“What God Can Do, If We Let Him”

There are times when you read Scripture, and your heart soars as you read about the greatness and majesty of the God that we serve.  There are other times, when you are filled with love and gratitude; as you read about the grace, love, and forgiveness that the Father has for us through Jesus.  Then there are those times, when tears fill your eyes, and your heart breaks; as you realize your sin — and the failure to be what God wants you to be.

That last emotion is the one that I felt this morning, more than the others, as I read Psalms 78-81. The psalmist (Asaph), writing after the destruction of Jerusalem (Psalm 79:1), reviews the history of the Jewish people — and how often they failed God.  He goes all the way back to when they were in the land of Egypt, and the mighty works that God demonstrated to lead them out of slavery.  How sad it was that they forgot what He had done, and complained and murmured about everything.  There is one verse that just reverberates sadness — How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness and GRIEVED Him in the desert. (Psalm 78:40, CSB).  Just like them, most of the time we are so self-absorbed that we don’t stop and consider how our sin makes the Father feel.

He continues by humbly asking God to remember with compassion His people, and to come quickly because they have become weak (79:8, CSB).  One really interesting thing jumped out at me, the psalmist asks God to help them — not because of them , but …for the glory of Your name.  Deliver us and atone for our sins, because of Your name. 79:8, CSB).  The psalmist then pleadingly asks the Father, Lord God of Hosts, how long will You be angry with Your people’s prayers?” (80:4, CSB).  Those thoughts made me stop and consider how my life has made God feel.  How my prayers have made God react.  Wondering, if the problems that we see in the world today, are my fault (and people like me), because I have not remembered what God has done?  If by not remembering myself, have I not passed it on to my children, and the generation that follows them?  If my actions have grieved my God, and have made Him angry?  If there is hope for me, my children, and the  generations that are to follow?

Toward the end of Psalm 81, God speaks through the psalmist saying, If only My people would listen to Me and Israel would follow My ways, I would quickly subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their foes.  (81:16, CSB).  There is hope!  God will help us defeat our enemy Satan)!  That change can come, if we listen and follow His ways!

The last line, of the last verse, in Psalm 81 — offers to us a beautiful promise.  It says, … I would satisfy you with honey from the rock. (81:16, CSB).  Regardless of how difficult, how hard the situation and circumstances get, God can bless us!  That is if we remember, turn, and follow Him — He can bless our lives with the sweetness of forgiveness, acceptance, and peace.

Lord, help us to turn to You, and ask for Your forgiveness, help, strength, and power — EVERY DAY!!!  That is our only hope for survival passing through this world.  Peace.

(This was first posted on Facebook on July 21, 2016.  It is being reposted here as a part of our “Psalms for Saturdays”.  It is my prayer that it blesses you, and helps you to draw closer to the Father.  Bill)

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“Try It, It is Really Good”

The Food Network has a program called, “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”  A different food (hamburger, cake, pizza, omelette, etc) is chosen, and the various network chefs/personalities describe the best they have ever eaten, and where they got it. It is a pretty interesting program, and amazing the different ways that the same types of foods can be prepared.

It is been my good fortune to be a local preacher in three states — Arkansas, Alabama, and Texas. I often tell the church where I preach now, that when the early church got together they fasted; the churches of Christ eat! We like to find any excuse to get together for a meal.

I suppose most all churches have those cooks that are remembered for the dishes that they prepared. In the church where my parents attended, they still talk about my mother’s fried pies. The Cedar Grove church in Alabama had long tables, underneath the trees, outside of the building — that were regularly covered with some of the best food ever! The North Main church in Texas, had a lady named Kat Hope — that made homemade ice cream that was so good and so-o-o rich, that you didn’t know if you would be able to eat all of one serving. In Prairie Grove, in our Care Group, we have one lady, Mary Castor, that her responsibility for every meeting is to make the desserts. My wife, Malia, would tell you about the layered salad that Dianne McClelland makes. That is not to say there are not other good cooks, because there are hundreds that could be mentioned. Generally, I don’t stop eating long enough to ask who made it, because it is so good. You know the kind of food, I am talking about — the kind of food that is hard to say “NO” to (which is strangely appropriate in light of yesterday’s devotional).

What made me think of this today is a verse, from my reading this morning, in Psalm 34: “Taste and see that the Lord is good. …” Psalm 34:8, CSB). I believe that this expression is used, because the sense of taste is so powerful, and causes such immediate reaction.

You know what I am talking about, when someone tastes something, and they look up with their eyes wide open and a look of unbelievable joy and satisfaction. When we really experience God, that will be the kind of reaction we will have. It is the kind of reaction that says one day with God is better than a thousand elsewhere. It is the kind of reaction that says surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. It is the kind of reaction that says I want to live in the house of the Lord forever.

Taste and see that the Lord is good“! Peace

(This was first posted on Facebook on July 12, 2016.  It is being re-posted here, as a part of our “Psalms on Saturday.”  It is my prayer that it will be a blessing to you, and your life.  Bill)

“I Know Which Way to Go”

One of the greatest inventions ever, as far as most men are concerned, is the “Global Positioning System”.  They may not even know why, except that it is another piece of technology that they get to play with.  I am not saying that women don’t use it, or appreciate it; in fact, they may appreciate more than men.  But the women know exactly why they appreciate it.

You see, the GPS has relieved men of one of the great weaknesses that we have always been accused — not stopping to ask directions!  The GPS will direct us to where we need to go, go ballistic if we make a wrong turn, and it will often tell you of detours, accidents, and road construction on the road ahead.  So, unless you refuse to pay for the upgrades, forget to turn it on and program the trip, or ignore what it says — you will never have to stop and ask directions again.

I don’t know what it is about asking directions that bothers men so much.  I guess it is the fact that when you stop and ask directions, you are having to admit that you have got yourself into a situation that you can’t handle.  On top of that, generally when you got to the point that we would stop and ask directions; you ended up having to stop again, to be sure that you were following the first directions correctly.  Men, it’s true, we just have this terrible condition that we won’t ask for help until there is no other choice!

I was reminded of that condition this morning, as in my morning reading from the Psalms, I noticed that several times the writer is going to God in prayer, and it seems that he really has no other options — he is down to his last option.  Now I KNOW he should have started with God, but it seems obvious, from some of these verses, that they didn’t do that.

Psalm 141:1, O Lord, I call to you, come quickly to me. …

Psalm 142:6, Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.

Psalm 143:1, O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.

Psalm 143:7, Answer me quickly, O Lord my spirit fails.  Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.

So, one of the things that I took from the reading today (Psalm 140-145) is to stay in constant “contact” with God, always recognizing my constant need for His help.  I do not want to put in the position of thinking that He is all that I have left.  I want Him to be the starting point of every day, regardless of what my circumstances might be.

Now, if everything that has “some assembly required“, came with an app for my smart phone, telling me how to do the assembly … then I would not have to unfold some piece of paper with 5 different languages and a parts catalog.  Peace.

(This was first posted on Facebook, July 4, 2016; and is reposted here as a part of “Psalms for Saturday.”  It is my prayer that you are blessed by reading it.  Oh, by the way, since this written, I have found that youtube has assembly videos for many of the things that says “some assembly required”.  Bill)

“Trickle Down Effect”

  Are you old enough to remember when we turned on the radio or tv to get the 5:00 news. What we expected was for a newscaster to come on and in 30 minutes bring us up on the major news of the day. One does not have to be very old to realize that today’s newscast is basically a “carrot to the donkey” ploy to entice us to watch the advertisement. Have you noticed how major networks have developed a new method which tells you at the beginning of the newscast everything you are going to hear and then goes straight to the adds? There may be four or five actual new items that are stated and it will give you one item at a time while promoting the remainder to come and them back to the adds. When the news is over you have glanced at the five items briefly, one at a time between adds, and watched 15 to 20 minutes of adds. Now I bring this up, not to expect a change in the way news is done, but to make a point about “trickle down.” What you now see is that local newscasters in their rush to appear as astute as national casters are now following the same pattern. Less news and more adds makes money. News does not make money is only provides a draw to allow adds to be gained. The point is little folks tend to follow big folks as a method to increase their followers.
Now what in the world does that have to do with church? I would think it is obvious but just in case you have not noticed, little churches tend to try to follow the patterns of megachurches in an attempt to increase their share of the population. One of the blessings/curses of long life is the fact that one experiences multiple pattern shifts in church growth. When a megachurch appears to show rapid growth it is only a brief time before small churches adopt the same plan as much as is possible. Of course what is successful in a church where the population of the area is exploding exponentially is not likely to work in a semi-rural area where the population is rapidly moving to the city. But they try never the less. Only a short time ago a megachurch, which was likely the primary leading pattern for others, openly confessed that it was totally changing its direction after becoming aware that, while growing rapidly, its members where not becoming the Christ followers that the leadership intended. After millions of how to books and millions of dollars they were honest enough to face the terrible fact that the goal of becoming Christlike was not being met.
That church leadership was honestly seeking the way to produce Christians rather than numbers. Many who followed their pattern are still satisfied with the numerical growth regardless of the spiritual growth. In my years of ministry, 65 to date, I have been witness to the church growth bug infesting many of our own churches. I do not have the insight of information to judge what that has produced. What I do know is there is no “system” that can do what is really necessary. Whether it is better organization, missional direction or pure entertainment, none of these systems will fulfill the basic nature of what God requires. He sent His Son to earth to teach and show what He wants.  He desires every child to become like his Brother. In all fairness I do not doubt that is the desired goal of each “system” we have developed, but the failure is apparent. While I do not for a minute equate the leaders of these systems with those Paul describes in his second letter to Timothy, his words ring with some truth when taken out of his context and applied to our problem. “Ever learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth.” 2 Tim 3:7. Do we desire to grow? Certainly! But the end game must always be to develop individuals who become Christlike in all their patterns of life. That takes valid teachers – and – serious hearers. My question – Are you a pretender, attender or a serious dedicated God fearing soul striving with everything you have to become truly Christlike? Your answer is the difference between life and death.

Bill Sherrill 01.14.2018

(Almost 60 years ago my mother was Bill Sherrill’s secretary.  He was “my” preacher for about 7 years, and was influential in how I view the preacher and his work.  We left Fort Smith in 1965, and I believe Bill left in 1966.  He is still active — both in ministry and in life.  He told me that he still rides his Harley to the office every day.  I hope you enjoy this post from “my” preacher.  Bill)

“They have Forgotten their Glory”

Our society is a mess!  That’s not really new is it?  We watch entertainment TV, we absorb the news on TV, read the newspaper, and just look around; and it appears that the human race is descending further and further into a cesspool of sin and degradation.  It is not even necessary to give examples of the sin that is overwhelming our country; as soon as you started reading this paragraph, your mind was filled with example after example of what is happening.

In my reading this morning, there was a passage that helped me to see what the problem really is:

They made a calf in Horeb,                                                                                                                         and worshiped the molded image.                                                                                 Thus they exchanged their glory                                                                                                              into the image of an ox that eats grass.  (Psalm 106:19-20, NKJV)

We all know the context the story that is told in that reading.  The Israelites had been led out of the captivity in Egypt by the power of God; and instead of reveling in what God has done, there is continual whining and complaining about the difficulties they face.  When they get to Horeb (Sinai), Moses goes up on mountain to learn what God has planned for them.  While he is gone, the people persuade Aaron (unbelievable) to fashion for them an idol.

They forgot the God who saved them,                                                                                                    who had done great things in Egypt,                                                                                      miracles in the land of Ham                                                                                                                    and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.  (Psalm 106:21-22, NKJV)

The key thought is from verse 20, when they psalmist says “they exchanged their glory”.  As a part of creation, we have no glory but God!  Without God, we are really no different than any of the other parts of creation.

Our society has exchanged their glory for the desire to live by their own lusts, desires, and pleasure — trying to glorify themselves.  They have ignored God, and now they are reaping the harvest of what that means.

Electing different government officials, passing more laws, or giving in to more of our lusts and pleasures will not change anything.  In fact, it will just get worse.  The only hope for God’s creation is for them to recognize God as their Glory!

The only way that happens, is for the remnant of God’s people to begin a revival of the Glory of God!  Peace.

(This was first posted on Facebook, June 24, 2016.  It has been revised, and posted here as part of our “Psalms on Saturday”.  I hope that you are benefited and strengthened by it.  Bill)

“Why I Believe”

Faith is one of those subjects that has always been of great interest to me.  Why do some people have faith?  Why do others reject faith?  I suppose from a Biblical standpoint, the question is — What is the difference in the soil on the path, and the good soil; as mentioned in the parable that Jesus told in Luke 8?

When this argument has manifested itself in our world, there have often been lots of harsh charges and accusations from both sides.  I’m not interested in an argument, or even verbal jousting with those that differ; but I do want to mention what I see and believe.

Faith in Jehovah God has never been difficult for me.  There seems to have always been times when living that faith was difficult — but not hard to have.  Everything that I see, persuades me concerning the things that I don’t see.  I am sure that the environment, and the atmosphere, where I was raised made that possible.  Just as I am sure, that the environment were others were raised make it difficult.

I am convinced that the difference in the good soil and the bad soil in Luke 8; is that those represented by the good soil WANT to believe; and those represented by the bad soil (path) represents those who DON’T WANT to believe.  There could be a lot of reasons for not want to believe — not wanting to change a lifestyle, wanting to do certain things without feeling guilty, the attitude and behavior of those claiming to have faith, the testimony of unbelievers (that are regarded as exceptionally smart), the inability to accept anything that you can’t understand, explain, or duplicate, and a litany of other matters.

I will gladly confess that I WANT TO BELIEVE!  I want to believe that there is a God that loves me.  That everything that He has ever done has been for my benefit and blessing.  That He created me (and everyone else) that we might have a loving relationship.  That He wants me to be free from the guilt of failing to live in the love of that relationship.  That He was willing to give His Son to pay a ransom that I could not pay myself.  That He want to have a good life now, and an abundant life later.  That because of all of that, I don’t have to fear death, and, that there is a life with Him in eternity.  That the life with Him in eternity is free from sorrow, pain, disease, death, and grief.  Everything within me wants to believe that!

The question that is there, that everyone must answer is; if I choose to believe, and I am wrong, what has it cost me?  The temporary pleasure of indulging in sin, some intellectual freedom that I believe that I should have, or something else along those lines.  BUT, if I choose to believe, I have been given a peace in knowing that an eternal God cares about me, the love of a church family that wants what is best for me, and the hope that this world is not the end (or the best that there is).

So, the opposite side of the question has to be asked:  If those that choose not to believe are wrong, what has it cost them?

I recognize that religion, under the guise of Christianity, has done things over the centuries ( and still do) that are repulsive to our standards of what is right, wrong, decent, and fair.  But that is not the fault of God, or faith!  It is the fault of sinful men trying to live that faith according to their own wants and desires.  It is sort of like American politics of the 21st century:  probably, the way that things are being done, are no where near what the founding fathers had in mind.

May the Father above, help His people to make the God of the Bible, the Gospel, and faith attractive.  May they present the beauty of it, so that all may WANT to believe.  Peace.

“Life is Tough”

There is no denying the fact that life can reach those points, where the difficulty can almost become unbearable.  It is during those times that we want to do like Hagar, and sit down and cry loudly (Genesis 21); or do like Elijah, and sit down under a tree and wished to die (I Kings 19).  There are all kinds of things that can drive us to that point — the suffering and death of a loved one, persecution from those that oppose us, financial reversals, marital difficulties, disease, and the list could go on and on …

I have been really blessed in my life, I have not faced many of those situations.  I have walked through them with many of my friends, and it always causes me to pray for the strength of faith to face these difficulties (that will inevitably come my way).    The reason for the prayer, is that we know that the reactions of Hagar and Elijah did not work, because of what happened in the rest of their stories.  In Hagar’s story, an angel of God appeared as she sat and waited on Ishmael to die, and said …”What’s wrong, Hagar?  Don’t be afraid, for God has HEARD THE BOY CRYING from the place where he is.”  (Genesis 21:17, CSB).  It does not say a thing about God hearing her cry!  In Elijah’s story, as Elijah sits under the “broom” tree, an angel comes and gives him something to eat and drink; and then sends him on his way to Mount Horeb.  It is there that God reveals Himself to Elijah in the still small voice, rebukes him for having such a defeatist attitude, and then tells him that are 7,000 others that have not bowed to Baal.  Those stories are so often a reflection of the way we act, or the way that we feel.  All of us want to do better, but we struggle with the faith to believe that we can.

My life was blessed last night, as 21 of us got together and watched a movie that is 42 years old, The Hiding Place.  This 1975 film, starring Jeannette Clift, Julie Harris, and Arthur O’Connell; is based on the 1971 book by the same name.  It is the true story of the Ten Boom family, as remembered by Corrie Ten Boom.  The Ten Boom family lived in the Netherlands, and were there during the Nazi occupation in the early part of WWII.  As the German occupation intensified, the persecution and imprisonment of the Jewish people began.  Because of their strong Christian faith, the Ten Boom family could not sit and do nothing as this was happening to their friends and neighbors.  The book and the movie are the tragic and touching tale of what they did to help their Jewish friends (and many they did not know), and the time they spent in German concentration camps.  You will shed tears, as you become involved in this remarkable story.

There is one line that I will never forget, that Betsy shared with Corrie; and Corrie has  shared it with the world — “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper.”  Regardless of the situation, and how bleak the trial might be, God, and His unfailing love are always there.  I was reminded of the “Shepherd’s” psalm:

The Lord is my shepherd;  I have what I need.  He lets me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters.  He renews my life; he leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake.  Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff — they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the  presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.                                                                                                                  (Psalm 23:1-6, CSB )

Get this book and read it.  Rent, or buy, this movie and watch it!  You will be blessed because you did.  Peace.

“David and his Prayers”

Many of you, that are reading this devotional this morning, have sat in my Bible classes.  If so, you probably have heard me say as we looked at a letter written by the apostle Paul — I sure would like to have seen his prayer list.  It seems as if in every letter Paul lists a number of people that he is praying for, and the things that he asks for that particular church.  Studying the prayers of Paul, and the lists of people that he is praying for, is a fascinating study.

One of the most enlightening aspects of reading the Psalms, is to be able to read the prayers of the people, particularly David.  The whole spectrum of human emotion can be found in the prayers of David — praising an awesome God, pleading for direction in his life, lamenting his present condition, anger at the enemies trying to kill him, impatience with God for leaving him in the situation, asking for forgiveness for his stupid mistakes, expressing confidence in God to get him through the difficulties he faces, and everything else in between.  Eugene Petersen once said, Everything that a person can possibly feel, experience, and say is brought into expression before God in the Psalms.  Amen?

David was not perfect, but he was “seeking” the heart of God for his life.  His journey in trying to get there, getting there, and staying there; serve as a powerful learning experience for Me.

This morning’s reading, Psalm 25 jumped off the page at me.  The whole chapter appears to be a prayer from David, as he seeks direction and assistance from the Father.

In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.  (Psalm 25:1-2, NIV)

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.  Guide me in your truth and teach me for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.  (Psalm 25:4-5, NIV)
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.  Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.  Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.  (Psalm 25:16-18, NIV)
Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.  May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you.  (Psalm 25:20-21, NIV)
Peace.
(This was first posted on Facebook, May 30, 2016.  It has been revised and adapted for use as one of our “Psalms on Saturday.”  It is my prayer that it will be a blessing to you.  Bill)

“Seeking after God”

Reader’s Digest used to have a treasury of short stories about people in every issue, especially those people that make a serious impact on the lives of others.  Over the years there have been a lot of those “special” people in my life, more lives than I could ever list or name.  Two of my favorite people are Mahlon Graham and Harold Wilbanks.  They both attended the Cedar Grove church in Rogersville, AL, when I preached there.  Harold passed away a few years ago, and Mahlon still lives in that community.

The people that make up that church all deserve extra stars in their crown — for putting up with all the nonsense, mistakes, problems, and dumb actions of a young (single) preacher, that still had some growing up to do.  Probably as much as anybody else, Harold and Mahlon liked me; and understood some of the conflict that was going on in my life.  They would listen to me, encourage me, and chastise me when I needed it.

Mahlon had a service station on Highway 72, east of town, down by the river, down by the river.  Sometimes the three of us would be there, and almost without exception, the conversation would turn to football.  Harold was an Alabama fan, Mahlon is an Auburn fan — and they were both serious about their team.  On top of that, they were both loud; and could get louder if they thought the situation deserved it.  Sometimes, I am sure that you could hear these “discussions” a mile away.  In those discussions I generally favored Auburn, but being an Arkansas, I really didn’t care much for either team.  So, I delighted in getting the arguments started, and providing a spark to keep them going.

Mahlon and Harold both encouraged me in my preaching, and there were times that I really needed it.  It was strange to me, that both of these men liked what they called my “hard” sermons.  You may recall those kinds of sermons from the past, when the preacher romps, stomps, and yells about “sin”.  Most of the time it seemed as if the intent of the sermon was to get the people to feel as if they were not good enough, or doing enough, to say they were saved.  Mahlon told me once, that he figured if he could “hunker” down and take a sermon like that, he was probably going to be alright.

Well, maybe I have learned a little, and grown a lot since then — but my approach to challenging sin is a little different 40 years later.  I have come to the conclusion, that sin is a “heart” problem, and not an action problem.  The bad actions are the result of what is going on in the heart.

Listen to what the psalmist has to say:

In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.  (Psalm 10:4, NIV)

That verse, as well as any, my definition of sin:  Sin is doing what I want, instead of what God wants.  In one of the most wicked periods in the history of the Israelite people, one of the thoughts that is constantly repeated is:

After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. …  (Judges 2:10-12, NIV)

The Israelites were sinners because they had a heart problem, that manifested itself as actions in their lives.

The actions of people are bad, because our actions are a manifestation of what is in our heart.  In one of his first recorded sermons, the apostle Paul made this statement about the Israelite King, David:  After removing Saul, he made David their king, God testified concerning Him: “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do”.  (Acts 13:22, NIV).  David made some terrible mistakes, but he always stayed “after” the heart of God, and God loved that attribute in him.  When we keep “seeking” God, even if we make mistakes along the way; God, in His “steadfast love”, forgives us and stays out in front of us.  We have to continually search out heart, and see if we are “seeking” Him, or seeking after our own wants and pleasures. Those that are “seeking” have room in their heart for God.

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.  (Psalm 9:10, NIV)

Peace.

(This was first posted on Facebook on May 27, 2016.  It has been revised and edited for use as one of our “Psalms for Saturday”.  It is my prayer that it will be a blessing for you today.  Bill)

 

” Consistency”

Recently, a head football coach at a major university resigned from his very lucrative, and prestigious position.  Evidently, some things came to light that put his behavior in a very bad light.  The school administration made it very plain, that if he had not resigned, he would have been fired.  Their reasoning was that his “personal conduct” had violated certain stipulations in his contract.  In other words, his behavior had not been consistent with what they expected from someone that was in his position.

Now, I’m not going on a “witch hunt,” or cast stones at someone that is down; because the university that I support, lost a coach on somewhat similar circumstances.  Other schools, businesses, and organizations have all lost people because their behavior is not “consistent” with what they stand for.  I know that there are some college football coaches that have “cut ties” with star high school recruits, because of something that appeared on their social media accounts.  Again, their behavior was not “consistent” with what they wanted from their players that represent the university, and them.  There are certain behavior patterns that people, and organizations, expect from those that are in position of leadership and influence.

This morning, I was reading in Galatians as a part of my devotional reading, and I read the story where Paul had to confront Peter.   You see, Peter, even though he knew better, was acting like a racist toward the Gentiles (because there were people there from Jerusalem).  Peter was in such a position of influence, that others, including Barnabas, were joining him in this racist action; and Paul was compelled to speak.  What I found interesting in that story, was this verse:

But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, … (Galatians 2:14, NRSV).

When I read that, I thought he was rebuking Peter for acting in way that did not reflect what Jesus was all about.  WOW!  If we rebuked people today for not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, who would not be rebuked!  Then a thought slapped me up side of the head, as I thought about something that has been going on in the evangelical world for the last few days.

Last Tuesday (8-29), some evangelical heavy-hitters released what they called The Nashville Statement.  It is a document that has 14 articles that deal with human sexuality, and it is obvious with the LGBT movement.  Now, I suppose that I had better say first of all, I have read the statement and believe what they say is right.  So you’re question is, What’s the problem then?

Well, I don’t understand (1) why it had to be said, (2) why it had to be said when it was, (3) what was the purpose for saying it, (4) what good will it accomplish, and (5) if this is the only statement that they think is necessary.  Now, there are people a lot smarter than me, and a whole lot more influential than me, that are discussing those questions — I don’t suppose that there will be very many people that ever know this blog was written.  But, the thought this morning, as I was reading Galatians, is how can you make a “statement” about only one of the “sins” that is troubling us today?  A little later, in Galatians 5, Paul lists what he calls the works of the flesh, look at that list:

Now the works of the flesh are obvious:  fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. …  (Galatians 5:19-21, NRSV).

Wouldn’t like to see the statement that a group of religious leaders drew up about enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy … .  There are some of those that I would not want to have any part, because I would be guilty.  Is our anger any worse in the judgment of God, that sexual sin?  Where was the evangelical statement about racism after Charlottesville?  How many of our people excuse their behavior, saying “that’s just the way that I am”?  This list could go on and on and on.

Now, I understand that some are afraid of our changing culture, and the impact it will have in the future.  The culture is changed, and the laws are made.    The die is set, as far as the country, and it’s government, is concerned. We should quit worrying about that, and start preaching Jesus and His redemptive love.  I worry about proclamations and statements that drive the wedge deeper; between those who are supposed to represent Jesus, and those that are struggling with immense problems.

Now, I know that that this will not please everyone!  There are probably some that will think I am too soft on this.  I don’t see this as soft on this, I see it as saying we are picking what we to attack, and soft on a lot of other things.  What I have written is not a well thought out piece, that I have taken the time to word properly.  I read Galatians, went for a walk — talked to the Lord, and thought about what I would write.  I hope that it has made you think.  Peace.