The Sin of Omission

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. (James 4:17 NIV)

Attorneys take an oath that, as “officers of the court,” they will pursue justice.  During an investigation, if a prosecutor discovers evidence that supports the defendant’s innocence, then, in the interest of justice, they are bound to share it with the defense counsel. If they happen upon evidence that supports the defendant’s guilt, prosecutors have responsibility to share that as well. Omissions are a threat to justice. The American judicial system is not about an outcome but about equal justice under the law. Hiding exculpatory evidence (evidence that rules out guilt) is a serious offense and punishable under the law as a felony (“contempt of court”).

Many Americans are not informed that top Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) officials may have committed crimes by failing in their obligation as officers of the court in order to achieve a political objective. Evidence suggests top law enforcement officials were granted a warrant to spy on members of the Trump team after leaving out evidence that would have damaged their case. It was not what law enforcement swore to in their testimony, but what they left out. Yet the major media has chosen to omit this big story from their reports. So why no criminal charges? When those in authority are willing to commit perjury by lying under oath as a false witness, we have lost the foundation for liberty.

Power that devotes itself to outcomes rather than the law are the tools of tyrants.  Dedication to a so-called theology has corrupted much of the Church as well. Teachers of the Gospel are to be officers of the court of truth. If they are committed to an ideology, then Bible facts that threaten their position are omitted and those who raise them are branded enemies. Truth is the first casualty. The deck is stacked. The fix is in. All sides are not fairly represented. Even if one is convinced they are right, omitting contradictory Biblical evidence to support a system of belief is sin.

“Truth is not realized until all seeming Scriptural contradictions are harmonized.” #4, “Five Major Rules of Biblical Interpretation” -R. van Kampen

Let few be teachers, especially if they choose to omit contradictory Scripture rather than introduce it. The standard by which God judges teachers is strict. It would be better a millstone were tied around their neck and they be cast into the sea than to be a teacher, preacher or pastor who fails to act as an officer of the court of Truth.

Billy Graham: A Glory has Departed

With the announcement today that Billy Graham departed this life at the age of 99, tributes are coming in from everywhere. I wanted to join those giving honor to this humble man who stood above the crowd. The ravages of Parkinson’s disease had left his body frail and almost lifeless, so it is akin to an act of mercy that God has allowed his soul to slip its mortal coil and be carried by angels off to heaven.

I never met Billy Graham or shook his hand, but I felt like I knew him well. My wife and I attended two crusades, one in Boston and the other in Pittsburgh; we heard him speak to graduates at the seminary I attended, and I listened intently while he addressed a large group of pastors at a conference bearing his name. What a sense of humor he had. It was usually the self-deprecating type.

As a boy, I grew up watching Billy Graham’s now famous mass crusades. They came on our TV at family viewing hours night after night. As an adult I had an appetite to read the official biography by John Pollock, and Billy’s later autobiography “Just As I Am.” In recent years, I found his 2-part video biography on YouTube to be very enriching. I’m not an expert on Dr. Graham’s life, but I am familiar it and continue to find it inspirational.

Now Billy belongs to the ages. His humility and his passion to preach Christ to a lost and dying world formed the perfect combination. He courageously broke down walls of religious and racial bigotry. He submitted himself to a board of trusted advisors and rejected the temptations of wealth. Much criticized and often maligned, he stayed true to his calling and followed his principles. If you want to know what God can do with a surrendered will, Billy is an example. Seemingly never seeking self-glory, he understood and was content in his role as a servant of Jesus Christ. If taking center stage would further the cause of the Gospel, he would seek God’s help and do it with all his might.

I love Billy Graham. I am sad for us who remain. The heaven he preached about and yearned for is now his. Billy is home. His shoes are too big to fill, but if everyone who was touched by his ministry would hold their candle high and re-dedicate the rest of their race to Billy’s savior, then what a bright world it would be. A glory has departed but the light can be made brighter.

Followers

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. (Proverbs 3:1 NIV)

The flight attendant goes over the emergency instructions. Some bury their nose in a magazine while others stare outside. The attendant has info that could save their life, so why wouldn’t they follow it?

We all follow someone’s guidance, but whose? By listening and watching we can usually identify who people are following or who influences their thoughts. The Book of Proverbs hails wisdom’s teaching. If kept in our heart, her commands will prolong our life. Wisdom wants us to live long and enjoy “shalom” peace and prosperity, but first, like an obedient son or daughter, we must follow her instruction.

One would not know this by the American media’s lack of attention, but information that a clandestine group of high-placed government officials have been working to undermine the candidacy of Donald J. Trump and then his presidency. Evidence has been piling up, but it does not suggest Trump or his team colluded with the Russians, but that Secretary Clinton’s team and some top echelon officials in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Justice Department were the ones colluding. (But this is where many Americans are– Christians certainly included: Figuratively, they are burying their face in a magazine or staring outside. Avoidance behavior. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. If they do not listen with ears that hear, then, in their mind, nothing should happen.)

Follow wisdom or follow only what you want to hear, then tune out the rest. Life is the reward for listening to Wisdom; disaster and destruction come by ignoring her. What is being played out in the political arena, is also happening in the church. A friend observed recently that his church never teaches about prophecy. (It may be because they don’t know anything.) If they did give some worthy instruction, my friend would eagerly follow along.

Sheep are often kept in the dark. They do not know what is coming upon the saints (Daniel 7:21-22, Matthew 24:21-22). At least the airlines attempt to prepare passengers to survive a disaster, but not some shepherds of Christ’s flock. Why not seek wisdom on the matter of prophecy? Would God not generously supply? Who are church leaders, teachers and shepherds following if they pass on misinformation or nothing at all?  Our Savior came to teach everything the Father told him about the end (John 15:15). In Matthew, Jesus instructed his disciples on last days’ emergency procedures (10:17-42, 24:4-51). Are we following the Bible, or are our eyes shut and ears closed?

We have Moses and the prophets. If we do not believe them, neither will we believe one risen from the dead. 

The prophet’s words are often unwelcomed, but not by those who will be saved. The medical test results must be heard, if positive steps are to be taken toward a cure. The corrupt must be brought to justice, before reform can happen and trust re-established. We are all followers. Those who reject wisdom’s teaching will tragically always follow the wrong leader.

What’s on Your Mind?

Who is wise? He will realize these things.

Who is discerning? He will understand them.

The ways of the LORD are right, the righteous will walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.  (Hosea 14:9 NIV)

Even when we think nothing is on our mind, our mind is still there, working overtime. If anyone accuses you of “losing your mind,” you really haven’t. You probably expressed an idea they found unacceptable. It’s time we understood that there is a battle for control of our mind.

What is on your mind? Nothing more than what has been accumulating over your lifetime. Our minds are selective. Tons of information is being created every day, we cannot begin to process it all.  So, as Christians, we must make choices about the info that occupies our thoughts. That is where discernment becomes necessary. What we entertain (discernment) and how we respond to it practically (wisdom) is something over which we have control. Discernment to distinguish the truth from a lie, and wisdom to decide what, if anything, to do with the thought, separates the righteous from the rebellious. The righteous will take charge of what is on their mind and make it obedient to Christ.

Finally, my brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things… And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8, 9b).

Unhealthy and unholy thoughts find their way inside everyone’s head, but like the saying goes, “A bird may land in your hair, but you don’t have to let it build a nest.”

Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. Set a guard. Protect your mind. Desire truth in the inner being. Direct your mind to things above, not on things below. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways our ways. Yet we should aspire to know the Lord’s thoughts and, like Moses, strive to learn His ways. We have not arrived until we are able to confirm Paul’s declaration: “We have the mind of Christ.”

What is Truth?

Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” Pilate asked. (John 18:37b-38a NIV)

What is truth?” Pilate asked. Was it relative? Was truth whatever Caesar said it was?

“Fact-checking” is what America’s mainstream media (ex. The Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, etc.) offers to the public. They seem happy to point out the less-than-factual claims of Donald Trump. But who fact-checks the fact-checkers? Someone should. They should be subject them to the same scrutiny since their accuracy record is not too good. One conservative member of the broadcast media proclaims he is “America’s truth-detecter.” He claims to be “almost always right”?

Who is the real arbiter of what is true or false? Truth is a person, but not just any person. May I introduce you to Jesus? If you do not know who He is, don’t expect help from Google Home. Google’s smart audio device cannot identify Jesus or God, nor can Amazon’s Alexa. They seem to know everybody else, but when it comes to Jesus or God, they “do not have that information.” So can we trust them to know the truth?

Jesus came for the purpose of testifying to the truth. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Americans have a dilemma they brought on themselves. They have embraced a multitude of ideologies. Each claims truth is on their side, yet all claims are equally valid. But truth does not take sides, it stands alone as judge. Deceit takes sides. The best we can do is be on the side of truth.

Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil (the deceiver), by testifying to the truth. When the Antichrist comes, he will claim he is “Truth.” Antichrist’s spirit is saturating the globe. The manifestation of it is seen in what comes from the deceiver’s mouth as well as that of the deceived. Jesus warns, “Watch out that no one deceives you” and “See, I have told you ahead of time.” (Matthew 24:4, 25)

Confusing claims of truth witnessed in politics are heard in the Church of Jesus Christ. Proof is the thousands of denominations and different groups. Only one can be true, or possibly none. Truth is not arbitrary.

Any other foundation than Christ is a lie. Yet even a foundation on Christ can be later become a lie. Soon God will judge his household with this question: You started your race, but did you continue in the truth? Every work that presumes to be of Christ will be tested by fire. Judgment on the household of faith is laid out in Revelation 2-3. We must examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. Contentment comes from Biblical illiteracy or neglect.

Jesus answered the Samaritan woman by saying that her people worshiped what they did not know, yet Jews worshiped what they did know, for salvation comes from the Jews (John 4:22). Samaritans had a faith built on a lie (an idol). Jews were given the truth by God, but they turned from the Scripture and incorporated the lie (idols) instead. Were Jews saved because of their foundation in God or a relationship to Abraham? Many thought so. Were the Samaritans saved because of their sincere devotion to idols? Are we saved because we “prayed once at a church altar?” Salvation entails more than a foundation, it needs a persistent following of the truth.

Salvation is not something we secured in the past and then forgot. Neither is a house ours if we fail to keep it up, or if we default on the mortgage or taxes. Paul taught Timothy. God wants all people everywhere to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. There is one God and one mediator between man and God, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:4)

We must add to our faith, truth, or accept the consequences. Truth is a standard by which we live. Christ is the cornerstone on which to build. The stone Jewish builders with the right foundation had rejected.

If we think we have attained truth, we are mistaken. Truth is based on love, so if we think we know it all but have not love, we have nothing. Truth is Jesus. Eagerly pursue Christ-likeness. Blind guides offer a path with many on it. The way to LIFE is narrow and there are few on it.

What is truth? Only that which comes directly out of the mouth of God. Truth and salvation are mutually dependent. Unless we know who is truth, we will never know “What is truth?”