Thursday, July 18, 2019
Scratching the Surface of the Psalms
“God and Country”
Anybody with me on Chicago becoming its own state?
Among the many reasons why I’d like to see Chicago become its own state is Saul Alinsky.
Born in Chicago on January 30, 1909, he graduated from the University of Chicago in 1930 and became a community organizer and political activist.
While many Americans that still love our Constitution and its Bill of Rights rooted in Holy Scripture understand Alinsky as anathema to everything that we’ve preserved, protected, and promoted about our country’s historical values in the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness for everyone without regard to color, class, or culture, he is the inspiration fueling the current flirtation - ah, let’s say infatuation - with socialism in many of the candidates for the White House in 2020.
Even two recent Presidents and another candidate for P in 2016 were influenced markedly by Alinsky and his manual for restructuring America with values antithetical to Biblical Christianity and republican democracy titled Rules for Radicals written from his poison pen just before he died in 1972.
I read it in the early 70s.
I read it because I had an academic mentor that said it’s important to know what people that are disagreeing with you are thinking if you are going to engage them.
That’s a nice way of saying you can’t defeat your enemy if you don’t know your enemy’s soul and strategy.
That’s why coaches scout teams that they’re going to play.
Or as Jesus said, “Be as wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove.”
To be fair, Alinsky wrote Rules for Radicals because he believed America must be restructured to improve the living conditions for all Americans; and as I outline his ideas for ripping America from its roots and replacing republican democracy, free enterprise, and Christianity with socialism, you can guess which Presidents were influenced by him and which past and current candidates for P are in league with him.
Some of this will sound very familiar, some of it may horrify you as someone that still loves America’s Constitution and Bill of Rights rooted in Holy Scripture, and some will resonate with people that want America restructured apart from its traditional and historical values because they think Alinsky and his idolaters are right in saying socialism is better for America even though it’s never worked anywhere at any time for any people on the planet.
While tempted to temper my comments about Alinsky because he and those who adore him claim to change America from what it was and is to their idea of benevolent statism with the heralded goal of community organizing so have-nots get socioeconomic power, I am still startled by this dedication in his handbook for leftist takeover of the country and, therefore, suspicious of anyone that invokes him as a mentor and model for making-over America: “Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical from all our legends, mythology, and history…the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.”
Though lampooned ever since he dared to run against one of Alinsky’s acolytes and especially since working for 45, Ben Carson asked a question back in 2016 that should cause pause for Christians when they pull the curtain then lever, “So are we willing to elect someone as President who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer?”
Yes, I know there are too many brain head baaaahhh baaaahhh sheep in the clothing of Republicans and Democrats that would vote for satanos if it were their party’s nominee, Christians are supposed to, as the apostles said, “Obey God not man” and certainly not those esteeming the evil one.
Anyway, while you can look up the rules via Google that loves guys like Alinsky, here are a few of the 13 (Hmmmmmmm…) that caught my attention: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon…A good tactic is one your people enjoy…Keep the pressure on…If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside…Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
Doesn’t sound very, uh, Christian, does it?
Essentially, Alinsky thought people are too stupid to live in a republican democracy with theocratic notions as in the roots of our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
If you read Alinsky and follow his acolytes that studied his book in the 70s and rose and continue to rise in American politics, you will find they share a lot with him; sounding like Leninists and Maoists advocating state control over everything including health care, liberties, employment, enjoyment, and everything with God being the first target to remove from government and education.
Look at the progress that they’ve made on getting rid of God from government and education!
I’m sure that sounds good to some people.
Not Bible-believing Christ followers!
We’re still reeling from the masquerade at the public library in Rockford in which a drag queen in full drag read stories to 3-8 year olds.
We’re still reeling because most of our government, educational institutions, churches, and citizenry aren’t going apoplectic over increasingly legalized infanticide.
We’re still reeling that most folks, I guess, find no problems in having more slots than Matthew 25 ministries in town.
We’re still reeling that only the mayor and a county chairman attended the Heritage Days worship service on June 29th in Belvidere and not one city council member, school board member, or District 100 administrator attended.
I’m sure that’s no big deal to some folks and sounds good to others.
Obviously, it does sound really good to a lot of pollsters because we’ve got a bunch of candidates lusting to room in that Pennsylvania Avenue White House that are counting on America’s flirtation to infatuation with socialism becoming a fact.
Truth is a lot of people in America either are too tired to resist the move to restructure the country from its standard operating procedures that have worked for more people in the world than anything else ever before, which is one of the reasons why people keep crossing rivers and jumping over walls and going through hoops to get in, or don’t really care anymore or have been so deceived by darkness and its father that they have become the fools described by Jesus that can’t think, see, or hear what’s real and righteous.
America has reached a crossroads.
Are we going to continue to embrace values that have produced so much life, liberty, and happiness for so many or roll the dice and risk it all for another idea that has never worked at any time in any place for any people?
David understood the choice.
He wrote about it in Psalm 58.
He cried out to God about the world’s wickedness:
“The wicked crawl from the wrong side of the cradle. Their first words are lies. Poison, lethal rattlesnake poison, drips from their forked tongues.”
Turning his attention to church and state leaders, he lamented, “Is this any way to run a country? Is there an honest politician in the house? Behind the scenes you brew cauldrons of evil, behind closed doors you make deals with demons.”
Then he begs God, “Smash their teeth to bits, leave them toothless tigers…God, throw it out with the garbage!”
He concludes with confidence of the ultimate celebration of God’s victory: “The righteous will call up their friends when they see the wicked get their reward…There is a God who judges on earth!”
Yes, as Martha Young, the first female African-American elder of Winston-Salem, North Carolina’s First Presbyterian Church, counseled me so many years ago, “You love ‘em and let God judge ‘em; but love ‘em enough to tell ‘em that God’s comin’ back to judge ‘em!”
Getting back to Heritage Days 2019 and that poorly
attended worship service at the Community Building – evidence that our country, community, county, and churches are in peril – there were seven pastors in attendance that came with a simple and saving message.
The only way to get better and save the country and world and ourselves is to get back to God.
Jude told us about perilous times like ours:
“Though I wanted to talk to you about our common salvation and celebrate our community unity, it is necessary to urge you to contend for faith because certain unGodly men have slithered into the community and its churches and government and schools and are turning the grace of God into promiscuity while denying Jesus as our Master and Holy Scripture as our manual.”
Then the apostle provided the prescription for getting better: “But as for you, remember Jesus!...But as for you, remember the Word enfleshed in Jesus and explained in Holy Scripture!...But as for you, build up for yourselves your most holy faith!”
Samuel promised and warned at the same time, “God honors those who honor Him.”
If so, so.
If not, not.
God’s people are all about God and country because we know there is no country without God…sooner or later…usually sooner than later…and definitely in the end.
Blessings and Love!
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
Scratching the Surface of the Psalms
“The Cold Showers and Living Waters of Following Jesus”
Whenever people expect too much from others and sometimes even themselves après a confessional moment prompted by the mirror’s reflection, I often ask, “Did you miss the course on original sin?”
Everybody’s tainted by it.
It’s in our genes.
It’s the bad behavior that we’ve inherited and learned.
It began in the garden.
It’s our first family called the Adamsons.
We are the daughters and sons of Adam and Eve with the instinct to insult God’s holiness and injure God’s people with regularity.
That’s why we’re so respectfully grateful to God for Savior Jesus by grace through faith.
Our only strong calm sanity in time is fueled by our faith in Jesus that guarantees paradise a nano-second after the last breath.
Knowing time is limited and heaven is not, we overcome and endure and live triumphantly.
Certainly, every day is not a hot fudge sundae; yet any day without intimacy with Father God, Savior Son Jesus, and Holy Spirit is hopeless, hapless, helpless, and hellish.
He is Father God’s gift to us by grace through faith with the Holy Spirit always compelling increasing intimacy with Him and respectfully grateful worship.
Jesus describes our relationship with Him this way: “Anyone who believes in Me will have rivers of living water flowing from Me into her/him and will be as refreshing as refreshed by Me.”
Following Jesus is when we really come alive to the beauty of His creation and relationships and romance and aren’t pulled down into the many variations of doom and gloom and depression and disappointment and defeat that have become the hallmarks of people without heaven on their minds and in their hearts and guts.
Yet, even if we haven’t missed the course on original sin and have been saved from its hellish consequences by grace through faith in Jesus, there are many cold showers in time to remind us of that sin and our need for Jesus to save us from it.
I’ll never forget when Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship that following Jesus means leaving the monasteries of safety and security and going out into the world with the gospel: “When Christ calls a man, he bids come and die with Me…It may be a death like Luther’s who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world…or it may be a death like…”
It’s one of the reasons why I’ve stayed in a denomination irretrievably apostate under current management; or as Hans Evans told me back in 1977, “Stay in our denomination. It’s the best mission field open to us today.”
I learned those lessons so starkly and sadly and devastatingly within weeks of leaving my monastery aka seminary for my first church as undershepherd to the Good Shepherd.
My first pastoral call was a cold shower.
I was only 25 and filled with enthusiasm and wanting to save the world for Jesus.
Though I was a tad deluded in thinking it was possible to take a 200 member congregation in a town of 2900 with nine other churches and be the Heartland of our day, I thought churches really want to grow and glow for Jesus with people hungering and thirsting to know Him and make Him known.
It didn’t take long before I realized I had missed the course on original sin.
There was a church picnic after worship on my first Sunday.
Jeff, the reigning arm wrestling champ, came over to me and asked with a smirk if I’d like to give it a go.
Noticing everybody was watching and that he was measuring his masculinity against mine, I begged off and said he’d kill me for sure and that I was a little tired anyway and…
“Our new pastor’s a chicken,” he said and people laughed.
Now I don’t like to talk about my limited positives in messages, preferring to tell people that I’m as messed up as they are and need Jesus just as much as they do, yet God has given some strength to me that I don’t like to talk about and only use when necessary.
Ask me about Stanley in Clark, New Jersey some time.
Anyway, he baited and baited and baited and eventually hooked me; and I put him down in less than ten seconds.
It was the first time that I learned there are lots of people in churches that prefer emasculated preachers.
If I have to explain that to you…
Then there was our first session meeting.
Elder Don asked, “Pastor, what is your vision for our church?”
Immediately upon sharing my vision for the church, he said, “If you think we’re doing any of that, you’re crazy?”
It was the first time that I realized there are lots of people in churches that don’t really want their pastors to be their undershepherds to the Good Shepherd. It’s the lead-us-but-we’ll-fight-you-every-step-of-the-way-we-were-fine-before-you-got-here virus that has infected all churches.
My favorite lesson came from Jack.
Jack was a big shot in the local steel mill about five miles down the road.
Greeting me after worship on my first Sunday, he whispered into my ear, “If you’d like, I will do for you what I’ve done for your predecessors. I will leave a brown bag with a six pack in it on your back porch every Saturday morning. No one will have to know and you won’t get caught at the liquor store.”
I said I like cigars.
He said, “Pastors shouldn’t smoke.”
It was the first time that I realized churches aren’t big on the truth, lie a lot, rationalize their infidelities, and don’t think the Bible is bigger than their favorite parts.
Seminary didn’t teach me about that kinda stuff; like the time that a florist asked one of my assistant pastors and me on an early Sunday in the sanctuary, “How would you like me to arrange the flowers for you?” I said, “I forget, Stimp, what did they teach us about that in seminary?”
The point is there’s a cold shower or sin’s reality coming even after bathing in His living waters.
Our challenge is to get out of those cold showers as quickly as possible and dive back into His living waters.
David’s Psalm 57 comes to mind.
Most folks think he wrote it while hiding in a cave somewhere close to the Dead Sea while be hunted down by Saul.
The particulars aren’t as important as the problem; or as Dr. Stuart told me in one of the few helpful things that I learned in seminary, “You can’t build a theology on broken pickle jars.”
Anyway, David is hiding from danger again with the note that history proves followers of Jesus are not immune to life’s dangers.
As the desert fathers often said, “Life’s challenges never end. As soon as one challenge is conquered, another comes.”
Bikers put it this way: “There’s always rain. You’re either in rain or out of rain riding into rain. There’s always rain.”
Faith in God is the only way to overcome, survive, and thrive.
So while acknowledging the challenge, David finds strong calm sanity in knowing it will end with God’s help.
Again, he acknowledges the challenge and asks God’s help: “Be good to me, God. Help me now! I’ve run to you for dear life. I’m hiding under your wings until this tornado blows over. Save me! Deliver me! Be true to Your word! They want to kill me for sure and I turn to You to make sure that it doesn’t happen.”
Then, David praises God for saving him even before it happens because he knows God always comes through for the faithful sooner than later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end: “I’m ready to praise You, God! Wake up, everybody, and praise God for His blessings that flow! Praise Him all creatures here below! God, I am praising You! I am worshipping You! You save! God is great and God is good! Let us thank Him for everything!”
Psalm 57 repeats a common theme throughout Holy Scripture.
Challenges come and go and come and go and come and go and there’s always somebody who wants to tinkle on our parades and drown us in cold showers.
The most important truth in life as preface to eternity is God saves those who trust Him with His best intentions that last forever.
I’ll never forget hearing about the coach that said to a player, “Son, I don’t understand you. Is it ignorance or apathy?”
The player said, “Coach, I don’t know and I don’t care.”
I think a lot of people are like that today.
So many don’t know what God has done for them.
So many don’t care what God has done for them.
Just look at…
Again, if I have to explain that to you…
Pero, if you’re still reading this, you know and you care.
Now run through that cold shower and dive back into your relationship with Jesus!
Don’t stop there!
Invite everyone to swim with you!
Everybody gets wet.
Not everybody has to drown.
Thursday, June 20, 2019
@#Blessings and Love!
Scratching the Surface of the Psalms
An honest to God undershepherd to the Good Shepherd has a love for the people entrusted to him that exceeds his need to be liked by them and understands Frederick Buechner’s conclusion in Wishful Thinking: “A prophet’s quarrel with the world is deep-down a lover’s quarrel. If they didn’t love the world, they probably wouldn’t bother to tell it that it’s going to hell. They’d just let it go. Their quarrel is God’s quarrel.”
When we really love someone and want His best for them, we sacrifice our weak though quite natural need to be liked by them.
It takes a lot of courage bolstered by ultimate allegiance to God to love without needing response, regard, or reward.
When a person cares more about perks, pensions, plaudits, and popularity than being an oak of righteousness with Jesus as the Master and the Bible as the manual, that person is no heaven good to America and her churches, children, spouse, school, job, or anyone else.
The only way to get better and save anybody is to get back to God.
That’s the constant theme of an honest to God undershepherd to the Good Shepherd.
Sometimes, the message comes inconveniently.
Colloquially, we can think of it as tinkling on the parade.
Jude comes to mind: “Though I wanted to talk to you about our common salvation and celebrate our unity, it is necessary to urge you to contend for faith because certain unGodly men have slithered into the community and its churches and are turning the grace of God into promiscuity while denying Jesus as our Master and Holy Scripture as our manual.”
Moving from that principle of fidelity to its practical implications for America, have you noticed the striking parallels and connections in the decline of America and her churches?
We have women and men who have slithered into the race to become President in 2020 that believe the Constitution of the United States with its Bill of Rights is outdated as the guiding principles for America; and do not miss their thinly veiled anti-God efforts to undermine the Constitution because of its roots in Holy Scripture.
We have woman and men who strut around America’s pulpits without having ever read or maybe read but not heeded or ignored or not understood or defied our Lord’s disdains in Matthew 23 that are making people twice as fit for hell as they are themselves - Jesus’ conclusion with which I agree - that believe the Bible may be “enlightening” but not necessarily absolutely authoritative on all issues of faith and morality.
If I have to explain that to you, as bikers say, you wouldn’t understand anyway.
It means you’re already drinking their Kool-Aid and under their spell.
Pero here’s how they view their “leadership” in America and her churches: “I know that’s what the Constitution says but I think…I know that’s what Jesus and the Bible say but I think…”
If you hear anyone talking like that in government or church or classroom or courtroom or anywhere two or three are not always gathered in His name, it’s a wolf trying to fit into sheep’s clothing.
Anyone that is conscious knows America and her churches are falling ergo failing and increasingly no heaven good to anyone.
Anyone familiar with the Bible knows God’s patience with infidelity is not eternal.
While we love ‘em and He judges ‘em, the Bible is categorically clear beyond any measure of contention that God’s ultimately eternal judgment is certain.
Anyone that doesn’t know that is Biblically illiterate and personally arrogant.
Fortunately, God made a promise to Abraham so long ago that I believe portends hope for America and her churches: “For the sake of 10 faithful people, I will not destroy everything.”
Praise God for the faithful remnant of people in America that still believe in Jesus by the book!
As long as the remnant holds, America and her churches will not drown in the cesspools of their increasingly arrogant, flamboyant, and shameless insults to God’s holiness.
That’s because the remnant embraces a prominent theme in David’s 56th psalm: “I trust God. I trust God’s Word.”
Contextually, we understand God’s Word to have been enfleshed in Jesus and explained in Holy Scripture; meaning fidelity is marked by allegiance to God in Jesus by the book as enlightened by the Holy Spirit that never contradicts Jesus by the book.
David repeats familiar themes in Psalm 56.
He prays for deliverance from his enemies because they are God’s enemies.
He laments the lying, oppressing, predatory, and lethal character of those enemies.
He rejoices in God who saves him from those enemies with this ringing note: “My enemies will lose because God is for me.”
David lives triumphantly amid the meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance of life in a fallen world because He trusts God’s Word: “When I am afraid, I trust God. I praise His Word. What can anyone do to me? I don’t fear anyone. I have the Word!”
David knows God’s Word saves.
The remnant knows God’s Word can save America.
How do we get that Word into America and her churches, courtrooms, classrooms, and government?
Jerry Kirk explained the game plan to me back in the early 80s: “When people ask me what we’re supposed to do, I tell them that we’re supposed to do everything that Jesus and the Bible tell us to do.”
Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!
It doesn’t always mean being liked.
It always means salvation.
Salvation for America and her churches.
Salvation for souls.
Blessings and Love!
Friday, June 14, 2019
Scratching the Surface of the Psalms
“Who is Betraying Whom?”
David pours out his heart to God in Psalm 55 because he’s been betrayed by a friend.
As he admitted, “It wouldn’t bother me if it were someone who’s always hated me; but this is someone who said she’s/he’s my friend. We went to school together and church together and I was in their wedding and…It hurts so badly.”
The most historically awful betrayal, of course, is the betrayal of Jesus by Judas: “Would you betray Me…[mark Me off for the bad guys]…with a kiss…a sign of affection and allegiance?”
Et as Psalm 55 suggests without objection from anyone, betrayal is one of those bad behaviors proving there is nothing original about sin.
Betrayal hurts so badly because it means misplaced trust and misplaced trust always falls, fractures, and fails.
The betrayed resonate with David’s unsettled distress: “Oh God, I really need You. My insides are being turned inside out. My heart is broken. I want to run away. I can’t stand it. I wish I were like a bird and could just fly away.”
Getting specific about the pain of betrayal, David wails, “This isn’t some stranger. This isn’t somebody that I don’t know. We grew up together. We played together. We were tight. Now, she’s/he’s bad-mouthing me and wishing me worse.”
Then David explodes naturally, “Just haul ‘em off to hell, Lord. Take care of them. Retaliate for me!”
David, like too many posers that should know better après all these years, hasn’t really caught on to the full measure of grace, mercy, and forgiveness wrapped in love by Jesus.
That maturity escapes everyone who isn’t tight with Jesus.
It’s like people who want to win more than love, fight more than befriend, and get over more than get along…you know…like those pathetically selfish and pandering politicians in Springfield and DC that would serve satanos and abandon the Constitution and Bible for a few more votes.
Fortunately, David is growing in/through/for the Lord and his trust in the Lord overcomes the meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance of life in a fallen world; so he ends up praising God for the ultimate victory: “God will help me and anyone who calls on Him. God will come through sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end. He’ll never let people who love Him end up in ruin like the destiny of those who never outgrow their disrespect, defiance, disobedience, and ingratitude.”
David seems to forget or maybe ran out of parchment or something and doesn’t have the room or enough confessional humility to admit just a few psalms ago in #51 that he got caught with his pants down with somebody else’s wife and then murdered the poor fellah to cover up the crimes and only gained forgiveness from God après admitting it and pledging to do better.
That’s why we need to get together so often to remind ourselves that we’ve always got room for improvement even after receiving Jesus into our hearts as Lord and Savior and heading down paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even churches that should know better fall off the wagon every now and then.
Instead of following Jesus by the book as enlightened by the Holy Spirit that never contradicts Jesus by the book, they make up stuff and turn opinions and traditions and feelings and wants into the religious idolatries that the prophets always cautioned against and Jesus criticized so severely (e.g., take a look at Matthew 15 and 23): “So man created God in the image of man. In the image of man, man created God.”
I’ll never forget reading this letter sent to someone very close to me back on November 29, 1988: “The moneyed flock at _____is more interested in an extension of their country club than in an anointed, vital hour of worship…They do not feel comfortable at the overuse of My name…They chafe at My correction.”
It happens everywhere; and it’s happened repeatedly throughout the sad history of churches that too often look into the mirror and mistake the reflection for Jesus.
Back to the letter: “The appearance of my chosen servant, who has unashamedly lifted Me up, has caused them to long for the manipulative compromises of days gone by. The Jezebel spirit among them has been alerted and aroused. They lust after the comfortable and the familiar. They would keep their sin hidden. They would say My chosen lacks wisdom and acts rashly. They would shout that he offends or is merely unwisely youthful. This noise is a clatter in My ears. I say TRUTH is the offense.”
While acknowledging the pain of anyone that dares to follow God too closely as personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture, the letter, just like Psalm 55, moves from betrayal to trust in God to work it all out because God always ends up honoring those who honor Him: “I desire the whole man and not his career. He knows this. With his whole heart, he has consistently asked me to use and inhabit his clay temple. Do you not think that I will answer? Have I not heard this cry to Me? I will live in this man openly. His words are gibberish to those who have no ears to hear.”
Then turning attention to those who have betrayed, “I will answer his heart’s cry and remove all the barriers to what I am doing in this place. He must not mourn their leaving. I will erase the carefully-learned teachings that sprang from the minds of men and leave only the bursting springs of salvation. I will erase his tender need for the approval of man and leave only the raw passion to please Me and Me alone.”
Finally, “He has served many in his life, other masters have ruled over him; but he has made mention of My name by My power and Mine alone, and I will now arise and scatter and confuse his enemies.”
So it happens from Moses through David through the prophets through Jesus through the apostles through the saints of all ages right down to the recipient of that letter in 1988 with many more chapters of fidelity to be written.
Receptive clay vessels to God filled with the finest gold from God!
Read Isaiah 26 sometime for some stark commentary on that!
Simply, fidelity not betrayal is blessed by God.
Yet, again, just like David, we’ve got to be careful not to forget we never outgrow our need for God to save us because we have that instinct called original sin that keeps pulling us away from God into betrayals.
That really hit home for me when I got back from a wonderfully relaxing week with my wife in Florida with only a few weeks of winter left after Easter.
I was sitting on our back porch on May 4, 2019 during a devotional moment when He hit me.
It was as overwhelming as that moment in Montana back in October 2011 when God opened up Matthew 15 and 23 in ways that alerted me to idolatries still plaguing God’s people and how we tolerate them and how we must be more intentional about abandoning them to increase intimacy with our Lord.
Anyway, accompanied by spiritually audible gutturals reminiscent of Hebrew classes in seminary, the Lord compelled me to confess my repeated sin throughout my life and ministry of enabling, accommodating, embracing, and sometimes even participating in behaviors antithetical to Christianity according to Jesus by the book coupled with excuses, rationalizations, and other evidences of intentional as well as instinctual infidelity.
O.K., that’s a mouthful.
That was the general sense of the apocalyptic moment.
The details emerged over several hours.
I was reminded that deliverance ministries as well as most psychospiritual therapies are rarely effective if the demonized or psychospiritually dysfunctional are compromised by mood-modifying meds.
Simply, it’s a waste of time to try to heal anyone who is under the influence of legal or illegal dope.
Similarly, providing pastoral care for someone who is not “regular” in worship – the only indispensable activity of faith and surest way to increasing intimacy with God – is a pret’ near waste of time.
Practically, I was convicted of the sin of enabling, accommodating, embracing, and participating in rituals+ceremonies=rites like baptisms and weddings with people that don’t worship God with any fidelity; meaning I am sinning against God by, again, enabling, accommodating, embracing, and participating in their superficial, artificial, and inauthentic theater that disrespects God’s holiness with ingratitude for who He is and what He is done for our salvation by grace through faith in Jesus.
Essentially, I was told not to cast His pearls before swine.
I was convicted.
Here, there, and everywhere, I’ve been castigating my denomination for being irretrievably apostate under current management and I’ve been baptizing babies whose parents didn’t, don’t, and won’t worship Him and presiding at weddings for couples who didn’t worship before the wedding, haven’t since, and won’t any time soon.
The echo deafens the unfaithful excuses and rationalizations as it convicts the soul: “Would you betray Me with a kiss?”
Here’s the point.
I have been accusing people of all kinds of infidelities while I’ve been enabling, accommodating, embracing, and participating in a bunch of ‘em for too many years.
“What’s that I see in my eye?”
It’s like that old song by Eric Clapton: “Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself.”
For me, it’s been more like this: “Before you accuse them, take a look in the mirror.”
When it comes to betrayals, who is betraying whom?
We’re hurt by betrayals and we hurt by betrayals; and that voice echoes, “As you betray them, you betray Me.”
He feels the pain that we inflict on each other as if it were being inflicted on Him.
Here’s His point.
We need a Savior.
He knows we’re going to betray each other and betray Him.
He knows that.
The good news has always been that omniscient Father God is omnipotent to provide His omnipresent salvation to all of us by grace through faith so that any of life’s betrayals will not matter in the end.
I guess this is a good time to read the best summary of that gospel in John 3:16-17.