To Answer Fools

1507514460125_image.jpg

These verses at first glance appear to be a contradiction in command. How, exactly, are you supposed to not answer a fool according to his folly and answer a fool according to his folly at the same time? For God to instruct us to such action seems like a cruel joke at best and an impossibility at worst.

So, when a Christian encounters someone using a solid biblical doctrine, such as God is love, to justify a well-known unbiblical behavior, such as drunkenness, homosexuality, or adultery, how is the Christian to respond? We run the risk of either becoming like the fool or validating his foolishness and making him appear wise in his own eyes. Either way, we lose.

Fortunately, Christ provided us with an example of how to follow these verses and avoid falling into either trap. Continue reading

Advertisements

EXTRA! EXTRA!

newspapers-444450_1280

For over a year I have been writing the blog “Living in the Tent.” Initially, I tailored my blog to express how to live a Christian life, both from a theological perspective and a relationship perspective. As a Christian marriage therapist, I felt this would be a great way to blend both of my passions into one expression.

However, as I began to review this blog last month I realized that the majority of my posts on here were more of a devotional nature and less about relationships. I still enjoy writing about how to manage one’s marriage successfully, but I have to recognize that this blog is no longer able to sustain a dual focus. Therefore, I have decided to do the only thing that anyone with a passion for writing, loving God, and helping couples can do…I’m starting a second blog!

This blog will remain intact and continue to deliver the devotional posts that you have been reading. However, my new blog will take up the mantle of providing relationship advice for couples. As anyone can tell you, a wedding is one thing but a marriage is a whole other animal. That is why I decided to create After the Aisle. If any of you are interested in my new blog and the relationship advice that I will be giving there, please click here and check it out. I hope you enjoy it!

Psalms for the Election – Day 6

lincoln

This year has brought us one of the most divisive elective cycles in recent memory. Many people that I speak to, regardless of political affiliation, are not excited about the choices they have for President. Both candidates have characteristics that could be defined as “unfit,” whether it is in temperament, decision making, morality, unpredictability, criminal behavior, experience, judgment, health, or political vision.  It is in this season that we need to pray for our country more than we do for our political parties. We are a nation off-course and the choice of our leader will make irrevocable changes to the intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and moral direction we take as Americans.

Therefore, I would like to invite you to pray with me for our country. Over the next 7 days, I will be making a new post each day. Each post will include a link to a reading from the Psalms and a brief instruction on how to use this reading as a guide for prayer. Let us put aside our desire to see a specific person win the election and have the courage to pray boldly for God to stay his judgment and place in office the man or woman who will lead us to be the country that God desires (and designed) us to be. 

Will you please pray with me?


Read Psalm 43

Identify what God is saying about Himself in this passage. Boil it down into a one or two-word summary (e.g., God is ____ ) and confess that truth back to God, asking Him to reveal Himself in this way through your day and this election cycle.

v.1 Confess how our nation has been unfaithful. What have we called gods that are not gods at all? How have we exchanged our glorious God for worthless cultural, political, and social idols? (Jer. 2:11-12) Who or what are they? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how we use the Name of God to excuse the sins of man? Name them by name. If it helps, revisit the prayer guide for Day 3.

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how we use the Name of God to excuse the sins of man? Name them by name. If it helps, revisit the prayer guide for Day 3.

Ask God to raise up the remnant within our country who have not bowed their knees to these false idols. Ask that they stand boldly before the wicked and the oppressors. Ask that God vindicate us and plead our cause against an unfaithful nation. That He rescue us from those who are deceitful and wicked. Ask that God will both hinder and destroy the plans of the wicked. That He will not allow them to flourish. May this be the time for the holy to prosper because God is our stronghold.

v.2  Confess that God alone is our stronghold. Confess that you have felt alone and grieving this week. Confess how you have felt like mourning because you have been oppressed by the enemy. Ask God to intervene on behalf of His Name and not our own. Ask Him to demonstrate through our election how He alone is our stronghold and how He has not rejected us.

v.3 Ask God to send our nation His light and His faithful care. Ask that He open the hearts and minds of all Americans during this election. May we be humbled and as a result pray and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways so that God’s light and faithful care may lead our nation in the paths that we may go.

Ask that God bring us to His holy mountain, to the place where He dwells.

v. 4 Respond to God by going to Him and surrendering at His altar everything that you have used as a substitute  for joy and delight, instead of God.

Sing praise to God. Let His name and His works be proclaimed through the song that pours out from your lips.

v. 5 Do not let your soul harken back to the worries of this world or the fears of what will happen if the “wrong person” is elected. Put your hope in God. Praise Him alone. Make Him alone your Savior and your God.

If you are finding this difficult, pray boldly for a vision of what a life and a country looks like whose hope is not in God. Ask God to reveal to us that our fears come from trusting in unreliable people or things to sustain or save us, not from Him. Ask that God

Wait. Close your eyes if you have to.

Listen.Ask God to reveal to us that our fears come from trusting in unreliable people or things to sustain or save us, not from Him. Ask that God

What is the image He is giving you? Hold that image in your minds eye? Let yourself feel the depth of the pain that comes from such extreme separation from God. Pray that He will keep our country from such ruin.

Ask God to reveal to us that our fears come from trusting in unreliable people or things to sustain or save us, not from Him. Ask that God break us of our tendency to drift away in fear. May we be a people who will yet praise Him, who trusts only in Him.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Psalms for the Election – Day 5

john-adams

This year has brought us one of the most divisive elective cycles in recent memory. Many people that I speak to, regardless of political affiliation, are not excited about the choices they have for President. Both candidates have characteristics that could be defined as “unfit,” whether it is in temperament, decision making, morality, unpredictability, criminal behavior, experience, judgment, health, or political vision.  It is in this season that we need to pray for our country more than we do for our political parties. We are a nation off-course and the choice of our leader will make irrevocable changes to the intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and moral direction we take as Americans.

Therefore, I would like to invite you to pray with me for our country. Over the next 7 days, I will be making a new post each day. Each post will include a link to a reading from the Psalms and a brief instruction on how to use this reading as a guide for prayer. Let us put aside our desire to see a specific person win the election and have the courage to pray boldly for God to stay his judgment and place in office the man or woman who will lead us to be the country that God desires (and designed) us to be. 

Will you please pray with me?


Read Psalm 40

Identify what God is saying about Himself in this passage. Boil it down into a one or two-word summary (e.g., God is ____ ) and confess that truth back to God, asking Him to reveal Himself in this way through your day and this election cycle.

Prayer is not always about requests or confession. It often incorporates praise for either what God has done or for what God will do. Today we turn from focusing on our woes as an electorate to do a little preemptive praising. Let us turn towards God today to praise Him for already accomplishing His sovereign purposes on November 8th.

v. 1-3 Praise God the He gave you the ability to wait patiently for Him to act during this election.

Praise Him for turning towards our country and hearing our cry.

Praise Him for lifting us “out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire” and for putting our feet on a rock, for giving us a firm place to stand. Praise Him that this firm place does not reside in anything temporary, such as a man, woman, or political party. Rather, our rock is Christ alone.

Praise God for putting “a new song in our mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” Ask that many (both domestically and abroad) will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in Him as well.

v. 4-5 Praise the LORD for the trust that He has given you as you turned your heart towards His desires and not your own in this election. Thank Him for teaching you to not look towards the proud or those who turn aside to false gods/lies.

Enumerate the wonders God has done during this election. Praise Him for accomplishing the things He planned for us. Acknowledge God’s supremacy over man in both deed and character. Confess that none can compare with God and that His works are too many to declare.

v. 6-8 Praise God that He has opened your ears without requiring anything additional from you. He is a transforming God! Thank Him for orienting you towards Himself as you have poured out your heart for the country towards Him.

In response to His work in your lif offer to do whatever He asks of you. Declare your desire to do His will because His law is within your heart.

v. 9-10 Ask Him to fill you with boldness so that, like Jeremiah, you cannot contain the message of His saving acts. Praise Him for empowering you during this election to make His name known. Praise Him that you did not seal your lips or hide God’s righteousness in your heart. Praise Him that although it may be against your nature, He filled your with power so that you do not conceal God’s love and faithfulness from your friends, family, city, state, nation, or world.

v. 11-15 Ask God to continue to be merciful to us as a country and for His love and faithfulness to always protect us. Confess that our nation continues to sin so much that we cannot see and our heart fails because of the weight of the sin. Ask God to save us and to come quickly to help us.

Ask Him to put to shame and confusion all who want to destroy us and to ruin/turn back in disgrace all of our enemies. Praise Him for His faithfulness! “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every  morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:22-23)

v.16-17 Praise God that because He is faithful He does not abandon anyone who seeks Him. Rejoice and be glad in the great work and power of God. “May those who long for [God’s] saving help always say, ‘The LORD is great!’ ”

Confess how infinitesimal you are as a person as well as how small we are as a nation. Confess our needs and our spiritual and moral poverty before God. But praise Him for being our help and our deliverer.

“You are my God, do not delay.”

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

Psalms for the Election – Day 2

quote-to-those-who-cite-the-first-amendment-as-reason-for-excluding-god-from-more-and-more-ronald-reagan-55-97-14

This year has brought us one of the most divisive elective cycles in recent memory. Many people that I speak to, regardless of political affiliation, are not excited about the choices they have for President. Both candidates have characteristics that could be defined as “unfit,” whether it is in temperament, decision making, morality, unpredictability, criminal behavior, experience, judgment, health, or political vision.  It is in this season that we need to pray for our country more than we do for our political parties. We are a nation off-course and the choice of our leader will make irrevocable changes to the intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and moral direction we take as Americans.

Therefore, I would like to invite you to pray with me for our country. Over the next 7 days, I will be making a new post each day. Each post will include a link to a reading from the Psalms and a brief instruction on how to use this reading as a guide for prayer. Let us put aside our desire to see a specific person win the election and have the courage to pray boldly for God to stay his judgment and place in office the man or woman who will lead us to be the country that God desires (and designed) us to be. 

Will you please pray with me?


Read Psalm 37:27-40

Identify what God is saying about Himself in this passage. Boil it down into a one or two-word summary (e.g., God is ______ ) and confess that truth back to God, asking Him to reveal Himself in this way through your day and this election cycle.

v. 27-29 Ask God to give you, our nation, and our nominees a heart for good and not evil. May evil be repulsive to our souls and justice a delight. Ask that we will be a people filled with righteousness so that we may never lose our land but will inherit it and dwell upon it forever. Ask that we will not fall victim to government tyranny but that we will retain the precious freedoms with which God has provided us.

v. 30-31 Ask God to give us more than intuition in this election. Ask Him to give us wisdom and the ability to articulate it to others. May our tongue speak justice, so that truth abounds in the marketplace as well as on the ballot. Ask God to keep His law within our hearts so that we do not slip, either in our daily lives or in the electoral booth.

v. 32-34 Confess that “the wicked watches for the righteous and seek to put him to death” and that we are easy prey if God abandons us. Ask that God will express His power on behalf of the righteous and that He will not allow false accusations to condemn them. But may the righteous “wait for the LORD and keep His way” while the wicked are cut off.

v. 35-40 Rejoice that God does not permit a wicked, ruthless person to endure but instead, He upholds the blameless and the upright. Ask God to make us a people of peace and to give us a future while the those who seek to turn us away from Him and His ways are “altogether destroyed.” Praise Him that our salvation does not come from a Republican or a Democrat but from the LORD. Ask Him to help us in this election cycle and to deliver us; deliver us from the wicked and save us because we take refuge in God.

Thank Him for hearing and answering these prayers.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Loving is Exalting

in_loving_memoryIn 1989, I began my sophomore year at Baylor University. My best friend, Kevin, had been hired to be a resident assistant (RA) in the dorms that year and had left our shared state of South Carolina a few weeks prior to attend RA camp and receive his training for the job. I soon followed, arriving at school a week before classes began, so that I could settle into my dorm room early and hang out with my friend.

During Kevin’s off hours, we attended movies, ate together, stayed up late talking, and began the gradual transition to playing racquetball (due to Kevin’s disdain at barely losing in tennis to me most days). The campus was relatively quiet that week, and when Sunday rolled around we stood at the back of the church’s sanctuary, hopelessly looking for a familiar face to sit with. Eventually, Kevin spotted two girls across the sanctuary that he had met at RA camp and suggested we sit with them. I agreed and we walked over. Kevin entered the row first, placing me at one end of the four of us. I later found out that this was a strategic move so that he could sit by the girl he wanted to. But it created a slight awkwardness, so that when I was introduced to the cute brunette at the opposite end, I had to lean forward to casually wave at the woman who would become my wife. Continue reading