More Than My Hair Was Cut Last Night!

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Spiritual Lessons Learned at the ‘black barbershop’

I went to see my barber late last night.  It is not a “traditional black” barbershop, but it has many of the same elements – except it is physically and morally cleaner.  I was really hoping the dietary laws in the OT would come up again (see my previous post with the picture of the lobster), but when it did, it didn’t turn out the way I expected.

I awkwardly brought up the issue by saying, “Tyrone (pseudo name), if we can just get you to enjoy your seafood without the guilt we will be all right.”  He answered, “I love my seafood.”  “I know,” I said.  “But the last time you said you loved all kinds of seafood even though the Bible tells us we shouldn’t eat it.  He said, “The Bible does say that about shell fish.”  Just when I was about to play ‘Superman’ and save the day, another voice said, “Yes that is true, but what did God tell Peter in a dream?”

And then I thought to myself, who said that!?  Oh, I know that voice.

It was the man who comes into this shop regularly.  Actually, I’ve seen him three times before.  The barber called him “REV.”  He would say, “Hey Rev. how is it going?”  When he walked into the shop, the conversations got cleaner, and some people sat up straighter in their seats. But I was successful in avoiding this “Rev.”

I know it sounds bad, one Rev. avoiding another Rev. But in my lifetime, I’ve come in contact with three Rev’s in the black barbershop: the one who used to be the number runner; the one who drove the big Cadillac and took everyone’s money; and the one who made all the ladies uncomfortable and the husbands and/or boyfriends mad when he came into the shop.  No, I had already ‘pre-assessed’ this guy.  He was probably just another ‘Reverend Bishop Charlatan’ — a democratic, social gospel, Bible-rejecter, who is probably a mason, and striving to become the next ‘bishop’ in the capital district; no, I didn’t want any parts of him.  But here he was expositing Scripture with relative ease and no shame right in the barbershop!

I was in the barber chair, but my Afro was not the only thing being cut down so I could look pleasing in the sight of all – my pride was getting the same treatment, so that I could look pleasing to One.

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What happened?  How did I get here?  Obviously, I must have forgotten some spiritual truth, several actually.

Earlier that day I was reading a theological book written by Michael Barrett (I plan to write a book review on this blog when I’m done with the book). He explained that the concept of righteousness could be stative or fientive.  I applied it to something with which I was familiar – grammar.  Stative is like a being verb, “He is tall.”  Fientive is like an action verb, “He runs.”  I understood this perfectly, I thought.  Jesus fulfilled all righteousness (fientive), because Jesus is righteousness (stative). The Bible teaches that I have become the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).

That’s fine, but I forgot that Christ’s Righteousness was imputed to my account, not infused inside of me.   The heart of man is deceitfully above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it (Jeremiah 17:9).  My wicked flesh (Romans 7:18-20) led me down a path that convinced me that I was higher than my brother in Christ.

I repented and confessed my sin to God.

Rev. was clearly greater.  Jesus said so Himself, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” (Mark 10:43).  Thank you, Rev. for the lesson in humility; thank you Tyrone for the fresh cut – now I look more pleasing to my wife and children; and thank you God for the ‘fresh cut’ – now I look more pleasing to You.

 

Brian L. Spivey

What is the Book of Leviticus All About?

Most people I know who have tried to read the Bible from cover to cover started from the beginning.  They get through Genesis, and enjoy most of the Exodus, but lose interest when they get to the book of Leviticus.  What is the book all about anyway?  It can be summed up in one word – worship.

In the 9th chapter of Leviticus, we read that Moses and Aaron kept the word that God commanded about how to worship Him.  “Aaron lifted up his hands towards the people and blessed them… and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.  And the fire came out… and consumed the burnt offering” (Verses 22, 24).  In the next chapter, the fire of the Lord came from heaven again, but this time, instead of consuming the burnt offering, it consumed Nadab and Abihu – Aaron’s sons.  Nadab and Abihu did not keep God’s Word.  What can we conclude about the Lord from this passage?

If this was an isolated event in Scripture, than any conclusion drawn from Leviticus 9 could be dismissed as speculative at best.  But we see throughout Scripture, that God is serious about how He is to be worshipped.  Those who did not keep God’s word were dealt with harshly – King Saul, Uzzah, Ananias and Sapphira.  And who had the last word about worship and keeping God’s Word?  Jesus did.

The apostle John described Jesus as the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire.  This Holy One told the individuals in the church at Philadelphia that because some have kept His Word, He intended to make them a pillar in the temple of God.  Jesus ends the ultimate worship book with these words, “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:7).

Those of you who have tried to read the Bible from cover to cover, and were arrested by the content in the book of Leviticus, please go back and try again.  Use this key to unlock the book: God determines what is holy and unholy.  He determines what is acceptable and what is an abomination.  And don’t forget, the major theme of Leviticus is worship.

Brian L. Spivey

The Swinging of the Pendulum

The swinging pendulum reminds me of the Christian life.

For a book I avoided for so long, I am sure getting a lot out of it.  The study of 1 and 2 Thessalonians has been great for my spiritual development.  I know I am in great company because many of things that Paul admonished the Thessalonians about, are some of the same things with which I struggle.

He had to correct them about the “Day of the Lord.”  He gave them some truth in 1 Thessalonians, and then they swung the pendulum too far over to the left and he had to come back and correct their thinking again.   This is what has recently happened to me.  In the last four or five years, I began to explore and embrace Reformed Theology, and because of my personality type, and my prior church experience, I swung the pendulum too far to the right – no pun intended.

The wrath of God is upon sinners, yet God loves the world.  How do we reconcile those two truths?

I discovered through the Scriptures and other reformed authors that God has used the foolishness of preaching to bring sinners to a saving knowledge of Himself.  We presume on the grace of God when we exclude the bad news of our fallen state from our gospel presentations.  The Wrath of God is upon mankind must be proclaimed if we are going to encourage the unconverted to flee to Christ for safety.  But will I ever be able to say again, “God loves you,” to the unconverted sinner?

Yes.

With the help of John Frame I was reminded that God sends rain and sunshine; He gives food for all living things; and He calls people to faith and repentance.  The gospel has brought about improvements in society, in the condition of the poor, in marriage and families, in political and economic freedom, in justice, in education, in work ethic and many more (Doctrine of God, p. 433).

“The wrath of God is upon unrepentant sinners,” AND “God loves you!”

There, I said it.  Now my pendulum is headed toward the middle.

 

Brian L. Spivey