Kendall Lankford

10 Reasons to Host a Pastor Story Hour

Whether it is Pastor Story Hour or something else, we want our children to see us active in the world. We do not want them to grow up hiding from culture. We do not want them to believe that our faith is private, quiet, and secretive. We do not want them to grow up afraid to engage. We want them to feel encouraged to labor for Christendom. Excited and eager to see King Jesus reclaim territory for His Kingdom in their lifetime. And we want them to see themselves in that work, encouraged that God might use them to do something extraordinary for Jesus. When we model it to them, they will catch a vision of doing it themselves.

As people across the nation have been hearing about our Pastor Story Hour, I thought it would be helpful to sketch out some of my thoughts on why we are doing an event such as this. And while I prefer to sit and talk about this over a dark roast coffee, I would like to be brief enough here to be truly helpful. Of course, considering that I am a preacher, my goal may already be in jeopardy. Nevertheless, I would like to provide a few significant thoughts on why we believe this event is so helpful, useful, and necessary.
1) GOSPEL – The doctrine behind every conversion and the heartbeat fueling every Christian is the Gospel. It is the power of almighty God, and it is not only the MOST ESSENTIAL doctrine that we could ever learn as individuals, but it is the most essential doctrine that our children could ever learn as well! The Gospel is the doctrine that will guard their hearts and minds should they find themselves in a secular university. The Gospel is the balm for their weary soul when they walk through the pain and suffering life will inevitably throw at them. The Gospel is the life raft for their doubts, the comfort in their sadness, and the fuel for all their joy and gladness. As parents, we are responsible for preparing them for life without us. But, to do that well, we must actively, deliberately, and passionately teach them the Gospel.
As elders and pastors, we take that work seriously (1 Ti 4:1-2). We want to be a resource for our parents in helping you understand the Gospel so that you can also train your children to know God’s glorious Gospel!
2) PASTORAL LEADERSHIP – We believe pastors have been called to bring the truth of the Scriptures to bear on every facet of God’s people’s lives. We do not want to produce people who can behave like Christians during a Sunday morning service. Instead, we want to develop people who are impacted by the Gospel at every level, in every nook and cranny of their lives, so that all of their life looks like Christ. To do that, we must not take for granted that people are leaving the safety of our churches on Sunday to enter the battlefield on Monday. While we are reading commentaries and preparing messages throughout the week, our people are inundated with the enemy’s lies, saturated with every wind of cultural dogmatism, and pressured to compromise. Frankly, if we are not actively seeking to help our people develop a Biblical worldview, then we are preparing them for failure.
As pastors, we stand with one foot in the Biblical world of truth and theology and the other foot in the world of liberal and secular ideology. We stand on the wall and see the trends coming, the pagan philosophies forming, the secular ideologies gathering steam, and we are the exact people God called to help. We are the ones who help equip God’s people to think about things from a Biblical worldview, and that duty must never be abandoned. For this reason, an event like Pastor Story Hour is so helpful because we can pick and choose topics to teach that do not usually come up on a Sunday morning. Further, we can take those topics and use them as an opportunity to train our children and equip our parents. That is pastoral leadership.
3) FAMILY WORSHIP – The more we become acquainted with the Gospel, the more we realize that it is not just a Sunday doctrine and not the kind of thing that can be contained in a one-hour church service each week. The Gospel finds its way into every aspect of our life, which means we must also teach the Gospel in every area that our children live. This is why the Gospel must be read in books, sung in songs, prayed at dinner tables, tucked in with them when they go to bed, and the aroma of the home they will awaken into.
For this reason, Pastor Story Hour is not only for the children to learn the Gospel, but it is also an intentional environment for parents to come and watch us teaching their children and to observe how we do it. We want moms and dads to see how we do it and get ideas and inspiration on how to do the same thing for their children in their own homes. We want you to feel comfortable, competent, and confident in knowing how to instruct your children in the Gospel. We believe Pastor Story Hour can be a wonderful part of that! Our goal is that Pastor Story Hour will be a blessing to every member of the family and that it will invigorate family worship in our community and beyond!
4) CHRISTIAN EDUCATION – Along with family worship, we believe the Church has a God-ordained responsibility to educate all of our people in the Gospel and to help equip them for service in His Kingdom.
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No Such Thing as “Little Sins”

Sins must not be minimized or trivialized. Sin caused our world to fall into the depths of depravity and violence. Sin caused our precious and spotless savior to undergo the wrath of God. And sin, while promising pleasure, becomes the bane of intimacy between us and God. Knowing this, let us be vigilant in fighting, making war, and mortifying our flesh so that we can experience more joy, more intimacy, and more pleasure in knowing God.

There are no such things as little sins. Every minuscule action or inaction, every microscopic thought, feeling, or the lack thereof that is tainted with even the slightest trace of sin, is eternally damaging to our relationship with God. And yet, we live in a world constantly seeking to minimize what the Bible calls sin. I do it. You do it. We all do it. We all want to reduce the gravity of our sin to the point where it no longer stings the soul.
We take things that are offensive to God and then reframe them in language that is more palatable to our egos and consciences.
For instance, how many politicians or celebrities have you heard make the claim “I made a mistake” when it is discovered that they are cheating on their spouse? They do not call it sin or adultery; they reduce it to the level of accidental carelessness. The same word I would use to describe spilling a glass of milk or tripping on a street corner – a mistake – is the word used for intentionally planning a prolonged illicit relationship of sexual and emotional infidelity. These two actions are not the same!
This is why infidelity is cast as “my needs aren’t getting met” because the perpetrator wants to become the victim. Divorce has now been recategorized as “falling out of love,” “drifting apart,” or “we just weren’t a good fit” to avoid a sin that God hates. Digitally depicted sex acts, incest, rape, and grotesque forms of violence are all rebranded under the guise of entertainment and joyfully consumed without question. Homosexuality and pedophilia are called “love,” rebranded as normative expressions of affection and sexual behavior instead of the rank perversions they are. Abortion, which is the intentional slaughtering of innocent humans, is more politely called “rights” and “healthcare.”
Yet, we not only play these games with big sins but also do that slimy dance with the sins we consider to be smaller ones. For example, many treat lying as no longer “wrong” in an absolute sense but sometimes can be situationally advantageous. Gluttony can be called words like “comfort,” “foodie,” or “boredom.” Even sins of omission, where we do not do what God commanded, can be seen as “not my gifting” or “Not qualified,” which does not Biblically work. See Matthew 28:18-20 for an explicit command that is woefully ignored today.
I am convinced that this behavior is a universal human condition. Christian or not, believer or skeptic, we all long to maximize our ego and minimize our culpability before God.
How can I say this? Because I want to minimize my sins right along with you. I cannot speak for everyone, but I know intimately how the human condition works because I am very much human. I detest that I am a guilty sinner and would gladly scuttle past that point without a moment’s reflection if I could. To do that, I either have to deal with how sinful I am and be brutally honest about it, or I will do what we all do and minimize, trivialize, and placate our sins.
And maybe you will ask, why do we do this? I think it is evident in Scripture that when we chose rebellion against God, something intrinsic to our souls was broken so that all we now do and everything we crave has been tainted by the disease of sin. Instead of honesty, we weave clever ruses to picture ourselves as the good guy. We do not want to face the music that we have failed and are deeply flawed in ways we cannot fix. We do not want to admit that we would fail a million times if we were given a million chances with God. We avoid the obvious truth, so we can keep our sin outside of us instead of dealing with the reality that it is going on within that is affecting, effecting, and infecting us all.
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Painting Sin with Virtue Signals

As we revisit the truths that Thomas Brooks discovered in 1652, let us be reinvigorated by them today. Let us make war with our sin. Let us avoid the veneer of virtue signaling and resist the temptation to tuck them away like poison without dealing with it adequately. Let us flee to the arms of our dear savior for comfort, and let us stand in the power of the Spirit to live differently in the days ahead.

One of the most helpful books I have ever read was Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by the great Puritan Thomas Brooks. In that book, which is more like a handbook on how to avoid the schemes of hell, Brooks lays out common ways the enemy so quickly entraps us, along with precious Gospel remedies we can employ to avoid the temptations he brings. Last week, we began looking more closely at the first of these devices and remedies and will continue again this week, looking at how Satan paints sin with virtuous colors.
Painting Sin with Virtue Signals
In the deepest recesses of the human psyche, like a balrog sleeping in the depths of Moria, exists an unquenchable torrent of guilt that cannot be assuaged by the putting on of virtues. And yet, the madness of the human condition is this, although we cannot succeed in doing, surely we will try, try, again. In fact, virtue signaling exists to distract from the inherent guilt we all know is festering within us, like a boil ready to unleash its murky contents.
Imprinted upon the sickly soul of man is the unavoidable knowledge that all have sinned and fallen short of our creator’s glory (Romans 3:23). But, instead of reckoning with this Holy God, the brittle soul suppresses this embarrassing knowledge in abject wickedness (Romans 1:18). Faced with the foul pollution of our contaminated character, we pretend we are virtuous because we cannot stand the terror of how sin has mangled us.
This is why Planned Parenthood when referring to the grizzly murder of a million infants per year, uses the benign phrase: women’s healthcare. The human ego cannot bear the horror and culpability of creating the most extensive serial killing ring in human history. So, with euphemisms turned into ad campaigns, they disguise their awful corruptions and attempt to convince the onlooking world that they are, in fact, the righteous ones. And if you do not join them, you are the real monster.
This is why democrats in 2020 were wearing the “I can’t breathe” t-shirts commemorating the death of George Floyd. Because, with a tattered legacy of being pro-slavery, pro-racism, pro-Jim Crow, and the perpetrator of a litany of violence against non-white races, the democrats must constantly play moral whack-a-mole, to forget who they were, and to convince everyone else they are unstained. And should you defy their clever wordsmithing? You will be thoroughly canceled, tossed into a “basket of deplorables,” doxed, and then deemed unfit for polite society. Their guilt fuels their senselessness.
But let us not puff out hollow chests while doing a little conservative jig with the Pharisees. Everyone virtue signals to some degree or another because no one wants to face the dragons hiding within. We cannot, as Christians, pretend that this is just a game the pagans play. When we lie, we paint with the strokes called: “I was only kidding.” When we foment anger, it is their stupidity that causes it. When we are cut off by a reckless driver, we deem him unfit for the road or travel, and yet, when we do the exact same thing, we are the ones who have an excellent reason. Perhaps, the most constant and revolting aspect of our sin is that it is so morbidly hideous that our souls not only scramble to hide it, cloak it, or redefine it, but it also forgoes true repentance in exchange for pitiful excuses and virtue signals. Without Christ, we are truly hopeless.
The Death of Signaling and Dawn of Virtue
Two thousand years ago, the divine author we rejected penned Himself into His own epic, taking upon Himself the weight of the tragedy, His characters deserved. And unlike us, He didn’t participate in the charades or dawn the theater masks (Thalia and Melpomene). He did not feign righteousness or masquerade with contrived or pretended holinesses. Instead, he lived authentically as the God-man before us. Instead of pacifying guilt, which He had none, He assuaged the wrath of almighty God. For His elect, He came so that all who are in Christ could be set free from the toil of shame and misery to live in the glorious freedom of serving Him.
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Pastor Story Hour

Now is the time for the church to wake up. To speak the truth in love, which most definitely requires speaking. It is time to stand for truth so that this nation does not continue to fall into ranker and danker error. And, now is the time for us to boldly herald the truth of God, even if it conflicts with what the societal elites are shoving down our throats.

Drag Queen Story World
Just a few years ago, in the LGBTQ stronghold of San Francisco, Drag Queen Story Hour was unleashed upon the world. Adult perverts with a penchant for sexualizing children dawned their demonic costumes and infiltrated one public library after another. Within a few weeks, and continuing on in the years ahead, an unholy movement was spawned that would captivate the country. Today, in libraries all across this nation, the mentally disturbed and morally degenerate continue unabated, mustering all the energy they can spare to bring our kids into their world of seedy shadows and dank darkness.
Enough is enough!
We Need to Stop Being Turtles
When I was deployed to the National Training Center in Death Valley, California, one of our pre-mission briefings was about a local indigenous turtle. Apparently, whenever the poor beast felt frightened, it would hide in its shell, which seemed like a fairly normal thing for a turtle to do. Yet, if a predator persisted, picking up or jostling the frightened testudines, it would do the unthinkable and urinate in its shell, drowning itself in its own waste fluids. Apparently, you really could scare the pee out of this turtle, and that would inevitably kill this creature.
Knowing this was extremely important to the US Army, because this particular turtle was on the endangered species list and came with a hefty price tag. The last thing Uncle Sam wanted one of his boys doing is accidentally suiciding a poor turtle with a peculiar defense mechanism. This, unfortunately, is what many in the church and Christians in the United States have become.
Instead of rising to the challenge of our day like lions, becoming salt in a decaying culture, and light in the midst of darkness, far too many have ran back into their shells. Is it any wonder we look like we’ve wet ourselves and the church appears like it is dying? We have adopted the cultural strategy of a Death Valley turtle!
Instead of continuing such a miserable and failed approach, I believe it is time for us to be honest about who we are. We do not support the perversion of our children. We wont stand idly by while perverts in the line of Kinney continue to perform disgusting social experiments on our children. Enough is enough!
Now is the time for the church to wake up. To speak the truth in love, which most definitely requires speaking. It is time to stand for truth so that this nation does not continue to fall into ranker and danker error. And, now is the time for us to boldly herald the truth of God, even if it conflicts with what the societal elites are shoving down our throats.
This gets us to Pastor Story Hour…
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The Bait of Satan

This is the remedy and the cure for our temptation. Abhor what is evil. Run from it. Flee it. Do not indulge it. And then, with all your heart, cling to what is good. Both of these actions are necessary if we want to live in victory. 

The Deception in Fishing
Growing up in the foothills of North Carolina, my grandpa and I used every excuse conceivable to steal away, out to the water, so that we could drop a line and go fishing. It didn’t matter if we were trolling quietly up the Yadkin river, sitting on the bank under the shade of a weeping willow tree, in flip-flops on the sandy shore of Holden Beach, or miles from land in my papa’s boat, rocking rhythmically to the waves and cooled by the misty wind. So long as we had a rod in our hand, a fish on the line, and the sun to our backs, we were in hog-heaven.
In case you have never been fishing before, one of the core principles of that enterprise is deception. A great fisherman will not only have the proper gear for his location, but he will invest the effort toward understanding the desires and inclinations of the fish he is after. Then he will liberally give them precisely what they want, yet with one metallic twist.
The idea behind fishing is to take something that is good – something that the fish cannot resist – and then hide a barbed dagger inside it to hook them as soon as they indulge. Their ignorant lust for the lure leads them to their tragic demise. In this sense, the bait is what drags from safety and security to the grill and the plate. The whole process is pretty gruesome when you set about describing it.
Satanic Similarities
In the garden, Satan adopted a very similar posture towards man. He cleverly disguised that first golden hook of sin in the beautiful flesh of a forbidden fruit and tossed the perfect cast before her lustful eyes. He said:
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.– Genesis 3:5
Her eyes dazzled with a peculiar glimmer never known before. Instantly, she wanted this thing more than anything else she owned. And then, after sharing it with her husband, that barbed hook of guilt, shame, and death dragged the unsuspecting couple into the boat of Satan and away from the tranquil pleasures of knowing God.
The same is true for us today; Satan lures us away from God by using our unholy affections against us. Like a good fisherman, he has studied us well and chooses the exact baits we cannot resist. And while the bait may differ from person to person, depending on their peculiarities and personality, the hook will always be the same.
Every temptation we sink our teeth into, regardless of what attracts us, will lead to the same destination. Once that Satanic hook is set in the lip, we find ourselves dragged violently away from God. For this reason, our greatest defense must not be spent trying to get off the hook once we clamp down but fighting our desires so that we do not fall for the bait in the first place.
To that end, let me give you three things to think about as you seek to avoid sin and gain victory over your temptations.
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A Raggedy Christmas

The Christmas rags remind us that God has shown His greatest love in the most ignoble birth. In that, He can empathize with us He too was brought down low. He left the splendor of heaven to recline in a feeding trough made for pigs. Why? So that we would never wonder if God was too busy to notice us, too high and lofty to care for us, or too concerned with other matters to reach you. He proved His love for us when He left the highest places in heaven to dwell in the lowest parts of earth.

When our Lord visited the earth, He didn’t come in on a 1000-horsepower jet-fueled celestial chariot for everyone to see. He didn’t topple the world’s greatest empire with heaven’s version of the seal team six. And He did not sit down upon His rightful throne to reign. At least not at first. He came initially to the warm, quiet darkness of a poor virgin’s womb, just as He promised (Gen. 3:15).
In so doing, our Lord submitted to the same human gestation that He joyfully designed. He was fed from the same umbilical cord He artfully invented. And He became dependent upon the mother He wove together in his grandmother’s womb. The artist indeed painted Himself into His own masterpiece.
Upon His birth, the King of all glory wasn’t welcomed with festivals, celebrations, and feasting befitting His majesty. No heralds were sent out from Bethlehem that evening. There were no government holidays or observances sanctioned. Just the humble cry of a newborn babe wrapped in common rags. But why?
Here, we must lift our gaze above the Hallmark card nativity scenes to see the point of what was happening. Jesus wasn’t draped with a warm, cuddly, baby blanket his mother got at Target. He was not swallowed up in a plush baggy onesie because auntie Elizabeth bought him the wrong size. Instead, he was bound with tight strips of linen, making him look more like a miniature mummy than a precious moments model. But again, why?
At that time, such a tight and restrictive binding was used to simulate a mother’s womb. A newborn child had recently spent more than 9 months cramped in an ever-tightening uterus. So, bindings like this would have made the baby most comfortable as he adapted to a wide-open world. But for Jesus, the symbolism is far more profound and gets right at the heart of the Gospel. Let us explore.
First, we know from Scripture that the angels directed a group of herdsmen to go and find the child. He also told them to view these linen rags, wrapped around the body of Christ, as a great sign unto them, convincing them of who He is and what He had come to do. It says in Luke 2

“In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” – Luke 2:8-14

The rags upon Jesus’ body were a sign meant to be looked at, noticed, and pondered in such a way that they would come to believe these three specific truths.

He was born for their good news.

He was born for the world’s great joy.

He was born to be Savior, Christ, and Lord.

Born for Their Good News
When the Shepherds viewed those shabby rags, it was meant to be a sign unto them. It was to be a good message. A joyful message. It was a definitive statement from God that communicated eternally good news to His people. But there is more for us to consider here.
The word used in the text by the angelic fleet is the Greek word εὐαγγελίζω, which is where we get our verb “to evangelize” or, more accurately, “to proclaim the Gospel.” In those days, that word did not have a religious connotation. Instead, it was purely political. At that time, a “gospel” message was a good news report about a victory in battle, a call to celebrate an emperor’s birthday, or a declaration that a new child had been born into the royal family. When these good news events occurred, singing heralds would be sent throughout the empire to alert the people so they could celebrate together.
But, just because something was good news in Rome did not necessarily make it good news worth celebrating in Judah.
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The Heart of Eschatology

For far too long, the Church has been standing around like a gaggle of state-paid road workers, watching one or two men wield a shovel. We have been far too docile and lethargic and have spent too much time trying to stay out of everyone’s way. This needs to stop.

As the murky shadow of evil grew like kudzu in the forrests of Mirkwood, Gandalf passionately addressed the white council. His suggestion was to swiftly attack the rising dark Lord Sauron while he could still be easily defeated. Yet, his guidance was rejected because a nefarious little fox named Saruman had worked his way into Middle Earth’s hen house. Had the council banded together under Gandalf’s advice, the entire saga of the Lord of the Rings would have never occurred, at least not with such panache. And while the books and movies are markedly better due to the treachery of Saruman, we can see the simplest of points: doing nothing in the face of rising evil almost always makes things worse.
This brings us to the very heart and center of Biblical eschatology. While Mordor’s shadow darkens daily across the waning empire of America, our goal mustn’t be to hide all knobby kneed in an evangelical version of Helm’s Deep. We must not bury our heads like a herd of ostriches, wet our pants like terrified turtles, or blend in like chameleons until the danger has subsided. As the end draws near, no matter how long that drawing draws on, we are called to take up our weapons of warfare and do four things as we wait on our savior to return.
These four things show up in today’s passage that we will examine below.

Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his Master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his Master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that evil slave says in his heart, “My master is not coming for a long time,” and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the Master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.—Matthew 24:45-51

Be Faithful Where You Are
No matter your eschatological position, these words could not be any clearer. Instead of wasting our time trying to identify the next candidate for Antichrist, or which shade of red the next blood moon will be, or living in total ignorance as if eschatology doesn’t matter, we are called to be faithful. Scripture tells us not to look back while we are plowing (Luke 9:62) and not to look up while we are supposed to be working (Acts 1:11). Instead, we are to look forward with hope as we labor faithfully wherever we are at.
And where are we? We are in the household of the King of kings and Lord of lords (Matthew 28:18). He is the one who purchased this down-and-out dilapidated mess called earth with His most precious and holy blood. All of it now belongs to Him! And through His Church, whom He left with the renovation plans, we’ve been tasked with reshaping everything to His vision.
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Church Shopping and Serial Dating…?

Find a faithful, Biblical, and local church to be a part of. Interview it well, understand their doctrine, treat that process with sobriety and wisdom, and when you have found the place you can be committed to, commit to the glory of Christ! Be active, faithful in worship, and engaged in the life of the Church. Help that Church grow to accomplish God’s mission.

Church Hopping and Serial Dating
When we think about the Church as the “bride of Christ,” we must remember how easy it is to bring our anecdotal images, ideas, and societal expectations to bear. For instance, how does one get married in twenty-first-century America? Sadly, the ethics of dating in the Church do not differ drastically from the ethics of pagan culture.
In this culture, you generally meet someone who gives you a mystical spark. Then, after no time at all, you have fallen head over heels in love with that person as they develop an unhealthy emotional obsession with you. Then, the two of you bypass good old-fashioned common sense for a season, only to find out you are not who you thought each other was. So you break up, rebound, and move on, rack up a few dozen of these relationships until you find “the right one,” Then you enter into marriage with more baggage than a fully loaded 747.
Not only does that sound like a recipe for disaster (and a major contributing factor to high divorce rates among Christians, rampant infidelity even among believers, commitment issues, carnal expectations, and a host of other marital toxins) it also explains why so many Christians have a low view of the Church and a base view of commitment to the body of Christ. If the Church is Jesus’ bride, and we have ignorantly bought into the lie that brides don’t come about until the tenth or eleventh lover, then trends like church shopping, church hopping, and church dating make all the more sense.
But we have to ask ourselves the question. Is this culture of “dating the church” a good thing? Should we “try before we buy?” Should we play Church until we are ready to make a commitment? And does that behavior produce the kind of men who will build Christendom or the ones who will pursue their preferences and lusts? Does it create the type of women that raise the next generation of saints? People, who love the Church? Are faithful to the mission of Jesus Christ?
I plan to explore that in this short little article, and we will do so by drawing a comparison between hookup culture and church hopping.
The Plague of Serial Dating
As a man or woman stockpiles intimate relationships, the expectations for a perfect spouse will increase, while the likelihood of finding a suitable partner will inevitably decrease. For instance, Person A may have had the best eyes but no personality. Person B had a great personality but wasn’t all that attractive. Person C was mean to you but was sexually gratifying. Person D was smart but had the body of a muffin top. Person E was witty but tremendously self-absorbed. On and on this cycle goes.
And guess what? The longer this list of relationships becomes, the more certain two things will be to happen. First, you will never find someone who meets all your carnal preferences. You will have created a “perfect spouse” like your own personal Mr. potato head that is the amalgam of all the “best” parts from all your previous lovers when no such person exists. I want to be optimistic that Christians are not dating and treating relationships this way, but I have seen far too much carnage in this area to pretend it doesn’t exist.
Second, when you hold onto such a superficial standard, you will either remain single forever, leaving you discouraged, or marry with significant sacrifices, feeling like you have “settled.” Again, this could have been avoided if we had prepared ourselves (and our children) for dating Biblically.
If we treated dating as the Bible does, then romance, intimacy, and pleasure would follow deliberate platonic assessment. We would not give our hearts or bodies away until we were with our covenant spouse. We would not use erotically charged dating methods to discover if someone had lifelong potential. We would not move in with them and play house to see if we could be married. Instead, we should discover those things first by interviewing them, examining their doctrine, inspecting every nook and cranny of their life, and inviting the parents and our churches into the process.
If that is how we approach things, men and women could freely and joyfully enter into the sexual, relational, spiritual, and emotional intimacy they long for within covenant marriages as God designed. And they could do so without all the scars, wounds, and baggage that come from following the world. If we treated potential suitors as our future spouses, or at the least as brothers and sisters in Christ, we would enter marriage Biblically prepared, with no regrets, no unrealistic expectations, and an overwhelming sense of security, satisfaction, pleasure, and joy.
The Example of Adam
Think about the first man and husband, Adam. Here we have a man who was prepared for his wedding day in a way few could ever dream. He had never seen a female body, so he had nothing to compare her to and nothing to be disappointed with. Her body was exactly what he wanted because it was all he had ever known. He did not have a thousand expectations of waist size, leg length, hair color, nose shape, or anything else clinging to his prefrontal cortex.
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A Life of Thankfulness

We are not the rightful arbiter of our circumstances. Under every good and happy thing and every bitter and sour thing is the smiling face of God, whose providence allows for nothing but our good (Romans 8:28). “Oh, give thanks!” That is why we do not direct our thankfulness toward people, places, and particular situations because they are too cheap and far too flimsy to stand under the weight of praise. People will let you down. Your body will decay. Life will sucker punch you in the teeth when you are not looking. So, dear friends, do not give your thanks to those things! Instead, give it to Almighty God, as the psalmist proclaims.

As the meat sweats, socially acceptable gluttony, and mild diabetic comas begin to subside, the question believers must continue to wrestle with, throughout the entire year is, “what is a life of thankfulness”? Who is responsible for the good in our life? And what is the telos of our thankfulness?
For the pagan man, the words “I am thankful for ____” must end at his own self. He is thankful for the things he likes. He is grateful for whatever pleases him and aligns with his value structure. But, what that man cannot be is thankful in any holistic way because innumerable things exist that are still displeasing to him.
An ounce of lucidity and self-reflection confirms it. Life is served up hot and ready with more examples of pain than there are pleasures. A man’s work is filled with futility; his family is struggling or even falling apart; inflation feels like a noose around his neck, and the holiday called Thanksgiving is just another opportunity to spread a little faux gratitude over the black hole of his existence. Without God, the love of Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Ghost, that annual November food fest reduces down to a “chasing after the wind” with a side of honey-baked ham and yams. All the world can do is participate in the farce of fatalism; they may eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow, they surely will die. That is their lot.
Yet, for the Christian, thanksgiving is much more than a day of excess eating and football. Thanksgiving takes over all of life. It invades every darkened corner of the mind, heart, will, and soul and becomes the ongoing ritual of our earthly existence.
The reason for this is simple. Giving thanks is not limited to a day or conditioned by our preferences, opinions, or circumstances. It did not originate with pilgrims and Indians. The Christian approach to Thanksgiving can and must be different. We may give thanks in all of life, in both the good times and bad, because our gratitude is rooted in the very nature and character of God, and He is the one who will fill our mouths with laughter (Psalm 126:1-3).
Notice how the psalmist describes Thanksgiving in Psalm 107:

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” – Psalm 107:1

Let us examine this more closely so that we may understand Thanksgiving.
Holistic Thanksgiving
The psalmist begins with an unconditional statement, “Oh, give thanks,” which invites neither limitation, duration, nor qualification to our thankfulness. Instead, he welcomes us into the ongoing warmth and beauty of ubiquitous gratitude that pervades every facet of our lives. He summons us into the kind of joy that sings in a storm, dances in the rain, diligently inventories, and blankets myriad aspects of reality with hearty hopeful praises. The entire plane of existence for the believer becomes the playground of current and future joy.
Think about it from the positive side of things. We have souls filled by the Spirit of God, redeemed by the King of kings, cleansed of iniquity and stain, and commissioned both temporally and eternally by our God. “Oh, give thanks!” We have eyes to see the beauty of God’s world. We have ears to hear perfect pitch and infant giggles. We possess mouths to taste a panoply of exquisite flavors, hands to touch, and arms to wrap up the ones we love in a long embrace.
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Rethinking the Rapture

When Jesus says that some will be taken, he is saying that some will be arrested, taken into custody, beaten, and killed when the day of the Lord’s wrath comes. This day happened just like Jesus predicted, within a single generation, when the Romans came into the city, murdered, raped, and killed the Jews, and took the remaining survivors “into custody.”

You’ve Been Left Behind…
At the zenith of my choral career, circa the late 1990s, I was chosen to perform a solo in front of my entire private Christian high school. Apparently, the talent pool was a bit low that year. Either way, I was given the unenviable task of alerting all the would-be tares, sown into a Christian School wheat field, to repent or face their eschatological doom… With a Brady-bunch quiver ready to strike at my undeveloped teenage vocal cords, I crooned out the following warning to my classmates: “There’s no time to change your mind, the Son has come and you’ve been left behind.” If you are blanking on the reference, take a moment to enjoy some dispensational cringe and then come back for the article proper.
Wonkavator in the Sky
When it comes to eschatology, the most common view bumbling around pulpits and popular Christian literature these days asserts that at some point in the immediate future, believers will be whisked away from the world in a secret rapture. Christians will apparently vaporize, leaping invisibly into the heavens, leaving clothing, dentures, and plastic surgical additions piled neatly behind them. Planes will fall out of the sky. Unmanned cars will careen over cliffs. And all the world will be thrown into the kind of panic that only a cavalier Antichrist could rectify, which will jumpstart a seven-year tribulation that ends in Armageddon.
This kind of murky reasoning once seemed rational to me. That is until I left the eschatological bog of big Eva publishing swamps and started reading the Bible for myself. It is amazing how such a simple action can clear up so much confusion. Who would’ve thunk it?
With that, today, I want us to explore what the Bible says about the rapture in Matthew 24. Is it God’s heavenly dispensational wonkavator that is meant to zap us out of here before the world gets really crazy? Or, have we misunderstood what the Scriptures are saying about these things and need to adopt a better view? Let us begin!
A Brief Disclaimer
As I have mentioned before. Jesus is going to return at the very end of human history. The dead in Christ will rise. The living and the dead will be judged. Some will be thrown into the lake of fire where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. And some will enter into the eternal kingdom with Christ in the new heavens and the new earth. All of that is true and is still in our future.
But, what we have also shown in this series, is that many of the most popular eschatological fantasies, peddled as the Gospel today, will not happen in the future, because they have already happened in the past. For instance, over the last several weeks we have shown that the rise of False Messiah’s, Wars and Rumors of Wars, Earthquakes and Famines, Tribulations, Signs of the Times, the Abomination of Desolation, The Great Tribulation, and the “Second Coming” (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3), all occurred in the events that happened in the Church’s first tumultuous forty years.
If you are all caught up on the series, today, we will examine how the events of Matthew 24:36-41, are not referring to a pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-tribulational “rapture”. But, instead is more evidence that Jesus was describing events that would happen in the first century. If you are not caught up, this post may be interesting, and I feel sure you will get something out of it, but, I would suggest reading the previous articles in the series for a fuller treatment. You can find those in blog form here, or in podcast form here.
The Text:

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.—Matthew 24:36-41

A Past Day in View
While many believe this section of Scripture is referring to a future rapture of a righteous church, the context of Matthew 24 makes it abundantly clear that Jesus is referring to events that have already happened in the past to the unrighteous nation of Judah. We know this for at least three reasons. First, the context bears it out. Jesus is answering the disciples’ questions about when the temple will be destroyed, what will be the sign this is about to occur, and how will that factor into the end of the Jewish age of redemption (Matthew 24:1-3). From verse 3 onward, Jesus is giving an unbroken answer to their question, describing events that must soon take place in their lifetimes, without deviating from that objective. There is not a single moment in verses 1-35, where Jesus jarringly shifts away from His audience to the distant future, to somehow wax proleptically. He stays on task and so should we.
Second, Jesus said a mere two verses earlier: “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (v. 34). This tells us unequivocally that Jesus believed everything in this prophecy would occur within a forty-year window. That alone should end the debate, right? Do we believe Jesus or not?
Third, whenever Jesus uses the word “day” in this chapter, He is not referring to an indeterminate day that will occur sometime in an undisclosed future. Instead, He is referring to a well-defined day, known as the “Day of the Lord”, which makes its Biblical appearance in the Old Testament prophetic writings. According to the prophets, the “Day of the Lord” was a special day when God uniquely brought His covenantal fury against His enemies. According to Jesus, that day had come in full when Judah rejected the reign of God (See Matthew 23:35-36). This undoubtedly served as the chiefest of all betrayals and pitted the Jews as mortal enemies with God. This is why Jesus alludes to, quotes from, and appeals to the very prophets who refer to this awesome and terrible day because that day would afflict the very generation He was speaking to (See for example Joel 1& 2; Amos 5; and Malachi 3 & 4).
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