Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My Right To Be Wronged

“Sometimes we fight for the wrong rights. Sometimes it is wrong to exercise our rights. Sometimes we need to remember that we have the right to be wronged” (Jason Sparks).
We get all wrapped up in our “rights,” don’t we?  We’ve codified them in what we call the Bill of Rights for easy reference.  We have our First Amendment rights  We have our Second Amendment rights.  And the list goes on.  We light up social media with calls to defend our rights.  Heaven help the poor soul who dares to question or threaten our rights.
Jesus and His apostles never spent much time talking about rights.  And even when they did, it was usually in ways that make us uncomfortable.  Instead of always standing up for their rights, they often willingly surrendered them and encouraged others to do so.  The Savior refused to stubbornly cling to what was rightfully his, but gave it all up to accomplish our redemption (Philippians 2:5-8).  Instead of a Christian taking another Christian to court and harming the church’s witness (something they would have had the “right” to do), Paul said this to the Corinthians: “Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another.  Why not rather be wronged?  Why not rather be defrauded?” (1 Corinthians 6:7).  Later in the same letter, Paul affirmed that he had a right to be supported as a preacher of the gospel, yet he willingly surrendered that right for the advancement of kingdom (1 Corinthians 9:1-23; cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9).
I’m grateful for the rights I have as an American citizen.  But I must never forget that I have a higher citizenship where my rights are not the primary issue.  Its a higher calling where my rights often overshadowed by the needs of others.  Perhaps my greatest “right” as a child of God is the ability to surrender that right for the purposes of God.  Am I willing to defend my right to be wronged?
God loves you!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


In a recent blog post, Patrick Mead answered a question from a reader regarding how much weight should be given to sources beyond the Bible itself (  The particular source in question was the writings of the Church Fathers, who were influential Christian scholars in the early centuries of Christianity.  Some of the earliest of these men would have been contemporaries of Christ’s apostles themselves and learned from them personally.
Mead answers the reader’s specific question with his usual grace and scholarship.  In doing so, he also addresses the dangerous tendency of some modern believers to only read among those who already agree with them or are on the reading list approved by their church leaders.  One particular quote really stands out: Reading only writers already approved by your denomination or with whom you already find yourself in broad agreement is a form of intellectual incest. After a time, you will develop spiritual faults because you have cut yourself off from fresh material and broader community. Every gene pool needs a dose of chlorine from time to time and that includes spiritual gene pools."

The point isn’t that all other writings are on a par with the authority of the Scriptures.  Mead goes on to say: The value in reading the church fathers and great reformers, restoration leaders, and contemporary writers is in broadening your community. There is no reason to read them as if they were authoritative on a par with Paul or John, but you might learn a great deal about Paul and John by opening yourself up to those old dead guys (and the new young guns of theology)."

Faith grows and matures in the context of community, even those parts of the community that disagree with me.  Exposure to different viewpoints might reaffirm my commitment to what I already understand the Bible to say.  But it may also reveal some flaws in my understanding.  It may cause me to see something I had missed in my study.  Either way, it is a valuable process.

God loves you!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Wrong Turns

          “For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been” (1 Kings 11:4).
          What a tragic end to a story that had such a promising start.  Solomon had ascended to the throne of Israel following the death of his father David.  Early in his reign, God promises to grant him a wish.  Showing a maturity beyond his years, he chooses wisdom over other more selfish gifts.  He is granted the privilege of overseeing the construction of God’s temple in Jerusalem, the same opportunity that had been denied to his father, David.  At the dedication following the completion of the project, he lifts his voice in praise to the God of heaven and prays for His presence among them.  He encourages the people to follow his lead and have hearts that are “wholly devoted to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day” (1 Kings 8:61).  Solomon’s fame spread far and wide.
          But something happened on the road to success.  Solomon permitted his heart to take a detour.  He allowed the numerous wives and mistresses in his life to “turn his heart away” from God.  I’m confident Solomon didn’t intend to take this exit.  But over time, little by little, his devotion to God was compromised.  God had warned him of the danger, but before he knew it, he had no desire to turn back.
          Periodically, I need to take inventory of my own life.  Am I allowing anyone or anything to turn my own heart away from God?  It doesn’t even have to be something sinful.  Even good things can come between me and the total devotion that God deserves.  And when that happens, even good things can become sinful.  Beware of exits off the road that leads toward God.  They may look appealing, but they always end in disaster.

God loves you!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Unassisted Rescue

          “Watchman Nee tells the story of his stay in China with twenty other Christians. The bathing accommodations were inadequate in the home where they were lodging, so they went for a daily dip in the river. On one occasion, one of the men got a cramp in his leg and began sinking fast. Mr. Nee motioned to one of the other men, who was an excellent swimmer, about the drowning man. To his astonishment, however, the man did not move. He just stood there and watched the drowning man. Mr. Nee was agitated, but the swimmer was calm and collected. Meanwhile, the voice of the drowning man grew fainter and more desperate. Mr. Nee hated the swimmer who just stood and watched on the shore when he could have jumped into the river and rescued the drowning man. As the drowning man went under for what looked like the last time, the swimmer was there in a moment, and both were soon safely on shore. After the rescue, Mr. Nee chewed out the swimmer, accusing him of loving his life too much and being selfish. The response of the swimmer revealed, however, he knew what he was doing. He told Watchman that if he had gone too soon, the drowning man would have put a death grip on him and they would have both drowned in the river, and he was right. He told Mr. Nee that a drowning man cannot be saved until he is utterly exhausted and ceases to make the slightest effort to save himself” (
          To be saved spiritually, we must also allow ourselves to be rescued.  Scripture tells us that salvation is not a self-directed endeavor (Ephesians 2:8; 2 Timothy 1:9).  We cannot be saved on the basis of our own righteous deeds (Titus 3:4-5).  Eternal life is a free gift given by God (Romans 6:23).  Like a drowning man, we must cease our struggling and allow ourselves to be rescued by the only One who can do it.

God loves you!