Wise as Serpents: If the Word You are Hearing Does not Set You Free, it is not the Word of God (Part 25 of Sermon Series)
A powerful read on how some church folks twist or distort Scripture to justify mistreatment.
God’s truth brings believers into freedom.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Evil distorts, perverts, twists and morphs the Word of God into a wicked counterfeit which traumatizes people and brings them into bondage. Evil loves to quote God’s Word but always does so with the method and intent of using it to deceive and enslave.
We are surrounded by phoney religion today, just as was the case in Jesus’ day when the religious establishment in Israel was corrupt. The temple was not the Temple, but had become a den of robbers. The righteous were put out of the temple while the wicked not only remained members in good standing but were preeminent in it — exalted with trumpets. When the Lamb of God came…
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Hey friends, it’s almost that time — August 1, release date for the long-awaited Book 1 in my new Golden State Trilogy! And to satisfy your curiosity, here’s a peek at the cover:
To see what the book is about, click here. Then leave a comment below. I’ll choose one commenter at random to receive a gift copy on August 1. And be sure to let your friends know, too.
“When we gloat in the low moments of others, regardless of our self-justifying reasons, we break the rule of love…”
The attached post tells a story of a photo of a Muslim woman remaining seated when everyone else around her was standing. The photo made the rounds on Facebook, and the conclusions and comments that followed tell a sad story of human nature. The judgmental people bashing the Muslim woman probably felt a lot better about themselves after they put the whip away. See full post:
I wrote the post below a few days ago and am editing it here in light of this billboard that went up today just 10 miles from where I live.
The You can listen to Rick Tyler in a new interview argue why America would be better off if we didn’t have “people of color” around. The sentiment behind this billboard is found everywhere in America. The picture you see below, for example, which made it’s way around social media, served to stir up even more animosity towards “non white people.” As I try to make clear in the words that follow, if you cheer on pictures like these and get angry because she’s sitting during the National Anthem, you might be more like Rick Tyler than you’d care to admit. The nationalistic zeal and xenophobia exhibited below is the natural breeding ground for the…
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After I published my blog about Brock Turner (read original post here) I was floored, not to mention completely unprepared, for the backlash. It started a heated discussion on Facebook, and you would have thought I was defending ISIS terrorists.
There were so many comments, I’m sure I missed many of them. But here are the main objections I remember:
- I was misinterpreting/misapplying scripture. In my original post, I used the example of the Pharisee vs. the sinner praying in the temple, and the contrast in their attitudes. Jesus called the remorseful sinner justified. The second example I used was the woman caught in adultery, when Jesus told the crowd, whoever is without sin, throw the first stone, then told her to go sin no more. However, I don’t recall anyone offering a more realistic scenario of how Jesus would respond to Brock. If anyone did, I didn’t see that tree among the forest of comments. To the best of my knowledge, Jesus reprimanded only two groups of people: the Scribes & Pharisees, and the disciples when they demonstrated lack of faith. He didn’t rebuke the Brock Turners. Therefore, I stand by my original assertion.
- Because his sentence was so light, and his dad’s attitude was so cavalier, Brock deserved his status of public whipping boy. But if people are mad at the dad and the judge, then whipping Brock is misplaced. Unless they are elevating themselves to judge, and imposing a sentence they don’t have the authority to impose. And that’s exactly what I believe was happening. When we get outraged at someone else’s bad behavior, if we’re honest, we have to admit we feel just a little smug, and a little better about ourselves. And that was the point of my first example.
- One of the commenters asked if I’d defend Hitler, or the Orlando shooter. No, I said. Because the premeditated nature of those crimes put them on a whole ‘nother level for me. A six-month-planned shooting spree is far beyond a drunken rape. I’m betting Brock didn’t wake up that morning and think to himself, “I think I’ll rape someone tonight at that party.” However, Timothy McVeigh DID wake up that morning planning to kill and destroy. So no, I wouldn’t defend them, but neither do I have the right to judge or slander or make a public spectacle of any of those shooters.
- I stated several times that there’s too much judgment and not enough grace in the world. Surprisingly, a few of my dissenters agreed with that statement. At the risk of sounding judgmental and self-righteous myself, I can’t help wondering if they were in fact blind to their own self-righteousness. (I’m sure that’s been true of me more than once.) The blog post was meant to address that.
- The debate ended when one particular woman who’d been actively commenting said that Brock could have stopped his behavior any time during those 20 minutes, and the fact that he didn’t proved he had an evil heart. My reply was, Of course he has an evil heart. I’ve never denied that. My point is, we ALL have hearts full of sin that need redemption! That’s why I wrote the blog. She did agree, but reiterated that she disagreed with my Scriptural application. I could have prolonged the debate and asked her, “What do YOU think Jesus would have said to Brock?” I know what Jesus wouldn’t have done. He wouldn’t have plastered Brock’s face all over social media so that everyone could hate on him.
I would love to get your take on my question. What do YOU think Jesus would say to Brock?
After seeing Brock Turner’s face on social media one too many times, I’ve had enough. Today, I even read that some Wiccan coven is bringing hexes and curses down on him, because, legal experts that they are, they don’t believe Brock’s sentence is harsh enough. So they, the media, and Americans as a whole have set out to crucify him. And boy, don’t they feel good about themselves. They would NEVER commit such a terrible deed.
If Brock Turner ends up committing suicide, I can already hear the cheering and the celebratory whoops.
I’m pretty sure I know why this particular rapist, among the thousands already out there, is being made an example of. And I bet I know why this particular CRIME, out of all the murders and assaults that take place daily, is being singled out. But that’s not what I want to write about. I want to explore the question, WHAT WOULD JESUS DO if he had a chance to sit down and chat with Brock Turner?
Here’s an actual example from Luke’s gospel. I’ve just changed a few words to reflect current events.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the church to pray, one an evangelical Christian and the other a rapist. The Christian stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this horrible rapist. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the rapist stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
I wonder what the Wiccans would say to that.
And here’s another example that we’re all familiar with. Again, the changed words are in red.
At dawn he appeared again in the courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The media brought in a young college student caught in the act of raping an unconscious woman. They made him stand before a jury, and when the judge sentenced him to only six months, they said to Jesus, “Teacher, this man, Brock Turner, was caught in the act of rape. Because he victimized a woman, he deserves to be castrated. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to pick up the knife.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the man still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked him, “Young man, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” he said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
A gorilla is dead, but a child is alive. And a mom is getting hated on for supposedly not keeping a close enough eye on her son.
I’ve seen the video, and boy, if it had been my son, I would’ve been terrified. Not only at the danger to my son, but from other folks’ judgmental glares and the backlash on social media. That poor mom probably hasn’t left her house since. She’s the one I feel for.
I can’t stand the way society imposes unrealistic expectations on mothers. Especially single mothers. Not so for fathers. All that’s expected of them is the contents of their wallets. Sure, mothers are revered, but if we make the slightest slip, scorn is flung our way. That’s just not fair.
I’d love for you to share any memories of a scary moment with your kids. Did you ever lose sight of them for a moment, only to find they’d gotten themselves into a terrifying predicament? Or have you ever been the object of judgment for your parenting by observers who thought they knew better than you? Please share in the comments below.
Finally, someone has offered kindness and grace to this boy’s mom – an open letter to the gorilla-loving boy’s mom. Here’s the link:
In honor of Mothers’ Day — I saw this Facebook post earlier this week, and it just about ripped my heart out. Yes, there really are mothers like this one, who put their love lives ahead of their kids’ welfare. We need to keep speaking out against these Mommy Dearests, and do our best to erase the damage they do to these kids. Kudos to teachers like Lauren who are willing to get below the surface and reach out to these hurting kids.
(Reposted with permission.)
I get asked all the time why I teach. I never know how to answer it quite right, so I usually say something sarcastic like, “Because I’m really a huge fan of hearing myself repeat the same thing sixteen times in three minutes,” or “Because summers, obviously.”
There was boy in my morning class, I’ll call him Danny. At least three times a week, he showed up over an hour late to my class. He was always behind, never quite knew what was going on, and his late work caused extra grading for me. Frankly, he annoyed me. Every time he showed up late, I assumed he didn’t care. He wasn’t responsible. He didn’t respect me. Finally, I asked him. “Danny, why are you always late?” He shrugged. I said nothing, and waited for a response. He sighed, “My mom got this new boyfriend, and whenever she stays the night at his place, no one is home to make sure my little brother gets on the bus. I make sure he’s awake and get him on his bus, but that means I miss my bus and have to walk.” How far is your house from school? “A little over a mile.”
Danny IS responsible. Danny DOES care. Danny DOES value his education. See, whenever Danny was late, he would miss the school’s free breakfast and go hungry until lunch. He’s frustrated with his mom, behind in his classes, and is hungry. Of course this 13 year old boy is acting out! Now, when Danny shows up late, instead of greeting him with a detention slip and an eye roll, I get to greet him with a genuine smile and a granola bar.
Danny humbled me. To be completely honest, I get humbled by my students daily. They make me realize that I can be impatient, judgmental, and imperfect. But the thing is, there’s no eleventh commandment that says, “Thou shalt be perfect.” Jesus just showed up, met people exactly where they were, and loved them. Then he taught, but only after their immediate needs were met.
I teach because I get to ask kids “why” every day. Why are you late? Why aren’t your clothes clean? Why aren’t you doing your work? Why do you want to sleep in my class? Why are you so afraid to take a risk? Why don’t you trust adults? Why are you acting out? Why are you arguing with me? (Sometimes the questions are ridiculous: why are you hiding in my closet? Why did you think it was a good idea to throw your shoe out the window? Why did you just lick your neighbor’s ear?)
The “whys” teachers ask aren’t to be punitive and shame kids. Teachers ask kids “why” because we get to treat students like human beings worthy of love and respect. Those “whys” show kids that we care, that they’re worthy, that they matter, and that they’re safe. We ask why, and then we listen… Really listen to these kids.