Hidden Reefs

Shipwrecked Faith from a Shipwrecked Church
Taking Selfies

Taking Selfies

Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.

Jude 1:1

People are obsessed with many things.  Some fill their days with dreams of stardom or fame or popularity.  Others are consumed with making money, getting promoted, achieving success, or being No. 1.  Still others spend the bulk of their life devoted to more generally accepted passions like getting healthy, working out, or earning advanced degrees.

For some reason in our culture, we are obsessed with ourselves.  It seems we just can’t enough of us.  We spend hours posting meaningless tidbits about our lives on Facebook vainly hoping that someone really cares about pictures of our cat or what delicious meal we had for dinner.  We tweet our pearls of pop wisdom hoping someone will re-tweet them and affirm, at least in our own mind, our value and importance as an up-and-coming social voice.  We judge our popularity and self-worth by how many friends like us or follow us or pin us or subscribe to us.  It’s like we think we’re the center of the universe—no matter how small that universe actually is.

“Look at me, this is what I’m eating for dinner.  Yum.”  Post.
“Look at me, this is a picture of my cat Mittens.  Isn’t she cute?  I just luv her.”  Post.
“Look at me, I just took a picture of me smiling with a goofy expression.  Don’t you think I look adorable?  Please say I look adorable.”  Post.
“Look at me, look at my Snapchat, look at my Instagram, look at my Tumbler, look at my Vines, just look at me, look at me, please look at me!”  Post.

Sad, isn’t it?  How did we ever get into this “it’s all about me” mess?


The Name Dropper

We also find this obsession with ourselves in the business world, the entertainment world and, unfortunately, within the church.  In order to add to our own perceived self-worth we drop names, like gold nuggets, that we think others will respect and then link them to us like we were Siamese twins. We see this all the time.

“Oh, my buddy Steven Curtis Chapman once told me…”  Really?  The truth is you met Steven at the close of one of his concerts and had your picture taken with him on your iPhone.
“I remember when my close friend John Piper said…”  Piper?  Really?  You went to a conference he was speaking at in 2008 and bought one of his books.  And that doesn’t equate with him inviting you over for Thanksgiving dinner now, does it?

Get the point.

We, for some reason, feel too insecure to stand on our own merit around others and have to therefore artificially inflate, in our own eyes at least, our worth and value and importance in order to feel accepted, or loved, or appreciated, or whatever we think we lack.  But if the truth be told, this is nothing more than pride, the chief of all sins.


Brother of James

Jude could have done the same thing.  He could’ve been a name-dropper.  We know he was the half-brother of Jesus because he was mentioned in the Gospels as a son of Mary and Joseph (Matt. 13:55).  We also know he was listed last, which probably means he was the youngest son and we all know what insecurity that fact alone can bring into a family.

We also know Jude, like his other brothers, did not believe until after the resurrection of Jesus (John 7:5).  We know he was one of the 120 in the upper room waiting for the promised coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14) and he would have been a witness to Peter’s amazing, 25 verse sermon that led to over 3,000 coming to Christ at the birth of the church (Acts 2:41).  We know he was married (1 Cor. 9:5) and was probably present at the Jerusalem council where his brother, James, presided (Acts 15).

But other than that, not much about Jude is known in Scripture.

So, here we have Jude, half-brother of the Lord Jesus, which would almost make him royalty within the early church, purposely referring to himself as the “brother of James” (Jude 1:1).  Not, “brother of Jesus” but simply, “brother of James.”  Why?  Why forgo the greatest name-dropping opportunity of all time?

Simply this, Jude remembered what happened when Mary and her other sons wanted to talk with Jesus.  Do you remember the event?

Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”  But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!  For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matt. 12:47-50).

Jesus had introduced a new paradigm in family relationships.  It wasn’t natural relationships that defined a family anymore, but spiritual ones with Jesus and the Father and other believers.  Jude must have understood this clearly.  Therefore Jude identified himself as “brother to James”, who was the head of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 12:17) and writer of the book that bears his name.  And, like his brother (Jas. 1:1), Jude also identified himself as the “bondservant” or “slave” of the Lord Jesus and not as his half-brother.  That, for Jude and for us today, was the highest calling in life and the greatest identification imaginable.  To be known to others as the doulos, the “bondservant”, the voluntary slave of the God of the universe.

But there’s another reason Jude chose not to name-drop Jesus.  And that reason was his humility.  Unlike those of us in the church today, Jude was confident and secure with being known as the servant of the Lord.  He was content and satisfied with being called a bondservant, literally a slave of his earthly older brother.  In fact, he was proud of that title, “bondslave” or doulos and didn’t feel the need to flaunt his family pedigree.  He fully understood the words of His Lord that in the Kingdom the “first shall be last and the last first” (Mark 9:35) and that the “greatest shall be the servant of all” (Matt. 23:11).  He saw that life of humility and submission graphically portrayed, day in and day out, in his Lord Jesus and wanted to emulate that life, to “walk as Jesus walked” (1 John 2:6).

There was no need for Jude to exalt his natural, family relationship with Jesus because he found something even greater than name-dropping.  He found peace in his humility.  He was content with who he was.  No need to put on airs for others, Jude gladly wore the badge of a slave to the Lord.

Jude clearly understood and embraced what our selfie society has yet to grasp— that our self-worth is found in Whose we are and not in who others think we are or want us to be.  We are to be confident and found in Christ.  After all, He chose us to become “children of God, and if children, then heirs— heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16-17).  And He chose us for no inherent merit of our own but simply for “His good pleasure” (Eph. 1:11).  In other words, Jesus chose you and me and His half-brother Jude, simply because He wanted to.  That’s it.  Just because He wanted to.

Let that sink in for a moment.

If Christ chose us, you and me, because He wanted to, because He saw something in you He loved and valued, then why do we feel the need to constantly self-promote ourselves to make us feel wanted and loved and valued?  Doesn’t make much sense, does it?  Why?  Why do we grovel and beg for the approval of others when we already possess the approval of the Lord who “chose us in Him from the foundation of the world”? (Eph. 1:4).  Why are we clamoring for acceptance in the eyes of others when the Lord “knows us by name”? (John 10:3) and the “very hairs on our heads are numbered” by Him? (Matt. 10:30).  Why are we satisfied with so little when we already possess so much?  Why can’t we realize we are already, like Jude, wanted and loved and valued by none other than the Lord Jesus Christ?  What more do we need?  Isn’t that enough?

Is it enough for you?  Well, it is for me.


The Cure for Selfies
(the self life)

One of the best cures for having to constantly self-promote in order to get others to notice you is to begin to view yourself through the eyes of the Lord and not through the eyes of our fallen culture that only wants to point out your faults, failures, defects and shortcomings.  And the best way to do this is to see for yourself what the Scriptures actually say about you.  But you must do more than simply read how God feels about you.  You have to believe it— and then act upon what He says.  The only cure for insecurity and selfies is faith in His Word and faith in what He says about you.

I’ve always found the following Scriptures to be of great encouragement to me during my dark times of doubt.  They are from Neil Anderson’s Who I Am in Christ and lay out for us the reality, no, the truth, that we are Accepted, Secure and Significant in Him.

Read and be encouraged.


Who I Am in Christ

I Am Accepted

John 1:12               I am God’s child
John 15:15               I am Christ’s friend
Romans 5:1               I have been justified
1 Corinthians 6:17               I am united with the Lord (one spirit)
1 Corinthians 6:19-20               I am bought with a price, I belong to God
Ephesians 1:1               I am a saint
Ephesians 1:5               I have been adopted as God’s child
Ephesians 2:18               I have access to God through the Holy Spirit
Colossians 1:14               I have been redeemed and forgiven
Colossians 2:10               I am complete in Christ


I Am Secure

Romans 8:1-2               I am free forever from condemnation
Romans 8:28               I am assured all things work together for good
Romans 8:31-34               I am free from any charges against me
Romans 8:35-39               I cannot be separated from the love of God
2 Corinthians 1:22-22               I am established, anointed, sealed by God
Colossians 3:3               I am hidden with Christ in God
Philippians 1:6               I am confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected
2 Timothy 1:7               I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind
Hebrews 4:16               I can find grace and mercy in time of need
1 John 5:18               I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me


I Am Significant

Matthew 5:13-14               I am the salt of the earth
John 15:1,5               I am a branch of the true vine, channel of His life
John 15:16               I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit
Acts 1:8               I am a personal witness of Christ’s
1 Corinthians 3:16               I am God’s temple
2 Corinthians 5:17-21               I am a minister of reconciliation for God
2 Corinthians 6:1               I am God’s co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9)
Ephesians 2:6               I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm
Ephesians 2:10               I am God’s workmanship
Ephesians 3:12               I may approach God with freedom and confidence
Philippians 4:13               I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

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The Blessings of Slavery

The Blessings of Slavery

Hidden Reefs

Shipwrecked Faith from a Shipwrecked Church
Reflections on the book of Jude

Chapter Three
The Blessings of Slavery

Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.

Jude 1:1

Jude, along with Paul and others in the New Testament, continually referred to themselves as “bondslave” or “bondservant” or “doulos” in the Greek— which is a strange combination of words to describe yourself.  Bond and slave.

Actually, the English word “bondslave” or “bondservant” is an invented, contrived, hyphenated word that has no parallel in the Greek and was created by modern translators of the Bible to avoid the negative stigma associated with the word, slave.  They didn’t want the readers of the NIV, ESV, NASB, RSV, ASV, among others to feel convicted or troubled or uncomfortable by the true definition of doulos which is, and always has been, slave.  Not servant.  Not employee.  It’s simply, slave.

After all, the two words completely contradict each other.  You are either free or slave.  There is no middle ground.  You can’t have it both ways, not matter how uncomfortable slave makes you feel.


What Does it Mean to be a Slave

Just saying the word today in our politically charged cultural environment makes you feel a bit uneasy, doesn’t it?  But for me, the word slave brings back memories of the groundbreaking miniseries I saw in the late 70’s titled Roots.

Every evening, from the 23rd to the 30th of January, my family and I and 130 million others sat glued to the tube in our respective living rooms and watched Alex Haley’s opus unfolded before us in living, brilliant Technicolor.

It was an amazing piece of forgotten American lore— painstakingly tracing the life and lineage of a common slave, Kunta Kenti, from his capture in the African bush in 1750 and ending with his descendant, the Pulitzer Prize winning author Alex Haley— portrayed by James Earl Jones.  It seemed like every African-American movie star that was popular at the time was in that movie: Ben Vereen, Academy Award Winner Louis Gossett Jr., Cicely Tyson, Scatman Crouthers, LaVar Burton, Leslie Uggams, John Amos, Richard Roundtree and a host of others.

Years later, filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg would also try to capture the horrors of slavery with movies like Amistad— which was like Schindler’s List for slaves, only worse.  What Schindler’s List did for the plight of Jews in Nazi Germany, Roots did for African slaves in the Bible belt.

The repercussions of Haley’s book and movie were staggering.

For example, in my sophomore year of college, probably as a direct result of the movie Roots, we all were required to take a race-relations course or workshop or encounter group or something as part of our core curriculum.  Most of what I remember of our time in my first and last encounter group was that all the white students in the class had to apologize for the sins of their ancestors— even if none of them, obviously, had ever been slave owners.  I don’t really remember what we all did in that encounter group, but we passed and earned our freedom.

So somebody must have apologized to somebody for something.


Back to the Roots of the Matter

Looking back, I think those 9 plus hours of watching Roots opened my eyes, for the first time, to the inherent evils of slavery and the hopeless plight of slaves in the deep South.  What I came to truly understand from my Roots experience was that slavery was bad— real bad.  Unbelievably bad.

Slavery, by definition, took away a person’s right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  In its raw form, slavery took from a person their personhood.  Slavery reduced a human being— one created in the image of God, to the status of a possession, a mere living tool, of having the value of simple cattle.

And it always brought out the very worst in human nature.

Think about it, you had slave owners who would dress up their kids on Sunday and cart them off to church to hear the preacher proclaim the matchless grace of God.  Maybe the text was from the pen of the Apostle Paul, from the book of Galatians.  Maybe it went something like this, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Oops.

Then, when back on the plantation, ignoring the Sunday message, after the feast of fried chicken, homemade biscuits, and cool lemonade— that very slave owner, still dressed in his Sunday best, would beat or berate a slave for failure to meet expectations, or for longing for freedom, or for wanting his family to stay together and not be sold off to another plantation in a neighboring county, or… and the list goes on and on and on.

Shamefully, you would even have so-called Christian slave owners who felt it was their God-given right to own other Christians as slaves and then treat them harshly and with evil intent knowing, full well, that the grace of God forgave the sins of both.

For some reason, the right of absolute power over the life and future of another human being never seems to bring out the best in fallen humanity.

Never.

History shows us that you don’t have many accounts of slave owners reaching out to their slaves with a ministry, missionary-type of mindset.  No, there are not many accounts of a slave owner taking his slaves under his wing and into his own house to teach them, love them, accept them, nurture them, or minister to them as Christ commands us to do to the very least among us.

Did you ever wonder why?

Have you ever heard the old proverb, “Blood is thicker than water”?

Sometimes it is.  And, sometimes it isn’t.

Sadly, I think it all depends on the color of the skin from which it bleeds.

Slavery seemed to always bring out the worst in people.  Always.

Did you ever wonder why?


Who Do You Trust?

If you were a slave, and you had the chance to escape or earn or fight for your freedom, would you choose to remain a slave?  I don’t think so.  It makes no sense to choose to remain a slave when freedom is the other option—or when anything is the other option.

Who would trade their freedom for bondage?  Would you?

Would you give up your right to yourself in exchange for anything?  Would you voluntarily submit your will, the absolute sovereign right to your life and death, to your reputation and fortune, to your happiness and fulfillment, to somebody else?  No way.  Why?

Simple.  You just can’t trust people that much.

“Oh, sure you can.  You’re just being too cynical.”

Ok, think about it.

We, as a society, really don’t trust our spouses.  We have an entire segment of the legal profession solely dedicated to the art of crafting ironclad pre-nuptial agreements before a man and woman, deeply in love, publicly pledge their lives together in marriage.

“Honey, you know I love you with all my heart and soul.  And, I solemnly pledge to spend the rest of my life with you, forever, which is a really long time!  Uh, but just in case it doesn’t work out and either you or I decide to dump one another and make the same pledge of life-long commitment to someone else… uh, how about we determine now how we’re gonna divide up the stuff then?  You know, to kinda get a jump on the property settlement part of our divorce.  How about if you keep your stuff and I’ll keep my stuff?  You take the girl and the house and I’ll take the boy and the boat. Whatdayasay?  Sound fair?  You wanna sign?”

Geez.

We don’t trust our parents.  We don’t trust good ol’ mom and dad, the Ward and June Cleaver of the Cold War generation and the Frank and Marie Barone of the War on Terror generation.  We don’t trust them to make any decisions about our future mate or occupation or anything that pertains to us.  Nuthin’— even with all their years of parental wisdom and life experiences.  We don’t even trust them to give us any advice unless, of course, we are desperate enough to actually ask for it.  And even then, if their parental advice doesn’t line up and affirm what we want to do, it’s “Thanks, but no thanks.”

We certainly don’t trust our employer enough to give them authority over our lives.  If we don’t like what our employer does, or says, or thinks, or the hours they schedule for us to work, or the salary they agree to pay us for that work, or our vacation and retirement package— we defiantly punch the clock, flip-off the boss and shout, “Nobody’s gonna treat me like that. I quit!”  And it’s back to the want ads again.

And as far as trusting the government goes, well, I really don’t think we need to run that trail right now, do you?

Bottom line:  You and I both know that there’s no way we would ever give anyone absolute power over our lives.  Never!  It’s simply not going to happen and it’s not in our nature.


Servant or Slave?

But one of the amazing truths in the Scriptures for me is the fact that the word slave, or doulos in the Greek, is exactly what the heroes of the Bible call themselves.

Slaves.

The Kunta Kinte of the New Testament.

You have Paul (Rom. 1:1), Peter (2 Peter 1:1) and Jude all calling themselves slaves of Jesus Christ.  Just like in Roots.

Only there was a difference.

In Roots, free people were forcibly and violently taken from their homes and made into slaves against their will.  In Jude and elsewhere in the New Testament, free people voluntarily gave up their freedom and independence and self-will to become life-long slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And they did this gladly and with great, abounding joy.

This is what it means to be a doulos of the Lord.


The Blessings of Slavery

The word slave, doulos, means: “one who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another, his will being altogether consumed in the will of another.”  Note some key words: permanent, servitude, consumed, and another.  Jude was saying he was in a permanent relationship of servitude (slavery) to another (Jesus) and his will was consumed in the will of another (Jesus).”

It’s the very example Jesus gave us of His relationship with His Father.

John 4:34 – “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”
John 5:19 – “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”
John 6:38 – I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
John 8:28 – “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.”

So what about you?  Is your will totally consumed in the will of the Lord?  Are you enjoying your position as a slave, a doulos, of Him and do you recognize it as the greatest honor ever bestowed on you?  Have you relinquished all control over your life today and your future tomorrow into the hands of the One who knows the number of hairs on your head?  Have you submitted your entire life to Him knowing that He cares deeply for you, even more than you can imagine?

Are you a doulos, a slave of the Lord Jesus?  And, if so, do you wear your badge of permanent servitude with pride?

Consider again how the saints of old described themselves and pray to do likewise.  Why?  Because you have been bought with a price and are now His special possession (1 Cor. 7:23).

So relax, abide, and enjoy the blessings of slavery to Him.

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Acts of the Apostates

Acts of the Apostates

Hidden Reefs

Shipwrecked Faith from a Shipwrecked Church
Reflections on the book of Jude

Chapter Two
Acts of the Apostates

These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.
Jude 1:16

If the Acts of the Apostles show how the Holy Spirit moved in the lives of the early church, then Jude can be aptly called the Acts of the Apostates, and for good reason.  Jude is a blunt, explicit warning against those who would burrow into the church unnoticed, under the radar, in stealth, masquerading as true believers and then slowly and deliberately lead the unsuspecting church astray.  The book of Jude serves as an “in-your-face” warning against the apostates in the days of the infant, early church, and even more so now.  Why now?  Because under the mantra of tolerance and cultural sensitivity the church today has let down its guard and opened the gate for any and all who give lip-service to Jesus.  And in doing so it has euthanized the watchmen on the wall (Eze. 3:17).


What is an Apostate
?

Simply put, an apostate is one who willfully renounces or abandons Christian truth.  An apostate openly rejects the faith they once held dear.  Apostasy is, in a word, the rejection of Christ by one who had once claimed to be a Christian.  A pagan or heathen cannot, by definition, be an apostate.  That term is reserved for those who were once part of the body of Christ and drifted away, sometimes violently (1 John 2:19).  The term apostate is reserved for those who may have exercised faith in Jesus at one point, yet it was non-saving faith, and did not involve trust, dependence or the confession of Jesus as Lord (Rom 10:9).  Apostasy is the exact opposite of conversion.  It is, as some put it, a form of deconversion.

And apostates are everywhere in the church.  They seem to breed like rabbits.

For example, Judas was one of the Twelve, an Apostle, yet rejected Christ, turned his back on the truth, and betrayed the Lord (Matt. 26:14-16).  He was an apostate, actually much worse.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul speaks of Hymenaeus and Alexander “whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:19-20).  They were members of the church yet had become apostates— and so much so Paul was to remove them from the congregation.

Paul writes to Titus about those who ” profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work (Titus 1:16).  This is a good definition of an apostate.

In 2 Timothy, Paul again instructs Timothy to “shun profane and idle babblings” (2 Tim. 2:16) because “their message will spread like cancer.  Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim 2:17-18).  Note, they “strayed concerning the truth” and refused to return.  And, as you can see, one of the greatest dangers of an apostate is that their false teachings and sinful lifestyle will “overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim. 2:18).  These are the ones Jude passionately warns about.


Demas

Probably the best New Testament example of an apostate is Demas.  We see him mentioned three times in Paul’s letters and he was obviously, for a time, a trusted friend and fellow minister with Paul.

In Colossians, at the close of the letter, Paul sends greetings from those who were with him, those who were his friends.  He sends greetings from Aristarchus, a fellow prisoner with Paul, Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, (Col. 4:10), Jesus, who is called Justus (Col. 4:11), Epaphras (Col. 4:12), and then from “Luke the beloved physician and Demas” (Col. 4:14).  This is a pretty impressive crowd that Demas found himself in— even if he was mentioned last.

By the time Paul writes to Philemon the order of names change.  Now we have “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers” (Philemon 1:23-24).  Demas is now mentioned before Luke which might not, on the surface, indicate anything.  But it gives the impression that his status in the heart of Paul and in the eyes of the others may be increasing.

Much time passes and now Paul is facing certain death.  His second letter to Timothy is his most personal and reflective.  He begins to close the letter with a bold affirmation of how he spent his life for the Lord and the faith he had in the Lord.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

He then speaks from his heart, expressing the personal sadness he feels during these last hours.  Paul is lonely and troubled.  He implores Timothy to “be diligent to come to me quickly” (2 Tim. 4:9).  Why?  “For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world” (2 Tim. 4:10).  Demas, one of the trusted faithful, had forsaken Paul!  The Greek word for forsaken means “to abandon, desert, leave in straits, leave helpless, leave in the lurch, let one down.”

Another word to describe what Demas did is apostatize.  And that makes Demas an apostate.

But why?  What compelled Demas to do such a thing?  Paul said it was because “he loved this present world” (2 Tim. 4:10).  The word for love means “to esteem, love, indicating a direction of the will and finding one’s joy in something or someone.”  Demas loved this fallen world more than he loved Christ.  His desire was to be a friend of this world and not a friend to Christ, Paul and others.  And, in doing so, he made himself an enemy of God— which is a frightening thing to do (James 4:4).


Current Apostates

We can see individuals, and churches, and entire denominations becoming apostate right before our eyes.  Take, for example, the move to change the Bible to suit gender-neutral wording.  This is a rejection of Biblical truth for the adulation and acceptance of the world.  Once orthodox and conservative denominations now reject Biblical truth and embrace homosexuality because it is politically correct and the darling issue of the media: the Presbyterian Church USA, United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church, just to name a few.

In addition to this, the airwaves are full of false pastors and teacher, apostates, who preach a prosperity gospel essentially reducing the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to nothing more than securing my right to health, wealth and a great parking place at the Mall.

But this should not take us by surprise.  Paul, in the last letter he wrote before offering his life to the Lord, said these things would be a sign of the end.  He said to Timothy, his spiritual son in the faith:

“Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (why)  For the time will come when they (the church) will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they (the church) will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:2-4).

After all, some of the largest churches in America fit this bill.


Acts of the Apostates

Finally, Jude presents the most chilling assessment of the apostate in all of Scripture.  Notice how he describes them:

Jude 1:4 – Ungodly men who are marked for condemnation and deny the Lord Jesus.  Apostates!

Jude 1:7 – Men who have given themselves over to sexual immorality and homosexuality.  Apostates!

Jude 1:8 – Men who defile themselves, are rebellious, and blaspheme those in heaven.  Apostates!

Jude 1:12-13 – “These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves.  They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”  Apostates!

Jude 1:16 – “These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.”  Apostates!

Jude 1:19 – “These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.”  Apostates!


Keep You From Stumbling

The warnings of Jude are just as current today as they were when he penned his short, 25 verse letter.  And the encouragement from Jude is probably needed more today than at any other time in the history of the church.

Be encouraged as we dig deeper into the muck of past and present apostasy.  Why?  Because our Lord soon comes and our redemption draws nigh (Luke 21:28).

Keep looking up to Jesus who, as Jude says, “is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 1:24).

Come Lord Jesus.

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Coming next – Chapter Three:  The Hidden Structure of Jude

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Who Was Jude?

Who Was Jude?

Hidden Reefs

Shipwrecked Faith from a Shipwrecked Church
Reflections on the book of Jude

Chapter One
Who was Jude?

Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.
Jude 1:1

Who Was Jude?

That is a great question to ask at the start of this journey.   Just who is Jude?
Let me start by giving you what we know and what we don’t know about Jude.  Just the facts.  Academic.  Plain and sterile.

First, there are eight men named Judas, or Jude, in the New Testament.  Like Bob and Frank and Jim and Sam of the last generation or Liam and Noah and Ethan and Logan of this generation, Judas was an incredibly popular name during the first century.  Why?  Probably because of Judas Maccabee, the third son of Mattathias and the hero of the Maccabean Revolt of the Jews against their Syrian oppressors that resulted in the restoration of Temple worship and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.  In fact, the rededication of the Temple, which occurred on the twenty-fifth day of the Hebrew month of Kislev in 165 BC, usually in December, is celebrated to this day during the Jewish festival of lights— Hanukah.

As we name our children in honor of others we admire, respect or highly esteem, so did the Jews at the time of Christ.

Second, just so you won’t get confused, the English form of the Greek word “Judas” is Jude.  In Hebrew, it is Judah.  Nothing strange in that.  My name, for example is Stephen— from the Greek, Stephanous, which means “crown” or “crowned one.”  Jude means “confessor of Jehovah” or “praise of Jehovah” and, for those of you who are interested, was the 162nd most popular baby name in the US in 2013.

It is also noteworthy that Jude, who obviously shared the same name as the greatest apostate who ever lived, Judas Iscariot— wrote the sharpest and most direct, point-blank, in your face, condemnation of apostates found in all of Scripture and he wrote that scathing condemnation in vivid, frightening, no-holds-barred language.  This may help to explain why most English versions of the New Testament use Jude and not his Greek name, Judas, as the title of the letter.  Don’t want to confuse the good with the bad— and aren’t we glad?

Third, Jude begins his letter by identifying himself as the “brother of James” (Jude 1:1).  So when we look at the eight people named Judas or Jude in the New Testament, only two of them are associated with anyone named James.

The first is Judas (or, Jude), the son of James, who was an Apostle, one of the Twelve (Luke 6:16, Acts 1:13) and was also known by his nickname as “Lebbaeus or Thaddaeus” (Matt. 10:3).  Don’t confuse this Judas with the one who went down in infamy for betraying the Lord for a bag of junk silver (John 6:71).  That was Judas Iscariot.

The other is Judas (or, Jude), the brother of James (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3) who was also the half-brother of Jesus (Gal. 1:19).

So we’ve now got two men named Judas (Jude) who were associated with a James: one is Judas the son of James and the other is Judas the brother of James.  It doesn’t take an IQ of 180 to see that our man Jude is not the Apostle, whose father is named James, but the brother of James who became the leader of the church at Jerusalem and who happens to be the half-brother of the Lord (Gal. 1:19) which, obviously, would make Jude the half-brother of the Lord also.  But, don’t worry, we will spend more time talking about James a couple of chapters from now.

Fourth, very little is known about Jude apart from the 25 short verses that bear his name.  We see that he, along with his other brothers: James, Joses and Simon (Matt. 13:55), did not believe Jesus’ claims about being the Messiah, the Promised One, the Son of God until sometime after the resurrection (John 7:5).  It is possible that during the 40 days between His resurrection and ascension Jesus personally appeared to Jude, as He did to his brother James, in one of His post-resurrection appearances (1 Cor. 15:7).  He may have said, much like He did to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side.  Do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:25).

But even if He didn’t, by the time we see Jesus ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9), Jude, along with his mother and brothers, were now counted among the 120 who met in the upper room faithfully waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit that would give birth to the church (Acts 1:14).

And since he was part of the original 120, Jude was most likely with Peter when he preached his powerful, but short, twenty-two verse sermon, that resulted in over 3,000 people coming to faith in Christ (Acts 2:41).  Jude was probably one of those who “sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need” (Acts 2:45) and one “who continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people” (Acts 2:46-47).

For Jude, the long journey was over.  The eternal transaction had taken place.  Jude had now come full circle, from unbelieving skeptic to committed follower of Jesus.  Jesus was no longer his sibling, his older half-brother.

He was now his Lord and Master.

There is one last thing about Jude’s life that we can surmise from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.  According to 1 Corinthians 9:5, it appears that Jude spent his time on earth serving the Lord as an itinerant evangelist.  The passage reads: “Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas (or Peter)?”

So, in the middle of a defense of his own apostleship, Paul cites the fact that Peter (Cephas), along with other unnamed apostles, and the “brothers of the Lord” can have their wives accompany them on their itinerant ministry.  And when Paul says “brothers of the Lord” there is no reason to assume that Jude was not included in that group.  So as the others were itinerant evangelists, so was Jude.

Finally, Jude was given some profound insight by the Holy Spirit not found anywhere else in Scripture, in either the Old or New Testament.  He was blessed with an insight that the likes of Paul and John were not.  Let me give you just one example of such hidden knowledge that was revealed to Jude, and to Jude alone.

Consider the following from Jude 1:14-15:

Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

Whoa, where did that come from?  Jude tells us about the content of the sermons that Enoch preached in the days before the Flood.  How did he know that?

Plus, there’s not a whole lot written on the pages of Scripture about Enoch anyway, yet— he is a major prophetic type and figure.

To recap what we know: from Genesis 5 we learn that when Enoch was sixty-five years old something happened to him that caused him to “walk with God” for the rest of his life (Gen. 5:23).  What exactly happened?  Simply this, he had a son and prophetically named him Methuselah, which means, by the way, “his death shall bring.”  Really?  What will Methuselah’s death bring?  What will happen when he dies?  If you follow the timeline in Genesis 5, you will quickly see that the death of Methuselah brought on the Flood, the great judgment of God on all mankind.  And, just so you won’t miss the point, Methuselah lived longer than anyone else recorded in Scripture, an amazing 969 years (Gen. 5:27).  Why?  To show us the grace and mercy of God in the face of impending and certain judgment.  Seems like something we might want to think about today, doesn’t it?

In addition to this, after walking with God for 300 years the Lord decides to remove him from the earth, to rapture him, to snatch him away, to “translate him” without Enoch seeing physical death (Gen. 5:24).  Poof!  Here today, gone tomorrow.  Why?  What is God trying to teach us with this fact about Enoch?  Much.  But you will have to wait until later for us to look at all that is behind this move of God.

Genesis 5:24 states: “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”  Just like that, Enoch was gone.

It also says that Enoch was 365 years old when God took him.  That’s one year for every day in our calendar.  Do you think that’s a coincidence or could God be trying to tell us something else?  Something to think about, isn’t it?

But what was Enoch’s life like during the 300 years he walked hand in hand with the Lord?  What did he think?  What did he talk about?  What was the content of his life and the message of his sermons?

That is where the incredible revelations given to Jude come into play.  Go back and read Jude 1:14-15 again.  Do you see anything peculiar about the message of Enoch?

Jude tells us that Enoch preached about a time when the Lord would return with ten thousand of His saints (or, holy ones) to execute judgment on ungodly men for the ungodly things that they do.

When does that take place?  At the Second Coming of Christ!

So Jude has such a special relationship with Jesus that the Holy Spirit decided, in his short, 25 verse letter, to reveal to him, and to us, the fact that Enoch preached about the Second Coming of Christ even before the Flood of Noah, the call of Abraham, the Exodus from Egypt, the deportation to Babylon or the birth of the Church.  And it was Jude, and Jude alone, that received this prophetic message.

I don’t know about you, but I want to hang with a guy like Jude and learn all I can from Him.

Do you feel the same way?  Good.
Then let’s continue this journey together.

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Coming next –  Chapter Two:  The Acts of the Apostates

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On the Backside of the Bible

On the Backside of the Bible

Hidden Reefs

Shipwrecked Faith from a Shipwrecked Church
Reflections on the book of Jude

Introduction
On the Backside of the Bible

No one sets out to become an apostate, it’s never the result of one abrupt, drastic turn away from the Lord.  Instead, apostasy is most often the product of a pattern of sinful compromises that harden and gradually steer a professing believer away from the truth.
John MacArthur

It was actually years later that I discovered a book in the Bible by that very name.

Jude.

Ok, I knew it was there all the time.  I mean, who didn’t?  After growing up with Bible sword drills and verse memorizations every week in Sunday school, we all knew— everybody knew there was a book in the Bible named Jude.  We just didn’t know anything about it.

And why should we?

Our preachers never preached about it.  Our Sunday school teachers never talked about it.  And most of us got bogged down and quit our One Year Bible reading program back in the middle of the book of Numbers, in early March.  There was no way we would ever make it even close to the book of Jude, which began on December 8th.

Plus, it’s only one chapter long— just 25 short and confusing verses.  And I’m talking about some strange and confusing verses.

Think about it.  We’re usually pretty comfortable with verses that are easy to understand and easy to memorize.  I guess that’s why we’re naturally drawn to the short ones— the classics.

“Jesus wept.  Yep, got that one memorized.  It’s John 11:35”
“For God so loved the world, yada, yada, yada… yeah, I know that one too.”
“All things work together for good for those who are called according to…uh, to…er, to something.  I forgot how that one ends.”
“And God helps those who help themselves.”  Oh yeah, feelin’ pretty good, thumbs in suspenders, smirk on the face, chest puffed out.

Come to think of it, the only verse in Jude that is even included on Bible memorization cards is Jude 3.  And usually only the last half of the verse makes it past the censors.  It reads:

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

That verse isn’t for a novice, either.  You’ve got to be a Bible memory veteran to talk about anyone earnestly contending for anything in the church— unless it has to do with change, the pastor’s salary, King James, the way we did things before, hymns, choir robes, Easter cantatas, or the annual church budget meeting.  Then people will earnestly contend for their wants, opinions, rights and desires.

And they’ll contend for it to the death.

Usually yours.

Let’s face it, most in the church of today are so Biblically illiterate or apathetic in their understanding of Scripture that they don’t even know what the faith is that was handed down, once for all, to the saints.

“I didn’t think our church had saints?  Do we?  I thought that was just some sort of Catholic thing.  What does the word, saints, mean anyway?”

To make matters worse, Jude is located right at the end of the Bible, on the backside of the New Testament.  How important is a one chapter, backsided book in the Bible anyway?  What can 25 verses really say to us today?

No, that’s not exactly true.  I guess I’m going to have to reign in my poetic license a bit.  It’s not actually at the end of the Bible— but its pretty close.

Jude is the last book before we enter into the dark, mysterious waters of the Revelation.  Jude seems like nothing more than the flyleaf to the Revelation.  Just some blah, blah, blah print on the left side of the page.

Oh, and the Revelation.  Well, we were never to read the Revelation.  Never!

Why?

Because it’s mystical, cryptic, puzzling and kind of scary.  In fact, as kids we were all warned by our Sunday school teachers, an old, solemn man with a Vincent Price look about him, to never read the Revelation alone, or at night, or on the third Tuesday of May every other leap year.  If we did, we could go blind or crazy or even worse— we could end up watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island forever.

That thought still keeps me up late at night.

Play it Again, Sam

But, as to my nature, I disregarded the warnings of those who had my best interest at heart, and read the book of Jude anyway.

And, wow!  It was fantastic!
Can I say that again?  Only this time in all CAPS?
And WOW!  It was FANTASTIC!

We know that Luke penned his gospel account of the ministry of Jesus and then moved into what is known as the Acts of the Apostles in order to give us a clear, accurate and chronological account of the life of Jesus and the ministry of the early church.  If we call the fifth book of the New Testament the Acts of the Apostles, then we could probably call the next to the last book of the New Testament the Acts of the Apostates.  Why?  Because it deals almost entirely with those in the church who have defected from the true faith, are the “tares among wheat” Jesus warned about or are simply a Satanic terrorist cell grafted into the Body to wreak havoc, much like a cancer cell in the human body.

“What exactly is an apostate?” you ask.  Good question.

The formal, academic, dictionary definition is as follows:

One who has abandoned one’s religious faith, one’s principles, or a cause.  A disloyal person who betrays or deserts his cause or religion or political party or friend, etc.

But that doesn’t do the term justice for me.  An apostate is a loser with a capital L.  They are the scum of the earth, a modern day Judas, Benedict Arnold, OJ Simpson, or Bill Clinton with his, “I never had sexual relations with that woman.”  They are like Obama’s Press Secretary that will come out and lie to your face knowing full well that everyone in the room knows they are lying.

An apostate is one who will smile at your face, say “Amen” to your prayers, raise their hands with you during your praise and worship sets, and then, when you turn your back on them, like Brutus of old who led the assassination of Julius Caesar, they will sink their dagger deep between your shoulder blades, up to the hilt, twisting it, driving it deep, sneering all the while, longing to watch you die.  And they do it again and again and again.

“Et tu Brutus.”

One final thought before we jump right into the murky waters of the text.

You need to understand, before we go any further, that the apostates are everywhere— like kudzu.  They’re in your church.  They break bread with you whenever you come together to celebrate Communion with what you think are fellow believers.  They, like Judas at the Last Supper with Christ, are at the very table with you, taking from your hand the bread of fellowship.

They smile, they nod in agreement, they clasp hands with you in committed ministry— but they do so with malice and deceit.

They are the ones that are quick with gossip and always seem to be close to everything evil in your church.

They are the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” Jesus warned us about.  They are the Hymenaeus and Alexander that Paul warned Timothy about.  They have some of the largest churches in America and are seen more often on Christian television than reruns of The Andy Griffith Show.  They may sit next to you during choir practice.  They may serve with you as an Elder or a Deacon in your church.  They may be your Sunday school teacher, your Youth Pastor, your Discipleship Director.  They may even be the man behind the pulpit, the guy with the backwards collar, the supposed Man of God who serves a god with a little “g”.

Believe me, they are everywhere.  Jesus said we would know them by their fruits—and by nothing else.

But don’t take my word for it.

Listen, for just a moment, to what Jude says about them in just a couple verses:

Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.
But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.

Woe to them!  For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.

hese are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.

Sobering, isn’t it.

Well, are you ready?

Are you ready to begin a journey into one of the most neglected books of the Bible that deals specifically with what makes the church of today less than it was in the past— a mere shell of its former glory?

Well?  What sayeth ye?

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Coming next – Chapter One:  Who Was Jude?

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Seven Minutes and Eleven Seconds of Coolness

Seven Minutes and Eleven Seconds of Coolness

Hidden Reefs

Shipwrecked Faith from a Shipwrecked Church
Reflections on the book of Jude

Preface
Seven Minutes and Eleven Seconds of Coolness

“Na, na, na, na… na, na, na, na…na, na, na, na, hey Jude”
The Beatles, Hey Jude

When I was a kid, I was a big music fan.
I loved it.  I identified with it.  I listened to it all the time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about the kind of music fans that we have today.  I never walked around the mall with headphones sticking out of my beanie in mid-July with this glazed-over, brain-dead, “Dude, where’s my car?” kind of blank stare on my face.  And I’ve never broken into an air-guitar solo while jamming on my iPod in the Household aisle of Wal-Mart— looking more like a dying fish flopping around on a dry dock than a music lover.
Never.

No, when I was a teenager, the people who loved music collected music.  They talked about music, they shared music— they were consumed with music.  Music became our release, a catharsis, a way for us to communicate with, and make sense of, a very confusing world.
Music was much more than just entertainment.
For us, music made a statement— our statement.  It was the chosen vehicle of our generation to collectively make our voices heard.  It shaped our feelings, values and emotions.  We allowed our music to define our morals and our politics and to determine, for us, the very nature of our cultural struggle.

Music was more to us than a song about such deep and moving social themes as, “My humps, my humps, My lovely lady lumps.”
Much more.
But not all music was equal.

In the crowd I ran with, my peers, there was a definite pecking order in music styles and tastes— and no deviations were ever allowed.
Simply put, to be cool, to be in the “know” with my friends, you had to be into the Beatles.  John, Paul, George and Ringo. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.  The Fab Four.  The Mop Tops.  Sergeant Pepper and the Lonely Heart’s Club Band.  Our guides on the Magical Mystery Tour.
They were our answer to crew cuts, parental authority, puberty, and the Vietnam War.

If you were into the Beatles, you were super cool, admired, popular, and accepted.  You were on the “A” list of people to know and to be seen with.  If, on the other hand, you owned vinyl from the likes of the Beach Boys, the Four Seasons or the Hollies— well, you were ugly, had bad breath and would someday grow up to work at McDonalds.
Why?

The Beatles

Well, after all, the Beatles were cool.
We watched them evolve, album after album, from four young men from Liverpool, with their strange “Moe of the Three Stooges” type hair cuts to living icons of our culture and heroes of our generation.  We saw them embrace and experience life in ways we never could, and then we eagerly listened as they told us about those experiences in the songs they wrote.  They were the proverbial Pied Pipers and we, it seemed, were just a bunch of willing mice.
Whatever they were into, we were into.  They set the standards for our young lives.

As their sweet, boyish, innocence faded with time— so did ours.
We were with them when they seemed to find such joy in the simple things of life— like having a girlfriend, or the thrill of singing, “I wanna hold your hand.”  And, years later, we were still with them when their lyrics became darker and more sinister:

Yellow matter custard
Dripping from a dead dog’s eye
Crabalocker fishwife
Pornographic priestess
Boy, you’ve been a naughty girl
you let your knickers down

I am the eggman
They are the eggmen
I am the walrus
Goo goo g’ joob

Looks like somebody was on drugs.  And it wasn’t me.

They, like everything else in the 60’s, changed right before our eyes.  What started out as good, clean fun soon digressed into Eastern mysticism, LSD and, in 1966, crystallized with the infamous, and quite stupid, quote by John Lennon:

“Christianity will go.  It will vanish and shrink.  I needn’t argue about that.  I’m right and will be proved right.  We’re more popular than Jesus.”

Living in the Bible belt, you can imagine what happened.
Preachers began to rant and wail, Sunday after Sunday, about the evils of these four young men from the abyss and the very doom they would bring to the purity of our young people.  Some called them agents of Satan, playing the Devil’s music.  I remember some preachers even called them the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

There was a swell, a grass-roots church movement of sorts to burn all our Beatle records because, as the preachers would say, “Jee-zus will not take second place to a bunch of long haired hippies!”  True.
But personally, I resisted the urge to burn my records and foolishly dump years of allowances down the drain because some preacher told me I needed to.  Who were they to tell me what to do?  It wasn’t even Sunday.  Plus, I figured if Jesus was God, He could pretty much take care of Himself.

A couple of years later even Charles Manson, during his trial for the Tate and LaBianca murders, prophesied about the coming race wars, the Helter Skelter as he called it, and claimed the Beatles, as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, spoke to him secretly through their music.  Charlie claimed to be Christ and said the song, “Revolution 9” was his call to arms to end the world.
Really?  Pretty stupid sounding stuff, even for a teenager.
All Charlie got for his troubles were multiple life terms in an 8 x 12 cell and a swastika carved in the center of his forehead— and a crude looking swastika at that.  It looked like he carved it himself, left-handed, with a Bic pen, — while driving in rush hour traffic.
So much for the Manson family and the coming Helter Skelter.

The Pre-iPod Era

Back then, way before iPods and music downloads and iTunes, you had to buy the Beatles albums, like “Abbey Road” or “Let it Be” just to be able to hear the songs you liked.  But to do this, you’d also have to shell out seven or eight bucks— which was a whole lotta jack back then.  Especially when we would have to mow, that’s push mow, our neighbors’ football field size yard all Saturday afternoon for about $2.50.
So relatively speaking, Beatle albums were a major investment.  Several Saturdays worth of work for 13, three-minute songs— nine of which you didn’t even want.

So most of us just collected 45’s.  Do you remember them?
A 45 record was a simple, seven-inch, single, vinyl disk with the song we wanted on one side and a lame, utterly forgettable tune on the other.  It was like the record company put the best and the worst songs on the album on the 45’s to cover both extremes, I guess.  It was like they were saying, “If you turn the 45 over, you can rest assured that no song on this $8 album we want you to buy will sound any worse than what you’re listening to right now.  So, buy with confidence.”
It was also like the artist really didn’t care about side B of the 45’s either.  All they wanted was another hit off their bongs.

For example, and this is true, when I purchased the 45 of “Proud Mary” by Ike and Tina Turner, that’s before Ike took batting practice on Tina’s face and she dumped him for a solo life and a solo career— the song on the other side was the classic, “Funkier Than a Mosquito’s Tweeter.”  No lie.  That was the name.  I think I listened to half the song, one time.

Anyway, my prized possession during the fall of 1968 was the vinyl 45 from Apple Records, the one with the big, green apple picture on the front that was the recording of the greatest of all Beatle songs, Hey Jude.  It was great.  Amazing.
For me, it represented the pinnacle of their career.

And that particular song was different from all the others they had previously released.  How?
First, it was not recorded on any album that was released that year by the Beatles.  That fact alone made the song something of a novelty.  Game show trivia sort of stuff.  And second, it was long.  Really long.
Seven minutes and eleven seconds long.

By radio play standards, it was as long as two Three Dog Night songs and a radio spot about a car dealership.  And the Beatles, at this point in their musical life, simply refused to cut it down for radio play.  It was kinda their way to “stick it to the man.”  Whoever the “man” was.
Billy Joel, years later, sang about the same problem in his song, The Entertainer:

It was a beautiful song, but it ran too long
If you’re gonna have a hit, you gotta make it fit
So they cut it down to 3:05

But, Hey, Jude— wow, seven minutes and eleven seconds long!  Incredible.
Just sticking it to the man.

And, if you listen to that song today, there’s about four minutes of just, “na, na, na…” junk in the end.  It’s not like there were any profound lyrics that communicated the meaning of life, the virtues of love or told us where the lost city of Atlantis was located.  It’s just, “na, na, na…” kind of stuff.
I listened to that song, day in and day out, until the needle on my record player grew dull.  In 1968, it was this one song that set me apart from all my other friends.  It was my own way to “stick it to the man.”

None of my friends liked the song— it was too long, not enough Zeppelin style guitar, it was impossible to dance to and you couldn’t even buy the album with the song on it in the record store.
“Like, what’s with that?”

But for me, ah— it was the song that made me cool in my own eyes.
I memorized every nuance of the song, all seven minutes and change of it.  I knew, as Jesus would say, every “jot and tittle” of the song.  And I mean I memorized everything!  It was almost like I had written the song along with John and Paul.
I knew every, “yeah, yeah” in the background or the “Jude, Judy, Judy, Judy, Judy, Judy, ow, wahow!” stuff towards the end.  When I was with my friends and the song would play on the radio, we would all sing together the first part and, as they dropped out one by one because they didn’t know the last four minutes of the song,  I would sing louder and louder, proud, center stage, until it was just me and Paul “na, na, na-ing” along together.

I know it sounds strange, but I felt empowered, like maybe Paul McCartney and I were close, personal friends, like maybe we were somehow connected by this song, like maybe some of his coolness rubbed off on me because I could sing the “na, na’s” like he did.
I don’t know… it just felt like it made me matter to someone.  Like we were kin or something.
Like… well, whatever.

Why am I telling you all this?  Simple.
That was the first time in my life that I had ever heard the name Jude— way back when in 1968.  In fact, that song made the name Jude cool to me, important, something that made my insides feel good and the corner of my mouth turn up when I said the name.

Jude.

I like the way that name sounded.

Jude.

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Coming next – Introduction:  On the Backside of the Bible

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