A Little Context For Me

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Scandalous Tale - Sex, Social Media, and Ministry

What happens when you put over 600 women in closed Facebook Group and ask them to talk about their most intimate issues? You learn:

1. The Church and Christian communities have been far too silent on issues of sex, women’s health, and relationships.

2. We all struggle in these areas. The specifics may change from woman to woman, but we are all trying to figure out how to balance our faith and our flesh, trying to be good stewards of each.

3. Shame has been the leading contributor to the lack of education, self-destructive behaviors, abuse, and the inability to celebrate this great gift of sex.

4. How laughter heals and eases us through the hard lessons.

5. The power of having others invest in your well-being through a kind word, prayer, and tangible support.

6. The joy of discovering your story can help another on their journey.

7. That when you give people a tool they already know how to use, they will create something amazing with it.

When the Scandalous Ladies Facebook Group took off on May 29, 2016, we had no idea what we were in for. The group exploded from three members to over one hundred and fifty in less than three hours. In eleven days, we broke three hundred and fifty, and we are still growing. The pace has slowed a bit, but growth isn’t measured in numbers alone.

During that time, we have had over a dozen women make connections with counselors, eight couples have gone into marriage counseling, and hundreds (that’s right, HUNDREDS!) of women have reported that the overall quality of their marriages have improved. The tales of new found freedom and joy in being a woman are told daily, and the friendships being formed have transformed lives.
Our network and combined resources have helped one woman get out of an abusive relationship and into a safe home, another family is being helped through a hard financial time, and the women of Scandalous gave sacrificially in a successful effort to remove girls from a life threatening situation overseas. Even the men are voicing their praise, as their wives have opened new dialogues about sex and proposed they explore some new adventures between the sheets – or other places!

And we do not show any signs of slowing down anytime soon! Since May we have started a Scandalous Moms group, and this month we launched a public page where men can join in the conversation. Soon we hope to launch a series of international (yes, that’s right! International!) conferences and retreats.

I am sharing all of this with you for two reasons:

1. Yes, would love your involvement and support! Ladies, consider this your personal invitation to join the Scandalous Ladies Facebook Group, and to take part in the discussions on “A Scandalous Faith”, our public page.  Men, we need to hear your voices so join us on the public page too, and please, don’t be shy. We want your insights and opinions that is why we started “A Scandalous Faith.

2. I want everyone to know what a powerful tool social media can be, and I want my Christian and Church friends to pay attention.

Within the Christian community there has traditionally been a huge push for outreach and ministry within our communities. These are admirable and needed aspect of fulfilling the mandates of our faith, but let’s face it, we tend to over complicate things. We focus on big events, massive (and often top heavy) programs, or other ways that we can address the masses with some sort of impersonal ministry machine. We stop looking at people as individuals and meeting them where they are. Instead, we get lost in the program and the structure, defending the machine instead of stopping to value the person the machine is supposed to serve.

This is why I think Scandalous works. You can’t talk about sex, sexuality, and relationships without addressing the person. Our machine is secondary, it is the tool we use to meet people where they are. It doesn’t need to be protected, it does not eat up all our resources, and it serves only one function – it connects us with the people that we are here to serve. For us that machine is social media. It is free, we all have it, we don’t have to teach our people how to use it, and we didn’t reinvent the wheel. We used the tool at hand, and made it serve our purposes.

We took all the things that church people like to complain about when it comes to the internet and flipped it on its head so we could use it to our advantage. Impersonal? Yes, but reinterpret that into anonymous and nonthreatening. Too much sex? Oh, yeah, but maybe that is just one way people are saying they need to talk about these things. Crude humor? Sure, but maybe that is how people express their discomfort as they try to establish a dialogue. Eats up all your time? You bet, but maybe it is because people are looking for something to invest their time in that really matters. Hate filled speech and drama? Absolutely, but maybe that is because there is no place else they can express their need for passion.

We didn’t invent this formula for how to have vital and thriving Facebook community. We stumbled into it by asking people to do one little thing – tell their stories. That is it. Tell your story, let us know that we are not alone wrestling with these major life issues, help us understand how you cope, how you survive, and show us how we can be important in your life. Maybe that is just a place to vent, maybe it is providing a safe space to ask the questions you can’t ask anywhere else, maybe you need someone to laugh with you, or maybe you need someone who is willing to cry with you too.

People will tell you what they need, but you have to be listening. They are saying need community. They need to know that they matter, that they are more important than the cogs of some ministry machine. They need some place to invest, to know that they have the ability to make a difference, and that their experiences matter. And that is all we have provided. The women and men who have joined us on this journey are the ones who have made it work. The amazing team of men and women who have so selflessly devoted their time and energy to fanning this spark of an idea into flames have done little more than provide a place where others mattered – really mattered, not for the numbers that can be tallied on a spreadsheet, but rather for the strength each brings to the table for the rest of us.

We in the Christian community need to stop lamenting over a lack of resources or our inability to get people through the doors of our buildings. We need to go to where the people are, and right now that is social media. But beware, you can’t treat people like projects or offer help in the same manner that you would pitch peanuts to a monkey at a zoo. You have to be willing to give, not a program, not an event, and not some pretty little prepackaged Christian band aid, you have to give yourself. And you do that by giving them your story – your successes, your failures, your humiliations, and your victories because that is the only way they are going to see not just you but the God we serve, the God redeems all things.

It is time we stop being afraid, that we stop hiding behind all the glam and glitz of programs, and using them as an excuse for not being present in our communities or blaming the internet for keeping people away from the good we are trying to do. It is time we showed up. The online community is a community, a very real and thriving community that has extended an invitation to us, so now it’s time to remember your manners and show up. We did and were welcomed with open arms.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Reader's Question: How Do Single People Not Give Into Lust?

Reader’s Question:

How do single people not give into lust? At least married people get to have sex. If a (single) person is trying to stay Godly, it sure isn’t easy.

Let me begin with a confession, I was single for over a decade between my marriages, and I wasn’t always successful in combatting the temptation to lust myself. It was a constant, ongoing battle to keep my thoughts and desires in line. The good news is that God redeems all things even the battles we lose, if we are willing to take them to him with honesty and sincerity. And one of the ways he is redeeming my failures is through being able to share the lessons I learned during that time.

One of the first things we need to acknowledge is that we were designed to have sex, to crave it even. There is a level of intimacy that only occurs within a sexual relationship, all sorts of healthy benefits are experienced both participants, and let’s just face the facts, nothing feels as good as sex does when it is done right. Now, I know that we aren’t supposed to admit this, particularly not to single people, who are all virgins in our perfectly sanitized view of the world, but this brings up two other facts that we need to acknowledge:

1. The majority of single people, including Christian Singles, are not virgins. With most people becoming sexually active at an average age of 17 and the high divorce rates, the majority of the single population has been sexually active as some point in their past even if they are abstaining now.

2. We do not live in a perfectly sanitized Christian world, and to create such a view of it for ourselves is called lying. To paraphrase Jesus, cut it out and really look at the world around you. Luke 4.

So now that we know that sex is a part of our lives and was meant to be so, we need to figure out what to do with this God given desire that leads so many of us astray? I don’t claim to have definitive answers, but I can share what worked for me after plenty of trial and error on my part.

We have to stop fighting it. I mean really, we have to stop actively resisting the urge to lust. I know this is counter to everything you have ever been taught, but follow me on this. What am I thinking about when I am trying to convince myself not to lust after a hot piece of man meat? If you answered the hot piece of man meat, then you are correct.

As a friend so aptly put it last night, “We are a tapestry of many things. We are all of them. If we struggle too hard against part of oneself, it gets stronger.” Lust is one of those things that makes up who we are, we are not going to eradicate, but we can direct it. In fighting it, we are declaring its power to define and control us. And as I sit here today, looking back at some of the men I lusted after, I am so glad that my lust does not get to define me.

Now, obviously, I am not saying that we should just give into lust. What I am saying is that we need to use some different tactics – tactics that do not always look like they have anything to do with the problem.

First step: Figure out what feeds your lust. We want to starve it into submission, so we cut off the food source. Pornography, erotica, romance novels, romantic movies, and that piece of eye candy that keeps drawing you back to the coffee shop that you really don’t like otherwise? Yeah, he’s got to go too. Obviously, we can’t cut all the beautiful people out of lives, but we can and should distance ourselves from the ones we aren’t required to be around. It’s like the purging the kitchen before starting a diet, get all the junk food out of the cupboards and pitch it. Yes, they still serve an amazing coconut pie at the diner down the street, but it takes a lot more work to indulge those appetites if you are having to get dressed, start the car, and fight traffic to shovel some in your face.

Second step: Find your vision.  I know, what does this have to do with lust or sex? Everything.

Have you ever taken the ice cubes out of a glass of sweet ice tea? Did you notice the holes in the tea where the ice cubes once were? No, me neither. Our minds operate in much the same way, take out one thought and another thought is going to rush in to fill the empty space.

However, have you got in a hurry poured the tea just a bit too fast, and had it splash all over the table? What floats right out the top and out of the glass? The ice! And this is what you must do with that vision. You have flood you heart, mind, and soul with it to the point that all the icy lust (or would it be lusty ice?) ends up on the table.

This is why it can’t be just any old vision. It has to be the type of vision that consumes you to the point there isn’t any room for anything else in your life. It has fill you up and run out all over the table and the floor, so that everyone who comes in contact with you knows this is your passion – and that is why this is so important.

Passion that needs to a target. Some thing or someplace where it can be unleashed without fear of damaging ourselves or someone else, and ideally where all the strength and power of it can do some good. The problem is that our flesh craves passion. I do not even have to explain to you the truth of that statement. Anyone who has ever felt hungry hands on their skin knows this is true, and it is so easy to dump the passion into the nearest gaping maw. It’s a simple, it’s natural, and we do not have to put one ounce of effort into it, but when you feed all that passion to your flesh it becomes lust.
And you have to keep all that passion somewhere, because even if you determine not to feed your flesh with it and just bottle it up and hold it in, it becomes something else. We call that bitterness, and that is not something you want laying around your heart. All it takes is one hot day and those bottles explode, all over you and everything you love.

Third step: Select what I call some “Go To Thoughts.” These are some prepackaged thoughts that you can pull up on the fly when you feel those lustful urges begin to well up, and this one way you are going to use your vision as way to combat lust. When you build your vision, don’t just have some grand but vague idea, get specific.

For instance, it was not enough for me to say that I wanted to help other women avoid the mistakes I had made or to help them heal from similar experiences. I had decide how I wanted to do that. I envisioned conferences, retreats, and meetings in my home. I planned out the venues, the session topics, how I would present the information, and who I wanted involved. I began designing a house that would be a warm and inviting respite for my guests. Then I began to research how to make this happen, I talked to others pursing or living a similar vision, I went back to school, got the necessary degrees, and I began looking for the best ways to use the tools I already had on hand.
Most importantly, I knew that everything I wanted to accomplish would be endangered if I lived a life that was counter to the very ideas I would one day be sharing with others. And with that knowledge, I was able to flip my thinking. No longer was I saying no to my desires which only left me feeling deprived and sorry for myself. I was actually saying yes to something that was so much more important to me than a few minutes of pleasure – and I like saying yes to me!

Now this is where those “Go To Thoughts” come in, if a lustful thought pops up, you have something to replace and displace it with. Instead of telling yourself no, you say yes to the vision. Instead of telling yourself, don’t think about that (which inevitably leads to thinking about that), you tell yourself to think about that future you have envisioned. Stroll through that house in your mind, tweak the placement of those windows, move the sink to the other side of the kitchen, decide you want a red couch and not a blue one. Practice saying those words you want others to hear, plan an event, research conference centers in Houston, and call a friend to get their advice. If you are pursuing your vision with passion, there isn’t going to be a lot of time or energy left to entertain lust. In other words, you aren’t going to have anything to feed it.

Step four: I am not putting this here because it is the least important. I am putting it here because if you only remember one of these steps, it need to be this. Get honest - raw, brutally, and nasty honest with yourself and God.

I believe anything in excess is sin, and that is all lust is – an excess of desire to please and serve one’s self by using someone else as an object to exploit. It is saying that the pursuit of my pleasure is greater than God’s desires for me. Lust does not ask for another’s consent or bother itself with their object’s desires or what might please them. Lust demands that its object’s pleasure be fulfilled in our desire for them, that the object gives itself as a sacrifice to our wants, and that all we know to be good, true, and right be pushed aside so that we might have a moment of bliss.

What an affront to the God of Love! The God who demonstrated how love puts aside its own comfort and pleasure by leaving his place in heaven, to walk among us as one of us, and to die a brutal death upon a cross so that we in turn might walk in love with him. A God who became the sacrifice because he loved you so much that he would extend an invitation to a relationship where each could experience the joys of knowing and being known – where love is given and received, not simply taken to satisfy his desires.

God placed boundaries on our sexual expressions for a reason. He knew that if we allowed lust to rule us we would be destroyed by passions. He knew the emotional, mental, and physical scars that unfettered lust leaves upon us, and he asks to respect the boundaries so that we can avoid the pain that makes his heart ache on our behalf. Because that is what love does, it places the needs of another above our own. God’s ego and heart is not so fragile or hungry that he must appease us to that he might bask in the shallow affirmations of those who can only love when it feels good. And he does not need our obedience so that he can feel like the great and powerful Oz. Instead, he loves us with a love that is selfless enough to put our needs ahead of any wants he might have, and in doing so exemplifies the splendor of true and holy love.

So we get honest, we repent, and we honor God’s love for us by placing his desires and good pleasure above our own. We acknowledge that anything God loves as much as he loves us is worthy of highest form of love from another, and we honor the God of Love who lives within us by offering the highest form of love we may give another. And when we love like that, lust loses its grip on our hearts. It becomes a momentary distraction whose power to define us has been lost, because we have surrendered that right to the only one truly capable of defining his creation.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Who Were The Nephilim? Part 7 - The Peter, Jude, and Enoch Connection

This part of an ongoing series discussing who were the Nephilim, to start at the beginning click here.Who Were The Nephilim? Part One 

Now that we have established a definite link between Jude and the Book of Enoch, we are going to look at the second most easily identifiable link to Enoch found in the Christian Scriptures, 2 Peter chapter 2. Yes, the whole chapter, so I suggest you grab your Bibles and follow along as I will not be quoting every passage for the sake of brevity.

Let’s begin by looking at the connection between 2 Peter and Jude, from there we will see how this ties back to the Book of Enoch. If we read these passages together, the shared themes become obvious:

◦ false teachers and false prophets
◦ a focus on sensuality; Jude 4 and 2 Peter 2:2
◦ the denial of the “Master”; Jude 4 and 2 Peter 2:1
◦ angels kept in chains until judgment; Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:4
◦ references to Sodom and Gomorrah; Jude 7 and 2 Peter 2:6
◦ slander against the glorious ones; Jude 8 and 2 Peter 2:10

Look at how closely these two passages mirror each other:

But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as a wage for their wrong doing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have trained their hearts in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed in the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrong doing…These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness is has been reserved. 2 Peter 2:12-15, 17

But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of Balaam’s error and perish in Korah’s rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves, waterless clouds, swept along by winds, fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted, wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame, wandering stars, for whom the utter darkness has been reserved forever. Jude 10-13

Why is this important? Let’s think about for a moment. The Bible is a very compact and concise bit of work when we consider the sheer weight and significance of the truth contained within its pages. I believe that everything God chose to have included in it is there for a reason, and if he allows repetition then it is a pretty good indication we should listen up, there is something important about these concepts, and we need to figure what it is.

Another reason I think this is so important is that two passages affirm each other. It would be so easy to dismiss Jude allegorical or some esoteric work not meant to be understood by the masses, but, unlike Jude, we kind of know Peter. We have an idea of his character and personality. Peter is a salt of the earth kind of guy, he deals with the nuts and bolts, the tangibles. He’s practical and down to earth, right up until the supernatural smacks him in the face – then he’s in awe, but you have to prove it to him first. And knowing this about Peter lends a weight to his words and, by extension, to Jude’s and Enoch’s.

Additionally, the parallel passages give us greater insight into the words of the other. Consider these verses with what we find in Enoch:

For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment. 2 Peter 2:4

And the angels who did not stay within their own potion of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgement of the great day – Jude 6

And there my eyes saw how they had made instruments for them – iron chains of immeasurable weight. And I asked the angel of peace who went with me, saying, “These chain-instruments – for whom are they being prepared? And he said to me, These are being prepared for the host of Azazel, that they may take them and throw them into the lowest parts of Hell; and they will cover their jaws with rough stones, as the Lord of Spirits commanded. 1 Enoch 54:4, 5 

And throw upon him jagged and sharp stones, and cover him with darkness; and let him stay there forever, and cover his face so that he may not see the light, and that on that great day of judgement he may be hurled into the fire. 1 Enoch 10:5,6

When we put all of this together we get more complete picture. Peter tells us that the angels sinned, but Jude tells how they sinned, both tell us that they were kept in chains of gloomy darkness until the day of judgement. But it is Enoch who gives us the rest of the story, what happened when the angels left their position of authority and their proper dwelling, and why this such a bad thing that God would demand the angels’ imprisonment in chains.

If we only had Peter would just know the angels sinned. If we only had Jude we would think that angels coming to earth would be a bad thing, but we know from other events in the Bible that this is not always the case. So we need Enoch to flesh out the narrative for us. We do get a connection to the Genesis 6 with further reading in both Peter and Jude. We could even glean that the sins committed by the angels were sexual in nature, but the references to the imprisonment of the angels would make no sense if we only draw upon canonical sources because Enoch is the only place we find this information. Enoch is the one who explains why Peter and Jude both believe that Sons of God from Genesis 6 were imprisoned and how this imprisonment was accomplished.

Does this mean that we give the words of Enoch the same weight as canonical sources?  No, and I explain why in this post, Why Wasn't The Book Of Enoch Included In The Bible?. However, it is a useful tool to help us understand how the writers of the Christian Scriptures understood the events of Genesis 6. There is no doubt that Peter and Jude believed that Sons of God were what we call angels. They understood that these beings were supernatural, and their misconduct with human women had a profound impact on our reality. So much so that twice we are told of their deeds, God’s retribution against them, warned of following in their teaching and examples, and encouraged to rejoice in God’s triumph over them.

 I know this has been the long way around to answer what seems to be a simple question, but I don’t want to just give you pat answers. I want you to see for yourselves what the Bible has to say on this matter. And, hopefully, provide you with a few tools to go even deeper into your study of Scripture, to see how it is all tied together, and must be taken as whole to understand the individual components. We are just scratching the surface of the Peter-Enoch connection, and we will explore it further in the next post.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Who Were The Nephilim? Part 6 - Who Are The Holy Ones In Jude?

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold the Lord comes with ten thousand of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Jude 14-15

This is part six of an ongoing series, to start at the beginning click here: Who Were The Nephilim Part 1

In many ways this a bit of a footnote in our journey, but I wanted to include it for two reasons:

1. It demonstrates the honored role that humanity plays in God’s divine plan, and we can all use a reminder on that one.

2. We can begin to see how the roles of humanity and the angelic are intricately woven together throughout the Bible, today, and will be in the future.

Too often we tend to view the supernatural elements of the Bible as something foreign and completely distinct from our earthly existence. The idea that miracles and divine proclamations seem to have little to do with the day to day drudgery of life, but the Bible reveals that such a view is flawed. And if we stop examine even the most basic elements of our faith, we cannot avoid the fact that our identities are based upon God’s supernatural intervention in time and space in the person Jesus. Without his supernatural birth, life, death, and resurrection, there would be no such thing as Christianity. So why then do we arbitrarily chose to ignore other supernatural aspects of what God has declared is true?

Stop and reread the opening passage above. What do you envision? If you said, “God returning in glory surrounded by his holy retinue of angels”, then you and I have that in common. I think that is the natural response, but what if our vision is too small? What if God has more in mind? What if his divine plan includes you? Includes me? Rather mind blowing, isn’t it?

And what if I am not just blowing smoke up your skirt? Well, I don’t think that I am. Allow me to demonstrate.

The word for “Holy Ones” in Jude is hagioi. In most other places that this word is used in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) it is translated as saints. You can see that in Acts 9, Romans 15, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 6:2, 2 Corinthians 9:1,12; Ephesians 3:8,18; Philippians 1:1 – I could go on, but I think you get the idea. It is easy to see how these two terms virtually interchangeable in the context of the Christian Scriptures, and almost always refers to people. Case closed, right?

No, wrong. We have to bear in mind that we are dealing with a New Testament writer quoting an Old Testament phrase. So we need to go back to the Hebrew Scriptures and see how the phrase was used in its original context. (PSA: A text without a context is a pretext! Always, always, always keep the words and phrases within their proper context to understand the proper meaning and application. Anything less is proof-texting and fraudulent!)

In the last installment, I showed how this phrase was used there in Deuteronomy 33:2. The root for the Hebrew word found in this verse is kodesh. If we look up the definition of this word in the Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon we will find that one of its definitions is saint, but this is still not digging deep enough. We need to look at how the word is used so that we can keep it in proper context.

Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? Psalms 89:5-7

Behold, God puts no trust in his holy ones, and heavens are not pure in his sight. Job 15:15

Then I heard a holy one speaking and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?” Daniel 8:13

If we take time to look at these verses, and particularly if you go back and read the rest of the chapters where they are found, you are going to see that these are all events that occur in heaven. The Psalms passage is quite explicit, as is the passage from Job, and when you realize that the passage in
Daniel is taken from a one of his prophetic visions where he sees into the heavenly realm then I think it becomes pretty obvious that we are not talking about humans in any of them. The writers are making direct references to angels.

Does this mean that the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures conflict? Only if we stop our investigation there. Let’s look at a few more passages. 

Until the Ancient of Days came and judgement was given for the saints (holy ones) of the Most High, and time came when the saints (holy ones) possessed the Kingdom. Daniel 7:22

As for the saints (holy ones) in the land, they are the excellent one, in whom is all my delight. Psalms 16:3

Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints (holy ones) for those who fear him have no lack! Psalms 34:9

The passages above refer to groups of people, but we also find it used of individuals.

And Moses heard it, he fell on his face, and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the LORD will show who is his, who is holy, and will bring him near to him.” Numbers 16: 4,5

And she said to her husband, “Behold, now, I know that this is a holy man of God who is continually passing our way.” 2 King 4:9

When the men in camp were jealous of Moses and Aaron, the holy ones of the LORD, the earth opened up and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram. Psalms 106: 16,17

And this is just scratching the surface. We could spend days looking up passages that talk about the nature and expression of holiness and who is qualified to be a Holy One. If we did that it would be abundantly clear that a Holy One is anyone who has set his life apart in service to the Lord – angel or human. For it not our holiness that qualifies us, but rather the holiness of the God we serve sanctifying our existence.

What I find fascinating about the references above, and throughout the Bible, is the Holy Ones are frequently tied to the idea of judgment and vengeance on those who are, as Jude puts it, “grumblers, malcontents, following their own lustful desires; they are loud mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage”, (Jude 16). We know that God will use his angels when he exacts judgment, that is clear in Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation, but we often overlook the fact that we are a part of this future reality. And the judgment in which we will help enact is not reserved for humanity alone, but rather includes the angels who rebelled. Find that hard to believe? Check out these passages:

God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment. How long will judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. They have neither knowledge or understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.” Arise, O God, judge the earth for you shall inherit all the nations. Psalms 82

Or do you not know that the saints (holy ones) will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 1 Corinthians 6:2,3

The one who conquers and keeps my works to the end, to him I will give authority over nations, and he rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken into pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. Revelation 2: 26,27 

And this brings us back to Genesis 6 and our original question: who are the Nephilim? A question that we began to explore by establishing the identity of the Sons of God as angels who had taken wives from among humanity, and in doing so left their proper habitation. And our conclusions are strengthened through the proper understanding of who the Holy Ones are and what our role shall be in the time to come.

The identity of the Holy Ones is only a mystery if we bifurcate the natural from the supernatural. If we believe there is some great divide between physical fact and divine truth. To do so creates a false dichotomy that leaves us floundering the midst of creation, never really knowing our place, and discounting the plans that God has for us. We were never meant to live apart from or in ignorance of purpose and destiny that our Creator has for us, and the results of living in such way leaves us with tepid visions of eternity where we sit around strumming harps all day, with the placid faces of drugged cows, and being nothing more to God than ego stroking pets. Is it any wonder our faith fails to excite any longer? For who would wish for such an existence? Why wouldn’t the debauchery of hell as portrayed in today’s culture being far more alluring?

The Bible never presents a world in which spiritual is some distant hope or illusion. The spiritual, the supernatural, woven into the fabric of the universe, and we have been called to our God ordained places as his Holy Ones, here in this moment so that we might be prepared for eternity. And we take our place by walking the steps of Lord Jesus Christ, walking in compassion, love, and kindness, by standing against injustice, and extending hope to those around us. The time for judgment has not come, and for that we should be grateful, using each day to declare the wonders of God who loves us so much that he calls us children and invites to be an active part of what he is doing now and in the future. This knowledge should inspire us to live more holy lives and empower us to be faithful in the endeavor. For the strength and vitality of our faith is found not in intellectual assent and dull reason, but in the life giving presence of a Holy God.