Are you a Legalist? (Part 1)

Have you ever heard of someone saying that someone else was being “legalistic”? Have you ever said it yourself about a friend or acquaintance? This word, legalism, is probably one of Christianity’s favorite insults or judgments to bandy about. For many, it’s an easy way to put a name to behaviors they don’t agree with, particularly when someone seems to be overly committed to piety. Or, to avoid the trap of legalism, we might say, “Well, I guess I could do [blank] because I wouldn’t want to be legalistic.”

But what is legalism?

I recently heard a definition for it on the radio that sort of makes sense, though it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. The speaker said that “legalism” is the separation of the Law from the God who gave the Law. In my own words, this would be a form of idolatry, where the Law becomes the object of worship and means of salvation rather than God. This is a very natural thing to do. It’s easy too!

We don’t have to try very hard to head down this road, especially when we’re trying to do our best to please the God who loves us. When the almighty, good and loving father tells us to do or not to do something, it makes sense for us to then take that rule and place safeguards around it. If God says, “I don’t want you to have any cookies after dinner.” You might then say, “If God doesn’t want me to have any cookies after dinner, then I will just not touch the cookie jar after 4pm.” This is logical. Since dinner usually happens somewhere between 5 and 9pm, you can’t possibly have any cookies after dinner with your new rule.

But where God gave you one rule, now you have two. Soon, you might ask, “what did God mean when he said no cookies after dinner? Was he saying no dessert? Or was he saying nothing sweet?” To be safe, you decide that he really meant you can’t have dessert. Also, just to be safe, you decide that the cranberry walnut vinaigrette that you were looking forward to on your salad might also be considered dessert if you were to include all things sweet. You might then decide that cookies are a form of bread so baked goods are also entirely stricken from the table. Eventually, you might think that since the cookie jar is in the kitchen, you have to stay away from the kitchen altogether because, in your preparation for dinner and cleaning up after, you might accidentally bump into it and break our second rule, which is to not touch the cookie jar after 4pm.

What have we ended up with in order to avoid having cookies after dinner is a complete ban on dinner and reduced access to one of your favorite rooms in the house. This is legalism, and it’s not at all what God was asking for.

When God set forth the Law, he made a good start with the Ten Commandments. In fact, as Jesus explains in the New Testament, God’s first two commandments should have been enough since all of the rest of the Law and the Prophets are wrapped up in them. It was man who asked, “But… how??” and was subsequently terrified by the answer. The remainder of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, after God hands down the 10 commandments to the Hebrew people, is full of the explanation and expansion of the Law. This portion of the Bible is part of the Torah and spells out the terms of the Mosaic covenant between God and His people, the Jews. Failure to meet these requirements meant death, not only to the body but to the soul.

The story of the Old Testament Jews is like that “no cookies after dinner” problem. Once the Law was given, the people gave themselves over to legalism in the extreme. When they came upon a lost or wounded animal that needed to be rescued on the Sabbath, they had to leave it and hope that it didn’t die before the next day. If it was time to give the tithe to the Lord, they had to then go and divide out the first tenth of not only the flocks, but also the produce, herbs, cash, and children, giving them over to God as an offering.

Today, we are no different.

Today, we still take the Law, the thing God intended for our benefit and His glory and worship it instead of Him.

Today, we enslave ourselves to the obedience of every last parenting/dieting/nonviolence/exercise rule we see.

But the story doesn’t end here. Some of us have evolved and moved on from such archaic requirements. Some of us have read scripture and know that we have something the Jews living under the Old Covenant never did; for us, the Law has been fulfilled. For us, there is a New Covenant between God and Man where Jesus, having fulfilled the Law through his crucifixion and resurrection, has removed from us consequence of breaking the Law.

If the consequence for breaking the law has been removed, are we now free to do as we please?

One of the biggest criticisms of Christianity is that Christians are hypocrites. We claim to hold to a higher way and yet often show that we are no different from our neighbor, neither in act or deed. This is a fair criticism, which we have earned.

Many (probably all) Christians have at some point or another wrestled with the question of what to do with the Law. Since the Gospel is that Christ has fulfilled the Law on our behalf, we now get to experience freedom from the burden that it represents. So, to exercise our freedom, we run headlong in the opposite direction of the Law. Believing that the Law no longer holds any significant weight, we scrap it and divorce ourselves from its code. This is what the scholars call “Antinomianism.”

antinomian. 1 : one who holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation.

In other words, someone who thinks that they can do whatever they want because they’ve been saved by faith and grace covers all sins is an antinomian. Unfortunately for the believer, this too is a wrong response to the Gospel. Scholars in the past have reasoned that both the Legalist and the Antinomian both suffer from a wrong relationship with the Law. Indeed, both are still a slave to it. Jesus explains this to us in his Sermon on the Mount:

17 “Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-20 CSB

Jesus’ statement about the Law paints a hard picture. You see, the Pharisees and the scribes knew the Law. They knew every letter and pen scratch making up the Law and could run circles around the rest of their Jewish brothers when it came to living it out. If the Pharisees were the epitome of legalism and Jesus tells them off multiple times for it, then we don’t want to be like them! But we don’t want to be antinomians either! What is a Christian to do? Are we supposed to keep the Law or not??

In my next post, I will discuss a right relationship with the Law and how Christians today should relate to it.

 

Hope Restored: Stop Trying to Earn Your Gifts.

This week, we have our first guest post! I asked my wife to add her thoughts and and experiences to this blog and she came through with a great post on Romans 6:23.

——-

My parents didn’t buy me a lot of the Christian stuff that other Christian kids’ parents did. Other kids got things like Veggie Tales videos, creepy Precious Moments dolls, and Jump5 and Mercy Me CDs. One of the few things my parents did get was a series of cassette tapes called GT and the Halo Express. GT and the Halo Express put Bible verses to song for easy memorization for kids. My family listened to those tapes every time we got in the car to go somewhere.

I had forgotten about good ole GT until recently when I started to actively memorize and bring to mind Scripture. I found that a lot of the verses I remembered were the ones I sang along to in my mom’s car! The one that stood out to me the most was “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It would get stuck in my head for HOURS, like American Pie or the Song That Doesn’t End (thanks Lamp Chop). But until last year, I had never really understood what the verse itself meant.

I always understood the second part about the gift of God being eternal life, but the first part about wages and death… geez, who talks like that? It wasn’t until I really started breaking down what the verse meant that I understood the gravity of the statement and how the sum of the gospel is held in the juxtaposition of its two simple phrases.

“For the wages of sin is death”

When you hear the word wages, it’s always in relation to how much money someone is paid, like the federal minimum wage. A wage is something you earn – you’ve spent the time, you did the work, you earned your payment.

In the context of this verse, the work we’re putting in is sin. The bad news is that sin isn’t just the bad things that we do. Sin is what separates us from God and includes anything against the moral character of God. By being human, we all have sin in our very nature. We can’t help but be separated from God and do things that continue to separate us from God.

We are paid a wage for the work we do against God, and that payment comes in death. It reminds me of Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve are in the garden and God tells them they can eat from any tree except that one.

Then they go and hang out by that tree (bad idea) and the serpent comes along and is just like, “why aren’t you eating from the tree? it’s soooooooooo good.”

Eve is all like, “no we can’t, cause God said we would die if we did,”

Then the serpent is just like, “you won’t DIE! Just do it. You know you want to…”

Eve ate from the tree and gave it to Adam and he did too. But the serpent is a LIAR because they did die.

A bunch of other stuff happened first, like getting kicked out of Eden and God committing the first sacrifice (which is an altogether different story that’s super cool) and clothing them and getting them set up on some land. But then they died. Adam and Eve aren’t walking around now, are they? And everyone else that came after them died and everyone that’s alive now will die and everyone that is born in the future will die. I will die. You will die. We will all die, and it’s because of sin.

But we were not created to die. We were created to live in the garden in perfect communion with God, walking with him, talking with him, having a relationship with him. But because of Adam’s and Eve’s departure from God in their sin, they died. Now we, who are separated from God in our sin, will also die.

This is bad news.

“but”

It’s so sweet that there’s a but at the end of the bad news statement. That God loves us so much that he added a “but” and made a plan to rescue us. Because he’s God, and, again, he did not create us to die. He did not create us to be separated from him. In our present state, though, we were separated and we were going to die and continue to be separated from him. In his infinite goodness and love for us, he added a “but.”

“the gift of God is eternal life”

Gifts are not earned. They are not deserved. They are given freely and out of affection for a loved one. Even though, in our American culture, we put together birthday and Christmas lists so people can get us what we want, gifts can’t really be assumed or expected to be received because they were not earned. If you worked for it, you were really just paid a wage. If you didn’t, you were rewarded with a gift.

The gift we receive is from God. He crossed the chasm of sin that separated us from him and offered us rescue. Only he has the power to offer it to us. Again, it’s a gift. We cannot earn it. We can only accept it.

Eternal life is the gift that God gives us. Our bodies, because they are in their very nature sinful, will still pass away, but our souls, our inmost beings, will live forever in communion with God. This is GOOD NEWS! Death is not the end for us! We do not have to live forever in the shame, sadness, or darkness that comes from being separated from our creator! The feeling that’s within each one of us, the one that says something isn’t quite right and this isn’t the way things are supposed to be, will go away because everything will be put right. We will return to the way they were created to be. Eternal life means freedom, restoration, and regeneration.

“in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It’s important to note, though, that gifts can be given but not accepted.

For example, let’s say you’re hanging out at your apartment and it’s Saturday morning and you’re laying in bed not wanting to get up for the day. It’s a nice day and you can see the sun is shining and the sky is blue, and it’d be the perfect day to go for a drive. Only thing is that you have a super crappy car. Like, such a beater that you’re not sure you can even get it to the Walmart down the street later to get some groceries and even if you did you’re so embarrassed by the car cancer on top you don’t even want to!

Now for a bit of dramatic irony: your friend just won the Powerball. They took the lump sum and paid their taxes and built an offshore shell account and did everything responsible they were supposed to do first. Now they’re giving people stuff because they’re flush with cash, and they’re very loving.

Knowing your crappy car situation, your newly rich friend went out and bought you a brand new, shiny, fully-loaded vehicle and have it parked outside your apartment building now ready to give to you! But you don’t know this because you’re in bed feeling sorry for yourself. You get a text from them saying to come outside.

You’re like “nah I’m in bed ugh.”

They text you back and say, “for real, come outside I have something for you.”

And you’re like, “I’m not getting out of bed for anything right now.”

And they text you back and call you and start to get really urgent but you will not come outside. They come and knock on your door and call out to you but you just ignore them and finally send them a “new phone who dis” text.

So they got you a gift – but you never came out to accept it. If you don’t come out to receive your gift, you never get to enjoy the benefits of it.

Accepting the gift of eternal life comes through believing that Jesus, who is God’s son, ultimately paid the price for that gift with his own life. Jesus was both God and man. He was perfect and sinless as well as subject to the same sinful nature you and I have. Because of this, his death was the only death that could be the final payment for the death that we have all earned. He took death on for himself so that we don’t have to. He destroyed the power it held over us when he came back to life three days later. He broke the chains that bind all of us so we can live in freedom.

This is truly good news! That we could believe that God gave his son, Jesus, to take away the sins of the world to live in relationship with us. We cannot earn this relationship and we do not deserve to receive the gift of eternal life, but we can receive it when we accept it. Come out from the darkness of the pit of despair and shame you’re living in, and accept the gift of light and life fully restored to God.

Men and Church

“Why are all the baptisms for women?”

“Where are the good Christian men for my single friends to date?”

“How come none of our volunteers are men?”

If you spend any time in church at all you might notice that there’s an imbalance between men and women. According to David Murrow at Church for Men, the split for an average church is about 60% women 40% men. This is for the average, stable church.

On its face, that doesn’t seem like a problem. In fact, it feels kind of normal. However, that figure is not representative of the actual population of men and women in America. Based on the latest census data, the American gender distribution is roughly 50/50 with a very slight favor going to the women. Since the church has no stated bias towards women and Christianity is in favor of both genders, it makes sense that the church gender distribution should reflect the national population more closely.

Some would argue that religion in general is more of a feminine construct and that men simply don’t feel the need for it. However, looking way back into history, especially at religions born out of the middle east, men are the dominant figures. The arguers and perpetuators of  the major three (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) have nearly always been men, and often the manliest of men. Even today, a vast majority of clergy are men.

So, what’s the deal? Why don’t men just go to church?

1. Church is too girly:

In his book, Why Men Hate Going to Church, David Murrow makes the claim that men don’t go to church because it isn’t really built for them. If churches would “man up” their services by getting rid of all the doilies and stop singing “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs, then men would go to church. This is an interesting point, but I don’t think that it really strikes at the heart of why men don’t go to church.

2. Church is boring:

Murrow moves on to make a much stronger claim that cuts even more closely to the core of the issue. Men don’t go to church because there simply isn’t anything for them to do there. Since I am a man, I can bear witness to this. In my early days as a Christian, I wanted to help out in any way that I could. Unfortunately, the only places for me to volunteer were the kitchen, the nursery, or as an usher. I very quickly realized the kitchen was too small for me to be of use and the nursery was a place where men simply were not welcome. That left ushering. In a church of 150 people, you don’t need very many ushers so if you wanted to get one of the available slots you had to be one of the first 4 people to volunteer that week. Fortunately for me, I got to learn how to play drums and promptly monopolized that position on the newly formed worship team.

3. Men are disobedient:

Murrow doesn’t make this claim but I think it applies. There is a really small piece of scripture in the New Testament that seems to indicate that there might have been a similar attendance problem in the earliest days of the Christian church.

Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) say: And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

The Bible is not short on commands, but this is one is especially relevant. The author of Hebrews intended his letter as an exhortation (corrective encouragement) for the church. The letter encourages believers persevere in their faith and provides many lessons and proofs for that encouragement.

Church might sometimes be boring and it can be girly, but God told you to be there for regular encouragement and to prepare yourself for the day of His return.

Going to church is better than it sounds:

Church is good for men. You might think of it like eating vegetables at dinner. Men, when you were boys, you didn’t want to do it but your mom made you anyway. Why? Because it’s good for you. When you grew up, you decided you were old enough to choose your own path and eat as little vegetables as possible. Then you got married and what did your wife do? She made you eat your vegetables… because it’s good for you.

According to David Murrow’s research the benefits are as follows:

  • Churchgoers are more likely to be married and express a higher level of satisfaction with life. Church involvement is one of the most important predictor of marital stability and happiness.
  • Church involvement helps move people out of poverty. Its also correlated with less depression, more self-esteem and greater family and marital happiness.
  • Religious participation leads men to become more engaged husbands and fathers.
  • Teens with religious fathers are more likely to say they enjoy spending time with dad and that they admire him.

Church for Men cites several sources for this information here.

Men are good for church too. Any church that finds itself with a willing male volunteer has found a treasure. If the church has the capacity to employ men in current volunteer positions, they of course fill a felt need. However, if a church has the creativity to empower men to activity when no open volunteer positions exist, the church grows. Men are makers and doers. Men like to carry heavy things, repair homes, plant gardens, and interact with people outside of sitting in the pew. The church needs to be a strong operations center with its hands out in he community seeking and serving the lost, sick, and broken.

David Murrow’s research indicates that the felt absence of men leads to the actual decline in church growth over all. Churches that are able to reduce the gender gap and encourage male participation actually grow. If the Great Commission is to be realized, then church must be for men.

What Religion Are You: Baptist or Methodist?

If you throw a rock in the South you’ll probably hit a church or two. The “Bible Belt” is an amazing place when you consider that there is almost literally a church on every corner. Sometimes two, or three, depending on where you look.

On one hand, it’s good that there are so many churches. It makes access to the gospel incredibly easy since you can get it anywhere. On the other hand, it presents an interesting problem for Christianity. That enormous number of churches makes it easier for wolves to dress themselves up as sheep.

This is where Christian’s have to practice discernment. Among all these churches, you’ll find various practices and beliefs that may or may not be biblical. This is a problem that Christian’s have wrestled with for two thousand years. Throughout those years whole factions of Christian practice have come and gone, each leaving their mark on the religion. Some of these marks are more profound than others, particularly when it comes to the division of the Roman Catholic Church and Protestantism. The debate between the Reformers (Protestants) and the prominent Catholic clergy still remains in our atmosphere and there are still divisions between the two.

The root of this division had to do with the authority of the Bible usurping the authority of the Pope, church staff, and traditions. The Protestant movement began with scholars reading scripture, looking at the actions of the Pope and the Church and seeing a disconnect between what Jesus and the Apostles said and did and the way the modern clergy was acting and teaching. The Reformers may not have intended to cause division but rather correction in the thinking of the Church. The resulting Protestant movement led to the empowerment of believers in asking (and answering) the question of how to practice and interpret Christianity and biblical principles. This question and the various answers have led to tremendous growth and challenge for Christians and helped to push forward the creation of denominations. (For a quick survey of church history, click here.)

The creation and proliferation of Protestant denominations has made it difficult for both Christians and non-Christians to understand whether what it is we say we believe is our actual belief or an allusion to another belief. Today, a safe estimate for the number of ways Protestant Christians apply the same gospel message is somewhere between 200 and 300 distinct doctrinal sets according to the National Catholic Register.

Lumping in Catholics and Protestants together, you end up with what is essentially “Three Hundered and One Ways to be a Christian”. This is alarming to think about when every single one of these ways claims that they are following Jesus in the “most correct” fashion. For a new or practicing Christian, this must be addressed in a discerning and humble fashion if you are going to make it through this gauntlet of competing beliefs and understandings.

To help test whether your church or the church you are attending is going to be the best church for you (i.e. one that is going to help lead you through the narrow gate) I have put together a short set of questions for you to ask:

  1. Do they believe in an actual, human Jesus that is both fully God and fully man who existed as a real figure in human history?
  2. Do they believe that faith in this Jesus is the only means of salvation for the sinner?
  3. Do they believe that we are all sinners in need of that salvation?
  4. Do they believe that salvation is a gift from God and that no work of man is sufficient to mend the brokenness of man or the separation between man and God?
  5. Do they believe in limited atonement (not everyone is going to make it to heaven)?
  6. Do they believe in the authority of the Bible as the Word of God to the exclusion of other religion’s texts?

A “no” to any of these questions should disqualify a church from being called a Christian Church because Jesus (who was the Christ) teaches these things himself.

There are many many other issues that exist when considering doctrines and how they apply to your faith. Many denominations fall to one side or another when it comes to answering these issues or fail to address them at all. Even churches within the same denomination may differ when it comes to how they practice and interpret the Christian faith. The questions listed above are certainly not the only ones that are important when deciding where to attend and discerning whether a church is leading its congregation well. There are more issues than doctrine at play when it comes to the health of a church and its message.

At the end of the day, it falls to the individual believer for how they respond to the Gospel. The church is meant to be a place where believers can gather, worship God, and do their best to grow the kingdom of God. So, when it comes to denomination, do some research. Find out what the church says it believes and test that against scripture.

In closing, I leave you with this longtime church maxim: in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.

Scripture and Overcoming a Crisis of Faith

Around the age of 16, I went through something that I believe every Christian and probably anyone from any religion goes though: a crisis of faith.

Until that time I had mostly grown up in the church with only a few significant breaks in attendance. I came to saving faith in Christ at the age of 9 and was baptized in one my deacon’s pool. After that, as much as any child can, I lived as a full believer, insisting on going to Sunday school and church on a regular basis and generally acting well behaved.

This was all fine and good until one day I realized that I didn’t actually know what it was I believed. I had strong feelings about Christianity but little assurance that the things I said I believed were actually Christian. Not only that, I didn’t really know what all I claimed belief in. Looking around my hometown at other Christians didn’t really do much for confirming or explaining the belief system.

I remember the day I told my parents about my doubts. I remember it being momentous, yet strangely undramatic. I declared to my parents that I really didn’t know what Christianity was and that I was going to go about figuring it out. I told them that I was not going to give up my beliefs but rather discover what they really are. They looked at me and then at each other and said, “Ok”. There might have been some offer of help or other such thing but as a willful 16 year old, I wasn’t listening and I certainly wasn’t asking for help. I needed to do this on my own.

Nearly 15 years later I have a much better idea of the things I believe in and agree with and things that I don’t. Not only that, I understand that there’s a difference between belief and agreement. I have little doubt when it comes to the truthfulness or dependability of the Gospel and I have become strong in my faith in Jesus as the means to salvation from sin.

How did I get here? Through the reading of scripture, specifically the Bible. It is one thing to listen to and read what others say about the Bible and still another to read it yourself and find out what it says. There is an overwhelming number of beliefs, traditions, and sayings that Christians have taken up that simply are not contained in their holy book or are taken so far out of context that they are no longer true (at least not in application). I don’t mean to put down Christians–I am one of them; yet I have to point out that many of us in the American church do not know whether what we say is true to what God actually says or rhetoric picked up from cultural or nominal Christians.

Since the day when I declared that I would discover what it was that I believed, I have taken two complete laps through the Bible and innumerable excursions through portions of it. This is not nearly enough for me to declare myself educated or authoritative. I am a layperson through and through. Yet I can say with certainty that the Bible fulfills it’s own claims. It is useful for teaching and for rebuke. It is sharper than any two edged sword and it does divide flesh and spirit. I have been unmade and reworked on many occasions.

Scripture alone is the foundation from which the Church is built. This might sound counter to the claims of Jesus being the foundation or cornerstone but through the reading of the Bible you can discover that they are one and the same.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” ‭‭John‬ ‭1:1-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

To the believer, wisdom is freely given to those who chase after it. To seek to spend time in the Word is to seek to spend time in His presence. The reading of the Bible is the first and primary method for spending time in His courts. By consuming its message and washing yourself in its waters, you can test any other message for its truth and origin.

I have not come to the end of the journey begun so long ago. In truth, I am closer to beginning than I’d like to admit. However, I hope that you will be able begin your own journey into discovering what you believe. I hope that you decide to spend a day in the Courts of YHWH.

In The Courts of YHWH

When I was a younger man, I used to imagine what it would have been like to be in King David’s royal court. Actually, my imaginings more often put me in David’s place, King of Jerusalem, leader of Israel, God’s Holy People. The significance of position was lost on me, but one thing was clear, David spent a lot of time before his God.

Around the time I was thinking up the name for this blog, there was a band, Kutless, who covered a song called Better is One Day. They may have put their own spin on it, but this song is ancient. Kutless was singing directly from an old Hebrew text known as the Psalms. Specifically, Psalm 84:10

A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.

Often, I find that spending even a single moment is His presence is difficult. Yet, David and the son’s of rebellious Korah seemed to think it a wondrous place, one they would refuse to leave should they be given the chance. How can they, sinners all, be so enthralled with God that they should want to stay there forever in humility while all their friends partied and had a good time in the city? Scripture tells us that the Word of the Lord is sharper than any two edged sword, dividing soul and spirit, bone and marrow. Elsewhere, it tells us it is a light in the darkness, revealing things done in darkness intended to be hidden from the light.

If the word of the All Righteous Judge is humbling enough, surely his presence should be too much to bear? Isaiah said, “Woe is me for I am unmade!” when he encountered the Lord face to face. The soldiers sent to take Jesus captive fell as if knocked down when he said, “I Am he”. Moses shown with divine glory after having only seen the Lords passing, and yet, Better. Is. One. Day.

There is no shortage of men in the Bible, or throughout history, who have wished to spend just one more day in those courts. If these men, having wept at seeing that their own tainted goodness being revealed as nothing short of garbage, can still find His presence wonderful, surely they have seen more than just their demise. Surely, God is more than the All Righteous Judge. Maybe, if I just spend one more day in His courts…