Monday, February 26, 2018

Placing Myself in Tyler's Report Card On Baptist Fundamentalism

I have three blog posts I've really wanted to write, but they are difficult to write without spending a lot of time.  I'm a percentage done on all three and can't finish any of them.  I've been in this condition for three weeks.  I'm still writing posts though.  Today, I make it easy on myself for another day by attempting to put myself in a chart done by Tyler Robbins on SharperIron, which he has titled, "A REPORT CARD ON BAPTIST FUNDAMENTALISM IN 2018."  People at SharperIron have attempted to do this on various occasions and I knew that comments would explode for this post.

What I'm going to do here is attempt to put myself in his chart where I fit and see which category I must be of his four categories:  fundigelicals, "movement fundamentalists, cultic fundamentalists, and reformed-ish fundamentalists.  I have said that I'm not a fundamentalist, but I'm sure most would say that I am.  I really am not, but there isn't another category for me by Tyler Robbins.  He doesn't have evangelical, fundamentalist, and then whatever.  I think I'm whatever, but I'd be happy to hear explained why I'm not.  I'll use his descriptors in the left hand column to place me in a category.

Leadership and Style

Here our church is dual elder and collaborative approach, which he has as reformed-ish.  We have two pastors and I don't consider the other pastor my assistant.  I don't see "assistant pastor" in scripture, but I do see multiple elder.  We have two.  We work together at this.  In a typical month six different men will preach/teach.

Education

Here "movement" fundamentalist and reformed-ish are the same, excellent, systematic doctrine emphasized.  I don't think anyone who listens to me preach or our other men, watches our conference, or reads my blog would think we're characterized like the other two categories, fundigelicals or cultic fundamentalists.  I know we're not uneven quality, shallow, and indoctrinating.

Ecclesiology

I would have to understand what the descriptions mean here.  I'd be glad to take the scripture, biblical and systematic theology, to any ecclesiology of any of the four categories.  Inbred Landmarkism?  I have to guess that he means men who have mimicked each other in their view of the church, apparently proceeding from mid-nineteenth century Southern Baptist church leaders, not the Bible or even historic.  English separatism isn't cultic?  I would debate this any day.

Does parachurch fall in here?  What kind of authority do these institutions have?  Why are they so powerful in fundamentalism?

Soteriology

On his chart, I have to be "movement" fundamentalist, to be honest.  I don't see them fight for the gospel like our church does.  They also don't emphasize lordship, that I see.  I've been generally attacked by "movement" fundamentalists on the gospel.

Separation

Tyler misses it here.  I don't see cultic fundamentalists today with a major emphasis on separation, if he's including Paul Chappell, Clarence Sexton, and that crowd.  I don't see Detroit as exemplary.  Central is better as fundamentalists go. Hobby horses, I would guess, would include music.  Central has that hobby horse too, so where does music come into play?  I can't find myself in this category.

Does church discipline fall under separation?  I was in movement fundamentalism and I never saw it practiced, ever.  Ever.

Central Concern

I could only be reformed-ish fundamentalist here.  We are building the kingdom through biblical evangelism, making disciples -- no gimmicks.  Our concern is glory to God through faithfulness to His Word.

Sanctification

I could only be reformed-ish fundamentalist here, based on his description.

Preaching

I could only be with his reformed-ish fundamentalist description --- our preaching is 90 percent exposition.

Perhaps two other categories could be added, the so-called cultural issues, which could include complementarianism, or no?   You could also include worship.  Which of the four categories keep a high view of God in the worship?  I wouldn't put all of the reformed-ish in that description.  Not all of movement fundamentalism is either.  Does that mean nothing?  Or is it a hobby horse?

Tyler did the best he could.  It's a tough task that will be criticized by others.  Everyone has a bias.  I think he's open to correct where others point out that bias.

On most of these, Tyler would have me, our church, at reformed-ish fundamentalist.  He might feel the necessity to call us cultic.  We use and defend the King James Version.  We separate over every teaching of scripture.  We are local only in ecclesiology.  Where do you think we fit?  Use your name and give an explanation.  Most anonymous comments will be deleted.

Friday, February 23, 2018

John 12:24-25: The Corn / Grain of Wheat Dying in the Ground: A Second Blessing?

Various Keswick and Higher Life authors employ John 12:24-25 as a text about how to obtain a second blessing or the Higher Life.  Supposedly when a believer becomes like the grain or corn of wheat that does not just exist, but goes all the way in full surrender to "die" to self, then the Higher Life is entered into.  Is this the teaching of John 12:24-25?  The text reads:
24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
 The text is employed for post-conversion growth in sanctification or power for Christian ministry by Keswick leaders such as Watchman Nee (see The Release of the Spirit; cf. pg. 83, The Latent Power of the Soul, Nee; pg. 183, Against the Tide, Angus Kinnear. Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1973; for other Keswick leaders, see pgs. 274-280, Keswick’s Authentic Voice, ed. Stevenson; pg. 201, The Keswick Convention: Its Message, its Method, and its Men, ed. Harford). The Keswick misinterpretation of John 12:24 follows the view of Hannah W. Smith, who ties John 12:24 into Romanist mysticism, deification, and a rejection of the total depravity of man:
I see your difficulty in regard to that pessimistic view of human nature, and I don’t agree with it anymore than you do. That was the old-fashioned theology[.] . . . [What] attracted me . . . was the profound philosophy . . . concerning the death of the selfish life in us. . . . [W]e are created human beings but are called to become divine beings. It is a question of moving out of a lower form of being into a higher. It is as if the choice were deliberately put before a monkey whether he would like to become a man. He is good enough as a monkey perhaps, but if he is to develop into a man he must consent to let the monkey nature die and must receive the man nature in its place. He must lose his own lower life in order to find his own higher life. . . . . We are good enough perhaps as human beings . . . but we want to be more than human, we want to become “partakers of the Divine nature,” and the only way out of one life into another must be by the way of death and resurrection. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abideth alone.” . . . Fenelon’s whole teaching is to show us how to let the lower life die, and the higher life take its place. Doesn’t this give you the clue? And doesn’t it also answer your question as to what the “Higher Life” so called is? It is the divine life lived out practically, to put it in short. I’ll send you my “Christian’s Secret,” which . . . contains my “views” on the subject. (Letter to Mary, October 9, 1881, reproduced in the entry for October 30 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter)
Certainly believers should surrender in ever fuller ways to God, but John 12:24-25 does not deal with this truth, but refers to the moment of repentant faith and conversion. The Keswick Higher Life theology of Hannah W. Smith and those who followed her is entirely absent from the passage. Hannah Smith’s rejection of total depravity and acceptance of Roman Catholic mystical quietism and deification are in the sharpest conflict with the entire Bible.  The parallel in Mark 8:34-38 to John 12:24-25 is decisive.

Mark 8:34-38
teaches that one who does not become a disciple of Christ will be eternally damned. In v. 34, denial of self and taking up the cross is a representation of the sinner’s coming to the point of saving repentance, with a resultant lifestyle of continued following of Christ. As already indicated above, Christ’s call to sinners to “follow me” (v. 34) was a call to discipleship, since the Lord’s “disciples follow him” (Mark 6:1Matthew 8:23Luke 22:39John 18:1521:20). One who was bearing a cross in the land of Israel in Christ’s day was on his way to the shameful and extremely painful death of crucifixion (John 19:17); thus, repentant faith in Christ involved losing one’s life, that is, turning from his own way of living, exaltation of self and comfort, to surrender to Christ as unconditional Lord (Mark 8:35). The person who wishes to continue to live his own way, to “save his life,” will eternally lose “both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:2839), while one who turns from his own way, denying himself, taking up the cross, and losing his own life for the sake of Christ and the gospel, will save his life or soul (pseuche) by receiving eternal life. “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:25). To encourage the lost to give up their own way and surrender to Christ’s Lordship for salvation, Christ reminds them that it profits them nothing if they would gain the whole world, but lose their souls (Mark 8:36-37). Those who, rather than being ashamed of their sins (Romans 6:21; contrast Romans 1:162 Timothy 1:81216) are ashamed to follow Christ and His Words in the evil and adulterous world will have Christ be ashamed of them at His return and be damned—for Christ is “not ashamed to call [true believers] brethren” (Hebrews 2:11), and “God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16Luke 9:26). No text in Scripture indicates that God will be “ashamed” of His people—He is not ashamed of them (Hebrews 11:16). Mark 8:34-38 clearly teaches that all saved people are disciples, and that one who refuses to become Christ’s disciple will face an eternity in hell.
Mark 10:13-31 exemplifies the teaching of Mark 8:34-38. Christ told a man who wanted to “inherit eternal life” (10:17) to “take up the cross, and follow” Him (10:21). He refused to do so, because he was unwilling to forsake his riches, and so he did not inherit the kingdom of God (10:22-24). Indeed, the Lord Jesus taught that fallen man’s attachment to sin is so strong that nobody will come to repentance and be saved apart from God’s supernatural working (10:25-27). Those who do leave all to forsake all to follow Christ (10:28-29) become God’s “children” (10:24) and will “receive . . . in the world to come eternal life” (10:30), having come to Christ as Lord and Savior with the faith of a little child (10:13-16). Matthew 19:16-30supplements the record in Mark, indicating “eternal life” (19:16) is promised to those who “come and follow” Christ (19:21). Those who forsake all “inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29). Similarly, in Luke 14:15-35, Christ teaches that “whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath” (14:33, 26) to “bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (14:27, 33);   those who refuse to put Christ before property (14:18-19) and people (14:20, 26) will not “eat bread in the kingdom of God” (14:15), but be “cast out” (14:35) of the eschatological feast of the saints (14:24) into hell, while God rejoices over the repentance and salvation of those who become disciples in the way people rejoice over the recovery of a lost sheep, coin, or son (Luke 15). Parallel passages confirm the plain teaching of Mark 8:34-38—disciples get eternal life, and those who do not become disciples are damned. This fact requires the identification of believers and disciples as a single class, the people of God.
John 12:24-25 does not teach, as Hannah Whitall Smith and many Keswick writers following her affirmed, that by a post-conversion act of surrender one enters into the Higher Life.  On the contrary, it teaches that saving conversion involves giving up one's own way for Christ's way and surrender to Him as Lord.  Through that response of saving faith, the true child of God will bring forth spiritual fruit, a holy life and good works.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

What I've Preached on Deuteronomy 24

Years ago I preached through the entire book of Deuteronomy, which included Deuteronomy 24 in its context.  I've come back in a few sermons on divorce and remarriage through the years to deal with it in depth.  I went back and looked at some notes of one sermon.  I noticed that I had used some of a blog post I had written on the subject over at Jackhammer back in the day.  I'm putting those notes into the paragraph form of a blog post, but with little editing. Here goes.

Jesus says, “Have ye not read…” in Matthew 19.  When He uses this phrase, He goes to the Scripture to debunk a wrong understanding of the Old Testament held by the religious leaders.  That's what is happening when Jesus uses that language.

In the first century A.D., the schools of Hillel and Shammai differed as to what, in view of Deuteronomy 24:1, constituted legitimate reasons for divorce.  Shammai thought that divorce could be granted only for marital unfaithfulness. Hillel, on the other hand, asserted that even such a minor irritation as scorching the food was adequate grounds of divorce.

In Gittin 10, which is from the Talmud, the Hillel view is based upon a loose interpretation of the phrase, some indecency (ervath dabar) in Deuteronomy 24:1, and R. Akiba even inferred from, if then she finds no favor in his eyes, that a man might even divorce his wife if he found a more attractive woman. Whatever one's understanding of Deuteronomy 24:1, it happened that Hillel's interpretation became the rabbinic norm.

The question, then, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?" was actually a question as to whether Hillel's interpretation was correct. Obviously, if by eliciting from Jesus a statement as to which side he took in this rabbinic dispute over Deuteronomy 24:1 and the Pharisees could involve him in a controversy, they would be well on their way toward nullifying his influence on the multitudes.  In the end, like all other controversies, Jesus doesn't come down on the side of either Pharisaical interpretation, but on God's original intention.  What about Deuteronomy 24:1 though?

Deuteronomy 24:1–4 does not institute or allow for divorce with approval, but merely treats divorce as a practice already existing and known.

Grammatically the passage is an example of biblical case law in which certain conditions are stated for which a particular command applies.

The protasis in verses 1–3 specifies the conditions that must apply before the command in the apodosis in verse 4 is followed.  In other words 24:1–4 describes a simple “if…then” situation.

The legislation specified in 24:1–4 actually deals with a particular case of remarriage.  Grammatically the intent of this law is not to give legal sanction to divorce or to regulate the divorce procedure.  The intent of the passage is to prohibit the remarriage of a man to his divorced wife in cases of an intervening marriage by the wife.

The first three verses of Deuteronomy 24 describe the situation of a woman who is twice divorced by different men or once divorced and then widowed. Divorce is neither commanded nor commended. The circumstances leading to divorce are simply described as a part of the case under consideration. The verses do not indicate that divorce is necessarily sanctioned under such circumstances.

In the comment section of the recent post by Thomas Ross on Deuteronomy 24, for the first time I heard a view espoused, which said the exact opposite of the teaching of Deuteronomy 24.  Someone (Larry) brought up the valid point of Jesus speaking to the woman at the well in John 4, reminding her of her having had five husbands.  Each of them were still called a "husband," and this is helpful in debunking the position of those commenting.  I had never heard their position, so I had never thought about the particular point made about the woman's five husbands.  If we take Jesus at His Word, which we should, a second marriage is a marriage.  Even when we argue against those who believe in remarriage, it is called remarriage.

In this particular case the wife lost favor with her husband because of “some uncleanness in her” (literally, “nakedness of a thing” or “a naked matter”).  The precise meaning of the phrase is uncertain. Consequently it became the subject of heated rabbinic debates on divorce.  The Septuagint’s translation, (“some unbecoming thing”), is equally obscure. The phrase may refer to some physical deficiency—such as the inability to bear children.  The expression appears only once elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures, where it serves as a euphemism for excrement (Deut 23:14). This suggests that the “uncleanness” in Deuteronomy 24:1 may refer to some shameful or repulsive act.  In the first century conservative Rabbi Shammai interpreted the phrase as referring to marital unchastity, while Rabbi Hillel interpreted it more broadly to refer to anything unpleasant.  Jesus, of course, was teaching a no divorce position, again going back to original intention, and the point of the Deuteronomy passage was not to teach divorce or remarriage, but to look at one particular case for case law.  It shouldn't be used to justify divorce or remarriage, even as Jesus taught.

Understanding case law and the case law format is important.  Deuteronomy 12–26 contains 31 examples of case law. In 19 of these examples the protasis contains a situation that is either immoral or has some negative connotation. The other 12 present situations that appear morally neutral.

Deuteronomy 25:11–12  is an example of case law in which the protasis contains a situation that is immoral or has negative connotations. A woman who seizes the genitals of a male opponent to help her husband in a struggle shall have her hand cut off. No one would dare suggest that the case being described is presented with approval. Many other similar examples could be cited.

The main point of this example of biblical case law in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 appears in the apodosis (the “then” clause) of v. 4 . Here it is clear that the law relates not to the matter of divorce as such, but to a particular case of remarriage. Moses declared that a man may not remarry his former wife if she has in the meantime been married to another man. Even though her second husband should divorce her or die, she must not return to her first husband. The prohibition is supported by an explanation, a reason, and a command.  In the Hebrew, verse 4 is the only regulative statement in this passage.

These verses should be read as one continuous sentence, of which the protasis is in vv. 1-3 and the apodosis in v. 4, like the following: "If a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she doth not find favour in his eyes, because of some uncleanness in her, and he hath written her a bill of divorcement, and given it in her hand, and sent her out of his house; and if she hath departed out of his house, and hath gone and become another man's; and if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house; or if the latter husband who took her to be his wife, die: her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife."  The actual ruling on the case is that "her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife."

While divorce is taken for granted in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, the woman who is divorced becomes "defiled" by her remarriage (v. 4), so it may well be that when the Pharisees asked Jesus if divorce was legitimate, He based his negative answer not only on God's intention expressed in Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, but also on the implication of Deuteronomy 24:4 that remarriage after divorce defiles a person.  There are sufficient clues in the Mosaic law that the divorce concession was on the basis of the hardness of man's heart and really did not make divorce and remarriage legitimate.  The prohibition of a wife returning to her first husband even after her second husband dies (because it is an abomination) says that no second marriage should be broken up in order to restore a first one.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Two Big Observations on America's News: First, Trump's Lies

Basketball is just a game and it too has changed over time, like everything else.  When I was in college, a new philosophy arose in NCAA basketball through teams like Georgetown and then UNLV.  The game became more physical, and these two teams I remember in particular started reaching and fouling, it seemed, on every possession and at every position, especially at home games, to the degree that the referees became selective about what they called.  It was a strategic, scorched earth approach to defense.  The strategy counted on the referees not calling everything -- they couldn't; they would foul every player out of the game.  I was taught to play defense without reaching and grabbing, but by moving my feet and keeping position between the offensive player and the basket.  Allowing the reaching and grabbing rewarded lazy defense, promoted reaching and grabbing, and punished the defender that moved his feet.  It's harder to move your feet.  This changed the game at the time.

I don't think every politician lies to the same degree.  Some try not to lie at all.  However, in a world of lies, where everyone is lying, to the point where you can't distinguish the truth from lies anymore, a politician seems at a disadvantage if he's not lying.  One side has been reaching and grabbing for awhile and winning.  Its lies have not been called and continue not to be called by the referee, which we might call the media.  The media itself is in the tank for one side and has in its own interest to defend its lies.

Trump lies.  It's not right, but he's watched how other politicians wouldn't and they lost.  One team is reaching and grabbing and the other just tries to move its feet, and since the fouls aren't called, reaching and grabbing, in this case, lying, gets the advantage.  Trump has seen lying as a necessary strategy to conform to how the game is being called.  He does not possess the scruples characteristic of a conservative.  I'm not saying all professing conservatives tell the truth.  Establishment types go along with the big lies, the whoppers, and sometimes say what they think needs to be said at the moment, that isn't true.  However, I haven't seen a Republican lie like Trump does.

From my vantage point, I judge Trump's lying differently.  He's an outlier for a Republican.  I think other conservatives see it the same way.  Trump tells the big truth.  Democrats tell the big lie.  Trump tells many smaller lies when he sees it as an advantage to win.  I think he's operated with this ethic for a long time.  Trump himself isn't better for it, but he's won from not giving away damaging truths.

When I say that Trump tells the big truth, I mean that he expresses what is true overall.  America is greater, better than other countries, but it's being run down.  We have too many regulations.  Taxes are too high. God has blessed us and we need to allow people to be free to talk about God in the public square.  Businesses need a tax system that gives them a better opportunity to compete.  We want a judge who bases his decisions on original intent.  I'll stop there.  There are many of these big truths that Trump gets right. Trump tells those truths, that I'm calling, bigger truths.  He sees things right overall, and then he uses lies sometimes to get there.  He's not going to say he lies.  That's another one of his lies.  He knows if he did, we would never hear the end of it from the liars in the media.

In one sense, long ago Trump saw that the game had changed and he's playing the game by a new set of rules, where you are rewarded for reaching and fouling. He's not going to move his feet if the other team doesn't have to.   The biggest liars are in the media.  When Trump lies, those liars point out his lies, as if they deserve that task or should be given credit for pointing them out.  They miss both the big lies and the little lies of the left.  The left is bereft of the truth, almost no truth left there.  The media is part of that and protects it, and in part does it by pointing out that Trump lies.

When the media points out Trump's lies, they intend to do him damage.  That don't care about the truth.  They just want to catch Trump in a lie.  They think they will damage Trump with those who want the truth.  That isn't them.  They want to carve away his support with moral people, who think lying is wrong.  It takes away enthusiasm at least.  We could say that Trump is at fault because of it.  I don't think you're supporting Trump's lying by supporting Trump.  You are supporting his big truths compared to the big lies, while admitting that Trump lies.  This isn't the acceptance of lying, but judging the degree of truth and lies and coming down on the right side of that.

Speaking of the big lie, have you heard that the Russians meddled in the election?  Raise your hand if you didn't think the Russians didn't try to meddle in every election?  And the Chinese?  And the British?  And Israel?  Robert Mueller, the special counsel, has indicted 13 Russians who will never be extradited or punished.  They might receive a special award in Russia for what they did, for trying to make Russia great again.  We are indicting Russians and one American, who took their money to use his web service, for allowing them to do what Americans are free to do in the United States, make political comments on the social media.  From what I read, they spent 2 million dollars doing that.  The news media made more money announcing the indictment on one day than the Russians made saying outlandish things on the social media during the entire year.  Our reaction to them is like the death penalty for scraping someone's bumper in the parking lot.

President Obama actually knew the Russians were meddling.  He won't be charged like the website owner.  He allowed it.  Why?  Trump said there was meddling in the election and President Obama had said that the election wasn't rigged.  It would be a fair election.  This, of course, was with his full confidence that Hillary would win by a large margin in November 2016.  He also, I'm sure, didn't think it was consequential.  It wasn't changing the results.  It wasn't that big a deal.

Many are saying that the meddling of the Russians is for the purpose of causing division in the United States, to arouse more chaos.  It would weaken a democracy like the United States to sow discord, it's true.  The main reason was that if democracy looked disunified, it would argue for a Putin style government.  He could point to the conflict in the United States as a reason for a more authoritarian government.  Facebook is saying that the Russians spent more to disunify after the election than before.  Right on cue, the Democrats fall into the Russian plan and have continued to do that for the last year with their resistance style movement, opposing everything that Trump does.  It was a gigantic success for little investment.  Putin has a strong handle on what makes America tick.  The Democrats played right into Putin's strategy.

I want to come back to meddling with elections.  The United States meddles in elections all over the world.  President Obama meddled in the French election, pressing his thumb on the scale for Macron.  Should the French indict him for that?  The left has been meddling in Israel's elections for decades.  Most of you probably know that President Kennedy had President Ngo Dinh Diem of Viet Nam assassinated during the Vietnam War.

Balthasar GĂ©rard of Spain assassinated the Dutch leader William the Silent.  Mary I killed Lady Jane Grey.  Elizabeth I killed Mary Stuart.  Oliver Cromwell executed Charles I.  We can go on and on.

The media as a tool of the Democrat Party uses Russian meddling.  By doing so, the Democrats meddle actually more than the Russians.  We know this.  And these are the big lies that I talked about in the my first big observation.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

For the Rest of This Season, I'm Giving Up NBA Basketball

We don't have cable television and haven't had it.  However, I can watch the NBA online some at TNT and ESPN.  I can keep up with the NBA by checking on the scores and watching highlights.  That means I'm seeing advertisements that support the NBA.  I'm very unhappy with the NBA right now in light of moronic commentary from their players, some of which are from our local team, the Golden State Warriors.  I feel like a hypocrite being interested in them.

I like basketball.  I grew up in Indiana.  I played organized basketball from 5th grade to my senior year in college.  I coached a few years our school team here.  As an adult, I played to keep in shape.  Our local team is one of the best teams in NBA history and play a fun style to watch.

These players have a right to speak in public.  They can say what they want.  They don't have to, as one person put it, "shut up and dribble."  They can speak.  They have that right.  I understand that the reasoning behind "shut up and dribble" is "stop talking if you don't know what you are talking about."  People can still talk even if they don't know what they are talking about.  I've not heard one player or coach who knows what he's talking about.  Maybe they do, but they don't say anything that sounds like they do.  They all say the same thing, not one says something different, complete lockstep, same message.  If one of them did, he would have to shut up and dribble, because he would be shunned and castigated for speaking a different position.  You hear zero conservative commentary coming from the NBA.  Right now the NBA refuses to separate inane and destructive speech from its product.  You have to take both.  I refuse to do that.

As of today, I'm done with the NBA for the foreseeable future. I might give it up for the rest of my life.  It wouldn't hurt me to do that.  It would help me.  Maybe you could join me.  You don't have to do that, but I think it would help.  I'm done watching them, checking on their scores, and reading about them.  I'm sure I'll see scores and hear about them, but I refuse to click on one more NBA related article, story, or video.  I'm done with them.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Sinful Snooze Button Mortified: The Sheet on Sleep




The Bible says: "As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed" (Proverbs 26:14). The large majority of the time, hitting the snooze button is a lack of temperance rather than something Biblically justifiable that can be done for the glory of God. Furthermore, just as hitting the snooze button is bad for your soul, taking time away that you could spend with God and giving in to the flesh, so hitting the snooze button is actually not good for your body, either.

If you hit the snooze button two times a day, and snooze for ten minutes each time, you will lose 7,300 minutes a year that you could have spent seeking the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Do you really think this is the most God-glorifying way to use the short time you have to live? Should you change the time that you rationally determined you needed to get up the night before to do what your flesh says in the morning instead?

By the way, in addition to the Sheet on Sleep below, one would do very well to avoid entering into temptation and setting oneself up for failure through things like being able to turn off the alarm clock without getting out of bed, having no backup alarm, etc. (A loud alarm is the Sonic Bomb Alarm Clock, which we use as a backup--the normal clock radio has nice Christian music to wake up to, but woe to the person who is still in bed a very small number of minutes later and hears the Sonic Bomb go off.)  Parents should also train their children not to turn like the slothful man upon his bed by enforcing a no-snooze button policy, giving their children more time to spend with God, possibly saving them from losing future employment by being late to work, and by, overall, delivering them from this bad habit by not allowing it to begin early in life. Of course, going to bed early enough to get well rested also helps.  God "giveth his beloved sleep" (Psalm 127:2), but it is planned sleep, not sleep determined by the flesh's desires gaining the mastery.

Something we have in our family is the "Sheet on Sleep" below.  It is a way to determine if going back to bed is indeed giving in to the flesh (which it is the vast majority of the time) or is something that can be done to the glory of God (which is possible in those rare situations where one, say, accidentally confused "AM" and "PM" on the clock or had some other clearly justifiable reason to reset the alarm.)  Before a person can get back in bed after his alarm goes off, he must read the "Sheet on Sleep" below out loud and do what it says.  The "Sheet on Sleep" has proven to be effective in mortifying the sin of the snooze button.  I reproduce it below.  Feel free to use it in your family and in your own personal life if you can do so for the glory of Jehovah.  The Sheet fits on two sides of an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper.


Sheet on Sleep


These verses are to be read out loud, in a normal tone of voice, at a normal speed or slower, standing up, letting my heart be affected by the Word and by that dear Savior and Master who speaks therein.

Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.” (Proverbs 24:33-34)

“O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory. 2 Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. 3 I will praise thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations. 4 For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.” (Psalm 108:1-4)

“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.  38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. 40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. 43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.  44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.  45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me. . . . Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.” (Matthew 26:36-46, 56)

“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

“And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12)

“Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.  15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,  16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;  19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;  20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:14-21)

“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.  2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.  3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.  4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.  5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6   Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.  7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.  8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.  9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,  10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-10)

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

“My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” (Song 2:10)

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” (Psalm 27:8)

“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; 2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. 3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. 4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. 5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.” (Psalm 63:1-5)

“The way of the just is uprightness: thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just. 8 Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. 9 With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:7-9)

Now sing the morning song [we sing a psalm or hymn every morning], then plan specifically how everything that needs to get done will get done if I go back to sleep, and finally pray, standing up or walking around, for at least five minutes, moving my lips and with my eyes open, asking God if it is His will for me to go back to bed, or if I should stay awake.  If I am certain, with no doubt, but in faith, (since “he that doubteth is damned [if he act] . . . for whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” Romans 14:23), that I should go back to sleep, then set the alarm and do so.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Personal Motivation to Evangelize

Among all the days of the week, I'm most regular on Wednesday for door-to-door evangelism.  I go every week on Wednesday.  I should go more, but I make sure I go every week by scheduling it for our church every Wednesday and leading it myself. Even though I schedule it and I do go, I am admitting that I still struggle with motivation.  It both makes sense and doesn't make sense to me, which I'll explain.

I'm sure that most professing believers in the United States are not part of the effort to evangelize everyone in the United States, starting with their area.  Even though I fight for motivation, I still preach the gospel to unbelievers every week and am saddened that so little of this occurs.  If just every person who claimed to believe in Jesus Christ could join that effort, we would easily cover the United States, and yet we don't.

A verse that regularly comes to mind and always rings true to me is John 13:17, where Jesus said, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."  He didn't say, do them if you're happy, but "happy are ye if ye do them."  Happiness follows doing.  When I evangelize, I don't start off happy.  Sometimes I start off bummed out to be doing it, and become happy as I do.  I'm saying that I start off by doing my duty, which I believe is love, and then feeling good about it as I do.

My happiness with doing what God said, I believe, also proceeds from the Holy Spirit.  Fruit of the Spirit is joy.  God came from heaven, both the Son and the Spirit, the second and third members of the Trinity.  They did what I'm doing when I evangelize.  They have been both part of that work.  They want it.  Therefore, when I do it, the indwelling Spirit is happy, in turn making me happy.  His happiness is my happiness.

On the other hand, when I don't evangelize, I'm unhappy.  Why?  I am quenching the Holy Spirit.  I am resisting the Holy Spirit.  When I'm not filled with the Spirit, I don't have joy.  It bugs me when I don't evangelize, and I see this as the fruit of my being a saved person.  It's what scripture teaches and it is how it works.  I don't know how other professing believers don't think or feel the same way as I do about it.

Scripture speaks a lot about motivation.  It's important to me.  I have a lot of truths about which I think, that motivate me to evangelize and to do it more.

The first motivation for me is that I love God.  If I didn't love God, I wouldn't think I was saved, because I see the love of God in my heart that manifests itself in my life as the most significant mark of salvation.  My love for God comes out of His love for me.  I know He loves me.  I'm not loveable.  Do I love Him?  I can say I do, but if I know that love shows in obedience, especially His Great Commission, then love for Him motivates me.  I think about my love for Him and that does get me going.  I know I'm not better than Him and He loves me.

I could say there are a lot of related motivations to love of God.  I can be thankful to Him.  I can be praising Him.  I can be talking about Him.  I don't know how I can be a person thankful to God and not evangelize.  I'm at least thankful for salvation.  Does that show up by not talking about it?  God is to be praised among the heathen.  Evangelism is praising God among the heathen.  Paul also said in Romans 1:9 that he served God in the gospel, and serve is latreuo, which means "worship."  Paul worshiped God in the gospel. I am worshiping God by praising Him through evangelism.  I know that I am and I know that God wants that from me.  I'm going to be doing that in heaven, so why wouldn't I do it on earth?  I would call all of these motivations in this paragraph motivations related to the love of God, but they could all be separate motivations.

There are other motivations.  I evangelize out of sheer obedience. God is Boss and He told me to do it.  Who am I to disobey Him?  When I don't evangelize, I am disobedient.  I'm not being a servant of Jesus Christ -- that's for sure.  God leaves me here to evangelize.  I know that.  I'd be with Him or we'd all be with Him, if He was done with evangelism. I know He isn't done.  I should obey Him.  He told me to work His work while it is day.  A day comes when no man can work.  Again, there are many interrelated motivations here, and all of them worthy.  Included in this would be stewardship.  It's a good use of my time to be faithful to what God said.  I can't improve on what He said, and I know He wants this through the overwhelming amount that it is talked about either in proposition or example in scripture.

Also related to the previous paragraph is sanctification, Christian growth, and conforming to Christ.  Christ evangelized.  I'm conforming to Christ.  He did it more and better than me.  If I become more like Him, I'm not going to be less and worse.  It will get better if I'm growing and that all relates to the previous paragraph.  The church itself also grows through evangelism, spiritually and numerically.  It's the only church growth technique in the Bible and God is building His church.  I know that the building of His church is what my life being gold, silver, and precious stones is all about.  I'm irrelevant, but I'm still responsible.

A last reason, that is a less important one to me, but it's an obvious motivation in the Bible, is love for men.  That's the second table of the law.  Love your neighbor.  For God so loved the world.  God is not willing that any should perish.  We should care about the souls of other people.  As Jesus mentioned, we should be sending up a welcome committee for ourselves in heaven for when we arrive.  The only thing we can send to the other side are the rewards of properly motivated work for God and the souls of men.  If you are to lay up treasures in heaven, you've got to deal with something eternal and the souls of men are eternal.  So, again, these are several interrelated motivations for the love of men that God wants us to have.

I said it makes sense and doesn't make sense that I'm not motivated to evangelize.  It doesn't make sense because of all of the above.  It makes sense because of the nature of the flesh, the devil, the world system, persecution, hatred, and weakness.  People don't listen.  They make it difficult. They show hatred for God and the truth.  I get the worst treatment voluntarily when I attempt to evangelize people.  Why go through that?  Jesus died.  It can't get more harsh than that, and He said they would hate us for doing this. We know that, so it should be expected.

In two places, Paul asks churches to pray that he would be bold in evangelism.  Two.  The Apostle Paul.  He struggled with getting himself going.  He wanted people to pray that He would.  We should pray for each other for boldness.  I pray for boldness all the time.  I know I need it.

I'm going evangelizing today, and I'm not motivated.  This is how I get motivated.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Bible As Scientific Challenge to Climate Change Speculation

An American actor spoke to the World Government Summit in Dubai this weekend.  The Associated Press reports:
Hollywood star Robert De Niro took aim at the Trump administration's stance on climate change, telling a packed audience in the Middle East that he was visiting from a "backward" country suffering from "temporary insanity."
De Niro said:
I am talking about my own country, the United States of America. We don’t like to say we are a ‘backward’ country so let’s just say we are suffering from a case of temporary insanity.
I would be confident in saying that De Niro doesn't know what he's talking about.   I suspect "backward countries" to him include people who believe the Bible.  It is an ignorant view to say the world is threatened by climate change.  Scripture is verified as true and it says the world will end by direct divine intervention.  God started everything and He will end everything. 

The Bible speaks again and again about the end.  The planet won't survive, because God did not design it to be permanent.  It has a built-in stopping point that doesn't relate at all to fossil fuels and carbon dioxide.  Man offends God and He puts up with the offense only so long.

The earth isn't stable because of anything that man has done.  The world is stable because of what God does.  The prophet Haggai brings a message from God to Zerubbabel to end his prophecy in Haggai 2:21-22:
I will shake the heavens and the earth; And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.
He delivered this to say that Zerubbabel needed to trust God and go ahead and return Israel back to the worship God intended.  He should not have considered man to be a threat to his work.  You can read the same types of accounts in several other places in the Old Testament about the future of the earth according to God.
2 Samuel 22:8, "Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth."
Psalm 68:8, "The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel."
Isaiah 13:13, "Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger."
Isaiah 29:6, "Thou shalt be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire."
Jeremiah 10:10, "But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation."
Ezekiel 38:20, "So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground."
Joel 2:10, "The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining."
Joel 3:16, "The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel."
Nahum 1:5, "The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein."
Haggai 2:6-7, "For thus saith the LORD of hosts;; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts."
For this reason, Jesus said (Matthew 24:35):
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
We know heaven earth will pass away.  This is a foregone conclusion.  It won't occur because of climate change.  Man's time will have run out with God.  God is the greatest threat to the planet, because He alone holds it together.

The Bible is authenticated by facts, an overwhelming number of them, and this verification stands in contrast to climate change thinking.  If God says something will happen, then it is sure, more sure than whatever man says will occur.  Unbelievers are temporary, if not permanently insane, De Niro being one of them.  He doesn't know how the world will end, because He doesn't believe the Bible, the true source of knowledge.  He's not even open to it.

The Bible is confirmed.  The Bible tells how everything will end.  It contradicts climate change.  Climate change is not how everything that will end.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Abiding in Christ: What Does it Mean? part 9 of 9: Miscellaneous Notes & Conclusion

The Conclusion: What it Means to Abide in Christ
All believers abide in Christ; they persevere in characteristic obedience to Him and fellowship with Him through His Word (John 17:17Ephesians 5:261 Peter 2:2). The glorious promise to saints, “ye shall abide in Him” (1 John 2:27), should motivate them to ever closer communion with their Lord. Being confident that He which began that good work of sanctification in them will continue it until they reach glory (Philippians 1:6), and that God will sanctify them, spirit, soul, and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) and preserve them to the end (Jude 11 Thessalonians 5:232 Timothy 4:18), they can boldly plead the promises of God concerning their perseverance and sanctification with the Lord who has covenanted to perform those great works in them. Sanctification is their new covenant heritage and certainty (Hebrews 8:10-12)—the certainty of ultimate and absolute victory over sin in glory, and the certainty of God’s working in them now both to will and do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13Ephesians 2:10), provides them with a tremendous encouragement to strive for ever greater conformity to and communion with God (Philippians 2:12) and practical holiness of life.
Miscellaneous Notes
Note #1: Abiding is not merely a New Testament doctrine. In the Mosaic economy, the saints sang in their inspired songbook, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place [ma'on] in all generations” (Psalm 90:1). Before the incarnation of the Messiah it was already true that “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). One could say to an Old Testament saint: “Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling” (Psalm 91:9-10; cf. 71:3). Jehovah had promised His Old Testament people: “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15). However, the analysis in this study is restricted elsewhere to the New Testament doctrine of abiding revealed by the word meno and expounded most fully in John 15.
Note #2: Compare to the verb meno the noun mone, found in John 14:23: “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode [mone] with him.” It is very clear that fellowship with the Father and the Son will take place for the person who loves Them. Nevertheless, the word itself does not require this meaning, as in John 14:2 (the only other NT reference) it is the word for the “mansions” that believers will inhabit in heaven, and, while their abodes will doubtless be glorious dwellings, they will not have fellowship with their dwelling places, although the bliss of heaven will center in communion with He who gave them their mansions. BDAG defines mone as:
            1. state of remaining in an area, staying, tarrying 
            2. a place in which one stays, dwelling(-place), room, abode 
Note #3: J. C. Ryle well states:
Sanctification, then, is the invariable result of that vital union with Christ which true faith gives to a Christian. ‘He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit’ (John 15:5). The branch which bears no fruit is no living branch of the vine. The union with Christ which produces no effect on heart and life is a mere formal union, which is worthless before God. The faith which has not a sanctifying influence on the character is no better than the faith of devils. It is a “dead faith, because it is alone.” It is not the gift of God. It is not the faith of God’s elect. In short, where there is no sanctification of life, there is no real faith in Christ. True faith worketh by love. It constrains a man to live unto the Lord from a deep sense of gratitude for redemption. It makes him feel that he can never do too much for Him that died for him. Being much forgiven, he loves much. He whom the blood cleanses, walks in the light. He who has real lively hope in Christ, purifieth himself even as He is pure (James 2:17-20Titus 1:1Galatians 5:61 John 1:73:3)” (pg. 15, Holiness: Its Nature, Hinderances, Difficulties, and Roots, J. C. Ryle, part 1. Pensacola, FL: Chapel Library, 2001 (repr. of London, 1879 ed.)).

See the complete study on meno or "abiding," which includes the passages not only in the KJV but also in the Greek NT (not present in this series of blog posts), by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Prayer Versus a Wish

Sometimes you want things to work out for someone a certain way, and the appropriate statement seems to have become, "I'll pray for that to work out in that certain way."  However, you don't know if it is God's will.  You don't know that you are praying in God's will.

A good and scriptural alternative to saying you'll pray for something to occur, which you aren't sure will occur, is to say, "I hope the best for you in that endeavor," or, "I am wishing that it will turn out that way for you."  That doesn't mean you now must pray for it, when you don't think you should pray for it, because it isn't something you know is God's will.  God hasn't promised it.  It's not wrong to want, but you don't know you'll get it.

Is there any basis for what I'm writing here?  Yes.  In two words, the optative.  The optative is a rare mood of the Greek verb in the New Testament.  I've read that there are 63 of them total.  In other words, I haven't counted them all up myself.  Papers have been written that categorize their various usages.

Overall, the optative is a mood that expresses wish or hope.  It is used to express wishes and is sometimes used for what is called a benediction, which I think that some of you can relate with, where you express to an audience at the end of a presentation that you hope they have a fine evening.  Paul shifts to the optative at the end of 1 Thessalonians 3, and by doing so, he does introduce some of what he will address in the next section of the epistle.  It also serves as a benediction to the end of the first part of the book.  Someone night confuse verses 11-13 for a prayer, especially when one includes verse 10.
10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? 11 Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. 12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
As an apostle, I think we should think that Paul knew things that we don't and can't know, that God reveals to him.  When he writes in the indicative mood, "praying," he communicates the requests with two aorist infinitives:  "to see" and "to perfect."  He makes it back on his third missionary journey (Acts 20:4).

Prayer must be in the will of God.  Prayer must be of faith, so we believe that we will receive.  Jesus said (Mark 11:24), "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."  What you believe that you will receive is reality.

Paul shifts then in verse 11 to the optative with "direct our way to you," followed by another optative, verse 12, "increase," and, third, "abound."  There are three of our 63 optatives in the New Testament.  Verses 11-13 are wishes or a benediction to end the chapter.  They contrast with the prayer of verse 10.

Prayers are not wishes.  We wish for things that we are not sure about.  We want them and that will direct what we might do to see those wishes accomplished.  We have no guarantee that they will come to pass.  God might affect them to occur.  If we wish them, then they must be the right thing.  We just don't know we will get it.  That's why they are communicated by the optative.

Paul makes wishes.  We can make wishes.  There are things that we wish.  We can express those wishes.  We should.