Month: October 2017

Unrighteous Zealots

“Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words”. (Proverbs 23:9)

In my devotional reading this morning, Dr. Adam Dooley of Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama commented that “Believers should neither feel obligated to nor responsible for those who hate the truth.” Dr. Dooley went on to state that “Regarding business, Christians should protect the weak with fairness and precedent, knowing that God defends based upon the truth rather than one’s status or power”.

I have to admit that, while I agree with the above, I have become skeptical of the human thought expressed on paper. This is true especially of Christians with whom I am either not familiar or whose words I am not able to reconcile with their actions. It bothers me that, as a Christian, I am becoming so skeptical of other believers but the larger issues is that we have come to this place; what then does the world think of us.

The Western church, at least in part, seems to be complicit in defending those who hate the truth and who seem to care little for the weak. Is this because, as research suggests, of the eroding biblical literacy and belief in the inherency of scripture? I believe this is part of the reason but the totality of this trend may be more sinister than we think.

The oldest sin is that which aims at self-gratification (pride). We in the West are drunk on the desire to satisfying our every desire. Technology is driven by our insatiable appetite for comfort and convenience and businesses thrive on our appetite for quick, “have it your way” service. I believe this sin is prevalent in the church today but is often masked behind “zeal”.

Some have suggested that Judas betrayed Jesus because he was a zealot who thought that by doing so, Jesus would revolt and return the kingdom to Israel. If this is true, Judas’ actions were motivated by a desire for self-gratification. Similarly, the religious leaders who plotted and called for the crucifixion of Jesus did so because He was a threat to their wealth and comfortable way of life. I’m sure you get the picture!

Today, the western church is busy fighting battles over the few issues we are zealous about; forgetting to defend the weak and uphold truth. Have we become self-centered zealots who willingly side with the violent to satisfy what we feel are the most important issues?

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God (God-breathed)” (2 Timothy 3:16) and is equally important and authoritative. Who are we to choose one issue over another, or ignore one sin for the sake of another? Should we not be zealous for every word of scripture? It is the very opposite of this that has created such decay in the moral and theological state of western society. When the church fails to lead the nation fails to thrive and sin becomes a cancer that takes hold of it.

Did not the Lord warn that when we fill the land with sin it will cast us out? I implore the church to repent of our pride and desire for self-gratification. We cannot impress God with our zeal and attempt to do so is only at our own peril. What then does the Lord require of us. “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

We have become too much afraid of the anger of fools and instead of reproving them, we flatter them with their own lies. How often do we hear Christian leaders say “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) but fail to “Love one another fervently with a pure heart” as we “Obey the truth through the Spirit” (1 Peter 1:22)?

We cannot lead if we fail to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not in us if we obligate ourselves to those who hate the truth and to those who strike the weak, simply because of their status or power.

A Fool’s Heart

“A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment” (Proverbs 18:1).

I am reminded of the story of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son. Rehoboam was ordained king over Israel following Solomon’s death but he ignored the wise counsel of the elders who served King Solomon and instead chose to heed the foolish advice of his friends who grew up with him; to increase the burden on the people of Israel. This led to civil unrest and the division of Israel; the beginning of a long fall from grace (1 Kings 12).

When we begin to think we know best; that we have all the answers and our ideas are better than everyone else’s, it is time to take a self-assessment. Taking the advice of only like-minded people causes great rift and restrains the advancement of peace and knowledge. Though, what is the likely outcome from the self-assessment of a prideful, unrepentant person?

“A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart” (Proverbs 18:2).

One may argue that Rehoboam’s decision to side with his foolish friends was simply an expression of his own heart. That seeking the counsel of the elders was more for show than anything else. Maybe it was an authentic desire for council but the outcome was foolish.

Some of the things coming out of the White House today baffles me. So much so that at one point I began to question the purpose and counsel of the Pastors who serve on the President’s Evangelical Advisory Board. I wondered if these actions are because of or in spite of the advise of the pastors who serve on the Board. When Pastor A.R. Bernard stepped down a few months ago I began to think it was that the president simply disregarded their advice; though I remained skeptical.

What we now see is simply a president who delight in expressing his own heart. It is not for me to judge whether there is understanding in the things he says, or tweets but I do have some thoughts on the matter.

It would appear as if Rehoboam did not take time to study and reflect on the wisdom his father, King Solomon, has imparted to us all. It would also seem that President Trump is following in Rehoboam’s footsteps.

I hear many Christians (Evangelicals) declaring President Trump to be Cyrus, Jehu, savior, or some other biblical character chosen by God to carry out his will; Never mind that many of those people did not know God and lived destructive lives. I see someone filled with pride, acting in a manner not very different from Rehoboam. I see someone who delights in expressing his own heart instead of heeding wise counsel. I see the beginning of a long fall from grace, if we continue down this destructive path.

I see a man who expresses a pride that has increased as much as the level of power that comes with such a high office. This in itself is dangerous and should not escape our attention. Pride seeks its own desire. Pride isolates itself and rages against all wise judgment. “Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, and before honor is humility” (Proverbs 18:12). This is wise counsel from a man who learned the hard way; I too have been subject to harsh humility and do not wish it on anyone.

“A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows” (Proverbs 18:6). I’ve never seen such a contentious spirit in this nation. Hate, violence, and bigotry yes, but not the kind of contention we are currently witnessing. Again, I wonder if the advice of the Evangelical Advisory Board has gone mostly unheeded or if their voices remain silent. How can the body heal if the source of the disease is the head.

It is time for this nation to return to our true Head. It is time for this world to repent and seek our true Savior. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10). Instead of putting our hope is a man who is enraptured by towers we should look to the One who is the Strong Tower. Our Lord Yeshua (Jesus) our Messiah!

The Whisperer

“A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends” (Proverbs 16:28).

Gossip, there is no shortage if it these days. Television, social media, and other forms of technology has rapidly increased the volume and velocity of gossip. Even the whisperer speaks loud and bold in the face of a desensitized generation. What was once considered a shameful act done in dark corners at the rebuke of many is now a trending norm.

It is fascinating to see and hear what absorbs so much of our time on the television and in social media. We spend countless time listening to and spreading gossip and very little time advocating for the afflicted, the less fortunate, the hungry, and those affected by the many natural disasters around the globe in the past weeks and months. it is shameful that we are more aware of what is taking place in Hollywood than Puerto Rico, Sierra Leone, India, etc. We do more to press others to speak about social issues than to actually get our hands dirty in trying to solve them.

The national dialogue is a soap opera and we can’t seem to pull ourselves away from it. Our society has become one huge intertwined ball of lies, deceit, pride,  greed, and slander. Caught in all if it is a sliver of righteousness that is barely recognizable and only to the righteous. The wise King Solomon warns us that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). We have become the epitome of pride and purveyors of haughty spirits; the fall is imminent.

What then is next for this generation? Happy is he who trusts in the  Lord (Proverbs 16:20b). Where do you put your trust and in whom does your hope reside. America’s political dialogue is such that it is difficult to tell that it truly is, as it claims to be, a Christian nation. We (the church) have endorsed, gossip, unrighteousness, slander, lies, hatred, and strife because we think it will advance our “religious agenda”. Even a worthy cause can elicit the most sinful of behaviors. How can we endorse perversity and expect a righteous outcome? King Solomon also warns us that “A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends” (Proverbs 16:28).

James (3:8) says “No man can tame the tongue, it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison”. When we put our hopes in man we make the ultimate error and when we enter into a relationship with another, thinking we can change them, we seal our own demise. It is like marrying a murderer thinking that we can change them, only to become a victim of their insatiable appetite for evil.

What do we then have to say for ourselves? Are we free from guilt or complicit in the current political and social reality? Solomon also writes that “An evildoer gives heed to false lips; a liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue” (Proverbs 17:4). Have you bought into the lies of an unrighteous person and eagerly listen and share in such a person’s lies? Is it that evildoers lie or that those who lie are evil?

Consider this last question carefully. Lying has become such an acceptable part of our dialogue that we don’t seem to give it it’s due title; “evil”. Yes, a person who lies is evil because “lying lips are an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 12:22a). We are in danger of, if not caught up in being complicit with evil. “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 17:15).

So whether you are a whisperer or one who eagerly listen to the whisperer, you participate in sin and shame. Let us try not to justify ourselves with excuses and simply hold fast to the words of God. Stop gossiping and stop giving legitimacy to the one who gossips. Without an audience, the performer will cease to perform and without eager ears, the whisperer will stop gossiping. Do not become  a victim to the evils of the tongue and the selfish desires of the heart. “An evil man seeks only rebellion; therefore a cruel messenger will be sent against him” (Proverbs 17: 11).

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10). The Hebrew word for safety is Yeshua (Jesus); seek Him and live! Run to Him and be safe!