The Minority Report

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Romans 2:21-23[Y]ou, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?  (NIV 1984)

My Musings – This one’s going to sting a bit.  The following quote was recently posted to my FaceBook page. “A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good just because it’s accepted by a majority.”  I like the quote.  I agree with the quote.  I believe the quote is very descriptive of what we see happening in these “last days.”  So, I shared it.  But need to be aware of a couple potential problems.

Problem #1 – While we certainly should not condone or excuse calling a lie truth (or truth a lie), wrong right (or right wrong) or evil good (or good evil), perhaps we should not be too eager to condemn a society that does?  After all, weren’t we part of that majority at some point in time?  They are now, like we once were, already condemned.  What they need now, like we once did, is redemption.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save [redeem] the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”  (John 3:17–21, NIV 1984)

We cannot expect those living in darkness to recognize the light for what it is, if we use it as a weapon to maliciously expose them and not as a tool to sincerely help them see plainly.  We do not want people to be blinded by the light.  We want them to be able to see through the darkness because of the light.  And there is no middle ground here.  We must not dampen the light in an attempt make truth, right and good less “offensive” and more “user-friendly.”  A watered-down Gospel is no gospel at all.

Problem #2 – Just like God did not send His Son to condemn, but to save, Jesus sends us to be wielders of the light in an increasingly dark world.  But we cannot expect those living in darkness to see the light as a good thing if it also reveals our hypocrisy. “You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?”    We cannot excuse our own faults by viewing the faults of others as more egregious than ours.  Jesus was not scourged less for our sins than theirs.  His cross was not made heavier because of their sins than it was for ours.  His death was not more necessary for their sins than it was for ours.  Their was no sin so great that Jesus did not die for it and no sin so small that He did not have to die for it.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:14–16, NIV 1984).

We cannot expect those living in darkness to see the light as a good thing if rather than illuminating our good deeds, it spotlights our hypocrisy.

Now here is where it really stings.  Are we Christians, in our hypocrisy, just as guilty of calling a lie truth, wrong right and evil good, when we excuse our “minor” sins while excoriating  the “major” sins of the lost?

My AdviceAlways be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  (1 Peter 3:15–16, NIV 1984)

Proclaim the truthBut do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.  

Stand up for what is rightBut do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.

Expose evilBut do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.

Remember, the lost do not need our condemnation, because they already stand condemned.  They need our light to guide them out of darkness (the lies they believe to be truth, the wrong they believe to be right, the evil they believe to be good), to where they can see clearly enough to believe the “minority report.”  Do not compromise your credibility as a wielder of what is true, right and good, by living like the majority.  Keep a clear conscience.

When all is said and done, the majority may continue to “hate the light” and speak “maliciously” about our witness.  We should not expect to be treated any differently than the Master.  Let’s just make sure that the malicious talk is indeed “slander.”  In so doing, we just may help rescue some.

Now for what really, really stings. This advice, like most of the advice I give, is just as much for me as it is for others.

 

Mirror Images

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2 Timothy 1:2-6, 13To Joel, my dear son. I thank God as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandparents and in your mother and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  (NIV 1978, A personalized paraphrase)

My Musings – Most of my musings over the past couple of years have come from a book of daily devotions that I wrote for my son when he graduated from college.  He had spent the better part of his life getting “educated,” and I guess I wanted one last shot at offering my advice before he launched off on his own, putting his education to work.  The above “personalized” verses from 2 Timothy was my last entry in the book, and my last musing from that book.

Originally entitled “A Father’s Devotions,” I have for some time now been referring to them as “A Dad’s Devotions.”  I also added a subtitle, “Reflections from God’s Word.”  Why the “subtle” change?  I think the following sums up my thoughts.

Dad & Father – “The main difference between a father and a dad is that father is biological; however, a dad’s relationship is emotional. Fathering is an act of nature, while, being a dad is all about nurture. It is much easier to become a father, many even do it unintentionally; however, it is much harder to commit to becoming a dad.(http://www.differencebetween.info)

I am Joel’s father. I grew at being Joel’s dad, or at least I like to think so.  Nature and nurture.

Devotions – 1) Love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person [as in a dad for his son], activity, or cause.  2) An act of prayer or private worship.

I loved the dual-meaning of the word and how it played into my writings to him.

Reflections – 1) A thought, idea, opinion formed, or a remark made as a result of meditation. 2) An effect produced by an influence [as in a dad on his son]. 3) The production of an image by or as if by a mirror.

I wanted to provide Joel with some thoughts, ideas and opinions to meditate upon, while in the process doing my best to be a positive influence.  Not to make him a mirror-image of me, but to allow him to grow in likeness to his Savior.

Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. Listen to your father, who gave you life [your dad who gave you nurturing]. (Proverbs 23:19, 22, NIV 1978)

My AdviceJoel believed my musings were worth sharing on my blog.  I hope you have liked and been inspired by a few.  Inspired to grow closer in relationship with our Abba (an Aramaic term for father suggesting familial intimacy – dad?) Father, by becoming more like His Son Jesus Christ, through the enabling of the Holy Spirit.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV 1978).

How are you doing?  Are reflections in mirror as close as they appear?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too Seldom Is Heard, An Encouraging Word

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Isaiah 41:13For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – How many lives have been made by timely words of encouragement or derailed by lack of encouragement or harsh criticism?  “Words of encouragement fan the spark of genius into the flame of achievement. Legend tells us that Lincoln’s dying mother called her small son to her bedside and whispered, ‘Be somebody, Abe!'” (Wilfred A Peterson)

My Advice – Be somebody! Not just for fame or fortune, but for making your life count for eternity. You have done well thus far. We are proud of your accomplishments. Stay the course.

Choose Wisely

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Romans 12:2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  (NIV 1984)

My Musings –  Attitude is a choice. Too often we choose “the pattern of this world,” which is a bad attitude.  This can cloud our judgment, making it difficult “to test and approve what God’s will is.”  We need to renew our minds (attitude) and be transformed.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace that day. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.” (Chuck Swindoll)

My Advice – Keep renewing your mind and be more consistent in maintaining a positive attitude, despite obstacles, adversities and disappointments. It very well could make the difference between success and failure.  How?  “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV 1984).  You’ll be surprised about what this can do for one’s attitude.

 

Success Born Out of Defeat

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1 Corinthians 15:58Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – Thomas Edison had a lot more failures than he had successes. But we remember him for his successes. We would not remember him at all if he had allowed his failures to stop him from trying again.

“I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed. And the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep on trying.” (Tom Hopkins, Author, motivational speaker and sales coach)

My AdviceStand firm.  Failure will only be defeated if you learn from it and try again. And again, if necessary.

Overcoming the World

1 John 5:1-5Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.(NIV 1984)

My Musings – In life situations, sometimes having made the trip is more rewarding and satisfying than arriving at the destination.  But when you make the trip with Christ, arriving at the destination will be the ultimate in reward and satisfaction.

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles one has overcome while trying to succeed. (Booker T. Washington)

My Advice – Don’t let obstacles stop you. They may slow you down as you learn how to overcome them, but do not let them overcome you.  Overcome them.  But do not just overcome the obstacles, overcome the world.   “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

Press On!

Philippians 3:10–16I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.   All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – Sometimes, maybe most of the time, it is all we can do to just “live up to what we have already attained.” Or is it?  Maybe we just need to want it a little more?  Paul wanted it, but he also recognized that he had not yet obtained it.  Think about all that he endured for the sake of the Gospel.

Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? (2 Corinthians 11:23–29, NIV 1984)

If anyone had a excuse to throw up his hands in defeat and say “no more,” it was him. And yet he pressed on.  He persisted in his pursuit to be more like Christ.  He did not do it alone.  He did it by yielding to the Spirit that lived in him, not by yielding to the spirit of this world.  That spirit that might have said things like:  Haven’t you done enough?  Let someone else do it for a change.  Why beat yourself up?  No one really appreciates what you have gone through, so why risk going through more?  Paul recognized how much His Savior had done for him that he persisted in his pursuit of holiness.

President Calvin Coolidge was one of the “accidental” presidents.  As Vice President he succeeded Warren G. Harding, who died in office.  He was nick-named “silent Cal,” because he rarely said more than was necessary under the circumstances.  It is reported that once at a social event a lady informed him that she had made a wager that she could get more than two words out of him.  His reply was, “you lose.”  Yet his quote on persistence still resonates today, we could use a bit more of it.  “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Although I believe he misrepresented the word omnipotent, I think you get the point.  Paul got it long before silent Cal did.  And so should we.

My Advice – Is Paul’s advice.   “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”  So press on.