your body completely outstretched in the football analogy, you’re more vulnerable. Nothing in a football game would hurt worse than opening yourself in a position like this not to have somebody from the other team hit you hard; but what if somebody from your own team tackled you at the goal line? Anyone ever feel like they’ve been tackled by a teammate before? It really hurts in ministry when you get hit by someone on your own team, but Paul says put it aside!

I love how Paul writes, “This one thing I do.” There’s no better picture of being all in.

It is “the prize of the high calling of God.” This is the thrust of the entire message of the Bible that we all might become deeply devoted to a more missional calling to be a true disciple of Christ putting aside things of the world.

Is that your goal – the high calling to God for your life? When you pray, do you say, “God, let me stretch toward the high calling you have for me”?

There’s also one more thought here, when people read this they want to read it as if the finish line is heaven. As I mentioned above, this whole section is written not so much eschatologically (as if it were talking about the great reward of heaven. I would agree that there is some implication there but grammatically that’s not what it’s referring to) but for the now. I use the football analogy because it fits here too. It’s not talking about one big push in life (seems like we always want to make everything about heaven- The great pie in the sky); it’s talking about several finish lines in life; bringing glory to the name of Jesus at every hurdle. In a football game you’re gonna hit the goal line more than once if your part of a unified team that’s moving in the right direction. That’s the calling of the unified church.

There’s an ancient Hebrew thought that begins in the first pages of Genesis and is regularly seen through the scripture that’s sets up Jesus‘ primary teachings. I share these regularly, they are called Contronyms. The idea is that we can take something that we think is our worst trait or perhaps situation and when given to God at the alter in humble prayerful supplication; God might take that and transform it from the worst thing about us to our greatest gift for the kingdom. And this is the context to understand how the toils of this world might become the greatest joy of God‘s kingdom. It’s sets the tone for Jesus’ backward kingdom; that the last might be first. It’s completely giving yourself to the work of God that he might take your complete living sacrifice and do immeasurably more then you ever considered.

I find regularly that I need to be bathed in prayer in the spirit to enable my heart and mindset to do this. That I may be in a heartset to put aside the differences and even pray that those differences that look like toil or troubles and might be turned by the grace and power of Jesus from ashes to beauty.

I want to think more missional for the kingdom. Big picture thinking. I pray that I may be able to roll up my sleeves for the kingdom and enable my thick skin for the glory of God, that what I offer might be met and transformed to be immeasurably more for His kingdom.



Moses made a copper serpent and mounted it on a standard; and when anyone was bitten by a serpent, he would look at the copper serpent and recover. Numbers 21:9

I preached on this topic about a year ago. And it seems people were mesmerized by the thought of the snake being the cosmic healer in the garden. There’s a lot more to it than I preached on, and I’ve alluded to some of the bigger picture throughout various expedition44 videos. Let me share another small bit here. This one’s pretty interesting.

The word I want you to focus on is recover.

There’s a lot of sickness today and recently I was in a little bit of a discussion or debate as to whether Christ offered simply spiritual healing at the cross or also physical healing at the cross. I’m not gonna answer that one for you, but this is going to help in that exploration of truth.

I’m going to continue talking about Contronym‘s. Those of you who regularly follow my work know that a Contronym is something that’s introduced in the Bible as being particularly the extreme example of something; and then another idea is introduced as its opposite. Usually, the point or meaning inferred contrasts some kind of transformation in a word play. There are a lot of these in the Bible but you have to look for them. They set the tone in the Old Testament for Jesus‘s teachings of the backward kingdom in the New Testament. Jesus’ way is rival or contrary to the way of the world.

This is one of the early stories or examples of a Contronym in the Bible and I like it probably more than any others because it’s in direct reference to something in the early Old Testament that is applied to Christ. And if you didn’t figure it out, that’s kind of my mantra -complete connection of theology in the entire lens of the Bible.

When Moses lifts up the snake it’s going to be a direct correlation to the ascension & the cross in John 314.  In Egypt copper snakes represent healing by mysterious dark powers. This is a reference to the snake at the fall having magical power changing what it was designed to do, which was originally meant to do (extreme good) which degrades to becoming the extreme opposite of good and becoming the greatest Icon of evil. In ancient Egypt people would have to trade the allegiance of their life if they wanted to affirm or accept the healing that this evil creature would grant. This is where we get the idea originally of selling your soul to the devil.

Now this is amazing because the snake is going to choose to go from being a very useful creature in the garden to completely falling; it’s a picture of extreme opposites. Not only does he fall but he becomes the root of what will cause everybody else to fall as well. Again the example (archetype) of the most evil creature on earth.

But now Moses is going to take the same example of extreme evil and use it as a method of transformation. The icon for the greatest evil is going to be transformed to become the icon for the greatest good the world has ever known. This is going to signify to everybody that even the worst Evil or atrocity can be used or turned for good.

I also like to point out things in the original text that others might not be able to see and in this one there’s a wordplay in Hebrew that we can’t see in English.

Moses makes a nehash nehoshet, the first word meaning “snake” and the second “copper.”

Now it’s interesting that Moses chooses not to completely remove this plague as he did in Egypt but asked for a sign of obedience through the people to look upon it for healing. This is going to begin the picture of faith for Israel and for all of mankind from that point forward. It starts the reciprocal dance of grace. God offers a free gift with the understanding that the dance continues to be freely given.

The Hebrew word here that means “to look” is not a normal word that would have been used to describe gazing on something. The word is “sum” and although it does occasionally mean to look or gaze on something it’s frequently associated with the idea of being set apart, to appoint for a special purpose. It’s going to later lead to the verb Kadosh which means set apart for holiness. Similarly this word is also a word that was commonly used in culture for being set apart for death or destruction and God is going to turn it to have a new significance which will be for His people to be set apart for life. In the same way, the word “sum” takes on the idea of immediate change, or where kadosh- holiness is going to be seen as more of a journey of life. In other words the word sum is the first act of allegiance, its later going to lead to the bigger picture of Kadosh thinking that your whole life might be set apart in a journey with Him. The idea here is that it’s not a complete change but it’s the first step to change. Most of you have probably picked this up but this word “sum” is to salvation as “kadosh” is to sanctification.

I regularly pick on the idea of momentary salvation as if it were some line drawn on the ground that you simply say a cognitive prayer for and now you’re on the other side of the line. The idea of the allegiant step of faith was just the first step. This is what the biblical word “salvation” better means in its ancient context; rather than thinking of it the way that we do in our western world thinking of being completely saved at that moment. The original word salvation described a journey not a moment. The definition that we want to give salvation (in our modern thinking) is actually better given to the definition of biblical sanctification.

Later, on the cross, when Christ introduces the power of healing by accepting new life in Him, it’s not going to be a one and done, it’s going to allow you to enter into that healing process that might or might not take some time. In other words, the first step of healing is also the first step towards sanctification. If you didn’t notice God often wants this process to take a little bit of time. I’ve written an entire post on this. In the Hebrew mindset you were more blessed by the longer that it took. Our American “want to have it right now” way of thinking is actually counter Biblical. God may grant healing quickly, but if he does you should consider it a reason beyond your expectation as it is not the biblical norm.  I’ve also found that when God chooses to quickly heal its for his greater kingdom purposes… it probably has very little to do with you. But with that being said God honors the prayers of those that are fervent and faithful. we get a picture in the Bible that those who have a very deep fervent relationship with him ask him to intercede and he does so. If God grants quickly it’s because he has a specific reason to do so, and maybe it’s your relationship with, but even then; that immediate result is not the expected biblical norm. In ancient Hebrew thinking this was a very selfish thought to ask for yourself. It’s also contrary to Jesus in an act of servitude at the cross.  he asks that we take on the same mindset towards others (not necessarily ourselves.)

Your prayers were better geared towards the communal good of the people towards God rather than your own afflictions. A better prayer (and perhaps the only unselfish prayer) is that your hardship might be turned to a spiritual sense of joy for his kingdom. Paul rarely asked that his afflictions be removed, he was honored by them. That’s hebraic thinking of hardship. In some ways you don’t pray that it goes away, you pray for the blessings that it might bring… and this is why in Hebrew we often understand that people are deeper blessed for their enduring hardships. There is almost a since they didn’t want to be physically healed yet.

There’s a lot of things here that are really interesting when we study them. The first is the idea that God is going to use something of a pagan culture and He’s going to meet people where they are and transform the most evil of things into something beautiful in his kingdom. This is the regaining of what has been lost (and become greatly defiled by this world) making it into something beautiful (not of this earth). Let’s not forget that eventually even the earth which seems to be the symbol of the world and evil is going to be reclaimed and re-created into a new earth for heavenly beings. It’s also a reference that our God is above everything else.

The snake represented perhaps the greatest of the Egyptian gods that is now under the power of the one true God. That reference is still true today that our God is stronger than anything that the world has. I can’t stand it when people want to make the devil out to be God’s equal opponent.

Moses was asking for a sign of allegiance for each person to signify that they were putting God above everything else in their life in order to accept the power that came with this transformational healing. It was a cognitive decision that they were going to be “all in” putting God first in their hearts and in their minds. It was a picture of entering into a beautiful covenant relationship were you would be cared for through and through.

Squirrel… I want to just step back and say that this is still very elementary in our walk with the Lord. This is what God is asking for as the “first step” -to believe that he is stronger than the rest of the world and wants to completely heal you through and through; and eventually through sanctification, He will heal you of all things. Christ is the picture of the ultimate physician at the cross.

Fast forward to when Jesus died on the cross and makes a reference to the healing of the snake through Moses. The cross in Roman culture was the ultimate symbol of death. It was the worst form of death in history. That’s where we get the word excruciating from. There’s never been such a symbol in history. Jesus is going to take the most powerful symbol of power over life and transform it showing that He is stronger than that and now replaces the worst power on earth with the greatest gift of new and everlasting life. There’s also the idea here that if you accept this in allegiance, that healing comes with it; it’s the first step in the journey of sanctification; which is your transformation from a worldly being into a healed spiritual being.

In Hebrew the word healing signifies the transformation of being marred or ruined by the world and being healed by God through Jesus.

So what he does is transforms this icon that shows pagan control over life into healing by a greater power in Jesus. Not only was he linking the idolatry of Egypt to the idolatry of Rome but in the same way he was asking that a person place allegiant faith in this symbol to receive healing. Today when we look at the icon of the cross that represents ultimate healing.

The cross not only shows God‘s final authority over death, the greatest thing the world or evil powers can dish out…. toil or hardship towards a believer; but it gives us the exact opposite; it transforms something of severe hatred and evil into the most beautiful thing that we’ve ever experienced. This is the message of the Contronym of the cross in Hebrew scripture.

Unfortunately, I’m not going to settle the great debate of whether we simply have spiritual healing in the cross or whether there’s also physical healing in the cross. But I do know that it’s the ultimate symbol of transformation in coming to the kingdom of the Lord; and then that kingdom will be transformed to spiritual beings completely healed conquering the elements of this world and all of evil. In a sense, it doesn’t matter whether you interpret them as spiritual or physical because in the end both are given to you.

May you walk faithfully today in the dust of the rabbi.

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1 Peter 1:13-14 talks about the unison of mind and action. It’s “all in” thinking to be fully allegiance and committed to Christ. This is another section of the Bible that I feel really needs to be read in its native language or you just can’t fully get the point. I hope you like the idea of learning a little bit of Greek because we’re gonna jump in! This would have been very difficult to explain in the video so it’s going to flow a little bit easier in writing. (I hope) 13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance.

The king James uses the translations “girding up” the loins of your mind. It’s the Greek word anazosamenoi. It’s the only time we get this exact word in the Bible. I talk about this sometimes in a tres Dias talk and people always assume that the loins are the legs, but they actually are the lower five vertebrae of the back.

In their custom they pulled up the robe and belt and put everything together so they would have ease of movement perhaps running but the wording is more about strength and foundational back support. There’s a connotation that you can take away from this from when we work out today, putting a heavy leather weight belt around our back for support and to make sure we don’t do more damage than good. A lot of people that lift heavy things for their work also wear these big belts. Whether you apply it to your job or working out, the idea is you’re ready for action to get to work. But Peter uses it applying it to your mind not your body. The word he uses is dianoias. Normally when a biblical author speaks of the mind he uses a different word -nous. So when I read this in Greek the first thing I wonder is why did he use this unusual word for mind? He also uses a prefix before it dis which signifies the idea of through. It’s a strange combination and you actually have to think about it for a minute to translate it into English. The idea is to think through something. what he is seeing here is that faith in action requires a change in your thinking. Faith is not inactive acceptance.

But this little Greek puzzle continues. Most translations say “do not be conformed” but the actual translation more literally reads” not fashion in yourselves”, It comes from the Greek word suschematizo. In English this translates to “schematic” or a pattern that is used to produce copies. You can also think of it as a mold of which you’re going to produce several things that look exactly the same, it’s a pattern for living in the NT that comes from Leviticus 18:1-5 and 24-30.

What Peter is getting at here is that before we knew Christ we lived a certain way. Now that we know him something needs to change. We can’t continue living off of the same pattern that we did before we are aware of Gods grace in what He is asking us to live like. He describes the former ways as “lusts”. This is a very interesting choice of words in my opinion. The Greek is epithymia. What he says here is that during our former (proteron) state of living we lived in ignorance; or in other places of the New Testament this is described as living in the dark. This is a reference to sacred space. When you are holy you were revealed by the light, when you’re of the world you are in the dark. This is a wordplay on the mind. Peter is alluding to the idea of ignorance.

This is a profound place in scripture that if you’re not reading in Greek you totally miss. This word is agnoia (from which we get “agnostic”). This is the battle that Paul was in with the people the letter was written to. Peter is writing this entire sermon in Hebrew thought form (but to a mixed audience). You have to read it in Greek but think like a Hebrew!  What he is describing is a lack of knowledge that leads to mistaken conduct and moral deficiency.

To the Greek world at the time they believed that knowledge lead to enlightenment. But in Hebrew this word is ewil and has very little to do with how smart you were, it had to do with relationships. We read this kind of Hebraic thought throughout the Psalms and Proverbs. Foolishness was the mark of a man who did not understand his place before the Lord. In the Hebrew mind, foolishness isn’t about moral deficiency it was about spiritual and sacred deficiency.

Matt and I continued going right into the beginning of chapter 2 because there isn’t a chapter (or thought) break here in Greek.

2:1 charges right back into this kind of thinking admonishing us to put aside malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy and slander.

Malice is the word kakia & means evil of the heart. Now this is a “naphesh” type of word that means the totality the whole of everything. Guile is the word dolon and means bait. This is a hard one to get in English but what Peter is alluding to is hypocrisy. The Greek is hypokrisis and literally means under judgment. Under means something that is hidden. He’s talking about exposing something that is in the dark. Hypocrisy is the root of deceit. It’s when somebody’s not being forthright. It’s interesting that Peter describes this as utter evil. In the Old Testament it was also described as idolatry, anytime you put something else in the place of or “over” God. (Some great over/under contrast language going on.)

We get the cultural translation of envy meaning jealousy, slander means all evil words. In Greek there’s a lot of words associated with this like turning against something or being the catalyst.  It means to talk at random, the contronym of lego which means to speak from the intellect or reason. Katalalias is gossip, fruitless talk with evil intent, or a “back-biter”.

This is the end of our third film, but eventually he is setting all of this up to later in the chapter say Jesus was not like any of this and if you want to be like Jesus then all of it has to go.

Peter tells us the reason that Jesus did not retaliate but “gave himself over to” – the word is paradidomi. It has the sense of completely delivering oneself over to the power of another.

Non-aggression in adversity and suffering. “Suffer” is the verb pascho. This is undeserved suffering for the sake of “righteousness” (dikaiosune) – that which is just, the state of good standing before God. As I have mentioned many times before, in Hebraic thought you were blessed by the longer you had to suffer or endure hardship. This is the picture of Jesus at the cross the ultimate form of suffering, and that we are ultimately called to be like Jesus. When we can be like Jesus then we will be blessed. In our world we think that means prosperity or given things but that’s not the biblical meaning of the word.

You are blessed – “makarios” which is the same word used over and over and the beatitudes. In fact it was probably Peters way of getting you to have a flashback to remember exactly what Jesus described as life in Him.

This is a whole circular thought that comes back to the beginning of the puzzle where Peter began. To be blessed meant to humbly be in intimate relationship or union with God. Which is exactly what he starts with. Joy in Jesus.

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1 Peter 1:8 Inexpressible Joy

“and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible “

In life there are a few things that we just don’t have the words to describe. We hear this a lot and corny love songs.

Peter uses a phrase that describes this kind of thinking when he says (aneklaleto) or “Joy inexpressible” which means literally unable to call out. There’s a literal sense of not even being able to speak. This sense is that it’s so deep that we don’t quite have the language to describe the experience. And it usually comes to us when we are least expecting it.

CS Lewis referred to this as a shadow to the heavens. We’re on a course to sanctification looks and it looks and feels often like a long tedious journey (at least if you’re living up to your calling as a disciple!) On this journey we experience a lot of toil, but we’re going to find a glimpse of being complete and when we experience this moment, words can’t possibly explain it… it is a sacred moment or a heavenly grace. Jesus described this as a peace that passes understanding.

And of course this is Contronym language, it’s the opposite of what our world usually considers joy. Maybe it comes in the form of hurt or brokenness and moves you to steps outside of your expectations. In fact, it takes us away from the world where God greets us; it’s an eschatological picture, but also a picture of sacred joy within the tangled world that we live right here right now.