Monday, November 11, 2019

Veterans Day 2019, We Thank You!


The Spiritual Fight Is Already Won On Earth As In Heaven, No Matter How It May Look From Here



 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world-he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!" And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.

Thought for the Day What on earth does this mean - "war arose in heaven"? It suggests that the whole of our spiritual security in Christ is up for grabs. Let's remind ourselves that Revelation is an eternity's eye view of all that is going on, and that it speaks with an eternal perspective on time. Michael is the great archangel who first appears in Daniel 10 and now has summoned the heavenly host to fight against the dragon and his angels - the forces of evil. "If we are able to give this any meaning in our imaginations, it must be that the moral and political struggles of which we are aware, the battles between good and evil, between justice and injustice, which go on in this life, reflect a more primeval battle which has taken place in the spiritual sphere. Michael has won, and the dragon has lost. This loss means that he is thrown down to the earth, ejected from heaven altogether" (Bishop N. T. Wright). Michael and all angels might have been the players in this particular eternal scene, but it is the shedding of Christ's blood that has empowered the victory - as the voice from heaven says.

Thanksgiving for the Day We give thanks to God for angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven.

 Intercession for the Day Let us ask God to give us insight and wisdom as we find ourselves in the midst of this battle between Christ and the power of his Cross, and the forces of sin and evil that seek destruction of all that is good.

Collect for the Day
Lord God Almighty, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
as we gather in worship,
as we break bread and pour out wine
to feed on Christ by faith with thanksgiving,
give us an awareness that we are not a small group all alone
but are together with angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven.
In Jesus's name, Amen

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Sunday---Hillsdale College Builds Christ Chapel For Higher Learning and Ultimate Truth



In his remarks at the dedication, President Arnn noted that the difficult question is not why Hillsdale chose to build Christ Chapel. Rather, it is why other colleges have declined to do likewise. It is not for lack of money or precedent. No, it is because most other colleges have “turned away from things that are beautiful, which also means a turning away from things that are true and things that are good.” When you walk into Christ Chapel, you catch your breath in response to the soaring grandeur of the space. Its stateliness lifts the spirit and puts you, Arnn noted, in mind of “ultimate things.” That is by design, and it is a testimony to Stroik’s skill that the hundreds of people who crowded into Christ Chapel to witness its dedication instantly understood, and experienced, what Arnn was talking about. But the key point is that the architect is not just a manipulator of psychological feelings. He is also a conduit of realities that transcend the quotidian borders of our workaday lives. You do not hear much about beauty or its inextricable relation to the true and the good on most college campuses these days. Even to utter the words without the armor of scare quotes would be to seem quaint or naïve at best, compromised by affiliation with a putatively oppressive heritage at worst. But Arnn is right: when we give up on ultimate realities, we lose the foundation for more proximate loyalties. Why should we strive for the good? What is the foundation of human dignity? What is the justification for freedom? When we let go of ultimate realities we rob ourselves of the most compelling answers to such questions.

Read more.


Friday, November 1, 2019

Good News of the Day

1.VIA DRUDGE---THE TRUMPS MAKE THEIR PRIMARY/LEGAL ADDRESS FLORIDA,  leaving the high-tax, high-crime city of New York for good..  My only question is what took them so long?

2.VIA DON SURBER, VIA BBC---A herd of 500 goats was hired to clear the flammable brush away from the Ronald  Reagan Library earlier this year and helped save the compound from being destroyed this week by seasonal wildfires.

If anything else newsworthy comes to mind that doesn't completely  appall me, I'll be back later to post it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Fall Comes Reluctantly To East Tennessee

TREES ALONG THE WAY ARE ONLY CONSIDERING co-operating with the season turning.  But it's still a beautiful time of year along the SoHo and in my most favorite small city in America,  Bristol Tennessee/Virginia where State Street divides the more polished Commonwealthers from the rougher Volunteers. It's a marvelous blend.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Sunday, Psalm 90 Of Moses, Psalm 91


The Eternity of God, and Man’s Frailty   


90 Lord, You have been our [a]dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You [b]had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
You turn man to destruction,
And say, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it is past,
And like a watch in the night.
You carry them away like a flood;
They are like a sleep.
In the morning they are like grass which grows up:
In the morning it flourishes and grows up;
In the evening it is cut down and withers.
For we have been consumed by Your anger,
And by Your wrath we are terrified.
You have set our iniquities before You,
Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.
For all our days have passed away in Your wrath;
We finish our years like a sigh.
10 The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
11 Who knows the power of Your anger?
For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.
12 So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O Lord!
How long?
And have compassion on Your servants.
14 Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,
That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!
15 Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us,
The years in which we have seen evil.
16 Let Your work appear to Your servants,
And Your glory to their children.
17 And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.

PSALM 90,  A Place For Pessimism


Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God

91 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the [c]fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and [d]buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall [e]bear you up,
Lest you [f]dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will [g]set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With [h]long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

PSALM 91,  A Psalm of Safety

Friday, October 25, 2019

Are Meghan and Harry Enabling Each Others' Immaturity?

SURELY IT'S A RHETORICAL QUESTION. Another such question might be,  has this  'royal' couple just committed social suicide with his family in England who have treated them like, well, a king and queen?    Have they assured they will have an adversarial relationship with the fawning tabloid press from now on?
Whatever Meghan and Harry may have wished to achieve with their African trip interview, might they have found a more appropriate way to whine about how shabby their royal existence is in England and in the celebrity jet set of Meghan's other life than doing it with the backdrop of extreme poverty and child starvation in Africa?

Actually, it's doubtful that either Meghan or Harry could have done it differently.  Both are rudderless loose cannons and massively entitled (ungrateful), unrealistic,  immature kids.  Meghan's marriage to Harry was always about her and getting whatever she wants.  I suppose Harry marrying her was and is about reliving his mother's life and death and fighting straw men with fake heroism. There were many reasons for Diana's early death and as tragic as it was, she played a big role in it. It was not just the press.

 The Meghan/ Harry marriage was never about joining the royal family firm and taking on noble causes that focus on people and groups less fortunate than themselves. It's clearly about them, their hurts,  their hopes, their desires to bend and control reality to their unrealistic demands. It's about undermining everything royal protocol.  I can only imagine what the Queen must be thinking.  Thank goodness for William and Kate.  They are all right to be worried about Meghan and Harry.

If Meghan and Harry detest the dreaded tabloid press so much, then why not just quietly withdraw from so much contact with it rather than tossing it fresh meat every day?.  Why doesn't Meghan quietly mend her fences with her father and put that saga behind them? Why doesn't Harry get back to working on things that really interest him rather than letting Meghan lead him around by the nose so he can dutifully virtual signal?

Stop the blame.  Stop the ingratitude.  Lay low for a while and let the dust settle.

What's to become of Harry and Meghan in the years ahead?  I give their shifting sand marriage only a few years unless they set out to grow themselves up and start taking responsibility for their own problems both individually and as a couple. Otherwise, I don't see a happy outcome for either of them or their little baby boy.  Hope I'm wrong here, but there it is.


Monday, October 21, 2019

Sunday On Monday: The Holy Spirit In the Scriptures at The Bible Project


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sunday, Reclaiming Biblical Manhood, Learning from the Giants

FAR, FAR TOO MANY MEN TODAY are confused people-pleasers, woman-pleasers, boss-pleasers who go along to get along with various cultural and political mobs.  They are good followers yet lack the self-exploration and courage to master and lead themselves,  take principled stands and let the chips fall where they may. By living this way, they lose touch with themselves and  most importantly with God. They also fail to become real leaders and role models. What the world desperately needs now---what women desperately need now--- are more real, principled men and role models. The Bible shows us many examples, and shows us all The Way.

By Greg Morse, Staff writer,


Many continue to ask, and many offer new answers. Confusion blows across our land, exposing the feeble bridge between technological advancement and self-understanding. Mysteries of far-off galaxies unravel before high-powered telescopes while the face gazing back from the mirror lingers more distant than ever. With a world lying in his palm, modern man remains, to himself, a stranger.

Some imagine that two men can marry. Some see no problem with males acting like women or telling us that they are, in fact, women. Too few mourn the sink into egalitarianism distorting womanhood and attempting to dress man’s abdication in virtue’s garb. Some say that God is dead; others, man. Low standards in the family, and low visions even in some churches, let honor, righteousness, and holy dominion seep from our ideal like heat through old window panes.

We have ground to reclaim. The church, the world’s lighthouse, must not dim as the spirits of confusion wash over her shores. God calls his people to speak clearly, repeatedly, and without apology, for, as the men go, so goes the world.

Dwell with Giants

The confusion indicates that we have forgotten our roots. Too many men live isolated — not only from each other but from our ancestors. We need not reinvent what a man is, but only rediscover him. How? By forsaking the uncertain sounds of society and hearkening to the war drum of Scripture. God calls us to fellowship with giants — or those who slayed them — great men who have run the race before us and offer their strengths, weaknesses, and sins to instruct us on how to walk before God this side of heaven.
“God calls us to fellowship with giants, men who have run the race before us.”
Only recently have I realized how we (myself included) have been sawing at the branch we sit on. In an effort to avoid clichés and moralizing, we abandon men of old. Disavowing “Dare to Be a Daniel” sermons have effectively stolen Daniel from us. This is a mistake, not only because God preserved their lives with great detail in the Old Testament — which “was written for our instruction” (Romans 15:4) — but because the New Testament calls us to imitate those such as Abraham, Abel, Isaac, Moses, Noah, Enoch, Elijah, Job, Gideon, David, Samuel, Isaiah, and more.

In the absence of such men of old filling our minds and fueling our faith, we find different men to esteem — athletes, celebrities, intellectuals, musicians. Mel Gibson with a sword. Russell Crowe in a coliseum. But shrubs cannot replace the family tree. As Abraham’s offspring, we need to know our roots and wake the ancient giants that we might see clearer, and farther, standing upon their shoulders.
Most recently, Joseph has captured my gaze as one I want to emulate. His story has as many layers as his coat had colors, but let me highlight three ingredients, among others, that make up a godly man. Like Joseph, the men of God we need in every generation will learn to rule themselves, lead others, and bow before a mighty God.

He Rules Himself

The godly man achieves mastery over his most unruly subject: himself. Paul saw it too: “urge the younger men to be self-controlled” (Titus 2:6). While Joseph displays rule over anger, greed, and vengeance, he displays mastery over self where many today do not: his lust
Rising from the slavery sparked by his brothers’ betrayal, Joseph now rules at Potiphar’s right hand. Joseph, we learn, was “well-built and handsome” (Genesis 39:6 HCSB). His physical prowess did not go unnoticed, especially by the most powerful (and presumably beautiful) woman in the household, Potiphar’s wife. She looked longingly at him (Genesis 39:7). Blushing glances soon became fixed gazes; thoughts grew to fantasies. One day she purred seductively to the young Hebrew, “Sleep with me” (Genesis 39:7 HCSB).
He faced temptation many of us don’t experience. He did not go after her; she came after him. He did not flex; she enticed. She beckoned through a door on which he never knocked. Her whispered kisses threatened to caress his lust and his pride — a potent combination. In response to her invitation, God summarizes his response in three glorious words: “But he refused” (Genesis 39:8).
And he did not merely triumph once.
“The godly man achieves mastery over his most unruly subject: himself.”
We read, “Although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her” (Genesis 39:10 HCSB). Resisting such temptation once is admirable. To hear the Siren sing and plainly reject her promises of pleasure is commendable. But to withstand day after day, season after season, whisper after whisper, smile after smile, seduction after seduction is behemoth. Every day, with each passing hour, he faced a decision. And every day he halted her advances.
Man of God, have you resisted Potiphar’s wife? Are you, like Joseph, continuing to resist?
How many of us can learn from Joseph, not just in that he refused, but why he refused?
Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God? (Genesis 39:8–9)
He knew others trusted him, relied upon him, conferred good to him — and none more than God. How could he repay Potiphar with such cruelty — and his God with such treason? How can we repay our wives with pornography, our brothers with adultery, our God with homosexuality? We who have troubles with gusts and breezes have much to learn from him who withstood a whirlwind.

He Leads Others

Eventually, the ruler of self became the ruler of Egypt. He who proved faithful with ten talents was entrusted with one hundred more
Yet his promotion would take a horrible detour. Alone in the palace with Potiphar’s wife, the lusty mare burned with desire and harassed the young man, groping at his outer garment which he had to abandon to escape (Genesis 39:11–12). Evil she, in a similar ilk as Shakespeare’s Iago, took the forgotten garment and accused the innocent of treachery (Genesis 39:13–18). Incensed, Potiphar threw Joseph in jail (Genesis 39:19–20). Joseph sat in another pit unjustly.
“As the men go, so goes the world.”
But the theme continued: God showed him steadfast love, and he again ruled as the second in charge of the prison (Genesis 39:21–22). As with Potiphar, the warden had no anxiety concerning all that Joseph presided over, because God was with him (Genesis 39:23). Even from a cell, Joseph exercised dominion, blessing all in his trust.

After two additional years in prison, the cupbearer finally kept his word and told Pharaoh of Joseph. Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream and proposes a fifteen-year plan for Egypt’s flourishing amidst famine, to which the pagan ruler proclaimed, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” (Genesis 41:38). Pharaoh then set Joseph over Egypt, to answer only to Pharaoh himself. By the time he turned thirty, the beautiful coat he received in Jacob’s house changed to the garment he left behind in Potiphar’s, which now was replaced with fine linens in Pharaoh’s.

Manhood that leads from the front has fallen on hard times. Our modern beatitude reads, “It is far more blessed for men to be led than to lead.” But Joseph stands in contrast. He exercised benevolent dominion in all the spheres God placed him. From Potiphar’s house, to the prison, to the right hand of Pharaoh, to his own household in Egypt, Joseph stewarded what God put in his charge. He administered. He made decisions. All were blessed under his care — including his long-lost brothers when they eventually came calling.

Like Joseph, God calls men to manage their affairs with equity and acumen. We need men like Joseph, filled with the Spirit and recipients of God’s steadfast love, to regulate their spheres for the benefit of others. Both elements are crucial: the willingness to rule, aimed at others’ good. We do not volunteer to be heads of our households and have our spheres of influence; we are heads that either bless or tear down, uplift or destroy, ignore or empower.

Few of us will rule an Egypt like Joseph did. Yet how many are prepared — being manifestly a man of God — to govern a household, a church, a community, a nation?

He Bows Before a Mighty God

Joseph served a powerful Master. So do men who have truly “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
“The men of God we need in every generation will learn to rule themselves, lead others, and bow before a mighty God.”

Joseph explains his journey to his brothers this way: “God sent me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:5). Twice he says this (see also Genesis 45:7), and then a third time, “It was not you who sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:8)
Beaten and betrayed by his brothers: God was sending me. Resisted Potiphar’s wife and subsequently jailed: God was sending me. Received an unfulfilled promise, leaving him in prison for two more years: God was sending me. Standing before the men who sold him as a slave and stole from him years with his father and younger brother: God sent me here, not you.
This God exalted him as a “father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 45:8). This God saved the nation by his hand. This God foretold all that was to come and moved an entire empire to make it happen. This God controls all things.

And this God fulfills his promises. In his last act of faith, Joseph instructs his bones to be buried in the land God has promised his people — centuries before they possess it (Hebrews 11:22). We have much to learn from this man who foreshadowed the greater Joseph to come. Here is one of the giants who can help a confused generation regain what it means to be a man.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sunday---Ask Pastor John Piper: Is Everyone Punished the Same In Hell?



Today’s question comes from Callum in Southampton, England. “Hello, Pastor John. After listening to episode 996, ‘Will Some People in Heaven Have More Joy Than Others?’ I remembered a number of passages in the New Testament where Jesus seems to suggest that there will be people for whom the day of judgment will be worse — even than for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah or Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 10:12–15; 11:21–24). And in 2 Peter 2:19–22, it describes people who ‘have known the way of righteousness’ and then turned back. To them Peter explains that it would be ‘better for them never to have known the way.’

Revelation 14:19 describes the enemies of God being gathered and swept into the ‘winepress of the wrath of God.’ This doesn’t seem to leave much room for a ‘hierarchy,’ so to speak. I loved the explanation in episode 996 about the differing capacities for joy in heaven, about how the most joyful in the kingdom will in fact be the humblest. Amazing. But does something like this happen in reverse in God’s judgment? Are some people in hell able to perceive greater despair than others?”

“Able to perceive greater despair.” That may be true. I didn’t expect him to end with that phrase, but it’s a fascinating and helpful question to ask. What we’re actually not told in the New Testament is in what way the suffering will be greater for some than others. But we are certainly told that there will be degrees of suffering in hell.
“Every day is a precious opportunity to lay up treasures in heaven, not store up wrath in hell."
It will be unspeakably terrible for everyone who goes there — just unspeakably terrible, without any experience of good, no sight of beauty, no pleasant sounds, no bodily pleasures, no gratified appetites, no satisfied desires, no hopes fulfilled. That’s everybody. Saying that there are degrees of suffering doesn’t paint a light picture for anyone. Those who joke that they’d rather be in hell drinking with their buddies than in heaven with stuffy saints are ignorant of reality in a terrifying way. It’s not funny. They will not be having a good time.

Despair in Degrees

But although hell will be without all good for all unbelievers, it will be worse for some. Let me just read a few texts. This is Luke 12:47–48: “That servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating.” That’s just a picture at the end of a parable, but everybody I’ve ever read says it points to greater or lesser torment in hell.

Here’s Matthew 10:15: “Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” So, more or less bearable points to degrees or differences of suffering.

Here’s Matthew 11:21–22: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.” More or less bearable signifies greater or lesser suffering.

Then, one more: Romans 2:4–5. This one’s so striking because of the word thēsaurizō, which means to store up. It’s usually used for storing up, like when Jesus says, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20). That’s the word, only here it’s used for wrath. Here’s what it says: “Do you presume on the riches of his [God’s] kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing [or treasuring] up wrath” — meaning, making investments in it, putting more and more away.

We’re supposed to store up treasures in heaven by doing good deeds day after day, but these people are doing the opposite: they’re storing up, treasuring up, more and more wrath — not treasures of blessing but wrath for themselves on the day “when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:5).

Five Reasons for Stages of Suffering

In those four texts that I just read — and there are several more — I see two explicit reasons given for why some will suffer more than others. Then I see three implicit reasons that flow from those two explicit ones. Let me just name these five. These are reasons why it would be so that some are suffering more than others.

1. The more light you have, the more knowledge you have, the more truth you have, the worse your sin and punishment at rejecting it. That’s right there in the texts.

2. The more kindness God shows you, not just in giving you light in truth but in, for example, giving you many undeserved pleasures in this life, the more grievous will be your unbelief and sin, and the worse will be your punishment in hell

3. If rejection of more and more light and kindness makes suffering worse in hell, then I infer that the more days you do this, the worse it will be. In other words, time comes into the picture. Day after day after day, you keep on rejecting light after light after light, kindness after kindness after kindness. The longer this goes on, the worse things are going to be.

4. There are kinds of sins that are more heinous, more destructive, more blasphemous than others, so that not only the amount of sinning over time makes things worse, but also the degree of ugliness and horror, heinousness, and blasphemy also increases the suffering.

5. In all of this, there’s a greater or lesser degree of high-handedness, arrogance — greater arrogance, greater conscious defiance and insolence, and therefore a consequent greater degree of punishment.

How We Respond to the Horror of Hell

Here’s my concluding question: What should we do with this information? Why are we told this? Is it to make us feel like the risk is not as great or make us feel better about lost people going there? What’s the point of this? What should we do? All five of these reasons send us trembling with joy to the cross of Jesus and to the grace of God, which holds onto us in the forgiveness that the cross gives. Here’s the way I think we should hear each of those five. 

1. They make us seriously vigilant not to misuse greater light and truth. To whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). We should strive that the truth that comes to us would not come without humbling us, building our faith, increasing our love. In other words, don’t squander precious light that God gives you in his word and in his world.

2. We should be seriously vigilant not to misuse all the pleasures of this life by treating them as God or a distraction from God, instead of signs that he’s kind and is better than all of them together.

3. We should be seriously vigilant over every passing hour and day so that they don’t accumulate sins but accumulate the fruit of righteousness. Every day is a precious opportunity to invest, lay up treasures in heaven, not store up wrath in hell.

4. We should be seriously vigilant over our pride, lest we fall into patterns of arrogance and defiance and say, “It doesn’t matter. God can take his word and stuff it.”

Here’s a closing quote from Jonathan Edwards. If you want to walk with somebody who has thought deeply about hell, Edwards has a couple of sermons on this issue of degrees of suffering, one of them based on Matthew 5:22. Let me give you one closing quote. This is just an example of how seriously he took these things. He said in this sermon on Matthew 5:22, “The damned in hell would be ready to give the world if they could have the number of their sins to have been one less in this life.”

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Black Conservative Candace Owen Unapologetically Unloads In Congressional Hearing On White Supremacy


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Sunday Late


Forth in your name, O Lord, I go, my daily labor to pursue, you only, Lord, resolved to know in all I think or speak or do.

The task your wisdom has assigned here let me cheerfully fulfill; in all my work your presence find, and prove your good and perfect will.

You may I set at my right hand, whose eyes my inmost secrets view, and labor on at your command and offer all my work to you.

Help me to bear your easy yoke, in ev'ry moment watch and pray, and still to things eternal look and hasten to that glorious day.

Then with delight may I employ all that your bounteous grace has given, and run my earthly course with joy, and closely walk with you in heaven.

 (A Hymn-Prayer by Charles Wesley, the great hymn writer of Methodism and younger brother of John Wesley)

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Sunday, When NFL Success Doesn't Make You Happy

NOW THAT THE LONG FOOTBALL SEASON IS UPON US,  it's fascinating to read how one NFL player came to terms with a gnawing sense of emptiness and despondency in his successful life and career:

BY AUSTIN CARR @ The Gospel Coalition

Early one morning after a win last season, I sat in my chair during my quiet time with God feeling empty and despondent.

It was odd to be feeling this way because the team was rolling, I was getting good on-the-field experience, and the likelihood of a playoff run was climbing. After some prayer, it became clear that I was unhappy with my individual performance.

My role in the previous game had been mostly the blocking that goes unnoticed and scores you few high-fives from teammates on the sidelines. If only I had scored last night—or at least made a big catch—then I’d be happy, I thought to myself.

In my heart, I had dethroned God and put career success in his place. Achievement on the football field had become my functional idol. I couldn’t point to the moment or day that this became true, but my frustrated mood was clear evidence that God needed to do some heavy lifting in my heart to reorient its affections to orbit around Christ again.

Flame of Worship

The pull of idolatry on our hearts is stronger than we’d like to think. The world stokes the flame of worship for all gods except the one true God.

In my younger days, a teammate shared that the name brand Adidas stood for All Day I Dream About Sports. That turned out to be false—Adidas is named for founder Adi Dassler—but I’m convinced the Adidas acronym actually diagnoses the natural bent of every passionate athlete who loves the game he or she plays. This is a tragedy!

In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller defines idolatry: “What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.”

The marketing campaigns in the sports-entertainment industry call me to give more of my heart’s affection and mind’s imagination to sports, sports, and more sports. Whether it’s the 24/7 Watch ESPN app or the Direct TV NFL Sunday Ticket package, I notice a war for my attention and affections. This world disciples—even indoctrinates me—to give my best attention to, place my highest hope in, and lavish my greatest affection on my sport.

Ethic and Excellence

That said, any serious athlete knows that excellence doesn’t come without relentless attention and dedication. Just one look at Kobe Bryant’s journey to historic greatness reveals that a dizzying work ethic likely has as much to do with high achievement as talent.

But often, if we’re honest, an exemplary work ethic can come at the expense of excellent love for Christ. In the pursuit of greatness, our hearts can salivate over the prospect of glory-collecting rather than glory-reflecting. And the alluring possibility of greatness, popularity, riches, or comfort make for fast-and-ready idols waiting to bait our hearts away from the Lord.
Achievement on the football field had become my functional idol.
Let’s be clear: I’m not saying that we ought not go to great lengths to become excellent at our craft. I’m saying that the journey to excellence is rigged with self-constructed booby traps that—when missed, tolerated, or ignored—lead to self-destruction.
This self-destruction upends families, strains friendships, and encourages sinful compromise. These sad outcomes aren’t glamorized on social media, so they rarely serve as effective warnings. Instead, self-destruction begins with but a subtle yet deceptive reorientation of the heart away from God’s glory and goodness.

Main Thing

So, Christian, we must strive to keep the main thing the main thing: Love God above all else. Jesus is clear when he defines the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

It’s tempting to say this command is easier said than done, but when one pauses to consider the beauty of God’s love shown for us in Christ, it’s easier done than said! How could we not give all our love to a God who rightfully could have condemned us, but instead died in our place to give us eternal life with him? To exchange living in his truth for fame or follows reveals how deep our sin runs and how prone we are to wander.
To exchange living in his truth for fame or follows reveals how deep our sin runs and how prone we are to wander.
So what do you do if you find yourself like I did that fall morning, frustrated and wandering? The answer is simple: turn to the beauties of Christ to be drawn back to him. Or as Thomas Chalmers argued almost 200 years ago, the antidote to spiritual sin is spiritual passion.

In his famous sermon “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection,” Chalmers contended that the only way to break the hold of a beautiful object on the soul is to show it an object more beautiful—and the most beautiful thing is the good news of salvation in Christ.
So when you find success in your sport—or even the idea of success in your sport—shining as the object most worthy of your love and affection, reintroduce your heart to the gospel truth of Christ in fresh ways such as fasting from social media, praying through a psalm, and cultivating spiritual disciplines. In time, you will watch your idols shrink away.

Center of the Solar System

Consider comparing your life to our solar system. The order and harmony of everything in it depends on the reliability of the object at its center. In the same way that all the planets would go completely haywire were the sun to be replaced by a star half its size, our lives go haywire when Christ isn’t at the center. The “planets” that fill our lives—finances, relationships, energy, interests—all are in their proper place when orbiting Christ. What or whom is at the center of your life’s solar system?

I’ve found that when my biggest dreams, sincerest intentions, and highest affections are orbiting around Jesus, I’m most filled with joy and most effective as a tool for his kingdom. Oh, how worthy the cost of giving up my idols if my heart is to be absorbed with the goodness of God, singing with the psalmist, “Taste and see that the LORD is good!” (Ps. 34:8)

Then it doesn’t matter whether I’m being thrown touchdown passes on the field or not; my satisfaction in him is guaranteed.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Praise the Lord and His Creation, Full Moon Rising Over Cliffs Above Missouri River Near Rochport

Bikinis and Modesty with Pastor John Piper

Shadows and Streams

Solid Joys: Message of Creation


Psalm 146
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sunday---Albert Mohler: Is Religious Liberty Truly At Risk? A Warning


That question was debated recently in dueling articles published in the Wall Street Journal. David French, senior writer for National Review magazine argued that religious liberty is indeed endangered in America. Marci Hamilton, a former clerk for retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, who now serves as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, makes the counter argument. It was a genuine exchange of ideas, viewpoints, and divergent worldviews—the arguments are very revealing.
David French made his case by tracing back to April 28, 2015, which marked the oral arguments before the Supreme Court regarding Obergefell v. Hodges. The Court’s decision in Obergefell would legalize same-sex marriage across the country. The most ominous and telling moment in those oral arguments came during an exchange between Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr. and Justice Samuel Alito.
French wrote, “Justice Samuel Alito asked President Barack Obama's Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr. whether constitutional recognition for same-sex marriage would lead to stripping federal tax exemptions from religious colleges that oppose gay marriage, in the same way that federal law strips tax exemptions from colleges that oppose interracial marriage or interracial dating. Rather than immediately answering, “no,” the Solicitor General of the United States responded, ‘It’s certainly going to be an issue.’”

Indeed, it will be and has proven to be an issue, and not just for tax exemptions. It will be an issue when it comes to any form of social recognition. The big issue at stake is whether Christian colleges will be able to continue to operate under any semblance of the Christian faith. Moreover, the issues have spread far beyond the college campus—including ministries, adoption and foster care agencies, religious organizations and even hospitals that are now confronted with the realities of diminishing respect for religious liberty.

In reflecting on the oral arguments, French eloquently states: “And just like that, millions of American Christians could easily and quickly imagine a future where the law held their traditional, orthodox religious beliefs—the beliefs of the Catholic Church and every significant evangelical denomination in America—in the same regard as it held the views of vile racists. But Christians who had been paying attention knew of this risk well before Obergefell. Christians who had been paying attention had seen a trend where legal activists at all levels of government had been aggressively expanding their regulatory and ideological attacks on religious liberty.”

The reality is that religious liberty is in peril in the United States and we have known it for a long time. This is one of the reasons why in the 1990s, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act with overwhelming support from both parties and in both houses of Congress. The bill’s vast public support made it noncontroversial. Now, however, one of the most cherished liberties in American history is threatened by increasing secularization and the sexual revolution.

French highlights the chief threat against religious liberty, namely, the administrative state. The vast bureaucracy of government can effectively channel a political agenda set out to malign and reduce religious liberty without any legislative or congressional deliberation. Consider the infamous Obama contraception mandate. The administration forced its moral agenda through the bureaucratic powers of the Department of Health and Human Services. With one executive mandate, the federal government demanded that religious employers violate conscience, demanding that they provide contraceptive health coverage (including some forms which may be abortifacients) in direct violation of their own consciences. This encroachment led a group of nuns known as the Little Sisters of the Poor to file suit in federal court, precisely because of the violation of Christian conscience.

That episode marked a calculated and deliberate attempt by the administrative state to dismantle the liberties and rights secured through religious freedom. President Obama could have accomplished the same policy measure without violating the consciences of Christian ministries or companies managed from Christian principles. The threat of the administrative state, furthermore, extends beyond health-coverage mandate. The same kind of policies have come from the Department of Justice or the Department of Education. Just about every dimension of the vast administrative state presents such dangers.

French argues, “The list could go on, but more disturbing than the individual cases is the deep inversion of America’s constitutional principles that has empowered this legal assault. If governments ultimately prevail in these efforts, the resulting precedents would upend the constitutional order, rendering religious Americans even more vulnerable to future legal attacks, like the threatened loss of tax exemptions for Christian educational institutions.”

French then turns to the Bill of Rights, which enshrines religious liberty as a core American liberty. He rightly argues that U.S. constitutional provision in the Bill of Rights does not merely limit the federal government from establishing a religion, but also guarantees the free exercise of religion.

He then writes, “Every other American law—whether a federal statute, state constitutional provision, state law or university regulation—is subordinate to and subject to review under this Bill of Rights.” That argument has enjoyed a nearly unquestionable status of American constitutional order ever since the Constitution was ratified. This is an important argument to maintain because, as French points out, many opponents to religious liberty dismiss its importance by arguing that religious freedom is merely a pretext for bigotry.

The format of these dueling articles in the Wall Street Journal provides space at the end of each author’s argument for the opposing writer to respond. After French makes his case that religious liberty is besieged, Marci Hamilton responded, stating, “David French says that our constitutional tradition does not give religious believers absolute rights—even as he argues that they should be free, in most instances, from laws that they consider incompatible with their beliefs. But there is only one absolute right in the Constitution, and that is the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to believe anything you want. The government may never prescribe beliefs.”

This is the most revealing paragraph in the entire exchange. Note carefully what Marci Hamilton is doing. She has reduced the constitutional right of religious liberty to a right merely “to believe anything you want.” This is a radically reductionist argument, which undermines the broad and crucial protections guaranteed and respected by the First Amendment. The First Amendment secures more than a mere right to believe, in private, anything you want.

Hamilton’s definition of religious liberty is now divorced from any public action or significance. In her view, the First Amendment only protects your individual, private thoughts. That protection ceases once those thoughts enter the public square.

During the Obama Administration we began to hear references to religious liberty reframed as “freedom of worship.” The freedom to worship is indeed included within the free exercise of religion, but to deliberately use this language is to imply that worship is where the liberty ends. That is not true.

But now, in Marci Hamilton’s argument, we see religious liberty reduced even further. It is as if this new version of religious liberty is restricted to a citizen’s cranium – merely a right to believe.

In Hamilton’s own article, she refers to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 negatively, stating that “it didn’t ‘restore’ First Amendment law; it created a new version of extreme religious liberty on demand.” This is astounding. Hamilton construes the Religious Freedom Restoration Act [RFRA] as legislating an “extreme” new understanding of religious freedom. It did no such thing. Interestingly, the President who quite publicly signed the law was Bill Clinton, a Democrat. Moreover, many of the most liberal members of the Democratic Party not only voted for the bill but were co-sponsors of this supposedly “extreme” bill for religious freedom.

What changed in the last 25 years? The culture changed. The culture that once honored religious liberty and respected it as a bedrock freedom for civil society—that culture is no more. Religious liberty now attracts the glare of the cultural left who see religious liberty as an obstacle in the path of their social transformation. They view this freedom as a socially-constructed institution of bigotry from which we must liberate ourselves. Moreover, the rise of the LGBTQ movement now pits religious liberty against the newly constructed sexual liberty—these are two, incompatible freedoms that necessarily collide. The sexual revolution believes it’s time for religious freedom to give way to its higher, newer, morally coercive “rights.”

Hamilton, after lamenting the present state of religious liberty proponents, states, “The good news is that the next generation rejects this extreme idea of religious liberty. Younger Americans are not so sanguine about organized religion. According to the Pew Research Center, the fastest-growing religious cohort among Americans is the “nones,” who either don’t believe at all or believe in God but reject organized religion.” Hamilton openly celebrates the decline of religion, not just religious liberty. This development is apparently, “good news.”

Note carefully that Hamilton presents the decline of religious faith as “good news.”
This project in the Wall Street Journal was a genuine exchange of ideas. It featured two major essays presenting two contrary arguments, and those who made the arguments had the opportunity to respond to one another. It was calm, it was respectful, it was substantial. substantial. It’s a tribute to the Wall Street Journal that it actually published this exchange.

Nevertheless, the debate comes as an ominous warning. Just consider Marci Hamilton’s arguments, especially her assertion that freedom of religion essentially only guarantees the freedom of privately held, privately expressed belief. In this rendering, religion has no respected place in the public square. Your cranium is the only viable real estate for religious expression.

Writing a letter to the Wall Street Journal in response to Marci Hamilton's article, Don Meindertsma, writing from Annandale, Virginia got it just right when he stated: “Ms. Hamilton opines that the only absolute right guaranteed by the First Amendment is the right to believe anything you want. We hardly need a constitution for that. I can sit in my house and believe whatever I want, whenever I want despite any law (or woke bureaucrat) that instructs otherwise. Rather, the First Amendment's protection of the exercise of religion is what envelops us when we leave the home to carry out our calling.” He then concluded, “That right might not be absolute, but it is literally the top of the list in the Bill of Rights and should easily trump so-called fundamental rights that the constitution doesn't even mention.”

This debate carried out on the pages of the Wall Street Journal has massive implications for American public life, especially against the backdrop of the 2020 Presidential Election. Indeed, the Democratic contenders for the nomination need to be confronted with the real questions raised in these dueling articles. The candidates need to be asked if they, as President, would use executive authority through federal departments to force a secular orthodoxy on religious groups, organizations, and businesses. The candidates need to be asked if they will protect the rights of Christian colleges to educate their students and hire their faculty in accordance with the tenets of faith, without being threatened by the state.

I dare someone to ask the Democratic candidates those questions. All the evidence surfacing in this Democratic Primary campaign indicates that none of the major candidates would do anything to upset the new sexual orthodoxy. Furthermore, there is every reason to believe that if one of these candidates were elected, the administrative state would reengage and expand its campaign to dismantle religious liberty, with even greater hostility and ferocity.

One way or another, all the candidates must answer this vital question: will you or will you not uphold the most precious liberty of our national order?

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Sunday, What Sudden Disasters---Natural and Manmade---Preach and Teach Us

After two mass shootings Saturday,  this seems like a very timely message and warning:


MY SECOND SUNDAY as a full-time pastor came five days after the worst tornado outbreak in American history afflicted our city and its surrounding region. I preached from Job 1–2, and we put the sermon title on our marquee: “Where Was God?” Attendance that Sunday doubled and a couple of media members, intrigued by the existential question on our sign, interviewed me.

Natural disasters and tragedies, particularly those that fall on us like a lightning bolt, provoke thoughts in all kinds of people—both the religious and the irreligious—of death, eternal realities, and deity.

Many of us remember the aftermath of 9/11. There was a large ecumenical prayer service held at Yankee Stadium a few days in its wake as a shadow of fear blanketed our country. Similarly, the assassination of national leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy spawned myriad solemn gatherings for prayer and reflection on ultimate realities.

In Luke 13:1–7, Jesus faced a crowd of people who sought the meaning of two tragic events—one an atrocity that brings to mind some of the unspeakably evil activities of Nazi Germany, another that summons the gut-wrenching images of crumbling towers that September morning in 2001.

In the first event, Pilate displayed his brutality by murdering Galileans in the midst of worship and then mingling their blood with the sacrifices—a cruel, blasphemous act. The crowd’s tacit question for Jesus was: What did they do to deserve such a fate? Jesus knew as much, asking them: “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered in this way?”

In the second event, a tower in Siloam—an area in south Jerusalem near the pool of Siloam—toppled to the ground, killing 18, likely injuring more. The tacit question was the same: Did those victims somehow deserve their fate? Were they especially heinous sinners? As Jesus put it: “Do you think they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?”

Repent or Perish

Jesus responded to both situations with the same pointed, sobering answer: “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” In other words, the Galileans were murdered at the altar, in what they no doubt viewed as a holy place, but they had no time to repent. Similarly, those on whom the tower fell were taken out of this world in the blink of an eye without warning, with no time to repent.
Jesus’s warning may come off as terse, even slightly harsh, but it is a word of grace: Turn to the Lord while there is still time. The point is simple, but we miss it to our peril.

Here are four additional applications we can draw from Christ’s brief encounter with this crowd.

1. ‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’ is not the right question.

“Why do good things happen to bad people?” is perhaps the better question. Jesus didn’t deny the connection between catastrophic events and human wickedness, and it’s true that such events occur because of humanity’s fall into sin. Nevertheless, Jesus was clear: “Unless you repent, you shall surely die.”

Every human born in Adam’s wake, except Jesus, is a rebel against his or her Maker. That God heaps mercy on undeserving sinners like us, then, should mystify us every bit as much—if not more—than why bad things happen to “good” people. We are all heinous sinners. We all need grace.

2. Today is the day for repentance.

We never know what a given day will bring. No one’s guaranteed time to prepare for death. Those on whom the tower of Siloam fell were presumably going about their business when tragedy suddenly struck. Workers in the Twin Towers of Manhattan, as well as the fire and rescue workers, expected a normal day at the office. But the Preacher of Ecclesiastes puts it like this:

Time and chance happen to them all. Man knows not his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them. (Eccles. 9:11–12

On the highway of life, death lurks like an evil shadow around the next bend, hidden from view. It’s true for the Christian as well as the atheist. Is today your day?

3. We must speak only where God has spoken.

Attempting to read providence is unwise and dangerous. As we tend to do, the crowd Jesus addressed apparently made a judgment as to why Pilate committed his atrocities and why the tower fell. In the aftermath of 9/11, some presumed to speak on God’s behalf, assuring listeners the terrorist attacks were divine retribution for national sins including abortion and homosexuality. Might that have been true? That’s up to God. We simply don’t know, for God never told us. And what would be our condition if each of us got what our sins deserved? Had Christ not shouldered my debt, I would be in hell.

In his provocative book God’s Judgments: Interpreting History and the Christian Faith, Steven J. Keillor argues that temporal events may indeed be acts of divine judgment for public sin. God hasn’t been pleased to tell us, however, the particular tragedies that result from particular national transgressions. Christians usually wind up looking foolish when they predict specific dates for Jesus’s return, as well as when they try to read providence. Jesus’s words in Luke 13 demonstrate the folly of the latter.

4. Natural disasters are powerful preachers.

On August 31, 1886, the most powerful earthquake to ever hit the East Coast pummeled Charleston, South Carolina, killing 150 and reducing to rubble nearly 90 percent of the historic city’s masonry buildings. More than two-thirds of the city’s 40,000 inhabitants were homeless. Baptist pastor-journalist H. H. Tucker told readers of the Christian Index newspaper that the earthquake was a preacher sent by God to, consistent with Jesus’s words here in Luke 13, rouse a spiritually drowsy culture. He said the awful event preached several doctrines, including the sovereignty of God, the moral responsibility and guilt of man, the uncertainty of life, the value of prayer, and the necessity of repentance. Tucker wrote:

When the continent trembled, millions of people thought of God. A large proportion of these were of that class in all whose thoughts, from day to day, God is not. Millions of people were impressed with a sense of human helplessness and insignificance. . . . In the heyday of prosperity, men invent arguments to disprove [the existence of God], but when appalling danger comes suddenly upon them they forget the arguments and remember [God], showing that deep in the human heart there is an intuition which acknowledges God, and recognizes our proper relations to him.

Jesus took the opportunity to use a human atrocity and a natural disaster to preach both the danger of life in a fallen world and also the need to repent. We should soberly and humbly look for opportunities to do the same. God does not owe us tomorrow.

Time Is Short

Above all, Jesus’s brief warning in Luke 13 ought to remind us that we bear a message the entire world desperately needs. Until Jesus returns in glory, natural disasters will occur. There will be a tornado outbreak worse than the one I lived through. There will be atrocities, because there will always be despotic leaders. Towers will crumble at the hands of terrorists.

And because man knows not his time, it is fitting in every season and on every occasion for Christians to gently lead unbelievers from “Why me?” to “Why not me?”—and to lovingly channel Jesus’s words: “Unless you repent, you too will perish.”

Monday, July 29, 2019

Monday---Waking Up In Old, Real Wyoming At the Home of Great Friends


We've shared so many, many adventures over the decades and recalling only a small portion of them over a late night glass of wine Sunday was too much fun.   I am grateful to be here in a place that is a part of my deepest DNA forever.  How blessed I am!

Now for KJV of Psalm 121:

I  will lift up my eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that kept thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that kept Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Looking At Satan's Deceitful Promises of Sin

By  Marshall Segal @ Desiring God

NOTHING WILL HELP US FIGHT TEMPTATION like intimacy with the promises of God. To overcome the seductive force of sin’s deceit, we need to know the sweeter, stronger, and surer voice of our Father in heaven. One way he trains his children to escape the entanglement of sin, however, is to study the awful and intoxicating voice of our enemy. He wants us to know our enemy’s schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11), and recognize temptation wherever we find it
When the sage of Proverbs imparts wisdom to his son, he begins with a warning: “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent” (Proverbs 1:10). One mark of godly maturity and wisdom is a heightened awareness of, and vigilance against, temptation. But how will the boy know when he’s being enticed?
“Satan seeds the disturbing idea that we deserve so much more than we have.”
What would you say to your own son? How would you prepare him to recognize and reject temptation when it inevitably comes? Sin preys with subtlety and ambiguity, even when the sin itself is not subtle or ambiguous. The wise father wants his vulnerable son to be able to discern enticement in all its disguises, so he goes on to rehearse several of the promises of sin:
If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
     let us ambush the innocent without reason;
like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
     and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
we shall find all precious goods,
     we shall fill our houses with plunder;
throw in your lot among us;
     we will all have one purse . . .” (Proverbs 1:11–14)
Do you hear the enticement — the seductive power of this kind of corruption? Do you recognize the deception — how each honeyed promise hangs on some lie? Ask yourself what makes these evils appealing to the human heart, to a heart like yours. God, in his word, teaches us to meditate on the promises of sin, so that we are not fooled, allured, and destroyed by them.

“You are the lord of your life.”

The first temptation may be the hardest for many of us to relate to: “Let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit” (Proverbs 1:11–12). Who secretly wants to ambush and murder anyone, much less the innocent? How would such a violent and vile thought ever entice someone?

When King David writes about the wicked, he provides a key for understanding this kind of temptation:
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
     all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” . . .
He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
     throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.” . . .
He sits in ambush in the villages;
     in hiding places he murders the innocent. (Psalm 10:4, 6, 8).
Pride has the power to make even murder intoxicating. Only a heart who says, “There is no God,” can plot, and hide, and wait to harm the harmless. Do you hear the exhilaration in his monstrous voice? “I shall not be moved.” I can kill an innocent person for no reason, and still not be punished. Nothing will happen to me. There is no God — no god but me. The height of wickedness is believing God will not have his vengeance against our sin, that he will not judge our every thought, word, and action with perfect justice.

As I began to see how violent pride can be, I thought of a mystifying headline I read about a horrible viral video of a gang attacking an innocent, unsuspecting stranger. Why would anyone ever do that? I thought. “There is no God. . . . I shall not be moved.” The wicked relish doing the worst they can imagine to prove no one can punish them. They even recorded the crime, and then posted it for all to see, including the police. Pride desperately tries to prove itself.
“The height of wickedness is believing God will not have his vengeance against our sin.”
Worse, even still, we are all grossly acquainted with the murder of innocents in our day, at least in America — millions of innocents. Abortion persists because of the prideful illusion of anonymity. Planned Parenthood (and others) survives on this gospel: No one will know, and there are no consequences. “You are the god of your body” — not the God who composed the masterpiece playing in your womb (Psalm 139:13). Pro-choice preachers may not recite the words of Proverbs 1:11–12, but the merciless insanity is written across every pretty pink ad and billboard: “There is no God.”

But there is a God. He sees every speck of our evil, and we will all meet him. On that day, he will call every ounce of wickedness to account until he finds none (Psalm 10:15). Solomon highlights the irony in the wickeds’ cruelty: “These men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives” (Proverbs 1:18). When sinners lure us, saying, “You are the only lord of your life,” they are enticing us into an ambush of our own making. Our pride whispers us toward self-destruction.

Do you see this impulse in your own heart — to pretend that God does not see your secret sins, or that he will not really do anything about them? How quickly have we murdered in our hearts (Matthew 5:21–22), telling ourselves that no one knows the anger we’ve nurtured? How often have we draped the flag of grace over our shoulders while we plunged back into lust, or greed, or selfishness, assuming God must forgive us? If God must forgive us no matter what we do, then we believe we are god. Perhaps the horror in this temptation is not so foreign after all.

When Satan whispers otherwise, remember that God will account for each and every sin we have committed, either in the blood of his precious Son or in unrelenting waves of wrath. He will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7), and the cross will not be prostituted. If God has forgiven our pride, it will and must die.

“I can give you more than God.”

Having fueled and inflamed our pride, temptation turns in the next verse to our desires, where greed and covetousness often disguise themselves. “We shall find all precious goods,” the wicked say, “we shall fill our houses with plunder” (Proverbs 1:13). The allure here is more obvious: We can satisfy all your secret desires for more. The chorus is as old as it is familiar. As Satan slid up to Eve in the garden, he held out the precious good God had forbidden: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1).

This is one of sin’s favorite promises: I can give you more than God. How many of our besetting sins are rooted in the twin beliefs that we’re entitled to more than God has given, and that God alone cannot satisfy our souls? Satan seeds the disturbing idea that we deserve so much more than we have. That God will hold back his best from us. That holiness and purity are safe paths to boredom and regret. Our flesh desperately chases that sinful fantasy, but we will lose everything in our search for more than God.

The wise man warns later in Proverbs 1, “Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors” (Proverbs 1:19). Greed steals even more than it promises. Instead of satisfying the restless hunger in our hearts, it cuts off all the oxygen. Just like pride, when the wicked give in to greed, they set a deadly trap for themselves:
The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:10)
While they lie in bed, with their eyes closed, imagining themselves indulging in the next comfort or luxury, they stab themselves over and over and over again.
“God teaches us to meditate on the promises of sin, so that we are not fooled, allured, and destroyed by them.”
As I write, another billionaire is in the news for this wicked, insatiable search for more. Unsatisfied with enormous success, wealth, and fame, he preyed on dozens of young girls. And when the United States Attorney agreed to a horrifically soft plea deal in 2008 (the attorney has since been forced to resign over the case), the billionaire thought he had gotten away with his evil — “There is no God. I shall not be moved.” He did not stop plundering the innocent then, and so he’s back in court for charges of sex trafficking. Enticed by sin, there was no price too high — even his soul. The only consolation is knowing that God, unlike human justice systems, can and will punish every evil committed. The billionaire will realize then that the price for abusing those girls — for ignoring God to steal sinful gain — was far higher than he ever imagined.

The secret to discontentment — in plenty or in hunger, with billions of dollars or without — is to place our hope and joy in something or someone other than God. To believe that precious good lies anywhere outside the beauty of God’s commands. For followers of Christ, death, not sin, is gain (Philippians 1:21). Because in his presence is fullness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures — real, intense, unrivaled pleasures — forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

“You never have to feel left out or alone.”

One of the easiest phrases to overlook in the father’s warning is also one of the most revealing. “If they say, ‘Come with us . . .’” (Proverbs 1:11). Loneliness quietly terrifies many of us. And the plague is spreading in America, not only among Baby Boomers, but across younger generations too. Satan spreads the plague in a thousand ways, separating the weak from the rest of the pack, and then feasting on our fear and self-pity.

The wolves in Proverbs 1 circle back to this vulnerability in us: “Throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse” (Proverbs 1:14). The lie should be so obvious — why would we entrust ourselves to the ones murdering the innocent to satisfy themselves? — and yet the promise is undeniably enticing: You never have to feel left out or alone again.
It’s not simply the appeal of community, but of community without judgment or boundaries. We can hear them whispering, “We won’t judge or reject you. We won’t confront you over sin; we’ll sin with you!” Their “friendship” makes sin feel so safe (we’re hidden and protected by one another), satisfying (everyone else is doing it and loving it), and even sentimental (we’re enjoying this together). Sin’s promises weave a stronger and stronger fabric of lies that become harder and harder to discern.

We need not avoid our fear of loneliness, because God told us we were not made to be alone (Genesis 2:18). In fact, to the degree we try to deny our need for others, the words become even more enticing: “Come with us.” No, we need to know our need well, and recognize the counterfeit community sin offers — the kind that falls apart when trials come.
Sin’s promises weave a stronger and stronger fabric of lies that become harder and harder to discern
Everyone who follows Christ will feel left out and alone at times in this life. If others shared the gospel with you and failed to ever mention that, they did not prepare you well to walk with Jesus. Jesus says, “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22). We will not only be ignored, neglected, and left out; we will be hated — not by some, but by all. Again, he says, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). Being chosen by God means being rejected by man. Even Jesus’s promises remind us we will feel snubbed and shunned: “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!” (Luke 6:22).

So, we should expect to feel left out and alone — even by our families (Mark 10:29). But not ultimately alone. Jesus also says, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Even when we feel the most alone, we are not alone if we are in Christ. And along with him, we are adopted into a deeper, wider, and forever family. Christ says, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).

Expose the Promises of Sin

As part of your war against sin, meditate on its false promises. Don’t live there, but don’t let them catch you by surprise, either. We can confront the enticing lies head-on, without insecurity or trepidation, because we have far better promises — and because we have a Savior who has already fought and won the war against temptation.
 When sin says to our starving desires, “I can give you more than God,” we can say with Christ, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4). When sin says to our lonely hearts, “I will keep you safe, and you never have to feel left out or alone,” we can say with Christ, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Matthew 4:7). When sin says to our pride, “You are the lord of your life,” we can say with Christ, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve’” (Matthew 4:10).

Having memorized the promises of sin, we conquer them with the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), which is the word of our God.