7 Don’ts For Social Media

Facebook. YouTube. Instagram. Twitter. TikTok. Snapchat. Pinterest. Twenty years ago, who could have dreamed that these names would become as much a part of the younger generation’s world as Woolworth’s, Sears, Texaco, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Pan Am, Kodak, and Polaroid were to the older generation’s? For people like me who grew up in the late 60s, 70s, and early 80s, we’re still wondering what happened to Tab colas, Magnavox vcrs, Blockbuster video stores, and Jordache jeans. But that’s a whole other story.

Yes, our brave new world is one built upon social media as keyboard warriors can be found in every nook and cranny of the internet. They are out there right now posting pictures, creating videos, espousing their opinions, commenting on the opinions of others, tweeting, retweeting, and seeking “friends,” “likes,” and “shares.” According to digitalmarketing.org, almost 4 billion people — that’s one half of the world’s population — use social media, and users spend an average of 144 minutes per day on social media sites. While it’s understood that the numbers vary not only with age levels but also with different parts of the world, an individual average of almost two and a half hours per day spent on social media sites is nothing to ignore. We’re talking about a worldwide phenomenon here.

Like everything else in life, Christians don’t get a free pass in regards to behavior when it comes to social media. The apostle Paul’s God-inspired words to the Christians of his day still hold sway over our day, and he couldn’t have been any clearer on the issue. In Colossians 3:17, he writes: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…” (N.K.J.V.). Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 10:31, he writes: “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (N.K.J.V.).

So, Christian, can you spend time on Facebook in the name of the Lord Jesus? Can you post your pictures on Instagram or your videos on You Tube to the glory of God? Can you do your “likes,” “dislikes,” and comments in the name of the Lord Jesus? Can you share your links to the glory of God? These are questions you need to ask yourself every time you pick up your smart phone or sit down at your computer.

It is with this in mind that I’d like to offer a simple checklist list of seven things that you should be on guard against anytime you enter the realm of social media. This list certainly isn’t exhaustive, and its items aren’t even in any particular order, but I trust it will at least get you to thinking seriously about how to apply your Christianity to social media. Ready? Here we go.

#1: Don’t make your social media life more important than your real life. If you frequently catch yourself thinking in the middle of a great day, “I have to get a picture or a video of this because my followers will love it,” you might have a problem. Also, if the person you portray yourself to be on social media bears very little resemblance to who you really are, you might as well be playing a leading role in a fictional Hollywood movie.

#2: Don’t base your self worth upon how many followers you have or how many likes you get. When your feelings get hurt by the fact that other people have more followers than you do, that indicates that you are basing your self worth upon the wrong criteria. Likewise, thinking less of yourself because your new post didn’t create much buzz or response should be a warning alarm that you’ve lost perspective. Remember, Christian, you are a child of God! And nothing that ever happens on social media can change that.

#3: Don’t seek the world’s approval. This one plays off the previous one. The temptation each Christian faces in regards to social media is: “How much like the world am I willing to become to win the internet?” In case you haven’t heard, God’s standards rarely align with the world’s standards, and that means that taking a stand with Him and His written word (the Bible) can create some backlash for you in regards to dislikes and comments. Some people will even unfollow you. But it’s always God’s approval that you should be seeking, not the world’s.

#4: Don’t spend time on social media that you should be spending doing other things. Jesus wants to be the Lord of our time, and He has a list of things that He wants each of us to get done each day. Can this list include spending a couple of hours on social media? Perhaps. I hope we all understand, though, that time spent on social media should never take the place of time spent doing all the other things that Jesus wants us do.

#5: Don’t feel like you have to vent your feelings about every single thing you read or watch on social media. One of the benefits of social media is that it gives every individual a voice. But you, as a Christian, will use your voice the most effectively by being selective as to when you use it. If you start coming off as the world’s leading authority on everything, people will resent you for it and tune you out completely. That’s why you must pick your spots wisely when you have something to say.

#6: Don’t showcase your lewd or crude behavior. It is amazing how some Christians who wouldn’t dream of coming to church scantily clad think nothing of posting pictures of themselves on social media wearing next to nothing. Equally as amazing are the number of Christians who take to social media to show off their partying and carousing. At best, such posts destroy any credibility these professing Christians merit to be God’s voice to a lost world. At worst, they even cast doubt as to the reality of these peoples’ salvation.

#7. Don’t gossip. The Bible verses that condemn gossip are numerous. One example is Proverbs 26:20, which says: “Without wood a fire goes out, without a gossip a quarrel dies down” (N.I.V.). Gossiping has long been a problem, even among Christians, but the platforms of social media now allow tidbits of gossip to run faster and farther than ever before. Therefore, Christian, you must exercise great self control to ensure that you don’t add to the problem.

Posted in Current Events, Discernment, Entertainment, Individuality, Personal Holiness, Priorities | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Sin in the Multitude of Words

In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise. (Proverbs 10:19, N.K.J.V.)

I read about a cheapskate woman who walked into the office of her local newspaper to make sure that her recently deceased husband’s obituary was written to her specifications. After being escorted to the desk of the fellow in charge of the obituaries, she told him, “The only thing I want the obituary to say is: ‘Bob died.'” The man chuckled and said, “Sorry, ma’am, but there is a 7-word minimum on all obituaries.” “Well then,” said the woman, “let it read: ‘Bob died. His truck is for sale.'”

If I understand our text verse correctly, it means this: the more we talk, the higher chance we have of crossing the line into sin. It’s our inborn nature of sin that creates this problem. As Romans 3:13-14 says of our sinful condition: “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” (N.I.V.).

One of the things I like about Twitter is that it only gives you a limited amount of space in which to make your point. If you want to keep from spilling over into a whole other tweet, you must choose your words carefully and economically. That’s why my guess is that if Proverbs 10:19 is any indication, Solomon would approve of Twitter. But it’s along about here that we should ask the question: Does Proverbs 10:19 forbid all lengthy blog posts, long-winded sermons, etc.? My answer is, “No.”

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount wasn’t exactly brief, was it? The sermon Paul preached in Troas wasn’t either (Acts 20:7-12). That’s the one where Paul preached until midnight and caused a young man named Eutychus to fall into a deep sleep and plunge to his death out of a third-story window. Miraculously, Paul ran down to the street and resurrected him, but none of that would ever have happened if Paul had taken Solomon’s Proverbs 10:19 words to a fanatical extreme. Therefore, I think the best way to apply Proverbs 10:19 is to treat it as a general principle rather than an ironclad command. (I will admit, though, that I do believe the verse applies in more situations than we apply it.)

With that said, I’m starting to get the feeling that I myself should wind up this particular post. Wouldn’t it be awful to build a post around Proverbs 10:19 only to have that post drag on too long? So, even though there are some more things that I could say on this subject, I’m going to leave them for another time. Hopefully, that will spare some Eutychus out there a deep sleep and a long fall. You see, those of us who can’t raise people from the dead really should apply Proverbs 10:19 every chance we get.

Posted in Communication, God's Work, Ministry, Preaching, Service, The Tongue, Witnessing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Beware of the Dead Snake

Forty-year-old Jeremy Sutcliffe of Corpus Christi, Texas, made national news a couple of years ago when he almost died from a rattlesnake bite. Even more than being featured on the news, the story also received mention on the channels Animal Planet and Discovery. What was so newsworthy about Sutcliffe’s story? It was the fact that the bite that almost took his life came from a snake whose head Sutcliffe had severed ten minutes earlier!

Jeremy’s wife, Jennifer, was pulling some weeds from her flower garden when she came across a four-foot long Western Diamondback rattler. She screamed for Jeremy’s help, and he raced over and killed the snake by using a shovel to decapitate it. Ten minutes later, when he bent down to pick up the snake’s body to dispose of it, the severed head suddenly sunk its fangs into two of the fingers on his right hand.

Jennifer, who works as a nurse, called 911 and loaded Jeremy into the car to find a hospital that had rattlesnake antivenom on hand. But she only made it about two miles down the road before he started losing consciousness and having mini-seizures. At that point she decided to pull the car to the side of the road and wait for help to arrive. Fortunately, the ambulance arrived quickly and rushed Jeremy to a helicopter. He was then flown to Christus Spohn Shoreline hospital where he went into septic shock and was placed into a medically induced coma.

The next several hours were touch and go as Jeremy was given multiple doses of antivenom, pumped full of fluids, and placed on a ventilator. His blood pressure bottomed out repeatedly and at one point his organs began to fail. Three separate times the doctors told Jennifer that they didn’t think they could save him. The next day, however, his condition finally stabilized. All told, Jeremy received 26 doses of antivenom, which was a staggering amount considering that most snake bites require no more than four. Again, all this happened because of the severed head from a snake!

Experts say that the decapitated head from a snake retains the ability to reflexively strike and inject venom for at least a full hour. Jeremy Sutcliffe found that out the hard way, and unfortunately for him his story doesn’t have a completely fairy-tale ending. While his doctors were able to use dialysis to restore his kidneys to full function, all efforts to save the poisoned fingers on his right hand proved futile and he lost both of them. Additionally, he stills suffers from extensive nerve damage as a result of the antivenom and has a megacolon in his stomach.

As for the spiritual application to Jeremy Sutcliffe’s story, it isn’t hard to identify. Despite the fact that Jesus has rendered a lethal blow to Satan, whom Revelation 12:9 calls “the serpent of old,” Satan still retains the ability to strike us and harm us with his poison. Did Christ’s life, death, and resurrection bruise Satan’s head in fulfillment of the Genesis 3:15 prophecy? Absolutely. But numerous post-resurrection passages from the New Testament plainly teach that Satan and his army of fellow fallen angels are still dangerous foes of whom we should be wise, be warned, and beware. One day, thankfully, Jesus will dispose of Satan and all his demons permanently by imprisoning them in that eternal lake of fire called “Gehenna” in the Greek language (Matthew 25:41). Until then, though, we must remain vigilantly careful to keep ourselves a safe distance from Satan’s venom. Remember, even though he is a defeated foe, he can still bite you!

Posted in Demons, Discernment, Personal Holiness, Prophecy, Repentance, Satan, Spiritual Warfare, Temptation, The Devil | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Cursed Crown

Crowns have historically been the ultimate sign of power and authority. Only kings and queens get to legitimately wear legitimate crowns. The most valuable crown in the world these days is St. Edward’s Crown, which is the centerpiece of the United Kingdom’s Crown Jewels. This crown most famously symbolizes the monarchy of the United Kingdom, and as such was the one placed atop the head of Queen Elizabeth during her installment ceremony in 1953. The crown was crafted in 1691 and is worth an estimated $40 million based upon the value of the 444 gemstones that mark it. It weighs just under five pounds, a weight that makes it impractical to wear, and it is kept on public display in the Jewel House at the Tower of London when not in use.

How different such crowns are from the one worn by Jesus during His earthly life. His crown was a crown of thorns that was crudely fashioned in mock jest by a group of Roman soldiers (Matthew 27:29-31; Mark 15:16-20; John 19:1-3). J.D. Jones, in his commentary on Mark, says of this crown:

And then someone suggested that being a king He ought to have not simply a purple cloak upon His shoulders, but a crown upon His head. And so someone ran out and from the shrubs in the palace garden gathered a few twigs which he twisted into a wreath in derision imitation of that wreath of victory which the Roman Emperors wore on the days of their triumphal processions. That the twigs happened to carry on them sharp and jagged thorns only added to the humor of the situation. This crown of thorns they pressed upon the Lord’s meek brow.

Other than the spike-like nails that were driven into Christ’s hands and feet to secure Him to His cross, nothing more graphically symbolizes the brutal horror of His death than the crown of thorns. How typical it was of the fallen, depraved human race for those soldiers to gleefully “coronate” Jesus by way of such a crown. When Adam had taken himself and all his descendants down into sin, God had told him, “Cursed is the ground because of you. Thorns and thistles it will produce for you” (Genesis 3:17-18). Therefore, it made perfect sense that some of Adam’s cursed descendants would use some of those cursed thorns to make open sport of Jesus, who was soon to become a curse Himself so that Adam’s race might have the opportunity to be set free from the curse of sin/the law (Galatians 3:13). It was all so perfectly ironic somehow.

Thankfully, Jesus would not remain a curse, and His death on the cross would be a comma rather than a period in His story. On the third day after His death, He would arise and thus become the Savior who lives forevermore. Even more than that, He is the King of Kings who will reign for all eternity. Such an ultimate King, of course, must wear the ultimate symbols of authority, and so it should come as no surprise to us to learn that when Jesus returns in power and glory to judge this earth and reign over it for 1,000 years, He will have on His head “many crowns” (Revelation 19:12). The Bible doesn’t specify what these crowns will look like, but let’s just say that each one will decrease the value of St. Edward’s crown and all the other crowns of this world to the value of a prize in a Cracker Jack box.

But let us never forget that Jesus first wore His crown of thorns. He wore it as part of the final hours of His earthly life, a life that He willingly sacrificed so that all our sins could be forgiven by holy God. So, with that in mind, I ask you, “Have you truly placed your belief in Jesus as your personal Savior?” If you have, then you have the right to consider yourself not only fully forgiven but also part of eternity’s royal family. That means that even if you have to temporarily endure a crown of thorns in this life, you won’t have to do so in eternity. This is one of the grandest promises associated with being a Christian, and it’s one that can help the Christian get through the tough times that life on earth can bring.

Posted in Adversity, Belief, Christ's Death, Christ's Resurrection, Coming Judgment, Creation, Depravity, Easter, Encouragement, God's Judgment, God's Sovereignty, Good Friday, Grace, Perseverance, Problems, Prophecy, Reward, Salvation, Trials | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Truly Experiencing Easter

Pastor Richard Kapfer once suggested that churches should conduct a completely different type of Easter Sunday service than the one we usually do. For starters, he said that we should make our sanctuaries as bland and as barren of color as we can that particular Sunday. That means no Easter lilies, no Easter banners, etc. And all the lights should be dimmed as well. Also, any background music should be low and somber. Basically, the sanctuary should be cold and lifeless in order to accurately represent the mood of that group of women who first approached Christ’s tomb at dawn on that Sunday morning so long ago.

But then, once everyone is seated in the sanctuary and the story of the women approaching the tomb has been read aloud, someone should proclaim in a loud voice, “He is not here! He is Risen!” At this point, the sanctuary lights should be turned on, trumpets should sound forth, and all the flowers and decorations be brought out and placed in their proper settings. In Kapfer’s estimation, such a Sunday morning service would help us all to better understand the effect Christ’s resurrection had upon that group of women.

While I myself have no plans to implement Kapfer’s plan at Roan Mountain Baptist Church this coming Easter Sunday, I can’t say that it wouldn’t make for a powerful service. It might even break us out of the mundane banality that too many times marks the “routine” of Easter Sunday services in our churches. Certainly the morning of Christ’s resurrection was anything but routine!

The fact is, though, even if our churches never quite catch the full vibrancy of Easter, that doesn’t mean that you can’t. With this goal in mind, let me encourage you to revisit the Easter story this coming Sunday, and make a point of doing so in a way that is new and fresh to you. Try, as best you can, to place yourself in the shoes of those women who went out to Christ’s tomb that morning to anoint His decaying corpse with spices, only to discover that the tomb was empty and He had risen from the dead.

To those women, Christs resurrection meant that the Jewish religious leaders hadn’t won after all. The brutality of the Roman soldiers hadn’t actually had the last word. The cross wasn’t the end of Jesus because, in the end, death couldn’t hold Him. It also meant that everything that He had ever taught and done was bursting with relevance again, and the possibilities were now limitless in the lives of His followers. Friend, if you can catch a moment or two of that sensation this Easter, then you will truly have experienced the holiday. And it’s my prayer that you will genuinely be able to do just that.

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So-So

In Jones county, Mississippi, there is a little town called Soso. There are different stories regarding how the town got its name. One says that an early settler of the area used to always reply, “So-so” whenever someone asked him how he was doing. Another says that when the railroad was being built through the area, a small group went ahead to scout out a place where the workers could set up base camp. When the group returned and were asked if they had found a spot, they answered, “We found a place. It has some water, but not enough. It has some shelter, but not what we’d expect. The place we found is just so-so.”

Christian, aren’t you glad that Jesus put in infinitely more than just a “so-so” effort in paying the sin debt that you owed to holy God? Isaiah chapter 53 is probably the Bible’s most graphic passage on what our salvation cost Jesus. Instead of me simply conveying the verses verbatim, I hope you won’t mind if I mix and mingle the many phrases from the verses to create a descriptive paragraph. As you read the paragraph, please read slowly and take time to let the words deeply resonate with you.

He had no form, comeliness, or beauty that we should desire Him, and we hid our faces from Him and did not esteem Him. He was despised, rejected, acquainted with grief, and smitten by God. He was stricken, afflicted, wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities. He was acquainted with grief, oppressed, led as a lamb to the slaughter, and cut off from the land of the living. Like a sheep before its shearers is silent, He was a man of sorrows who opened not His mouth when He was taken from prison. The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all, and He was stricken for the transgression of the Lord’s people. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him and put Him to grief, and He was numbered with the transgressors. His soul was poured out unto death and made an offering for sin. He bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors. He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, and the chastisement for our peace was upon Him. By His stripes we are healed. He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth, but they made His grave with the wicked and the rich at His death.

Tell me, does that description sound like Jesus did a so-so job in dying for our sins? Of course it doesn’t. Why then do we tend to do such a so-so job of serving Him? As the old hymn says, “Jesus paid it ALL, ALL to Him I owe.” We should let the combination of those two uses of “ALL” be a challenge to us to not only believe in Jesus as our Savior, but also give Him the absolute best each of us has to offer. You see, when it comes to knowing Him as Savior and living for Him as Lord, “so-so” just won’t do. And while we can never match the effort that He expended for us, I trust you will agree that we can do a better job of striving to reach that goal than we are right now.

Posted in Backsliding, Christ's Death, Complaining, Discipleship, Doing Good, Dying To Self, Faithfulness, God's Holiness, God's Love, God's Mercy, God's Work, Grace, Ministry, Obedience, Perseverance, Priorities, Repentance, Sacrifice, Salvation, Sanctification, Service, Suffering, Thankfulness | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

No Faith for the Present

Every true Christian has faith in Jesus in regards to what happened in the past. That list includes: His virgin birth, sinless life, teachings, miracles, substitutionary death, resurrection, and ascension. By faith, we accept these scriptural facts about who Jesus was in His earthly life.

Likewise, every true Christian has faith in Jesus in regards to what will happen in the future. While different denominations and groups hold to different interpretations concerning the prophetic events described in scripture, all Christians agree that, in the end, Jesus is going to win a complete and resounding victory over Satan, the other fallen angels, and all those who reject Him. All Christians will then spend eternity with Jesus in perfect bliss.

But what about having faith in Jesus for the present? Well, the evidence indicates that is something many Christians haven’t mastered yet. Oh, sure, we can fully believe that Jesus died on the cross, even though we weren’t there to watch Him do it. We can even fully believe that He has our eternal destiny firmly settled, even though we haven’t see that, either. But fully believe that He is going to meet our need today? Nope, that’s too big a bridge for us to cross.

In John chapter 11, we find the story of the death and resurrection of Lazarus. When Jesus arrived on the scene, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days (11:17). Lazarus’ sister Martha met Jesus outside the house and told him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (11:20-21). We can call that her expressing her faith in Jesus in regards to the past. Jesus responded by promising her, “Your brother will rise again” (11:23). To that, Martha replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” We can call that her expressing her faith in Jesus in regards to the future.

None of that was good enough for Jesus, though. He said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (11:25-26). That was His way of trying to get Martha to believe that her brother would rise again that day. It’s not that He didn’t appreciate the faith she had in Him for the past and the future, but He wanted her to have just as much faith in Him for the present.

To Martha’s credit, she had already expressed a certain amount of that brand of faith. Not only had she said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died,” she had immediately added, “But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (11:22). Her words seem to indicate that she believed that Jesus could resurrect Lazarus right then and there but didn’t actually think He would. Then, after Jesus told her that He was the resurrection and the life, she said, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is come into the world” (11:27). You see, she could believe that Jesus was Messiah the Jews had waited for so long, but she couldn’t believe that He was going to bring Lazarus back to life that day.

Truth be told, that’s where most of us Christians live. We believe that Jesus is who He claims to be, and we believe that He can do great and mighty things (even miraculous things) in our lives. What we have trouble believing is that He will do those things. Again, it’s the faith in the present that oftentimes eludes us. We just can’t trust that the same Savior who died in the past to pay for our sins will help us pay for our groceries today. We just can’t trust that the same Savior who has promised to make our future glorious will help us make today glorious.

So, Christian, right now would be a good time for you to pull yourself in for a “faith check-up.” My guess is that you’ve got plenty of faith in Jesus for past events and future events. But how is your faith in Him concerning today’s events? That problem, that need, that situation you are facing as you read this, do you have the faith that Jesus will handle it for you? If you don’t, then let me encourage you to pray to Him right now and let Him know that your faith is weak. Like Martha, tell Him what you believe about Him, and then ask Him to help you fill in the gaps where your faith is lacking. As we approach Easter Sunday, remember that you serve a living Savior, one who wants to help you in the here and now every bit as much as He has helped you in the past and will do so in the future. He has promised to meet all your needs. So, that isn’t the issue. The issue is: Can you confidently rest in His promise to do it?

Posted in Adversity, Belief, Comfort, Courage, Encouragement, Faith, Fear, Needs, Prayer Requests, Problems, Trials, Trusting In God, Worry | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Wrong Kind of Service to God

They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. (John 16:2, N.K.J.V.)

Could a society ever become so warped as to think that serving God means killing Christians? Absolutely! As a matter of fact, the time that Jesus spoke of in our text verse came pretty quickly after He uttered the words.

Following Christ’s resurrection, ascension, and the dawning of the church age, the Jewish religious leaders excommunicated Christ’s apostles from the synagogues in an attempt to stamp out Christianity. Even worse, over the course of the years that followed, those same apostles were all ultimately martyred by the Romans for doing nothing more than serving Christ. While Acts 12:1-2 tells us that the apostle James was martyred by way of the sword upon the order of Herod Agrippa I, the martyrdoms of the other apostles aren’t recorded in scripture. They are, however, recorded in other historical records. For example, Peter was crucified upside down and Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross.

The apostles certainly weren’t the only Christians to be martyred, either. By one account, 2 million of the Roman empire’s 7 million Christians had been killed by 325 A.D. Just as the Jewish religious leaders considered excommunicating the apostles to be a service to their god Yahweh, the Romans considered martyring any Christian to be a service to their human “god” Caesar.

This points us to the fact that zeal for one’s god can be a dangerous thing if that zeal is misguided. Islamic terrorists provide us with plenty of modern-day evidence of this, but the fact is that history is replete with such examples. According to the Encyclopedia of Wars, there have been 1,763 recorded historical conflicts, and 123 of them have had religion as their primary cause. Even if some of those 123 were actually conducted at God’s bidding, the truth remains that religion (devotion to one’s god) can cause a man to pick up a weapon as quickly as any other motivation.

In Romans 10:1-3, Paul describes the lost, unbelieving Jews of his day and begins his description by giving them credit for having a zeal for God. But then he explains that their zeal is “not according to knowledge.” This zeal without knowledge was what caused those Jewish religious leaders to ban Christ’s apostles from the Jewish synagogues in a deluded attempt to keep those synagogues “pure” for God, to say nothing of committing even worse atrocities such as stoning Stephen to death (Acts 7:54-60).

The takeaway from all this for us Christians today is that we must go to great lengths to ensure that our own zeal for God is indeed a zeal that is marked by knowledge. We do this by praying, studying, showing discernment, and submitting to God’s will in regards to whatever we do in the name of the Lord. Putting it simply, it’s not enough to be “on fire for Jesus.” No, that fire must be a controlled burn that doesn’t burn down anything it shouldn’t. You see, if we start acting like that, we run the risk of making the same mistake those Jewish religious leaders and Romans did. That’s the mistake of banishing God’s spokesmen from our presence and putting to death what God has ordained and blessed.

Posted in Church, Discernment, God's Name, God's Will, God's Work, Ministry, Pastors, Preaching, Service, Truth, War | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Quick Word About Revenge

A group of American soldiers were stationed in Korea during the Korean War. While they were there they hired a young Korean fellow to cook and clean for them. Unfortunately for the Korean, the soldiers were a bunch of pranksters.

Each day the soldiers perpetrated a different prank on the Korean. One day they smeared Vaseline on the handles of the stove so that when he turned it on, he got Vaseline on his fingers. Another day they mounted a bucket of water over the door so that he got soaked when he opened the door. One night they even nailed his shoes to the floor while he slept.

Finally, the soldiers began feeling guilty about their actions. So, they sat the Korean down and said, “We know these pranks haven’t been funny for you. We’re sorry, and we are going to stop doing them.” The Korean, in his broken English, asked, “No more sticky on stove?” “No,” said the soldiers. “No more water over door?” “No.” “No more nail shoes to floor?” “No.” “Okay,” said the Korean, “then no more spit in soup.”

Revenge: It is one of the most basic tendencies of human nature. The desire to strike back? The need to get even? The obsession to settle a score? You had best believe we all have some of that in us. The problem is that God, in His written word, commands us not to act upon these impulses. As Romans 12:19 and Hebrews 10:30 both say concerning Him, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

In one way, this word from the Lord is frustrating because it prevents us from legitimately meting out our own revenge. In another way, though, it is encouraging because of that word “will.” You see, God doesn’t say, “I might repay.” He promises, “I will repay.” The timing and the details for how He does this repaying will always be different, simply because each situation is different. But you can mark it down, He will repay. The real question is, “Can we wait patiently for Him to do it?”

Posted in Anger, Desires, God's Timing, God's Wrath, God's Judgment, Impatience, Justice, Patience, Revenge, Trusting In God, Waiting | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

God Came from Teman

God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. (Habakkuk 3:3, K.J.V.)

Most of us have at one time or another asked, “Where did God come from?” Well, a few years ago a man pointed out to me that the Bible tells us exactly where God came from. As the fellow told me, “The Bible says that God came from Teman.” Obviously, the man didn’t understand the meaning of Habakkuk 3:3.

Teman was one of the largest cities in the nation of Edom, that nation that was founded by Esau and populated by his descendants. Edom was located in the wilderness region to the south of Israel, lying between Israel and Egypt. The city of Teman was named for Esau’s grandson, Teman (Genesis 36:11).

The Mount Paran that is also mentioned in Habakkuk 3:3 was located west of Teman. Paran was in the northern part of the Sinai Penisula, that region where Mount Sinai is located. Mount Sinai is, of course, where God imparted His law to Moses and the Israelites.

Knowing this background information helps us correctly understand Habakkuk 3:3. When the prophet says, “God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran,” he is referring to how God displayed awesome power in bringing the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage and to Mount Sinai. Actually, Habakkuk’s references to Teman and Mount Paran are only two of his references to this event. Two more are found in Habakkuk 3:7, where he says: “I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble” (K.J.V.). Cushan refers to Ethiopia in northern Africa, and Midian was most likely located northeast of the Gulf of Aqaba near Edom. The point Habakkuk is making is that the reports of God bringing the Israelites out of Egypt by way of the ten plagues and the parting of the Red Sea caused fear among all the nations of that part of the world.

In describing how God delivered Israel from Egypt, Habakkuk poetically depicts God as being blindingly bright and having rays flashing from his hand (3:4). Pestilence went before Him and fever followed in His wake (3:5). The mountains scattered before Him and the hills bowed (3:6). On and on the description goes like that, and what Habakkuk wants is for God to once again display such awesome power in delivering Israel from her enemies. The New Living Translation catches the heart of Habakkuk’s desire by translating our text verse as follows:

I see God moving across the deserts from Edom, the Holy One coming from Mount Paran. His brilliant splendor fills the heavens, and the earth is filled with his praise.

You see, that man who told me, “The Bible says that God came from Teman” made the mistake of thinking the words “came from” somehow refer to God’s origin, as if the Bible was dropping a clue that God isn’t truly eternal. That mistake was simply one more example of how the Bible can be made to teach just about anything. That’s why we must be diligent to put in the necessary work to not just read the Bible but also study it and figure out what its words mean. Only then can we keep ourselves from believing wrong doctrines, doctrines such as God having an origin in Teman.

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