What an unusual title for a post, you might be thinking; and you would be absolutely correct. Let us see if I can make sense of this enigma in the form of a title.
My teaching style is somewhat unusual, and has been stated to resemble a rabbit trail type of teaching. The way it works is: as I attempt to teach on a singular topic, I will make many deviations to other subjects, hence referred to as rabbit trails, in order to teach a myriad information; while yet covering a single topic.
To me it’s like a crazy man that literally teaches “laying precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little,” (Isa. 28:10) yet doing so in an unusual manner. This particular style of teaching is very strange as witnessed on our ministry website, yet there is an underlying premise which is very important to the author.
It is like teaching a subject by using a telescope, as well as a microscope. It has long been my premise that as we approach God’s Word we must always keep in mind the big view, keeping perspective of the overall picture that God is laying out, which is somewhat analogous to looking at stars through a telescope, attempting to see how they all fit together in purpose – like examining a mosaic from a distance in order to appreciate the complete picture. Yet, at the same time honing into the specificity of the Scripture, examining the preciseness of what God has said as there is an exact meaning to every Scripture, analogous to utilizing a microscope – like examining a single piece of the mosaic to understand it’s intricacy.
The overall purpose of this style of teaching is that it will advance the student much faster in understanding the subject as a whole, yet also in its precision as well. It is a much more holistic presentation style wherein information is garnered, yet also trust concerning the subject matter can be generated at the same time; both of which are areas important concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ. For it is in understanding how the whole picture fits together concerning the exact specificity of its parts that normally takes many years for a believer to understand and comprehend overall, yet is sped up in this particular teaching style. The following is an example of this style of teaching.
I am a second amendment advocate. No, I not only believe in the constitutional right to bear arms as an individual (which also meant to be organized with a group of my fellow citizens – a militia, which was a generic term used at the writing of the Constitution which did not include a formal regiment or standing army. The word militia has changed in its meaning, yet it is the meaning of the writers that is most important – this is why I am considered a constitutionalist, a purist concerning the document), I believe in the biblical mandate concerning self-defense and the protection of one’s family as well (please see my next post concerning: “Judgment,” which also addresses turning the cheek and Christian pacifism).
I’m not speaking about revenge on a personal basis, nor am I addressing justice on a secular basis; but God’s directive to protect myself as His vessel (unless God has directed otherwise, or the situation is better served by dying for the cause, such as the persecution of Christians who were martyred for their belief – and died for the gospel of Jesus Christ), as well as those under my roof. Now what does this have to do with a dog, burnt hands, and the cross; I hope the following will explain.
Having been a police officer and an investigator; I was privileged to have the ability to carry a firearm to protect myself and others. Many have called me a gun nut, at least those that lean more to the left – however, I would take issue with that type of description as being bigoted and inappropriate at least concerning myself. To know my heart, is to know that the use of a gun has never been my desire, yet the ability to use a gun always has – it is this deterrent factor that has saved my life on more than a few occasions.
You see I have been firearm trained through 2.5 police academies (don’t ask about the .5); and had to re-qualify every year for over a dozen years, spending 24 hours each year going over the laws, as well as the technical proficiency of firearms handling and discharge. In that training; and in my law enforcement career I had mentally prepared myself to take a life in the protection of saving a life. Because the only reason to use a gun is to stop somebody else from taking your life or someone else’s life, and in that action you never shoot to wound because that does not stop the assailant’s behavior immediately, you shoot to kill – this is what stops the other person from killing someone else. So to me the gun was a tool to save life, not take it.
Yes, this was accomplished by taking the life of the perpetrator (and it was the perpetrators choice to put himself in a position where his life would be taken by cold heartedly attempting to take another persons life, whereas the victim had not chosen such an evil behavior) who is attempting to kill someone else, yet it was the only full proof way of immediately stopping someone from murder, hence it is referred to as self-defense; and while it is killing – it is not murder. Murder, or attempted murder is when someone attempts to unlawfully take the life of another, and the only lawful way to take the life of another was in protecting yourself or another person from murder. Not too complicated when you really think about it, yet not quite what the liberal anti-gun proponents might attempt to present.
I’ve always understood that you don’t hesitate in an emergency situation, you don’t second-guess yourself when someone’s life is on the line; you pull your firearm and shoot mid body mass – the heart, in order to defend someone else’s life. This sounds gruesome, but I have always felt that it is one of the noblest of all acts of man, that of saving someone else’s life. The reason I find nobility in this type of killing; is in understanding my own mindset of what it would cost me to do so.
I am painfully aware that due to my sensitive conscience, if I ever had to take a human life it would bother me every day that I lived afterwards. Yet, what I could not live with is the thought of my in-action costing an innocent person their life. You see if I ever used a gun, even if I shot Charlie Manson; it would come at a very grave price to my own conscience. And not simply a thought that would bother me, I know myself well enough to say that there would be many tears; and thoughts of the loss of that human being to his own family (and for those that feel that Christianity promotes passivity – you are biblically wrong. Again, please see the following post concerning Christianity and proper judgment).
Thankfully, this has not ever taken place. Though as a deterrent on many occasions having a firearm in my hands stopped a felon in his tracks, while also protecting myself and others. What is my point; it is that things sometimes don’t appear as they really are. And what does this have to do with a dog, burnt hands, and that cross; well it is an analogy, a metaphor for explaining a principle that is hard to comprehend. Perhaps explaining the story of “a dog” would help you understand the story of the gun, and how it relates to burnt hands, and the cross.
There was a lady who was quite dismayed that her husband had purchased a new puppy for their baby. She was painfully aware that it was her that would feed this “urinating in the house,” “barking at night,” “whining for attention,” “flea carrying mongrel.” She would be the one picking up the poop in and outside. She would be the one preparing its meals. She would be the one that would watch this 4 legged creature lick the face of her baby – she did not like having a dog. However, something would change this opinion when her baby was 3 years old.
You see although the baby was still a baby at 3 years old, the dog had grown into adulthood at 3 years; and as all dogs are faithful true and better than humans when it comes to loyalty and honor, this dog loved the little boy – with undying affection. And while this baby was very beautiful, some saying he would grow up to be a model, Rex the dog was an ugly mix breed mutt.
There wasn’t a day that went by that the woman did not display her disgust for Rex. One day while the little boy was playing in the backyard, the mother heard the dog bark in an unusual manner. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see a figure of a man in the backyard approaching the baby, with the dog in between the two. As she turned to see what was going on, to her horror she could see that the individual was dressed in all black, with a mask on, and obviously attempting to abduct the baby. And there was Rex, barking in a very aggressive manner, biting at the man and holding him off, until the perpetrator pulled out a knife and cut Rex repeatedly; but Rex did not retreat, he stood his ground and protected the little boy from the abductors.
While running to the backyard the women dialed 911 and yelled help, dropping the phone as she ran, while yelling and screaming at the perpetrator, who then ran off. When the woman approached Rex she thought he was dead though he didn’t stop lunging at the man until the man ran off, then Rex fell over, as though dead. The woman grabbed her baby and Rex, and without thought drove to the animal hospital, calling the police on her way to give them the details of the situation. Some dogs are beautiful in their appearance, long flowing hair, beautiful colors, profound in the stature of their breed, even exquisite physique; however Rex was none of these – he was an ugly mix breed mutt, who loved to roll around in mud, play in the water, and get into the trash.
These are just a few of the reasons why the woman had such great disdain for this dog living in her immaculate house, which she worked very hard to keep that way in spite of this four-legged creature. However, after the situation their relationship totally changed.
Now Rex was a member of the house, treated with privileges even beyond his masters. The woman fed Rex the best dog food, bought him treats and toys; but more importantly displayed love and affection for Rex that he had never known before from this woman. This ugly mutt was now treated like a Prince due to the quality and honor that he displayed in loving this woman’s child – Rex now had meaning and importance in the eyes of the woman who she could never repay, though would spend the next 10 years attempting to do so until the day Rex died, which broke her heart.
Now what does this have to do with the subject at hand, well let me use yet one last analogy to paint the picture, that of burnt hands.
There was a beautiful teenage girl who was dearly loved by her family and fostered in every pursuit that she would endeavor. She was on the cheerleading squad, the debate squad, the high school newspaper, and on the student council. She was outgoing and popular, and excelled at anything she attempted. Much of this had to do with the adulation, love, acceptance, and encouragement of her mother.
However, in spite of all that her mother had done in promoting her physical and emotional well-being; it was noticeable that the girl was ashamed of her mother; attempting to avoid her mother ever been seen in public with her. Yet, this never detracted the mother from supporting her daughter in every manner she could.
The girl was not a bad girl, yet due to her popularity and social stature she had become somewhat vain, and the problem with her mother was not her mother per se; but the fact that she had terribly scarred hands and arms which embarrassed the daughter when seen in public.
Finally, a situation arose in which the daughter blatantly told the mother she didn’t want her to be seen in public because of her scares, and the embarrassment it brought to the daughter.
A few days later, the mother walked into the daughter’s room late one night and while saying good night, her daughter asked how did her hands and arms get so horribly disfigured. The mother hesitated, then sit down on the bed and said, “I’ve not wanted to share this story with you until you are old enough to understand, maybe now is the right time. When you were a few months old and we lived in an old house on Jefferson Street, there was a terrible fire, and your nursery was on the second floor.
I had put you down for your nap and went downstairs to do the laundry. After some time I smelled what smelled like burnt rubber, and started to investigate. As I started up the stairs I could smell smoke and see it coming out of the cracks of the door of your room. As I ran to your room and opened the door, in horror I could see that the room was filled with smoke, and I saw flames in the corner were your crib was located. I ran over to see my greatest fear; the outer frame of your crib was engulfed in flames. As I went to reach for you in the crib, the railing, which was on fire was too high to reach you, so I had to reach into the flames to lower the railing, I then reached inside and grabbed you why the flames engulfed my arms and upper body. You were not burned in any way, though you did have smoke inhalation.
I spent months in the hospital, and spent years undergoing reconstructive surgery on my hands, arms, chest, and shoulders while you are still quite young.” As the mother looked up from having her eyes fixed on the floor during the story, she could see the tears flowing from her daughter’s cheeks. The daughter grabbed her mother’s burnt hands so tenderly and started kissing them.
This changed the girl’s attitude and perspective as she understood that this terrible disfigurement was the ultimate display of her mother’s undying love
Now you understand why I love the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross is a cruel instrument of death and shame; yet it was by my Lord’s willingness to die on the cross that He displayed His love for me in such an overwhelming manner.
Now maybe you understand the connection between a gun, a dog, burnt hands, and the cross.
Sometimes the value of something is not readily apparent.
And sometimes things aren’t always as they seem. Sometimes an instrument of death, such as a gun can save the life of a beloved family member, and becomes an instrument of life; sometimes an ugly old dog that appears to have no value can protect the thing that we love the most, and sometimes terrible scars are a visible reminder of sacrificial love – yet all of these are pale in comparison to the apparent barbarism of a Roman cross, a cross that exhibits what our Lord went through when He was nailed to it for our sins – a thing of pain, ridicule , and shame becomes a beautiful symbol of love.
“Whereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)