Saturday, August 24, 2013


“There are many brands of treason in the Christian camp. Men who deny the historicity and authenticity of God’s Word; worldlings who hobnob with the enemy; indifferent church members who come not to the help of the Lord against the mighty–all these are traitors. It sounds good to talk about forgetting all our differences and closing ranks to face the foe without, but we may lose to the foe within. Paul recognized two threats to the church–wolves from without and false leaders within.” (Acts 20:29, 30)  
 ~Vance Havner

Sometimes I pull on the full armor of Christ and venture out into the wild, wild blogosphere where I often find the most interesting commentary and perspective, especially from those in other countries. It’s a great way to study the various ways people of different cultures look at the pressing issues of humanity. 

Recently I tossed in my two cents in a discussion in the Archbishop Cranmer blog on the topic of the acronym WWJD (What Would Jesus Do). Speaking from an American view point and, more importantly, a mature Christian, I offered a bit of history along with my perspective, which I felt was something lacking in the conversation.

I posted:
The WWJD campaign was launched by a youth minister, Dan Seaborn, in Holland, Michigan in the 1990’s. It was specifically aimed at Christian teens. The goal was implemented by stamping the WWJD logo into rubber bracelets that the kids wore to remind them that their choices should reflect what they had been taught about expectations for Christian behavior. Later another campaign added the bracelets with the acronym FROG–Fully Rely On God–as the response to WWJD.
And then I added: 
When the WWJD phenomenon was all over the place, even in schools, which could not happen in today’s world, less than twenty years hence, there was something that seemed a bit shallow to me. But I understood the warfare involved. I knew then, as I know now, that we struggle against dark principalities for the hearts and souls of our young. They are pulled away from the faith by the glitter that is not gold. Thus, we have converted our worship service to shout louder than the siren call of the world in hopes of keeping the youth in the church with screeching, thumping, wailing rock and roll noise in place of reverent music. To make it more comfortable we have replaced dignity with casual dress, casual language, even removing symbols like the cross from the sanctuary–all efforts to modernize and glam up Christianity in order to keep our young. 
In effect, it seems to me that, in our sincere efforts to stay relevant and attractive, we have simply compromised with the Devil.  Vance Havner put it this way, “The devil is not persecuting Christianity nowadays – he is professing it.”
So, WWJD? I think the better question is, WGG - What Grieves God? If we do not know the answer to that we cannot begin to presume what He would do. 

It is an ancient recurring story and common error for humans to rationalize that God has evolved right along with the current version of man. I once had a young woman remark to me with an attitude of compete authority that "God doesn’t care who you sleep with." That made me wonder what else God doesn’t care about anymore. Does He care about liars and lying? Does He blow off thievery now? Does He simply cherry-pick what is right and wrong in the same way we do?
In our revised, enlightened, updated, egalitarian, tolerant, diversity-embracing paradigm are we to assume that God not only approves of our advancement on the path to an anything goes New Utopian world of Full Self-Awareness, but that He is on the sidelines proudly cheering us on? Really? 
In the words of A W Tozer, “It can only be a cause for deep regret that the fear of offending has silenced the voices of so many men of discernment and put Bible Christianity at the mercy of the undiscerning.”
So, let’s be crazy and consider, for a moment, that God is, was, and always has been the same. That we are the ones who adapt to accommodate our base humanism not He. What if God still sees sin as He always did? 
Let’s revisit 1Corinthians 6:9-11 with an eye to seek that which has become commonplace in our modernity but which might just possibly still grieve God. 
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.
Fornicators and adulterers shall not inherit the kingdom of God. God did not declare that all sexual activity is sinful. Fornication in general and adultery in particular refers to sexual activity outside of the marriage relationship between a man and a woman. This activity was as rampant in first century Corinth as it is today. But modern society prefers to believe that God has changed His mind about this. He doesn’t care who you sleep with, even if it’s not your spouse, because God 2.0 is hip now. We know this because the acceptance of fornication as normal is deeply embedded in everything we see and read, so this clearly confirms that God doesn’t care. And even if we might briefly feel vaguely convicted about our sin, we console ourselves that we get a free pass because we believe in God.
Idolaters shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Idolatry is not just bowing before a graven image and is often the hidden sin because it dresses itself up as good in man’s eyes, like, for example, the god of ‘health and fitness’, but any obsession in something that consumes someone’s time and thoughts counts as idolatry–which is anything that someone puts in place of God. The list is long–the key word is ‘obsession’ as opposed to moderation in all things.
The effeminate and homosexuals shall not enter the kingdom of God. It is not politically correct today to suggest that such activity is unrighteous or to reject the concept that it’s a new kind of ‘normal’ that must be not only accepted but openly embraced if not celebrated. Those who wish to turn this mandate into a reason to hate and vilify Christians for their ‘intolerance’ miss the point. God is the Creator of the Rules and the Natural Order. We are not told to hate homosexuals. We are simply told not to participate in homosexuality because practicing homosexuality will keep one from entering heaven. 

Thieves shall not enter the kingdom of God. It isn’t the act of stealing that is the issue as much as it is the fact that one who can justify stealing from another cannot be justified in Christ without recognition of the sin. Regardless if the person doing the stealing is rich or poor, without conviction, just as in the case of any sin, it will still keep one from entering heaven. 

The covetous will not enter the kingdom of God. This one is tricky because of hidden elements that refer to having an uncontrollable desire to possess something or having one’s way. Covetousness blinds one into committing sin in order to satisfy the god of Self Desire. It can be more subtle than simple materialism and manifests itself as determination to manipulate another in order to cause him/her to submit in some way. Coveting anything which belongs to another, be it material goods or another’s body, heart, mind, or soul will prevent one from entering heaven. 

Drunkards shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Children of God have no need to dull their senses with addictive substances. We must be able to think and reason clearly which cannot be done if we are enslaved to anything. Drunkenness, consciousness altering drugs–anything that causes one to lose focus and rationality, is included in this. It also falls under the rule about idolatry because addiction is just another type of obsession and pulls one far away from God which causes blindness that can lead to death. Those who give themselves over to intoxication/addiction of any kind will find that it blocks their way to heaven.

Revilers shall not inherit the kingdom of God. This speaks to those who are quick to speak against anything that has to do with Christianity. Atheists often troll Christian forums to insert their opposite views into the interactions of believers in hopes of causing discord and planting doubt. They are revilers. Countless numbers of men and women of God have had to endure reproach for their faith with the Son of God as their example. But there will be no revilers in heaven.

Swindlers shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Flimflam men of all kinds are included here. A swindler is a different kind of thief because he/she often hides behind a mask. The religious con-man, along with the secular belongs to this group. Those who prey on others by trying to take advantage of their weaknesses would also be included. Swindlers will not enter heaven.
If we really want to know What Grieves God, perhaps we should posit What Jesus Wouldn’t Do instead of pretending we can say what He would. In this reprobated era, we compromise daily with the world both in and out of the church, but we ought not to ignore that, while God has unfathomable patience, He does finally go from grief to wrath. 
It’s a documented fact.  
For Christ,

(2 Chronicles 19:2) And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the wicked, and love them that hate the Lord? for this thing wrath is upon thee from before the Lord.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Path That Leads To Truth

(Psalms 25:4) Show me thy ways, O Jehovah; Teach me thy paths.  (25:5) Guide me in thy truth, and teach me; For thou art the God of my salvation; For thee do I wait all the day.  

There’s something about a rainy day that makes me want to clean something. Closets, cabinets and shelves require a certain amount of physical effort so I opted for cleaning out computer files. I opened a file titled “thinker” with not a clue what might be inside and I found dozens of snippets of quotes from those I consider to have great minds. I’ve mentioned before that I have always loved quotes. They often speak big truth in the smallest number of words. 

Lately, I’ve been hyper-focused on truth and my fear that there is a possibility a day is coming that God might remove truth from those who refuse to see, so I offer the following quote from A.W. Tozer which seems to say better than anything I could compose:
The world is full of seekers, true enough, and they gravitate quite naturally toward the church. Seekers after peace of mind are plentiful enough to keep the printing presses busy; seekers after physical health are always with us in sufficient numbers to make our leading faith healers comfortably rich; seekers after success and safety are legion, as our popular religious leaders know too well. But real seekers after truth are almost as rare as albino deer. And here is why: Truth is a glorious but hard master. It makes moral demands upon us. It claims the sovereign right to control us, to strip us, even to slay us as it chooses. 
Truth will never stoop to be a servant but requires that all men serve it. It never flatters men and never compromises with them. It demands all or nothing and refuses to be used or patronized. It will be all in all or it will withdraw into silence. It was Christ who capitalized truth and revealed that it was not an it at all but a Being with all the attributes of personality. I am the Truth, He said, and followed truth straight to the cross. The truth seeker must follow Him there; and that is the reason few men seek truth.
The truth in the Person of the Logos, the Word, is seeking to illuminate the minds of men. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. For this reason, when we conceive ourselves to be honest seekers who cannot find the light we are in a state of dangerous self-deception. It is a grave situation. Unless help comes quickly the darkness may close down upon us permanently. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness. Behind all our failure to find light is an unconfessed and possibly an unconscious love of darkness. 
We should always remember that we are accountable not only for the light we have but also for the light we might have if we were willing to obey it. Truth is sovereign and will not allow itself to be trifled with. And it is easy to find for it is trying to find us. Obedience is the big problem: and unwillingness to obey is the cause of continued darkness.
For Christ,
This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3:19-21)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mercies In Disguise

(Matthew 25:29) For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away.  (25:30) And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. 

She planted flowers wherever she lived. My mother loved flowers, understood them, and they responded to her loving hand and rewarded her with copious, multicolored blooms all spring, summer and fall. Once her annuals were planted, she spent her mornings pruning and pulling off old blooms, humming and singing quietly, lost in the joy of nurturing. She knew exactly where to pinch the bud of a geranium to make it produce a double bloom. Otherwise humble petunias were lush and exotic looking. They spilled over in tumbling cascades, huge ruffled masses of dewy, velvety blossoms, no matter how hot or dry the weather. Mother's flowers didn't seem to notice.  
Over the years, she kept up the horticultural habits she began as a young woman and continued planting even when she didn't own the house or yard, though her back hurt and her knees were enlarged from arthritis. I always thought it was because she needed the color and gentle beauty of growing things to enliven her often mediocre environments. While this was true, it was only partly so. It wasn't until I was well past having reached adulthood that I understood that she was simply living her most basic philosophy - be a good steward of whatever you have been given - leave it better than it came to you.

You can also say it this way: you will know a grateful heart (a good tree-Matthew 7:18) by the good fruit it bears. 

The moral of the parable of the talents is usually interpreted as, Christians are expected to multiply whatever blessings are given to them. But the story doesn’t address how to recognize a blessing. One servant was given five talents, another only one. In today’s ‘fairness-based’ culture, one might feel sorry for the poor servant who seemed to be shorted. A sympathetic group might form to protest that a great injustice had been done and the poor servant who was not only relieved of his single talent was also thrown into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Further, one could argue, “but all the poor chap did was hide his talent, he didn’t steal it or refuse to give it back.”

The problem with that childish rationale is that it ignores our Father’s command to bear good fruit, regardless how much or how little one has been given. Only in a self-justified culture will the issue of what a blessing ought to be becomes more important than being grateful for and doing the most good with what one has been given, however small, however unblessing-like it seems to be.

Looking beyond the long accepted moral of the parable of the talents, does it not also speak directly to those who refuse to recognize their blessings? Those who define a blessing as only that which meets their expectations will always miss the blessing in disguise. The danger in not recognizing the blessing is, of course, keeping it buried, insuring the impossibility of it being multiplied and thus ultimately the threat of it being taken away. 

It seems to me there are those who will always rise to God’s expectations of a fruitful, grateful servant. These are the meek who inherit the earth and those to whom much has been given and therefore more is given, even as more is expected of them. This might mean material goods, but more importantly it means spiritual wisdom and humility. Those who are still waiting for the yacht to come so they can finally launch into fruitfulness, ignore the modest dinghy bobbing next to the dock. And so, unfortunately, they end up missing the boat. 

I’m reminded of something a friend once told me about her turning point during her struggle to insist that God speak to her in the way she wanted to hear Him, bless her in the way she wanted to be blessed until finally He said to her, “I will not strive with you forever.”  She claims that the heart-stopping rebuke was the best blessing she ever received because she could see her miserable self through God's eyes, and she surrendered.

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the achings of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Lyrics from “Blessings” by Laura Story 

For Christ,

(Matthew 25:31) But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory:  (25:32) and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats;  (25:33) and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.  (25:34) Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Opinion, Fact & Fiction

(Proverbs 10:21) The lips of the righteous feed many; But the foolish die for lack of understanding.  

Opinion is rampant nowadays. Or perhaps it’s simply louder stronger because there are so many more ways to express it. We are inundated daily with opinion. It has come to the point that opinion and one's ‘right to opinion’ has been elevated to the new status of being more important than truth. 

Sometimes we forget that opinion isn’t fact, though.  Instead of exercising a little  discernment we blindly trust the words of one who speaks them well because they sound good while completely ignoring that the speaker’s goal is to keep us under control and accomplishes this by saying only what we want to hear. 

Fact is not opinion and is usually too hard to hear because it pierces through what is false and inflicts painful internal introspection. Who likes that?

Jesus taught in parables. I used to wonder about that but now I think I know why. Human nature is a child that must be given its bitter medicine wrapped in an easier to swallow fiction. The difference between a sweet fiction spoken to keep a  lie from being exposed and a parable is the convicting moral at the end. If there is no moral, it’s probably just another lie. 

So, here’s an old parable for you. Take from it what you will.

For Christ,

John Godfrey Saxe's [1816-1887] version of the famous Indian legend:
It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach'd the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -"Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he,
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

Sunday, August 4, 2013


We had the honor of attending the memorial service for LCDR Ira Dozier Hozey, Jr. US Navy (Ret). Mr. Hozey was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. He retired after 25 years of service from the United States navy, having served during both the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War. He was a member of American Legion Post #120. He was a member of Waynesboro First United Methodist Church and the Home-Hargrove Sunday School Class. He is survived by his wife, eight children, eighteen grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Born in 1930, Ira enlisted in the Navy when he was just sixteen. His skills and aptitudes landed him in an elite submariner division. He served his country with integrity and after retiring lived the balance of his life in the same manner. Ira Hozey belonged to an era that is rapidly passing along with the men and women who defined patriotism and honor much differently from the modern point of view. 

Ira served his country and lived his life with the unwavering faith that God is in charge. 

Being somewhat numbed by the knowledge of what is now happening to this country, the loss of freedoms won with blood, the decimation of godliness and radical redefining of faith both inside and outside the Church, it takes something really profound to move me to tears. But as we walked from the back, rounding the church to the front, I was taken by surprise when I saw the honor guard standing stoically and suddenly I felt my eyes stinging. The group of aging vets, men and women, who volunteer to attend the last rites of those who valiantly served, stood at attention, each holding an American flag, in the hot Georgia summer sun as memorial attendees entered the church.

I knew that most of those elder vets were probably remnants of the survivors of the Vietnam War, the war that took so many young men and women, who would be my age now if they had not died so prematurely. This is what struck me and caused my eyes to blur with tears. This rag tag collection of my peers, all graying, some with pot bellies and  missing teeth, most standing straight even as arthritis sent pings of pain from old knees and hips, and still they stood, adamant that honor was due and therefore must be given.

At the conclusion of the service a Navy Honor Guard performed a flag ceremony and the sound of a lone bugle played Taps. A deep melancholy surrounded the audience and I was compelled to realize that if ever there was a time to weep for what was once a great notion, it was that moment, as those sad notes filled the sanctuary, echoing forward to now, mourning that which is gone and can never be restored without true faith, integrity and honor–as is defined by God, not man.

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
Fading light, dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.
Thanks and praise, for our days,
'Neath the sun, 'neath the stars, neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.
Sun has set, shadows come,
Time has fled, Scouts must go to their beds
Always true to the promise that they made.
While the light fades from sight,
And the stars gleaming rays softly send,
To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.
For Christ,
(Colossians 1:12-18) giving thanks unto the Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light;  (1:13) who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love;  (1:14) in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins:  (1:15) who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;  (1:16) for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him;  (1:17) and he is before all things, and in him all things consist.  (1:18) And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.