New Testament Hospitality and Refugees.

February 5th, 2017 |

Today I will focus on the New Testament concept of hospitality. The roots of this teaching are found in the ministry of Christ.

When Jesus sent out His disciples on preaching missions, they were instructed to lodge in the houses where they were welcomed. (Matt 10:11, Mark 6:10, Luke 9:4, Luke 10:7-8). In cases where hospitality was refused, the disciples were to move on, shaking the dust from their feet.

Reading Acts and the epistles it is clear that Paul and other itinerant preachers of the gospel depended upon the hospitality of believers for food and lodging. Acts 16 gives two prime examples: Lydia, the seller of purple fabric from Thyatira, and the Philippian jailer. It appears to have been a widely accepted custom to show hospitality to “strangers,” that is to these traveling ministers from afar. However there were doctrinal restrictions regarding those to whom hospitality could be extended:

Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. (2 John vv. 9-11)

It is in this light that we are to understand the concept of hospitality elsewhere mentioned in the Pauline Epistles. In Romans 12:13 we read: contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. This statement is in a paragraph exhorting brotherly love among believers. In the next verse believers are told not to curse but rather bless their enemies. And in 1 Timothy 5:10 one of the qualifications for widows receiving church support is that she has shown hospitality to strangers. Here again, the reference does not appear to be to random unknown persons but rather believers.

Perhaps one of the most commonly quoted verses on hospitality is Hebrews 13:2: Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. This command follows the statement in the previous verse: Let love of the brethren continue. That command is the topic sentence of a paragraph that deals primarily with relationships within the family of believers. Taken in the broader context of the New Testament concept of hospitality, it is understood as a charge to feed and house visitors who come in the name of the Lord. Apparently it was (and perhaps still is) the case that angels showed up at the door in need of hospitality.

A detailed analysis of all the possible applications of the principle of hospitality is not intended here. But perhaps a couple comments on what it does not mean are in order.

First, it does not mean that as believers we are obligated to admit total strangers into our homes. Not that there are not times when this might be a wise and prudent thing to do. We do not live in a culture where itinerant preachers of the gospel are coming into the churches, so it is hard to see how a direct application of New Testament hospitality would be common. However it is clear that we are not to admit to our homes or give a blessing to anyone whose mission it is to promote a false religion or false gospel.

Secondly, since the refugee crisis in on the minds of many, we might consider how biblical hospitality applies. It actually doesn’t, since the refugee crisis is a government-policy issue, not a personal matter. The question is not whether undocumented refugees should be admitted to our homes, but rather: should they be admitted to our country? Wherever you come down on this issue, the New Testament concept of hospitality is simply not germane to the discussion.

In considering the refugee issue it might be a better idea to assess the biblical teaching on the role of civil government (Romans 13; 1 Peter 2). From these passages it would seem that the role of the civil authority is to punish evildoers and reward those who do what is right. The reader may judge for himself whether or not admitting undocumented un-vetted refugees is the biblical obligation of government.

R.I.P. Francis Arthur Holdaas

November 25th, 2016 |

Dad passed away in his sleep late on Thanksgiving. He was heard singing the old hymns he learned as a boy in church in North Dakota. I had some good talks with my dad about spiritual matters over the past year as his health failed, and one of my brothers would go over and read Bible passages to him. When I heard he was gone and how he went, an indescribable sense of peace flooded my being. I am not in any way uncertain about his eternal destination. Sadness? Not so much. More relief and confidence that he is with the Lord Jesus. He was a great husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend to many. He had a great run of 89 years.




Listen to Jesus and you can’t go wrong.

August 15th, 2016 |

Last week I visited a church in Spokane, WA where at the end of the small men’s group meeting everyone joined hands and closed with this familiar prayer from Matthew 6:

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Years ago I heard a dispensational scholar say that this prayer was intended only for the Jews in the “millennium” and not for believers today. But throughout church history the faithful have treasured this prayer. It is included in the great creeds and catechisms as a template for prayer.

Today I want to discuss the phrases:

Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

We know the kingdom (reign, rule) of God was present in the life and ministry of Jesus, even as he taught the Lord’s prayer. We also know that Jesus reigns now through his redeemed people, the church. But in a certain sense God’s reign is not universal, and this is emphasized in the phrases above. God’s will is not now being done on earth as it is in heaven, and Jesus tells us to pray that it will be.

Some might suggest that God’s sovereign providential will is being accomplished on earth. Of course this is true; but in fact God’s exhaustively sovereign will was real from all eternity and throughout the Old Testament. Just read the prayer of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4 for a strong affirmation of this truth. And of course the New Testament is replete with statements on God’s sovereign providence. But why would the Lord encourage His disciples to pray for something already in existence? The implication seems to be that God’s will is not presently being done on earth as it is in heaven. This is just common sense.

The Lord’s reference here is to the moral will of God. In heaven there is no devil nor demons. No unbelievers, only redeemed saints. No sin, death, sickness, or sorrow. Just bliss-full fellowship in the presence of the Triune Godhead. Such conditions do not now exist on earth; and as long as they don’t we are on solid ground in praying this prayer. We are to hopefully long for a day when the righteousness of God covers the earth, when the very creation is freed from the ravages of the fall.

Postmillennialists have gotten this right to a point. But they posit a golden age when the vast majority of earth’s populace will be regenerate. But Jesus tells us to pray for God’s will on earth as it is in heaven, and in heaven it is not the vast majority but the totality who are saved.

2 Peter 3 tells us clearly that the day is coming when the entire earth will be burned with fire and replaced with a new heaven and earth wherein righteousness dwells. Peter tells his readers to long expectantly for that day. Now do you think those believers up in present-day Turkey prayed the Lord’s Prayer, or not? I’ll bet they did, and you and I should do the same.

Listen to Jesus and you can’t go wrong!


Truth or Consequences

August 1st, 2016 |

I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”  (John 18:37-38)

Pilate’s question sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The Roman governor of Judea was living in a time of countless competing Greek and Roman philosophies. Religion was a smorgasbord: there were the many Greek and Roman gods, the Babylonian, Assyrian, Persian, Phoenician, Canaanite, and Egyptian gods. Pilate’s question has a perplexing and sarcastic tone. Here in front of him is a Jewish carpenter on trial for his life, talking about a kingdom not of this world and claiming to be the voice of this slippery thing called truth.

Today things seem every bit as confusing, don’t they? I hear people all the time trying to trump all further argument on a given topic with, “Well, that’s your truth, but I have my truth too.” As if there is more than one “truth” and one person’s truth is as good as the next person’s. But is this…well, true?

From what I see in the Bible truth is not this or that piece of information or even a systematized collection of facts. Truth is in a person–Jesus Christ, the second person of the triune Godhead who became a man: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father but through Me” (John 14:6). Boy, does that ever sound like a narrow path to God? But the gospel is exclusive: There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). These exclusive statements really irritate unbelievers in our supposedly diverse and tolerant culture.

Believers try to widen the umbrella too. Recently I was talking with a lady who professes to be a Christian, and she commented about how wonderful it is in our country to have so many different religions. She said something to the effect that together they make a beautiful and colorful patchwork quilt. Hmm…how does such thinking line up with the first of the Ten Commandments: You shall have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20:3)? Last time I checked that commandment was still in force. Now I understand that we do not live in a theocracy like Old Testament Israel and that we cannot rid our land of all pagan belief systems. It is what it is, and it looks like we are stuck with it. Under the present circumstances we are to attempt to be at peace with our fellow citizens. That doesn’t mean we have to say the various religions are wonderful.

The fact is that they are not wonderful and God is as displeased with them now as He ever was.

So back to Pilate’s question. What is truth. Truth is in a person–Jesus Christ. Truth is also in God’s Word: Sanctify them by the truth. Your Word is truth (John 17:17). Ultimate truth can be found only in Christ. Outside of Him life is ultimately meaningless.

We live in a universe not a multiverse. What I mean is this: There is only one God and there is only one truth. That truth has been revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ and in God’s revealed Word, the Bible. That’s it.

Without Him where would we be? I shudder to think.

Thank you Lord for revealing yourself, for opening our hearts and giving us the faith to trust you, for so graciously and mercifully forgiving us of our many sins, and saving us not only from the world and the devil, but from ourselves. Thank you for the many temporal blessings you shower upon us.

Time flies whether you’re having fun or not.

July 31st, 2016 |

And I would say I am having my share of fun these days, although I must admit I sometimes wonder where the years have flown.

Just this past week I took part in a birthday celebration for a woman who turned 70. I met her in 1976 shortly after Connie and I were married. She was 30 then and I was 23. Now she is 70 and I am 63.

In one week (August 7) Connie and I will celebrate 40 years of marriage. Actually we have known each other 41 years. It was late August 1975 when I met her at Vancouver Bible College in then rural Surrey BC, Canada, south of Vancouver. I was in my second year there, out of my home town of what is now Sea Tac, Washington. She was the youngest of three daughters raised on a cattle ranch in Clearwater, Idaho, a town so small you will be lucky to find it on a map and which you will miss if you blink.

It was my second year of Bible college, having completed two years of community college. She was in her first year when I met her in 1975. The previous year I intentionally arrived at school with no car. Everything was right there on campus: dorm, classes, library, cafeteria. I had almost no social life that first year as I wanted to concentrate on studies. Despite being really busy that was the most lonely year of my life. The loneliness was brutal: God knew what he was talking about when he said it is not good for a man to be alone.

Our first date was a trip to Dairy Queen on which I forgot my wallet–really embarrassing, seeing how she had declined my first two invitations for a date. She was very pretty in a country-ish sort of way. No makeup and really feminine without being girlie. She had grown up on horses driving cattle, bucking hay, chopping wood, hunting, fishing, gutting out deer, and doing all the things her dad would have expected of sons if he had any. She had been raised in church and had never (and still has never) touched a drop of alcohol.

I, on the other hand, had some rough sledding during my teenage years. Even after I became a Christian in 1971 I struggled. I moved away from Seattle to Bible college to get a fresh start. Connie told me when she accepted my marriage proposal that she was not interested in who I was or what I had done in the past. What mattered was who and what I would be moving forward. Deep down I had always admired my dad for the example he set for us, and I knew I wanted to one day be like him. Now was the time. When my pastor in Seattle met her he asked how I managed to find such a perfect girl. His advice was this: Listen to her–she will make a good man out of you. If you do not listen to her you are a fool. I have tried to follow that counsel these four decades.

After nearly a half century with her I love her more than ever. We enjoy the simple things of life. Like sitting and talking every morning over coffee. Going to yard sales every weekend. Restoring old dressers, tables, stools, etc., and building things for our daughter’s antique/vintage/farmhouse boutique store (The Barn Owl, Lynden, WA). I just built a really cool 36″ table from the top of a spool with a colorful logo painted on. She is a master of restoring old items. She paints them usually white and distresses them to make them look old. Seems like that’s what everyone wants. She is amazing. She bought a little dresser last week for $3.00 and after she gave it a makeover it sold for $89.95 last Thursday.

For our anniversary we are going for three days to check out some estate sales in eastern Washington. We stay in middle of the road hotels and dine in greasy spoon small town eateries where they serve home cooked food. Nothing fancy because we’re not fancy people.

I do not deserve the life/wife God has gifted me with. You need not remind me of that.

You Are Lonely

July 1st, 2016 |

You are lonely. Your day is filled with an eternity of solitary moments that stretch into hours that stretch into days, weeks, and months. You try to fill your time with things like reading, watching television, or going for walks. But nothing fills that empty spot in your soul that can only be filled by a meaningful connection with another human being. You try to fall back on your relationship with God, and what a wonderful thing that relationship is. But you cannot see or touch God. When you go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning alone in bed, of course God is there. But that is not the same as having another person with you. You long for someone to talk and share with over coffee each morning, someone to enjoy a leisurely dinner or movie with. Instead it is just you. No one to laugh and cry with, to share precious memories with. When you were younger you never dreamed your life would come to this.

Is this it? Am I just clocking time until I can die and go to heaven with the Lord and those who have passed on before me?

Maybe you are at or nearing retirement age. You do not have a spouse to enjoy this time of your life with. Perhaps he or she has passed away, or divorced you for someone else. Or perhaps you divorced them because life with them was toxic and perhaps even dangerous. Could be your parents and even some of your siblings have died; and what siblings you have left are distant or estranged from you. Your children are raised and out of the house, busy with their own lives. Your childhood friends are far away living busy lives. Could be health issues or some disability prohibit you from working, but you really do not have adequate financial means for a comfortable retirement. You are living in a meager home–a far cry from that place you always dreamed of out in the country with a spacious house and acreage for a huge garden and some animals.

Then again you might be like the single 26 year old woman I know. She lives alone and can’t afford–even on a Costco wage–to get ahead. She is very pretty and is what they call big-bodied nowadays. She has friends and would love to meet a guy but doesn’t know how. She sees some of her friends are already married and divorced and strapped with kids. She has discovered that many of the adult males in the 25-30 year old range are more like overgrown boys than men. No job or car, living with parents, etc. Why opt to carry a big piece of dead wood around? Being alone is easier and better, so she rightly concludes. So she plods through her days working. Her social life is her mom and dad, and nieces and nephews. As she says, “it sucks.”

I could give so many examples of people who are terribly lonely. Recently I attended a training on suicide assessment and prevention, and the trainer said that loneliness is epidemic these days and a major contributing factor in many cases where folks opt to end their lives. Short of that here are some of the side-effects of being alone.

Bitterness and Negativity. You look back at your past pondering what coulda’ woulda’ shoulda’ been. Some of you are convinced that life is unfair–and of course it is. But instead of doing what you can now to move forward you choose to blame others for your plight, as if your own choices and behaviors had nothing to do with it. People are not always like fine wine–with age the often become bitter rather than better. Lonely people often are judgmental and negative, always seeing the half empty glass. Count your blessings and leave off the pity party.

Neediness. Many lonely people drive others away with their clinging needy behaviors. They wrongly think it is some other person’s job to meet their emotional needs. They become a nuisance to others, which only results in more isolation and loneliness. Start looking beyond yourself. Consider what you might do for others instead of expecting them to do for you.

Artificial “Relationships.” Here I am talking about online cyber relationships through Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. These options are like salted popcorn–tastes good in the moment but leaves you thirstier than ever. There are always people out their in cyber space waiting to catfish a lonely person. I would suggest you shut down your Facebook page or at least limit it to a few select friends. Check the page and your email once or maybe twice a day maximum. Get out of the house and try to connect with people. Go to a small group at church, join an exercise class–anything. You will need to work at it: people are not going to beat a path to your door.

Loneliness can be lethal. God did not create you to be a hermit wallowing in self-pity and defeat. Tough love for a tough problem.


June 23rd, 2016 |

You might have noticed that the volume of posts in the swordroom is dwindling the past year. I thought I might take a few minutes to explain and ask for your patience. These days we are really pulled in several directions, all of which tax our time and energy. First is the issue of personal health. My wife has had to downscale from five to three days a week at her job due to a back injury. Doctor says she is not to lift more than ten pounds. As for me, in addition to my long-standing problem with high blood pressure, I was recently diagnosed borderline type 2 diabetic. Still we work a lot of extra hours trying to help our youngest daughter with her antique vintage store which has been open one year July 1. Then there is my dad, age 89. He has had some health issues that have slowed him down and my mom has a hard time taking care of him and keeping up their place down in Port Orchard, WA. So me and my siblings are doing what we can to help.


The other thing is our youngest son. He is an alcoholic, age 25. An absolute joy growing up in our home. Good student, great athlete, well-liked by all who knew him. Started drinking end of senior year and has been enslaved to alcohol for six years running. So much potential and all of it ruined by his addiction. He went missing for two weeks on the streets of Spokane this month. I called and filed a missing person report and they found him lying in a wooded area in a stupor of alcohol poisoning. They took him to the hospital and then to detox. He is in rehab now for the second time. We are so heartbroken over our baby boy.

So with all this going on I have bowed out of church activities, leading singing once every couple months. I simply do not have the time or energy to post on this site like I used to do. I contemplated shutting it down completely, but who knows–maybe things will change and I will have some breathing room. For now please bear with the scarcity of activity on the swordroom.

Full Preterism and Dispensationalism Compared

April 12th, 2016 |

Is Full Preterism A Legitimate Evangelical Option?

March 31st, 2016 |

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12: Preterist or Futurist?

March 29th, 2016 |

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